Motherhood.Adventure.Slow Fashion.Sewing.Womanhood

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Turning your Favourite Knickers into a Sewing Pattern

So you have that perfect pair of knickers that you love. They fit perfectly, you love the shape and style, but you can't find anything else similar in the shops. Well, the time has come to sew your own! Here, I'll show you how to turn your favourite pair of knickers into a usable sewing pattern. In upcoming posts I'll show you how to make a muslin from your pattern (a test pair) and then we'll move on to how to grade your pattern up or down to accommodate other sizes too.



Firstly, and most importantly, you need to pick which knickers you want to use. I have opted for this pair as I love the shape and style. They are a high rise, retro style knicker. Full through the rear and made to hold in your tummy underneath your vintage clothes with separate front and side front panels. This means you can use contrasting fabrics in the front of the knickers to add interest, but also add support. I will probably use a stronger fabric on the front panel, as this will help hold in my tummy and give me a comfortable but vintage shape. This pair is made of matching coloured fabrics, a jersey type fabric on the rear and side front, and a sparkly velvet on the front. Unfortunately, these knickers were too small for me when I purchased them, so I am going to use them to make a pattern, make a muslin to ensure the pattern works well, and I will then grade the pattern up to my size. Now on to the technical bit...


What You Will Need:

  • Your favourite pair of knickers
  • Plain A4 paper
  • Various pens and/or pencils
  • Ruler
  • Tape measure
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Scissors for paper



So, first thing's first, we need to turn our knickers inside out. This is to see where the seams are, as these are what we are going to be cutting along, to get our separate pattern pieces.




Very carefully, you need to cut along the seams. If your seams are overlocked like mine are in these knickers, it's far easier to cut next to, but as close as possible to, the seam. Don't worry about the elastic around the leg and waist openings, just cut straight through it where your seam goes.

You will then end up with separate pieces, like a knicker Jigsaw (the best kind). If your pieces aren't easily identifiable, or you think you may get muddled up with which bit is what, then it may be a good idea to use a pen or chalk to write on each piece what it is, so that when you draw up the pattern pieces, you know which bit is for what part.


Next, take your paper, and lay flat a piece of your knickers. Carefully straighten out (but don't stretch out of shape) the piece, and carefully draw around it. Don't worry too much about being neat at this point, as long as you get the rough size and shape down on paper, then it's all good.



For pieces with a straighter edge, it is a good idea to grab your measuring tape and measure along each size before you draw it and make a note. If you have tiny hands like me, it can be quite difficult to stretch out each side as you are drawing around it.


Then you should end up with something roughly like this...



Repeat the same process for each piece of your knicker Jigsaw. For larger panels, such as the front and back, that are symmetrical on both sides, it's easier to just trace half, and then you can just cut this piece on the fold when it comes around to making your knickers. Remember to take your time and don't rush. Sip your Chai Tea and relax. This isn't supposed to be a piece of art, and this is just your first rough copy. When you have done all pieces, you will have something like this...



Now it's time to neaten this up a bit. Use your ruler and straighten out your straight edges, double check your measurements, and adjust and dodgy looking areas. Pick up your knicker Jigsaw pieces and measure them, and then measure your pattern again, just to be sure. Once this is done for all pieces, take a different colour pen and add your seam allowance. Use whatever seam allowance you are used to, I used 0.5cm. You should have something like this...




(You may notice my boo boo, I got carried away with the red pen! I added seam allowances in some places that didn't need it, such as the fold line on the front of my knickers, along the leg openings and waist openings and long sides of the gusset piece. I think I lost my mind a bit there and just decided to draw around the whole shape in red! However, those of you who are more with it than me, will realise that you only need to add a seam allowance to a side that will be attached to another piece.)

As you can see, I made little notes on the pattern pieces to remind me which bit goes with what. I've written which side attaches to the front and which bit attaches to the back on my front side panels. This just makes things easier when it comes to assembling my knickers after I have cut them out. I'm all for the ease.

Taa Daa! You are now ready to cut out your pattern pieces and then use them to cut out your muslin out of a scrap of fabric.

In the next post in this set, I will show you how to use your pattern to do this, and how to sew it up, so that you can soon be on your way to a handmade Lingerie drawer!






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