Hi, my name is Katherine Sheers, I’m a lingerie designer by trade so I was overjoyed when I heard July is Sewcialist Lingerie Sewing Month! My background does lend me a certain bias towards all things lace and silk, but objectively I believe that lingerie making has something to offer every level of sewer, from the complete novice through to someone with years of experience looking for a new challenge.
I wanted this guest post to be relevant to as many sewers as possible, so I’m going to show you a simple technique which can be used to beautiful effect across a number of garments, regardless of how basic or advanced they may be.
For this example I’ll be using the ‘Pretty as a Picnic’ mini from my book The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie. They’re very simple knickers, made from a rigid fabric cut on the straight grain. You can also use this technique on bias cut seams, but there is a chance of ‘bubbling’ in the fabric, so if in doubt do a trial run first.
What you’ll need to gather:
- All the basic materials needed to make your knickers
- Plus 30cm of narrow lace trim, at least 10mm wide
First I’m going to split the front pattern piece into three sections. This paneling is a great technique in itself, especially if you have small scraps of fabric you’d like to use up. Just ensure you keep the grainline direction consistent across all the panelled pattern pieces.
Measure approximately 3cm out from the Centre Front along the waistband and draw a diagonal line down to meet the legline (as above).
Cut along this line, then tape a strip of 10mm wide paper along both edges to create the French seam allowance (shown above in lilac). Label the pattern pieces, clearly marking the new grainline.
Lay the paper pattern pieces together as above, aligning what will be the stitching lines (10mm in from each edge).
Trim the excess corners of seam allowance paper so they look something like the photo above when opened back out.
Lay and cut out your pattern pieces (for clarity, I’m only showing the front pattern pieces of the knickers here).
Lay your front panel and one of the side panels, wrong sides together and sew a line of lockstitch using a 5mm seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance to 2-3mm in width.
Lay your narrow lace trim, wrong side uppermost on top of your trimmed seam allowance with the flat edge sitting parallel to your stitch line. Pin and topstitch in place.
Open the panels out and press the seam flat with the lace trim pointing away from the Centre Front.
Turn the front and side panels right side to right side, and finish your French seam by sewing another 5mm wide line of lockstitch. This will effectively ‘trap’ the lace inside the seam.
Topstitch along the edge of the front panel (stitching through the French seam) to encourage the lace trim to sit flat. Then trim the ends of the lace in line with the fabric pattern pieces.
Repeat with the other side panel and you’re done. It’s as simple as that!
Now just treat these joined pattern pieces as a single front panel and make up the rest of your knickers as usual.
I’ve used French seams in this tutorial, firstly to make this technique possible for anyone who doesn’t own an overlocker, and secondly, because although they take a little longer than a standard seam, they’re an exquisite way to finish a beautiful item of lingerie.
This lace insertion can be used to create dainty detail in many garment areas. It can be added to existing garment seams such as the side seam join between a bra cradle and wing, or the waist seam join between a slip bodice and skirt. Just remember that it does add a little extra bulk so use lightweight lace (this isn’t the time to stash-bust any guipure you may have!).
I can’t wait to see where you use this technique. Please do add the hashtag #sewlingerie if you’d like to share your makes with me.
Enjoy Lingerie Sewing Month everyone!
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