So diving straight back in where yesterday left off todays post covers attaching the waistband, hemming your knickers with and without lace and (with reservations, you’ll see why) how to do a hand made button-hole as well showing a thread-loop. (By the way any picture will open full size in a separate window when clicked)
TO TOP-STITCH OR NOT
The edge of the green placket has been hand stitched with a tiny running stitch after the waistband and poppers went on. The reason for doing it later is so the poppers (snaps) can be sewn on without having to worry about catching the front of the knickers in the sewing. Plackets don’t have to be sewn down at all if you don’t like the look of it… however you may find that the opening pulls a little when you wear the knickers so if that bothers you then catching the front placket down either by hand or machine will help.
The peach knicker placket on the right was machine sewn on its edge (you can just see in the photo that the stitching is about 2mm in from the shadowy placket edge) I usually sew a top stitch like this from the outside of the knicker opening to keep my stitching as parallel to the edge as possible feeling with my fingers as I sew where the edge underneath is -though you could do a quick thread-baste line as a guide if that seems better to you. If I sew my topstitching from the inside I find myself concentrating more on the inner edge of the placket- and if that happens to be a bit wonky the stitching will then look wonky from the right side too. Ideally of course it should look lovely on both sides, but doesn’t always go like quite that. In the end I think the outside view is the more important of the two.
I already knew I was going to buttonhole the placket on the peach pair so did do the topstitch at this point. The hand stitching on my green pair was done after the poppers were sewn on.
WAISTBAND OPTIONS X 3
1-Fabric waistband 2-Folded elastic waistband 3-Gathered by elastic (bloomers)
The sewing on of the fabric waistband is essentially the same as sewing on the placket:
- do a machine stay-stitch on the waist line a fraction away from the sewing line where it will be covered by the waistband .
- match right side of waistband strip to wrong side of knicker waist, pin in place smoothing any ease and sew.
- The seam allowance of the knicker waist really does need to be clipped into so it will lie flat inside the waistband strip. For all but the thinnest fabrics it is probably a good idea to also trim the seam allowance of the waistband down small as shown in the photo. Don’t trim the knicker waist down though as it could start to pull out of the waistband after a few wearings…. so simply clip into it like in the top photo.
- press the seam allowances towards the waistband, press the free edge turning over and also press the seam allowances on either end in too. Pin in place and sew down by edge-stitching all the way around the waistband, the ends and top most edge too. It looks like photo below when all done ( I had just marked the top for the buttonhole)
Between the seven pairs of french knickers made for myself and a few pairs for friends I’ve used this finish on almost every single pair… so I’d say it’s my preferred one.
If you would rather do a hand finish on the inside edge and no top-stitching at all, then sew as for the hand stitched placket- ie. start with the right side of the waistband strip against the right side of the knicker waist and machine it on. Do all the same clipping of the waist as pictured above and on the wrong side just hand sew the inner turn and the ends in place with tiny slip-stitches.
FOLDED ELASTIC WAISTBAND
Just to try something different I used a (new-to-me) lingerie elastic I bought in London that is specially made to fold in half over a raw edge giving a nice clean finish.
As a general rule I cut waist elastic 2″-3″/5cm-7.5cm smaller than my waist measurement as the zig-zagging always seems to make it stretch it out.
- Stay-stitch the waistline and pin the elastic to the inside of the waist. It will be folded over to the front for the second line of sewing.
- Holding it stretched as far as your fabric allows sew on with a zig-zag stitch. On my machine it is 3-4 width stitch and about a 2 length but machines vary. The point is not too small or too close together or it forces the elastic to spread out too much.
- Trim off a little waist seam-allowance but not too much and fold the elastic in half over to the outside of the knicker waist and zig-zag again. I left the ends a little longer than the waist line, trimmed them back after the waist all was sewn and hand whipped them to finish flush with the placket edges as the elastic can’t be turned under itself like a waistband would and trying to zig-zag finish the small ends just started to chew them up.
So using this elastic even though the pattern waist only has 2cm ease more than my actual waist measurement still gives the waistline just that little bit of stretch which feels comfortable to wear but is still very flat.
FULLY GATHERED ELASTIC WAIST
Even though I’m not posting about a bloomer draft until next week now I’ll quickly go through how I apply a narrow elastic to a very gathered waist…incase you used your pattern to cut wide pyjama bottoms as I describe how to do in the drafting instructions.
- For these I cut my elastic a full 7.5cm/3″ smaller than my waist (because when so much fabric is gathered onto it it often seems to finish a little loose otherwise) and overlapped and zig-zag stitched the elastic ends closed.
- Then, having pressed the 1cm waistline allowance down and having folded the elastic and marked out its quarter points with pins I match those to the front, back and sides of the knicker waist.
- Next I stretch each quarter section and put a few more pins in the distribute the fabric evenly onto the elastic band.
- On my machine I stretch sections flat and zig-zag in place. It is usually a wrestling match and takes some patience to stretch and keep the edges lined up at the same time…. but it gets there in the end. You can see again that my stitches are not too small when sewing the elastic on.
- A small bow added at the front tells me the front from the back as it’s not so easy with bloomers 😉
HEMS AND LACE APPLIQUÉ- BUT BY MACHINE THIS TIME
I love love love tiny pin-hems! Next to bound necklines and armholes it is my favourite finish for thin and sheer fabrics.
It takes a little more practice to do on curves or bias edges but for the knickers at least not so hard to do.
It is all sewn working from the wrong side:
- If your hem allowance is 1cm turn about 7mm of that to the inside for the first stitching line. If you have more allowance than than it is better to trim it down to 3/8″/1cm for manageability.
