It seems a bit of a time warp to be writing Craftsy class reviews… after all of the chaos with the platform it seems like it has really fallen off the sewing and crafting radar. However, a lot of the original classes made for the original Craftsy are still available on the platform, and a lot of those classes actually have some pretty peak sewing tutorials and information. I honestly think that I have to credit Janet Pray’s Sew Better Sew Faster series of videos with much of my current sewing skill. However, that’s a bit off topic because in this post I’m actually going look at the lingerie classes available and they ones that I’ve been binging as part of my recent bra and underwear sewing adventures.
While Craftsy’s search function is astoundingly horrific for a website in the 2020’s, they do have a filter function which allows you to search for Lingerie classes in their Sewing section of the website. Currently, they list the following videos:
- Practical Sewing Tips & Techniques (Nicki LaFoille)
- Lingerie Essentials: Boyshort Panty Styles (Beverly Johnson)
- Lingerie Essential: Bralettes (Alison Smith)
- Sewing Shapewear: Smooth Silhouettes (Beverly Johnson)
- Sewing Panties: Construction & Fit (Beverly Johnson)
- Custom Corsets: Bones, Casing, & Busks (Linda Sparks)
- Sewing Swimsuits: The Supportive One-Piece (Beverly Johnson)
- Sewing Corsets: Essential Techniques (Alison Smith)
- Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace & Beyond (Beverly Johnson)
- The Essential Guide to Sewing with Lace (Alison Smith)
- Sewing Lingerie: Essential Techniques (Alison Smith)
- Sewing Bras: Designer Techniques (Beverly Johnson)
- Sewing Bras: Construction & Fit (Beverly Johnson)
- The Essential Guide to Sewing with Sheers (Sara Alm)
While I haven’t watches all of these, I’ve watched several of the Beverly Johnson and Alison Smith videos, and I have to say they are quite good. Here’s a guide to some of the classes I would recommend if you want to get started with bra and underwear sewing:
Sewing Bras: Construction & Fit
If you have never sewn a bra, this is definitely the class to start with; the video tutorial is phenomenal. Beverly is a great teacher and really good about pointing out some helpful tricks in the construction portion of the video. I think the fit section is really indispensable though. I’m sure there are other blogs, tutorials, videos, books, etc. that detail this, but the video does an amazing job of covering many fit issues and how to fix them on the pattern draft both with clarity and efficiency. I went through many of these fixes on my second bra, and the fit was so much better! I’ve even gone back and watched it a third time to make futher adjustments for version 3. I also think seeing someone work through the construction the first time is super helpful, and I find myself going back to this video to review certain sections whenever I hit particularly tricky parts of bra construction. The only part of this video that I found to be un-helpful was her fitting tips in the beginning. In the video she shows measuring the upper bust to get the band size (and she justifies this by saying that the upper bust doesn’t change size as much as the under bust), however, both my sister and I found that this was giving us much too large of measurements in our own bra fitting; I went down 1 size and she went down somewhere between 2-3 sizes on the band (she’s between sizes a bit), which we could have avoided if we just followed the pattern fitting instructions and not the video instructions. If the pattern says to use the underbust to pick a size, use the underbust to pick a size.
Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace & Beyond
This second bra-sewing video course was a great second addition to Beverly’s bra-sewing series. In this video there are a lot more helpful tips and tricks for sewing with foam cups (cut and sew as well as pre-formed foam cups) and modifying patterns to sew with lace. What I especially like is how the focus is on both creativity with beautiful materials as well as the mechanics of changing the pattern draft to use them effectively. If you have never sewn a bra, I would definitely recommend Construction & Fit over this course, but if you have a TNT bra pattern and are looking for ways to change it up and add variety, this is a great follow-up class.
