Sew Your Own Slip

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Sewing a slip is easy, fun and inexpensive. The materials, style, and trim are all under the control of the dressmaker.  Slips can be beautiful, lacy confections.  They may also be simple, designed to give a smooth line under particular dresses.  First, decide what dresses the slip will be worn under. A sheath dress requires a close-fitting slip in a smooth fabric. A sheer dress requires a matching or coordinating slip.  Many slip patterns also make lovely summer nightgowns when done in colorful fabrics.

There is wide variety of commercial patterns available online, all suitable for sewing a slip at home.  To make a simple slip in woven fabrics such as silk or cotton batiste, Kwik Sew 3554 and Kwik Sew 2589 are good choices.  Elizabeth Lee Designs, specializing in patterns for nursing mothers, has a versatile pattern for regular, nursing, or maternity slips:  Nursing Classics 301.  The Nursing Classics pattern also includes a bed jacket, handy if you want to make a nightgown and matching cover-up.  Folkwear 226 makes an old-fashioned slip, good for a nightgown.  For a very basic slip with built-up straps, a Plain family offers Friends 204 in their collection of patterns for the Amish and other plain folk.  The big pattern companies such as Vogue and Simplicity also carry some patterns for slips which should be available in a local fabric store.

Take body measurements (bust, waist, hip, and finished length) to determine the correct pattern size. With the pattern in hand, check the chart on the envelope back to determine the correct amount of fabric to purchase.  Most slip patterns are for woven fabrics, but some may specify stretch knits only.  Be sure to follow the recommendations for your pattern.  Purchase lace trim, elastic, and other notions as needed for your style.  Wide stretch lace, like that used in ready-to-wear lingerie, is available from sewing suppliers online and is an easy and professional way to finish the top or hem of a slip. Use cotton wrapped polyester thread or a high-quality polyester thread and be sure to get a package of machine needles appropriate for lingerie fabrics (small sharps for woven fabric, ball-point or stretch for knit fabrics.)  Wash the fabric and press if needed before cutting out the pattern;  this serves to preshrink the fabric and to wash out any finishes that  might irritate the skin or make the fabric stiff to handle.

On a standard sewing machine, use a short stitch length on all seams as you follow the pattern directions for garment construction.  Finish raw edges with a serger, if you have one, using wooly nylon thread in the loopers.  Otherwise, consider using French seams for a clean finish and smooth line.  Attach lace trim using a narrow zig-zag stitch.


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