I tried writing something about this, but I couldn’t make it coherent.
Undies, knickers, panties, those things! Being an Aussie I’ll refer to them as undies, m’k?
A personal goal of mine is to make my own lingerie, inspired by the likes of Bloom’s Endless Summer, Handmade by Caroline, Sewaholic, and all the lovely patterns and blog posts on sewing lingerie to be found in the online sewing community. I figure ‘if you guys can do it, then so can I!’ Right? Right!
(I’m sure I got this at attitude from being a little sister. All my life I’ve watched my older sister do stuff, and I’m thinking ‘If SHE can do them, then so can I!’
Mum reckons this attitude always annoyed my sister no end. Poor Kylie!)
Sewing lingerie is a pretty daunting goal though, so I divided it up, starting with undies.
What do I want in a pair of undies?
I feel kinda crazy talking about the different roles of undies in my life! But there’s no point in sewing undies I won’t wear, be them ever so pretty in my lingerie draw, so bear with me?
I need to:
- be able to walk over an hour in them
- dance over and hour in them
- bike ride an hour in them
- do a pilates class in them
- not have to adjust them just at that moment I am sighting a feral pig down the length of my arrow – or even having just gotten out of the car, for that matter
- not have them show under my clothes
- look suitably cute and appealing when viewed by my partner
Gosh I don’t ask much, do I!
There’s a few rtw styles that fulfil the requirements – the ubiquitous Bonds hipster bikinis(left) and Parisian knickers (right).
I can buy them fairly easily, so why am I so determined to make my own? Well, the Bonds bikinis are BORING. The Parisian Knickers are hard to find in cotton – polyester undies in this climate? No thankyou O_O. But mostly because they just don’t last long . I suspect this is a climate issue – the lycra in the fabric dies within 6 months. It happens with t-shirts with lycra in them too.
Heh, and I bet too, that now I’ve told the world how much I like them, they’ll both be discontinued by this time next year.
Oh yeah, and, I like a challenge:-)
Patterns patterns patterns
I made a pattern from each rtw style.
Next I pulled out the most likely suspect from my pattern collection, a Kwik Sew boyshorts-style pattern from an op-shop. The pattern envelope has long gone so I don’t know the pattern number, sorry :-( However here is the pattern after I’d muslined them for a one-way stretch cotton knit. (More on muslining later.)
I also looked online for more inspiration. I fell in love with the Granny Panny from Sew Vera Venus. She offers a number of truly awesome patterns for free, including the Granny Panny.
And lastly, I have a pattern from off the internet that I’ve thrown away the original printout, and on the tracing I kept, all I wrote on it was simply ‘Pretty Things’ . I have NO idea who or what Pretty Things undies are, but if you do know, please tell me so I can a) acknowledge them properly, and b) thank them, because they are really comfortable!
What I made!
The RTW undies: When made in similar fabric to the originals, both the Parisian Knickers and the Bonds bikini were almost exactly the same as the rtw. This surprised me. I had my doubts that copying a rtw pair would produce anything much useful, but it was actually really effective. Yay!
I don’t have a picture of the me-made Bonds bikini, but could you just take my word they were very comfy? Here are the Parisian Knickers:
For these, I used stretch lace fabric found in the scrapbooking section of Officeworks. Seriously. *rather bemused* All I can say is it is a good advertisement for the value of reaching out to touch every textile you ever see :-D It was only when touching it that it became obvious it was stretch lace. Why you’d need stretch lace for scrapbooking, I don’t know…? The fabric is modal jersy/lycra from Dharma Trading and I’m sadly disappointed by it. It’s a nice comfy stretchy cool fabric - that pills the moment it’s washed. And I have a front loader I only use cold water with, so I am not butchering them :-(
The Kwik Sew supposed boy-shorts in one-way stretch cotton from Spotlight (This is how they ended up after adjustments to make them fullfil the Undies Requirements. Not exactly boy-shorts anymore, are they!)
My version of the Granny Panny (Oh why isn’t my photo all neat and shapely like Sew Vera Venus’s?), in a very funky purple polkadot cut a dress I found in an op-shop. I never took to the dress, but as a pair of Granny Pannies? LOVE!!!
The mysterious Pretty Things undies, in modal rayon/lycra from Dharma Trading, and stretch lace from Spotlight. Very comfy!
Hey Imogheena, just get to the good stuff already!
ok ok, So what have I learnt?
- Why have more than one pattern? The patterns have very different layouts – some take up a lot of fold, some barely use a fold. Some are made of one big pattern (nice and easy to work with!), others two or three smaller pieces which fit on small scraps of fabric better. For eg I got 2 Parisean briefs out of a singlet top requisitioned to undies-making. If I’d used the Granny Panny or even the Bonds bikini, I’d have only gotten one pair from it. Conversely, with the modal rayon/lycra, I could get more Bonds bikinis than any other type. However it was so slithery, the Granny Panny with only one main piece, would actually have been easiest to use.
