Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sewing Lingerie Part One

I've been reading 'Sewing Lingerie that Fits' by Karen Morris. In the introduction she talks about how many people that sew their own clothing don't sew lingerie. I found this really interesting because I think she's right. I read a lot of sewing blogs and while a few of them have tackled lingerie the vast majority seem to stick to clothes only. I wondered if it was because lingerie was too hard, but I've seen these women sew difficult garments like winter coats and jeans so I don't think that's it.
I'm curious. If you sew have you sewn lingerie? Why/why not? Is it something that you're interested in?

Simplicity 2692

I think I've mentioned before that I want to start sewing lingerie. This is for several reasons. Most of the lingerie that I like is ridiculously expensive and I'm not really in a position to spend that much on underwear. I'm sick of the poor quality of fabric and construction that you get with cheap underwear. I try to avoid buying things made in countries that have questionable human rights records. This is relatively easy with clothes. Most of my clothing is second hand or made by me. I very rarely buy anything new these days but underwear (and hosiery) is probably one of the only things I do. I do own some vintage lingerie; slips, girdles and long line bras but I wouldn't want to buy second hand knickers.

I have a few patterns and plenty of vintage lace and notions to use up. I thought it might be interesting to do a series on sewing lingerie. While I probably have more of a vintage style lingerie bent, I'm also interested in sewing comfortable, everyday type underwear. My goal is to sew some french knickers and soft bras out of silk, some regular cotton boyshorts, sew a vintage style longline bra and sew a swimsuit (I know it's not really lingerie but it uses similar techniques).

I know they're terribly 80s but I think I could make them look vintage

Some links that may be of interest:

Frilly Bits has instructions on how to draft your own french knickers/tap pants. I don't think there are instructions on how to sew the pattern up, so if anyone is interested just let me know and I can do a tutorial on it. I'd also recommend looking at their other posts because they make the most beautiful vintage inspired lingerie.

Zoe has a great tutorial on how to make undies with a serger.

New Vintage Lady is pretty much my hero of lingerie making. Check out the foundation garments page on her site. She has made everything from her own garter belt to tap panties to crinolines to mens underwear.

Threadbanger has an episode dedicated to making womens underwear. The pattern used in the episode is here.

Gertie's New Blog For Better Sewing has a tutorial on how to make a vintage inspired half slip.

If you need some inspiration or would rather buy lingerie than make it, Ohhh Lulu makes gorgeous bras, panties, rompers, swimwear and camisoles and sells them in her Etsy shop.


  1. I would love to make lingerie but I have this idea in my head that it is very difficult... Bras especially, when I look at their construction, it freaks me out a little.

  2. I do as well but I'm determined to at least try it. I'm going to start with easy stuff and work my way up to bras I think because they look quite difficult.

  3. I have made slips as outer wear as I love the shape and it is usually cut on a bias, so it falls beautifully. I don't think I'd make undies, as I love my bonds undies too much and I don't think I could ever do better.
    As for fancy underwear, I love that it is the only thing I splurge on. La Perla, Simone Perelli, Elle name but a few. Underwear never goes out of style.
    I will be very interested to see how you go though. I may be persuaded.

  4. I would really love to make lingerie! My only problem is I have... very large endowments. And I love pretty lacy flimsy bras, but they're just gonna do nothing for me. I think unless I could learn how to put in underwires, making any bras would be off-limits! But things like swimwear, slips and underwear I would love to sew. I like high-waisted, modest undies and they're hard to come by in terms of ethically made products.

  5. mattbaz- It's funny because slips are the one thing I probably wont make because I already have so many vintage ones. Bonds do make cute undies but the quality doesn't seem that great and, while they used to be Australian made, they've recently moved all production to China, so I'm hesitant to buy them. Elle McPherson and La Perla are pretty. I might have to look at them for some inspiration.

