Monday, March 10, 2008

Sewing Unmentionables

While I was living the lonely life of an Illinoisan in exile in Des Moines, Iowa, I did lots of sewing. Mostly tops, and at least one skirt. I even made the segue into stitching up a pair of underpants using a vintage 1970s-era Stretch and Sew pattern. The model on the pattern cover even had a pair of pigtails, that’s how quaint it was.

So I cut the undies out of this scrap blue petal stretch fabric, a remnant from a bell-sleeved crew neck blouse. I bought the elastic at the local Jo-Ann Fabrics. One very quiet Saturday afternoon I stitched up my very first pair of underwear.

It was a bit bunchy in the wrong places, but it definitely looked like something you would wear beneath your outer garments. I was so proud, I enclosed a fabric swatch in a letter home to my 6-year-old niece. I wrote about the joys of sewing your own undergarments.

The next time I saw my sister-in-law (my niece’s mom) she mentioned those undies straight out. “I would never bother to make something like that,” she said, not in awe but more like she was thought I was straight out crazy, like I had taken a round-trip to Jupiter without wearing a helmet.

But then there’s other end of the spectrum. Those folks who are clearly wowed by any effort to make something that can’t ordered out of a Victoria’s Secret or the press of a button on a PC. These are the same people who ordered a jumbo pack of white cotton socks and t-shirts by the dozen at Old Navy.

When I tell them that I’ve stitched undershorts they’re amazed. It’s almost like I’ve put in a bid to run for president against Hillary Clinton or if I completed the Iditarod with my hands tied behind my back. These same humans don’t realized how easy it is to assemble and stitch this most basic of garments. A front and back, a piece of white cotton jersey for the crotch, stitched together. Elastic in three holes - leg, leg, waist. Secure the aforementioned material with another row of stitches on your sewing machine. Done. Faster than you can find parking on a non-football Sunday at the local mall. Really. If underprivileged men and women in China can make these things assembly faster than you and I can brew a pot of Twinings tea, why couldn’t Americans with multiple degrees craft something like this? Honestly, I rather sew, knit or crochet my undies than duke it out in the parking lot at Old Navy or the Gap just for the privilege of wearing briefs just like Madonna.

Not only do I get the satisfaction of pairing pretty pastel elastic laces with my favorite fabrics, but I can revisit projects past as I cut and sew. The brown-leaf hued stretch lace? That was last seen in a Textile Studios raglan long sleeve top that’s a tad tight on me but I still wear. I bought that at Vogue Fabrics. The sparkly springy fabric? Another find at Vogue - I actually called in my order from the middle of Tornado Alley otherwise known as Iowa. Finally, there’s the uncommonly soft fuschia knit, a remnant that I gleefully purchased on site at Vogue. It’s so amazing to see the lace applied to my textiles, together they become works of art.

What’s more, I look even more forward to wearing those panties. At work, play or home, no one will known what I’m wearing beneath my jeans - a pair of gorgeous unique underwear made for less than five bucks by ME! Lordy, I’ll be so proud that I’ll have to actually people show off my pantaloons. My only fear is that they’ll ask me to make their undergarments. I don’t want to do that. How likely is that?

But when I’m finished sewing for myself, I might some panties for my mother and my nieces. My mother’s a little vain, so I wonder if she wear colorful underwear when she’s accustomed to the inexpensive but beige, white and black varieties. But as one friend likes to say in her email signature, “Life is Short. Wear pretty underwear.” I plan on living a long time, so I better get stitching.


Linda said...

Wow, that sounds so awesome. I have been thinking about making undies for a while now. You convinced me.

the_lazymilliner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the_lazymilliner said...

Linda, I'll post some actual photos of "undies on the line" when the weather's warmer and I've got a better camera.

You're going to enjoy sewing underwear. I promise!