- Crotch style (eg attached only at the sides/a seam down the centre/no seam/sandwhiched onto the front and back etc) has a huge bearing on how comfortable undies are, and there seems to be as many different versions of crotch-linings as there are undies patterns! I found it’s pretty easy with a bit of judicious tracing and perhaps a seam added or taken away, to adjust most undies from one crotch-lining style to another. The increase in comfort a crotch-lining in your prefered style creates is well worth the effort.
- Muslining is really really useful. And I HATE muslining, so I don’t say this lightly! Often quite small differences in stretch and recovery between fabrics can make a huge difference when on your body.
- It works an absolute treat to literally draw with a pen where you want the exact leg-opening and waist-opening to fall on your own body! It was perhaps the most useful thing I worked out about sewing undies. Yeah! Go me!
- If you do draw the openings on your muslin, it helps to have fabric to draw on, so cut extra length in the leg and waist openings.
- There are tutorials out there that teach you how to adjust the pattern to different fabrics. (Using this principal in this tutorial by Cloth-habit) However they don’t take into account the lengthwise stretch or lack, of a fabric. But this is important for the comfort. You can do the same calculations for the length, but neither of these approaches necessarily made the leg opening fit well. (Noooo I’m not finicky! Honest!) I found muslining the easiest way to solve all of these issues at once.
Elastic and stretch laces…
- The width of the stretch lace needs to be calculated into the fit. ie if the fit is perfect with 2cm wide lace, if made with 4cm lace it isn’t gonna fit right, especially through the crotch which will now be 4cm wider than drafted. Yeah I know. Obvious when spelled out, right?! Fortunately it’s easy to just cut that extra width off the pattern pieces before applying elastic.
How much elastic/ stretch lace to apply to each opening?
Like fabrics, different lingerie elastics and laces all have a different stretch and recovery. You want to get this bit right. After all a leg-opening that binds is a misery; too loose a waist and you might lose your duds, too tight and you’re back to misery. I decided the best thing to do was just experiement. Make 200 undies! (Well, not literally. I mean the 200 zips concept) figuring eventually it would all make sense. And it did! Phew!
Firstly I simply measured each kind of elastic around the relevant body part at the taughtness that felt comfortable. Boy did that not work! Often the elastic I’d cut would be longer than the opening it was supposed to pull in. Huh? Even when it was smaller than the opening, once applied it was usually just too loose.
Eventually I realised that so long as the undies fit nicely, all you need is to cut the elastic a bit smaller than the circumference of the opening. DUH!! So obvious – well, now I’ve worked it out…
The caveat is: the ‘bit smaller’ varies with the stretch/recovery property of each elastic, and I haven’t yet found a way to work out how much by other than trial and error. I’m open to suggestions!
Fortunately I’ve now done so much trial and error I’m starting to intuitively know how much smaller particular elastic needs to be. The 200 zips principal at work. YAY!
THEN I discovered that like bras, elastic in undies loosens as it ages. *facepalm* (I blame the Bonds hipster bikinis that I didn’t know this already – the fabric dies long before the elastic does.) So now I add that into my calculations too.
This is the easiest way I’ve found, it means you’re applying elastic to a long edge rather than in the round, making it a lot easier to handle and match the elastic evenly along the fabric.
- Sew the crotch seam and sew or baste the crotch lining in
- Apply leg elastic to both leg edges
- Sew up one side seam
- Apply elastic to waist
- Sew the other side seam up
I’ve seen many suggestions for applying elastic, and duly tried them all. I’m really sorry that I can’t credit these suggestions correctly because they were gleaned from
many late nights vegging out on pinterest and following links and I’ve long forgotten who said what. They’ve come from tutorials on adult lingerie, children’s undies (Do children have lingerie???) and swimwear for both adults and children. One day I intend to sort my Pinterest sewing boards a bit better, when I do I’ll come back and link to the lingerie-sewing board.
‘Stretch the elastic more across the back than the front leg opening.’ IME it makes no difference and is a pain to do, so I don’t do it.
‘Stretch the elastic and the fabric a bit’ and conversely ‘only stretch the elastic to fit to the fabric’ IME this also makes no difference. What DOES matter is that you have good control of both fabric and elastic. Some elastics sit better on fabric that is stretched, others on fabric that is lax. Some fabrics are easier to sew the elastic to when stretched, others not. I do what works best.
The other important thing this impacts on is the stretchiness of the seam itself. I discovered the seam itself needs to be very very stretchy. If the seam is any less elastic than the lace it feels binding. The zigzag chosen needs to be very wide, and not very long.
