The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie – A Book Review

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Hello fellow Sewcialists,

Charlotte from English Girl at Home here today, with a review of The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie by Katherine Sheers and Laura Stanford. I ordered this book shortly after it’s release, inspired by seeing photos from the book on other blogs. Lingerie Sewing Month has given me the nudge to finally sew a project from the book, rather than just admiring the gorgeous photography.

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

The book features 25 projects, including a good range of – in my opinion – more practical patterns, which could be sewn multiple times. These include a selection of knicker patterns, three soft bra patterns, and three sets of camisoles or vests and accompanying tap pants or french knickers, which could be worn either under clothing or as pyjamas. The book also includes a number of patterns for less everyday items, including three suspender belt patterns and two wedding garters.

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

The three bra patterns included are for soft bras. Two of the bras look quite delicate with one piece cups, but the Lace Longline Bra (below), which is constructed from two-piece cups and an underband, looks more supportive. I’m planning to try the pattern soon.

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Pattern pieces are provided at full size, printed on two heavy paper sheets stored in an envelope at the back of the book. Patterns sheets are double sided and pattern pieces overlap so tracing is required. The pattern sheets aren’t especially busy so identifying the relevant pieces is straightforward and pieces are small so quick to trace.

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

The individual pattern instructions don’t state which pattern sheet the pieces are printed on, but they don’t take very long to locate. Pattern lay plans provided at the end of the book confirm the number of pieces each pattern is composed of, as well as providing cutting recommendations.

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Pattern instructions are thorough, with simple numbered steps. To save space and repetition, individual pattern instructions use abbreviations (explained in a key), and refer you to tutorials section for techniques.

I absolutely love the tutorials section of the book (entitled ‘Sew On & Sew Forth‘). I have a tendency to be a bit slapdash (in my sewing and generally) and use methods which get me to my end goal quickly. This book really encourages slow sewing and attention to detail, with many of the tutorials covering hand-stitched finishes and embellishments. All techniques include a coloured illustration, which I found really helpful.

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Patterns are provided in six sizes (8-18) ranging between 81cm-106cm at the bust and 81cm-106cm at the hip. Compared to the techniques information, the information provided on sizing appears relatively minimal. It is fine for the knickers and camisole sets, but I wonder if it is quite brief for bra making? Being unfamiliar with bra construction I’m unable to judge.

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

My first project from the book is the Boudoir Blushes camisole and french knickers set. The example in the book is a made in silk satin and is absolutely beautiful.

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

I decided to make my set as summer pjs, so used a more practical cotton blend fabric which I picked up recently in Berlin’s Turkish Market.

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

The set was straightforward to sew, although it is more time consuming than it looks if you follow the instructions and apply the lovely finishes suggested. For the Boudoir Blushes set, the finishes include french seams, a shell edge around the back neckline of the camisole, and reverse hems along the bottom of the camisole and knickers. Both the shell edge and reverse hem finishes were new to me, and I really enjoyed learning some new techniques and taking the time to apply them (while lounging in front of the TV, a major reason I enjoy hand sewing). There did appear to be one omission in the pattern instructions, with no reference to finishing the bottom hem of the french knickers, however it was clear from the photo to repeat the technique used on the camisole hem.

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

I popped them off after I finished making them for a quick photo in my bedroom. I don’t normally wear my watch to bed:), although I am often found sat on the bed knitting.

Boudoir Blushes Camisole and French Knickers from the Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Book

The set has been getting lots of wear since I finished it, and makes a comfy pyjama set for warm weather (in the winter I like to be a LOT more wrapped up than this). The camisole has an A-line shape that I really like, and which appears more pronounced in this cotton version than in the silk satin version in the book.

I’m looking forward to testing out a bra and knicker pattern from the book in the near future (as soon as I work through my current sewing to-do list…).

Have you got a copy of this book? Have you sewn anything yet, or just stared at the photography lovingly?

**Editor’s note: As it happens, we had one of the author’s of this book, Katherine Sheers, guest-post for us this month, but I promise Charlotte’s review is completely independent!  — Gillian


#SewSolidarity with Garment Workers

#sewsolidarity logo

On April 24th it will be two years since the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh.