- with small sharp scissors trim the seam allowance very close to the stitches. Slowly! It is easy here to cut something you don’t want to cut.
- Position the start of the second turning under your machine foot and wheel the needle down so you can pull the fabric gently for a bit of tension. Do that, carefully rolling the little stitched and trimmed edge to the wrong side and sewing almost on top of the first line of stitching.
- when done it should be about 2mm wide.
TIP:If you are aiming to make a pair of knickers with as little machine sewing visible as possible then sew the second line by hand with small slip-stitches and you’ll have a lovely hand-rolled edge.
This pin-hem is nice on its own and also gives a fine but strong edge to attach a straight edge lace trim to as I did on my bloomers:
- Sew the lace on top of the right side of the fabric so the rolled hem is hidden behind the edge of the lace.
- With a length of lace a few centimetres longer than the hem measurement I start sewing at the inseam and sew it all the way around until it meets at the inseam again. To join the lace ends I usually simply overlap them at the beginning/end point in-line with the inseam and either hand-whip closed or do a tiny machine zig-zag stitch and trim off any over hang of lace close to the join. By not cutting and joining the lace to an exact leg measurement before sewing it on allows for any bit of hem stretching which may happen and means I won’t get all the way around only to find my joined lace is a centimetre too small.
If you would like a lace hem but with a shaped edge the photo shows visualising the possibilities. Pin or baste your lace over the raw hem and decide where it looks nicest from shapes suggested by the lace. The dotted black lines in the photo show where I zig-zagged my lace on for each hem.
For machine appliqué I do use a fairly narrow and close together zig-zag. Not as close as for a buttonhole but almost. Then it is all down to you and how much control you have doing curves while zig-zagging and how many times you are happy to lift the presser foot to pivot! Remember to leave the machine needle down every time you pivot or turn as it can be easy to pull the material out of line otherwise and then the stitching might have gaps.
The top shows outside and inside before the lace and fabric were trimmed away and below that after trimming. I didn’t have an exact thread match for the peach so used a close-enough pink in my bobbin. Matching the bobbin colour to at least something close to your fabric looks nicer and more carefully thought-out than if it’s the same colour used for the lace.The img- left side shows the floral lace appliqué from the outside and the img-right shows it from the inside. Also there you can see a side by side contrast between machine and hand stitching where I sewed the little leaf on by hand next to the machined flower motif. It was too small a shape to get the ins and outs done nicely by machine.
The original post describing how to do the appliquéd lace bows can be found here.
snaps, hooks and loops, buttons….lots of choice!
Occasionally I use a small hook and bar at the top or a button with a thread loop but find poppers work the best over-all…though if the waist is even a little too tight a hook or button is more secure than a popper!
Now that I am finally over my “they will take too long” issues I will do hand-worked buttonholes more often.
I posted photos of my button-hole making below but while sewing them I made a discovery- I do my buttonhole backwards to how all 6 books I consulted show how they should be done…
I work from left to right and all books I’ve seen say work the stitch from right to left. So other than showing photos of my steps and final results I won’t be saying much more on the subject as some confusion will surely follow. Best just study the stitch illustration, cut some practice buttonholes on a fabric scrap and give it a go… and working right to left not left to right like I do!
On thread for buttonholes: They just don’t work well with regular sewing thread… single is just too fine and when doubled it doesn’t lie flat and looks messy over all. A ‘top-stitch’ or ‘strong’ weight thread can be used with reasonable success-that’s what I used on mine- but really using purpose made silk buttonhole twist thread gives the hands-down nicest result. I didn’t think I had any but found some later and here is the difference: top is ‘strong’ thread and below is silk twist. Obvious it makes for a much finer buttonhole.
I do have a few suggestions that may help regardless of sewing direction:
- Waxing the thread definitely helps keep it from knotting.
- On such thin fabric I didn’t over-cast the cut edges first- I did a sample and the result was lumpy.
- Beware the use of Fray-check. It often marks light coloured fabric. I stay away from the stuff in general.
I sewed a ‘fan’ of stitches at both ends of the holes (my fans still need improving so the stitches don’t bunch up on each other on the hole edge) since it isn’t a tailored buttonhole but a small so-called ‘worked’ buttonhole- so to do the bar at one end like many instructions show just looked like over-kill to me. The beautifully made vintage lingerie photo further down is done with fanning of the stitches at both ends too. This photo shows my steps… the line illustration is the direction most books show it should be done… but I’m working in the opposite direction. Go figure. I may do a special buttonhole post at a later date when I finally figure out if it makes much difference which direct it gets done in. Best wa , as I said, was to just practice. I was going quite quickly by the last one and have at least overcome over my fear that hand made buttonholes are just too much trouble. They do have their moments.
This is an example of hand buttonhole and thread loops from a 1930’s pair of lounging pyjama bottoms.Everything on them is done by hand… french seams , lace appliqué and all! Loops like these are simply a double thread loop with buttonhole stitches worked tightly over it from one end to the other. Sometimes I do one at the top of a knicker waistband so that will button and then sew poppers down the placket. Quite small flat ones can be made for hooks to hook into if you don’t want to use the metal bar. I’ve sort of raced through the various closings having realised they practically need a tutorial to themselves…
And that brings the sew-along to its end.
I hope this helps you in your efforts to sew vintage-esque knickers and any questions or comments are welcome… this being my first (and hopefully not last) sew-along your thoughts on it over-all are most welcome and any suggestions on what I could do differently in future ones.
The entire sew-along is now here in printable form.