Hello fellow Sewcialists,
Charlotte from English Girl at Home here today, with a review of The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie by Katherine Sheers and Laura Stanford. I ordered this book shortly after it’s release, inspired by seeing photos from the book on other blogs. Lingerie Sewing Month has given me the nudge to finally sew a project from the book, rather than just admiring the gorgeous photography.
The book features 25 projects, including a good range of – in my opinion – more practical patterns, which could be sewn multiple times. These include a selection of knicker patterns, three soft bra patterns, and three sets of camisoles or vests and accompanying tap pants or french knickers, which could be worn either under clothing or as pyjamas. The book also includes a number of patterns for less everyday items, including three suspender belt patterns and two wedding garters.
The three bra patterns included are for soft bras. Two of the bras look quite delicate with one piece cups, but the Lace Longline Bra (below), which is constructed from two-piece cups and an underband, looks more supportive. I’m planning to try the pattern soon.
Pattern pieces are provided at full size, printed on two heavy paper sheets stored in an envelope at the back of the book. Patterns sheets are double sided and pattern pieces overlap so tracing is required. The pattern sheets aren’t especially busy so identifying the relevant pieces is straightforward and pieces are small so quick to trace.
The individual pattern instructions don’t state which pattern sheet the pieces are printed on, but they don’t take very long to locate. Pattern lay plans provided at the end of the book confirm the number of pieces each pattern is composed of, as well as providing cutting recommendations.
Pattern instructions are thorough, with simple numbered steps. To save space and repetition, individual pattern instructions use abbreviations (explained in a key), and refer you to tutorials section for techniques.
I absolutely love the tutorials section of the book (entitled ‘Sew On & Sew Forth‘). I have a tendency to be a bit slapdash (in my sewing and generally) and use methods which get me to my end goal quickly. This book really encourages slow sewing and attention to detail, with many of the tutorials covering hand-stitched finishes and embellishments. All techniques include a coloured illustration, which I found really helpful.
Patterns are provided in six sizes (8-18) ranging between 81cm-106cm at the bust and 81cm-106cm at the hip. Compared to the techniques information, the information provided on sizing appears relatively minimal. It is fine for the knickers and camisole sets, but I wonder if it is quite brief for bra making? Being unfamiliar with bra construction I’m unable to judge.
My first project from the book is the Boudoir Blushes camisole and french knickers set. The example in the book is a made in silk satin and is absolutely beautiful.
I decided to make my set as summer pjs, so used a more practical cotton blend fabric which I picked up recently in Berlin’s Turkish Market.
The set was straightforward to sew, although it is more time consuming than it looks if you follow the instructions and apply the lovely finishes suggested. For the Boudoir Blushes set, the finishes include french seams, a shell edge around the back neckline of the camisole, and reverse hems along the bottom of the camisole and knickers. Both the shell edge and reverse hem finishes were new to me, and I really enjoyed learning some new techniques and taking the time to apply them (while lounging in front of the TV, a major reason I enjoy hand sewing). There did appear to be one omission in the pattern instructions, with no reference to finishing the bottom hem of the french knickers, however it was clear from the photo to repeat the technique used on the camisole hem.
I popped them off after I finished making them for a quick photo in my bedroom. I don’t normally wear my watch to bed:), although I am often found sat on the bed knitting.
The set has been getting lots of wear since I finished it, and makes a comfy pyjama set for warm weather (in the winter I like to be a LOT more wrapped up than this). The camisole has an A-line shape that I really like, and which appears more pronounced in this cotton version than in the silk satin version in the book.
I’m looking forward to testing out a bra and knicker pattern from the book in the near future (as soon as I work through my current sewing to-do list…).
Have you got a copy of this book? Have you sewn anything yet, or just stared at the photography lovingly?
**Editor’s note: As it happens, we had one of the author’s of this book, Katherine Sheers, guest-post for us this month, but I promise Charlotte’s review is completely independent! — Gillian