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What is the difference between good and great women's lingerie?

The difference between good and great women's lingerie is fabric. Your choice in the fabric will largely determine the final look and feel of any lingerie garment you make, so picking the fabric and fiber that’s right for you is one of the most important creative decisions you can make.

Factors to consider

Once you’ve chosen a style of lingerie garment, whether it’s a full coverage bra, a lightweight sleep bralette, or a comfy nightgown, there are several important considerations that can help guide you.

Stretch: Look over your chosen pattern and determine if you require stretch, and if so, how much. If your pattern requires any stretch, it will usually give you a stretch guide or an indication of the percentage of stretch necessary. They will also tell you whether you need a one-way stretch, which usually runs crosswise from selvage to selvage, or a two-way stretch, which runs both lengthwise and crosswise. Confusingly, the term “two-way stretch” can also be used by some shops to refer to fabrics that only stretch crosswise. They will refer to fabrics that stretch in both directions as four-way stretch. Because of this, I find the term four-way stretch to be less ambiguous, but be aware of the labeling difference when shopping both in-person and online.

Weight: The next major consideration is the weight of the fabric. Lingerie is usually meant to be close to the body and often is worn beneath everyday clothing. If this is the case, consider the thickness and weight of the fabric, and whether it will add bulk to your body. For example, if you’re sewing a pair of panties, the last thing you want is the appearance of bulky seams around your tummy or waistline, so it’s best to stick with thinner fabrics that still meet your other requirements.

Look: This may be obvious, but the type of fabric you choose can completely change the look of a lingerie garment. A pair of simple panties looks quite different in coffee-colored stretch silk charmeuse with lace appliqué from the same pair made up in a floral ditsy print cotton jersey. Determine the final look and feel before you begin shopping and how it meshes with your own style and wardrobe needs.

Feel: A final major consideration is the feel of the fabric. Lingerie is often worn close to the skin, and irritating fabrics will prove themselves a much bigger nuisance when rubbing against you all day. Try testing the feel of any lingerie fabric against a sensitive area of the skin, such as your neck or cheek. Rub it lightly to check for abrasion and itchiness.

Silk is a demure fabric that’s perfect for lingerie making as it’s both incredibly lightweight and durable. It almost feels weightless, effortlessly gliding over your skin without any friction. The front and back textures are the same, being soft, silky and cool to the touch. It’s one of the best materials for women’s underwear items.