A “How To Draft and Make 1930’s Style Circular French Knickers” post.

Just what it says on the tin: how to draft and make knickers like these.

A few weeks ago while digging in a scrap bag for a bit of fabric to trial a 1940’s bra pattern I’ve been working on (more on that later) I unearthed a very fragile and disintegrating pair of 1930’s black chiffon French Knickers …. I don’t think they’ve seen the light of day for 25 years and it’s anyone’s guess why I ever stuffed them in that bag in the first place as I usually keep study pieces in a more accessible place. However, a timely rediscovery as they’re simple to draft and make, so perfect for this ‘long time a comin’ post .

The style I’m demonstrating has a flat waist and is based on a full circle pattern and cut without any side seams. There is a left side opening finished with a straight grain continuous placket and the waist is finished with either a bias or straight grain binding. Inserting the crutch gusset is the trickiest part if you’ve never inserted a pointed piece into a slash opening .

As the style is full and fluted making them in very soft thin fabrics like silk georgette, lightest weight crêpe de chine or cotton batiste or lawn will work best.

I used a silk mousseline (satin faced chiffon) for this first green sample and the apricot fabric in the pdf pictures is a light weight c. de c.

Theres a 5 page PDF *How To* with all pattern drafting and sewing instructions.

I’ve included some helpful (I hope) pictures incase my text isn’t clear enough.

Have a read through the PDF and if you are inspired just download it and have a go.

I’d really love to know if you make a pair 🙂


About the bra in the photo above:

It’s based on an original 1940’s cotton sateen and lace bra I have in my collection. The pattern turned out well and the sample bra fits my house-model daughter perfectly but I’m now having it graded from a 32B to different sizes.

After I’ve made more samples to test sizes I’ll be doing a give-away of a few copies of the finished pattern.

A matching knicker pattern is in the works too.

So stay tuned!

Pink original 1940

48 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Circular – Reviewing Purathrive
  2. Lyric
    Nov 24, 2014 @ 00:13:38

    I am so surprised to see this pattern share; didn’t think I’d ever find one. Bless you for being so kind, Ms. VV.




    • VeraVenus
      Nov 24, 2014 @ 18:16:32

      You are very welcome… I hope it works well for you. Just remember a very soft fabric is key to success or you will end up with a skaters skirt!


  3. Swedishgirl94_xoxo
    Sep 22, 2014 @ 21:31:43

    Jeanne, you are so talented! They really look amazing and I will def try your pattern! I fell in love with these, http://www.kissmedeadly.co.uk/shop/product/1665/elle-knicker, but can’t afford them at the moment, and yours look just as good, if not better! 😀


    • VeraVenus
      Sep 23, 2014 @ 22:53:33

      Thank you!
      And you’ll certainly be able to make georgette ones just like in the link with my pattern…. just drop me a note if you have any questions about making them


  4. Lindsay
    Aug 21, 2014 @ 06:30:03

    Hi there, I love this! Just clicked on the ‘how to’ link on both the bottoms and bra, but unfortunately the page can not be found on either, any help with this? Many thanks 🙂


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 22, 2014 @ 12:56:38

      Hi Lindsay, link fixed now, thanks for bringing it to my attention. It was still working on the free-stuff page at least so hope you already found that.
      There is no bra tutorial however, it is just for the circular knickers. The bra is a pattern I have for sale.


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  6. iampsychocolate
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 04:16:34

    These will be the perfect undergarment for a dress I am making. Thankyou so much.


  7. Mia
    Aug 11, 2013 @ 16:13:11

    Looking forward to seeing a pattern for this bra.


  8. Nelly
    May 16, 2013 @ 21:20:43

    I’m thinking of making a pair of these for nightwear!


    • Nelly
      May 16, 2013 @ 21:22:37

      but the pattern doesn’t work? 🙁 thank you so much for all of these lovely patterns! 😀


      • VeraVenus
        May 16, 2013 @ 22:43:22

        Hi Nelly, there was a small issue with how I said to draft the waist measurement and I never seem to have a spare minute these days to fix the instructions. It will be back very soon, and I know I’ve been saying that for a while…but it’s really looking like I have some free time this weekend to redo it so do check back next week.


        • griseldis
          May 26, 2013 @ 23:30:32

          Thank you for fixing the waist drafting instructions and putting these back up! I am looking forward to making a pair SO much!

  9. Kat
    Feb 09, 2013 @ 08:21:56

    My 83 year old Mum wants some French Knickers the loose type similar to your 30s style but they can’t be found for love or money, any ideas please? I can’t sew anything this complex.


    • VeraVenus
      Feb 09, 2013 @ 09:48:30

      Hi Kat, do you have a friend or a local dressmaker who sews who could help perhaps? Someone used to sewing could make these in a very short time. I’m awfully sorry but no other solution comes to mind that I can suggest.


