Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Inundated with Undies

What’s happening with the sewing? You might well ask. I haven’t posted any sewing projects for a while because I started on A Few Threads Loose’ lingerie sewalong, and I had different pieces of different lingerie sets in progress all the time. This has actually been a bit of self-discovery for me. I’ve always been a bit impatient, but I now find that my impatience + lack of sewing experience + vintage patterns does not equal a well-made garment. I should probably stick to modern and/or extremely simple garment sewing until I develop some maturity.

I’ve finished most of the items and they can now be shown in their proper pairings.

The blue flowered fabric is a very lightweight cotton blend. Both pieces are from Mrs. Depew’s 1940s Pauline patterns and this was my first attempt at both pieces.

For the cami, I used the front pattern darts as drawn, and enlarged the original 34” size by an inch in both front and back. I forgot to address the tiny 1940s waist and ended up having to shift the back piece around in order to have enough room. Also, I did not account for my weird low back/high butt mass which requires something like a swayback adjustment. I ended up putting an odd seam in the back waist – kind of a horizontal dart. I didn’t have just the right blue ribbon or bias tape so I experimented with 3/8” elastic instead for the top edges and straps. The tiny buttons on the straps are decorative.

I made every possible mistake on the tap panties. First, I neglected to enlarge the pattern! Why I would forget this, I do not know. Since the pattern is for a 28” waist, I would have had to add at least 2 inches for a comfortable fit. I did cut the panty pieces on the bias because I like the drape, so the bias stretch provided a teensy bit of extra width. Then I slashed the sides because I hadn’t yet read the instructions which say not to do that. Then, I added a 5/8” seam allowance when cutting, but when I realized that I hadn’t made the pattern big enough, I only sewed with 3/8” seam allowances (like ¼” on each side is really going to help!) To further compensate for the size issue, I also left the back darts out, and you can imagine what that looks like. I did not create a back facing but I inserted elastic around the back waist to take up the slight gap from not having the darts. I thought some decorative topstitching over the yoke would be pretty but I must have had my stitch length too high because it looks like a sloppy zigzag instead of the delicate scallop I was going for. The front and back did not line up at the sides because of my 3/8” seam allowance in the yoke.

By the time I had the pieces sewn together and ready for the side closures, I was having a good laugh at myself.
I didn’t add a placket for the closures because, having never sewn lingerie before, I thought these little strips of hooks and eyes on tape would create their own placket. I’m embarrassed to even post these photos because my stitching looks so messy, but I wanted to show how I did the front and back. The eyes are sewn right side to right side on the back of the panty, then turned so the eyes point toward the front. The hooks are sewn to the wrong side of the front (actually the yoke facing). Once the hooks and eyes are engaged, the white tape is (mostly) invisible.

Here’s the amazing thing: after all that, they fit perfectly. I think it must be the combination of all the slightly weird measures I took during construction. None of which I recommend! Overall, I think this is a cute set and it’s completely wearable.

I also made a couple cami and half-slip sets.

The aqua half slip (self-drafted from one I own) is cut on the bias in cotton lawn, sewn with 2 side seams, 3/8” lingerie elastic at waist, and pieces of vintage lace at hem. Cami is from Mrs. Depew’s Pauline pattern. I cut the cup down 1 inch, replaced the darts with gathers, widened the back and shortened the length to just below the waist. It’s a bit shapeless, but fits fine and is very comfortable. Trim and straps are 3/8” satin ribbon, and I had one more piece of the aqua lace left for the neckline.

The peach is a slightly crisper fabric than the aqua lawn. It is definitely 100% cotton, lightweight, but I don’t know its name. Both the slip and the cami are self-drafted based on garments I already had, and both are cut on the bias for wearing ease. I have yards and yards of the peach lace so I used it around the entire hem of the slip and put some inserts in the center front and back of the cami. If I do this style of camisole again I will cut it a few inches larger – this one fits me well, but I like cotton underwear to skim over, rather than fit to my form.

Note that everything is cotton! This has been the hardest thing for me to find here in Phoenix, where you’d think everyone would have converted to cotton lingerie back in the 1800s sometime. But no. In my 15+ years of living here, all I’ve been able to find is one cotton half-slip. Everything else is good old nylon, poly, or a stretchy blend. The synthetics are great for the smooth look under clothing, but really terrible for sweating and sticking. So I thought I’d stock up on the cotton pretties, and now I have a whole collection to rotate through!

All that took almost two weeks of sewing! It’s time for another sewing break as I assess the holiday card and gift situation. The materials for my holiday cards are already cut but they need to be assembled. My gifts for my friends and family – fabric-covered notebooks – are also started but much remains to be done!
Are you sewing lingerie? I hope you are having fun and learning a lot!



  1. Oh I am looking all over the world for cotton tap pants! these are divine. (sorry for all your merry mishaps : >)

  2. Thanks! Yes isn't it funny how cotton has almost disappeared from most lingerie departments, except for utilitarian briefs? Those of us in the hot humid climates should revolt against the evil empire of polyester and spandex and demand cotton!

  3. Katrine, these are fantastic! I'm swooning over your fabric choice! And I really love how fluttery your tap pants look cut on the bias. When I discuss the placket/ closure option, I'll definitely be linking to your blog because I love the hook and eye closures!

  4. Anna, thank you for those kind words. I was really happy that they came out wearable and nice-looking after I made so many crazy bad decisions. Next time I'll actually follow the tutorial!