Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


20 Comments

Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Picking a size and ideas for customizing

Welcome to Day 2 of the Comox Trunks sew-along!

Do you have your fabric picked out?  You still have time to pre-wash it as we won’t be cutting out the pieces until Tuesday, April 8th.

Today we are choosing a size and later in the post I will show you some ideas I and a few other sewers have had regarding how to customize your trunks for the perfect fit and style.

First off, when choosing your size, it is important to realize that it is largely the elastic waistband that determines the fit of the trunks.  Everyone has slightly different proportions to their waist, hips and butt and they may also have preferences to how tight or loose they like elastic waistbands to be (underwear are a very personal thing!).  Also, there are many types of elastic which have different amounts of stretch to them.  If the elastic you choose stretches more or less than our sample elastic did, you will end up with a different fit than we did!

I recommend using our body measurement guide to choose the size for the fabric portion of the trunks as you normally would for a sewing pattern but then wrap the elastic directly around the wearer to choose the length of your elastic.  We have provided guideline measurements for the elastic in our “Materials Required” chart in case you prefer to use our estimates (if the trunks are a gift, for example), but otherwise, this is how you figure out how much elastic you will need:

1. Take a length of elastic and wrap it around the wearer’s upper hips (where their boxer elastic normally sits) making sure to wrap it as tight as they would like it to be when they wear the boxers.  The elastic should have to stretch very slightly so that their trunks stay up!

IMGP7221

2. Mark this length and then add 3/4″ to the length for your seam allowance (two seam allowances of 3/8″).

IMGP7225

3.  Compare your resulting measurement with our elastic measurements in the “Materials Required” chart.  They should match ours or be fairly close.  When you sew your trunks, you may have to ease or stretch the top edge of the trunks slightly when attaching them to the waistband.  Don’t worry if this results in a few ripples – one the wearer puts them on they will stretch out to perfectly suit their body (due to their custom-fit elastic waistband!).

Now that we’ve determined the amount of elastic we need, here are a couple tips about choosing a size.

1. The trunks are drafted with negative ease.  This means they are smaller than the wearer’s body so that they fit like a second skin.  For our plus-sizes though (size 39-45) we have graded the pattern differently so that the wearer has more room in their trunks (the grading is larger and the sizes expand wider than the other sizes).

2. Our waist measurements correspond to the wearer’s natural waist.  This is approximately at naval level and is NOT where the trunks will end up sitting (those would be some high-rise trunks!).

IMGP7209

That’s it!  Now lets move on to some ideas for customizing the fit and style.  I have four different ideas and would also love to hear your suggestions (leave a comment below with tips and questions!).

Idea #1: Lengthen the legs:  Some people may feel a little under-dressed in such tight fitting skimpy little trunks 😛  That’s an easy fix – simply lengthen the legs for a more conservative pair of shorts!  Here is how you do this:

Lengthening the Leg

Idea #2: Enlarge the front cup: Are you sewing for someone who is generously endowed?  Our trunks have what I would describe as a “solid medium” size cup.  You can very simply enlarge (or decrease) the size of the cup by altering the curve of the front pieces as follows:

Enlarging the cup

Idea #3: Create narrower legs: Does your wearer have skinny legs?  They may be comfortable with the extra room in the legs (after all, no one wants to feel constricted by their undies) but if they would like the second-skin fit that these trunks are designed to have, you can adjust the pattern piece as follows (note that this must be done to the paper pattern rather than the fabric since these trunks don’t have a side seam!):

Removing width from legsIdea #4: Remove the “right exit fly”:  This is my favourite idea and is one that has generated some very hilarious discussions at our latest family gathering.  I gave my brother-in-law a pair of Comox Trunks for his birthday at a large dinner party.  Quickly one of the female dinner guests commented, “Does anyone actually use those tiny little front openings???”  I must say that I didn’t really have an answer!  We included them as part of the design because they are so commonly found on modern underwear and I didn’t want our design to lack something that ready-to-wear clothing normally has.  Fortunately, my brother-in-law had a very confident answer:  When in dress uniform/fancy attire (at his job, for example) his shirt has been very carefully ironed and tucked in.  In a scenario such as this he, with out a doubt, goes “through the gate.”  In casual uniform/regular clothes he is not constricted by his tucked in shirt and most certainly goes “over the fence.”  HAHA!  As you can imagine, his knowledgeable explanation of the matter, complete with specialized metaphors, gave us quite a laugh :).

If you see no reason to go “through the gate”, you can save yourself some sewing time by removing the bound entry.  Simply adjust the sewing process as follows to create a completely closed front cup (I still recommend keeping it double layered so that the shorts provide nice coverage and are hard-wearing):

Removing the right exit fly

Do you have any other ideas to alter the design or fit of the trunks?  It’s fun brainstorming these sorts of things for a pattern that isn’t very common.  At first examination the design, with it’s unusual seams and close fit, seems quite un-alterable but hopefully you now realize that this is not the case!  The Comox Trunks can be altered to create all sorts of menswear underwear styles and can be made to suit the many individual requirements men have for their undies.


