The start of the first sewalong will be for The Charlotte Knickers but the same construction method applies to The Georgiana Knickers and The Lydia Knickers so you can choose the style you like the most to follow along with.
Fabric choices are fairly varied for the knickers which is great as it means you can go as fancy as you want and it’s brilliant for stash busting too. Look for lightweight cottons like voile, cambric or lawn. Quilting cottons and dress cottons are very nice too. Lightweight silks and satins are also lovely and have the added slinky feel to them.
Avoid anything that doesn’t have a good bias stretch to it, is too bulky (like denim or canvas) and if in doubt make a test version before using up your best fabric.
First up cutting on the bias. Here you want to ensure your grainline is at 45 degrees to your selvedge. It gives the woven fabric a nice bit of stretch to it which I find makes for a much more comfy pair of knickers.
I’m very committed (ahem trying) to my stash busting this year so here is some leftovers that is going to be perfect for knickers.
Iron your fabric and lay it out, if you have an inspector kitty get them to check your work before moving on to the next step (note: despite the pissed off look she is not unhappy with my work merely reminding me it is getting very close to food service time and that I’d better hurry up with these photos).
From the selvedge fold over your fabric ensuring your selvedge edge is now at a 90 degree angle to where it started. And arrange your patterns for cutting.
In this photo the top of the the front and back pattern pieces have been placed together. This is the most fabric efficient way to cut out your knickers and you can see the front pattern piece has been flipped over to ensure that both pattern pieces can fit in a small amount of fabric.
For a directional print, arrange your patterns so the top of the front and the top of the back are in the same direction. We had to fold the fabric over more to use extra fabric to cut the patterns this way
For the gusset you only need a small amount of cotton jersey. Try and use 100% cotton as it’s just a bit nicer to wear than any of the blends. If you are raiding the stash for your make and don’t have a knit, try cutting up an old t-shirt. They are great for recycling into gussets.
Now that you are done cutting we will move onto construction
Right side – the face, front or outside of the fabric
Wrong side – the interior, inside, back of the fabric
Step 1 – Front, back and gusset all right side up.
Step 2 – Gusset right side up.
Step 3 – Gusset right side up with front edge finished. I’ve overlocked it, you could overlock/serge, zig zag or turn under and straight stitch a hem.
Step 4 – Front panel, right side up.
Front panel with back panel placed on top. The right sides have been matched together so the photo shows the wrong side of the back panel facing up.
From the photo above, we have now added the gusset with the right side matched to the wrong side of the back panel. Photograph shows the wrong side facing up of the gusset.
Step 5 – pin at crotch seam. This seam is a bit tricky as the 2 woven fabrics have opposing curves. It won’t sit flat until it is stitched together. I pin at the centre and then one on either end. It will be bubbly looking but it’s meant to be so don’t worry.
Step 6 – 1cm seam allowance, straight stitch seam. Due to the bubbliness of the seam when you pinned it. As you feed it through the machine it can be helpful to put ever so slight an amount of tension onto the woven fabric by very gently pulling it as you feed it through the machine. This is ever so slight but it just allows you to feed the seam through and achieve a flat seam.
Step 7 – finish raw edge of seam, again I have overlocked but you could overlock/serge the edge or zig zag.
Step 8 – place seam flat and press. Photo now shows the wrong side of both front and back panels but the right side up of the gusset.
Now it’s time to sew the side seams. With right sides together match at the side seams and pin in place.
Using a straight stitch sew a 1cm seam.
Finish raw edge using overlocker/serger or zig zag stitch.
Your knickers should now look much more knicker shaped.
A few people have emailed saying “don’t go to elastic yet! I haven’t found what I need”. So here is a bit about types of elastic that is suitable.
6mm regular elastic- super easy to find and possible the cheapest option.
10mm wide knicker elastic. It has a scallop edge and one side is lovely and soft for next to your skin.
Scallop edge elastic, bigger decorative edge and smaller amount of elastic to topstitch on. Some of the trims can look like this but lack any stretch so check the stretch before buying.
Measure the waist circumference, ideally your elastic length should be 2/3rds the full circumference. Before you cut, wrap the elastic around you and see if the 2/3rd measurement suits you. If you would like it roomier than go for a longer length of elastic. If you are unsure stick with the 2/3rds measurement.
Measure the leg circumference, ideally your elastic length should be 2/3rds the full circumference. Before you cut, wrap the elastic around you and see if the 2/3rd measurement suits you. If you would like it roomier than go for a longer length of elastic. If you are unsure stick with the 2/3rds measurement.
Ready to finish off your knickers? It’s so great that it is such a fast project and we can finish up so quickly.
By now you should have your knickers and your elastic.
Take your waist elastic, fold in half and half again. Put a pin at each of the quarters.
Starting from the side seam pin the elastic on the inside of the waist at side seam, centre front, side seam, centre back and the last one will go to the side seam but we don’t want to pin that one just yet.
Attach your elastic by overlocking/serging or zig zagging in place. You will need to stretch the elastic as you stitch it down. I’m going to use my overlocker because it’s all set up, but you don’t need to use one for this step. You’ll see my elastic is quite close to the edge but not right on the edge. When it is stretched it gets closer to the edge but a little buffer between edge and elastic also helps it glide through the overlocker a little easier.
Stitch and pull the elastic to one pin, once you reach the pin then move it, stretch the elastic to the next pin and stitch down. By going quarter by quarter it’s not only easier it means an even distribution of gathers too.Keep going until you reach the last pin, the end of the elastic should now be matched to the side seam you started at. Stretch the elastic for the final quarter and stitch in place.
Your waist should now have elastic attached all the way around.
If you are using the 6mm elastic, follow the same technique for both leg openings.
To show how the lingerie elastic can be used I will be using it on the leg openings. You can use all 6mm or all lingerie elastic or a combination, it’s entirely up to you.
Overlock/serge or zig zag the raw edge of leg openings. Making sure you have caught in the edge of the gusset at you finish the edges.
Using an iron press 6mm – 1cm hem to the inside of the knickers (this photo makes them look the oddest shape! it’s just the photo though).
Taking your elastic, divide it into quarters as shown previously. Then divide the leg opening into quarters. Use a pin to mark each quarter.
Starting from side seam pin elastic to inside of hem edge with scallop edge pointing out.
Using 3 step zig or any stitch which allows stretch eg twin needle or zig zag top stitch the elastic in place. You will need to pull the elastic to stretch it as it is going on. Using the pins and quarters of the garment it will help get the stretch even around the entire leg opening.
Repeat for other leg opening.
Fold over the elastic at waistband to the inside of the knickers. Topstitch it in place using 3 step zig zag, twin needle or zig zag.
and you are all done. You’ve made knickers! yay!
Once you have the techniques of the gusset and elastic sorted out you can try different fabrics and a range of different trims and accessories.