Loulabelle Frilly Knickers

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I have had knickers on my mind for months. You know that feeling when you open up your knicker drawer and wonder how your undergarment situation became so dire? I’m embarrassed to admit there are pants in there I had back in my university days, we go way back, and pre-date some of my best friendships, and span many relationships! I think becoming a new mum has meant that new knickers became A treat, rather than a necessity. Well it’s time to turn over a new cheek.

Ethical Pants?

Being a green kind of gal, I wanted to source my pants from an ethical retailer, one who looked after their workers and avoided sweatshops. On my hunt for ethical undies I discovered some businesses who ticked all the boxes:

Who Made Your Pants? – This company buy up waste fabric from large underwear manufacturers to reduce waster and create jobs for women who have had a hard time. Plus all the profits go back in to the business and are invested in to training and support. Pretty special.
Amnesty International – Amnesty sell three packs of organic/fairtrade cotton knickers just short of £15. Many of the companies I looked at charge this for one pair, so these pants are really affordable.
Pants to Poverty – Work with farming / manufacturing cooperatives in India to produce organic and fairtrade undergarments.

Make your own pants

Of course, in my hunt for the perfect pants, I had completely overlooked that I could sew my own knickers. What could be more satisfying than a pair of custom made, frilly pants. Why do we call knickers a pair anyway? It’s not like there are two of them? Suddenly I welled up with enthusiasm and ordered lots of gorgeous cotton to revamp my underwear drawer. Here is what I picked:

Pretty Fabric for Knickers

Briar Rose Orange Fabric Stack, by Heather Ross for Windham Fabric

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Cross Stitch in Blue by Shannon Lamden for Riley Blake Designs

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Feed the Birds, VeloCity Collection by Jessica Hogarth, P&B Textiles

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Sunny Day in Fluffer Nutter by BasicGrey

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Wells in Bright, from the Stile Collection by Liberty Lifestyle Fabrics

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Knicker Sewing Patten

After scouring the web for suitable sewing patterns, I decided upon puchasing a lovely frilly knickers patern from Loulabelle. This arrived in the post as a pre-printed A3 pattern. Excellent, no need to stick the pieces together! Loulabelle (Verity) writes a great blog, and also sells some other patterns in her store.
You can have a look at lots of other knicker patterns and inspiration on my Pinterest board Knickers, Pants and Undies. Blooming marvelous.

Loulabelle’s pattern looked exactly what I needed, fun, frilly and it came in sizes 8-16. Perfect if I want to make them for presents for people. I have a friends wedding come up, so she may even be getting a special bridal pair. Exciting!

Look at my knickers!

I am so pleased with how these turned out. Not only are they beautiful but they are really comfy and a great fit. Not one wedgie or sneaky knicker re-adjustment needed all day. Perfect.

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Tips on following Loulabelle’s knicker pattern

  1. Use more elastic for a comfier fit – I went one size up on the elastic. I cut my pattern pieces for a 12, but used elastic sizes for a 14. For the test pair I made I used less elastic and it dug too tight in to my skin which wasn’t the most flattering look.
  2. Trim edges of fabric once elastic is sewn on, but before using the zigzag stitch. Make sure it can be hidden under elastic once turned over, ensuring a neat finish.
  3. You’ll need 1 fat quarter to make the knickers.
  4. Use an old T-Shirt for the knicker gusset – saves time if you can use an already overlocked edge piece.
  5. Use a similar colour thread to the elastic if you want a tidier finish. You’ll notice on the orange liberty print pair you can see the stitching quite clearly over the elastic. It looks ok because it matches the fabric, but I think I prefer it to be less noticeable.
  6. Sew close to the edge on the knicker elastic, leaving as much elastic as possible to turn over and hide the seam.
  7. Sew slowly, making sure the elastic on the other side is flat. I had to unpick in a couple of places and redo the stitching where the elastic just wouldn’t behave.  I always need to remind myself to take my time. It always results in a better finish.

Tips on finding knicker elastic

I had a really hard time finding knicker elastic in the colours I wanted. I discovered that the best thing to search for was either ‘Lingerie Elastic’ or ‘Picot Edge Elastic’. Ebay has a small selection of knicker elastic but the best choice and most reasonable prices I found were from a UK mail order sewing supplies company called the Sewing Chest.  At 35p a metre you can order enough to revamp your entire knicker collection. I’d still like more colours though, so if anyone knows of other good retailers please leave a comment.

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