Sewing Bras: Designer Techniques
This might be the most interesting of the bra courses, especially if you enjoy pattern drafting. This class focuses on adding designer details and modifying bra styles. I’m glad I watched this course before buying patterns, though I haven’t really employed any of the techniques from this course yet. One of the segments of this class is converting a full banded bra to a partial banded bra, and watching this convinced me I only needed to buy full banded bra patterns, which I could then convert to a partial band as needed, and that I really didn’t need to spend money on multiple similar patterns for the different band styles. This course also looks at different bra closures and cup styles, as well as embellishments. Once you have a well-fitting pattern from the first class, you can basically make almost anything you want using the techniques and skills she demonstrates in the Foam and Lace and Designer Techniques courses. Bras had always been something functional to me, but after watching these videos I have been inspired to be creative and try and make something both functional and beautiful.
Sewing Panties: Construction & Fit
Along with bra sewing, panty sewing is not something I had on my 2022 bingo card. However, I so much enjoyed Beverly’s bra sewing classes that I binge-watched the panty sewing classes as well, and decided to go through the drafting process. I have to say, the initial draft was pretty excellent in terms of fit to the body, though the waistline is incredibly high. Both my sister and I had this “problem” though on me it was almost comical how high the first drafted undergarments were. It was much less “granny panties” and far more “almost shapewear” in the torso length.
After making the test versions, my sister and I also found the initial draft of the crotch gusset to be oddly short, especially when compared with ready to wear styles we had for comparison. For the second version, I lowered the waistline (a lot) and modified the shape of the gusset quite a bit. I’m still tweaking things with all of these patterns, but I feel like I’m pretty close to getting a well fitting standard draft and may wish to test some of her design features variations soon. Overall I will say that probably no one will get a 100% perfect draft on the first go, but everyone will probably get something that fits way better than ready to wear, especially if you are willing to tinker with the draft and give it 2 or 3 iterations to find your perfect fit.
Lingerie Essentials: Boyshort Panty Styles
So, I’m not typically someone who enjoys the boyshort styles, however, my sister much prefers this variation of undergarment because it does not have the leg elastic. Between the two panty courses, I would honestly recommend going with whichever one is more similar to styles you already enjoy wearing, because they are both great classes. I will say that regardless of whichever patterns become my TNTs, it was fun going through the drafting process for both this variation and the traditional panty class, and seeing how the same measurements result in such different pattern shapes and styles.
I also appreciate the different design styles offered in this class. As with the panty class, the original waistline was much too high (I lowered mine by about 4″ in the front and about 2″ in the back compared to the original draft), and I also find the traditional boyshort leg style a bit low in the for my preferences (it just bunches up on me), so I sort of made my own modified leg curve combining a few different leg lines shown in the video. This probably won’t be my go-to style between the two varieties (I prefer leg elastic to keep everything in place), but I do like having the variety and options, especially for use with some fancy laces.
For comparison, you can see the back-seam panty draft on the top and the combo panty boyshort draft on the bottom. Both of these styles only have a single seam on the center back, so between the different variations in the two classes they are probably the most comparable. The main difference is that for the top pattern the gusset adds to the length of the top style, whereas the gusset is just inserted as a lining in the lower version. I think it’s interesting to note the similarities and differences between these styles and how they can result in different fits.
Sewing Shapewear: Smooth Silhouettes
I wasn’t really interested in this course, but I enjoyed the other classes from Beverly Johnson so much that I thought I would give it a watch. I don’t really wear a lot of garments that need shapewear, but I can see how this could be useful if you prefer to wear very tightly fitted garments or figure hugging knit dresses. I do think it’s something I might revisit in the future if I start making more fitted clothes and want shapewear to help smooth things out; I think it could be much better to make something rather than buy it, especially because you can custom fit the torso length and such. What’s nice is that the PDF pattern for this is included in the class materials, so you don’t need to purchase anything else to get the pattern pieces for the shapewear sewn in the class tutorials.