  10. Depressed Dance
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 16:21:55

    Ooo, the pdf has stopped working, please can you redirect?


  11. Trackback: 1930′s style circular French Knickers: a ‘how-to’ draft & make .
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  13. Norma
    Mar 01, 2012 @ 07:37:12

    Both the bra and the french knickers are lovely pieces of classic lingerie. Would that we could return to the days when romance and elegance were valued as much as utility. The younger generation simply don’t understand that more is less from an erotic perspective. These demuere garments are far sexier than the minimalist styles of today, although there are occasional revivals of traditional styles among the younger designers. I have employed vintage patterns, such as those found on ebay, to make my own lingerie for years, including 1930s and 40s era tap panties, cuff-leg briefs, and bloomers. Making my own pieces allows me to indulge my preference for feminine detailing, including lace, ribbons, and bows. My husband appreciates them too.


  14. Trackback: Luscious lingerie | Knivshults Anna
  15. Catherine
    Feb 07, 2012 @ 23:08:17

    I have just posted pictures of the pairs I have made…they look a bit on the “clunky” side compared to yours!


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  17. Catherine
    Feb 05, 2012 @ 18:06:54

    I have at long last made a pair of these this afternoon and I am quite pleased with them.I just have to find some poppers and then they are finished.
    If you don’t mind I shall post about them on my blog with reference to yourself of course and without any pictures of patterns etc. If you object please let me know.
    I hope you will approve of my efforts!!


  18. Trackback: Into 2012 we go… and a retro mini cape pattern to have « SewVeraVenus
  19. isavoie
    Dec 01, 2011 @ 12:42:24

    Looking foward to the bra pattern! Can’t contain myself that I finally found a good one!


  20. VeraVenus
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 15:50:02

    ‘You are very welcome’ to all the thank yous …

    and a BIG ‘thank you and welcome aboard’ to my many new subscribers 🙂

    2 weeks ETA on the bra pattern and tutorial (considering my current costume work load) but I am getting there!


  21. leahfranqui
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 15:14:15

    These look amazing, I can’t wait to make a pair! Now I just wish I had someone to show them to, sigh, the sadness of the single life….


  22. lillensmamma
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 13:00:14

    You made my day! I really mean it, I’ve been thinking of making a pair of 30’s undies, but I haven’t really workt out how to draft them…These are just lovely! Now I can start emediatly! Thank you so so much!!!


  23. Olivia
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 21:22:19

    This post is amazing! I love it : )


  24. Trackback: The Vintage Wife » Link Love
  25. Aya
    Sep 15, 2011 @ 03:59:50

    These are utterly gorgeous! I especially am in love with the colors… I am in such dire need of feminine and classy underwear. Thank you for this pattern ^_^

    Aya ♥ http://www.StrawberryKoi.com


  26. Claire
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 19:42:51

    The knickers are beautiful and it’s great that you’re sharing the pattern, thanks, however I never wear this style so won’t be making them. The bra is gorgeous and I’m looking forward to hearing more about that, plus will be looking out for the giveaway! I’ve drafted bra patterns before, but never gotten past the toile stage.


  27. rachel sew-n-sew
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 18:34:17

    The bra and knickers are so lovely! I’d love to have a go at them both.


  28. meredith
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 15:37:21

    These are lovely! I’ve been dreaming about making floaty, flirty tap pants, and I love the look of these knickers! I suspect bra-making is a bit too advanced for me, but I think I can handle the bottom half 🙂 Thank you!


  29. Casey
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 12:10:15

    This is fantastic! I’ve been meaning to make at least one pair of knickers for the fall, and I love how full and swingy these are! Printing off the directions now and hoping perhaps I can tackle these soon! Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂 The bra looks fantastic too–can’t wait to see more details about that!


  30. VeraVenus
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 06:53:40

    I’m So glad a few brave sewers are giving these a go!

    If you have questions on any part of it I’ll try to help.


  31. Katherine
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 04:16:38

    Soooo going to try out these knickers once I get my head around plackets *_*



  32. Lettice
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 01:39:56

    That bra is positively beautiful! It’s a shame they’ll only go to 36C, I’m a 36DD. =(


    • VeraVenus
      Sep 13, 2011 @ 06:51:08

      If you’re willing to experiment you probably could alter the c cup to a dd by comparing the pattern to your own bras and some trial and error. 🙂


  33. Creative Busy Hands
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 23:12:26

    I loved it! I have to make one. It looks so comfortable, and more chic than just some shorts. I will let you know when I make it (hopefully soon).


  34. PepperReed
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 22:51:12

    Hooray! Just Lovely. I’m looking forward the the bra pattern, too.


  35. Catherine
    Sep 12, 2011 @ 21:42:00

    I am definitely going to have a go at a pair of these tomorrow!!With what degree of success I can’t say…but I shall let you know.


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