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
Very cute! The biggest secret to me is finding beautiful fabrics here in the states. That is very difficult for us. May I ask where you obtained the fabric for this set?
The fabric I used for this set is just a cotton blend, purchased on holiday recently in a market. If you’re having trouble finding actual lingerie supplies, Cloth Habit has a list: http://www.clothhabit.com/bramaking-resources/ Plus Etsy is always good for a fabric or supplies shop:)
thank you so much for the review! I’ve been sneaking around this book for a while now and based on your review, I think I’ll give it a try! Your PJ set looks fabulous, I love the fabric choice!
Thank you! I thought the lack of pattern matching with this fabric might give some sewers the jitters:) It is a border print fabric & every line seemed to be a different size so I didn’t even try. Hope you enjoy the book if you decide to treat yourself x
I have this book on order right now, so I’m happy to get more details about it while I wait! (I ordered it from Amazon on 16 July, AFTER which I was informed that it was being shipped internationally, and their best guess is that it will arrive sometime between 12-25 August. Grrr.) I’m looking forward to getting my copy even more now!
So annoying! Although, I bet you have other sewing projects to keep you busy;) Your bra making is really inspiring – I need to hurry up & give it a try. Your bra kits look amazing too.
[…] My review of the book and more about the making of this set is featured on the Sewcialists blog today. […]
Can I take a minute to be distracted by your gorgeous bedding? Love it!
Thanks so much for writing this post – I’ve been reading through the book myself, and it’s fun to compare notes!
Thanks;) The bed linen is Designer’s Guild Ramblas print – which was my absolute favourite of their designs. I happened to find the bed linen on sale. Have wished ever since I bought an extra duvet cover & made a dress from it!
Great review- I love that the instructions show all the beautiful finishing techniques! And pretty patterns – I’ll have to check this out 🙂
Yeah that technique section is lovely – I need to work through the book so I can try them all out:)
Hi Charlotte, I just wanted to say thank you for this lovely, considered review, it means a lot to know you’re enjoying the book. And as a side note, thanks for mentioning the omitted step (detailing when to add a lace trim to the hem of the French knickers), we’d spotted this recently so it’ll be amended for future reprints of the book.
I love your use of the stripe on the bias and I’ll look forward to seeing what you make next!
Thank you. It’s a really beautiful book. I’m looking forward to trying out some more patterns, and techniques, soon.
I only just found this blog and when I checked on Amazon the price of the book ranges from $130 – over $500. This is too much for me. It is also listed on Chapters Indigo at a much more reasonable price of around $24 but it isn’t available either on line or in stores. Seems like a lovely book.
Hi there, alas the publishers have decided not to run another print copy…this doesn’t necessarily mean the book won’t be available in the future, but it will be out of stock for some time. I’m sad about it too! Katherine Sheers
Once there’s a demand, perhaps the publishers could publish an ebook
That’s always a possibility. I have forwarded various requests I’ve received, but feel free to email them to suggest it! ☺️
What a beautiful set. They look comfy and glamorous at the same time. I have had this book on my Amazon wishlist for a long time so will definitely have to get it. Xx
I like having a few nice craft books on my wish list that I can suggest as presents when my b’day/Christmas comes around – if I manage to wait that long! Also, your corset is amazing! Can’t wait to see it completed, plus what natural dyeing you get up to – that’s one of my current obsessions.
What a great review! And I love your fabric choices for the camisole and knickers – really lovely – thanks so much, I will be checking out this book 🙂
I’ve bookmarked, and am ready to purchase this on Thursday (pay day)! I really want to experiment with tap pants. Thanks for a wonderful review. xx
[…] The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie: A Book Review […]
I loooove this book. Bought it a while ago and found it to be a treasure trove of information, techniques and patterns – besides being total eye-candy. FYI, I have muslinned the bras in the size I buy bras in and found them true to size. I was also staggered to see that the very first bra (in the tulle) was actually really supportive….. And the mini panty pattern has become my go to pattern for wovens. I used to use either Betty Kingston’s or Oooh lulu’s but found my first version of this to have a more flattering cut. It’s also more comfortable – it is not cut on the bias, and I have now realised that for this style panty the straight cut of these minis is more comfortable particularly round the legs when you move.
Ooh thanks for commenting – really useful to hear. I’ve been meaning to try both the pant pattern and a bra but not gotten around to them yet. I will have to hurry up & give them a try – it would be great to have some patterns I could go back to repeatedly for basic underwear.
Hi there, I love the pj’s you made! I’m trying to sew a set too but I really don’t get it. My English is not that good and I just can’t figure out where the petal gusset is suppose to be. I hope you can help me out.