Brief Encounter

It’s been a fun, busy, jammed packed summer her at ProjectStarter towers and I haven’t got much sewing done. So buoyed on by managing to bodge together finish my first FBA, I immediately started on making something with the remaining fabric.

I only had a sort of L shape piece of t shirt material and not even big enough for a kids t shirt. However I had a hunch it would be enough for the Comox trunk pattern. I had it sitting on my laptop having purchased it when it was on offer thinking I’d join in the sewalong but never got around to it. (By the way, if you haven’t heard of Thread Theory’s Comox trunks then you must check out the link, you don’t need to be remotely interested in making them, trust me, it’s worth it for the scenery in the photo shoot).

I struggled a bit assembling the pattern, nothing really to do with the pdf, more that my printer printed some pages twice and most of them over a second copy of the Maria Denmark kimono T pattern – not sure how that happened. Then when I did have them all correct, I had to double check the cutting layout to make sure that they were right as the main short piece looked such an odd shape I was convinced it was wrong (it wasn’t).

I had no idea at this point how all the pattern pieces were going to all meet up to make a pair of boxer shorts. The sensible thing to do at this point would have been to find a pair lying around the house and examine them and compare them to the pattern pieces. Or to read the instructions all the way to the end and look at the clear diagram for the elastic joining step and to work it out from that. But instead I soldiered on, with the kids running in and out (I normally sew when they’re in bed).

As I had no idea how they went together I decided not to attempt pattern matching as I had no idea what to match with what. I also ignored the cutting layout, due to my odd shaped piece of fabric, and just cut the pieces out of the single layer in order to squeeze them all in. I did my usual mistake of forgetting to flip the pattern pieces over the second time. Duh. And this time, I didn’t remember until after I cut them out (usually I remember post fabric marking, pre cutting). I decided that it wouldn’t matter too much, as no one would see them, I would just have to use half the pieces wrong side out. And indeed, hubby didn’t notice this error when presented with the finished pair, although it looked glaringly obvious to me.

The other stupid mistake I made was with the front cup bit. Hmm, maybe I should explain, for those as unfamiliar with the topography of men’s underwear as myself, the pattern pieces involved are a sort of u shaped back piece (which avoids having an uncomfortable centre seam) that basically covers the bum; 2 pieces that are called main short in the pattern, but that I thought of as the sides (once I worded out where they went), as they wrap around from the back to the front and form nearly all of the leg bits; a gusset, that goes in the normal gusset place and makes a little portion of the legs to; and the cup bit at the front. This cup bit is made of 2 pieces with a curved seam in the middle to make it shaped and the top half of one side is bound, as it doesn’t end up in the seam, it’s left open, for access. You make 2 identical ones, and then baste them together, so that these bound sides are on opposite sides. At least, that’s what you’re supposed to do, but I didn’t. Not sure why. In my defense I think I got confused by the sentence that said “Lay the trunk front pieces on top of each other with one WRONG side facing one RIGHT side.” As both my cups were half wrong side half right side due to the vagaries of the cutting process this was confusing. In Thread Theories defense the next sentence clearly states “The curved bound edge will be facing in two different directions.” but I obviously didn’t notice that. I think I was too busy worrying about why the stitching line looked like it did, which is now obvious to me now I know what I should have done. I don’t think swapping between the instructions and the sewalong helped me either.

I also got confused sewing them up. At this point swapping between instructions and sewalong really didn’t help as they started with opposite sides of the cup being attatched to a side piece. I now realise it doesn’t matter which you do first, but at the time it led to me needlessley unpicking a seam of triple stretch stitches as I thought I’d gone wrong and then soon after having to re sew them. Ouch.

Before I attached the gusset I realised that I’d gone badly wrong somewhere. My two bound edges at the top of one side of the cup were on top of each other and the bottom one was sewn into a seam – clearly bonkers. I realised that if I attatched the gusset to both the bottom layers of the cup as per the instructions I would create a pair of shorts with what basically would amount to a pocket on the front of them, as there would be a way into the middle of the cup but no way out on the inside. Not very practical!

At this point I saw sense and examined some of the many boxers in the house. They looked so familiar and yet I realised that I had no idea how they worked. All the ones in this household, mens and boys, have a curved opening at one side on the outside of the cup, like the Comox, but instead of a corresponding curved opening on the other side of the cup like the Comox design, on the inside the bottom piece of the cup is shorter than the outside and not attatched to the gusset, so access is from there. (I wonder if this is a UK/Canada difference as I looked at several different makes of boxers for both men and boys and they were all like this – I suddenly realised how little I know about boxers). As the bottom of my cup’s were only basted together I unpicked this and fudged my own version of this design.

By the time it came to hemming and elastic I abandoned instructions as I clearly wasn’t having a good reading day and just winged it.

Amazingly, after all that, they came out looking like underwear.

front view

front view

And they fit and they’ve been worn to work.

back view

back view

The back panel sits a little low and could do with being a cm or two higher up, I may look into redrafting that if I make it again, although if it means altering the wierdly shaped side pieces I may chicken out on that one. I don’t supposed the elastic I used helped, it was what I had in the house and could really have done with being wider.

inside view of the bodged, err, access point

inside view of the bodged, err, access point

The opening arrangements have been deemed as just about usable. Really if I wanted to make the opening like this again I would fold up the bottom portion of the inner cup before basting the two cups together. As the change was made so late the entire sides of both cups are caught in the seams to the side pieces so there’s not as much of a gap as there really needs to be. Of course, I could also try following the instructions properly.

side view

side view – in case you were wondering

He did offer to model them to camera – on condition he got to wear trousers too, but the photo shoot never happened.

I’m officially declaring this pair a wearable muslin – you’ll just have to take my word for it.

6 thoughts on “Brief Encounter

  1. Goodness I now realise I have never really looked at boxer shorts despite washing 100’s of pairs over the years! I think my son’s have buttons on them somewhere though so they might be a bit different. It’s another good way to use up smaller bits of jersey that I hadn’t thought of, too.

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