Title:
Hosiery Garment and Method of Making the Same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hosiery garment including a top support portion that has a waist panel, buttock panels, a tummy panel and leg panels. The waist panel has a relatively tight knit and extends around the wearer's waist. The buttock panels have a relatively loose knit and may include loose-knit defined pockets to conform more to the buttocks of the wearer. The tight knit of the waist panel provides firmness and compression and in combination with the loose fit of the buttock panels facilitates use of a low-rise cut without bunching or riding-up of the undergarment when sitting. The upper edge of the waist panel may also include higher extending hip portions for a more secure fit. A downwardly extending rear portion of the waist panel may have a V-shape to reduce gapping. The undergarment may also include leg portions that have a sheer knit single ply and extend from the leg panels.



Inventors:
Duckman, Jadideah (Atlanta, GA, US)
Willis, Billie June (Asheboro, NC, US)
Adams, Brian (Asheboro, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/675713
Publication Date:
08/30/2007
Filing Date:
02/16/2007
Assignee:
Spanx, Inc
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41B11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOEY, ALISSA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALSTON & BIRD LLP (CHARLOTTE, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A hosiery garment for supporting buttocks, legs, waist and an abdominal region of a wearer, the hosiery garment comprising: a two-ply top support portion including a waist panel, buttock panels, a tummy panel and leg panels; said waist panel having a relatively tight knit and defining an upper edge that includes a low rise front edge portion that is lower than a rear edge portion; said buttock panels having a relatively loose knit, and being positioned below the waist panel and shaped to conform to the buttocks of the wearer; said tummy panel having a relatively tight knit and being positioned below the waist panel at the abdominal region of the wearer; and said leg panels extending from the tummy and buttock panels and being configured to extend around and along the legs of the wearer.

2. A hosiery garment of claim 1, wherein the upper edge of the waist panel has higher extending hip edge portions between the front and rear edge portions.

3. A hosiery garment of claim 1, wherein the waist panel includes a downwardly extending rear portion.

4. A hosiery garment of claim 3, wherein the downwardly extending rear portion has a V shape.

5. A hosiery garment of claim 1, wherein the buttock panels are shaped to define pockets.

6. A hosiery garment of claim 1, wherein the tummy panel extends downward from the waist panel and has converging lateral edges.

7. A hosiery garment of claim 6, wherein the tummy panel has a triangular shape.

8. A hosiery garment of claim 1, further comprising sheer leg portions that extend downward from the leg panels of the top portion to below the wearer's knees.

9. A hosiery garment of claim 8, wherein the leg panels transition to the leg portions by dropping to a single ply.

10. A hosiery garment for supporting buttocks, legs, waist and an abdominal region of a wearer, the hosiery garment comprising: at least a top portion comprising at least a pair of continuously, seamlessly knit portions attached to each other, said top portion including a waist panel configured to extend around the waist of the wearer, a buttock panel configured to extend around the buttocks of the wearer and a pair of leg panels configured to extend around the legs of the wearer, said buttock panel having a knit that is looser and relatively more elastic than a knit of the waist panel.

11. A hosiery garment of claim 10, wherein the continuously, seamlessly knit portions are tubular knit halves of the top portion.

12. A hosiery garment of claim 11, wherein the halves are attached along a seam that extends through the buttock panel so as to be positioned between the buttocks of the wearer.

13. A hosiery garment of claim 12, wherein the seam extends from a top edge of the waist panel to a top of the leg panels.

14. A hosiery garment of claim 13, further comprising a gusset crotch panel attached within the seam of the top portion between the leg panels.

15. A hosiery garment of claim 1, wherein the top portion includes a tummy panel that is configured to extend along the abdominal region of the wearer, said tummy panel having an inelastic knit.

16. A hosiery garment of claim 6, wherein the tummy panel extends downward and has converging lateral edges.

17. A hosiery garment of claim 1, wherein the waist panel has a 1×1 knit and the buttock panel has a jersey knit.

18. A hosiery garment of claim 17, wherein the top portion is knit from a first feed having a spandex single covered with a nylon and from a second feed having a nylon.

