Posts with tag "Lingerie School"

Lingerie School: De Montfort University Graduates, 2014


Karolina Laskowska

After three years studying Contour Fashion at De Montfort University, the end is finally in sight — I’m about to graduate from Lingerie School! Contour Fashion is a degree that specialises in intimate apparel — covering almost all areas of lingerie and then some. We’ve studied everything from corsetry to swimwear, and each chose our own final major projects — some girls chose to go down a technical route to fulfill a market niche, whilst others chose to design around aesthetics, pushing the boundaries of lingerie design.

My class is full of incredibly talented individuals and I’m so proud of what everyone has achieved — we all started at the same place, yet the final collections that everyone has created are so wonderfully varied, both from an aesthetic and technical perspective. Our final projects give students an opportunity to create something unique and boundary pushing, without having to worry about the consequences of whether the garments would sell at retail — it’s some of the most beautiful lingerie that, sadly, you’ll never be able to buy! I’m sharing a small fraction of this year’s graduates’ work with you, and I hope you love it all as much as I do. Thank you to De Montfort University for letting me share all this incredible work with you!

All photoshoot images courtesy of De Montfort University, all other images belong to the respective designers.

Akaibi Vine

IMG_1128IMG_1469Developing silicone hand grips

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IMG_2322Akaibi with her full final collection

Akaibi’s project is focused on sportswear for people with limited dexterity and flexibility, taking her inspiration from the Paralympics that were founded in her home town. By conducting interviews with people who suffer from limited mobility, she developed special silicone grips to help aid the process of dressing. The amount of technical detail and consideration that has gone into this collection is astounding and I can’t do it justice in a short paragraph — nevertheless, as a collection it’s a fresh and interesting take on sportswear, in a woefully underserved market.

Amber Khan


Amber-Khan-sketchbook-pageSketchbook work

Amber-Khan-Tech-Flats-BoardTechnical flat illustrations

Amber-Khan-Illustration-BoardFashion illustrations of the full collection

Amber created a corsetry- and lingerie-based collection, taking its inspiration from florals and 1950s silhouettes and fabric techniques. It’s focused on rigid structures designed to emphasize the contours of the female body. She used fan lacing as a key feature in the garments, taken from her love of vintage corsetry, as well as trying to recreate the structures of oriental fans. Amber designed her own floral print for the collection, using a mix of illustrations in digital print and embroidery.

Charlie Watson


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Charlie’s collection is inspired by the natural decay of flowers, using the varied textures throughout her surface embellishment. She’s used both modern and vintage shapes to create a stunning range of boudoir wear, with luxurious fabrics such as delicate leavers laces, silk satins, georgettes and chiffons. Corded lace was carefully positioned and appliquéd over the sheer fabrics to protect the wearer’s modesty, giving the collection a seductive and playful edge.

Charlotte Watson

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Charlotte’s collection ‘Aurora’ approaches soft bras from a fresh direction, using unusual construction features such as overbust and sidebust slings to give the garments aesthetic appeal, as well as uplifting and supporting the breasts. Aesthetic inspiration came from glacier formations (with an icy colour palette and delicate lace applique and beading), whilst styling took its inspiration from the 1920s and 30s.

Charlotte Spence

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IMG_0149Sketchbook work

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Charlotte was initially inspired by a 1920s barber chair, with the design process focusing on each of the chair’s individual elements, from the textured upholstery to the intricate iron works. The collection is called ‘The Cut Lilac Collection’ and includes intricately laser cut faux metallic snakeskin along with lilac silk and crepe contrast elements.

Daisy Hobbs

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Daisy’s collection ‘L’Amore a La Vie’ is designed with a bride’s trousseau in mind — building up each outfit for her special day. Her inspiration originated from a Fabarge exhibition and an exploration into the life of the Royals and the part that sheer excess played. The collection uses delicate Chantilly laces and luxurious silks.

Emma Stubbs

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‘Labyrinth’ takes its inspiration from traditional black work embroidery, updating it with a modern twist. Emma developed the print from her own illustrations, creating floral motif patterns from drawings of crowns, jewels, and masquerade masks. The designs are created as one-off show pieces and are embellished with lace and beading.

Georgie McCarten

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Georgie’s collection ‘Palazzo di Giardino’ was initially inspired by intricate and elegant Florentine architecture. Golden silk satins and chiffons are layered with lace appliqué and hints of blue, accented with crackled blue leather and embellished with beading. The collection is aimed at a boutique lingerie level.

