My Unmentionables, Mentioned

by A.J.A.

in 1970s,Lingerie

I have been wanting to try sewing underwear for a while. Last time I bought some cotton ones with stretch lace at the store, the stretch lace ripped on every pair after the first wash. That ticked me off! I knew I could at least do better than that.

Well, I have come across several lingerie patterns and bra patterns in my thrifting, some of which I have kept, but it wasn’t until two days ago that I happened upon some vintage undie patterns for 10 cents each. There were two patterns for me, and there was even one for my daughter, which I will have in the ready when she graduates from diapers.

So, today, I made these…

I used this 70s pattern…

Image from the Vintage Pattern Wiki

I went by the fabric store yesterday, and checked out the cotton knits. There were prettier patterns, but this is some of the softest cotton knit fabric I have ever touched. I also bought the stretch lace there- the selection was very limited. I had the lingerie elastic; I inherited it from Grandma’s stash.

All in all, they cost me about $3.00, and they are not perfect (a first try!) but they are the Parthenon of underwear- by that I mean I think they will still be around in the next millenium. Who knew my machine had such an amazing and sturdy elastic stitch?

Sewing underwear is a whole new skill set for me. I actually did a sort of muslin (that I botched terribly) in order to get the elastic stitching down. It also required a lot of testing with various needles. I ended up switching between a small ball point for sewing the knit seams and a larger universal for the elastic.

I enjoyed learning to do the stretch lace cut outs. What does that say about me as a person? This is the kind of stuff I dig. Oh well. You just place it and stitch it on the front, and then cut the fabric off of the back close to your seam lines. It’s pretty easy, but I can see how you could apply a similar technique on blouses and dresses for pretty details, say at the neckline.

These are practical undies, and they are a little granny-ish in the thigh area. That’s ok with me, I like my undies a little on the granny side (T.M.I.?) but I may cut them higher in the thigh next time. The instructions were great, and helped me overcome my fear of stitching skivvies. I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to give some drawers a try!

 

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– who has written 31 posts on WeSewRetro.com.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Catholic Bibliophagist November 11, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I went to the KWIKSEW website to see if they still make underwear patterns and they’ve got quite a variety — including bras, camisoles, bustiers, and garter belts. By the way, you can special order from their archive almost any pattern they have ever printed. It’s pricey though — $28.98. (I don’t work for KwikSew; I just love their patterns.)

–C.B.

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Jeanne Marie November 12, 2011 at 12:31 am

Wow! Not something I would have considered before reading your post. I’ve read other posts on this, but yours somehow makes me think I should give it a try. Gramma undies are comfortable!

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Barbara November 12, 2011 at 10:14 am

I have been trying to sew my own undies with no success! I am SO impressed! What kind of elastic did you use, and how did you go about attaching it? The elastic has been my downfall every single time.

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A.J.A. November 12, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Barbara- I’m sorry, I don’t know what kind of elastic it is beyond a shiny sort of lingerie elastic. I inherited it on a large, unmarked roll. As for attaching it, I cut it to the length recommended on the pattern, then divided each section by four (marked with pins). I also divided the leg openings and the waist section into fours. The leg openings were sewed before the side seams were done. I pulled the elastic gently after getting the first few stitches anchored. My machine has a really good elastic stitch that helped with this. First though, I just got a length of elastic, some knit fabric and a few different needles and even feet and tried different combos until it worked. Good luck! If I can do it, you can surely do it too!

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A.J.A. November 12, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Did that make sense at all? I divided the leg sections and elastic into fours and then matched the marks up. I stretched as I sewed to make the elastic fit the fabric. :)

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