Mesh Undies




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Intro: Mesh Undies

On these hot summer days we could all use a little help cooling down.
For me, wearing shorts to work isn't an option (office-dwellers, can you feel me?), going commando=no, and I'm not wearing a kilt. What's a guy to do?

Hello mesh undies.
A moisture-wicking mesh fabric underwear for increased air-flow.

Typically, underwear are made from cotton (or a cotton-blend) which helps with breatheability and comfort. To make mesh undies the material selected must have these same characteristics, otherwise someone is going to have some unhappy junk.

Mesh fabric comes in a few different varieties. There's a blend that is mostly polyester (used for sport pinnies) which is not what we need. This type is mostly polyester and will inhibit air flow and trap heat, even with the perforations.
I choose a mesh material with synthetic microfibers that wick moisture away from the body with a blend of spandex, the same type they use for cycling jerseys.

This instructable is entered in the Summer Sewing Contest
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enough talk, let's make some underwear!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

For these undies I used:

  • needle + thread (or sewing machine)
  • chalk (or pencil)
  • scissors
  • seam ripper
  • old underwear (or pattern)
  • mesh fabric (moisture wicking microfibers)
  • strip of fabric elastic

Step 2: Rrrip

I started by measuring the elastic that wraps around your waist and cut a length slightly longer than required, then set it aside for later.

Next, I used a seam ripper to remove the elastic from the fabric.
*note: cotton fabric likes to curl on unfinished edges, so be careful not to pull too hard on the fabric otherwise you may have a misshapen template.

Step 3: Trace Template

Once you've separated the elastic from the fabric lay the old underwear over the mesh fabric. To be safe offset your trace about 1.5cm (1/2") beyond the template. I left plenty of fabric at the top and bottom on my mesh to allow for flexibility when sewing up the elastic.
Trace your outline onto the mesh with chalk or pencil, then remove template. You may notice some distortion from the elastic removal in the transfer. Even out irregularities by sketching with the chalk to make a more even shape (this is an approximation only, it doesn't have to be perfect).

When you have a shape you are happy with fold the mesh fabric lengthwise with the chalk outline on the outside. Holding it up to the light, line up the two sides of the template as close as you can, then cut out shape and unfold. You will have a symmetrical mesh blank of your undies.

Step 4: Finished Edge

A finished edge will give a clean look to your undies and, like cotton, will prevent the edges from curling when stretched. With an iron set on low, fold and iron the edge that will wrap around your thighs.

A finished edge will go on both leg openings, but is not required for the top and bottom.
Next, the elastic is closed into a loop and the ends sewn together.

Step 5: Elastic

I decided to make the mesh style slightly different than the original, with the elastic wrapped in the fabric instead of being sewn above. Using your template as a guide measure up where the old elastic was, then mark on your mesh where the elastic line starts. Working on the inside of the undies, place the elastic on the mesh and wrap the mesh over the elastic and back down, then pin in place.

This style (elastic inside fabric) requires that the fabric be bunched to allow for the elastic to stretch when putting underwear on. To achieve this I pinned in select locations allowing for plenty of bunched fabric between pins, then pulled fabric and elastic taut while sewing.

Step 6: Embellishments

Since the only colour available in this particular type of mesh fabric was white, it makes for boring underwear. I chose to embellish mine with a small patch that I had lying around.

I also sewed in the tab from the old underwear. While the material composition on the old label does not match my new fabric, the size is correct and it gives the product a more finished look.

Step 7: Try 'em On!

Give them a wash and your new undies are good to go!
These sporty undies are ready to provide comfort and aeration for your next summertime activity, or just sitting in your cubicle rocking minesweeper.

Either way, mesh undies are a great way to help keep your bits cool on these hot summer days.
have fun!

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    23 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I've run into this same issue and I applaud the instructable. I do lot of programming and
    sit for hours at work. My one breathing/wicking fix was silk boxers from Thailand via Ebay, but their thinness creates other issues like: not protecting from jeans harshness on certain body parts. Wicking away of moisture is addressed here. Great job!


    5 years ago on Step 7

    This is hysterical! But in case this is real--

    To cut a fabric such as this cleanly use a CUTTING WHEEL (fabric stores and WM for a few $$$ and come in different sizes) and either a cutting MAT (marked with grids and curves--great for a lot of uses) or a few sheets of newspaper or the like underneath. Hold down the pattern and rolllllll the wheel along. Just like pizza. Smooth cut and no more fighting with the scissors!

    For the elastic and edges---a SERGER would come in mighty handy hereabouts or use a ZIG ZAG stitch for edges and where you need some "give".