19. A hosiery garment of claim 18, wherein the first feed is a 40 denier spandex single covered with a 40 denier, 34 filament nylon and wherein the second feed is a 70 denier, 48 filament bright nylon.

20. A hosiery garment of claim 1, wherein the top portion has an inner ply and an outer ply.

21. A hosiery garment of claim 20, wherein the continuously, seamlessly knit portions are tubular knit halves of the top portion.

22. A hosiery garment of claim 21, wherein the waist panel is defined by a knit turn of the tubular knit halves, the knit turn extending between the inner and outer plies of the top portion.

23. A hosiery garment of claim 1, further comprising legs extending from the leg panels of the top portion, said legs including a single layer, knit proximal sheer portion and a dual-layer, knit distal leg band portion.

24. A hosiery garment comprising: a pair of legs each comprising a two-ply seamless fabric tube, each leg having a seamless tubular inner ply and a seamless tubular outer ply knit thereto at a lower end of the leg, the legs having a length such that the lower ends of the legs encircle a wearer's legs; and a two-ply panty portion connected to the legs and including a waist panel, a buttock panel and an abdominal panel, wherein the two-ply panty portion comprises a first panty half that is continuously knit with and seamlessly connected to a first of the legs, and a second panty half that is integrally knit with and seamlessly connected to a second of the legs, the first and second panty halves being joined to each other along a front seam and a back seam, wherein each leg and the panty half seamlessly connected thereto are formed of a circularly knit two-ply fabric tube that is knit starting at the lower end of the leg and proceeding up to an upper end of the panty half and then back down to the lower end of the leg, the panty halves then being slit longitudinally and joined together to form the panty portion, and wherein the waist panel has a knit with relatively less elasticity than a knit of the buttock panel.

25. A hosiery garment of claim 24, wherein the abdominal panel has a knit with relatively less elasticity than the knit of the buttock panel.

26. A method for making a hosiery garment, comprising: circularly knitting a first and second fabric tubes to have a two ply portion by knitting upward toward a top edge of the fabric tube and transitioning from a looser knit of a buttock panel to a tighter knit of a waist panel near the top edge while forming a first layer and downward from the top edge and transitioning from the tighter knit to the looser knit away from the top edge while forming a second layer; longitudinally slitting an upper portion of the first fabric tube for a distance generally corresponding to a desired rise of the hosiery garment so as to form two fabric edges; longitudinally slitting an upper portion of the second fabric tube for said distance generally corresponding to said desired rise of the hosiery garment so as to form two fabric edges; and joining the two fabric edges of the first fabric tube to the two fabric edges of the second fabric tube so as to form a single larger fabric tube from the upper portions of the first and second fabric tubes, said single larger fabric tube including the joined top edges with the tighter knit forming a waist panel, the single larger fabric tube serving as a panty portion of the garment, and lower portions of the first and second fabric tubes serving as legs of the garment.

27. A method of claim 26, wherein transitioning from a looser knit to a tighter knit includes transitioning from a jersey knit to a 1×1 alternating knit.

28. A method of claim 27, wherein circularly knitting includes knitting from a first feed having a spandex single covered with a nylon and second feed having a nylon.

29. A method of claim 26, wherein circularly knitting includes transitioning from the looser knit to the tighter knit at a tummy panel of the fabric tubes.

30. A method of claim 29, wherein circularly knitting includes transitioning from the looser knit to the tighter knit to form a leg panel.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present invention claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application No. 60/777,040 entitled “Hosiery Garment and Method of Making the Same” filed on Feb. 27, 2006 and hereby incorporated herein, in its entirety, by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to lower-body undergarments for providing a smooth appearance beneath clothing.

2. Description of Related Art

In the apparel industry, significant effort has been expended toward developing undergarments that provide a slimming and smoothing of the abdomen, buttocks, hips, and thighs. Many different approaches have been taken toward this end. Women sometimes wear regular pantyhose to get a slimming and smoothing effect, but pantyhose have drawbacks. For instance, pantyhose are readily visible when worn with skirts or open-toe shoes, which is undesirable if the wearer wants the bare-leg look. Pantyhose also can be uncomfortable during warm or hot weather because they completely cover the legs.

