We are just about done with the Monica Bravo Panty Sew Along. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section. Thanks to Monica for doing our sew along! We’d love to hear your experience and how yours turned out. – Jill
Almost finished! Aren’t you excited?! I am, especially since I realized that Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching.
I usually don’t have much time to sew something special for myself – the hubs was quite disappointed to discover that just because I design and teach lingerie sewing doesn’t mean that I have an entire personal lingerie wardrobe. So, I decided to make my sew along creation a complete set by putting together a princess seamed camisole to match. But, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself since we need to get elastics on those panties first!
I chose to use a ⅝” plush elastic on the waist and a ⅜” plush elastic on the legs. The basic application is to stitch the elastic to the right side, then turn it to the wrong side and topstitch it. Since my pattern doesn’t allow for elastics that need to be turned, I added ⅝” at the waist and ⅜” at the leg when I cut out the panties to allow for the turn over.
I will detail the application of each different type of elastic in a minute, but for now just note that all elastic goes on using basically the same steps.
- You sew the elastic into a circle.
- Divide the panty and the elastic into fourths and pin them together.
- Next, stitch down, stretching the elastic to fit the panties.
That seems pretty simple, so why can it be so tricky?!
It all has to do with nuances of technique – primarily with stitch length and how you stretch things. You want to make sure that you use a longer stitch length when putting on elastics (or really, when working with anything that stretches). If you have too short a stitch length you will get too much thread and things will tend to bunch up or ripple. I use about a 3.5-4mm length.
Then – and this is critical – when you stretch your elastics to fit your garment as you sew, make sure to NOT stretch the garment!!! The best way to prevent over stretching things is
- Stretch your elastic until it is the same length as the garment then
- Ease the elastic and garment back just slightly.
- The feed dogs on your machine will pull the elastic and fabric and stretch it back out to just the perfect amount.
- If you sew with the elastic stretch completely out, the feed dogs will also stretch it which results in over stretching the elastic and the fabric both and causes rippling.
I’m going to put my waist elastic on first. I cut the elastic the amount directed on the pattern. To sew it into a circle, I put right sides of the elastic together and straight stitch it using a ¼” seam allowance. I then press it open so it’s ready to apply. I divided my elastic and panty waist into fourths and pinned the elastic to the right side of the panty with the non-plush side down toward the fabric and lining up the edge of the elastic with the cut edge of the fabric.
I sewed the elastic on the edge furthest away from the cut edge using a medium width and length zig zag. You can trim away the excess fabric before you turn the elastic and topstitch, but I like to leave it there. The extra layer of fabric gives a bit more stability to the waist. I topstitched my waist with a serpentine stitch. You can use just about any stitch for topstitching as long as it stretches and has a forward-only motion (no decorative stitches that have forward/backward motion when stitching).
The leg elastic application is the exact same as the waist since I’m using the same type of elastic. The only difference is that instead of dividing everything into fourths and stretching the elastic equal amounts all the way around the leg, the pattern I’m using (BravoBottoms #1) has you put the elastic on the front leg and crotch without stretch at all, then you stretch the remaining elastic only along the back leg. This is the same technique used in swimsuits and I love it since it gives more shaping and coverage to the back leg area. Even if your pattern calls for the elastic to be divided evenly, you can still use this technique for a more professional look.
But, as promised, I want to make sure to cover all other types of elastic applications.
Foldover: This is my absolute go-to finish for just about everything from panties, to camisoles, to baby blankets and shirt necklines. I even use it as hair ties! I love it because it gives a super smooth and finished look, yet it is still easy to apply. Simply sandwich your fabric in between the elastic and stitch it down using a stretch stitch (zig zag, serpentine, etc.).
Stretch lace: Another super easy one-step application! When using stretch lace, place the lace on the right side of the fabric with outer edge of the lace even with the cut edge of the fabric. Then use a medium width and length zig zag to stitch on the edge of the lace furthest from the cut edge of the fabric. Trim the fabric from behind the lace.
Some stretch laces can be pretty lightweight, so if you want a more substantial finish and to eliminate the raw edge you get with the first application, try this: Sew the stretch lace to the fabric as described above, only put it on the wrong side of the fabric. Then, instead of trimming the fabric from behind, leave it and turn the lace to the right side of the garment and topstitch. This leaves you with two layers of fabric behind the lace. Make sure that when you cut out your panties, however, you add the width of the lace to the edge so that you will have enough extra fabric for the additional turn over!!!
Lingerie elastic: Basic lingerie elastic is very similar to plush facing elastic without the plush side. It comes in a wide variety of styles and widths. If you noticed on my panties, the elastic had a picot edge (and I really don’t like picot – see above tomboy description!). I just turned the elastic so that the picot wouldn’t show when I topstitched it! Problem solved! Lingerie elastic can be put on using either of the methods used for stretch lace.
⅜” elastic: When you just can’t find anything else pretty, matching, or coordinating! You will need to add an additional ⅜” to the edge of your garment when you cut out so that you have enough for the turnover. Place the elastic to the wrong side of the garment with the edge of the elastic lined up with the cut edge of the fabric and sew it along the cut edge. Then turn it toward the wrong side of the fabric and topstitch it. The fabric then covers the elastic to hide it and give a pretty finish. I like to use knitted elastic instead of braided since it maintains its width when stretched.
I’m so excited about my finished set! These are definitely not your boring ‘ol undies, and yet the pattern and construction was still basic! Just goes to show how much fabric choice and a little extra detailing can go a long way to make a basic yet beautiful garment. I can’t wait to see what kinds of exciting creations you all have made!!!