On how I realised I would do anything to design pretty underthings.
In June, 2015 I was in San Diego – meeting new people, trying new things and finding out more about myself than I ever had before. One thing I discovered was that I no longer wanted to be a costume designer – the course I’m studying at university – and instead I finally admitted to myself that lingerie is amazing, lingerie is my love and I totally (and I mean totally) want it to be my life. The lingerie life began the day I realised that lace, satin elastic and silk was just too good to pass up. And so the research began!
I started by just looking at designs, finding brands and seeing what I liked (if I’m honest there wasn’t much I didn’t like!) The first place I looked was Pinterest, and here’s the link to that board I started on. I thought I’d pin a few things and see what was out there . . . hours and hundreds of searches later I had a full board of over 1,000 images of gorgeous underthings. Anything from a soft pastel babydoll to a bondage-inspired body made by the incredible luxury lingerie brand, Bordelle.
After this initial research I did into the world of lingerie, I got onto Instagram which is amazing to find out more about the world as there are so many people out there with a love for lingerie. This helped me dramatically, and then I actually started designing. I knew how to draw, and I’d been trained in how to design clothes, but I hadn’t yet designed any lingerie. But I got out my Pro-markers and started drawing and was quite pleased with the results!
Looking back on those designs now, I can see mistakes I made when it came to practical design because just didn’t understand the construction of these garments as I had never actually made any! So that was my next mission, and I searched for somewhere I could learn to make a bra and knickers.
In November 2015, I went to London and I completed a brilliant course in a small room with two other students and one tutor. It was amazing, I learnt so much from the ladies there and from making a bra and a brief to match. All materials were supplied and so I learnt what I would need to look for in future if I began making my own. I also discovered that it really is quite an expensive business, making lingerie. Like really.
But I went home with my new bra and I wrote down all I learnt that weekend and I started looking into a new sewing machine and into where I would buy these supplies from. My birthday was only just around the corner, and student budgets and lack of money meant I had to wait until to start buying anything or making anything. In the meantime, however, I decided to understand how bras are made, I had to take them apart and attempt to work out how they would be put back together again. So off to charity shops it was, and I started buying cheap old bras to unpick and dissect until I could understand how they were made.
Once I felt I had a good enough understanding of lingerie to make it, I got a sewing machine and made my second bra.
I’ve now made five bras, and each time they get better and take less time to make. I’m excited to make more, and to design more elaborate things and buy more expensive fabrics to make beautiful underthings with. I am absolutely getting started with this as a career, and I am going to use this blog to document my progress. Hopefully, a year down the line I’ll be posting about my new collection – you never know!
And as a final note, here’s a list of the books I’ve shown in the photograph – they’re all brilliant!
- Pattern Cutting for Lingerie, Beachwear and Leisurewear – Ann Haggar
- Bare Essentials: Underwear. Construction and Pattern Drafting for Lingerie Design – Jennifer Lynne Matthews-Fairbanks
- Bare Essentials: Bras. Construction and Pattern Drafting for Lingerie Design – Jennifer Lynne Matthews-Fairbanks
- Vintage Lingerie: Historical Patterns & Techniques – Jill Salen
- Underwear Fashion in Detail – Eleri Lynn
- Exposed: A History of Lingerie – Colleen Hill
- Your Beauty Mask: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour – Dita Von Teese with Rose Apodaca
There are many many more books on underwear and lingerie that I have read, and will probably speak about, I wrote my dissertation on corsetry so I do know of a few! But those are the ones in the photo and are all very relevant to this post.
Now it’s back to designing, as I have a very exciting project on the go – Ballet meets Lingerie!