Jennifer Lodge

IMG_1895 Inspiration-Board

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Sketchbook work

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Jennifer’s collection focused on the market niche of women with a 36-44 D-K cup bra size in dress sizes 14-26, creating a range of luxury boudoir lingerie. Entitled ‘A Russian Affair,’ it was inspired by decadent Russian palaces with bold colours and striking gold embellishments. Stretch mesh was used to shape and control the body, with silk chiffons and satins creating fluidity and movement.

Karolina Laskowska

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My collection focused on bespoke corsetry, drawing its inspiration from Japanese kimono and antique corsetry, with colouration drawn from orchids and French macarons. All of the corsetry utilised genuine vintage kimono silks, upcycling them to give them a new lease on life. They’ve been paired with exquisite French Leavers laces, both as a fabric and intricate appliqué. The corsets were all designed to give dramatic shaping, with a cupped rib silhouette allowing for comfortable waist reduction.

Nancy Hallam


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Nancy’s collection is called the ‘Ethereal Bride Collection.’ It draws its inspiration from Edwardian fashion and architecture, using exquisite hand made laces with intricate beading and luxurious silks.

Rosa Silva

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hero-board-landscapeHero garment illustration

Rosa created a collection of high end swimwear entitled ‘Ceylon.’ Her prints were inspired by Sri Lanka, conveyed through kaleidoscopic designs and rich embellishments. Designs are fashion forward with dramatic strapping details and exciting trimmings, from pompoms to beading, with contrast panelling in PVC.

Selina Bond

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‘Bella Suora’ drew its inspiration from the catacombs of Napoli and the clothing of Italian widows and nuns, in particular the use of lace and structured head-dresses. Selina created a collection of luxury lingerie, pairing unusual materials — carbon fibre was used to create structured, contoured pieces, while Leavers laces gave the lingerie an elegant contrast.

Sophie Cook


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Sophie’s initial inspiration was drawn from images of insects covered in dew drops, which later led to a study of the shaping of coral. Her collection echos the delicacy of detail found within the insects’ wings, contrasted with the harsh structure of the coral. Fine stretch meshes and crepe de chine were used, paired with delicate lace appliqué and embellished with beads and Swarovski crystals, a visual translation of glistening dew drops.


Readers: Which of these designs are your favourite? Have you ever considered studying lingerie design?



Lingerie designer. Spends most of her time sewing bras and getting excited by shiny things and chantilly lace.

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Lingerie School: The Little Black Lingerie Project

By Karolina

My first term of my ‘lingerie degree’ is beginning to draw to a close. It’s quite scary how time has flown by! A couple of weeks ago we began our first proper ‘design’ project: the ‘Little Black Lingerie Project’. Up until now we’ve just been learning basic techniques so it’s almost like a test to see how much we’ve taken in.

(You may also like: The Story of a Bra in 8 Steps, pt. 1)

At the beginning of term we were lucky enough to visit the Snibston Discovery Museum, home to one of the world’s largest corset collections. As much as I wanted to spend the day staring at the gorgeous corsets, that wasn’t the aim of the trip! We were meant to choose a single inspiring object and create a sketchbook based around it. This sketchbook is now acting as our project’s inspiration.

We were put into pairs with the aim of creating a bra and pair of knickers as the end product. We began by choosing our inspirational images. The object I’d found myself most inspired by was a preserved ‘Death’s Head Hawkmoth’. I was particularly interested in the shapes in its wings, especially the strong linear patterns.

I took charge of making and designing the bra whilst my partner decided to work on the knickers. I started out with sketching out a few ideas before deciding on a strappy eyelash lace demi-bra.

The next stage in the design process was to begin modelling the bra on the stand. This involves marking out the shapes of the bra on a mannequin so as to create a bra pattern. These mannequins are specially made for lingerie design – they are an industry standard size of 34B/UK 12 and have specially placed seams to aid the design process.

(You may also like: The Story of a Bra in 8 Steps, pt. 2)

After plotting out the design with fashion tape, I then had to somehow transfer the designed pattern onto paper. This is done with calico, a cheap rigid fabric. It’s pinned and cut over the taped shapes and then has the pattern lines drawn on. These are then removed, trimmed off and traced onto paper.

