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!

Related Post

  • that is such a cute bathing suit 🙂 I don’t understand how people are so good at sewing.

  • Thank you for this! i sell girls’ panties on ETSY and have been struggling with my supplier; now I feel confident I may be able to make the base on my own. My friend sent me your link because I took a class last night on stretch-lace panties and learned the same technique with picot edge elastic, but only on the waist because of the stretch lace. Now combining your pattern and that one, I’m ready – I’m ready – I think I can – I think I can ….


  • This is a fantastic tutorial! I just found your blog and subscribed immediately. I sell lingerie and the construction of your bras is better than some of what I see in my store. Fabulous!

  • Karen

    I just made my 1st pair and I love them! I used the hipster pattern and they fit *exactly* like my fave pair I’ve hung onto since I can’t buy them anymore. They have a center back seam for more “definition.” Also, instead of elastic at the waist, I added 1″ in height, turned under and did a serger blind hem (could zig zag). It’s like a yoga waistband which I find more comfortable. I used foldover elastic on legs but I find it a little bulky/heavy. I will try plush picot next time. Awesome stash-busting opportunity!

    • I love your idea about fabric waistband, it sounds comfortable! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  • Karen

    Thank for including all 3 major elastic types! I have all three and want to try them to see what I like best. I also appreciate the wholly enclosed crotch step because I’ve seen other tutorials that leave one end open. Your instructions are way better!

  • LLBB

    Thanks so much for posting this in such detail! I just made a pair (from a loved but ill-fitting t-shirt and picot edge elastic I won in No Time to Sew’s giveaway) using Zo’s pattern. yay for my t-shirt’s utilitarian second life!

    • Yay! Congrats on the new pair! 🙂

  • Sufiya

    One little tip I found in a great book on how to sew lingerie (Sewing Lingerie that Fits by Karen Morris), was not to distribute the elastic evenly around the leg holes of the panty, but to keep the greater bulk of the gathering towards the back, so that the seat has that bit of extra room and thus will not ride up and “wedge”. This sounds like a perfectly common-sense solution to that particular, all-too-common problem!

    • That really makes sense! Thank you for the tips, I will try to apply this for my next one! 🙂

  • Great tutorial! This is so detailed and helpful! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • I can’t help but notice, did you have a mini blog redesign? If so, it looks great!

    Great tutorial too. A job well done for showing many ways to attach elastic.

    • i love trying out all those themes and plugins so my blog constantly changes 😛 glad that you like it Maddie!

  • Great tutorial! Thanks so much!

    One question, how do you attach stretch lace instead of elastic? Just use the same measurements for elastic and then attach with a zigzag right side to wrong side?

    • yes, I usually use 3 step zigzag stitch and topsitch on the lace side 🙂

  • Lynn Swiriduk

    This is a timely tutorial for me. I’ve been toying with the idea of making my own panties, even more motivated when I saw a pair of silk ones in Vancouver for $200! I bought several colours of picot elastic and now I know how to apply it. Thank you for the clear explanation.

  • Geo

    Thank you for the detailed instructions! I always wanted to make my own panties but I didn’t have everything clear – like how to sew the crotch. Now I have no excuse 🙂

  • Oh my goodness, THANK YOU so much for putting up this blog post in particular! I actually bought organic jersey fabric over a month ago with plans to sew my own panties but I am so very intimidated to sew knits! I think your blog post is my sign to do it very soon now 😉 Love, love your craft, thanks for writing :0)

  • i’m not sure why sewing undergarments makes me so nervous; seems so quick and easy to scrap if they don’t work. you’re such an inspiration with this stuff! thanks for the tutorial. 🙂

  • Threads

    Wonderful tutorial, great step out photos…. Thank you. I have made swimsuits but not panties… Looks like I should get busy!

  • Fabulous! I’m sewing along with Amy’s bra sewalong right now and I was wondering about the other half of things – this helps me heaps! Thankyou 🙂

  • This is a great tutorial! I love the different variations with elastic, and can’t wait to try my own! What a great addition to Stretch Yourself!


  • Thanks a lot for sharing all this info, I’ve pinned it for future reference! I didn’t know any of the blogs mentioned above: I love discovering new blogs 🙂

  • I love these, and really I’m so excited to try! I’m just timidly sticking my baby toe into intimate sewing (made my first lingerie bra a couple weeks ago!) and this tutorial is so inspiring. THANK YOU thank you for participating in the series, I’ve been a long time fan of you and was so excited for you to join us! What an awesome tutorial!

    • Thank you for inviting me Miriam! I’ve been looking at other projects in this series and learning so much 🙂

  • Jen-nyc

    This is a nice, clear tutorial and I’m sure it’s going to get a lot of views! I started sewing my own panties a few years ago and I wish I’d had a tutorial like this. I was so confused about that crotch attachment at first and figuring out how much elastic was needed. Good quality stretch lace also makes a nice stretch edging for panties, but it can be hard to find. I personally like the 3-step zig zag attachment best. I only recently realized that my machine, an older Bernina, does this. It is called “running stitch” in the manual & it looks like a wave, but if the settings are adjusted it turns into a 3-step zig zag. I’ve also tried a double needle, which works, but I tend to think it ends up kind of bulky.
    I haven’t made any panties in a while, but the tutorial inspires me to use up my stash of picot and do a little production sewing some weekend. Thank you!

    • I agree about the 3 step zigzag stitch! It really makes everything flat and secure 🙂

  • Katy

    Thank you thank you thank you! I have a stash of old t-shirts I’ve been wanting to make into underwear, but I’ve been too nervous. I think this tutorial is just the push I needed!

  • Fab tutorial!!!! Making panties is a skill that I want to get this year, and your tutorial is very clear and you can sew without overlocker, thank you very much!

  • Thanks so much for this! I definitely need to try this

  • Jen

    Thank you for this wonderful, non-scary tutorial. Even I feel like I can do this! 🙂
    Do you have any good shopping resources for buying the picot edge elastic? I don’t recall seeing this at my local fabric store.

    • Hi Jen! I often buy my lingerie supplies online from Merckwaerdigh or elingeria. They have the picot edge elastic with plush side.
      You can also search on eBay or etsy to find the elastic 🙂

  • Miriana

    Great tutorial. I shall be making some soon!