DIY Underwear tutorial. Making your own underwear from t-shirts is easy!

DIY Underwear From a T-Shirt

DIY Style

Today we’re going to get a little wild and talk about underwear, specifically how to make your own DIY underwear from a t-shirt. We all have that favorite pair of underwear, you know the ones, they sit right, they don’t attack you, and they don’t feel like a chastity belt. At the same time don’t sag, they hug you in all the right places, and if you could only replicate them you could. Well, you can! Luckily, I’ve made a nifty tutorial on how to replicate your underwear and it’s super easy.

Cute DIY floral underwear made from a t-shirt!

My favorite underwear are normal ones. By normal I mean, hipster boyshorts or briefs that fit snug but not too snug. Yeah, there’s a lot of gorgeous underwear out there, with lace, mesh, and satin, but I find it all a little much now that I’m definitely a fully grown woman with shit to do. I just want to put on my big girl panties and go about life.

It didn’t use to be like this, looking back to high school and college, I bought some outrageous underwear.  Somewhere along the line I realized how uncomfortable it all was and started wearing simple underwear here and there, then, all the time, then everyday. That was before I even thought about how weird it is to wear synthetic fabrics as underwear. Think about it, like, plastic to cover your crotch?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like my undies to be pretty, I’m all about pretty! It’s just that I’ve lived enough life to know that uncomfortable under-things are a thing of my past and thank heavens.

Making underwear from t-shirts is awesome because:

  • It’s a great way to use up t-shirts you no longer wear!
  • You get the fit you want! The look you want!
  • It’s fun to make underwear!
  • It’s sustainable. Your shirt became panties, you can’t get any more green than that.

I’d had this floral t-shirt kicking around for a while and I simply wasn’t wearing it. I also kept thinking over and over, “You’d make such cute underwear!” It turns out, it did make cute underwear!

DIY underwear made from a t-shirt.

The best kind of t-shirts (or any other knit garment really) to use for undies are soft and stretchy. Don’t use the standard Fruit-Of-The-Loom t-shirt that you get volunteering for Habitat For Humanity, it won’t be elastic enough. Instead, choose anything that stretches in a way that reminds you of underwear. Also- whether you use cotton or not is up to you. I like cotton because it’s breathable, the choice is really your’s. 

That said, if you want to get fancy with this underwear, I wrote a post all about making your own DIY underwear and matching bralette from a mesh t-shirt. The possibilities are really endless, once you’ve found a cut you like. 

As for what underwear to copy, this tutorial is built around underwear with an inside elastic waistband, no elastic on the leg holes (which is great, because does anyone find that comfortable?) and no seam up the crotch (also, what the ever lovin’ eff, I hate ones like this!). If you don’t own underwear like this to copy, do yourself a favor and go buy a pair. This is the only time I’ll ever advocate for buying new clothes on this blog, so soak it up, people.

Also…..I got a dslr. Wooo! Half of this tutorial was shot with my iphone (bummer) and half was shot with my fancy new camera, hence why some pictures are great and others are so-so. So no judging. I promise you only beautiful pictures from here on out!

How To Make DIY Underwear From A T-Shirt


  • 1 t-shirt, preferably one that fits you a little loosely.
  • 1 pair of underwear that you love to make a pattern from. For this tutorial choose a pair with an elastic waistband and no elastic on the leg holes.
  • Fabric Scissors + Paper Scissors
  • Sewing Machine
  • Knit/Jersey Ball Point Needle
  • Paper to make your pattern, I used postal packing paper, but you can use anything, newspaper even!
  • Thread
  • Ruler
  • Tape Measurer
  • Pins
  • Marking Chalk (optional)
  • Pen
  • 1/2 inch elastic.

***First, a note on sewing knit fabric. If you’ve never sewn knit fabric before, I highly recommend you go to your local fabric store and buy a knit or jersey needle for your sewing machine. These needles are designed to sew knit fabric, and if you don’t use one you’ll notice problems such as bunching, needle breakage, and oddly misshapen lines and hems. ALSO: you don’t need a serger to sew knits, you just need a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine. Yes, sergers create pretty overlock seams, and yes, they’re nice. I have one, I love it, but I also think it’s totally unnecessary as anyone can just use a tidy zig-zag stitch.


