Shirts Reborn as Boxers, Part 1

I have some really wonderful friends in San Francisco, some of them part of the Maker Movement.

Several years ago, I made a simple plush toy (with light-up eyes) at a Maker Faire event with my friends Annie and Rachel.  I didn’t finish my toy at the event, but they invited me to bring it to the next SCoW (Sewing and Crafts on Wednesdays) event at Rachel’s warehouse loft.

Knowing nothing at all about sewing at the time, I sat down at a sewing machine and received just enough instruction to close the final seam.  All around me, people worked their own personal projects, doing incredible things like recycling fabrics and old clothing into stuff like fashionable kilts, and costumes.

Fast-forward a few years, and now I sew my own clothes as a hobby.  And though SCoW is no longer held in that San Francisco warehouse loft every Wednesday, Annie has resurrected it in her home in Oakland, CA on Thursdays.  Now it’s called SCoTH, or Sewing and Crafts on Thursdays.

The Recycled Boxers Project

I thought it would be nice to have my own little dedicated project for craft night, so I started one. Several shirts in my closet were starting to wear out around the collars and cuffs.  The fabric is pretty sturdy, so the shirts could be recycled into something else.


They seem to be a good candidate to turn into boxer shorts.  I have two boxer shorts patterns in my pattern stash, Simplicity 2741 and Kwik Sew 1672.  The Kwik Sew pattern seems to be more economical with fabric, and I haven’t made the pattern before, so that’s what I chose to go with.


Repurposing the Fabric

The main challenge is solving the fabric puzzle for laying out the pattern pieces on the shirt.  The pattern has a front piece to cut twice, and a single back piece which is cut on fold.

I cut a shirt up along its seams and started playing with the pattern and pieces.  I had two sleeves, two shirt fronts, and the shirt back to work with.  The rest of the shirt (collar, cuffs, etc) were just too small to work with.

Boxer Fronts

Each front piece of the boxers fits a shirt sleeve.


Here’s a little sketch I made showing what’s going on.  The pencil line is the pattern, the green line is the sleeve.


In real life, the sleeve is just barely big enough, falling just a bit short in the inside seam area.  I haven’t figured out how I’ll make up the (very small) difference.  Maybe the collars and cuffs might be useful yet.

Boxer Seat

The seat of the boxers is one large contiguous piece, normally cut on fold.  There’s enough fabric in both shirt fronts and the shirt back to make the seat, but since they’re not one contiguous piece something has to give.

The shirt back covers the center part of the boxer seat nicely.


And each shirt front covers the left and right sides of the seat.


Again, this little sketch shows how the fabric pieces match up with the pattern.


 Altering the Pattern

There’s no reason why the seat needs to be a single contiguous piece.  This example pair of knit boxer briefs has a three-panel seat, with two seams either side of center.


Splitting the seat into two separate pattern pieces was pretty straightforward.  On the traced pattern piece for the seat, I used my pattern ruler to draw a curved seam, split the piece, and taped in seam allowances to either side.


The left hand piece will be cut twice from the shirt fronts.  The right hand piece is cut on the fold of the shirt back.  I’ll join and flat-fell the seams to make the completed back piece.

The Neat Bits

These boxers will have some nifty features.  Because the left and right sides of the seat are cut from the shirt fronts, the seat of the boxers should end up with a pocket.  And because the fronts are cut from the sleeves, the sleeve plackets should show up on the front legs.  I’m curious to see how well I can make this turn out; it could be pretty cool.

Next Time

I’m not sure when the next Sewing and Craft Night is happening. Compared with the other projects I’ve been tackling lately, this one is not a lot of sewing so hopefully I’ll have more to report soon.