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With the Vintage-Inspired Modern Style Design Challenge underway, author & designer Amy Barickman talks about how she and her designs at Indygo Junction are inspired by her treasure trove of collected vintage content:

Let’s talk about a rather delicate subject.

On my blog, I’ve shared heaps of vintage inspiration from my hero, Mary Brooks Picken and her work at the Woman’s Institute of Domestic Arts & Sciences (1916-1936). One thing I’ve yet to mention? Unmentionables.

Back then, self-stitched skivvies were the norm. The Woman’s Institute offered underwear-making courses to women as a way for them to save money and personalize their panties. Patterns available in those times didn’t skimp on delightful details, from ribbon bows to embroidery.

Plus, on of the biggest advantages to DIY panties was that they were really the only option to ensure a truly proper fit. Think of how we take this for granted today! Here are some downloadable directions for making your own undies from 1933, so you too can have customized underclothes. Up for the challenge?



“Every woman has a warm place in her heart for pretty under things,” says an article from Inspiration magazine, 1923, “And half of the joy of owning them comes from making them.”

The women of yesteryear appreciated the femininity, form and function of undergarments just as we do today, and in my book, Vintage Notions, you’ll find several articles on handmade undies — including a Magic Pattern for a darling lingerie set. I was inspired to write this book largely due to the rekindled interest I see in DIY projects and fashion sewing, so why stop at what you wear on the outside? With these patterns, you can complete your handmade style and be a DIY diva through and through!


Amy Barickman is the founder and owner of Indygo Junction, The Vintage Workshop and AmyBarckman.com. She is a leader in the sewing, needle arts and retail crafting industry having sold more than two-million sewing patterns and published 80 books sold throughout the world. Her recent endeavor is the book Vintage Notions, is already on its fourth printing since its release in September of 2010. Other best-selling titles include Indygo Junction’s Button Ware and most recently, Hankie Style.


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    Dec 15, 2012, 08.06 PMby normabelle

    I love to make my own panties, particularly tap panties, utilizing vintage patterns I’ve acquired on EBay and elsewhere. The 1930s and 40s styles were so flattering and romantic. The minimalistic styles of today leave little to the imagination. Bring back romance and style!

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    Feb 28, 2012, 02.57 PMby Moonecho

    I think making your own “wonderwear” (that’s what my 4 year old daughter calls them LOL) is a great idea. I love the boy shorts that we have today (they go great under pencil skirts and trousers), but can never get the right fit without going a couple of sizes bigger than what I actually wear, because of my hips and tush. So I think this is just what I need!

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    Feb 2, 2012, 12.36 AMby momartin

    Love hand made under garments! My old friend’s mom used to sew her kids underwear back in the 1960s. It’s about time we get back to sewing our own big panties. I’ve been sewing my own slips out of lovely sheers in silk crepe over the last few years. One has a difficult time finding quality fabrics off the rack. Thank you for the inspiration.

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    Jan 26, 2012, 08.17 PMby jennitodd

    who wears underwear anymore! ;)

    1 Reply
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    Jan 26, 2012, 04.31 AMby brantx2

    Been there, done that. When making your own was a matter of daily bread, not erudition or choice. And it’s difficult now to find the tissue-thin jersey silks, and cotton batistes, not to mention findings for garter belts and bras. Multiple layers of fabrics too. Stick with modern, ladies.

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    Jan 25, 2012, 10.44 PMby jw72085

    I love vintage undergarments!!! Can’t wait to make these. Thanks.

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    Jan 25, 2012, 09.19 PMby Andrea Delesdernier

    I love tap pants to wear under full skirts. Especially on windy days ;)

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    Jan 25, 2012, 09.39 AMby vickeybutler

    The panties look like they would be great to wear on hot summer days, under a dress…definitely will make a pair to try.

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    Jan 24, 2012, 09.35 PMby jaie

    I love making my own bras, panties and the like (I excel at making girdles) and as a long time proponent of at least trying to make your own, modern or old fashioned, I can say, they are just as comfortable if not more so than store bought undies.

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    Jan 24, 2012, 08.55 PMby starzoe

    My dear young girls, there is a good reason why panties are no longer made in two pieces, with just front and back seams. Think on it! Vintage may be cute, but not always comfortable to wear.

    1 Reply
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      Jan 25, 2012, 04.47 PMby heidilea

      Yeah, the seam up the hiney! But, what I’ve noticed with old undies (mom had given me a few pairs once), is the materials are usually very light and the seams are super tiny. Plus, there are weirdos like myself, when making a vintage outfit from a particular era MUST have the proper undies to go with it.

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    Jan 24, 2012, 08.46 PMby JuliaMichna

    I have always wanted to make my own panties. Maybe this will motivate me. Many thanks for the directions.

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    Jan 24, 2012, 08.41 PMby catm

    These are perfect, thanks for posting this!

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    Jan 20, 2012, 03.14 PMby heidilea

    I find it funny how the intro on the PDF says “Underwear is Skimpy…Skimpier….Skimpiest!” Compared to 1923, 1913 and 1903, it is really skimpy! I wonder what my great-grandma would think of thongs (I personally dislike them, but have a pair for fancy/slinky dresses). Knowing her, she probably would make a joke out of them…

    Any way, I am going to share this post with some of my other vintage-loving friends.

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    Jan 19, 2012, 09.42 PMby wzrdreams

    Thank you for sharing the downloadable instructions! I love vintage knickers. I’ll have to give this one a try.

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    Jan 19, 2012, 08.55 PMby Lucypie

    This is perfect timing! As I am sewing my spring wardrobe, it occurs to me that I need certain underpinnings that I lack due mostly to my dislike of commercial undergarments. Thanks for the directions.

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    Jan 19, 2012, 06.36 PMby kknight

    I have been making my own underthings for years with varying degrees of success. i have found this website to be INVALUABLE: http://www.patternschool.com/

    1 Reply
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      Jan 24, 2012, 08.41 PMby catm

      Awesome link, thank you!

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