I'm a sewing enthusiast in Beacon, New York, with a love of all things retro. This site is all about tutorials, tips, inspiration, and lots of spirited discussion about sewing as it relates to fashion history, pop culture, body image, and gender. My first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing, is now out from STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books! Also look for my line "Patterns by Gertie" from Butterick.
Carving out time to work on the evening dress isn't especially easy. It's not one of those projects that I can throw into a tote bag and work on between teaching classes at the studio. I've discovered that lingerie is the perfect side project: quick, portable, easy, and satisfying. The only problem is that it's so fun to sew that it kind of takes over! (Side note: what's not easy about sewing undies is photographing them. Unless they're the tiniest of knickers, they look weird and huge in pictures. And then you go into this shame spiral of wondering why you're showing your underwear on the internet anyway.)
Yesterday I delved into the Betty High Waist Panties pattern from Ohhh Lulu. I know high-waisted undies aren't for everyone, but they give an amazing pin-up look for the vintage lover, don't you think?
Are you all aware of this brand? Sarah of Ohhh Lulu makes lovely retro lingerie that she sells on Etsy, and now she's released a line of sewing patterns. They're PDF patterns that get emailed to you. They're quick to print out and assemble since lingerie pattern pieces are so small.
I started out by making a muslin in stretch fabrics, just as the pattern suggests. (As a side note, there's also a short series of posts on making this pattern on the Ohhh Lulu blog. Check out her sew-along posts for lots of great info on sewing lingerie.) I made the large, which fit well in the hips and thighs but was too big in the waist. I also noticed that the silhouette wasn't as curvy as I wanted. After studying the pattern pieces a bit, I found my solution.
See how the side pieces here (in beige) are curved out? (Pic borrowed from the excellent Ohhh Lulu blog.)
This curve outward seems to counteract the curving in on the front and back panels, which resulted in a tube-like shape rather than an hourglass. (This is not a criticism of the pattern, by the way--just a personal preference!)
Here is my test version. I like the curves on the inner panel, but the side panels were creating lots of bagginess on my figure.
To get the shape I wanted, I needed to create some negative space between the panels, much like a dart. So I chopped off the outer curves on the side panels, and exaggerated the inner curve on the front panel. I also tapered from a large in the hips to somewhere closer to a medium in the waist.
My next two attempts were much better. I made a pair in white and pink mesh. I didn't have any cotton jersey to use for the crotch, so I begged an old white t-shirt from Jeff. Are there any sexier words than "Baby, can I have one of your old shirts to use as a crotch liner?" I think not.
Then I went to black mesh for the side panels and cotton jersey for the center, accented with a gingham bow.
I decided I still wanted more curviness on the front panel, so I adjusted the pattern some more and started this pink and black version.
Sewing panties is incredibly easy--it's just regular seams (which I serged), and then applying the picot elastic at the waist and legs (like I wrote about for my age-old slip tutorial). Once you get into it, a pair can be made in well less than an hour--and that includes cutting!
I've also been teaching myself how to make bras in all my spare time. Here's my latest "muslin," made from the Pin-Up Girls Classic Bra pattern. More to come on that once I make a wearable version!