Sounds simple? If only! Unfortunately the pattern pieces taken from the mannequin will rarely work together. Once on paper, these then have to have 6mm seam allowances added to the appropriate areas. They are then cut out and ‘walked’ around to see if they fit. Unfortunately they rarely do, so an arduous process of redrawing each piece with the appropriate modifications begins. This has to go on until the pattern at least works in theory with each piece fitting together in the ‘walking’ process!

(You may also like: What Everybody Should Know About the Difference Between Real Corsets and Fake Corsets)

Unfortunately even with a pattern that fits together perfectly a garment may still not work. This is why toiling is always necessary. Toiling is a process in which either parts of or a whole garment are made up to test the fit. You’ll rarely use the fabrics for your final design in the toile as these are often too expensive! Instead you’ll use cheaper ones with similar properties. Here’s a picture of my toile – using a cheap white rigid lace instead of my more costly eyelash one.

I’m very glad I finished this toile – I managed to identify lots of issues with my pattern and construction that I simply wouldn’t have been able to resolve if I’d launched straight into my final bra. Small things like seam finishes and elastic tension can make a huge difference on something so small.

(You may also like: The Look for Less: The View from the Designer)

So here is my final garment in all its glory – I’m actually very pleased with how it’s turned out considering that this was the first pattern I’d made all by myself! Unfortunately I’m nowhere near the end of this project. There are still lots of elements that you wouldn’t necessarily consider a part of the design process – highly detailed technical drawings, specification sheets and so forth – that aren’t nearly as exciting as creating actual garments…

Readers – what do you think of this design process? Is it simpler than you’d imagined or could you see yourself tackling it?

My First Month in Lingerie College: Adventures in the Machine Room

By: Karolina

So it seems that I’ve officially been a Contour Fashion student for over a month now – how time flies! The past few weeks have been almost a complete overload of information and yet this is only the tip of the iceberg. I thought that I knew a fair amount about lingerie before starting the course but I seem to be realising that I knew next to nothing at all…

I’ve been puzzling for quite a few days now over how to share my experiences so far with the readers of this blog! I’m still overwhelmed by how much I’ve already learned, so I’ve decided to introduce you to my new acquaintances in the machine room and the garments that I’ve made so far.

One of my greatest fears upon starting the course was admittedly the machine room. The industrial sewing machines have always struck me as far more threatening than my relatively compact domestic. Some of them only seem to function at hyper speed so I’m always wary of losing the odd finger.

So here’s the first one I met: the lockstitch machine. It’s possibly the friendliest of the lot but that’s not saying much. I was surprised at just how much this varied to a domestic machine – the analogy our tutor used is that of a car which I actually find very accurate! Using this felt like learning clutch control all over again. This is the machine that’s responsible for the straight stitch that you’ll find in almost all of your clothing – also known as a lockstitch, hence the machine’s name!

The second piece of equipment to make my acquaintance was the overlocker (also known as a serger in the US). This is the machine that’s responsible for fabric edges, especially in stretch fabrics such as jersey. I am particularly wary of it knowing that it has a blade that cuts the fabric whilst you sew…

The third one that I became friendly with was the three-point stitch machine. This is what is used to sew in elastics – the zig zag stitch means it all stays stretchy, a feature that’s particularly crucial in lingerie!

And then the final machines that I hadn’t even known existed: the bone caser/taping machine. These have made construction so much easier than I expected. They have twin needles and cover seams with either tape or bone casing – a complete must in the world of underthings!

We all started off very gently in the machine room, at first only tracing wavy lines on a piece of paper with the lockstitch machine to learn some basic control. It was then in our first properly taught week that we got started on our first garment: a basic bustier.

Now, although I’ve made various pieces of lingerie before, it has never been done ‘properly’. My method has always been to make things up as I go along and hope for the best!

Now I’m learning to make everything to a certain size (the industry standard 34B) so that everything can be adapted to create other sizes. A big change to simply pinning things to my own body so that they fit! So without further ado, here are the first three pieces that I’ve learned to make…

Bustier – admittedly not the prettiest piece of lingerie, but this was our introduction to a lot of the machines mentioned above. It was also our introduction to the importance of precision – lingerie seam allowance is usually only 6mm – quite a difference to the 1cm of outerwear!

Soft bra – probably the most basic bra possible yet also my favourite out of everything I’ve made so far. Not at all supportive but nevertheless very feminine and delicate. It was with this bra that we were introduced to stretch fabrics and the various ways they can be manipulated. Although this bra is made of the same stretchy lace throughout, certain parts have been backed onto denier – a stabilising rigid fabric.