Short body-smoothing undergarments having legs that end above the knee have been developed to try to overcome the above problems. Many undergarments of this type have an elastic band at the bottom of each leg. The leg band provides a finished appearance to the fabric edge and prevents raveling, and also constricts against the wearer's leg to hold the leg of the garment in place so that it doesn't ride up during use. Such leg bands can be uncomfortable because they can dig into the wearer's legs, and can leave unsightly marks on the legs that may persist for some time after removal of the garment.

The short body-smoothing undergarments generally also include an elastic cord sewn into the waistband, which can also dig in and create marks. This is especially true for “control top” type undergarments where the panty, and especially the waistband, are of increased elasticity around the abdominal and waist areas. This can create a bulge at the transition between the band and the uncovered part of the leg or waist.

It would be advantageous, therefore, to have an undergarment that provides the advantages of smoothing support and control for the wearer, yet does not promote bunching at the waistband or other areas.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The above needs are met and other advantages achieved by providing a hosiery garment for supporting buttocks, legs, waist and an abdominal region of a wearer. In one embodiment, the hosiery garment includes a top support portion that has a waist panel, buttock panels, a tummy panel and leg panels. The waist panel has a relatively tight knit and extends around the wearer's waist. The buttock panels have a relatively loose knit and may define pockets to conform more to the buttocks of the wearer. The tight knit of the waist panel provides firmness and compression and in combination with the loose knit of the buttock panels facilitates use of a low-rise cut without bunching or riding up of the undergarment when sitting. An upper edge of the waist panel may also include hip portions extending higher than the front portion for a more secure fit. A downwardly extending rear portion of the waist panel may have a V shape to reduce gapping at the small of the wearer's back. The undergarment may also include leg portions that have a sheer knit single ply and extend from the leg panels.

In one embodiment, the present invention includes a hosiery garment for supporting buttocks, legs, waist and an abdominal region of the wearer. The hosiery garment includes a two-ply top support portion, including a waist panel, buttock panels, a tummy panel and leg panels. The waist panel has a tight knit and defines an upper edge that includes a low rise front edge portion that is lower than a rear edge portion. The buttock panels have a relatively loose knit, are positioned below the waist panel and are shaped to conform to the buttocks of the wearer. The tummy panel has a tight knit and is positioned below the waist panel at the abdominal region of the wearer. The leg panels are configured to extend around and along the legs of the wearer.

In another aspect, the upper edge of the waist panel has higher extending lateral hip edge portions positioned laterally between the front and rear edge portions. Also, the waist panel may include a downwardly extending rear portion of tight knit. For example, the downwardly extending rear portion may have a V shape.

The buttock panels may be shaped to form pockets for each of the buttocks. Also, the tummy panel can include lateral edges that converge as they extend downward from the waist panel. For example, the lateral edges may form a triangular shape.

Further included in the hosiery garment may be a pair of sheer leg portions that extend downward from the leg panels of the top portion. Preferably, the sheer leg portions extend below the wearer's knees. The leg panels can include a transition region where they drop to a single ply before the sheer knit of the leg portions.

The undergarment of the present invention has many advantages. For example, the tight knit of the waist panel and/or the loose knit of the buttock panels (especially when pockets are formed) inhibit bunching and riding up of the undergarment during sitting and other movements. Also, the lack of a waistband provides for a smoother fit without lines below clothing. The higher lateral hip edge portions of the waist panel further promote a secure fit, especially with a low-rise front edge portion. The downward extending, V-shaped portion of the waist panel prevents gapping at the small of the back. The tighter knit of the tummy panel provides compression for tummy control and helps keep the undergarment from rolling or bunching. The staggered drop in thickness from the leg panels to the leg portions provides a thinner, less noticeable line beneath clothing. The sheer knit leg portions to below the knee avoid a mark or bulge on the thigh.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

