Sewing Vintage-Inspired Panties
After making my bra from pattern designer Ohhh Lulu, I had a hankering to make up a pair of panties to match. Lucky for me, Ohhh Lulu has patterns for undies too! I chose the high-waisted Betty panties and used the same fabrics I made my bra with, so I’d have a matching set. I feel positively like a retro pin-up in these!
Now that I’ve made the set, I can say that not only is sewing underthings completely addictive, but both of these patterns would be spectacular as swimwear too. I can see this pair being a lovely vintage-inspired bikini! Just make sure to use the proper fabrics (take a look at some tips for sewing spandex before you start) and notions so they can withstand the chlorine and sunshine.
But for now, let’s sew up these panties!
Download the Betty High Waist Panties Pattern and tape the pieces together. Much like the bra, there are few pieces, so it takes no time to do this step at all.
Cut out the panties to fit your size. I went with the largest, as I have a pear-shaped body, but in the end I could have easily gone down a size or two. So think about how tight you like your undies to be. The front and back panels can be cut in woven or stretch. I chose to use the same fabrics to match my bra, so the front panel I cut in the eyelet on the bias.
Use the straight “place on fold” edge to line up on the 45-degree true bias. Do not try to cut this on the bias and on the fold. If you choose to make the front panel from stretch fabric, place this piece on the fold on the length of grain and cut out.
To cut out one whole piece on the bias, trace around the piece with a chalk pencil. Unpin the pattern piece, flip, and pin down, keeping the pattern in line with the chalk outline of the other half.
Cut around the entire piece, following the chalk line on the half without the pattern piece.
Repeat the pinning and tracing steps on the back panel, which should also be on the bias if made from woven fabric. Again, if using stretch knit, place this piece on the fold and on grain.
As with the front panel, cut out the back panel following your chalk outline and half of the pattern piece that is pinned down. Continue by cutting your side panels and crotch lining pieces from stretch knit.
The instructions indicate that you can use either a serger overlock machine for the seams, or a straight stitch machine, but as the panties will get stretched around your body to wear, I highly recommend using a serger overlock machine if you have access to one. If not, try using the stretch stitches on your machine or a long and narrow zigzag stitch so the seams won’t pop during wear!
On the machine you’ve decided to use, sew the front panel to the two side panels.
Press the seam allowance toward the side panels. If you used a straight stitch machine, finish the fabric edges so they do not fray.
Pin the back panel to the two side panels and sew together the same way you did in Step 6.
Finish the seam and press toward the side panels as you did in Step 7. Using a sleeve board to press is helpful for this step so you do not accidentally press the underside while pressing the top layer.
Using your desired method, finish the two straight edges of the crotch lining. I chose to use my serger overlock machine, but you can use a zigzag stitch as well.
Along the back crotch seam, pin together the right side of the crotch lining to the wrong side of the back crotch. Then pin the right side of the front crotch seam to the right side of the back crotch seam, so all three are pinned together and the back panel is sandwiched in the middle.
Sew along the pinned edge at 1/4″ seam allowance. I used a straight stitch as this area will not be pulled and stretched as the side seams will.
Press the seam allowance toward the front panel, keeping the crotch lining and back panel to the opposite side.
Flip the crotch lining toward the front panel and press the seam again.
Pin the crotch lining to the crotch along the leg openings. Base stitch along the leg openings and press flat.
Using a flexible tape measure, find the circumference of the leg openings. Cut your lingerie elastic to be about 2″ smaller than the measurement.
Pin the lingerie elastic to the leg opening. Place the elastic on the fabric, right sides together, with the flat edge of the elastic flush with the edge of the fabric on the opening. Overlap the start and end of the elastic by about a 1/2″ and pin in place. Find the halfway point opposite your first pin and pin the elastic in place.
The elastic will be stretched to fit the opening during the sewing, so do not pin the remainder of the elastic down.
Start at the overlap spot and stretch the fabric as you sew. Use a long and narrow zigzag stitch and sew close to the inner edge of the elastic. Stretch as you sew and keep the straight edge in line with the fabric edge as you go.
Trim the extra fabric down on the inside of the elastic so it is hidden when flipping the elastic in Step 20.
Fold the elastic to the inside of the leg opening and pin in place. If your elastic has trim detail like mine does, this should show on the outside of the seam.
Using a zigzag stitch no wider than the width of the elastic on the inside of the seam, sew the elastic in place. Stitch on the right side of the garment and stretch the elastic as necessary as you go.
Repeat the process for attaching the elastic on the second leg opening so you have finished off both circles.
Measure and cut lingerie elastic to fit the upper opening just as you did for the leg openings. Pin in place at the overlap spot as you did for the leg openings and again at the halfway point.
I chose to put my overlap spot at the center back, but you can put it wherever you think it will be best hidden. I found the overlapping to be well hidden with this tricot elastic.
Sew the elastic to the waist and trim, then fold and pin in place and topstitch as you did for the leg opening.
If you’d like to add a decorative bow or detail to the center front, hand stitch it in place with a needle and thread. I chose to use the same blue ribbon as I did for my matching bra.
And that’s it! Now that I’ve made the matching bra and panties set, I am officially addicted and am curious as to all the other patterns from Ohhh Lulu! These are very high-waisted vintage panties, but there are also thongs, hip huggers and other goodies in the designer’s shop that I am eager to try next. If you make any of these up, please share in the gallery!
Just learn how to sew bombshell dress and your retro style will be complete!