Monday, December 2, 2019

Cheap Thrills: Custom Undies

Hello, Hello! I'm just waking up from the four-day sewing/sleeping/snacking marathon that is the Thanksgiving holiday break for me. This is the closest I've ever come to a "sewcation" and it was freakin' awesome!

Over the summer, I started playing around with some artwork that I had created a few years ago and learned how to create seamless repeats in photoshop for printed fabric. I decided to give Spoonflower a go and opened a little shop to post some fun—and very, very brightly colored—surface designs. The exercise reminded me of how much I love drawing and having a daily drawing practice as way to unwind and relax. I'm slowly getting back into it, but you know how it is. So many hobbies, so little time...also, probably too much scrolling...

One thing I've noticed, though, is that the colors I'm attracted to for artmaking aren't necessarily the colors I want to wear in garments. Except for underwear, that is. I love fun, feminine, playfully patterned, and brightly colored undies. The black, navy, and grey that I'm drawn to for outer garments tend to make kind of sad-looking underwear. Way. Too. Serious.

So a month or two ago, Spoonflower had a 50% off fat quarters, which was a perfect opportunity to make some custom-printed undies and also test out the difference between the two types of knits: Modern Jersey and Cotton Spandex Jersey.

The blue pattern above is printed cotton spandex jersey and the pinkish one is modern jersey. I used the Frankie pattern, by Evie La Luve, which is basic but also cute. Here's what I've noticed so far:

Cotton Spandex (Blue)

  • 4-way stretch, so better for undergarments, naturally. 
  • The 4-way stretch also helps to get the most mileage out of the fabric. I cut two pairs (size XL) out of one fat quarter, although I did have to piece the front of one pair. 
  • The texture is a bit rough. I will have to see if it softens up with washing and wears. I don't think I would use it for baby clothes. 
  • Very stable to sew with, little to no curling, generally great to work with.
  • (ETA: Folks, we have a winner! Great stretch recovery and very comfortable. Launders well.)
Modern Jersey (Pink)

  • 2-way stretch only
  • Smoother finish
  • Drapier than the cotton spandex. Would be a nice fabric for a knit top, wearable but not ideal for underwear. (ETA: Now that I've road tested, I definitely would not use this fabric for underwear. Not enough stretch recovery.)
  • A little bit of curling when cutting but overall not too bad.
  • I think the printing detail is a bit finer due to the smoother surface. 
I also ordered some poly crepe de chine of my favorite pattern, but I've yet to cut into it. To be honest, I'm used to sewing and wearing such nice fiber contents, it's hard to get jazzed about sewing up a poly. I will say, though, that the detail and color saturation on the crepe de chine is really gorgeous and is the closest to my original artwork.  See below. 

Thinking of designing your own fabric? Go for it! The monetary risk is so small, and the quality of the materials will only contine to improve with time. Also, it's really fun! The process of setting up a shop and uploading patterns is very easy. Much like Etsy, however, Spoonflower is supersaturated with users, requiring lots of marketing and a large pattern library in order for consumers to find you. That said, it seems like there are some successful sellers out there and lots of people making wonderful designs, so it might make a good side gig for a motivated designer. You have to pay for a test swatch, but there are tricks to getting the most out of this. I recommend Oksancia's youtube for tips on how to do this, as well as some of the technical aspects of working with psd and illustrator to create textile patterns. She also seems very sweet and encouraging. 

For me, it's been a fun way to get back into drawing and a way for my interest in sewing to splinter off into another creative direction. Between this and my newfound interest in quilting, I'm going to need a lot more sewcations! :)

Thank you for reading! Hope you enjoy the hazy crazy holiday season.  Take it easy, have fun, and be good to yourself!


  1. Thanks for the very interesting post. Your designs are so pretty. I can't wait to see your design line to come. Happy Holidays!

    1. Thanks, Calamity! (BTW, I love your name. :)) Happy Holidays to you as well!