Having thus described the invention in general terms, reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, which are not necessarily drawn to scale, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a hosiery garment of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a rear elevation view of the hosiery garment of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a circularly-knit tube that, along with a mirror image circularly knit tube, is constructed using a method of one embodiment of the present invention into the hosiery garment of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings in which some but not all embodiments of the invention are shown. Indeed, this invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

An undergarment 10 and a method for constructing the undergarment in accordance with one preferred embodiment of the invention are illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. The undergarment is knit from yams and includes a top portion 11 and a pair of legs 12, 13. Advantageously, the undergarment has a low rise cut in the front, but, due to several strategically placed knit panels, such as a tighter knit waist panel 14 and more loosely knit buttock panels or pockets 18, stays in place during normal activities, such as sitting. In addition, as will be explained below, these panels have smooth transitions and do not create unsightly lines in the overlying garments.

The undergarment 10 may be manufactured with knitted fabric materials, such as, for example, nylon, LYCRA, spandex, silk or cotton yams. Preferably, the undergarment 10 is knitted using a circular hosiery knitting process, such as a circular knitting process employing a 400 needle, four inch cylinder.

Each of the legs 12, 13 of the undergarment 10 are connected with the top portion and extend at least part of the way down the wearer's thighs and lower legs, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Advantageously, the legs 12, 13 extending below the knees and the use of a sheer knit eliminates mark or bulge-through on the thighs of the wearer. Each of the illustrated legs 12, 13 of the undergarment 10 includes a two-ply distal leg band 15 and a single ply proximal sheer portion 16. The distal leg band 15 is comprised of a knitted-in two-ply circumferential portion that is positioned to fall below the knees, but may also stop above the knees. Preferably, the distal leg band 15 ranges from about one to three inches in width. Advantageously, the distal leg band 15 provides a snug fit on the user's lower legs without overly constricting these areas.

The leg band may be knit into the end of the legs 12, 13. The leg band 15 is preferably knit using a 1×1 selection with a feed of 120 denier LYCRA SOFT that is single covered with 70 denier, 48 filament nylon. This alternates with a 1×1 selection having a feed of 70 denier, 34 filament nylon. A 1×1 selection means that one of the needles is up and the other is down. In a 1×1 alternate selection, whatever needle was facing up on feed one, the corresponding needle on feed two is facing down.

The leg band 15 in this embodiment includes two plies formed by extending the knit of the legs 12, 13 into the first layer, making a turn at the edge of the leg band and knitting the inside layer. Then, the layers are knit together on the inside of the undergarment 10 at the end of the top edge of the inside layer of the leg band 15.

As an alternative to use of the leg band 15, the legs 12, 13 could end in a knitted-in welt 15. During manufacture of the distal leg welt 15, all of the feeds preferably use the same yarns, such as the 120 denier LYCRA SOFT that is single covered with 70 denier, 48 filament nylon or the 70 denier, 34 filament nylon, but could also alternate different yarns from one through four feeds. A 1×1 yam selection is used for the first feed. The second feed uses a plain-knit selection, which means that all needles are up. The third feed uses the 1×1 alternate, with the up and down needles reversed from the first feed. Feed four also uses a plain-knit selection, which means all needles are again up.

A single rubber yarn may be knitted into the distal leg welt 15 to ensure that the distal leg welt is secured about the legs of the wearer. However, the rubber yarn is optional because the denier used in this region is believed to be sufficient to provide the needed support. It should also be noted that where a 1×1 selection has been specified above, a 3×1 selection could be used instead.

Additional information on the construction of the distal leg welts can be found in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No. 6,276,176 which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

The single ply proximal sheer portion 16 of each of the legs 12, 13 is preferably a very sheer jersey knit to maximize the comfort of the wearer. The single ply proximal sheer portion 16 is preferably manufactured with a plain-knit or all-knit process wherein all four feeds are up. Preferably, a 20/10/7 LYCRA or spandex yarn is used in the first and third feeds. This corresponds to a 20 denier LYCRA or spandex yarn covered with a 10 denier textured nylon yarn with 7 filaments. The second and fourth feeds preferably contain 15/7 (15 denier, 7 filament) textured yams. Overall, the proximal sheer portion 16 of each of the legs 12, 13 are preferably manufactured from a material ranging from an approximately 7 to 40 denier nylon yarn and an approximately 10/7 to 40/13 LYCRA yarn.