At least 1,133 garment workers were killed, and over 2,500 injured in the collapse. Many of the brands linked to Rana Plaza have failed to contribute at all / sufficiently to the compensation fund set up to support victims and their families, meaning the fund is still $9 million short of the amount required to provide adequate compensation.

Fashion reuse charity TRAID are asking sewists to take part in a #SewSolidarity challenge, to show solidarity with garment workers, and keep attention on Rana Plaza and the ongoing fight for adequate compensation, by refashioning a garment, giving it longer life, and showing solidarity with the garment workers who created it.

How to Take Part

  • Source a piece of clothing (from your wardrobe, a charity shop, or a friend) that was made in Bangladesh, or by a brand who was having clothing manufactured at Rana Plaza, or by a brand which manufactures in Bangladesh. The Clean Clothes Campaign has information on brands who were involved with Rana Plaza, including those who have failed to make adequate (or any) contribution to the compensation fund.
  • Refashion the clothing, and post your progress and the finished refashion online using the tag #SewSolidarity on, or in the lead up to, the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse on April 24 2015.

You may also want to challenge the brand who produced the original clothing item to pay into the Rana Plaza compensation fund / ask them about working conditions and safety in their factories (particularly, if using a clothing item by one of the companies who has, so far, failed to pay adequate compensation).

More information is available on my blog, and in TRAID’s blog post about the challenge, which includes a list of further resources.


If you’re not familiar with TRAID, the charity setting the challenge, their work is very pertinent to sewists, and is focused on reducing the negative impacts of textiles and the fashion industry on the environment and people’s lives.

TRAID do this by selling donated clothing, and garments produced from donated textiles, and investing the funds in global projects designed to improve conditions and working practices in the textile industry.

TRAID are a UK charity but their work is global, and I hope sewists worldwide will get involved.


#Oonapalooza! Projects: Round-up Number 2

Hi Sewcialists, Charlotte from on blogging duties today, following Gillian’s call to arms last week.
I know that Oona/Marcy inspires ALL of us and I’m sharing some Oonapalooza! makes from the Flickr group today that prove it. Don’t forget that the deadline to post your images is 01st August. Tag/label your pics with #Oonapalooza! and make sure to allow sharing so we can post them here for all to see.
oona p 4
Angela not only shared her dress – she paired it with a cocktail recipe! If that’s not 100% Oonapalooza! I don’t know what is.

Oonapalooza Bombshell
Kelly from made a stunning multi-coloured Oonapalooza! Bombshell swimsuit.

Debbie from submitted her third Oonapalooza! make to the group (!), cotton voile wrap pants.

Sharon from made a glamorous maxi dress in a funky butterfly print.

Capital Chic Manhattan in metallic lurex
Stylish Dress Book - Clothing for Everday Wear in Nani Iro double gauze
Amy from made a dress in an orange Nani Iro double gauze & paired it with purple tights (oh yes), plus Capital Chic’s Manhattan in a gold metallic lurex.

Oonapalooza wrap dress!
Jenny from made a Cashmerette X Oona wrap dress & got some awesome alleyway photography.

nettiebodysuit oonapalooza
Rachel from made a beautiful colourful combo. Do I spy another Nettie:)?

Tanzania Skirt Oonapalooza
Lauren from made an adorable skirt with fabric from Tanzania.

Inge from made a sexy bright floral pencil skirt.

Shiny jeans!
Becky from made SELF-DRAFTED shiny skinny jeans (plus they have a suns and stars print on the inside).

Penny from used a multicolour mosaic print, and she made some good poses in it too.

Gemma from made a gorgeous floral dress.

Anneke from made a self-drafted dress in rayon challis and stretch lace. Love that pose (and that location too).

Zig Zag 6
Deborah from made an adorable purple zigzag Cami dress.

Oonapalooza comox trunks back
Oh and Oonapalooza isn’t just for women, oh no. Anja made her husband a pair of comox trunks!
P.S. if your picture isn’t here then it was probably set as unavailable for sharing.