Picture gallery: Norwich women won’t be getting their knickers in a twist

It's official: Norwich could be the next international supplier of knickers.

Bright, fun and pretty pants are being lovingly hand-made in a street in Norwich.

Eight women who were neighbours for years, but knew little of each other, have joined together to design, sew and sell underwear to the women in the city.

And the money they make from the delicate drawers will go straight to Age UK Norwich and Age UK Norfolk, charities which aim to improve the wellbeing of older people.

The plan for the pants sprang from a knicker-making class that freelance journalist and Age UK Norwich volunteer Hilary Talbot attended at Makeplace in Magdalen Street, Norwich, several months ago.

She said: 'I just really fancied making knickers. I love the beautiful ones my 19-year-old daughter buys, and there aren't any like that available for women who are older, but who still want to wear fun underwear.'

The knicker-makers will be selling their flowery, stripey and spotty pants at an open day at the Bishop of Norwich's garden on July 1. Geraldine Duffy, 51, a project manager, said: 'The knickers are sewn with love and care in Norwich.'

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The group of seamstresses meet at Mrs Talbot's house in Fairfield Road, near Newmarket Road.

Most of the women have little experience of sewing, many confessed to not having touched a machine since school.

But among the group is Christine Hinchliffe, 65, from Town Close Road. She carved a career out of designing and making couture clothing around the world, before opening her shop, Christine Hinchliffe, in Diss in 1992. While Mrs Talbot sources the fabric from Beccles and Norwich, Ms Hinchliffe cuts the knickers to size, ranging from 10-14 and casts her expert eye over the production line.

She said: 'It's a small thing to do for charity. I didn't know many of the women before I started, but now we are good friends. It's difficult sewing with the knicker fabric because it's so stretchy, but we have made 20 pairs so far, and have lots more to go.'

Broadcaster Helen McDermott, 58, performance practitioner Beverley Jordan, 44, and Kirsty Eyre, 33, from Age UK, were modelling the underwear.

Ms McDermott said: 'My face has been on the back of a bus, so I thought I may as well show the other side. They are so comfortable, and I really like the idea of selling knickers in the Bishop's garden.'

As well as the pretty pants, the group will also be selling tea towels, cakes and T-shirts at the open day, which will run from 1pm-5pm, and costs �3 entry. Ms Hinchliffe said 50 pairs is the minimum number the group aim to make to sell. However they will not be getting their knickers in a twist.

She said: 'We are not going to be sewing up to the last minute on the morning of July 1. We will be ready.'

Do you have a quirky story for the Evening News? Call reporter Rosa McMahon on 01603 772495 or email rosa.mcmahon@archant.co.uk

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