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Embellish Panties with Shadow Appliqué

Apply shadow appliqué to a panty front (left) or back (right) for a truly unique detail.

In Threads #178 (April/May 2015), Monica O’Rourke Bravo shared her expert secrets for sewing your own designer underwear in the article “Custom Panties.” Before you begin the panty construction, consider adding Monica’s favorite embellishment technique, known as shadow appliqué, to the cut fabric pieces. The simple detail creates a beautiful lace insert over a soft sheer fabric, which can be applied to the panty’s front or back. Follow along to learn this easy process.

To begin, cut a motif, such as a flower, from a piece of lace. Then, cut a piece of sheer tricot slightly larger than the motif.

1. Stitch the lace. Align the lace’s wrong side with the tricot’s right side, and sew the edges together using a narrow zigzag stitch. There is no need to finish the edges because they won’t fray or ravel.

Sew lace to sheer tricot

2. Cut to size. Carefully trim the sheer tricot to match the lace outline. Next, pin the lace and sheer piece as desired on the panty fabric’s right side.

Trim the sheer tricot

3. Apply the appliqué. Stitch around the lace edges with a narrow zigzag stitch. Then, cut away the panty fabric from behind the appliquéd piece. Repeat steps 1 through 3 for each desired appliqué.

Stitch around the appliqué edges

Trim the panty fabric

Voilà, you’re done! Here are some examples of how to apply shadow appliqué to your designs.

Finished panties

Alternative style

Have you ever sewn your own panties? What types of embellishments would you apply? Please share your thoughts below.


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  1. user-2658237 | | #1

    When I was a kid my mom sewed me a Tee shirt with a matching set of underwear. I have her pattern, but I haven't gotten around to making my own yet. Since I'm having trouble finding the style that I like in stores or online I'm about to start making my own. I've been doing a lot of repairs on the underwear that I do have. I have several different underwear patterns some old and some new. One of these days I'll get around to making some from old Tee shirts.

  2. User avater
    ustabahippie | | #2

    I have made one pair. They're cotton with no embellishment. I find lace to be too itchy.

  3. user-666062 | | #3

    Every so often a pair of panties comes out of the laundry with a tiny hole somewhere that will become a larger and larger hole if not repaired. I mend the hole, fussy cut a flower, butterfly or other fairly simple design from cotton fabric and machine applique it on the panties to conceal the hole. Now, instead of them being my ratty panties, they are the prettiest pair I have.

  4. jfpetutti | | #4

    This is so errie! I just this day got out my pattern for making my own panties!
    I have a piece of French lace that I bought many years ago. It was so expensive that I could only afford a 12" piece of it and vowed that I would use it, a little at a time, on every piece of lingerie I had. Well, the time has come when I want to get into making my own and I have just the embellishment I want!! LOL

  5. tygerbones | | #5

    I make lots of panties. I Like making my own, and also make for friends and to sell. I didn't use the directions for embellishments, but the title of shadow embellishment reminded me that I have shadow embroidery on my embroidery card that will be perfect for the cotton panties I make.

  6. samty | | #6

    These are so cute. I can't wait to try this.

  7. User avater
    BertaBoo | | #7

    I have made panties for my daughters for years. Now I make them for my granddaughter who just got toilet trained and loves her "silky lacy" panties. Putting two (or more) layers of cotton in the crotch is a good idea for the little girls. I embellish with insertion lace sometimes, but it has to be put up and down or slightly diagonal. It cannot go side to side or it interferes with the stretch. I will try this technique of using lace appliques.

  8. doreet | | #8

    I should try this,I love nylon panties--but I have a weird hobby--I buy cotton undies, and paint on them with fabric paint, let dry,iron on back, and I've got the most "interesting" cotton panties this side of Oregon.Even polyester fabric has been known to take fabric painting, just put in some "fixative," fabric-paint places sell it. At one time I painted "X-Files" on one pair,black,they have metallic paint too.If you are married or got boyfriend, wear a loud-color pair, it gets surprises!!! I did a bunch,very "arty", never had a place to sell em. --you can also monogram them.---this was long ago--then they finally got prints on panties!! Take it from me, that is very fun. nice article!!!

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