Tuesday, 8 February 2011


You'll never believe this, but I was a bit of a booky two-shoes at school. My worst ever mark was awarded in year 7, in a subject then referred to as "Craft", but which, I'm almost certain, was shortly thereafter rebadged as "Listening to Mrs Hanlon Tell You How Her Son Developed Pubic Pimples As A Result of Wearing Tight Lycra Underpants". I quite enjoyed "Craft": the lack of homework, the dermatological advice, the forty or so dress-making pins I collected from behind the sewing machines. If there'd been extra points for the thrifty acquisition of other peoples' poorly husbanded pins, "Craft" would never have become my own personal toothy bête noir of scholastic failure.

I didn't technically fail "Craft". I scored 55%, a pass, which enabled me to leave year 7 and permanently avoid any further insights from Mrs Hanlon upon synthetic fibres. It felt like a fail, though, dripping and oily with condemnation. Mrs H had noticed that I'd spent the entire term collecting pins and stitching a single pants pocket with such rigour that I'd virtually sewn it shut. I'd done nothing but sew that pocket - unpick it and sew it again, trim it with lace, embroider it with daisy stitch – because in week 3 I had lost all the other pieces of my shorts project. "Lost", I say, but when I think of my own depredations upon the pins, it seems more likely that they were stolen. For the brisk underground trade in unsewn pants pieces. Probably exchanged for cocaine or chocolate buttons or whatever it was my hardened criminal schoolmates were into back then.

So I get a bit of a "Ha! I've shown you, Mrs Hanlon!" moment every time I sew something and it turns out sort of okay. Which more and more of my sewing projects are required to do, because I recently pioneered Project Never Buy Clothing Again.

There is no proper rationale behind Project Never Buy Clothing Again. It's a bit to do with this situation:

Wardrobe of Doom

And a bit to do with underpaid garment workers, and a bit to do with saving money, but mostly it's about exorcising the demon called 55%. Get thee behind me, 55%.

On the weekend, in between not writing the conference paper I'm giving on Friday, and the book chapter that I scheduled for completion in January, I figured out how to make underpants.

My underpants!

And so now I present to you the Lexicon Harlot Quick & Easy Guide to Making Your Own Underpants at Home:

1. Cut out an underpantoid bit of fabric. Do not use lycra.

Click on image to enlarge (what fun!)

2. Hem the leg-holes, taking care to press the seams at every opportunity.

3. Sew up the side seams.

4. Make elastic casing.

5. Thread elastic through elastic casing.

6. Embroider with your initials, or "I heart Andrea Dworkin", or whatever.

7. And now, having girt your loins with this serviceable and comfy undergarment, write your conference paper. There is no no no no no excuse not to.


TimT said...

But can you make undergarments out of used conference papers?

Mitzi G Burger said...

Thrilling and frilling! Although it is a bit cheeky to press upon one's seams in the area of underpants. Snigger.

You've got to be on at least 80% with this effort.

Ampersand Duck said...

What excites me is the sudden ability to use all those incredibly tacky fabrics at Spitlight! Under sensible clothes! O joy!

WV = ingie (an undie that went ingie the buttcrack)

The Elephant's Child said...

Wonderful. And the possibilities are endless. I hit the dreaded Spotlight last week for some curtain material but obviously should not have stopped there. Not that I have started yet you understand.

JahTeh said...

I often wonder about Mrs. Whatsherface who awarded me 10 points out of 100 for my lovely black woollen dress. A dress I wore until it literally fell apart.

Never sneer at lycra. I make my own bathing outfits and lycra knickers are an essential part, mostly for the extreme stretch needed for the nether regions.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Good point, Copperwitch. Am very impressed that you make your own bathers. Now there's a challenge.

Re domestic underpant production, you can bypass Spotlight altogether, and just chop up something you don't wear anymore. On the other hand, Spotlight's voile leopard print could be quite a look.

(Mitzi, I have NO IDEA what you're sniggering about. These are the underpants of chastity and continence.)

Ann O'Dyne said...

1. very pretty
2. opshops RULE.
3. note the colours of the pretty knickers, now note the predominant colours on those hangers ... that is the colour you were wearing at the grogblog where I met you; what is it with Colour Preferences ? My entire (mostly opshop) wardrobe is navy blue and/or white.
There must be a theory somewhere.
Why are you continually drawn to that aqua-minty greeny bluey shade?

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Thanks, O'Dyne! Most of my clobber is hand-me-down stuff from two big sisters and my mum, along with a substantial collection of op-shopped business (dating back to my late teens) and the fruits of my first over-excited year with ebay (my late twenties). Even so. There is way too much of it, I can't bring myself to throw anything away, and if I make a rule that I can only have new clothes if I've made them myself, at least it (a) slows me down, (b) temporarily sates my desire to make stuff, and (c) gives me control over the quality, fitting, etc.

You're right about me and the teal/turquoise/aqua/blue/green thing. I've loved those colours since I was wee, would paint everything peacock green if I was allowed.

Navy and white are smart and sensible.

ED said...

Am currently attempting to make knickers. I don't think it is going very well but I am enthusiastic.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Hooray for you! One trick is to take a deceased but comfortably fitting pair, and unstitch the side seams. You can then use the flattened out undies as the basis for drawing your pattern (remembering to add a bit for seams, hems, etc).