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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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