Thursday, 2 May 2013

Knicker making part one: inspiration

These lovely (but predictably patterned) pants were made by my good self at an organised knicker-making workshop last year. It was brilliant fun, everything is cut out and ready for you, all you have to do is choose your trimmings and sew them up. Being naturally lazy, I was perfectly happy with the thought that this was the only way I was ever going to make my own knickers.



But the more online 'research' I did and the more beautiful hand sewn undies I saw, the more convinced I became that I should give knicker making a proper go. Where to start though?  There's certainly no shortage of inspiration out there, so I thought I'd share a few of my favourites before actually going for it. 

There are endless options for making your own frillies. You can make them from a pre-bought kit like Tilly did,


You can use a pair of existing pants as a template, or try one of the awesome patterns out there, many of which are free. Free patterns include a simple pair of everyday pants by 'So, Zo'


the Amerson free undies pattern by Madalynne, beautifully made here by Karen


or the Rosy ladyshorts by Amy at cloth habit

Or you can use a regular pattern which is how my two favourite pairs of on-line undies came to be in existence. My favourite self-made knickers by a long shot, are ooobop's High Waisted 50's silk pants.



Made from a Burda pattern, they're just perfect, and the lovely vintage-style cut gives them an oh-so-glamorous edge, exactly what I would want to wear myself. I can't in all honesty say the same thing about my other favourite pair, but I can sit back and admire the workmanship. If French yoked boxer shorts made from a 1940's pattern are your thing, then you're in for a treat.


You can read all about Peter at Male Pattern Boldness's pants here and marvel at the amount of detail that's gone into these undies: an adjustable buttoned waistband (no elastic in those days) 


and a gathered back section to accommodate the backside (no stretch fabrics in those days either). Truly a work of art - and he's even done what no other sewing blogger has done before - model them himself…. 

I don't usually post pictures of men in their underwear on my blog (there are secret Pinterest boards for that kind of thing...) but in this case how could I resist?! And before you ask, I did obtain permission from Mr MPB before posting a pic of him in his under crackers.

Other knicker patterns I've been mightily swayed by are some of the Ohhh Lulu designs. I thought long and hard about attempting the Betty High Waist Pants.


Gorgeous as they are, I think they might be just too ambitious for my first attempt - I do have a cunning plan concerning the Betty pants though, which I'll reveal in the next post... I like the look of the new Grace pattern too - it seems a bit more achievable for a novice like me. 


The shape is very similar to what I usually wear, although if I'm honest, I prefer my pants a bit higher, hence my swooning over ooobop's pair. What also drew me in is that they're designed to be made with a combination of woven and stretch fabrics - good if you're a bit unsure about diving head first into stretch fabric territory. And, you can use up some of your favourite woven remnants too. The possibilities are endless - matching knickers for every outfit if you're not careful…

There's too much choice - I'll have to go away and mull it all over I think. In the meantime, any advice on knicker patterns (preferably not too low slung please) and/or knicker making tips will be very gratefully received.  x

32 comments:

  1. You are awfully brave...but that Grace pattern is very tempting indeed. So pretty!

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  2. Welcome to the club! I make all my own knickers these days. Once you've got the techniques sorted they're so easy. Plus they take next to no time- I think my record is about 10 minutes start to finish for a simple pair with just front and back and elastic edging. Also a great way to use up those scraps that are too big for the bin but too small for anything else!

    My main tip? Stock up on trims! When you cut a t-shirt out and decide to use the leftovers for knickers, I can guarantee you won't have the colour lace/elastic you want hehe.

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    1. This is all really useful Ginny - thank you! Whilst we're on the subject of trims, do you use normal knicker elastic or fold over elastic? x

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    2. And do you know of a good stockist in the UK?

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    3. I mostly use the picot or lace edged knicker elastic- I have yet to venture into fold-over territory. Mostly I've had bits off eBay or from shops and markets etc when I get to them (often request samples first when buying off eBay to check the quality). I wish I did have a decent UK stockist! I have yet to find one myself.

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    4. I have just found www.trixielixie.co.uk who have a wide range of knicker elastic in their online shop. I've not yet ordered myself yet

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  3. Great post- pretty, inspiring, funny and informative. I never knew that the keks worn by my grandparents would not have had elastic in them. No wonder Nana used to look at my sister's "minimalist" knickers hanging on the line with bemusement! Technology is a wonderful thing.

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  4. That last pattern is so adorable! Love it

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  5. Thanks for the round up, I loved the knicker making workshop and have always intended to make more but never got around to it - yet!

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  6. Melissa of Fertrade also got a pair of free undies.. indeed so many ideas.. I loved the workshop last year

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  7. grace is gorgeous! i have some knit remnants and tees waiting to be repurposed into sozo pants and vests - myust get around to ordering the fold over elastic. if i can master those, i might move into the world of ohh lulu! mrs depew has been doing a french knickers sewalong recently: http://afewthreadsloose.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Ooh thanks for that link, I'll check it out! I'm quite interested in making French knickers too, but am always worried how they actually look with clothes on top of them! x

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  8. What a fantastic and hilarious round-up! A great tip I learned from a reader commenting on my blog post is that you don't distribute the leg elastic evenly around the leg holes. You devote more elastic to the back section of your knickers, to accommodate your curves! When I say 'curves' I mean 'arse'!

