Thursday, 18 November 2010

U for Underwear

U is for Underwear

Unaware that you could make your own underwear?! Here are a few pointers to get you started:

  • Decide what you like - everyone has their favourite pair of pants.
  • What do you need? - Do you have different dresses and tops that require different bras?
  • Comfort - Are you after some lovely underwear that is made to fit YOU and therefore the most comfortable?
  • Style - Do you want the fanciest underwear around, but can’t afford it?

When you know what you want you then need a pattern and there are a number of ways to go about getting one. As I am a trained pattern cutter, I drafted my own pants block. The book I used was Lingerie & Swimwear Pattern Cutting by Ann Haggar. You should only buy and use this book if you are trained in pattern cutting or are about to learn!

Fabric shops will have their own range of underwear patterns and online there are many free tutorials that often advise cutting up your old pants and drawing round them. Here is a useful link:

One particular tutorial uses a combination of two different pairs, see this link:

Image by Graham Brown
This is a great idea, as when I started making pants I wanted to combine certain aspects from different pairs that I owned.

A lingerie-making book is very useful and a good place to start is Sewing Lingerie by Linda Neubauer. As with many lingerie books, it is dated, containing lots of eighties/nineties looking styles and pictures - use it for the basics. The most helpful part concerned attaching a gusset in a non-stretch pair of pants, which is done by folding and encasing the front and back pattern pieces so that all the seams are on the inside.

A recent book which looks very promising is Sweet Nothings: Sew Your Own Camis, Undies

and Other Lingerie by Valerie Van Arsdale Shrader, which received a good review in issue 22 of Sew Hip magazine.

Soft-cup bras can be made fairly easily with narrow elastic at the cups and wide elastic for the under-bust band. Simple jersey bras can be made with the use of fold over elastic (FOE). This beautiful pattern can be found in online shops:

For those of you brave enough to venture into the world of under-wired bras, this is a helpful tutorial if you want to go there without a pattern:

Techniques and Tips:

• It is important to make sure the elastic is smaller than your pattern piece and to stretch it to fit as you sew.

• Another great technique is French seams. This enables you to use very delicate fabrics that fray easily, as the raw edges are tucked away to prevent this from happening. Here’s a how-to link:

• For sewing jersey briefs and shorts an overlocker is ideal and easy but it can be achieved with a normal sewing machine. Some sewing machines have overlock/coverlock stitches on them, which gives a more professional-looking finish. Even then, using a stretch straight stitch you can make simple jersey pants. My favourite way to do this is cut them out from an old t-shirt.

• Embellishing your underwear with buttons and ribbons can really make them special and a treat to wear.

This blog post is very thorough and collects together many other useful posts.

Of course, there are many other items of underwear than I haven’t featured here; it’s up to you how far you want to take it...

For ideas, inspiration and where to go if you just can’t make your own:

Any other questions I’m happy to help with on my Facebook page ‘Kerrie Curzon Creations’.

This post was provided by Kerrie Cuzon, maker of beautiful handmade underwear.  For more info please see her website:  

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