And not elastic but still a common suggestion, ‘You can cut up old t-shirts to make undies!’ Hmph. See the point about muslining. By the time you’ve muslined there probably won’t be any fabric left for the Real pair. However if you’ve sewn 200 undies (or thereabouts ;-P) you’ll have enough experience to use t-shirts effectively. But when learning? IME it makes it harder, not easier.
Pretty pretty undies all cut up (from two singlets I wasn’t using) and ready to sew up :-)
I love this pattern so much I also made the pyjamas view up.
I found the softest, silkiest pure cotton poplin in a fabric range called ‘spots and stripes’ from Spotlight. It made up beautifully into the jammies! Sooooo soft and gentle for sleeping in. I couldn’t bring myself to wear the shortie-shorts. I just think they’d look terrible on me, so I simply lengthened them to mid-thigh length. It worked just fine and I don’t cringe when I see myself in the mirror. Always a bonus!
The dolly is called Beckie, she’s a wood elf, and is the prototype for the pattern that mum and I used when making my daughter’s and niece’s dollies.
The fabric was so divinely soft, and the pattern so much fun I made up another pair, lavender purple apples (that’s a strange combination of colour and pattern, isn’t it?) I omitted the frill this time, just for a change.
Catching up on things I sewed while studying. October hit, the hottest and most humid time of year, and I needed Floofy Clothes ™ asap. I really like the whole Mori Girl concept. Before I got a pinterest account I’d never even heard of Mori Girl style. How lost I must have been …
However, all those layers are way too hot for the climate I live in, so I tropicified it by paring it back to one layer. A nice loose swishy layer. In fact a nice nightie pattern, adapted for streetwear, coz there’s nothing nicer than wearing your nightie all day!
I just knew that deep neckline both front and back, would mean the dress sliding off my shoulders so I put some cross-straps on the back. Works well, and it’s nice and cool too, more so than if I’d just raised the back neckline.
Here’s the pattern I used. I placed the front and back pieces a few cm away from the foldline to add in enough fabric to create the pleats.
A note on the actual pattern: that neckline is very low at the front. It’s also really a bit too wide from shoulder to shoulder. I recommend measuring to make sure it matches your shoulder width both front and back!
In keeping with the soft floofy Mori Girl idea, I created some floral and leaf embellishments.
Well they’re meant to be floral, but to be honest, if you didn’t know they were, would you think they were? I’m a bit dubious. But it doesn’t seem to stop people from complimenting me on their existence on the skirt.
Lovely big gathered pockets, one with a butterfly on it. I overlocked the top edge of the pocket.
Ruffles everywhere! All hems and neckline roll-hemmed on my overlocker. Gosh I love that function on it! This photo also shows very nicely the soft colours of the fabric, which I think is very much in keeping with the Mori Girl look.
- Fabric/trims/notions used
- Construction notes
I love the rolled-hem function on my overlocker!
I added in an extra pleat both front and back which pulled the shoulders in to fit me better.
The embellishments were made from strips of gathered bias, then sewn together as a flower. These were machine-sewn on as it turned out the fabric was to closely woven I couldn’t really get the needle through! So my poor machine had to plow through a whole lot of layers of very thick fabric. It survived, my nerves didn’t though! I sewed a bit of ribbon in the centre of each rose.
I thought if I added in some leaves as well, they would help the beholder to realise the frayed lumpy-bits along the left hem were actually flowers! I left the edges of both leaves and flowers to fray nicely.
- Last word
I am quite surprised how much I wear this. I usually go for neat, fitted styles. But the swingy, floofy, very cool and breezy nature of this makes it really lovely to wear. It also helps that in my own mind (No idea about external observers!) I’m wearing a Tropical Mori Girl dress – it’s a specific Style. Having said that though, it also helps that it’s essentially a glorified nightie. Nighties for daywear yeah!
I get sooo many compliments on this dress :-)
Well it was only 5 this weekend. But it reminded me of when I was about 11 or 12, shopping for fabric with my mum at a very fondly-remembered fabric store in Parap, one of the older suburbs of Darwin – and home to the wonderful Parap Markets. The fabric shop woman taught me a lot about sewing simply by giving me good customer service. She also sewed professionally, as well as running the fabric store, her little workshop up the back behind the back rack of fabrics, but open to customers.
This particular day, she was setting is a zip as we came in. I said to her ‘oh, zips are so hard to set in!’ She gave me an ever so slightly stern look over the top of her sewing glasses and said ‘Not after you’ve set in 200 of them.’
One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt, not just for sewing but dancing, and music and pretty much everything else in my life. Do it enough times and it’s no longer hard or intimidating.
Except Pilates, where the moment it gets easy, the teacher makes it harder.
However 5 zips in one afternoon was a lot, even though I ‘m sure I hit the 200 zips mark long ago.