22 Comments

Comox Trunks Sew-Along: Choosing your fabric and elastic

sew along poster-01

Welcome to the first day of our Comox Trunks Sew-Along!  Today I will be giving you some tips and a photo guide to choosing your fabric and elastic.  Here are the supplies I have gathered together to sew up some Comox Trunks:

1

As you can see, the fabric I have chosen is a lightweight charcoal coloured knit.  It is comprised of bamboo and cotton with a touch of spandex.  It is available as part of our Comox Trunks Supplies Kit along with the black elastic.

If your local haberdashery only has a small selection of knit fabrics, don’t worry, you still likely be able to find something that will work for your Comox Trunks.  The Comox Trunks will end up fitting best throughout a long day of wear if you pick a fabric with at least a small amount of spandex content.  The spandex adds resiliency to the fabric to help prevent your trunks from growing baggier and saggier throughout the day.

Here is a close up examination of the bamboo/cotton jersey that we include in our Comox Trunk kits.  It is deliciously soft and thinner than most t-shirt style knits.  It is strong though and has just enough spandex content that it works perfectly for the trunks:

IMGP7142

While it might be difficult to find a bamboo blend knit in your local fabric store, most fabric stores have at least one or two bolts of t-shirt style knits.  These are medium weight knits that usually have a high cotton content.  Here is an example of this (a medium weight striped t-shirt knit comprised of 95% cotton and 5% spandex):

IMGP7141A more stable (and thus easier to sew!) form of the t-shirt knit is also commonly found in fabric stores.  The one I found is this red “Sport n Play” actionwear T-knit Jersey which is comprised of 90% cotton and 10% spandex.  This is a great choice for people who are new to knits because it has a lot of stretch (so your tight fitting garment will stay tight fitting) but is also thick enough and tightly knit enough that it won’t warp and become misshapen while you sew:

IMGP7143Lastly, as you saw in the photos of the prize pack that I showed the other day, I picked up a novelty Canadian maple leaf knit which was simply labelled “mixed fibres.”  It doesn’t have as much elasticity as the other fabrics but has still worked well for the trunks:

IMGP7145

Since the trunks only need a small piece of fabric and a short amount of time to sew, if you are in doubt about your fabric choice, why not try out a few types so that you will become more confident with sewing knits in the future (armed with your Comox Trunks sewing knowledge, you’ll be eager to start sewing all sorts of comfy knit sweaters and dresses!!!)

To figure out if your prospective fabric has enough elasticity, use the handy knit guide in the instruction booklet (and also on the back of the envelope if you purchased the tissue version of the pattern).IMGP7197

To use this guide while standing beside the bolt of fabric in the store, lay down the guide on a table (or have someone hold it for you) and unroll a length of fabric to work with.

Since the Comox Trunks require a material that stretches in all directions (in other words, a fabric with 4-way stretch), you can test either the length or width of the fabric first.  Just remember to test the other direction after!

Hold a 3″ length of fabric up to the black bar and mark and keep the left hand (which is pinching the fabric) stable and still at the edge of the bar.

IMGP7203

Stretch your right hand and the fabric to the right until the fabric has stretched as far as it easily wants to go (don’t use all your strength, you will be able to tell how far it naturally wants to stretch).  If your right hand and the pinched end of the 3″ chunk of fabric are now within the lightest grey section of the bar, the fabric you have chosen has enough stretch to be made into Comox Trunks!

IMGP7202

One last thing you want to check is how quickly and completely it ‘bounces’ back to its original position.  If your fabric looks stretched out or warped when you release your right hand then it does not have enough spandex content and resiliency to maintain its shape once made into the trunks.

IMGP7201

Now that we’ve found a suitable fabric, its time to move on to choosing an elastic!

The elastic I am using (the same elastic that is included in the kits) is firm without being scratchy.  It is not soft on one side as some ready-to-wear underwear elastics are (both sides are the same texture on this elastic) but it is very strong and will likely survive many washes before it begins to ripple.  If you are sewing these trunks for someone with extremely sensitive skin we will be covering how to create a soft fabric casing for the elastic later on in the sew-along!

3

While the pattern calls for 2″ elastic, it is perfectly acceptable to choose something wider or narrower.  I like the look of the 2″ band and Matt thinks that this width produces the comfiest results (narrower elastics can sometimes create the feeling of a little more pressure against the skin).  It is very common to see trunks with 1″ to 1/2″ elastic bands so go ahead and save a bit of money by choosing a narrower elastic if you desire!

The plush elastic that I picked for the sew-along prize pack is 1 1/2″ wide and is quite thick.  It is very soft on both sides.  Here you can see how the two types compare:

IMGP7139

While you’re at the fabric store, don’t forget to pick up a needle suitable for sewing knits.  You can sew the entire project using a ball point needle or stretch needle.  If you like using a twin needle, you can buy one of those for the hem and for attaching the elastic waistband.  These are the ball point needles that I use:

5

Have any questions about what supplies you will need?  If you are hesitating over a fabric or elastic choice, I would love to give you my opinion – just leave a comment or send us an email (info@threadtheory.ca)!   Join us again in two days to pick a pattern size and to contemplate any customizations you might like to do!


