March 14, 2010

Because there's always more to learn

I don't think anyone has noticed but, unlike many other experienced seamstresses, I've never made lingerie. So far.
The truth of the matter is, I have tried before. I took part in a lingerie workshop which included drafting a pattern for basic bikini style panties (used as a sloper to base other shapes on). Of course, I had no trouble at all with the pattern making bit but I soon found out that my sewing machine didn't agree at all with my new endevour. This was my old sewing machine, which had some 'minor' transport issues. I could work with those, when dealing with woven fabrics. I was even capable (with a lot of time and effort put in) to force it to produce a few items in jersey. But lycra was a different matter and the sewing of stretched out elastic ,
essential to making lingerie, was absolutely out of the question.
Before the workshop, I had already bought some black lycra and different kinds of trim, but after a few tries with the machine, I just had to give up. Especially when M tried out my machine and gave as her professional opinion that it was absolutely incapable of sewing lingerie, and the experience had made her understand my difficulties with sewing jersey...

These things are all in the past. I now own a beautiful, powerful new sewing machine now, and a serger. I even mentioned my intention to sew 'everything, from leather to jeans, to lingerie' when I went shopping for them.
And yet, so far I had not tried again.
Until last week.
The thought of sewing lingerie had started to sneak its way back into my mind for a little while now, and I found myself trying to decide what to do with some scraps of nice blue jersey. Scraps which were not long enough for a top...
The answer was obvious. I have seen it so many times on Wardrobe Refashion and on other blogs: panties! What better way to overcome my fears of sewing lingerie than to start with a more forgiving fabric?

I tried three different shapes, and a variaty of trims. From left to right: thong (fold over elastic and stretch lace), low legged briefs (picot edged elastic and FOE), and shorts (picot and hemming). They're not perfect, but definately wearable and it wasn't as hard as I thought.

Encouraged by the succes of the panties, I decided to take the plunge and try a
bra as well. I made a pattern as a part of the workshop, but unlike the panty pattern, it had never really been tried out for size. I just made it anyway.

The size is Ok, but it should be tweaked for a better fit and shape. I wanted to insert the underwires from an old bra, but found them slightly too long and not the right shape (they came from a push up bra, I guess). As I used the jersey scraps, and stretch lining and trim of which I have plenty more in stash, and an improvised hook and eye closure (and the shoulder straps are hook-on ones from a too big bra), I don't think it's such a loss. I'm very proud it actually looks like a bra, and now I will know what changes to try and make to the pattern.

I will certainly try again. Next challenge: lycra. And I am once more dreaming of making the perfect retro style bathing suit (my own design and pattern, of course ;)


  1. Swimwear is really pretty straightforward to sew. I had all homemade swimsuits until high school (early '90s) when it became difficult to find good lycra fabrics in cute prints. If you check out Stretch and Sew patterns and Kwik Sew patterns, you'll get the scoop on easy ways to start out. I can't wait to see the retro one you make!

  2. Hi,
    I was trying to download your jeans skirt pattern from burda style and I am getting an error. Is it still possible to download your pattern from there.
    Best wishes,

  3. Would LOVE a tutorial on the panties.

  4. This is great. You did a great job. Feel free to let us know how you did it!

    I have a bin full of lingerie supplies but have not tackled this yet for fear of ending up with something not wearable. There are no workshops near me.

  5. Woooaahhhh! I've actually be seriously considering making underwear myself. I've seen a few pictures of bloggers in delightful vintage underwear and I think I'm ready to give it a go. I also really want a retro style bathing suit...

    You've inspired me! Brilliant job.

  6. You did an awesome job on sewing your undergarments!!!

  7. Sewing lingerie can be addicting. You did a great job on the pieces you made. Nice sewing!

  8. Man, this is fantastic! I too have started sewing lingerie (bras, specifically). As I am well-endowed, this has been quite an endeavour.

  9. These are really beautiful. You are so inspiring!! I've never made lingerie, but like you I've been eyeing up other people's successes and thinking I should give it a whirl... I think I need to find a workshop too...
    Well done!!

  10. I'm dieing to try a bathing suit myself. I'll wait to see how yours goes first.

  11. Very nice!! I am SO impressed that you drafted your own bra pattern! :O

    And your swimsuit is going to be to die for, I can tell already...

  12. Nice panties and bra, great result. Looking forward to your swimsuit.

  13. I think it looks great. I'd wear all that and it certainly looks better than anything I'd ever make, even with the world's fanciest machine
    melina bee

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