Sew Over/Sew Under: Sewing is my love language!

My love language is definitely sewing. Most of my friends have received at least one sewn gift over the years. Sewing lingerie for friends may seem strange, but it’s my way of expressing myself and showing them that I care. I have been sewing lingerie for years… ever since I took the pantie making and beginner bra making courses at Bra Maker Supply in Hamilton, Ontario. I think that was 6 years ago… but I fell in love with it and have been sewing lingerie ever since. 

One of the things I really love about sewing lingerie is how little fabric it takes. Unlike most of my sewing that takes at least a metre or more for one garment, some lingerie pieces (I’m looking at you, thongs) use basically scraps of fabric. This makes it so much more enjoyable to make as gifts. Because a small piece of beautiful lace goes a long way.

Sewing is my love language. I have been sewing honeymoon lingerie for my friends who are getting married since I learned to sew lingerie. I start by thinking about the recipient’s personality. What do they wear? What kinds of prints/patterns are they most often wearing? What colours do they prefer? Then I start designing. For the latest pieces I was even more excited because it was a perfect opportunity to use the lingerie supplies I picked up on my last European vacation. 

Travel fabric buying tangent ahead: Last summer I embarked on an amazing solo vacation to Amsterdam and London. My sole purpose in visiting Amsterdam was to shop at the famous Kantjeboord. I know, that’s the main reason most people go to Amsterdam… fabric shopping! I first read about it on the Bra makers’s Supply blog. After a 30 minute tram ride and 5 minute walk from central Amsterdam, I was there. For someone who was looking for lingerie supplies, I was like a kid in a candy store. I ended up spending two hours there wracked with indecision, knowing that I only had so much luggage space and I would be heading to London to do more fabric shopping in a couple of days. I ended up getting a bag chock full of beautiful laces with matching elastics. And it was this lace and elastic that I was so excited to use in my latest set of honeymoon lingerie. But wait, there’s more. After three wonderful days in Amsterdam, I headed to London and hit up Walthamstow Market on a Saturday in order to visit the famous Man Outside Sainsbury’s. The market has so many fabric shops and sellers that it is very difficult to make choices (especially with that pesky luggage space issue). But I found a little fabric store that happened to have mesh fabric for lingerie. It has more stretch in it than powermesh, but is less stable. Long story slightly shorter, I bought 1 metre in three colours: black, red, and teal. I highly recommend fabric shopping in Amsterdam and London. I will definitely go again!

The Process:

After deciding what fabrics I wanted to use I took my friend’s measurements and used them to draft a muslin of the bralette and panties I would be making. I used the Made for Mermaids Mama Bridgette Bralette pattern, and self drafted the panties using Beverly Jonson’s book Make and Fit Panties book.

A black table with two pattern pieces for panties taped to it. The pieces have both been slashed and spread.
The front and back pantie pattern pieces have been slashed from the leg to the waist line 8 times and then taped down to a table spreading the slashed pieces apart approximately 1.5cm.

I saw these panties from a lingerie brand My Dear Petra and was interested in trying to copy them. So I slashed and spread the pantie block to create a close copy. I traced the slashed pantie pattern making a straight line from the bottom hip to the gusset. I also shortened the back rise to create a thong/cheeky back. For this set I used a white dotty almost completely sheer mesh from Fabricland and elastics from Fabricland and Bra Maker’s Supply. 

After my friend tried on the bralette and panties, I was able to get started drafting the final pieces. I didn’t have to make any fit adjustments to the bralette and panties so it was only design changes I had to make. I removed the bottom band for two of the bralettes, and drafted thongs from the basic panty block. 

A bralet and french knicker panties in a sheer white polkadot mesh on a mannequin.

For the second set I used this floral stretch satin from Fabricland. I always see really beautiful pieces of lingerie made using stretch satin and have wanted to replicate the look for a while now, and this set was the perfect opportunity. I had never sewn lingerie with a woven before, so to mitigate the fact that this stretch satin actually didn’t have a ton of stretch I made sure that it was on the thong in the centre front, which actually doesn’t need to stretch much. I then made the rest of the thong out of picot elastic from Kantjeboord, and black lace from Fabricland. 

Black floral satin and black lace bralette and thong with coral coloured elastic, front view, on a mannequin.
Black floral satin and black lace bralette and thong with coral coloured elastic, back view, on a mannequin.

The final set I made using a beautiful iridescent navy lace from Kantjeboord, teal mesh from Walthamstow Market, and matching teal elastic from Kangjeboord. I appliqued the lace onto the mesh using the following technique. I cut the mesh, and then cut the lace slightly smaller so that it wouldn’t cover the entire bralette piece. I sewed the lace to the mesh using a small zig zag stitch going over it three times ensuring that I followed the scallops of the lace. Then, I carefully cut away the mesh from behind the lace. I’ve used this technique a lot in the past and I really like it for its strength and beauty.  I finished the thong using fold over elastic, again from Kantjeboord. I got a hot tip from one of my sewing friends at the last Toronto Sewcialist maker day, when I asked for advice joining fold over elastic in a neat and aesthetically pleasing way. She suggested sewing the two ends around a bra ring. Such a simple but perfect solution! So, that’s exactly what I did, and I’m really happy with the results. 

Teal and navy thong close up showing the fold over elastic sewn around a bra ring at the centre back of the thong.
A mannequin displaying a soft cup bralet. The bralet is teal with a navy lace trim on the centre front cup.
A mannequin wears a teal stretch mesh and navy lace bralet and thong panties.
Teal mesh and navy lace bralette and thong back view, on a mannequin.

I hope I’ve inspired you to sew lingerie for yourself or your friends. Trust me, its sew much fun!

Leah has been sewing since her mom taught her to sew when she was 11. She will often try to figure out how to draft a pattern rather than buy one that fits the bill (often creating many headaches along the way). She loves sewing for friends and family, and you can find her on instagram @leaherinhandmade.