    Georgia Rose- You can get bra patterns that do include underwire/support and I think Spotlight even sells bra underwires. I love high waisted undies too. I'm hoping I can cobble together a vintage style high waisted undies pattern from some other patterns or draft one.

  6. This afternoon i have finished my first pair of pants/knickers...they are a bit uneven but i will keep you the underware i like is so exspensive so its something i really want to master!

  7. I have sewn lingerie before!Knickers are easy enough,but bras?! Forget it!!!
    I find it a little fiddly,though,but was thinking recently that I'd like to get some powernet and make a few waspies,as I wear them a lot lately.
    Love that outfit in your last post,the colours are fabulous on you!
    Are you going to StasH ReHash,darl?

  8. Thank you for all those links! I have not yet sewn any lingerie but have a vintage pattern of a pantie and vest to do soon.

  9. I have actually made pair of bra and corset when studying to be a seamstress. But that's pretty much it. The thing is that atleast here in Finland it has been very difficult before to get all the necessary material for making bra, unless you wan't to destroy old pair of bra to rip off all bits and pieces.
    But for other lingerie, like knickers and camisoles, I don't see any reason why people shouldn't make them.
    I have made petticoats and at the moment I have silk slip under construction atm. I like to invest on good material so I refuse to make camisoles or slips from anything else than silk. That is also the reason why I haven't made lot of them. Silk satin or other underwear-quality silks are very expensive here.

  10. Helga- I think I'll start with knickers and work my way up to a bra because they do look hard.
    I would love to make some waspies or a girdle too.
    No, I'm not going this year. Unfortunately my stash is huge at the moment so I really don't need more fabric. If you go, hope you get lots of pretty fabrics.

    Suzy- You're welcome. I look forward to seeing your vintage pantie and vest pattern made up.

    Rhia- I think it might be difficult here too, although I have seen underwire, bra clips and straps in the fabric store.
    I look forward to seeing your finished silk slip. I want to use silk for my lingerie too. It's expensive here but I've been lucky and managed to get some half price. I've also bought vintage silk and some old silk blouses to cut up for smaller items.

  11. I would love to see you delve into lingerie sewing! I go on and off with whether I think I can really manage to tackle it, so maybe I'll get enough confidence from watching you. :D

  12. Hi! Thanks for the mention :) Kwik Sew has really great lingerie patterns. Sometimes they don't have the most appealing pictures on the front, but they come with really good instructions if it is your first time delving into bra-making. As with anything, the more you do it the easier it gets. My first bra was a monstrosity, but you pick up techniques quickly if you try and try again! Good Luck!

  13. I'll watch with interest if you choose to do a series about sewing lingerie.

  14. I am addicted to making my own lingerie and I have my own website,, full of information for those who want to start making their own lingerie (the site is in Dutch). It is such fun working with those lovely fabrics and laces. You need a little bit of practice & patience (and endurance, because most of the time the first bra is not perfect), but if you can sew jackets, why not lingerie? Enjoy!!

  15. aire bra
    Such a nice one article, during the reading this article i found very good information,
    my knowledge has been increase my wishes with u i hope you will keep it up..............

  16. I used to sew my own slips,full slips, teddies, camisoles, and have even sewed panties. However a bra, I have not tackled yet.

  17. I used to sew my own slips,full slips, teddies, camisoles, and have even sewed panties. However a bra, I have not tackled yet.

  18. I love to design and sew my own vintage style lingerie. I also use patterns I buy on EBay, particularly the french knickers (tap pants) and shorty bloomers that are so comfortable for lounging and wearng under skirts and dresses. I even made a pair of side-buttoned tap pants like they wore in the 1930s before elastic came into wider use. I can dress them up with touches of lace, ribbons and other feminine detailing. Much better than the boring underwear on the racks these days, most of whicb lacks any sense of romance. If it worked for Carole Lombard, why not me?

  19. sewing a bra is really a good concept. and whats good is that we can put our own designs however we like. i would try it once atleast. thanks for the post.