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Holiday Gift Guide for Lingerie Makers

Small Bobbins Holiday Gift Guide for Lingerie Makers and Lovers (2019)

I always get the feeling around mid-November that I’m literally the last person on Earth to finally remember that gift-giving/receiving holidays are right around the corner! So maybe you are organized and already finished your holiday shopping, and in that case, good job! Or, maybe you’re like me and you’re like, “Oh crap, I need to think about gifts”, and in that case, this post is for you! Whether you’re a lingerie maker of any level and you want to make something special for your friends/family, or you’re shopping for the lingerie-maker in your life, here are some ideas for everybody!

Do you have other ideas not listed here? A must-have sewing tool for making lingerie, an idea for lingerie-makers to make for their non-sewing loved ones? Feel free to share in the comments!

Gifts for Beginner Lingerie Sewists:

  • Applique scissors (also called duck bill scissors), fine pins (and a cute pincushion!), rotary cutter (28mm is great for lingerie projects, but you can get away with 45mm if you require a pink one!) and cutting mat (45x60cm is more than enough for lingerie, and doable/slightly frustrating for actual garment sewing), thread snips, Microtex needles (this will be specific to the sewing machine! I find microtex needles to be the most versatile for lingerie-making though!), Odif’s temporary adhesive spray: whew! I’m not saying that all of these are 100% necessary in order to sew lingerie, but these are some of my most useful tools!
  • Lingerie-making kits: Take the hassle out of sourcing all those supplies and go for a kit! A bralette kit (maybe combined with a panty kit) is an excellent starting point for any new lingerie sewist!
  • In Intimate Detail by Cora Harrington: This is a gorgeously illustrated book and a great resource on the world of lingerie. It gives history as well as teaches about all the different types of garments, how to buy them, how to wear them, how to care for them, and more! It’s a gentle and unpretentious introduction meant to be enjoyed by anybody, no matter their experience level (sewists and non-sewists alike!). Cora Harrington is the woman behind the website The Lingerie Addict, another excellent resource for any lingerie-lover.
  • Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction by Norma Loehr (of Orange Lingerie): I have several bra-making books and this one feels the most beginner-friendly!
  • Sample packs: Sort of like a kit, but more for exploring different types of materials. Then the beloved sewist in your life can check out what the materials feel like/look like, and get a better idea for what they might want to buy in the future. Some lingerie supply shops will offer grab bags, remnant pieces, sample packs, swatch packs, etc. (Small Bobbins will in the near future! Email me if you’d like swatches though!)

Gifts for Intermediate Lingerie Sewists:

  • Drafting books: For sewists who have already dipped their feet into lingerie-making, it’s time to level up with some more technical texts. For me, I’ve purchased Bare Essentials: Bras (recently updated!), Pattern cutting for Lingerie, Beachwear, and Leisurewear, and Patternmaking for Underwear Design. They all have their individual strengths and weaknesses, although I haven’t used any of them enough to say, “THIS is the one you definitely need”.
  • Foam, underwires: another way to level up? Underwire bras! Some shops will offer underwire fitting packs, otherwise be aware of their return policy (mine is here!) in case you purchase the wrong size. (Gift certificates work great too!)
  • Lingerie soap: Once you start making precious garments, you want to take care of them! Fancy lingerie soap is not only useful, but a bit indulgent. (Check out this great article from the Lingerie Addict about caring for your lingerie!)
  • Stash builders, bulk items: Buying in bulk is a great way to save money, plus it’s a more efficient use of materials if you have, for example, 10m of elastic in one piece, as opposed to several smaller cuts. You can’t go wrong with basic colors either. Hint: black matches everything and never goes out of style!

Gifts for Advanced Lingerie Sewists:

  • Drafting paper, drafting compass, flexible ruler, French curve: Drafting lingerie patterns from scratch is a lot easier with these specialized tools! The compass and curve are great for drawing really precise curved lines, the flexible ruler can come in handy for figuring out breast shape (or your crotch curve if you’re into pant-making too!), and, of course, you’ll need something to draw your pattern drafts on!
  • New measuring tape or seam ripper: honestly you can never have too many of these, and the advanced sewist might be using an old, stretched out measuring tape, a dull seam ripper, or just constantly turning their sewing space upside down looking for the one they keep misplacing!
  • Look up classes in their area or online and treat them to a new skill! For online, Bluprint has lingerie-related classes by Beverly Johnson and Alison Smith, and Creative Bug has several classes by Maddie Flanigan.
  • Gift them a day to stay in their sewing room! Entertain the kids, do the cooking/cleaning, give them a pass on going to the neighbor’s cousin’s kid’s birthday party, and let them have an uninterrupted day of sewing!
  • Book a professional photographer (even better if you are one!) to take lovely photos of their creations, either modeled (boudoir style!) or as a flat lay. Can you imagine what a treasure it would be to have gorgeous photos of your favorite creations?

Gifts for Lingerie sewists to make for friends and family: Obviously, gifting someone lingerie has the potential for awkwardness, so proceed with caution! And I don’t mean necessarily that the receiver may find it inappropriate, but what if the lingerie doesn’t fit? But there are other ways you can take inspiration from your lingerie sewing skills for the holiday season!

  • “I owe you” custom lingerie certificate: take their measurements, take them fabric shopping, give them a few patterns to select from, and create something thoughtful and gorgeous for them!
  • Harnesses, garters, chokers are all excellent choices for simple DIY gifts that don’t require a ton of measurements and fitting skills. If you have some strap elastic and hardware, and know how to sew an adjustable bra strap (check out my blog and vlog tutorials if you need a hand!), you can probably make any of these!
  • Lavender sachet, sleep mask, or scrunchie: a few more fairly simple DIY projects that I would refer to as “lingerie adjacent”. You can use some gorgeous silk to make these, and embellish them with pieces of lovely lace and elastic!
  • If you’re skilled beyond lingerie-making, you could re-purpose bits of lace and elastics, pieces too small to use otherwise, to make unique gift wrapping! Tie up your gifts with fancy knicker elastic, add a piece of lace to a gift tag, you can really get creative with your leftover supplies!

Phew! Do you have any other great gift ideas, either for the makers in your life, or for the people you love to make stuff for? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

a perfect piece of writing

If you’re currently or ever have been pregnant and had to face the harrowing task of buying maternity clothes, read this piece on McSweeney’s. It totally captures all of my feelings about RTW maternity clothes.

I expect to wear these clothes for no more than six months and then never again, so I hope they cost about the same as a used Dodge Charger. What’s that you say? They cost even more?