In still another variation, the undergarment may include only the top portion 11 sans the legs 12, 13. Regardless, the top portion 11 will now be described below in greater detail.

The top portion 11 encircles the lower torso of the wearer and extends between the legs of the wearer. The top portion 11 also preferably extends down the wearer's legs preferably approximately 4 to 10 inches. The top portion 11 includes the waist panel 14, a gusset panel 17, the buttock panels 18, a tummy panel 19 and a pair of leg panels 21. The term “panty” may also be used herein to refer to the top portion 11.

The gusset panel 17 is preferably separately formed and later sewn into the top portion. The gusset panel 17 is preferably made of a breathable and absorbent material such as cotton or a cotton/synthetic blend.

The top portion 11 includes two plies constructed of a double layer knit that has an outer layer that extends upward continuously from the legs 12, 13 to fold over on itself at a top edge and becomes an inner layer that extends downward and is knit in circumferential lines 22 to the outer layer, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. As a result, the top portion 11 is defined between the circumferential lines 22 and the top edge of the undergarment 10. Extending downward from the circumferential lines 22 are the legs 12, 13 of the undergarment 10 that are only a single ply in the proximal sheer portion 16.

The panels 14, 18, 19 and 21 of the top portion 11 are thus preferably double layer knits, but are otherwise defined by variations in the knitting pattern of the top portion. The tummy panel 19 and the leg panels are all knit with a 1×1 selection for one course of 40 denier LYCRA single covered with 40 denier, 34 filament nylon, and knit with a 1×1 alternate selection for a next course of 70 denier 48 filament bright nylon. These knits have some variation in stitch heights, for further differentiation in the tightness of the knit depending upon the panel. This provides relatively lower elasticity for a more firm support of the wearer in these areas. The buttock panels 18, on the other hand, are knit with a looser jersey knit with variable stitch heights for relatively greater elasticity.

The leg panels 21 encircle the proximal 4 to 10 inches of the wearer's legs, extending from the circumferential lines 22 to about the gusset panel 17 and bottom of the buttock panels 18. Advantageously, the transition from the double-layered top portion 11 has a staggered thickness change going from two plies to one ply at the lower edge of the leg panels 21 in order to transition smoothly then to the single ply proximal sheer portion 16 of each of the legs 12, 13. This attenuates the transition to be a thinner, less noticeable line under clothing.

As mentioned above, the buttock panels 18 advantageously have a looser knit and shapes that define zones or pockets for each of the buttocks. Advantageously, this avoids sliding down of the undergarment 10 when the wearer sits down. The jersey knitted buttock panels 18 extend up at the rear of the undergarment 10, from the leg panels to a lower edge of the waist panel 14. A seam 23 separates the left and right halves of the buttock panels 18, so that each half forms a pocket encompassing one respective buttock of the wearer. A short section of the top portion 11 on either side of the seam may also be a knit with a 1×1 selection instead of a jersey knit to reinforce the seam 23 and provide further stiffness.

The tummy panel 19 has a firmer knit with more compression for tummy control and firmness. Advantageously, this helps to keep the low-rise front of the undergarment 10 from rolling or bunching. The tummy panel 19 extends over the anterior abdominal region of the wearer and forms a triangular shape, having a wider top edge at the waist panel 14 and tapering to a bottom edge ending about 1 to 2 inches above the gusset panel 17, as shown in FIG. 1. The seam 23 extends from the posterior side of the undergarment 10 through the legs (around the edges of the gusset panel 17) and up to the top edge of the undergarment. An optional T-bar panel 24 of 1×1 knit may be provided that extends from the bottom edge of the tummy panel 19 to the gusset panel 17 for reinforcement of the seam 23.

