Monday, April 29, 2013

French Knickers Sew Along... Let's add some lace!

Hello my lovely readers. The electrician hasn't made an appearace yet, but the sun did yesterday, just briefly, so I was able to get some photos taken so that I could walk you through trimming with lace.

I started by sewing a simple pair of the French knickers using some cream colored satin. I chose to use some vintage lace from my stash (originally acquired from my mom and her lovely shop).

Sewing lace to underwear

My lace is about 1" wide (2.7 cm). Lace much wider than this might not sit right, and might look funny on your thighs. If you have some wider lace you'd like to try, test it out by pinning a length to one leg opening and see if it fits ok.

Sewing lace to underwear

Since I'm using some rather old lace, here are some tried and true tips for sewing with vintage lace:
  • start by gently hand washing your lace. If it survives a hand washing then chances are it's strong enough to be used in your project, worn, and gently washed in the future.
  • carefully press you lace on low heat.
  • examine the lace carefully for any hidden stains before you start sewing with it.
  • if you have them, silk pins can help you secure more delicate lace to your fabric as you sew.
You'll need about 1 1/4 yards of lace (about 1 meter, 15 cm).

Start at the crotch seam and pin your lace, right side up to the outside of the knickers leg opening.
By starting at the crotch seam, we ensure that if there are any small mistakes at the finish, they'll be well concealed there.

This might just be me, but pinning like this, as opposed to perpendicularly, helps keep slippery fabrics in place.

When pinning the lace, the upper edge of the lace should be 3/8" from the edge, which is the seam/ hem allowance along this edge.

Reserve a 1/4" overlap on each lace end so that you have a seam allowance to join your two lace ends together.

Pin your lace ends right sides together, and then flip the lace over and lay it flat against the leg opening. Check to see if there is any excess, or if you need to adjust the lace at all.

As you can see here, the lace is the right length, but I'll need to move my lace seam over a bit to match the crotch seam. This only matters if you're super particular about things like this :)

Flip back to the wrong side of the knickers and lace, and hand stitch the lace ends together. A small overcasting or blanket stitch on the ends will finish it nicely.

Now finish pinning your lace in place at the seam, and get ready to stitch.

The best stitch for attaching lace to other fabrics is an applique or satin stitch. Check your sewing machine manual to see if you have one. If not, use a narrow, tight zig-zag stitch.

It's stitch #24 on my Bother HE-240

My stitch is the exact width of the narrow end running along the top of my lace. Stitching slowly, applique stitch the lace all the way around the leg opening.

Sewing lace to underwear with an applique stitch
My lace stitched to the leg opening.
 Now for the interesting bit! On the inside you need to trim the fabric away from the edge of your stitching. If you do this with the lace on the underside as in the photo below, then you have a really good chance of accidentally cutting into your lace too. It's an easy mistake to make.
Here's how to avoid it completely:

Sewing lace to underwear with an applique stitch

Make a vertical snip into the fabric to be trimmed off as in the photo above. This is your starting point.

Flip one end of the fabric up, and fold the lace underneath down so that the lace is folded to the right side of the knickers.

Now you can easily snip the excess fabric away right up to the applique stitch, without worrying about cutting into your lace.

My hem allowance trimmed away from the lace on the inside.
Sewing lace to underwear with an applique stitch
The lace edge from the outside.

Sewing lace to underwear with an applique stitch

And tada! You have a nice and clean lace edge for your knickers!

Here is my (almost) finished lace trimmed version of the Ma Cherie French Knickers.

French knickers underwear with vintage lace edging.

What more do they need, you might ask? Why, my initials delicately embroidered into one of the edges, of course. More on that next time!

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Tiny Delay...

Hello everyone,
I just wanted to let you all know that there will be a slight delay in the next Sew-Along post. The lighting somehow shorted out in my studio, and it's cloudy and rainy here in Norway so I have no light to sew or photograph by.
Once I wrangle or bribe an electrician to come fix it, I'll get the lace edging post up tout suite!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!



