Continuing my (relaxed) quest to only furnish my wardrobe with just the right amount of just the right clothes, I’ve been making new underwear. The pattern this time is called ‘The Bold – Boxer Shorts’ and it’s from a relatively new French company Patrons De Couture Les BG. If you haven’t heard of them, allow me to fill you in: Set up by two ex contestants of the French version of Sewing Bee, in 2017 David and Olivier launched a modern menswear sewing pattern line and just the other week, they very kindly sent me 4 of their patterns in the new English language version. (Disclaimer: I received these patterns as a free gift. I was not asked for anything in return; this post is all my own idea, opinion and instigation)
The pattern calls for quite a stretchy jersey, 50-70%. It’s not mentioned but I like it if the fabric has a bit of ‘up-and-down’ stretch as well as the required ‘side-to-side’ stretch. You barely need half a metre so it’s a great one for using up t-shirt leftovers. I’ve got a small stash of plain jersey (that I’ve only made a few t-shirts from so far) so I got a few pairs of those. MrA was the lucky one and got a pair made out of the leftovers from his Strong-Man T-shirt! I made view A for him, it has a back yoke – which I made plain.. I figured it was less exposing if they showed out the back of his trousers…? And I made view B for myself. These are quite plain overall, but with no side or back seams they’re really comfortable too.
There are two patterns in The Bold pack, vest/ singlet and boxers/ trunks in sizes XS-XXL (79-110cm waist. 89-116cm chest). The packaging is nice and fancy: a sturdy plastic wallet with velcro-dot fastening. Inside you’ll find the front card with the sketches on, a nicely illustrated instruction booklet and the pattern sheet itself. There are no seam allowances included so you will have to add your own. I know this can be a deal breaker for some sewists, but I don’t mind it too much. Not if I’m tracing the pattern anyway, which I always do so that I have the option to make another size.
Essentially you’re tracing the pattern twice, but I appreciate that second go round incase I’ve missed any notches or markings on the first go. You’ll notice I trace two of the crotch pieces, this way I don’t have to cut through 4 layers at once.
I won’t repeat the pattern instructions here, as with most instructions; they’re good if you follow them and understand them.
Not all of the information is translated, and not all of it is translated clearly – with this (relatively) easy pattern that’s not such a big issue, but if you haven’t made underwear before, you may find yourself with a couple of head scratching moments.
Something quite interesting to note if you’re looking from a point of inclusivity: these patterns appear very much geared towards men. In a fascinatingly modern way, the guys have reappropriated the often dismissive language of (some) previous menswear patterns (… ‘Sewing for your man!’… ‘Something for him’… and my LEAST favourite… ‘Fathers Day Special’!) … perhaps deliberately, perhaps it appeared in the translation (which, truth be told is a little wonky in parts although I’m not one to judge) but you know how cheeky the French can be 😉
For me, the biggest triumph here is with view B. So few pattern pieces, which translates to few seams, which translates to comfort! I don’t really find the inside seams of my underwear uncomfortable, but why take the risk! It also means a quicker sew if that’s your bag.
Another beautiful thing is the use of the Burrito method during the construction. I’ve used this method plenty of times when making shirts. (I’ve blogged about it Here if you’re interested…) but I’ve never used it on underwear before. It’s a fun technique, that really feels like a bit of sewing-sorcery! You basically roll everything into a ball, sew it up and pull your garment out through a hole in the top! – But here it is with a bit more explanation…
Start by sewing two front crotch pieces to either side of the main piece.
Next, sew one set of crotch pieces, right sides together at the centre front. Lay your boxers down so that the centre back is at one side and centre front at the other. The un-sewn crotch pieces should be on the outside.
Then the fun bit starts when you roll everything up towards the centre front.
Flip the open crotch pieces over the roll and pin the seam. Make sure you’ve rolled your ‘burrito’ tight enough to not get the main shorts caught up in the seam.
Then once it’s sewn, pull the boxers out through the gap at the top…
And marvel at the magic of the burrito method as all the seams are neatly enclosed on the inside.
Although there are not many pattern pieces, it is still possible to muck it up! The instructions are good, but sometimes the explanations could be a little more thorough; I managed to sew the crotch pieces on backwards and upside down on my first go!
Another interesting point to note is that pressing is not mentioned anywhere throughout the instructions. Although this is not strictly necessary, personally, I believe I get a better finish if I press each seam after sewing. This can be a little tricky over some of the curves, but put your ham in it, if you have one (…no, that’s not a euphemism!!)
With view A, I wondered if the back yoke should be deeper. I’d imagined it like a band, but it turned out more like a strip. If your fabric has a big pattern that you want to show off at this section, you may consider deepening the pattern piece (and adjusting the back piece accordingly) before cutting out.
Although I’m not sure it’s the strongest stitch, I finished off with a twin needle. The instructions suggest using woolly nylon in the bobbin to give more stretch. This is probably a fantastic idea as my twin needle stitching can split from time to time, but I haven’t got woolly nylon (yet!). On the grey pair (above) I’ve used the 3 step zigzag stitch for an (arguably) less professional looking but stronger finish. On this plain black pair I wanted to add a little splash of colour, so out came the rainbow thread…
View A is fun, but I love view B! I’ll definitely be making more of them for both myself & MrA. View A, not so much. There’s nothing wrong with them per se, but I didn’t feel the contrasted back yoke gave enough oomph considering ‘all’ the extra work that goes into it: I’d rather just make them out of one patterned fabric.
I imagine this is the part where I’m supposed to post a photo of me wearing them. To be honest, it just felt too weird trying to take photos of me posing around the house in my underwear… like trying for the readers’ wives pages! And I didn’t feel comfortable stripping off in the park for an al fresco photo shoot! But then we were barbecuing in a friends back yard on a very hot afternoon. MrA was wearing his matching T-shirt and boxers set and the perfect photo opportunity naturally occurred!
Sending big thanks to the guys at BG for gifting me these patterns. Did I mention they also sent their chino, shirt and sweater patterns? I’ll be sewing them up soon too, so watch this space for more!
In the meantime,
Notes to self:
- Look out for more suitable fabric in more fun patterns.
- Work out why some of my photos appear sideways…?
- Get some woolly nylon!