The waist panel 14 is constructed with an upper edge that is low-rise in the front (as shown in FIG. 1) when compared to the back (as shown in FIG. 2) and is also higher on the sides. Advantageously, the higher side edges form “anchor points” that hold the garment up on the sides above the hips. The waist panel 14 extends around the waist of the wearer and is about ¾ to 1.5 inches in width. The waist panel also blends with the center tummy panel 19 at the anterior or abdominal regions of the wearer. In the illustrated embodiment, the anterior portion of the waist panel 14 and the tummy panel 19 have the same more dense 1×1 knit with lower stitch heights for the greatest stiffness of the undergarment. This transitions to the remainder of the waist panel 14 around the sides and back, and at edges of the tummy panel 19, to a somewhat looser, taller stitch that is a bit more elastic which then transitions to the very elastic jersey knit of the buttock panels 18 and leg panels 21.

In another aspect, the waist panel 14 may include a downwardly extended portion, shaped, for example, like a “V” as shown in FIG. 2, that extends the tighter elastic knit of the waist panel along the small of the wearer's back. This downwardly extended portion helps to eliminate the gap often formed by other undergarments at the small of the back.

Advantageously, the variations in elasticity (i.e., variations in the tightness of the knit) cause the front of the top portion 11 to get shorter than the buttock panels 18 around the buttock area of the wearer, but still not exceed the tightness of the knit in the waist panel 14 so as to provide an improved fit for the undergarment 10. Stated differently, the back of the panty portion is longer than the front, and thus the back is able to accommodate the natural curvature of the buttocks without the back of the tighter knit waist panel 14 being pulled down relative to the front. At the same time, the lack of a sudden transition between the panels and the placement of the seam 23 avoids unsightly bunching, bulging or lines that may be present with welts or conventional waistbands.

During construction of the undergarment 10, two tubes 28 are formed, each comprising one half of the undergarment. An exemplary tube 28 is shown in FIG. 3. Knitting begins with cylinder needles at a bottom edge of the leg panel 21 and extends upward to make a top edge of the waist panel 14. The knitting is then transferred to the dial needles, which knit the outer ply from the top end down to a lower edge of the distal leg band 15. During travel down to the lower edge of the distal leg band, the bottom edge of the leg panel 21 inner and outer plies are knit together before the dial needles continue to knit single ply proximal sheer portion 16 of the leg 12, 13. The inner ply of the distal leg band 15 is finished by transferring to the cylinder needles again, extending up in the cylinder, and ending with a knit attachment of the top edge of the inner ply of the distal leg band to the outer ply of the distal leg band.

After knitting, the garments are preferably steamed to shrink the fabric to better handle through sewing and potentially to fix some shape to the garment. For instance, fitting could be performed to shape the pockets of the buttock panels 18.

After the tubes 28 are formed, the upper end portion of each tube is longitudinally slit along a line 25. The length of the slit line 25 is dictated by the desired rise, i.e., the distance from the crotch to the waist panel, of the undergarment 10. After slitting the tubes 28, each tube has a front edge and a rear edge. The front edge is joined to the front edge of the other tube, thereby forming half of the seam 23. Likewise, the rear edge is joined to the rear edge of the other tube forming the rest of the seam 23 and a single larger tube that serves as the panty or top portion 11 of the undergarment 10.

Preferably, the separately made gusset panel 17 is sewn into the panty portion between the two tubes to form the crotch. This enables the fit in the crotch region of the undergarment 10 to be improved, and also allows the gusset to be formed of a different material from the rest of the undergarment. The joining of the two fabric tubes to each other and to the gusset panel preferably is effected by sewing. A flat stitch seam can be used if desired, with the flat side of the seam facing outward away from the wearer's body, so that the seams are not readily visible beneath close-fitting clothing.

If desired, the two fabric tubes 28 can be slit in such a manner that a small amount of material of each tube is removed prior to joining the tubes together. This can allow the girth of the panty portion to be reduced, for example, relative to what it would be if no material were removed. The removal of material can also allow the gusset panel to fit better into the panty portion without puckering or folding.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the inventions set forth herein will come to mind to one skilled in the art to which these inventions pertain having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the inventions are not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.