How to Make High-Waisted Panties With a Totally Retro Vibe

retro panties

Go retro and stitch high-waisted underwear that’s totally comfortable and classic, not to mention customizable thanks to the ability to mix and match woven and knit fabrics. And if you have leftover fabric post-project, there’s great news: you can use it to make a matching vintage-inspired bralette, meaning you’ll never have to scour the lingerie section for perfect-fitting undergarments ever again.

High-Waisted Panties

Level: Intermediate

What You Need

  • The Betty High-Waist Panties pattern
  • Thread
  • Woven or stretch fabric
  • Tape
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Chalk pen or fabric marker
  • Measuring tape
  • Iron
  • Lingerie elastic
  • Sleeve board
  • Instructions

    1. Prep the Pattern

    placing pattern piece

    Download the panties pattern and tape the pieces together. Cut the size you need as indicated on the pattern.

    To cut the front panel, line up the straight “place on fold” edge on the 45-degree true bias. (Don’t try to cut this on the bias and on the fold.) If you choose to make the front panel from stretch fabric, place this piece on the fold on the length of grain and cut out.

    2. Trace

    tracing pattern

    Cut out one whole piece on the bias by pinning and tracing the outline with a chalk pen or fabric marker. Unpin the pattern piece, flip and pin down, keeping the pattern in line with the chalk outline of the other half.

    3. Cut the Front Panel

    cut out panties pattern piece and fabric

    Cut around the entire piece, following the marked line on the half without the pattern piece.

    4. Cut the Back Panel

    tracing pattern

    Pin and trace the back piece onto your back fabric just as you did in step 2. This piece should also be on the bias if made from woven fabric. Again, if you’re using a stretch knit, place this piece on the fold and on grain.

    cut out pattern piece

    Cut this piece as you did in step 3.

    Cut your side panels and crotch lining pieces from stretch knit.

    5. Stitch the Side Panels

    You can use a serger overlock machine for the seams or a stretch stitch. Sew the front panel to the two side panels.

    Pro Tip: We recommend a serger overlock because the panties will stretch around your body, but if you don’t have access to one you can use the stretch stitches on your machine or a long and narrow zigzag stitch . This will keep the seams from popping when you wear them.

    pressing panties fabric

    Press the seam allowance toward the side panels. If you used a straight stitch machine, finish the edges so they don’t fray.

    6. Stitch the Back Panel

    pinned panties fabric

    Pin the back panel to the two side panels and stitch together in the same way you sewed the front panel in step 5. Finish the seams and press toward the side panels.

    Pro Tip: Use a sleeve board in this step so you don’t accidentally press the underside while pressing the top layer of fabric.

    7. Sew the Crotch

    panties crotch fabric

    Finish the two straight edges of the crotch lining using a serger overlock machine or a zigzag stitch.

    pinned crotch piece

    Along the back crotch seam, pin the right side of the crotch lining to the wrong side of the back crotch. Then pin the right side of the front crotch seam to the right side of the back crotch seam, so all three are pinned together and the back panel is sandwiched in the middle.

    sewing panties crotch

    Sew along the pinned edge at ¼” seam allowance. We used straight stitch as this area isn’t pulled and stretched like the side seams.

    pressing panties

    Press the seam allowance toward the front panel, keeping the crotch lining and back panel to the opposite side. Then flip the crotch lining toward the front panel and press the seam again.

    8. Add the Elastic

    adding elastic to panties

    Pin the crotch lining along the leg openings, baste stitch and press flat.

    adding elastic

    Use measuring tape to find the circumference of the leg openings. Cut the lingerie elastic to be about 2″ smaller than this measurement.

    pinning elastic on leg hole

    Pin the lingerie elastic to the leg opening. Place the elastic on the fabric, right sides together, with the flat edge of the elastic flush with the edge of the fabric on the opening. Overlap the beginning and end of the elastic by about ½” and pin in place. Find the halfway point from this first pin and pin that in place, too.

    Pro Tip: The elastic will be stretched to fit the opening during the sewing, so don’t pin the remainder of the elastic down.

    sewing elastic

    Starting at the overlap, use a long and narrow zigzag stitch and sew along the inner edge of the elastic. Stretch the fabric as you sew.

    9. Finish the Leg Opening

    elastic lining on panties

    Trim the extra fabric down on the inside of the elastic so it’s hidden when you flip it in the next step.

    pinning underwear pieces

    Fold the elastic to the inside of the leg opening and pin in place. If your elastic has trim detail, this should show on the outside of the seam.

    sewing panties

    Using a zigzag stitch no wider than the width of the elastic on the inside of the seam, sew the elastic in place. Stitch on the right side of the garment and stretch the elastic as needed.

    panties leg opening

    Repeat steps 8 and 9 for the other leg opening.

    10. Sew the Waistband

    elastic for waistband

    Measure and cut more lingerie elastic to fit the waist opening just as you did in step 8. Pin in place at the overlap spot and again at the halfway point.

    Pro Tip: You want the overlap spot to be in a place that’s relatively hidden. We put it in the center back of the garment.

    sewing elastic panties waistband

    Sew the elastic to the waist and trim. Then fold, pin in place and topstitch as you did in step 9.

    11. Add a Bow

    sew panties bow

    If you’d like to add a decorative bow, hand stitch it in place with a needle and thread.

    retro panties

    Ta-da, you’re done!

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