DIY Lingerie: How to Make Knickers (With Photos)

by Estelle Puleston

It’s been a while since I created a lingerie sewing guide, so today I’m showing you how to sew your own knickers! I’m starting with the very basics, but there will be follow-up guides showing you how to make tie-sides, knickers with cut-outs, high-waisted styles and more.

This guide is designed for someone who has basic knowledge of how to use a sewing machine – whilst you can technically sew a pair of knickers by hand, with all the zig-zag stitching required it’s going to take you a long time! I promise that all you need to make your own pair of knickers is the ability to thread a sewing machine, sew a straight line, and sew a zig-zag stitch. Oh, and the following materials:

  • 2m of elastic – if you’re confident of your sewing skills you can use fold-over elastic which will give a neat, clean edging to your knickers. However, wonky sewing will be obvious, so if you’re a beginner opt for an elastic with a decorative edging such as picot or lace – the wider the decoration, the more it will cover up any small mistakes!
  • 1/2m of fabric – as a total beginner, something relatively thick such as cotton jersey will be the easiest to sew. Finer fabrics like chiffon, lace and mesh are a bit more tricky to work with. Look for a fabric that is soft and preferably has a slight stretch to it – it will be far more comfortable to wear. If you are going for a ‘fancy’ or printed fabric, you’ll need around 20cm x 10cm of a soft cotton for the gusset (the lining at the crotch) – you can cut this out of an old t-shirt if you like!
  • A pattern – for a total beginner, the easiest thing to do is to buy a pattern so you can be sure it won’t go wrong. Alternatively, you can cut up an old pair of knickers and trace around the pieces to make your own – remember to leave about 1/2cm border to allow for seams.
  • A sewing machine, scissors and thread


Here’s how to make your own knickers…


Step 1 – Cut The Fabric

Pin your pattern onto the fabric. If you’re using a fabric with no or little stretch you’ll need to pin your pattern pieces on the bias to avoid ending up with baggy knickers (look carefully at which direction the threads run in the fabric and then pin your patterns so that they are diagonal).

Then carefully cut all the way around and unpin the pattern from the fabric. You should have 3 pieces – a front, a back and a gusset.




Step 2 – Sew The Gusset In

Lay your ‘back’ piece down with the front of the fabric facing up. Carefully lay the ‘front’ piece on top, with the front of the fabric facing down, so that the pieces line up at the back of the crotch as shown. Now lay your gusset piece on top with the front of the fabric facing up, so that it overlaps by around 1cm at the end, and pin the 3 pieces together.





Now sew a straight line to secure them.


Next, ‘open out’ the knickers so that the front and back pieces are both facing down. Fold over that 1cm of gusset that you left overlapping, and pin it down onto the back piece.



Sew another straight line to secure it.


Finally, sew a zig-zag stitch down either side of the gusset to fix the gusset and the front piece together.


Step 3 – Add The Elastic

In this example, I’m using frilled elastic and sewing it onto the outside of the knickers which is the easiest option for a beginner. With the front of the fabric facing up, carefully line up your elastic with one of the edges and sew a few zig-zag stitches to secure it in place.


Then pull the elastic taught (but not the fabric) and carefully sew to the end of the edge with a zig-zag stitch.


Repeat for the other edges (the two leg ‘curves’, the front of the waist and the back of the waist).



Step 4 – Sew The Sides

Fold the knickers in half so that the front of the fabric is facing inwards. Line up the front and back pieces at one side of the waist and pin together.


Secure them about 1cm from the edge with a straight stitch and then do a couple of lines with a zig-zag stitch to ensure they’re really fixed together. Trim away any excess fabric. When you flip them over you should see a nice, neat-looking seam.



To finish, repeat for the other side of the knickers and then add any embellishments you want such as bows, buttons or beads – I like to sew big ribbon bows on either side to give the illusion of tie-side knickers! Your knickers are now complete and ready to wear…



I hope you’ve found this guide useful, and if you do have a go at making your own knickers please send in photos to – I love to feature fan submissions on this page!


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Leave a Comment


Mira August 14, 2013 - 3:31 am

Hi Esty,

I’m going to try sew own knickers for sure using your guide. It will be fun! I just have to check what I can recycle, haha 🙂 Better to try the very first one with recycle shirt or something, right? Easier to bin if they by mistake have two gussets, haha 😉


Anonymous August 14, 2013 - 3:31 am

Very pretty. Do you make women’s lingerie for men? I’m a crossdresser and would love to have something like this made for me.

Estelle August 14, 2013 - 3:33 am

Hi Mira,

Good luck, I’d love to see a photo of how they turn out! To be honest, a basic cotton jersey isn’t very expensive (\A33 or so for a metre) but sure, recycled t-shirts and dresses can make lovely lingerie fabric too. It’s what the brand Petits Secrets uses to make her one-off pieces! 🙂


Estelle August 14, 2013 - 3:33 am

Hi, not specifically, no. However I make womenswear up to a size large (UK 14-16).