Fact: your most comfy undies could very well be the ones you sew yourself. It’s all about how you decide to finish your edges — after all, nobody wants a pair that digs in or falls down.
That’s where these elastic-free techniques come in. Not only will they revolutionize your comfort factor, but it’s likely the materials you need are already in your sewing stash. The first thing to grab: rib knits or cotton lycra jersey. These fabrics are perfect for creating soft, stretchy knit bands and bindings, both of which are great methods for finishing the edges of your underwear.
Then, decide on a panty style. Knit bands and bindings work well on classic cuts — think hipster, boy shorts and bikinis — but you want to skip thongs, as these finishes can add a bulkiness nobody wants in that situation.
Once those decisions are made, it’s time to let the panty party begin!
Knit Bands Technique
When you finish your edges using this method, you don’t have to use pesky lingerie elastics. Instead, you sew strips of fabric directly to the edges using a seam. The result: seriously soft underwear!
1. Cut and Press the Fabric Band
Start by cutting 1½” to 2″-wide strips of knit fabric, making sure the majority of the stretch is running lengthwise. The total length of binding or banding you’ll need varies based on the pattern, amount of stretch in your fabric, and the size you’re making. As a starting point, cut your bindings and bands about 1″ shorter than your openings, then press in half lengthwise.
2. Attach the Band to the Leg Openings
With the fabric band folded in half, put the right sides together and keep the raw edges aligned with the panty leg openings. Sew along the raw edges using a serger or zigzag stitch.
Just like you would if you were sewing an elastic edge, gently pull on the knit band as you stitch it on. The tension creates a snug edge that’ll prevent your panties from slipping out of place during wear.
3. Complete the Seams
Once both leg openings have a band, sew up one side seam, then attach a band around the waist using the same method. When finished, press all the bands open.
4. Topstitch the Seam Allowance in Place
Unless you prefer it loose, in which case you can leave it as is.
Knit Bindings Technique
This method is for when you want your underwear to have more of a classic finish. Instead of sewing strips of fabric on the edge, you wrap it around the edges, then topstitch through all the layers. If you take a look at ready-to-wear panties (or kids underwear), it’s likely you’ll see this technique in action.
1. Cut the Binding Fabric
Cut a strip of knit fabric about 1½” to 2″ wide, making sure most of the stretch runs lengthwise. As a starting point, cut your binding 1″ shorter than your opening.
2. Attach the Binding to Both Leg Openings
Stretch and pin the binding evenly around the leg openings, right sides together. Once that’s done, sew the binding in place along the raw edges. To attach the binding, you can use a serger or zigzag stitch.
3. Sew the Side Seams and Attach the Waist Binding
Sew together one side seam. Apply the binding around the waist opening, just like you did for the leg openings. Sew together the final side seam.
4. Complete the Bindings
Fold the bindings over and toward the inside of the garment. Using a twin needle or zigzag stitch, topstitch around each of the openings.
5. Trim the Excess Binding
Cut as close to your stitching line as possible to trim off any extra material. Be careful not to clip any stitches!