Camis and Slips from Kwik Sew “Beautiful Lingerie” Kerston Martensson

At one time most women wore a petticoat every time they wore a dress or skirt, opacity of the garment notwithstanding.  To not do so would raise eyebrows.   All “nice” ladies wore a slip.  Additionally, it was immodest if even the tiny lace edge of your slip were to peep out from the vent or hem of your skirt.   You wore one to be decorous and then if you handled yourself right no one would ever know you were wearing a slip, thereby leaving all unaware of your finer sense of decorum.  Fearful that I be branded a girl of dubious standards this observation fell on the selectively deaf ears of my great-aunties.  Though later generations have collectively came to the same unspoken conclusion of “who is to know?” and quietly stopped wearing this type of underwear. 

Aunt Margaret's best slip. If you look at the hemline you can see that another panel of fabric behind the outer layer. It is what I think is called a "shadow panel."

 This is my Great-aunt Margaret’s favorite slip.  I came to live with her in 1971 and I don’t remember her ever not having this slip.  She wore this thing in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Aunt Marg proudly stated that she wore her clothes “In fashion, out of fashion and back in fashion again.”

Well, I can tell you, slips are definitely out of fashion.

I haven’t worn one in years myself.  But I am returning to wearing more skirts and I remember how useful petticoats can be.  My own dress lingerie stash is nonexistent, pieces having worn out long ago not to be replaced as I was appalled by department store prices for less than a yard of what I knew to be cheap nylon tricot.

I kept telling myself to wait until they went on sale.  They never went on sale.  They have left the sales floor altogether, or, of still dubious quality and unreduced price, remain thinly hanging from a tiny rack in a far corner next to the matronly unders.

 Rarely do I see, usually in a thrift or vintage shop, one as well-made as this humble little slip probably bought in the late 60’s at a mass market department store.  And this one does what it was designed to do – provide complete opacity.

Especially with summer skirts sunlight penetrates both skirt and petticoat.  Aunt Marg’s slip has a double panel of tricot in the front.   I believe Aunt Margaret called it a shadow panel.  (But my memory may be off. If another reader remembers these slips and the proper name please tell me.) 

If you peep under the outer skirt you can see that the shadow panel is nothing more than an unfinished piece of tricot. How easy can that be?

I had a spare yard of tricot in my stash and I wondered if I could recreate Aunt Marg’s slip using the pattern instructions from my Kwik Sew “Beautiful Lingerie” book.

Pros:

  • If I had known these things were so easy I would have sewn a gazillion by now.
  • If you keep your lace and elastic application simple, your project is potentially cut to finish in about 30 minutes. Keep that thought when you need some instant gratification.
  • If you are using tricot it does not require special treatment on the edges making hemming and lace edging less fussy and very quick.
  • Adding a shadow panel is super easy because you don’t have to bother hemming it.  Simply sew it up with your side seams. 

Cons:

  • Fabric can be hard to find. Online may be the only source in many communities.  Sew Sassy is one source.
  • Tricot can jam in your machine as might other delicate lingerie fabrics.

Hems can be turned under and sewn down with decorative stitching. For such a stretchy fabric, tricot takes decorative stitches surprisingly well. You may want to begin and end your seam with a bit of stabilizer underneath as the fabric does tend to jam at those places.

Some Assembly Required:

My Kwik Sew Cami and Slip. I like the wide shoulder bands and have yet to see if the lace edge poking up beyond the neckline will work with my V-necks. As my first run the slip is not as nice as Aunt Margaret's but it still functions the same. You can see the shadow panel when you look at the hemline.

Slips

  1. Sew side seams.
  2. Adorn hemline with lace or stitching.
  3. Attach elastic

Camis

  1. Finish neckline and upper edges by turning under or lace edging.
  2. Add any extra ormanentation to front neckline.
  3. Sew side seams.
  4. Attach straps.
  5. Hem by turning under or adding lace edging.

Fabric:

I used some nylon tricot I bought from JoAnn’s a few years ago.  The bolt is very wide so one yard got me two slips and one cami.  I previously did not think that tricot came in various qualities, (as I thought tricot was oxymoronic to quality,)  but it must have grades like any other material since my fabric is a bit stiff, not as pliable as what I see in the stores. 

