A couple of weeks ago I had this mad idea that I’m going to draft all my own bras and knickers patterns from now on. I know, I know…bold intentions!
I decided to start with a basic knickers block to ease myself into the world of drafting lingerie.
Everybody needs a guide...
The book I chose to guide me through my knickers draft was “Lingerie Design, a complete course” by Pamela Powell.
I bought this book a while back because I had this crazy idea once before and then never went further than buying books (this is usually the point that most of my ideas end at!) and the bra drafting/construction instructions are really good!
Saying that, I did feel that the knickers draft was slightly lacking, which was disappointing. The way that the initial “basic brief sloper” (or block as we call it in the UK) is explained leaves a couple of things out and wasn’t the clearest block draft I’ve ever seen.
All the following knicker pattern variants are based on this block so I felt it was really important to get it right.
My main issue was that she uses multiple names for the same body measurement and doesn’t explain what some measurements are, so this is really confusing. And there is one point where she says to extend a line by the “crotch width” which isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the book so I had no idea what this measurement should be!
In the next step though she gives a standard measurement for “half the crotch width” so I just assumed that I should double this to find my crotch width…but it seems illogical that the measurement isn’t mentioned anywhere else or at the first step that needs it.
Despite my niggles I managed to draft the block and then was able to draft the other knickers patterns based on this.
I decided to layer my knicker blocks over one another to save paper and so that if I needed to adjust the crotch length then I only needed to do it once.
Here you can see all the blocks that I drafted:
1. Basic brief sloper (outer line)
2. Hipsters (middle line)
3. High Waist Thong (smallest & inner line)
These styles were chosen because they’re the ones that I wear the most and I thought they would be most useful!
There is a french knickers pattern but it requires a different block which I’ll probably do sometime in the future!
Toiling and amending my knickers pattern
Before I traced off my knickers pattern to add seam allowances I double checked my total rise length against my total body rise. I found that I needed to add in a couple of extra centimetres. I added this onto the bottom of the back rise because I know I’ve got a bit of curvy ass!
The last thing I did was add a gusset piece. And I totally guessed it’s position for this first toile. Sorry, I know that’s not very helpful!
It’s important to know how your total rise measurement on your pattern relates back to your body and compare these measurements!
I used an old t-shirt as toiling fabric and I won’t lie…I was sceptical at first!
It looked enormous when I was cutting it out so I was convinced it wasn’t going to fit so I really rushed the first toile and didn’t bother getting my cover stitch out, I just zigzagged it..and not even in the right colour thread (eek!)
Amending the knickers pattern
After making it (very badly) I fitted it and actually guys…my ass is clearly much bigger than I thought because they fit really well!
I reduced the hip by 1cm each side and tweaked the front curve. You can see the new one that I drew on in chalk and transferred to the pattern in the photo on the right->
Looking at the original draft now I can see that the curve is quite shallow so if you use this draft method, curve it much more than stated in the instructions!
The only other thing I did to the knickers pattern was move the gusset around a bit. I moved my crotch seam backwards so that I could bag it out with my gusset and front piece, and then I added a bit of length onto the front of the gusset. Much easier to mark the position when you’ve got the toile on!
Making the final knickers pattern and sample
After these minor tweaks I decided to get my cover stitch machine out of retirement and give a decent pair a go.
I popped down to my local fabric shop Flo-Jo fabrics and got this SUPER CUTE lobster jersey…I think I’m in love!
I knew that I had stitched my last pair really badly so I decided to make a white pair in case I wanted to tweak anything more before cutting into my lobsters. They’re perfectly wearable but I did decide to make the front crotch slightly narrower after trying them on. I think I reduced it by 0.7cm each side to 0 at the crotch seam.
if I compare the 3 knickers side by side then you can really see the difference in the front curve between the 3, it’s fairly large for a garment that’s so small!
Final thoughts...(almost done I promise!)
I have to say that I’m pretty happy with my final knickers, the fit is better than any shop bought ones I’ve had and they’re suuuuper comfy! Which is always top of my list of requirements for knickers!
Next I think I’ll adapt this hipster knickers pattern so that I can use some stretch laces and make something for those days when I want to feel less like a lobster and more like a mermaid!
And maybe I’ll toile that thong pattern too. The sewing to do list is rapidly growing….!
If you’re thinking of buying this book then don’t let my niggles about the drafting instructions put you off. It’s fairly easy to get around what’s missing and the rest of the book is packed full of amazing information about construction that you don’t get in lots of other books.
I’ll try do a full book review after I’ve done some bra drafts to help you all get a clearer idea of what’s in there. In the mean time, check it out on my amazon store, here. Or you if you’re keen to buy some other pattern making books you can see take a look at my 5 top pattern cutting books.