Sewing lingerie with woven fabricsMay 27, 2021
I mostly use stretch lace and stretch mesh to make my lingerie, but occasionally I also like to work with some leftover scraps from the stash bin. You don’t see a lot of examples or tutorials about sewing lingerie with ‘regular’ woven fabrics. So I am writing down my (little) experience with this 4-piece set for you to benefit from!
General tips about sewing lingerie with wovens
I am using a polyester satin here. For the bra it doesn’t matter because it’s lined. For the panties it could end up being too sweaty, I’ll have to wear them first to know.
You can use any kind of fabric: cotton, flannel, crepe, viscose, satin, silk, (p)leather,… If you’re not making it to actually wear during the day, it doesn’t matter, you can go crazy with your fabric choice. If you do want to wear it and be comfortable, consider that the fabric has to breath. A hot and sweaty polyester might not be your first choice for summer.
If you cut your fabric on the biais you will have a little stretch. I didn’t do that for this set because I wanted to keep the symmetry of the print. But because of the lack of stretch, I had to accommodate the design.
I used a standard thread from Gutermann and a microtex 70 needle. With a lighter viscose fabric I would use a microtex 60 needle. I didn’t switch needles when sewing the stretch mesh fabric and the elastics and it worked fine.
Making a bra with woven fabrics
Wether you can make your bra with wovens or not, depends on the pattern or kind of bra. An underwired bra with cut and sew foam, like I made here, is very easy. I made this Boylston bra from Orange Lingerie several times. One in stretch mesh, one in lace, 2 in lycra and this one in poly satin.
Because all of these are lined with the same non-stretch bra tule and have cut and sew foam cups, I could use the same pattern for all of these. No adjustments were needed for a stretch or non-stretch fabric. When pulling the fabric cups over the foam cups, I did have to pull a bit more on the stretch fabrics to get an even cup. There’s less ease when you do this with a woven fabric. But the foam cups basically make the shape instead of the fabric, so you end up getting the same result every time no matter what fabric you use.
If you don’t use foam for the cups, you will get a smaller cup when using wovens compared to stretch fabrics.
I used a non-stretch bra tule as lining for the front band pieces. The seams are hidden between outer fabric and lining, so I didn’t need to finish them.
For the back band I used a stretch mesh, no powernet.
Making the garterbelt
I have a pattern from school that I modified to make this garterbelt (I used the same pattern in this pastel leather set). Because you can open and close a garterbelt and don’t have to pull it over your hips, you can get away with not having a lot of stretch in it.
I decided to have the woven fabric on the middle front and back and have stretch mesh on the sides where there are more curves.
To cover up the seams, I used nylon seam tape that I stitched on with a straight stitch on both edges.
For the closure I used 2 eyelets on both sides. The back of the satin is lined with a black cotton there. And I ironed on a small piece of interfacing to reinforce the eyelets.
All edges are covered with plush elastic.
Making the panties with woven fabrics
There are some patterns available to make the entire panties in a woven fabric. I know Sew Projects has one and Ohhhlulu too. I didn’t have enough fabric to do that, but I also think they wouldn’t be wearable for a full day because of the sweaty polyester.
My lingerie-sewing teacher used this rule for combining wovens and stretch in panties: 1/3 woven and 2/3 stretch. I think this is a great guideline, but you don’t have to take it too literal. When you cut your satin fabric on the biais, you will have more ease.
For the first panties I used the Blossom knickers pattern from Sew Projects. It has adjustable straps on the side, so I didn’t care to much about cutting the whole front out of this satin. I took my regular size and added 3 mm on each edge. That was just a guess and it worked great. You could also cut out 1 size larger.
The back is entirely made out of stretch mesh so needed no adjustments.
For the second panties I used one of my own patterns. I only had 1 tiny scrap left and was looking how I could place it to have some coverage in the front and keep the symmetry of the print. There are many possible design and you can get really creative, but I went for this simple solution of putting in the middle.
Most of these panties are stretch mesh so I didn’t do any alterations to the pattern except for the seam lines for the front piece.
Just like I did with the garterbelt, the seams are covered with nylon seam tape.
Next project I am working on already is a bralette out of viscose fabric. It’s fun to experiment with these fabrics, because the scraps are too small to use for anything else and I’m not attached to the outcome. If it doesn’t fit me but it looks cute and I learned something new, that’s all fine!
Also have a look at my Gallery page where I keep a record of the commercial and indie patterns that I used.
If you feel like learning MORE, why don’t you have a look at my ‘Start to sew swimwear’ online course.
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