Tutorial: Sewing Panties

This post is part of the Stretch Yourself series, hosted by Miriam of Mad Mim and Miranda of One Little Minute. It is a two week long series about sewing with knits that have started last week, covering various topics like fabric selection, pattern-making, construction, finishing techniques with various style and projects by 10 guest bloggers.

Today I am honored to be one of the guest blogger! Don’t forget to check out Jodi at Sew Fearless who will also posting about using stretch lace.

Sewing panties

Sewing Panties

My tutorial is for sewing your own panties, but most especially about using and attaching several types of elastics. Sewing your own panties is fast and easy, really it is much more faster than reading this whole tutorial. You don’t need too much fabric, and can even recycle fabric from old T-shirts. With imaginations, you can have a drawer full of pretty and colorful panties in no time!

You will need:

Elastics and fabric
  • Stretch fabric: lycra, jersey. The amount will depend on your size, but usually about 0.5 m is enough. Old T-shirts can also be used!
  • 4-7 mm width elastic, about 1.5-2 m for each panties. I usually use the plush picot edge elastic, it has one soft side that will make it comfortable against the skin. I will also show how to use foldover elastic and regular elastic.
  • No serger needed! An ordinary sewing machine that can sew straight stitch, zigzag stitch, and 3 step zigzag stitch (optional) is all you need. Use ballpoint sewing machine needle for sewing jersey/stretch as regular sewing needle can be too sharp and damage the fabric.
  • And of course, a pattern. There are many free panties pattern available on the net, here is some of them:

You can also trace them yourself from the ones you already have. Cut the panties on the seamline and trace them on paper. Then add 6 mm (1/4″) seam allowance to all pattern pieces.

Cutting the fabric

Placing pattern pieces
  • For most pattern, you will have three pieces, front, back, and crotch.
  • Fold your fabric and place your pattern pieces. Pay careful attention to the grainline marks. The finished panties will be twisted if the grainline is off.

  • You will usually have 1 front piece, 1 back piece and 2 crotch pieces (one is for crotch lining).
  • If your fabric is lycra, use cotton jersey for the crotch lining because it is more comfortable. I usually cut old T-shirts for this purpose.
  • Transfer the pattern markings to the fabric. You can use fabric marker, but some tiny snips are usually enough.

Points to remember:

  • You can use straight stitch to sew the panties, but I prefer to use zigzag stitch to maintain the stretchiness of the fabric. When using straight stitches, sometimes the stitches might ‘pop’ when the fabric is stretched.
  • I usually set my zigzag stitch on 2.5 in width and 1.5-2 in length.
  • Stretch the fabric slightly when sewing, matching the edges. You don’t need to use too many pins.

Sewing the panties

  • Sandwich the back piece between two crotch pieces, matching all the stitching marks. Pay attention to the fabric sides. Both right sides of the crotch piece should be against the back piece. Hold the layers with pins.
Stitch the sandwiched layers together
  • Stitch the sandwiched layers together using zigzag stitches. Hold the fabric and stretch them slightly with your fingers to nudge the edges together.

  • Roll the back piece between the two crotch pieces.

  • Sandwich the front piece between crotch piece and crotch lining, again while paying attention to the fabric sides. Stitch these layers together as before.

  • Turn the crotch inside out. Voila! All crotch seams are hidden inside!
  • Sew each side seams of the panties. It’s time to sew the elastics!

Sewing the elastics: picot edge

Picot edge elastic has one picoted edge and one straight side. The picot edge will look very pretty peeking a bit around the waist and leg openings. Some of them has plush side to make it comfortable against the skin.

Mark the center back and front
  • Measure the waistline of the panties and cut your elastic about 15-20% shorter than the measurement. Add 1 cm (5/8″) allowance before you cut.
  • You can also measure the elastic by placing it around your waist comfortably.
  • Mark the center point of the elastic with pin or fabric marker, also mark the center back and front of the waist.
Pin the elastic to the fabric
  • Starting on the center back, place the elastic on the right side of the fabric,  Line the straight edge (non picoted) of the elastic against the edge of fabric. Pin the center of elastic to the center front.
  • Sew the elastic using zigzag stitch, making it as close as possible to the picoted edge.
  • When sewing elastic to the fabric, you should stretch ONLY the elastic and not the fabric.
  • I don’t use other pins other than the two above and only do the stretch-hold-sew. Stretch the elastic slightly, put your thumb down to hold it in place, and sew. Repeat until you reach the center back again.

