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Boxers or Briefs? Sewing Men’s Underwear

What to expect from old and new patterns

Boxers, briefs, bikinis, and thongs. You might not be familiar with every style of men’s underwear out there, but as a sewer and collector of vintage patterns (and a man who has worn different types of underwear over the years), I am ready to walk you through them.

From a sewer’s perspective, men’s underwear can be divided into two categories: knits and wovens. Which is easier to sew? It’s hard to say. Your comfort level sewing knit underwear will depend on your experience with knits. While knit jersey fabric can be more forgiving in the fit, it can be challenging to find the right knit fabric (i.e., a knit that corresponds to what was used in the drafting of the original pattern), especially if you order fabric online and cannot test the fabric’s stretch in person. I find it easier to sew woven fabrics: They’re more stable and more predictable to handle.

Knit underwear

Sewing knit underwear generally requires, at a minimum, a zigzag sewing machine. A serger can be useful and, for an even more professional-looking result inside and out, a cover-stitch machine is ideal. I make knit underwear with a basic zigzag machine and a serger. My results have been good, even if you wouldn’t mistake my briefs for a pair of Jockeys or Calvin Kleins.

This early 1990s Kwik Sew underwear pattern includes a string bikini style for the bold-hearted.

There are some excellent knit underwear patterns in print. I have had experience with Jalie 3242, which includes patterns for children and adults, male and female, all in one pattern. There are also instructional videos from Jalie available on YouTube.

Jalie pattern instructions are detailed and well-written.

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  1. ParisFlo | | #1

    Thank you Peter. A very informative article. I am definitely going to make some soon.

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