Friday, December 25, 2015

DIY Upcycled Bikini Underwear

DIY, outdoor, clothing, gear, Upcycled, Bikini, Underwear, sewing, high huts, amc

DIY Upcycled Bikini Underwear - back view

Upcycle – also known as Creative Reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless and/or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.

Your favorite shirt has a stain, hole or some other flaw and you just can’t bring yourself to throw it out? Then upcycle it! Here's one of my favorite AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) High Huts shirt which had several runs in both sleeves. So I upcycled it into bikini underwear. The fabric content is 100% Polyester with 75% stretch - perfect! It’s simple and fast!

Supplies used:
A t-shirt or shirt of knit fabric that stretches 75% (meaning 4” of fabric should stretch easily to 7”)
3/8 inch Knit Elastic
Kwik Sew #3608 Pattern
½ yard  Tracing Material -I use Sew-In Interfacing (Optional)
Ball point pen or marker
Scissors or rotary cutter
Cutting mat (for rotary cutter)
Ruler or Tape measure
Suggested Needle: Schmetz Stretch Needle 90/14
Suggested Thread: Maxi-Lock Stretch Serger Thread
Household Sewing Machine
Zig Zag Foot attachment

**This DIY project assumes you already know how to use your sewing machine and have basic sewing skills. If you don't, contact a sewing store for basic sewing lessons.

My Sewing Notes:

For this project, I used the Kwik Sew #3608 pattern since I had it on hand. I don’t remember how much I paid for it because I can’t even remember when I purchased it. JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores carries a limited supply of Kwik Sew patterns so you may have to order online (see References below).  Pattern lists yardage amounts for 60” wide fabric. Use Fabric Width Conversion Chart to find yardage amount for 54” width Merino Wool fabric. On this pattern, I found that the crotch was too wide so I trimmed off a half inch of the crotch area from both the front and back pattern. Also, it has instructions for lining the entire front piece. But I didn't want the front entirely lined, so I made my own crotch lining for it. I've included instructions and photos below.

Kwik Sew does make a pattern for underwear. It's available online in paper as well as printable download. You might also be able to find this pattern on or Includes 4 different styles; Brief, Bikini, Hipster & Thong. And sizes XS thru XL.

Tracing Pattern pieces is optional. I trace pattern pieces because the patterns include different sizes. If I cut out just one pattern size, then I won’t be able to use the pattern pieces in the other sizes. If you don’t plan to use the other pattern sizes, just omit tracing and cut out the pattern piece. This will save you the time from tracing as well as the cost of tracing material. I used a ball-point pen and a marker to trace my pattern onto Sew-In Interfacing. While some seamsters prefer to trace their pattern pieces directly onto the fabric using a tracing wheel and tracing transfer paper, I personally prefer to trace the pattern pieces onto Sew-In Interfacing. I use Sew-In Interfacing for tracing because it’s inexpensive and very easy to see through.  Also, when using a tracing wheel to trace patterns, over time the pattern will tear along the traced lines.

 Here’s how I installed the crotch lining.

I traced a pattern of lining from the Front pattern piece making sure to mark the notch at the crotch center. Make certain that you place the pattern on the fabric with the greatest stretch across.

Cutting Front
I placed the front pattern onto the front of the shirt. 

Cutting Back
I placed the back pattern onto the back of the shirt and made certain to get all the names of the High Huts within the pattern edge.

Lay the Front pattern with right side facing up. With the wrong side facing up, lay the Back pattern on top of the Front pattern. With the wrong side facing up, lay the crotch lining on top of the Back pattern. Pin and stitch matching notches using a straight stitch.  

Turn right side out and pin and baste crotch lining to front. If you want the crotch lining to be enclosed, then finish with a narrow zig zag stitch instead of a baste stitch.

The pattern instructions call for sewing the front to back at the side seams, and then applying the knit elastic. Instead, I attached the elastic to the wrong side of the leg openings before sewing the front to back at the sides (sewing it this way made it easier for me to ease the elastic onto the curved edge of the leg openings).  Use the 3 step zigzag stitch or a wide zigzag stitch. After installing the knit elastic in both leg openings, remove baste stitch. 

Stitch front to back at sides. Turn right side out and apply elastic to waist. 

Turn elastic edge over to wrong side of both leg openings and waist to form hem. Use zig zag stitch per pattern instructions. 

Ta-da!  High Huts Undies completely!!

Maxi-Lock Stretch Serger Thread
Works perfectly with Merino Wool and merino wool blends. It’s stretchy and will have more “give” in stretchy and knit fabric than polyester threads. If you don’t have a serger/overlock machine, you can still use this thread. Just buy one cone and wind some thread on a bobbin to use in your regular sewing machine. If you’re finishing off the hem edge with double stitch, then wind thread onto two bobbins.

Suppliers/Resources & Notes:
Kwik Sew #3608 Pattern: Kwik Sew (Kansas)

Knit Elastic:  Joann’s Fabric & Craft

Apparel Sew-In Interfacing:  Joann’s Fabric & Craft

My Sewing History
I spent many years sewing my own clothes….that’s what you did after your mom sent you to sewing lessons for the summer when you’re 14 years old. Over the years I handmade Halloween costumes for my daughters as well as prom dresses and figure skating costumes complete with beadwork all done by hand. Living just 12 miles from Malden Mills, I outfitted my family with handmade polar fleece jackets, pullovers, hats, mittens and pants. We still use polar fleece blankets that I had made years ago! And I even had a small biz selling Polar Fleece Skatewear to figure skating teams – I contracted a small manufacturing company in New Hampshire do to all the sewing in order for me to focus on the sales end of the business. I stopped sewing for several years but now am back at it again. This time for making my own outdoor gear to be used while out climbing and hiking!