  • Overlap the end of elastic by 1 cm.
  • If necessary, trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk.
Topstitch using 3 step zigzag stitch or ordinary zigzag stitch
  • Turn the elastic to the wrong side and topstitch from the right side using 3 step zigzag stitch. I usually set the stitch on 4-5 in width and 1.5-2 in length.
  • Stretch slightly when sewing. You don’t have to use any pins at all in this step. Don’t forget to backstitch at the end of stitching.
  • If your sewing machine don’t have 3 step zigzag stitches, ordinary zigzag stitch or other decorative stitches can also be used.

  • Repeat the procedure for both leg openings.
  • When sewing the elastic to the leg openings, I usually start on the crotch.
  • Pin end of elastic to a random point on the crotch. Pin center of elastic to approximately halfway point of leg.
Picot edge elastic
  • Your panties is finished! Sometimes the elastic stretched up a little after sewing, but it will spring back after washing.


Sewing the elastics: foldover elastic

Foldover elastic has a slightly shiny side with a folding line along the middle.  The folding line will make it easier to keep the elastic in the same width on either side of fabric. They will create a clean, neat finish to the panties.
Sewing foldover elastic
  • Starting on the center back, place the elastic on the wrong side of the fabric,  Line the edge of the elastic
    against the edge of fabric.
  • Sew the elastic using zigzag stitch, keeping the stitches in one side of the folding line that is farther from the fabric edge. Stretch the elastic slightly when sewing.
  • Trim the seam allowance .
  • Fold the elastic on the folding line, and topstitch from the right side using 3 step zigzag stitch.
Foldover elastic


Sewing the elastics: regular elastic

Regular elastic may not look as nice as picot edge or foldover elastics, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them! You can also use this following method to sew clear elastics.

Sewing regular elastic
  • Starting on the center back, place the elastic on the wrong side of the fabric,  Line the edge of the elastic
    against the edge of fabric.
  • Sew the elastic using zigzag stitch. Stretch the elastic slightly when sewing.
  • Turn the elastic to the wrong side and topstitch from the right side using 3 step zigzag stitch.
Regular elastic


  • Sew tiny embellishment to the front of panties, tiny bows, crystals, buttons.
  • Slash the pattern in several pieces and use them to mix fabric in different colors or patterns.
  • Use picot edge elastic on the neckline and armholes of your nighties and camisoles!

Thank you and I hope the tutorial will be useful!

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  • Sadie Sadey

    I love this tutorial and am now addicted to making knickers! I love using favourite ‘stretchy’ dance dresses that no longer fit (but I can still wear the memories)! And re using bargain garments that aren’t in my size anyway! It really is so easy I can’t imagine why anyone still buys in the shops!

    • Lien Bijs

      Of course it is fun but knickers are so cheap that it is actually not worthy to sew yourself a knicker, it took me two hours and it is not neat like one from te shop, but I am not handy with sewing at all.

  • Brianna

    Thank you so much for the tutorial! You explain the “how to” beautifully! I’ve just started making clothing for my family of five due to health issues and this tutorial makes me so happy. I’ve already made my nine year old little lady two pairs in a nap time! Wonderful, keep it up please!

  • Laura

    Just wanted to say, the way you sew the gusset is great well done

  • Donna

    HI I am try to make stretch boxer shorts I wear boys now but colour are limited Girls one don’t cover the thigh enough

  • cristina

    thank you for the tutorial but was wondering which of the three underwear patterns did you use on your tutorial

  • No longer adopted

    I am lost at the crotch part. I have a pattern exactly like this. “Both right sides of the crotch piece should be against the back piece. Hold the layers with pins.” When I sew the crotch pieces together I am only sewing a little tiny bit of the back piece that is in between the crotches correct?

  • Jenny B

    Thank you so much for this! I’m an extremely novice sewist but using your tutorial I put together a pair of panties easily – using fabric from an old nightie and a pattern traced from an existing pair of panties. I particularly loved the gusset method which kind of seemed like magic and sewing the elastic which was really surprisingly good fun! The only thing that’s stopping me making another pair immediately is that I don’t have enough elastic left. Thanks again!

  • TBonzie

    Thanks for the tutorial, especially the elastic. I tried to do this according to the pattern (vintage 1970s) yesterday and failed. Your way worked beautifully and it looks really nice.

  • thank you so much, this tutorial is super clear and helpful love it!

  • This is the BEST underwear tutorial I’ve ever seen! So useful and informative with three different elastic techniques! I am sharing this all over the place! Thank you! 🙂 Lisa

  • Holly Johnson

    This is the best Pantie tutorial, I have made panties before and your instructions are perfect and easy to understand….Thank you so much!

  • Kumari

    This is so useful! Thank you so much for sharing!