Underwear… Or Not to Wear?

Hand-made lingerie is a hot topic, no doubt about it. All over the world, bras and panties are being sewn, patterns are being tested and reviewed, advice is sought and given, and the results are being photographed, talked about, and blogged about. And yet I’ve seen very little mention of the actual wearing of our hand-made lingerie. (Maybe they really are unmentionables?) Yes, there is plenty of discussion of fit issues, sewing techniques, and pattern pros and cons, but what I mean is, are we really wearing the underwear we’re making? Or just making it?

Bra with coordinating panty
My second bra and panty set deserves a better fate than languishing in my lingerie drawer.

Ever since I finished making my very first bra (hard to believe that was just in March), I’ve noticed something curious: a strange reluctance to wear the pieces I’ve made. I can’t remember ever feeling anything other than eagerness to get into garments I’ve sewn, so why the difference with my lingerie?

I can think of a few possibilities.

  1.  For some unknown reason, I feel like I have to treat my pieces more delicately than ready-to-wear lingerie. This is patently ridiculous, as I know every fabric, elastic, and stitch that I put into each piece with a pretty obsessive level of TLC, but there it is: I don’t want to wear them out. It’s like having gorgeous jewels, and keeping them locked up in a safe.
  2.  I’m determined to treat my hand-made undies to nothing but hand-laundering. Unfortunately, since I’m not yet in that habit, I tend to put off wearing them so as to minimize said hand-laundering. Oh, the quandary.
  3.  Okay, maybe the fit is not absolutely perfect on some of the things I’ve made. And even though I’ve been compromising on RTW bra fit for, um, ever, I basically won’t tolerate imperfect fit in my own hand-made undies. Such is the effect of having custom-made things at my fingertips.

Who knew a seemingly innocuous occupation like making my own lingerie would stir up so much angst?

At this point, I was going to address each of these issues, but the truth is, I know what I need to do— just put on the damn things already! Wear ’em loud, wear ’em proud! I have, in fact, worn almost all of my bras and panties at least once; my third bra is the only piece that’s really just too small (a pity, because I really like how it turned out— see the coral/fuchsia bra, below).

Third bra finished!
O lovely bra that might have been… just a little bit larger.

But I haven’t yet gotten to the point of thinking of my new bras as everyday lingerie— in my mind, they’re still in the special-occasion-wear category. And yet they’re all prettier, more comfortable, and better-fitting than any other piece in my underwear rotation! Not to mention that hand-made lingerie takes the satisfying experience of wearing something I made myself to a completely new level.

Lingerie collection
My lingerie collection… so far. With 6 bras (5 that are wearable), 2 high-waisted briefs, 1 bikini panty, 2 color-blocked briefs, and 3 thongs, maybe it’s time to bring these beauties into everyday rotation! (In case you were wondering, these are the pieces I’ve made— sewn, and in several cases, dyed— since I started this lingerie adventure in March.)

Guess I just need more time to adjust mentally to the idea of no-compromise undies being an everyday luxury. After all, isn’t that why I’m making my own lingerie in the first place?

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25 thoughts on “Underwear… Or Not to Wear?

  1. Oh you have to wear them! I’m wearing all my own and it’s a wonderful feeling to start the day off with beautiful, well-fitting foundation garments that I’ve made. As for washing, I double mesh bag them and wash them on the delicate cycle. I know, I know. They’re all suppose to be hand washed, but I prefer and feel things come cleaner in machine. Everything hangs to dry. I’ve had a couple of things wear out, but I’ve also had a couple of years wear of it too. Enjoy your beautiful creations! 🙂

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    • Thanks, Michelle! There really IS a difference in how it feels to put on my own things; I’m used to it with the garments I make (although it’s still a conscious thrill every time), and it’s even better to put my hand-made clothes over my hand-made lingerie! I think I may try your washing suggestion— seems like a decent compromise.

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  2. I agree, you should definitely be wearing them, I’ve been wearing mine every day since I started making my own matching sets, it feels so luxurious, I’ve never had matching underwear before! My RTW are just sitting in the drawer, reached for when my own makes are in the wash. I also wash all mine in a mesh bag on the delicate cycle (front loader) and I’ve only had one hook piece detach itself which was my first make and likely due to lack of experience, easily fixed.

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  3. I refuse to wear any that I HAVEN’T made in public anymore. My makes are so much better fitting, more comfortable, and certainly more beautiful than anything I could buy that, even though no one sees them but me, I’m going to wear them no matter what! If they wear out? That’s just an excuse to make some more!

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  4. My bras I wear (one regularly, the other was a victim of the firm elastic and the wrong length of underwires, so I’m still dealing with fixing a bra lengthener to make it wearable). The underwear I made I was wearing regularly but with summer most of my pants sit lower and my underwear was accidentally made as higher in the waist. So I either need to take off the waist elastic and cut them down to a lower level or just wait and wear them on days I can actually wear them. I’ve been handwashing bras and certain underwear for a while, though, so although I should do it a little more often, I do do it enough that I don’t really mind. But they definitely need to get worn. My handmade ones cost way less than the RTW ones I was wearing regularly. So I’m happy to wear them and enjoy them.

