Reducing fabric waste is one of the (many) pressing issues needing to be dealt with in the fashion industry right now. Being economical when you cut out your sewing projects is good practice - but saving your scraps from the waste bin and making useful items from these scraps is even better!
Download the free Stevie Knicker pattern and use your leftover fabric scraps to make your own knickers. Making your own knickers is actually really simple, it barely takes much fabric at all and you can feel smug about saving landfill, saving money and wearing custom fitted underwear!
You can download the Stevie Knickers Pattern for free by subscribing to our newsletter here! An email with the pattern will be sent straight to your inbox.
Things you will need:
You will obviously need the Stevie Knicker Pattern - but you don't need much else at all to make these knickers. Just some stretch fabric and some lingerie elastic
Lingerie Elastic (sometimes referred to as Picot) is easy to find in most haberdashery stores. A scalloped or lace edge is decorative but not essential and you can use regular elastic if that's what you already have and you want to avoid having to buy anything new.
The width of the elastic should be around 10mm deep but anything between 6mm - 16mm will work. You could use even wider elastic around the waist as a feature, or use fold over elastic if you want.
In my opinion, MacCulloch & Wallis have the best selection of elastic in the UK.
Stretch fabric: The amount of fabric this uses is very small (between 25-35cm deep depending on your size). If you have made a t-shirt, a vest or anything from a jersey fabric that has at least a 20% stretch to it, the leftover small pieces from that project will be suitable for the Stevie Knickers.
Obviously, you wear your knickers on the most sensitive part of your body. Bearing this in mind, good quality natural fibres and organic fabrics are definitely recommended over synthetics. (This feels like an appropriate time to redirect you to my earlier blog "why you should wear organic" in case you need more convincing.)
Regardless of quality, the fabric must be stretchy. Woven, non stretch fabrics are not suitable for this pattern.
Tools to make your life easier:
Sewing Machine: You can make a pair of knickers with any regular sewing machine that has a zig zag or stretch stitch on it. If you have an overlocker, you can use this to stitch your side seams but it's not essential. Commercially produced knickers are made with a coverstitch machine. Few people have these machines at home - but If you are lucky enough to have one these it will be even quicker!
Ballpoint needles: Unlike regular or "universal" needles, ball point needles have a round edge, so the needle slips in between the weave of the thread without splitting the fabric. They’re much friendlier on knitted fabrics. (However, I regularly forget to change my needles, and nothing disastrous happens, so if you dont have ball point needles dont let it stop you).
Before you start:
Before sewing: Test your stitches on your final fabric. Test, test test - its just good practice. Every machine is different, every fabric and elastic has a different amount of stretch, the possible mix of combinations to reach the perfect finish are limitless, so my best advice is to play around and do a couple swatches or a test run before you start. Test stitching down the elastic too.
STEP 1: Cut your pieces out
Often when cutting from remnants or scraps, you will have lost your selvedge (the edge of the fabric) However the great thing about jersey fabrics are you can just stretch them with your hands to find the stretch. Place the grainline of the pattern in the same direction as the stretchiest part.
STEP 2a: Stitch BOTH gussets to back
You will need to start with both of your gusset pieces. Have the gusset pieces right sides together and then slip your back piece in between the pair of gussets, Call it a back butt sandwich if you will. Stitch the THREE pieces together simultaneously here at the bottom edge.
STEP 2b: Fold both gussets down and attach to front
You will need to have one side of the gussets sewn to the back (you have just completed this step) and now attach the other side of both gussets to the front. There is more than one way to do this tricky manoeuvre - however the best way I think to do it is to work backwards and place the pieces as they should look once they have been sewn, then reach inside to pull the seam allowance out.
To be more specific... start with matching the edge of the bottom gusset with the edge of the front piece. Then place the edge of the top gusset onto the same seam, ensuring you fold the seam allowance into the inside (all three edges should now be encased inside the gussets). Reach inside to grab the three edges, pull them out through the gap, pin together and sew your seam through all three layers.
STEP 3a: Stitch elastic to leg edge
Use the measurement chart supplied with the pattern to calculate how long you should cut your leg elastic. The elastic will be smaller than the opening and you will need to stretch the elastic onto the opening as you sew.
In order to ensure you stretch evenly from start to finish - divide the elastic into four quarters and mark each quarter with a pen, chalk or some pins. Then do the same to the edge of your first leg opening and mark the quarter sections on the knickers.
Lay the RIGHT SIDE of your elastic on top of the RIGHT SIDE of your knickers. If you are using an elastic with a trim or scalloped edge, make sure that you line the straight (or plain) edge of the elastic to the edge of the knickers, not the scalloped edge. The scalloped edge should be away from the knicker edge at this stage.
Match up the quarter markings from your elastic and onto your leg opening and pin them together with the elastic on top.
Stitch the elastic down along the edge, being careful to stretch the elastic evenly as you go.
STEP 3b: Fold elastic over and re-stitch
Once you have stitched the elastic on top of the edge, turn the elastic under. You should now be looking at a folded edge on your knickers and the scalloped edge of your elastic.
Stitch it down a second time to secure the folded edge in place (this will also hide the raw edge under the elastic on the inside)
STEP 3c: Repeat the process for the other leg
Now both leg openings should have elastic on the edges and it should look something like this when looking at the right side up.
STEP 4: Sew one of the side seams (not both)
Make sure the knickers are right sides together and stitch one of the side seams closed. (You could use your overlocker for this step if you have one)
STEP 5: Stitch elastic to waist
Attach the elastic to the waist using the exact same method as previously used for the legs.
STEP 6: Stitch your final side seam
Make sure the knickers are right sides together again and stitch your remaining side seam closed. Thats the final step!
Your Knickers are finished!
There is also a video on youtube if you want to watch these steps happen in real time.