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    1. Excellent tip, thanks Karen! I intend to devote as much elastic as required to accommodate my arse/curves in comfort! x

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  9. Too cute. not really knicker related, but I too adore Peter's vintage keks. And when I was reading his post about Deanna Durbin the first thing I thought when I saw the photo of her was how much she looked like you. :) Off topic, but wey hey!

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    1. Oh thank you MrsC, what a wonderful compliment! I have to admit, when I saw Peter's Deanna Durbin post I also thought she looked a bit like me, the chipmunk cheeks in particular are very similar! x

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  10. I have been eyeing off the Grace pattern as well- I like the idea of having some woven happening as well as knit so I don't have a wee freak out in the construction process...

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  11. It's gone viral :-)
    The Betty high waist panties were the first I ever made, they are not difficult at all! So if you like them I'd give them a go!
    I'm also in panties sewing mode at the moment!

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  12. I have not bought a pair of shop knickers in years - it is just so much better to make your own, for so many reasons.
    Top tip - buy the best elastic you can afford. I recommend Foldover elastic from the English Couture Company, probably around 12mm wide once folded. Avoid too-narrow elastic and take care on ebay. My most recent set of knickers (5 pairs) used ebay elastic and they are all too baggy now. I plan to cut the cheap elastic off and re-do them with the proper stuff.

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  13. I don't think I'm quite ready to contemplate making underwear yet, but they are just so so pretty and small, they do seem like a good project! I love all the ones you've shown. I'll be interested to see how your go at it is, I'm sure they'll be wonderful (and totally adorable, I'm betting)!

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  14. The Betty panties are actually quite easy to sew. I have made them up several times. The only challenge is stitching the elastic, and you'll have that with any underwear. You just have to go for it! The fit is true to her measurements, so you likely won't have to fool with the sizing.

    Another of my favorites is the Grannie Pannie from Sew Vera Venus http://veravenus.com/diy-things-to-make-tutorials-patterns/
    They come only in one size- luckily for me, it was mine :)

    As for elastic, make sure it is well stretched before you sew it. Pull the length of it several times hard to really stretch it before you cut. And if your machine wants to eat the fabric, up your tension.

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    1. Brilliant tips, thanks so much. I really like the look of those granny pants (!) - I've downloaded the pattern and may make a test pair pretty soon. Luckily I fit into that size too, hoorah. x

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  15. Oooh, such lovely underthings...thanks for a great roundup Jane! I definitely want to have a go at making panties soon ;o)

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  16. At first I thought you made the red and white ones and commented accordingly, which is why I deleted the above post. These are just wonderful but something I never considered making - until now. I love the lace boy shorts and the primarily blue-print panties remind me of a lingerie set I bought in 1967 and believe I wore out - gorgeous print of violets on a navy backgroud, satiny, bra, panties and half slip. You never see sets like that anymore. Wearing pretty lingerie is like having a delicious secret. When I worked full time back in the 80s, and was wearing suits or dresses all the time, my favorite undergarment was a bra-slip, all in one. Fit beautifully and was two garments in one. Loved it. Does anyone remember the "petit-pants" so popular in the 1960s? I think they were made by Olga and they were basically split slips, silky with lace trim. Perfect if one's skirt happened to blow up.

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  17. I read this post even more thoroughly, it is a real treasure-trove of information, The men's boxers with the yoke look very comfy. I sesw for antique dolls and am trying to find a website that would show children's undies from 1900-1940. It's the early ones I can't find. I have lots of patterns for early girls' undies but cannot find a site that shows what little boys were wearing. Costuming has to be exact.

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  18. I love the idea of making pants! I'm put off by the elastic though because I don't understand what it is - never mind attaching it! Obviously I understand what elastic is, in general, but specific underwear elastic! Foldover? Knicker elastic? What is all that stuff?


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  19. What a great summary! I'm totally tempted by the Grace pattern too.... I've often thought it can't be that hard to rub a pattern off a fave pair of undies....

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  20. More underwear pics of that guy, please!

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  21. I just made my first pair(s) of undies this week! I've been seeing many of these same sewers post their incredible versions around the web, and I had to have a go at it. I sewed the Rosy Lady Shorts pattern and made two pairs in under three hours! I don't think I'm going to be able to stop now that I've started!

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  22. Oh you are so brave!!. I don't think that I could ever making something so exciting as undies and if I did they'd probably be the most uncomfortable ones ever.
    Rosie

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  23. I've just opened a load of links reading this post, I'm quit excited about checking them out in a mo (thanks for providing them). I must say the high waisted 50's numbers get my vote as well. I own quite few M&S pants that are very similar to the high waisted Betty ones, they are great for wearing under very fitted vintage trousers with a fitted jumper on top (they eliminate all those lumps and bumps) so I'm off to see that link as well. Beth

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  24. That knicker from the last photo looks fantastic! It looks like it was made by a pro with a touch of vintage. Workshops such as knicker-making is a great start for women who loves lingerie. It's a great hobby and it would even be great if you turned it into a business. I heard that this is easy and fast to make once you’ve learned the techniques. Hope you're all having a great time making underwear. Cheers!

    Ted Juhl

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