General instructions for sewing lingerie

Sewing lingerie can be very well done with your home sewing machine. You will only need two basic stitches: straight stitch and zigzag stitch. When sewing other underwear, an over-locker will come in very handy, unless you own a sewing machine that has a good stretch stitch and an even feed.

Before you start sewing, it is good to check the thread tension of the sewing machine (the upper thread can be a bit  looser than normally). Test the stitches on the materials you are working with. A good stitch can be recognized from the fact that it is not too tight and the upper or lower threads do not form loops in the opposite side of the fabric.

It is important that the needle of the sewing machine is sharp, so that it pierces the fabric and elastic without effort. In underwear sewing, a suitable needle size is 80. You can also use a ballpoint needle. For sewing thread, a good choice is a quality polyester thread, for instance Gütermann. In stretchy clothing the thread is exposed to hard wearing.

You will need at least following stitches:

  • Straight stitch, length of the stitch about 3mm (sewing pieces together)
  • Zigzag stitch, length of the stitch about 2.5mm and width about 5.5mm (attaching the elastics)
  • Zigzag stitch, length of the stitch about 1.5mm and width about 3.5mm (attaching the straps and closure)

Materials

The bra band fabric should be stretchy and rather snug, especially in larger bra sizes.

In the Make Bra method, the bra cup always has a lining, on top of which the actual cup is built on. This makes it possible to use several different kinds of fabrics as a cup cover. You can even use a non-stretchy fabric, in which case the pieces are bias cut to make them ”fit” better. A non-stretchy fabric also requires larger seam allowances at the outer edges of the cup. The easiest cup fabric especially for a beginner is a low stretch, thin fabric or lace.

For making briefs the fabrics having 4-way-stretch are suitable; cotton tricot, Lycra, stretch lace, etc. A 2-way-stretch or a non-stretchy fabric can prudently be used in a small area as a decoration, for instance in the front of the pants.

The 4-way-stretch means that the fabric can be stretched in all directions. The 2-way-stretch means that the fabric can be stretched only in one direction, usually from selvedge to selvedge.

Cut

You can lay the bra pattern pieces on the fabric quite freely, depending on the fabric pattern and amount of fabric available. The most important thing is that the right and the left side are placed symmetrically. The Make Bra patterns include seam allowances, so you do not need to do anything else than to cut the pattern pieces off the sheet and they are ready to be used. However, it is recommend to add extra material 3-4 cm (1 1/8″) on bra back seam in case alteration will be necessary.

bra band centre back

For cutting the most preferred option is to use a cutter and a cutting mat meant for the patchwork. With the cutter, it is easy to follow the edge of the paper pattern and the cutting will be precise and neat. If you use scissors, draw the outline of the pattern carefully on the fabric before cutting. The patterns can be taped on the fabric from few points, so they stay in place better while cutting. Leave the patterns on top of the cut pieces. It will be easier to find the right pieces as you go on.

Note! Printing paper works perfect as pattern paper. If you need to copy the pattern from the original (paper patterns) and can not copy the pattern on a copy machine, draw the lines against a window. This way you can see the outlines through even thicker paper.

Fit the Bra and Briefs

It’s important to make sure your cup size and shape are perfect before you start making the actual bra. Therefore I hihgly recommend to make a simple test bra first. The foam lining cup of the test bra reveals any problems with the fit. You can make alterations on the cup by pinning or cutting, or by any method needed, and alter the pattern on basis of that information. Making the test bra is a time-and-nerve-saver.

Bras are finally fitted in the stage when they are nearly finished. The straps are pinned on the upper edge of the cup. The proper size of the band is determined by pinning the band at the back to a correct tightness. The band should be fairly tight and firm. After you have closed the band, attach the straps on the back at suitable distance from each other. Mark the center-back and the places of the straps with pins.

Now you have pins to mark the centre back line. Cut a further 2-2.5 cm (1″) off from both sides at the centre line. We make this extra cut because the bras “get tired” as time goes by, so it is better to close the bra at the last row of the closure when you start wearing it.

The best way to try on panties is to finish them and put them on! You will make them so fast and from such a small amount of fabric that if they turn out to fit poorly on you, they will certainly fit on someone else.

Now, welcome even deeper…