Medium Support Bra – now, despite its funny shape, bras like this are supposedly some of the comfiest ones around. This bra’s shape is very closely modelled on Triumph’s ‘Doreen’ bra – statistically the best selling bra in the world. They must be doing something right! The shape on this bra is relatively old fashioned and is far more similar to the 1950s ideal bust shape. In the industry this is apparently referred to as a ‘beaky’ bust!

It’s a whole lot more satisfying making a piece of lingerie knowing that you’ve used the correct methods and will be able to replicate it. Even though everything I’ve made on this course so far has been basic and not exactly exciting in design I still feel very proud of them!

So there’s the first month of my life as a lingerie student… Although it might not exactly be fascinating for the average lingerie addict, I’m hoping that once we get started on proper projects I’ll be able to give you a much more exciting insight into this degree!

The Most Gorgeous Lingerie You’ll Never Wear

Today’s guest post is by Catherine Deadly, the smart and talented lady behind Kiss Me Deadly.  A week or so ago, she sent over some photos from one of her intern’s final collections, and I was so impressed that I begged her to let me share them here.  

As an added bonus, Catherine did a little write-up about how people break into the lingerie industry.  I love learning about this kind of “behind the scenes” stuff, and I hope you do too. Let me what you think in the comments!

I just spent Sunday, which was pretty much the first day of Summer in the UK, in a darkened room, getting Morgana in and out the worlds most complicated lingerie, and getting a grazed chin which was totally worth it, ’cause look:

These are not my designs. These pieces are by Lizzie Hobcraft’s, a very talented lingerie student who is just about to graduate from the De Montford University Contour Degree.  Yes, that’s right, an entire degree on knickers. Well, maybe not just knickers, but definitely lingerie.  It’s a 3 year course, and unlike some of the fluffier fashion courses out there, graduates come out knowing a good bit about the technical issues in designing and sampling lingerie, swimwear, corsetry and the like.

What it doesn’t teach is anything remotely related to how you apply that to paying your rent, or how it ends up being used in the real world. So students spend their holidays with companies, of all sizes, where they often get very boring work handed to them, in return for being able to see it all in operation. As you can imagine these placements vary as much as the companies do. I generally don’t offer them, because I work from home with two cats who like to sleep on the samples; its not exactly a buzzing workplace.

But last year Lizzie convinced me to give it a whirl. Turns out I know a little something about shapewear and hosiery (and sales tax in the UK, which I’m sure she’s just thrilled about), plus I get to have fun playing with outfits we can never, ever put into production. Because the thing with the final year of the lingerie degree is that they do a graduation project, a dissertation in underwear, and they are encouraged to do the most outrageously complicated, unconventional, and frankly downright ridiculous things they can.

In the weeks leading up to her dissertation, Lizzie and I visited all sorts of architectural oddities, mainly suspension bridges, which led to her collection being called Suspense.  She also developed a Hitchcockian theme to tie it all together, and we got Morgana to model everything .  These pictures will never be used for retail (well, except for the Cervin stockings in Turquoise/black), because the lingerie shown is insanely complicated. The trousers alone (once you factor in boning, layers, silver metallic trim, unbelievably expensive vintage lace, quality blue satin, and yards and yards of ribbon, grommets, & complications) would cost approximately £700! And you’d still have to worry about putting your lovers eye out!

But the point of the graduate project isn’t to make a commercial piece of lingerie – its to show off your creativity, your inspirations, your “directional“ fashion sense, and pushing the boundaries…in the hope that you’ll have amazing pieces in your portfolio to impress potential employers with.  And some of the touches that are actually the most unusual aren’t necessarily something you’d see from the pictures.  For example, the panelling on the corsetry isn’t just a satin overlay on a conventional corset, Lizzie actually constructed the shapes from horizontal panels, which is unusual. The back of the cincher? Fan lacing, something I’ve been periodically obsessing over for a while, with fan lace components used with satin straps to make the fit of the matching thong. And I’m still fascinated as to how the futuristic silver tubing actually looks great with the seriously retro lace.

So, basically, this is the “conventional” route into lingerie: do something as unconventional as you can, show it everyone in the world, and hope they hire you!  And no I can’t hire her, ’cause we’re not big enough yet.  I’m just settling for being a bad influence instead.  Did you notice there’s 6 garter tabs on  some of those things?!  I mean, that’s just strange.  ;)