I’m still thinking about travel wardrobes after my recent post ‘Fat Travel Planning’, which got an unusual amount of comments! Because there was so many great insights in the comment section, I thought that actually, some wardrobe sections deserved their own blog, so I’m cracking off with undies (not just because the Dulcie Boxer Briefs were released yesterday, but kind of because I’ve got undies on the mind)!
I never wanted to sew my own undies
Before I made my own undies I’d see folks get really into undies and bra making on instagram, and I’d be super impressed by their work. Bright colours, lace, matching findings, bra straps in amazing colours.. it all looks great… But, it also looks nothing like what was in my underwear drawer or what I was reaching for.
I never wanted to sew my own underwear but as I got sized out of my go-to natural fibre undies brand, I had to sew if I wanted something to wear. Now that I’ve experienced the comfort of me-mades and the delight of choosing my own fabric, I definitely wouldn’t go back.
Fabrics for undies
I love natural fibres- they keep me feeling fresh, and un-sweaty. Most of my undies are already natural fibres like cotton, bamboo, and merino. As folks pointed out in the comments of my recent ‘Fat Travel Planning’ post, bamboo dried super slowly, so even though it’s a delight to wear it’s not good for a ‘wash in the evening and wear again the next day’ situation.
If you can handle stretch mesh fabric it’d be a quick-drying option for undies and bralettes, but you’d want to use a merino for the gusset on your undies. I can’t handle stretch mesh, it makes me super sweaty and hastens my overheating!
Unsurprisingly, my choice for basically all undergarments while traveling would be merino (like this one with spandex for comfort and stretch)! Merino undies, bralettes and some singlets too.. merino everything! It’s anti-bacterial (so it doesn’t hold smells), and it also wicks sweat away from the body! Basically, it’s a wonder-fibre!
I always get lots of questions about whether merino is too itchy as underwear. It’s not the same as wearing slinky bamboo, but as a sensitive individual I can say that I don’t mind it at all and it’s well worth it for the qualities that merino brings to the table!
Unders I’d pack
The Duclie Boxer Briefs (just released yesterday and 15% off until 28th May) would have been the chub-rub shorts of my dreams for basically all of my trips, and would have stopped a lot of painful chaffing.
I love my Kapuna Undies, and I’d make some in a merino which would dry super fast.
I’d have some Banksia Bralettes , and some merino singlets too. I could do Banksia Tanks (with built-in Banksia), but I’d like to be able to remove the singlet if I heat up.
In my travel bag
- Merino Kapunda Undies
- Merino Duclie Boxer Briefs
- Merino Banksia Bralette
- Merino singlets, don’t have the perfect pattern yet
I wore merino a lot when I was young and toodling around in the mountains regularly, for all the same reasons. Even in the 80s when it fell out of fashion and people wore those horrible acrylic derivatives that dtank to high heaven and didn’t even keep you warm. But you should realize that wool in general and merino especially have turned into luxury items in the US. Federal subsidies for sheep farming dropped to 10% of their former level around 2005, and to nothing in 2012. So while our outdoor people are rediscovering the joys of wool, there’s only a minuscule domestic supply to feed that, almost every fiber has to be imported from.. New Zealand. Even small undies would cost 10 times more than other materials. Sigh.
I know that when people buy fabric and ship it into the UK and Canada they have to pay duties, but is it the same in the US?
There are lots of great places to shop NZ wool online in NZ and the shipping fees are quite reasonable and the exchange rate very much works in your favour!
There’s been a resurgence in interest in merino for home sewists outside of Aus and NZ and I’ve seen it popping up in Blackbird Fabrics in Canada and also in Stonemountain & daughter in California.
I never wanted to make my own undies either – it just felt like another something I shouldn’t have to do, even though I knew they would be so much better than anything I could buy. But the Dulcie have finally got me doing it, and yes, they are anti-chub rub perfection! I feel simultaneously delighted that I can make these and have the most comfortable summer ever, and annoyed that now there is no going back…now if only I could find a UK merino jersey supplier
I’m based in the US, lived in ChCh as a teen for a year (heaven), and was raised by a knitter (and naturally became one): so merino is of course the best of all the fibers.
My quality of life improved dramatically when I started making ALL the under layers from merino knit fabric I bought at The Fabric Store. If you are in the US, most personal sales will be well below the de minimus threshold so you won’t need to pay customs or duties. Their stuff is great, but I find the moths in the PNW also like it so the fabrics with a small amount of poly hold up better for outer layers. I have not found it’s great for making full Kapunda undies because stretch is only cross grain, but I save small scraps for gussets.
My solution for using 100% merino with only 2-way stretch with the Kapunda Undies has been to combine fabrics! So, if I’m doing a merino gusset and merino front and back then I make sure that the side panels have A LOT of cross-ways stretch. That way, as the merino sags during the day, the stretch fabric can take up the slack (or at least, that’s what i tell myself is happening).
My Dulcie merino are from a merino/elastane blend which have 70% crossways stretch and about 40% vertical stretch, but they really wouldn’t work with just 100% merino.