So what fabric can I use to make knickers?

I thought it would be best to start my mini series on knicker making with a few words about fabric.  To be honest, you can make your knickers out of almost any fabric you want, you just need to be able to match it to a suitable pattern.   A comment was made on one of my Instagram posts about using old t-shirts and I explained that the lack of elastane would mean they would not have the stretch and recovery needed for knickers.  I was wrong. What I should have said was that t-shirts do not have the stretch and recovery for the pattern I was making, especially as at the time I was wearing me made knickers made from t-shirt fabric, but in a style that didn’t need the stretch.

One of my very early attempts at knicker making, from back in 2018, using t-shirt fabric

Throughout these  blogs I will be using the Megan Nielsen Acicia pattern, which is a free download when you sign up for Megan’s newsletter.  The Acicia is also the pattern I will be using in my workshops, whenever they start up again, as I find it well drafted and it comes in a wide range of sizes.  There are other great free patterns out there and I will share the ones I love, along with the samples I have made, on my final post.

Some of the free and paid for patterns I have used while trying to improve my knicker making skills

Another good reason for using the Acicia pattern is that it specifies the amount of stretch in the fabric that is needed to get a good fit.  The Acacia recommends 20% but I have seen patterns that recommend 80%. The pattern download also includes a useful printable stretch guide so you don’t need to get your maths head out. 

A very useful stretch percentage guide is included in the Acacia pattern download.

The important thing to note here is the “good fit” part.  All you are doing is making sure that the width of fabric you cut will stretch enough to fit your body when sewn together.   If your fabric does not have the recommended stretch you can always go up a size, or two, so that they will fit.   A quick check by stretching the length of fabric from the pattern against a tape measure should be a good starting point to decide how many sizes up you need to go.  

The back piece easily stretches from 16” to the 20” required for the medium/40” hip knickers

The more pairs of knickers you make, the more you will get a feel for which fabrics will work and which won’t.   As I make most of mine from off cuts and scrap pieces it is a handy skill to have, as after a year or two I have no idea what the details of the fabric contents are.  It will also come in handy when we get the chance to rummage through those anonymous bargain buckets at fabric shops again.  Choosing the wrong fabric/pattern combo is a lesson I learnt the hard way when I bought some Christmas Scuba to make some novelty knickers. The scuba was a dream to work with and the knickers looked perfect from the front, but, the lack of stretch meant they were a baggy and uncomfortable on the bum.  So much so they had to go in to the fabric recycling bag.

The fit at the front was fine but the bum was very baggy

So to sum up

  • knickers can be made from almost any fabric, even fabric with no stretch, when matched to the correct pattern. 
  • Check your pattern for the recommended % of stretch needed. 
  • If your fabric doesn’t have the stretch needed consider going up a size or two. 
  • Knickers are a fairly quick make so enjoy experimenting with fabric and patterns and those that don’t quite suit or fit you are bound to be perfect for someone you know, so share the love.

Next up: The Gusset

9 thoughts on “So what fabric can I use to make knickers?

  1. Perfect timing! Will enjoy & use your series & sage advice! Now, the important question: Are you going to discuss elastic, and do you have suggestions for our current shortages due to you-know-what?
    Wishing you & yours and wonderful and safe 2021! 🍾 🥂 🎉
    del (friend of Ali 🐝)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😂 not often my timing is perfect that is for sure. I am going to discuss elastic, I think it is the make or break of a project. However, I will be concentrating on Fold Over Elastic as it my preferred method. I am still managing to get hold of good quality very reasonably priced FOE via EBay from China, yes I get the irony 🤦🏻. Just finishing off the next chapter on gussets then it will be on to the elastic.

      Thank you Del for you good wishes and wishing the same for you and yours. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your good wishes, Mercedes!
        Delighted to know you’re going to cover elastics, and fold over elastics especially. I’ve amassed quite a bit of that, and haven’t managed to use any. 🙀


  2. Useful stuff, as ever M. My knicker making experience hasn’t exactly bowled me over with success so I’m looking forward to getting some pointers from you oh wise one. My more successful ( ie most comfortable) are made from thinner jersey. I find with thicker ones I can feel the side seam, and I definitely don’t like droopy bummage. Perhaps I wear my jeans too tight over the top.
    I like big knicks that come up to my waist – not the sexiest look. I’m going to give your recommended pattern a go, I’m definitely with you on the FOE option. I look forward to reading more. Jc

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Janet. It took a few attempts to get there but it is quite fun once it all falls in to place. The thinner jersey is more forgiving size wise and I have a couple of techniques to minimise the bulk of the seams that I will be sharing. Also, if I could rock a tight pair of jeans like you I would do.

      The Acicia is a good pattern and I have a few different shapes to share at the end. Xx


  3. This is just what I needed!!! Your fab insta knickers inspired me to make my first pair… And I love them, but there was a lot of ‘oh well, that’ ll do’. I look forward to reading the following installments – thank you so much for sharing!
    Meg x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Meg, I am so pleased to hear you have started your adventures in knicker making, beware it is completely addictive. If you love them don’t worry about the “that’ll do” moments, they are what makes them unique. Hope you enjoy the rest of the instalments and thank you for reading them xx


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