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Knickers with Lace Applique and Trim Tutorial


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This site is no longer being updated so head over to Seamwork to get all the latest patterns, tutorials, video classes, and more.

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, sewing a pair of dainties is a crafty and thoughtful way to get in the spirit for your loved one. Not only is our Nutmeg pattern cute, but there are endless ways to make it unique! In this tutorial we’ve used a set of vintage lace appliques that add a little romance and sex appeal; cutting away the the fashion fabric behind the applique reveals just a hint of skin! If your local vintage shop or fabric store doesn’t have any, lace appliques may be found on Etsy in all shapes and sizes. Psst…my favorite sneaky shortcut for this tutorial is that we’ve totally omitted the step of sewing a pesky narrow hem. Yay!

An added bonus of sewing your own underpinnings? You avoid joining in on the mass consumerism that plagues calendar holidays. So, before you run out to buy a big stuff teddy bear or consume gobs of milk chocolatey hearts, try sewing a set of lingerie that neither you nor your hunny will ever forget!

Sources: dishyvintage, GetLuckyVintage, iandrummondvintagebackstashandbygones.

You will need:

  • Nutmeg pattern and necessary supplies (fashion fabric, thread, etc)
  • 2.5 yards of trim lace trim
  • two lace applique pieces
  • thread to match lace
  • hand needle
  • fabric marker
  • embroidery scissors
  • fabric sheers

Step 1: Cut out fashion fabric pattern pieces. With right sides together, line front knicker pieces up and lay flat. Place the lace square in desired position on the front knicker, making a few small dots with your fabric pen to mark the spot. For this version of the tutorial, the bottom edge of my lace applique piece was about 3″ from the hem.

Step 2: Construct knickers per pattern directions, but stop before sewing a hem.

Step 3: Pin lace applique piece in place.

Step 4: Carefully (and patiently) hand stitch the lace square to the knickers. The lace should disguise the thread on the right side, and just barely be visible on the back.

Step 5: Measure the hem of one side of the knickers. Multiply that number by 2. Then, add 3″ to the total. For example: If one side of my knickers measured 14″ then I multiply it by 2 (28″) and add 3″ of ease to that number to get a total of 31″. This should give you enough trim to create a small peak at the front and go around the entire leg, you may not use it all but it’s always better to have a little extra!  Just make sure the knickers are lying flat and are stretched to their full length while you measure.

Step 6: Using the measurement in Step 5, cut two pieces of lace trim to that length. Press them flat on a low setting.

Step 7: Working on one leg at a time, pin the end of your lace trim at the inseam with the bottom edge of the lace trim aligned with the raw edge of the knickers.

Step 8: Gently pull the lace trim taut and pin it in place so it meets the bottom of your lace applique piece.

Pinch & pin!

Step 9: At the bottom edge of your lace applique piece, pinch about 1/4″ of your lace trim and pin in place. This helps create a V-shape at the front of your knickers.

Step 10: Pin your lace trim at the side seam, again making sure the edge of your trim is aligned with the raw hem of the knickers.

Step 11: Continue pinning the lace all around the back of the knicker with the lace gradually hanging off the edge. The ends of the lace trim should meet up in the inseam. Overlap the end pieces about 1/2″

Step 11: The lace trim extends past the white fabric.

Step 12: Sew the top edge of lace trim in place with a narrow zig zag stitch (1 mm).

Step 13: With fabric sheers, trim away excess fashion fabric below the stitch line. Press seam.

Step 14: Now very carefully cut away the fashion fabric behind the lace applique piece using embroidery scissors. Be careful not to cut the lace or stitches. Also, be mindful that a vintage applique piece will be fragile and should be treated with care so you don’t break the delicate webbing.

And…you’re done! Way to go! As always, feel free to share your project photos in the Colette Patterns flickr group for all to see.

Rachel Rector   —  

Comments 18


Very pretty! I always drool over such lace trimmings, but never have an idea what to do with them – this is a great use.


Pretty, pretty, pretty! I’m bookmarking this right now.


You can also baste the lace applique in place and narrow zigzag around the design. Best if you’re comfortable with your machine and have some sewing expertise. Be patient and sew slowly, stopping to rearrange the fabric as needed.


WOW, thank you for this! I LOVE lace but have always been very intimidated by working with it. This would be a wonderful first lace project, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Also, talk about a wonderful handmade gift for a lingerie shower! Hmmmm….


Oh! This is beautiful! With this idea, and the Valentine’s Day photo shoot, I’m becoming more and more convinced that I need to make some lingerie! Add it to the list…


What a beautiful idea!


These are gorgeous!


Gorgeous! A great tutorial – thanks! :)


So pretty! I’ve been looking for a new applique project. Can’t wait to give it a try.


Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the great tutorial! You’ve really got me excited to work with silk and lace.

Peggy Gonzales

This is really pretty. Thanks for sharing how to apply it.

Suellen Tomkins

Just discovered these on Pinterest – gorgeous. Has inspired me to make some with some vintage lace applique I have, so purchased the pattern this morning. Thanks


What fabric is your white main fabric? I’m not familiar with purchasing silks online…I bought some habutai silk to make these from, but it was just a guess and it hasn’t arrived yet. I’m sure it will work since you’ve recommended it for this pattern, but I’d love to know your favorite!

Thank you, and thanks for your always awesome instructions and tutorials!


Robyn, if I remember correctly this is the cotton/silk blend from Dharma Trading Co.


I was just looking for lace appliques this afternoon for a sewing project of another kind, so, where can I find the kind you show above? These are IDEAL for my project. And….Thank You for a great post!


*find the appliques


I have been sewing for a long time and currently learned about the applique stitch and using lace. Your article has encouraged me to make lingerie! I have made every other type of clothing including my current project: wedding dress. When I am done with that, I will try your project, above. Thanks for sharing!


I just love the look of these step-ins, or French knickers. You have truly recreated the look of authentic 1930s style underthings–so romantic and feminine. I have taken to wearing vintage or vintage style underthings under my dresses and skirts. They make me feel special. Believe me girls, your husbands will love you in these authentic bits of silk and lace–although I’m afraid they won’t stay on long.

Incidentally, I learned that the term “tap pants” is a more modern invention. Back in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s, they were called either step-ins or just panties, as contemporaneous ads and catalogs will attest. The term “tap pants” began to be used in the 1970s because they resembled what tap dancers wore in the 1930s. But the term did not originate in that earlier era.

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