I See London I See France Draft Some New VV-underpants

DIY French Knicker Draft ….

10 page ( don’t panic, it’s because of pics and largish print 🙂  ) PDF takes you through the drafting process… no diploma in pattern-making needed.

Includes information on fitting and a brief sewing guide.

Slightly flared 1940’s style French Knicker

All because:

A couple of weeks ago when some nice weather arrived I decided I had    Absolutely          Nothing          To          Wear

and fixated on making 3 new skirts as the solution. Of course couldn’t find my custom skirt block anywhere so did a quickie draft and after I’d made a 30’s, a40’s and a 50’s style skirt…

I decided to see how a knicker draft based on the basic skirt block would be like to do as I’d seen it done in old drafting books a number of times. The knicker pattern (above in pink silk satin with lace ) worked well, I was happy with my new skirts… the sun shone and Britain did amazingly well in the Olympics!.

A couple of weeks later when I got that 1939 Marie Claire magazine and was inspired to try the lace-bow appliqués could I find that knicker pattern anywhere? (probably filed in the wastepaper bin during a blitzkrieg tidy-up) so I repeated the skirt block-to-knicker process for yet another pattern and then made the aqua pair.

That’s when it occurred to me that this draft is very to do and so the

‘Drafting 1940’s Style French Knickers’ tutorial came about.

These are a more 1940’s style than my previous late 20’/early 30’s style (cute but very airy!) Circular French Knicker. This new version is cut on the straight grain so easier to add lace on the hem and do other decorative work…not cut on the bias and no fiddly gusset to insert.        Hooray!

You could (theoretically) do a cartwheel in them and not be embarrassed though if you’re doing some serious swing dancing you may like to put elastic in the hem of the legs turn them into even more modest mini-bloomers.I’m going to try a pair in some old striped linen I have to make 30’s style beach trousers similar to those I’m wearing with my 30’s style PJ top pattern (on Free Patterns page).

Bonus: on the last page of the tutorial I tell you how to use your basic draft to make a PJ bottoms and bloomers pattern too.

Are you convinced to give it a try?

What do you think about a french knicker sew-along in a few weeks? Let me know!


45 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Where To Find Vintage Patterns | A Vintage Beauty
  2. anyaemerald
    Feb 23, 2015 @ 14:23:24

    Just thought I’d share that I recently made some shorts, adapted from your tap shorts pattern. The picture of them is here.
    Thanks for your great site 🙂


    • VeraVenus
      Feb 23, 2015 @ 14:43:03

      Well thank you for taking the time to come back and show your shorts off. Pretty fabric and I’ll bet they look very cute on!


  3. Trackback: Unselfish Sewing: Mom’s Pajama Set(s) | zilredloh
  4. Trackback: Britex Fabrics - Blog
  5. Trackback: WIP: Mom’s Silk PJ set | zilredloh
  6. Anna
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 21:34:57

    Thank you for posting the tutorial – I tried to make a pair today. I am a novice to sewing but I managed to make a wearable (-ish) pair of knickers.


  7. Angel Deon
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 13:13:45

    You should take part in a contest for one of the most legit blogs on the web. I will highly recommend this site!.


  8. Shelley
    Aug 26, 2012 @ 17:26:47

    French Knickers Sewalong? I’m in. Great to visit your site and see you posting again. Congrats on your patterns.


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 26, 2012 @ 20:26:34

      Thank you Shelly!
      Sometimes costume work comes in so thick and fast that a couple of months can easily go by before I realise that I haven’t done a blog post in a while
      Have vowed to myself to try to post a little more regularly…. and we’ll see how that goes next time I’m caught in in back to back 60 hour weeks! 😉


      • Shelley
        Aug 27, 2012 @ 15:44:48

        I’m, too, am self-employed. You take it when you get it–don’t stop the flow. So excited about the knickers sewalong! I have to compliment you on your tutorials–written by someone who sews for a living. Kudos.


  9. Holly
    Aug 23, 2012 @ 04:42:16

    I would love to know how you put those bows into the darts of your 40s skirt!


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 23, 2012 @ 09:25:16

      Holly- because I’m supposed to be doing something else..and I love a good excuse to procrastinate… I’ll make a mini Darts with Bows how-to while I drink my morning coffee and post it in a bit.


  10. Patricia O
    Aug 22, 2012 @ 18:52:08

    You’ve been living long enough in this sceptered isle to pick up the jargon then? I used to work with a young American woman and she used to laugh her head off when she saw “knickers” in this country as being synonymous with “panties”. Knickers are knee-breeches I think in the USA? I’ve a few non-sewing projects on ‘my list’ at the moment but when I have caught up I’ll certainly have a go at doing these. I’ve read some books – like the Jill Salen book and the Anne Haggar book. They are lovely books but rather technical for the likes of Sincerely Thine.


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 22, 2012 @ 23:41:22

      going on 26 years in England… don’t get me started on braces/suspenders, jumpers/sweaters, pants/trousers etc.!

      As for doing diy pattern tutorials, my aim is to try to de-tech and de-mystify home pattern-making somewhat, I don’t like to spend lots of time making complicated patterns for myself and often use the same basic patterns to make myself a variety of things…. so I thought I’d try to show that to others. We’ll see how it goes 🙂


      • Molly
        Aug 23, 2012 @ 01:48:43

        I’ve been in England 26 years too, hailing from South Africa. Yet I read so many American blogs, text books and patterns that I find I am more likely to call trousers, pants now! And depending on who I am conversing with I will interchangeably use suspenders/braces, vest/waistcoat, panties/knickers, etc./etc. Does that making me a sewing bi-linguist?!