Sewing Lingerie: Essential Techniques
This class is taught by Alison Smith rather than Beverly Johnson. They have very different mannerisms, but both are great teachers. While I felt like I was aware of many of the techniques in this course (especially the seam finishes and elastic techniques), the section on sewing mitered lace trim and fully lace-covered bust cups is mind-blowingly fantastic. While I think that this course is probably unnecessary if you want to sew traditional bras and underwear (I think the other courses are much better for that), if you wan to branch out into slips, nightwear, or even more lose fitting early 20th century historical undergarments, there are some really great techniques in this class that will result in some great finishes on those types of garments. While I don’t know if I would call this class “essential” it is really good if you want to pick up a few great sewing techniques, especially for working with lace.
Lingerie Essentials: Bralettes
This is another class taught by Alison Smith. This class also includes the pattern as part of the class materials, so that’s helpful because you won’t need to purchase additional patterns. However, the pattern isn’t particularly size inclusive, though Alison does show how to increase cup sizes and adjust the pattern as part of the class. Her tips on cutting and mirroring lace are mentioned in other courses, and unlike the Lingerie Essentials class that was much more general, this course is much more project focused. However, I do think that if you want a bralette instead of a fully wired bra, or if you don’t have a Craftsy subscription and are looking for bang for the buck this could be a great class because she covers both the bralette and underwear construction.
Overall, I feel that the videos I watched have given me some very solid fundamentals in undergarment construction. I didn’t include the corset courses in this review because I feel that those are in a slightly different skillset, though I would like to learn corset making as well. Between all of these classes I have to say that while I appreciate both Alison Smith and Beverly Johnson as instructors, in general I would probably recommend the Beverly Johnson courses as the must-watch classes on the platform. Part of this is personal preference, but part of it is also the amount of information contained in the different classes.
Stylistically, Alison Smith and Beverly Johnson are very different. Beverley’s courses and patterns are a bit more utilitarian and modern feeling (even the Designer Techniques styles look to be much more influenced by current ready to wear styles), whereas Alison’s designs and aesthetic have a distinctive vintage flair. While Alison’s classes have left me far more interested in sewing a bralette and lacy sleepwear set than I was before watching the videos, I have to say that personally I prefer the styles from Beverly Johnson’s classes because they are much more similar to what I generally prefer to wear. I also appreciate that the Beverly Johnson’s panty and boyshort classes are based on measurements only, so anyone can really draft something to wear from those courses. Plus, each of those classes has information on how to draft several style variations, so you can really get a lot of variety from a single starting point draft from those classes. Also, while Beverly’s bra sewing classes do assume you will purchase a bra pattern separately, the techniques are general enough that they can really be applied to any bra pattern, and most of the recommended ones are very size inclusive. The lace, foam, and designer techniques courses especially can really create a lot of variety from a single starting pattern, so I do think that even though there may need to be an initial investment in the pattern you can really save a lot if you work through all the drafting variations rather than buying multiple other patterns.
I do think that Alison Smith’s classes are great if you are newer or are looking to develop more general sewing techniques. In some sense her classes are more widely applicable because some of the techniques can be applied to a variety of garments. However, if your goal is to sew bras and underwear I still think the Johnson classes are the best that the platform has to offer. I would definitely recommend any of these classes though, if you are looking for information on this specialized sewing niche. It’s a bit weird to be talking about Craftsy as a platform in 2023, but I’m honestly really happy I still had a subscription because it really helped my recent bra sewing adventures turn out much better than I think they would have otherwise.
2 thoughts on “Craftsy Class Reviews: Lingerie Essentials Series”
Thanks I’ve got a level of Craftsy membership this year so will enjoy watching some of those.
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It might seem weird, but I’m glad that you are reviewing these classes, because good resources never really go out of style (at least until the video quality degrades to the point it’s unusable). For example, I still use those old singer sewing books from the 80s, and a readers digest book from (I think) the 60s. 😊 Both are very good and full of information, you just have to ignore the style choices. 😉 Someday I’ll probably pass them on to a daughter in law or niece that sews.