Finetuning:

The camis are a wee bit harder than slips, but not by much.  Navigating the corners on the front neckline may be the hardest part.  I wanted a band wide enough to cover my bra straps and used a pattern piece from one of the gowns further on in the book. 

If you want to use a spaghetti strap that is easily done.  If you want your strap to have the plastic adjustors the easiest way I can imagine is to hit a thrift store, buy a discard that matches your fabric and cut the straps off of that.   The second way is to construct your own strap.  Here is an earlier post with the method and tutorial I use.

Will I Sew it Again:

I am already hunting down better tricot and eyeing thrift store garments for potential purloined lace.

Advice to Others:

Do make sure that you put layer right sides together for you main pieces, and then lay your shadow panel atop of that so it is uppermost in the pile.  Then when you turn it will be on the inside.

You may want to tear off a bit of tissue paper or stabilizer to begin your seaming.  The tricot jammed down into my feed dogs twice necessitating unscrewing the whole plate in order to break the fabric free.

Overall Style Grade:  N/A; I have seen plain ones and fancy ones but they never seem to change their basic look. 

Results Grade: A, easy.  Terrific for beginners because if it goes a little wonky, who is going to see? And what a great way to learn beginning lace application.

Next Post: Thursday, September 23, 2010: I don’t have a clue what I am posting next so it will be a surprise to me too!

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A Lingerie Wardrobe: The Bombshell Manual of Style

“The Bombshell’s sleepwear collection includes full-length negligee, sheer baby doll pajamas in pink, black, and champagne, a satin charmeuse gown with matching peignoir,a well-fitted white slip, a well-fitted black slip, Chinese pajamas in jade with a gold pattern,a kimono in sky blue silk, various diaphanous bed jackets, several knee length sheer nightgowns (black or champagne only), and two nightshirts, one in red silk and one in fine cotton embroidered with her initials.”  (page 48, The Bombshell Manual of Style by Lauren Stover @2001 Hyperion New York)

 

A Little About the Book 

It doesn’t matter if they are reputable or complete balderdash, style how-to books have some kind of irrestible magnetism for me.     Author Stover attempts to describe the Bombshell and her allure by detailing vari0us aspects such as perfume, body language,  lingerie, each with its own chapter. 

Stover does a good job keeping it tongue in cheek and the illustrations are entertaining but as I read I had to concede that much of it seemed completey hooeey.  The depiction of the bombshell appeared largely made-up and sometimes contradictory.  For example the author provided me countless examples of superficiality and then seriously wanted me to believe the pronouncement that the true bombshell is never catty.   I don’t buy that bombshells are capable of any greater restraint than the rest of us, especially after reading an entire book that tells me how much a femme fatale has invested in the superficialities and how often she is moved to excesses of display.  You must take it with a grain of salt as it gets a little silly sometimes but as I said it is light reading. 

What Struck Me As a Home Sewer

All that silliness aside I did come away with some food for thought.  I don’t invest a lot of my sewing attention into this part of my wardrobe and I have never thought to plan ahead so I have the necessary items, such as dress slips. Nor have I considered thoughtfully purchasing stuff that goes together in some kind of coherent way. 

Since I am sometimes called to answer the door or to attend to my child in the middle of the night, see-through frillies are not on my A-list right now.  But I have made a few nightgowns, alas,  in cotton sprig and cozy flannel, not bombshell  materials at all. 

My stuff is more like this:

Instead of this:

And then I only sew another gown to replace one that has been worn to threads.  (Appalling to the would-be temptress, I know, but yes, I do wear them that long!)

After such confidences you may now find it understandable that I was struck by the quoted passage.  It left me wondering:

 Do other home sewers make their own lingerie?

Are you making fluffy flannels or the glitzy glamour stuff? 

And, are the sewing skills for this any harder than for daywear?

 Next Post: Tuesday, April 13, 2010; A Variation on Kwik Sew 3242 The Hanky Hem Skirt