  11. Catherine
    Aug 20, 2012 @ 19:36:02

    I made a pair of these today!!! They are great!!
    If you want to have a look and cast your discerning eye over them then I have just posted about them.
    Will definitely be making more!!


  12. sophie o.
    Aug 20, 2012 @ 13:23:05

    Wow!! Extremely interesting, thanks a lot for sharing the files. The timing is perfect as I’m planning to try another pair of French knickers in the near future. I might work on a few toiles until the sewalong starts!


  13. Linda Klitsch
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 23:56:58

    These “knickers” brought back 40-45 year memories, when we girls used to wear “petti-pants” under out uniform skirts! These could be used in place, particularly in the summer time, when we’re less apt to wear pantyhose under a dress/skirt, that would otherwise stick to the back of us, from the waist to the hem of our skirt! Being “old school,” that just doesn’t fly for me, however, I’ve never attempted to make them; simply don’t wear either without pantyhose! Slips? Who wears them now, ‘cept for us Oldies! Wonderful post and solution!


  14. angie.a
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 00:16:50

    Thank you! SO wonderful of you to share. And I would be interested in a drafting tutorial for the skirts as well! I love drafting my own stuff since I tend to have way too many alterations from available patterns.


  15. KC
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 20:51:33

    Thanks so much for the drafting and sewing instructions! These knickers may be exactly what I have been looking for!


  16. carmencitabs
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 10:36:26

    I would love a tutorial and I think it would help me understand pants better, I suck at fitting pants. Thanks for all the free patterns!


  17. Marian
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 20:34:39

    I already have cut out the pattern of your first French knickers, but did not sew it already 🙁 but now i am reading here..it is not a right kind of knickers for gardening 🙂 oeps, than I have a problem…
    And I just put your French knickers 2 on my pc…yes, I like it al sew along from your French knickers…


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 16, 2012 @ 22:24:26

      Sew-along will happen!
      And yes, I think I need to put a warning on the Circular Knicker tutorial 😉
      “Attention- these undies are not suitable for bending over in or high-leg kicks!”


  18. Emily
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 13:36:33

    I’ve always wanted to make a pair of these. I own two original pairs but they are too fragile to wear. Love the bows!


  19. Megan
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 01:53:52

    I’m sorry but I don’t see the sewing instructions for these. The link and the pdf only have the instructions on how to create the pattern. Is there something I am missing?


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 15, 2012 @ 08:54:30

      Hi Megan, no, it is only the drafting instructions there now… you haven’t missed anything! I’ll put together a quicky text-only instructions this morning.
      For a more in-depth tutorial its looking like there will be a knicker sew-along very soon 🙂


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 15, 2012 @ 13:57:39

      The sewing instructions are there now.


  20. robyne
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 01:43:15

    I found the most lovely light pink woollen material at the opshop for 50c. Its about 3 meters. After seeing the skirt with the bullet pockets thats what is going to be made form this material for next winter. I will have to see, if I can find something a darker colour to make a nice jacket with


  21. Casey
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 00:12:27

    Ooh count me in for a sew along! I decided I had to try the knicker pattern when I saw your lace bow tutorial. I’d be up for a skirt tutorial, too!


  22. Molly
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 17:47:10

    I love the bucket pocket and bow detailing on the skirts! Unfortunately all my sewing is designed to hide the width of my hips, not accentuate so I could never rock something so pretty! Shall read the tutorial with interest, since the culotte is drafted off the skirt block instead of trousers, it makes sense that French Knickers could be too. Lingerie is something I have yet to try drafting, thank you for the tutorial!


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 14, 2012 @ 20:43:38

      The pattern does make a very culotte-like fit. Thats why I thought I’d try it out for linen ‘beach’ trousers … though they are more likely to be worn on the First Capital Connect line train than the beach!
      I know what you mean about those hip level details. My theory is to distract with detail 🙂 and I hope bigger looking hips make my waist look smaller!


      • Molly
        Aug 15, 2012 @ 02:03:43

        Well it worked for the Victorians and Dior’s New Look – all that hip, bust and bustle padding to make the waist appear smaller to the eye. I have the small waist, unfortunately child-bearing has left me with far wider hips than before while the rest of me has stayed the same so I now tend to shy away from hippy designs.

        I’ll probably also try out the design first for trousers as I love that wide legged 30s look, but I may well come back to the knickers pattern to make some summer PJ bottoms (by which point this lovely sunshine will have disappeared again no doubt…)


  23. Anita
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 17:30:41

    I’d love to do a sew along, too.


  24. raquel from Florida
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 16:46:11

    Thank you! I’ll try these she my sewing mojo is back. Right now I’m in my “hurricane season”mode: no sewing machine in the table all the time, only knitting. You now: it is easy to prepare a house for emergencies when everything is in its place.


  25. Catherine
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 16:43:30

    Count me in definitely!! I will have to try out making this pair anyway so a sew along would be wonderful.Those skirts are just too gorgeous too!


    • VeraVenus
      Aug 14, 2012 @ 20:34:05

      Thank you Catherine. I remember you found the circular style not very suitable for gardening in. I’ll probably do a sew-along mid September…. enough time to make the pattern?

      I’m thinking of doing drafting tutorials for the skirts too later in the autumn if there’s interest.


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