Those Little Essentials: Alice Tights and Trixie Lixie Knickers

Over Christmas Marilla Walker asked if I would like to test her new pattern the Alice Tights. When I learned it was for tights I was rather intrigued and  keen to give them a go.

There are three options with the pattern; two piece tights with a heel turn, one piece tights and leggings/footless tights. The pattern not only comes in a variety of sizes but also include three leg lengths and even different foot sizes. Each leg length comes as a separate file so you only print off the one you need. The sizing ranges from a 24 ½ inch waist 34 inch hip to a 36 ¼ waist 45 ¾ hip. I was pleased there was a short leg option as ready to wear tights always give me that Nora Batty effect around the ankles.

I decided to have a go at view B, the one piece tights. The most important factor to consider with this pattern is the fabric, it must have four way stretch, with 50% stretch both lengthways and widthways (if you take a 6 inch piece of fabric you should be able to stretch it out to 9 inches) As soon as I got the pattern I went to raid the stash hoping there was something in there suitable. There were many things that I wished would work but only had two way stretch. The only thing that came close was a very fine petrol blue poly knit, it had plenty of stretch in the width but only about 20 % lengthways. Being far too impatient (we were snowed in and the chances of getting to the fabric store were remote) I decided to give it a go anyway, if it didn’t work at least I had tested the pattern and instructions.

The instructions are very detailed running to eight pages. They were very easy to sew up: the front and back get sewn first, followed by the hip darts and then the legs are sewn in one continuous step with the seam running up the inside leg. The second most important thing to note about this pattern is to ensure you mark the notches; the top of the foot needs to be stretched as it is sewn to incorporate the heal on the bottom piece (similar to setting in a neckband). The waist is finished with 3cm wide elastic which is then enclosed in the waistband.

So how did I get on with my not quite stretch tights? Surprisingly quite well, the width is fine but I do have a couple of inches of penguin crotch. They are however perfectly wearable, they sit well on my waist and the elastic does a good job of keeping them up.

I also realised how difficult it is to take a photo of your own legs, the best option seemed to be lying on my back on the sofa with my legs up in the air. It has being pointed out though that it looks like I am levitating!

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I then took a gamble and bought a couple of bits of fabric from Ebay, going solely on the description of ‘4 way stretch’. The first was a piece of stretch lace (Marilla had posted a pair of lace ones on Instagram which set off nostalgic longings for my teenage years in the eighties) when they arrived they had around 40% widthways stretch but around 30% lengthways. I sewed them up as before and they actually fit perfectly although there is not much room for manoeuvre. I do remember lace tights being like this back in the olden days though!

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My last piece of fabric was listed as Navy but turned out to be a bit lighter than my idea of Navy. It had the perfect amount of stretch though. I sewed them up as before and they worked perfectly, I had found the holy grail of tights fabric.

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One thing to note is that the pattern obviously uses over a metre of fabric (130cm for the short leg) To try and keep cost down I only bought a metre for my last two pairs and cut them on the cross grain. This worked perfectly well, in fact it actually helped my lace pair as there was then more stretch in the length so no penguin crotch.

Overall this is just a fun and quick pattern to sew (I managed to sew my last two pairs in one episode of Mad Men) The key is really finding the right fabric (with me it was a bit like goldilocks and the three tights!)

Following on from the quick instant gratification of sewing the tights I decided that my knicker drawer needed a bit of replenishment. I made seven pairs of knickers early last year using the pattern from my Christmas Trixie Lixie knicker making kit. I have worn these daily since and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn shop bought pants. They fit perfectly, are super comfy and with floral fabric and gingham ruffle elastic look far more attractive than six pack M&S specials. They are also a great way of using up scraps (they only use a fat quarter of fabric) consequently I have some matching skirts and dresses (there’s something satisfying knowing your dress matches your pants!) I got the gingham ruffle elastic from my local haberdashery but it’s also available in Trixie Lixies shop. I found it was a lot easier to attach than the thinner elastic.

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I had a ‘snow day’ last week and decided it was going to be a knicker making day. I had a couple of liberty print remnants and cut the corner off this 3 metre length of black and white polka dots as I thought it was perfect for the black and white gingham. I had every intention of taking pictures throughout the process but just got carried away (they are really fun to sew!). After a couple of hours I had three brand new pairs of knickers, I have however developed the urge to have liberty print knickers for every day of the week!

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I quite like the idea of sewing my own smalls, it’s just one step closer to having a completely handmade wardrobe. I have seen quite a few Bra making patterns around, the Watson Bra from Cloth Habit is particularly pretty. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be giving it a try as I need some serious engineering and scaffolding to counteract the effects of gravity on my bust! I have however got a Burda pattern for a set of Lingerie which includes a slip, camisole and French knickers so I think I might that a try next time.

Anyone else into sewing your own undies, any tips or good patterns?