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  5. I wear my handmade lingerie all the time! More often than garments I’ve made, to be honest. For one, they (especially my Watsons) are just so much more comfortable than RTW, and two, so much prettier. It’s also a really easy way to wear something me-made almost every day!

    Something else that probably helps is that I’m pretty ruthless with the washing. I always have and always will wash my bras in the machine on a regular cycle with the rest of my clothes (in a washbag, though!). It’s such a big taboo for some reason but I have never had a single bra wear out from this treatment – probably because I always have a few in rotation – but it does make wearing them regularly so much easier when you don’t have to put that extra effort in!

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    • The thing I always want to be careful about is subjecting my things to heat— it’s really hard on the elastic parts, and probably the main factor is the elastic wearing out. I’m thinking I could machine-wash my undies in a mesh bag, but NOT put them in the dryer. There’s something ridiculously satisfying about seeing my very own lingerie pieces all laid out on a drying rack. : )

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      • Ahh, of course. Yes I never put anything in the dryer – maybe it’s an Australian thing, but no one here really uses them. So my lingerie can always been seen hanging proudly on the washing line!

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  6. My RTW bras were at the end of their life when I started making my own. So as soon as I had one that was wearable (took a few fitting attempts before I got that right) they entered rotation.

    They get washed with everything else (front loader, 30C temp) and hung out to dry (no dryer in this house). I usually don’t bother with a mesh bag – too lazy. The RTW bras lasted 4+ years with that treatment, I don’t see why my DIY versions shouldn’t do at least as well.

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  7. It’s a really interesting discussion. I never wash anything other than towels etc on a higher than 40 deg C wash and never put my bras Ina dryer – they dry so quickly in any case. Go on wear them. Life has been so crazy and busy but over the past couple weeks I think I have everything I need now to make my first bra. Going to start with a Watson for my friend she has a smaller bust than me – so that’s just the way I want to go. Feeling that this weekend will be the time to do it.

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  8. I definitely wear mostly me-made bras. I’m a little conflicted because I have two nice RTW pre-formed foam cup bras that are seamless and look good under really thin tops, and I just can’t take them out of my rotation! I’m pretty much a perfect RTW size- so fitting has never really been an issue for me with RTW- but I love wearing my own. You just feel different when you’re wearing your own- my only issue is that I need to be less lazy when it comes to making matching panties! Also- I wash my bras in mesh bags in the machine (no dyer- it WILL ruin elastic!!) The only time I will hand-wash something is if it has a lot of delicate lace. Great post!

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    • I also have some expensive European RTW bras that I just can’t part with, although a couple could use some alterations. (Amazing to think that I can confidently do that myself now!) I appreciate the washing suggestions too. I just got a new mesh bag which I’ll have to try– the holes are a little bigger than I expected, so I’ll have to be careful with the hook/eye closures. Probably just fastening them before washing will work. I know what you mean about making panties, but they’re always quick to make, and it does contribute to that wonderful feeling of wearing something really special.

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  9. Wear them!
    If the lingerie you made doesn’t fit as well as the RTW stuff, that’s a reason not to wear it. But that is not the case. When I started making lingerie, it took me a few tries to get the fit right. At the moment, I can still get it wrong when trying out completely different styles but the tried-and-tested shapes are always winners. In fact, I’m wearing a me-made lingerie set right now…
    And I do put them in the washing machine. Life is too short to hand-wash your panties. I use a laundry bag and wash at 30 degrees Celsius and obviously I don’t wash my bras after each day of wear.

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    • Merci, Kim! My daughter Valerie came back from several years living in France with the firm conviction that every woman deserves luxurious lingerie— and I personally don’t know of a greater luxury than being able to make it myself!

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  10. This is such a good point (absolutely beautiful lingerie, btw!!) I can totally relate to these feelings. Being way more conscious about the fit than with anything RTW, and being “afraid” to wear them. That must be the reason why I’m still pinning inspiration for lingerie on Pinterest instead of just get started making them. Now that I’ve found this blog of yours, I’ll make myself some hot chocolate and get reading!:)

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    • Thank you– I’m so glad you like my blog! (That’s mutual, by the way.) I know all too well what you mean about having all this inspiration but not actually taking the plunge— I’ve been sewing virtually my entire life, but was too intimidated by the idea of making my own bra! Trust me, by the time you’ve finished your first one, you’ll wonder why you ever waited. : ) And please let me know when you do! Oh‚ and if you haven’t heard about the Bra-makers Forum on Facebook, but want to get involved, let me know; it’s a closed group, so you need to be invited to join, which I would be happy to do for you. It’s an amazing group!

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  11. I just dump all my hand-wash in a bucket in the tub every Sunday morning, let them soak with some delicate wash, and come back thirty minutes later and squeeze out and hang (it’s a no-rinse wash). Of course, after many years as a hand-knitter, I’m pretty well used to hand laundering. Knitting is seriously Time Consuming, so by the time it’s done, you’re inclined to be careful with it, for sure!

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