Size Matters: When Thongs Go Wrong

I should trust my instincts. Even while I was making my lace-trimmed thong, I was thinking that I’d cut my lace band too big. But being so new to lingerie-making, how could I have known? And how can I fix this? What’s a girl to do when her thong goes wrong?

Stretch lace for thong
Pretty lace… but how much will it stretch when I wear it? (Click the photo to go to ArteCrafts, where you can purchase this lace.)

Here was my original thought process about sizing the lace hip band:

1. It’s my theory that the reason elasticized garments cut into the flesh is quite simply due to them being too tight. (This is most likely the cause of every unflattering effect, from visible panty lines and muffin tops to the infamous back fat. Just my opinion, not scientifically verified. Yet.)

2. I was planning to use a very wide stretch lace (6″ wide), and thought that if I made it too small, the top edge would have a tendency to roll over. (Ugh.)

3. Therefore, I decided to err on the cautious side by cutting my lace band 2″ smaller than my high hip measurement; this should allow the lace to stretch a little to fit, but not too much. Or so I thought.

Tip: You can decide which body measurement to use for sizing your band, depending on where you anticipate your band hitting on your body. The high hip, at least on me, is just about half-way between my waist and the fullest part of my hip.

All this is fine in theory,  but the plain fact is that when I put on my thong, the band was so loose, it came really close to not even staying up. Not good. (I mean, the whole point of a thong is to forget you’re wearing it, right?)

The bottom line: I need to re-size the band.

Fortunately, since my band is made in just 2 pieces, with seams at center front and center back, this shouldn’t be too difficult. I will need to remove the band from the panty part, and I’m choosing to do this at center back, merely because this panty piece is quite a bit smaller than the front, ergo less work to undo the stitching. (I’m nothing if not lazy efficient.)

Tip: Yes, I could have simply added side seams, eliminating the extra length in the process. But I really didn’t want to do this, because (1) I wanted this garment to be as smooth on my skin as possible, and (2) when I’m working with lace or other sheer fabrics, I generally want to minimize the number of seams that can show through.

Removing lace band
Here’s what my thong looks like after I’ve removed the 2 rows of stitching that connected the band to the panty. (The stitching at the top of the fabric part is stay-stitching.)

Now comes the hard part: figuring out how much smaller to make the band. I more or less guessed at it the first time, so I’d rather try a more analytical approach to fixing this. If I can think of one.

I’ve read about calculating negative ease (when you size a garment smaller than your body measurements to compensate for the stretch of the fabric); I can’t remember the details, but it amounts to (1) figuring out the percentage of stretch in the fabric, and (2) using that percentage to calculate how much smaller than body measurements your pattern pieces need to be.

Sure. Uh-huh. In the absence of official formulae, here’s what I came up with, using my best grade-school math skills:

1. My original lace band is right around 20% smaller than my high-hip measurement.

2. I think I’ll try 30% smaller and see what happens. I’ll be removing a total of 6″, or 3″ from each side of my original seam.

In this photo, the far right edge is the center back seam, folded.

Marking new seamline
Because my original seam is mitered (angled to create a slight V-shape), I need to match that angle with my new seam. Note also that the top of the new seam is between scallops, and the bottom point is at the mid-point of a scallop— when I open up the seam, the scallops will be symmetrical.

Now I just need to sew the new center back seam, and re-attach it to the panty part; you’ll find instructions for these steps in my sewing-your-thong post.

After re-attaching band
And here’s my thong, after sewing the new center-back seam, and re-attaching the band to the panty. Notice the symmetrical scallops! (I’m ridiculously pleased with myself for figuring out how to do this. Can you tell?)

Want to see how much I took out of my band?

Thong after re-sizing band
That band looks so much more proportional now! (The piece at lower left is what I removed from the band.) Of course, the real test is how it fits. Excuse me for a minute…

… Okay, I’m back. It fits! Hurrah!

Instincts are all very well, but when you’re first learning how to do something, there’s really no substitute for just trying things out to see what will happen. And in the case of lingerie-making, for trying things on.

Next up: I’m starting on my third bra project— and it’s going to be totally different!

 Update: I’ve just listed a kit to make this thong in my new Etsy shop, theBratelier!

6 thoughts on “Size Matters: When Thongs Go Wrong

  1. I learned the hard way last week of the importance of calculating stretch and recovery. I had to recut/resew just like you did. Great job for keeping at it and not giving up. Love the color combo.

    Liked by 2 people

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