Why was I sewing 5 zips up all at once?
Well I’d been working on these items of clothing and kinda crawled to a stop with each of them because I had to set the zip in. In the end, after they’d all been sitting there unzippered and unsewn for a while, I collected them all up, set up the iron, got out all the zips, found all the colours of threads I needed along with their matching bobbins, dug out the zip interfacing from the bottom of the interfacing draw, and set them all in!
And look! Here’s the proof! They’re all done! Woohoooooo!
Here’s what they all are…
The red one’s the skirt from this retro pattern:
The light blue chambray is a pair of shorts and dark blue chambray a pair of trousers, both for my mother from Simplicity 2700. It’s her latest TNT trouser pattern. She’s totally in love with it. So am I, because the fit for the curvy figure trousers was almost perfect for her straight out of the packet.
Speaking of chambray, I looked it up to check I had the right spelling and found some interesting stuff on it in Wiki. I had thought it was the same as cambrik, as in the Simon and Garfunkle song. But I was half right and half wrong.
The coral butterflies (which didn’t photograph too well, it’s way nicer in reality) are to be a pair of shorts from some trousers in a Burda magazine that is over 10 yrs old.
And the green and black shot fabric (Although I’ve just learnt, presuming the Wiki article on them is accurate, it could also be called a chambray!) is for a pair of 3/4 length trousers based on this pattern (Previously blogged about here)
However I adjusted the pattern by basically cutting it as wide as I could, trying to approximate this recent burdastyle pattern. Although now I look at it again, I think my green ones are going to be a whooooole lot wider than these :-D :
Well, now the zips are all set in, I’d better go sew the rest of the clothes, right?
I finished my study a while ago, and have been trying to decide whether to keep going with this blog. I’ve decided I will, and just see how I go with it again.
I did promise myself if I started again I’d get better pictures of my clothes, but I haven’t got that worked out, sadly. Still no reliable way of taking them apart from a selfie in the mirror. Oh well.
I might have been studying but of course I was still sewing
to keep myself sane. I’ve even taken some pictures of what I’ve sewn. Organised eh?
Just for a start, here are the results of me putting my Sewing Skillz to practical use – new pillowcases!
The sewing was easy, but the decision to use this fabric from my stash, rather than buy more at that week’s 40% off all fabrics discount sale at Spotlight, was agonising. I needed to get my stash down a bit, but I already had a Vision for this fabric, and it didn’t involve pillowcases!
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with having a healthy stash. Of course not! One must have fuel to burn up in one’s creative fires! And one can’t always get to the fabric shop, or once there, necessarily find what one wants precisely when one wants it. Stashes are Good!
However there was a sadly practical element to my decision to use fabric from my stash. Space. I live in a small place, not much storage, and not much room generally. My stash has to fit into this lovely wooden chest that resides here under my sewing table. (It makes a great footstool, too :-) ) (And it’s like the Tardis, bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside :-D) (Also I’d just like to add, this is a pretty accurate character portrait of my cat.)
Oh alright, I admit, the fabric also spills over into my sewing shelf in the linen cupboard. But I do try to keep that available for things I’m either about to make or in the process of making.
So why the angst? Because my stash has recently been substantially beefed out by my sister, beyond even the bounds of my Tardis-like wooden chest. She went to India for a wedding a few months back and bought me all sorts of delicious fabrics. Silks, embroidered cottons, hand-blocked print cottons, some matching trims. Isn’t she an awesome sister?
However, living as she does in London, she can’t have realised all that wondrous fabric would cause a Stash Storage Crisis! Not only can I not possibly sew it all up immediately, but I also need to set it aside for and think about options for each fabric length, pet them occasionally, and think some more.
My practicality kicked in and I decided to sew some of my existing stash to replace my old, sadly scruffy pillowcases. Sensible huh? I’d originally bought the blue rose fabric to create something similar to this dress from Recollections I’ve had pinned and coveted for ages, on my pinterest Sewing List board.
But sadly, being practical, I was pretty sure I’d never really make anything like that, because I was pretty sure I’d never actually wear it. And it really kinda depresses me to have beautiful clothes sitting in my wardrobe so carefully and creatively sewn by me with many many hours work in it, and never actually worn. So it seemed like a good choice.
But now, although I’m very much in love with my new pillowcases, I am very sure I not only would wear something like that, I want to wear something like that, (sans hot non-tropics-friendly petticoats of course).
Gosh I’m contrary! *facepalm*
Well… I’m studying writing at uni. First time in my life I’ve had the chance to study what I’ve always wanted to study. Yay!
I’m sewing too, but not quite so voraciously, which probably isn’t a bad thing as my wardrobe is bursting at its seams. But writing about sewing is (ironically) just a bit too much on top of studying about writing. I might be able to get out a post or two every so often, but if not, you know why!