Also, here is a picture of a dinosaur.

Monday, April 22, 2013

French Knickers Sew-Along... Adding "Le Crotch" Insert

Today for the French Knickers Sew-Along we're going to add a finishing touch to our French Knickers: "Le Crotch."  (I may as well just get used to saying it. )
This piece should be cut from cotton jersey fabric or something similar. Mine is tencil knit jersey. bamboo knit jersey is also wonderful. You can even cut this piece from an old t-shirt if you like!

"Le Crotch"

For certain fabrics you might consider finishing the edges of "le crotch" with an edge stitch. I didn't bother with this step because I know that the raw edges of the tencil knit jersey will not fray or be problematic.

The four points of the crotch piece are going to line up with your center front, center back, and crotch seam on the inside.

Line up the short center of the diamond with the crotch seams first, then align the two longer points with the center front/ back seam allowances.

Now just gently tack each point in place, just catching the seam allowances with your needle, without actually poking through to the outside of the knickers.

Just a few basting stitches should do the trick. 

I used thread that matches my fabric color perfectly so that it blends right in.

And voila! If you've gone with the ribbon edging like I did in this version then you're done! 

Here is my finished pair of French Knickers with ribbon edging. Pretty, no?

For our next post, I'll go over trimming the leg openings with lace instead of ribbon.

Any questions?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

French Knickers Sew-Along... Adding Elastic to the Waist.

Hello lovely readers. Today for the French Knickers Sew-Along I'll show you how to add elastic to the waist of your knickers. First though, to my readers in Boston, know that you're in my thoughts and prayers. I have nothing but admiration for how Bostonians, first responders and civilians alike, have helped victims and their families in these last horrible few days.

It may seem silly to talk about sewing in light of how saddened we all are at such senseless violence, but for some of us, sewing is a form of therapy. For those of you who find comfort in the simple, reliable hum of your sewing machine, and the feel of fabric at your fingertips, here is the next step in our Sew-Along.


For my knickers, I have chosen 3/8" picot elastic. It has a plush underside that is quite comfortable against one's skin.

First, follow the instructions in the pattern for measuring the length of elastic you'll need.
Lap one end of the elastic over the other and baste in place with a few stitches.

Before pinning your elastic to the waist, first measure your elastic in halves, and then quarters and mark these points with a pin. Pin these quarter points to the front, back and side seams of the knickers so that your elastic is equally distributed between these four points as you stitch.

Picot elastic, pinned plush side up to the RIGHT side of the fabric, and with the plain edge even with the knickers raw edge.

For picot elastic, first pin the elastic to the OUTSIDE of the knickers, with the plain edge of the elastic even with the raw edges at the waist.

Elastic pinned at the four major seams.

 Stitch close to the picot (ornamental) edge with a narrow zig-zag stitch, stretching the elastic gently as you sew and keeping the plain edge of the elastic even with the knickers raw edge.

Here I am keeping my elastic stretched evenly by gently pulling at the nearest seam until it is straight.

To help distribute the elastic evenly as you sew, pinch the waist and elastic at the nearest seam and gently keep it taught as you stitch.

The knickers waist after the first half of elastic stitching.

Now turn the elastic to the inside and carefully trim any excess fabric that peaks above the elastic edge.

The excess fabric trimmed away from the elastic.

Then fold elastic to the inside and stitch again, on the right side using a 3 step zig-zag stitch, again gently stretching the elastic as you go

The elastic stitched to the INSIDE now with a 3 point zig-zag stitch.

The waist after the elastic has been folded to the inside and stitched.

Pretty, no? In our next post we'll add the cotton crotch insert and then we'll go over more ideas for embellishing the knickers.

