Have you seen the new Ottobre Family edition yet? I saw there was a new magazine (07/2017) in town when they did their great Black Friday sale (free international shipping!) and snapped one up to take a peek. I’m familiar with Ottobre Kids (brilliant) and have seen the odd Woman edition, but Family is the one to get if you’re after menswear or teenwear (particularly male teens I’d say). In this edition are some fantastic menswear patterns including these briefs, a long-sleeved tee, slim chinos, jeans, a sports jacket, hoodie and much more. I decided to make a couple of fairly last-minute patterns as Xmas presents for my husband and these briefs were the first garment.
I’ve made the Thread Theory Comox trunks before and had reasonable success with them. These look like a similarly proportioned jersey short, but are slightly simpler to construct owing to the lack of fly front. I was concerned this was a drawback but my husband reliably informs me most of his undies don’t have this feature anyway and so it’s no big deal.
Before I go any further I have a few Ottobre-related things to say. If you’re not familiar with Ottobre, this may be useful. I was, and I still wished I’d refreshed my memory.
Number one – there is NO seam allowance added to Ottobre patterns. I totally forgot until I got to cutting. Luckily I made the mistake on a different garment first, so could rectify for this one. But it could have been disastrous.
Number two – the pieces are cut differently in this pattern to how I was expecting. The front and back are cut in pairs (I would normally expect on the fold) and the smaller gusset pieces are cut on the fold (I would have expected pairs). The resulting pieces of fabric are perfectly normal for briefs, but pay attention to the cutting instructions. I didn’t and had to recut some. I did cut the back leg whales upside down, but ah, who cares?
Number three – the instructions are Ottobre-concise. If you haven’t constructed briefs before, expect to look a couple of things up. All the info you need is there, but a couple of things were done a little differently and I made some crazy errors (I was tired). I sewed the front legs to the front gusset no fewer than 4 times. Four. Count ’em. I even took pics of some attempts because I couldn’t believe my idiocy.
Having said all these things, please don’t think this is a very difficult pattern to make – it’s really not. Now that I know what I’m doing, I think I could probably make up another pair in 30 mins or so. I also think I will, because my husband really likes them. I made this pair in baby soft organic cotton knit – two colourways of Whales from the Saltwater range by Emily Winfield Martin for Birch Fabrics. I intended on only using the blue, but just ran out of fabric and so decided to mix and match. It worked out pretty well! I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I do find organic cotton knits don’t hold colour quite as well as other knits, so the cream colourway is definitely softer and more lux-feeling than the blue. They’re both still nice, but just something to bear in mind.
I also don’t know about anyone else, but I still find it tough to take men’s measurements. I made my husband the size 56, which seemed quite a bit smaller than the tape said, but closer to the size he said he was in RTW. The resulting undies fit him well, but I could probably go down a size next time indeed, and I just don’t get it. I feel like I’m measuring him in the right spot according the info I’ve found online, but the two measurements just don’t marry. Does anyone have any insight into this issue?
Anyway, the construction is actually fairly straightforward, once you cut the right pieces and know what you’re doing, haha. First you fold over the two front gusset pieces and sew them ALL together. I’m adding some pics because I definitely winged some of this initial part.
Then you sew this resulting piece between the two front leg pieces, one at a time. Don’t make the same mistakes I did (see earlier). But I’m sure you wouldn’t. Interestingly, the instructions have you use a straight stitch a lot of the time, which I did, but I may use a serger more next time, if only for speed and finishing. You repeat the process for the back and then stitch the two sets together (front on the left, back on the right, above)
Finally, you sew the side seams and stitch on elastic. I used a serger for the elastic because it’s just easier. I used a fat zigzag for all the topstitching, plus the leg hems, and was quite happy with the resulting look. The instructions say to try the honeycomb stitch if you don’t have a coverstitch (I don’t), but it just didn’t look that great. I think the zigzag is a good substitute.
A quick sewing-in of the label and I was done! It’s hard to put across in pictures, but the resulting briefs feel really solid and nicely drafted, and the fabric is lovely on the skin. I’ll see what my husband says after a day of wearing them, but I have a feeling these may be a new favourite. He gave me a genuine “Hey, did you MAKE these?” when he opened the package, so I guess they’re a hit! Definitely recommended.