2016 may just be “The Year of the Handmade Undies” and we’re totally embracing it. Handmade intimates? File under: Things we love. Today, we are so excited to have Spoonflower’s Aussie friend and maker, Sophie, of Ada Spragg stop by the blog to share some pro-tips for making your own under-garments using Spoonflower’s new undie-friendly Cotton Spandex Jersey. Are you ready to get intimate with your sewing projects? If yes, prepare to be inspired!
Sophie: Have you ever considered sewing your own intimates? If not, today’s project will open your eyes! I like to think of sewing underwear as the ultimate quickie project. It’s so easy. And fun. And we all love satisfying sews. Did I mention it uses hardly any fabric at all? Less than a fat quarter per separate piece. I don’t know about you, but I always feel a sense of smug satisfaction at making something with as little fabric as possible…kind of like using up every cut of meat. And when sewing with such a small quantity of fabric there’s a sense that, well, if things don’t work out then you haven’t wasted 3.5 yards of Silk Crepe de Chine. And if you’re already sewing most of your own clothes or a good portion of them, sewing underwear feels like next level self-sufficiency.
For these mix and match “sets” I was inspired by the brand Love Stories, which specialise in cute and kitschy separates. I will admit I did purchase a few pieces before it occurred to me that “hey, why buy when I could DIY?” This is where things got a little loose. I thought I’d have a some fun with it, decided on a vintage “Jungalow Glam” theme and created an official mood-board. Note: this is not an essential part of making underwear, however, it does enhance the experience. If you plan on making some mix and match sets, putting all your ideas for fabrics, colour palettes and trims in one spot is a nice way of making sure everything works together as a whole.
Sewing underwear is trending in the online DIY / sewing community right now and there seems to be a growing number of patterns available. I’ve included a full list of patterns & fabrics used here, as well as links to other useful resources for sewing intimates, at the end of the post. For these separates I chose four different patterns: two bras that I have made previously, one pair of briefs that I used for swimwear and a wild-card. You might be wondering how long it takes to sew up a bralette or a brief? All of these pieces…between 1 and 1.5 hours each. Of course you could just skip the guess work of trying out patterns, pull apart a pair of RTW undies that know and love, copy the pattern and make a hundred more!
When I knew I was going to have a little fun with novelty elastics and mesh panels I figured the end result might be reserved for ‘house lounging.’ I wasn’t sure how practical or comfortable they would turn out to be, so I’m pleased to report that they are actually all very wearable. I’m sure this is largely to do with the wonderfully soft Cotton Spandex Jersey, the latest fabric available for printing from Spoonflower. Made from 95% cotton with 5% spandex, it has a 4-way stretch, making it perfect for sewing under garments. Having a fabric which stretches in both directions is essential for underwear, where you want it to move with your body. Spoonflower’s Cotton Spandex is super soft and has that already-worn-in, favourite-pair-of-undies feel. The colours print out slightly muted, which I think only adds to its charm.
Some tips for working with cotton spandex and stretch fabric in general: First, pre-wash your fabric to allow for shrinkage (I used a gentle hand-wash here). For sewing, a ball-point / stretch needle is essential, regular thread is fine and a walking foot is helpful. There’s nothing more complex than a zigzag stitch involved!
When applying elastic around the leg openings, on some stretch fabrics you can get away with not pinning and just holding the elastic down as you sew. I tried this on my first pair here and found that even with the walking foot, the cotton spandex stretched out and became wavy. If this happens at any point, don’t freak out, just unpick and give the fabric a gentle press and it should rebound back to shape. Lesson learned: pin the elastic down before stitching.
Here is a list of fabrics and patterns used for the above sets. If bra-making supplies are limited at your local sewing supply store, online is the next best place. The supplies section of Etsy is my go-to for every bra notion imaginable, super cute elastics and all the trimmings you could desire. You will find most Etsy stores ship internationally and will sell to you in small quantities. If you still can’t find the notions that you want in the colours that you want, you can always dye some or do like I did and pinch the strapping from a couple of tired old bras.
Lingerie Making Resources
Sophie Parslow is the maker, writer and creative mind behind Australian DIY fashion blog, Ada Spragg. As a late-comer to sewing, Sophie needed a creative outlet after becoming a mother and has been creating the ‘ultimate hand-made wardrobe’ ever since. With an eye for print and colour and a passion for sharing her makes with the world, Sophie’s blog received the Best Sewing Blogs award in 2014 & 15. Her new year’s resolution is more sewing, less scrolling. For a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Sophie’s #sewinglyf, connect with her via Instagram or gather some Pin-spiration for yourself.