First, we make our pattern:

  1.  BACK: Measure the length of the waistband of your underwear when stretched flat and squared with the sides. My waistband measurement was 14 inches. At the top of your paper, draw a line that is the measurement you just took plus a little extra. For example, I drew a line that was 14 1/2 inches. This line will be your waistband.
  2. Lay your underwear about 1.5- 2 inches below the line you just drew. It’s important to leave a decent amount of room at the waistband to account for the elastic that you’ll add later, so don’t skimp on this part! Otherwise, your crack will show 😉  Measure the sides. Mine were 4 inches so I made my pattern 6 inches on each side to account for the elastic and the hem on the leg hole. Trace the outline of half your underwear leaving 1/2 inch seam allowance on all sides. How to make your own underwear using underwear you already own!
  3. Fold the outline in half and cut it out, so that you have a pattern piece that’s symmetrical. Now, you have the back of your pattern.
  4. FRONT: Making the front of the pattern is trickier than the back unless you’re willing to cut your undies open. I wasn’t! Trace your back pattern piece to a new piece of paper and add 1/2 inch extra to the crotch for seam allowance. ( I forgot to do this part at first, which is why my pattern piece has tape on it.) Cut out this shape.
  5. Find the halfway mark of the leg hole of your underwear and measure the opening (picture below). Mine measured 3 inches. On your pattern piece, draw out your measurement minus 1/2 inch for seam allowance. Because my opening was 3 inches, I drew 2 1/2 inches. Connect the side of your underwear to the line you just drew and try to gently copy the shape as best you can. I noticed a slight curve in the top of the leghole, so I carefully drew a slight curve, and followed the the side down at nearly a 90 degree angle to where the crotch ended. Fold in half and cut this part out.
  6. Making and underwear pattern from underwear you already love is easy! Now you can replicate your favorite underwear and never buy it again.   DIY pattern for making panties from ones you already have.

6. Keep your pattern piece folded. Measure the width of the crotch at about the center of your underwear. Mine measured 3 inches. Mark that measurement on your pattern piece and add 1/2 inch. Measure out how much you still need to cut out. I still had an inch of excess paper. Extend your curve down to this measurement and continue it down to the bottom of your crotch. I know this part sucks if you don’t draw, but if you measure correctly, it’s not that bad. Don’t worry about it being 100% perfect, when you hem it will naturally just fall into place.  Cut along this curve, and your front pattern piece is complete!

Making a pattern for underwear

7.Lay your pattern pieces out on your t-shirt halves, pin, and cut out. Make sure that you lay your pieces out above the hem of the shirt, as you don’t want a bulky waistband.

How to make underwear from a t-shirt.   DIY underwear made from a tee shirt.

8. Cut out the crotch lining – this is that little square of fabric sewn into women’s underwear. Lay your front piece down on a piece of your shirt- preferably with the bottom of the crotch aligned with the hem, and cut out only the crotch. I didn’t have a piece with the hem intact that was long enough so I just cut the crotch out and hemmed it.

How to sew underwear.

9. Make a sandwich of your pieces in the following order with the crotch aligned: Front, back, with right sides together, and crotch face down on the back piece. Pin the crotch together and sew using a zig-zag stitch. When sewn, your pieces should look like the second picture when laid out.

How to pin underwear together to sew them. 

10. Pin and sew the sides using a zig-zag stitch, and trim off the excess material.

11. Pin and hem the leg holes, neatly with a zig-zag stitch. Make sure you enclose the crotch piece and trim any excess fabric.

Sewing your own underwear from a t-shirt.

12. Measure your elastic. The easiest way to do this is to measure the waistband of your original pair of underwear when not stretched and add 1/2 inch. My waistband measured to 24 inches, so I cut a piece that was 24 1/2 inches. The waistband of the underwear was 26 inches without elastic so this was perfect to give them a little stretch and help them stay up.

13. Sew your elastic to the waist on the inside of the underwear, stretching the elastic a little as you sew. When you reach the end overlap your two ends of elastic and backstitch so they’re firmly sewn down.

Sewing elastic to underwear.

14. Turn your elastic over, and turn it over again so it’s hidden inside the waist.

Step-by-step guide for how to sew your own underwear.

15. Sew down your waistband using a neat zig zag stitch, gently tugging the waistband as you go so that it aligns with the elastic inside and ensuring that the fabric is taught around the band.

Sewing underwear without a serger.

You’ve successfully made your own DIY underwear from a t-shirt! Celebrate! 😀

Step-by-step guide for making underwear from t-shirts.

So whose making underwear this week? 

***This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and purchase something, I make a tiny commission, at no extra cost to you <3

More Refashioning Posts: 

Avocado-Dyed Blouse From a Scarf

DIY Bralette Upcycle

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DIY underwear from a t-shirt.

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  • Diana
    November 13, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    Wonderful post! What a great way to recycle t-shirts. Thanks for sharing!


    • elana
      November 13, 2017 at 10:40 pm

      So glad you think so and you’re so welcome 🙂