Any questions?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

French Knickers Sew-Along... Ribbon Trimming the Leg Openings

In our last Sew-Along post we sewed our major seams to construct the body of the Ma Cherie French Knickers. There are many ways you can choose to finish your leg openings and during the sew-along I'm going to show you lots of them. The big three are ribbon edging, lace trim, or a simple hem.

A good way to choose your trim is to lay your options out on your unfinished knickers and see what you like best.
Today, as it rains sheep and reindeer here in Norway, I'm going to show you how to trim your leg openings with ribbon.

I am using 1/2" silk ribbon and I'll be attaching it with a 3/8 seam allowance. Start at the 'under bit' (crotch seam) on one leg opening and pin your ribbon along the raw edge. (If your ribbon has a right side, pin the ribbon RIGHT side down to the WRONG side of the leg opening.)

At the 'under bit' seam fold your raw edge up for about 1/2". This will ensure that your ribbon raw edge will be concealed when you press it to the outside. Pin the ribbon all the way around the leg opening until you reach 'under bit' seam where you started.

Overlap your raw edge about 1/2" over the first so that it too will be concealed when you press it to the right side.

Since it's black over black and hard to see, I have outlined my raw ribbon edge in pink so you can see the overlap.

Stitch all the way around the leg opening with a 3/8" seam.
Next, press the ribbon out towards the leg opening.

 Fold the ribbon up so that it is on the outside (RIGHT side) of the knickers and press again. Now all you have to do is top stitch the ribbon in place on the outside, very close tot he ribbon edge. Start at the 'under bit' seam again and stitch all the way around. You can use a thread that matches your ribbon or go with a contrasting color like I did.

 Repeat this process for both legs. You now have a clean finish to the leg openings and hopefully a pretty one too! If you prefer, you can also reverse this process and have your ribbon stitched to the inside instead. This would result in a very neat hem on the outside and cleanly concealed edges on the inside.

We'll go over using lace to trim the legs later so if that's part of your plan, stay tuned!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

French Knickers Sew Along... Let's Get Started!

Now that you've gotten your pattern, and hopefully found your fabric of choice, we can get started with the fun part!

The knickers are really easy to sew and the main parts of construction are going to take no time at all. The cutting is simple, just lay the pattern pieces on a folded length of your material, right sides to the inside. The pattern pieces are meant to be cut with the grain, as indicated by your grain marker on the pattern.

Once you have your pattern pieces cut out, if you've cut them with the right sides of your fabric together, all you have to do is remove your pattern piece, and then pin the two front pieces together and the two back pieces together and stitch.

Here is a road map to the seams you'll be sewing!

You're stitching the center front seam, and the center back back seam first (1). Then finish your raw edges together and press to one side. You now have a complete front and a complete back.

Center front and center back seams.

~TIP~When working with slippery fabrics, I find the pieces shift a lot less if they are pinned together with the pins positioned parallel to the raw edge, as opposed to the pins sitting perpendicular to the raw edge.

Next you're going to join these two pieces at the crotch. Ugh, I know I'm talking about underwear here but I still hate that word. From now on, let's just refer to it as the "under bit", shall we?

The "Under Bit" seam.

Lay the Knickers Front right sides together with the Knickers Back. Carefully match them together at the "under bit," making sure that your center front and center back seam lines meet, then stitch. (2) Finish the edges together and press to the front.

The French Knickers drape even better if you press one center seam to the right, and one to the left, as shown above.

~TIP~ to keep the under bit pieces together, pin the hell out of them, including pinning the center front and center back seam allowances flat so that they don't accidentally shift or fold on you while you're stitching.

Next lay the Knicker Sides right sides together and stitch both side seams. (3) Neaten the edges together and press forward.

Pin your side seam. The fabric will shift less if pinned perpendicularly to the raw edges.
The French Knickers, all major seams sewn, from the inside.

The French Knickers, all major seams sewn, from the outside.

Now you've got the major construction details out of the way! In our next post we'll go over adding elastic to the waist.

Any questions?