Lingerie is something all women wear, whether it’s fancy or plain, but with homemade undergarments you’ll get exactly what you want instead of settling for what you can find. Fabric for making lingerie, which is usually silky and stretchy, isn’t usually found at your typical department store sewing
aisle. Try a large fabric store to find tricot, soft stretchy lace, and other lingerie fabrics.
Depending upon the type of lingerie you’re making you may need extra items from the notions department such as satin lingerie straps, bra straps, eyelets, buckles, satin ribbon, elastic and other supplies. Some of these items can be found cheaper at a discount department store.
One of the easiest undergarments to make is a half slip. Lay the fabric out with right sides together and measure from your waist to the area desired. If you’ll be wearing it with short skirts measure it to mid-thigh. For long skirts measure to ankle length. For traditional dresses you can measure from waist to knee area. Measure around the hip area and add a couple of inches.
Different dresses require various styles of skirts. You don’t want to wear a straight slip with a full skirt or a full slip with an A-line dress, so adjust the pattern to your particular needs. For a full skirt measure around the hips and add several inches. After drawing the measurements onto the fabric, with disappearing marker or colored chalk, it’s time to cut the pieces. Allow the exact measurement for the length so that when you hem the slip it will be slightly shorter than the dress.
Leave the pieces right sides together and sew down one side seam. If you’ll be adding lace to the hem sew it on next. Make sure you cut the slip shorter if you’re adding lace. With only one side seam done insert the elastic in the waist by folding the waistband over a half inch and laying the elastic on top. Stitch with a zig-zag, long stitch, all the way across both pieces. Slightly stretch the elastic as you sew but don’t tug hard. Now with elastic and lace applied, seam the other side seam, making sure to back-tack at the top and bottom of the side seam.
A strapless slip is made in a similar way. Measure around the bust area and draw that measurement onto the fabric. Measure to the desired length and draw that measurement onto the fabric. Since the fabric is folded in half you’ll use half the measurement for the width. Sew the side seam, add lace across the bottom, and elastic across the top. The slip is worn just below the underarms. To make it more distinctive sew a small piece of elastic in the very center of the front, from the top edge to a few inches down. Back-tack well. This will make the slip more comfortable to wear with a bra. For a strapped slip make the strapless slip then add the narrow ribbon straps by tacking them in the front and back with a single-needle machine or hand stitch.
Use a V-neck tee shirt as a guide to make a camisole top or a different type of slip. Fold the tee shirt to where you have only the bottom half of the tee shirt showing. Cut this shape on the fold. This will be your back piece to the camisole. Fold the shirt in half, lengthways, where the front shows. Lay the fold of the tee against the fold of the fabric. Cut at the mid-section area of the tee rather than the entire tee length. Go up to just below the underarm area but slightly lower than on a tee shirt. Now fold the sleeve of the tee out of the way and cut the shirt at an angle to reach just above the breast area. Stop on that point and turn to make the “V” of the front. On a camisole you don’t need the shoulder fabric because you will generally use satin slip straps instead.
Cut pieces and place the right side of the back piece to the right side of the front piece, with the top outer edges of the back aligned with the underarm area of the front. Sew one side seam. If you’ll be adding a narrow lace do it now. Start at the open end of the back and sew the lace across the back, around the underarm area, up to the point and down to the “V”, then up to the other point and around to the opposite underarm area. Sew any lace you want across the hem at this point. Sew the second side seam and the camisole is done, except for the straps. Tack the straps in place – one at each point – then tack them to the backside. For a slip made like this simply cut the design to the desired length.
You can use most any strapless dress as a pattern to make a nice nightgown. Change the length or add length to the dress, depending upon how you want the gown to look. After you’ve cut the front and back pieces you can do all sorts of things to change the look. For instance, fold the front piece at any angle and cut out a 3″ wide strip. Cut the same strip from a piece of lace and insert it where you cut the strip out of the front piece. Now you have an elegant nightgown with peek-a-boo lace. The peek-a-boo lace can be done in many different fashions. Use a butterfly shape to cut out several sections of the front, or just add the see-through lace right down the front of the gown.
Another trick to the above nightgown design is to cut the gown a little smaller than normal. Instead of sewing the side seams use spaghetti strap pieces to hold the front and back sides together. This gives a totally different look to the gown and is not only provocative but easy to make. Instead of spaghetti strap pieces you can use satin ribbon pieces, too. To make spaghetti straps cut a piece of fabric two inches wide and the appropriate length that you need. Sew three sides of the strap leaving one end open for turning. Use a long, thin piece of wood or metal to turn the strap right side out.
To make panties use a pattern from an old bikini bottom or panty. The easiest way is to cut the pieces apart. Make sure you allow an extra inch for the stitches you’ve cut out and an inch at the top for elastic. Cut the front piece, back piece and 2 crotch pieces – one exterior and one interior. Sew the exterior crotch piece to the front and back panty pieces. Sew the interior crotch piece next. Insert elastic around the leg openings then around the waist.
Make a strapless bra by cutting a fabric piece to wrap around the breasts then insert elastic in the bottom and top edges. To separate, sew an elastic piece in the center of the front, zig-zagging the stitches.
Use a pair of stretch leggings to make a pattern for satiny pajama bottoms. Wear them with the camisole top for total comfort while sleeping.
There are many lingerie items you can make using patterns from existing clothing. Shorts make a nice tap-pants pattern to wear with your camisole. Robes can be made out of slinky fabric and cut short to cover nighties. One-piece teddies can be made using a favorite one-piece bathing suit pattern. Just make a few changes, like lace inserts or spaghetti straps, and you’ve got a beautiful teddy.