18 Comments

Comox Trunks Sew-along: Schedule and Prize Photos

I’ve made up the schedule for the Comox Trunks Sew-Along and also a page on our blog side bar where you will be able to access all the posts indefinitely.  Even though the Comox Trunks take very little time to sew, I’ve stretched out the posts to include no more than half an hour of sewing per post so that new or busy sewers won’t be intimidated.  I hope these dates work for you and that you are looking forward to joining us!

  1. April 4th: Choosing your fabric and elastic
  2. April 6th: Picking a size and ideas for customizing (lengthen the legs, enlarge the front cup, create narrower legs, or remove the right exit fly)
  3. April 8th: Cutting out your fabric and preparing your machine
  4. April 1oth: Sewing the trunks front
  5. April 12th: Sewing the trunks back
  6. April 14th: Hemming the trunks
  7. April 16th: Attaching the elastic waistband (or adding a fabric covered waistband) – We’re done!
  8. April 18th: Joke post – Photographing your Comox Trunks sans sexy model
  9. May 5th: Deadline to submit a photo of your finished Comox Trunks
  10. May 8th: Winner of Comox Trunks Prize Pack announced and a parade of the finished trunks!

 

I went fabric shopping today for your prize pack at our newest retailer (and also my local fabric store), the Courtenay Fabricland!  So much fun!  I played around with all sorts of potential fabrics to get a great summery/Canadian theme going and to provide as much variety as possible.  I have gathered together a pretty awesome prize pack – if I do say so myself – to equip the winner with everything they need to make a whole underwear drawer worth of Comox Trunks.

IMGP7128

Fabric, from left to right is as follows: Our grey bamboo/cotton jersey from the Comox Trunks supplies kit, a thicker cotton/spandex t-shirt knit in a nautical navy stripe, a medium weight t-knit red jersey in combed cotton/spandex, and lastly, a novelty maple leaf interlock (spreading the Canadian pride!).

IMGP7136

I’ve also included a really nice selection of elastics for the winner to test out – a length of our black elastic from the Supplies Kit plus two colours of plush elastic (super soft on both sides) that are comprised of cotton, polyester and rubber.  I love the grey version and only realized once I had claimed it that I had taken the last of the roll from an employee’s wish-list pile!

IMGP7135

Added to this pile are two Dylon fabric dyes in case you want to experiment with dying elastic or some of your own knits.  One of the employees told me that she thought any elastic with a cotton content had a chance of taking on colour, even if it also contains polyester – imagine the possibilities with the white elastic!  Plus you get 10 Thread Theory garment tags to give your trunks a polished look.

IMGP7134

And of course, you could not have a complete Comox Trunk Sewing Prize Pack without some ball point needles and a twin needle.

IMGP7133

To enter our Comox Trunks Sew-Along contest for a chance to win this prize, all you need to do is comment on our final sew along post (the joke post called: How to photograph your Comox Trunks sans sexy model) with a link to a photo of your finished trunks by May 5th.  Your photo could be on your blog, Flickr, Facebook, Pinterest or any other accessible online location.  The winner will be picked using a random number generator and announced on May 8th.  Good luck!


10 Comments

Sew-Along Announcement! Comox Trunks

sew along poster-01

Ready to sew along?  We’ll be holding a sew-along and contest for our brand new Comox Trunks starting Friday, April 4th.  This will give you plenty of time to purchase your pattern and/or supplies kit.

For the first time, we’re going to include a contest aspect to our sew-along.  All you will have to do to enter is comment on the final sew-along post (I’ll remind you when I make that post, don’t worry) with a link to a photo of your trunks.  Now hold on…before you get disappointed that you won’t be able to enter because no man will ever be brave enough to model your trunks, don’t worry, I will be writing a funny little post on “How to Photograph Your Comox Trunks Sans Sexy Model.”

The winner of our contest (chosen using a random number generator from the selection of comments) will win a prize pack of boxer sewing goodies – a selection of elastics and a selection of great knits – and so they are ready to sew an entire underwear drawer full of Comox Trunks!

Stay tuned for a sew-along schedule and photos of the prize pack!  Will you be joining us?

As per Dan’s great suggestion on our Comox Trunks announcement post, below is a link printable knit stretch guide so that you can choose your fabric even before you’ve received your pattern in the mail.  When you print it, don’t allow the printer to “fit to page” or in any way scale this file.  The black portion of the bar should measure 3″.  Here you go!:

Fabric Choice Guide

Note: Now that I’ve told you the good news, I have a slightly less thrilling announcement about the Comox Trunks sewing pattern.  It has come to our attention that there was a minor error involving pattern pieces 2 & 3.  We will be revising the PDF pattern shortly and will email it to everyone who has purchased it.  For those of you who have purchased the tissue pattern, please refer to our Errata page on our website and please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification while you sew (simply email us at info@threadtheory.ca).  We’re really really sorry about this error – we will be providing several easy cutting and sewing methods throughout the sew along for you to use if you have purchased this edition of the pattern!