    If you just insert elastic into a casing the elastic has a bad tendency to shift and bunch and generally be a real PITA. In this case--that could hurt. So at the seams get yer stretchy stuff where you want it and use a few stitches to "tack" the stuff in place to the garment fabric,

    AS you pointed out--all mesh is not equal. I sell a lot of this stuff and most like the Underarmour is a special double secret poly spin. I don't think I have ever seen cotton added in. And some is so awful to the touch I can't bear to handle it--certainly NOT something you want next to your skin esp on one of these 100* days! So before you re-cycle make sure you can stand to have it touch you.

    And there is motorcycle riding underwear that address' this exact problem BTW. But it might be spendy. If I showed my husband anything like this he would probably want to know when my next Mental Health appointment was. But I can SEE how uncomfortable the regular boxers and briefs are! Soooo--good job maybe you should address a niche market!!!!

    You never liked that day job anyways.


    5 years ago on Introduction


    Thank you for the instructable on what instructable means. I got it, I meant no disrespect, I truly just meant you could buy it instead of going to the trouble of making it. Not including the obligatory comments folks feel compelled to make about free balling, the remainder of the comments seem to stand in awe of the invention of breathable skivvies, whereas I was merely pointing out that it's already been done. Unless one has a penchant for sporting homespun banana hammocks, you could just buy them. In all my days, I never imagined there was a market for do-it-yourself drawers. Who knew?

    I would like to add, I am of the same school of thought as manicmonday that if it can otherwise be reasonably obtained, then an instructable makes sense, adding the caveat that if folks are curious about how something works; how to somehow functionally or aesthetically enhance a given item; or if folks just have a general passion about said item - those all merit instruction too. I just didn't see how this met any of those criteria. My bad.

    As for the availability of said undergarments, I haven't seen the mesh variety but there is an abundance of breathable unmentionables on the market; Under Armour comes to mind, but there are many more less expensive brands out there in sporting goods stores. I think I have even seen them in the sportswear area of the local Wally-world. I do have to note that the price is a little on the high side even with the off brands, but they wear well and last for an extremely long time compared to their cotton counterparts so are definitely very cost effective.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    agow, This site is called Instructables. the point is to "make" things not just go out and buy things.
    Besides, there is nothing wrong with knowing how to sew your own undies.
    Mikeasaurus, Thanks for the clarification in the different types of mesh, I wondered if I could just cut up an old football jersey, but that , I believe, is the polyesther stuff and probably would be an uncomfortable finished product. I'm gonna head to JoAnns to see if they have the microfiber stuff. I'm honestly sick of cotton undies this summer with the humidity being near 100% everyday!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The point of this site is to help people make things that they CAN'T go out and buy. Or otherwise can't buy as reasonably as you can make it yourself. If buying it's is the easiest, cheapest, and most reasonable way that you can do it, then there is no need for an instructable.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I think (hope) you are replying to agow, as I already understand the point of the site as noted in my reply...

    But I have to add that I sometimes make things that I could easily go out and buy because I enjoy the the joy and the pride of making things as well. I made pasta last weekend. It would have been easier, cheaper, and quite reasonable to just buy a box of pasta, but the time spent with friends making the thing and being able to say, " I made this", was more valuable to me. 

    I think instructables for things that we want to make, not just need to make, are just as valid.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    You could always go commando in the summer and not worry about sweaty undies. ;)


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I have to come right out and say it. I have never found the breathableness of my store bought undergarments to be an issue, and never ever felt the need to sew my own. Maybe it's just me.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Having sewn and designed undergarments in the past, I would suggest encasing the leg hole seams (the sewn edges) with thin elastic. Without it the underwear will move and you'll spend quite a bit of time picking them out of your butt. :)

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I wish there was a "like" button for comments, cause this one is a win! And Yeah, Commando is my code name!


    5 years ago on Step 2

    You could try spreading some PVA (wood) glue over where you want to cut it, doesn't take long to dry and would leave a straight edge.


    5 years ago

    What fabric store?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is such a great idea! To get more choice in fabric colors perhaps you could pick up a shirt in a man's extra huge size and use that to make more than one pair? (And in lots of different colors).


    8 years ago on Step 1

    Great instructable. Thanks for taking the time to posting this. I do have a question for you. Where did you purchase the mesh fabric? I'm having a problem finding a cotton blend mesh. I can find the polyester, but not the cotton. Thanks again.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm thinking you could pick up some t shirts made of wicking fabric, too, which would give more color variety. The larger the better.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very good idea for summer! :-D
    thank you!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    very cool (no pun intended!) You're the only person i know who would put a tag back on :D