Piping elastic makes a subtle but beautiful edge to your panties. Two different ways to sew it with very different results!
Stretch lace is a beautiful way to finish the edges of your panties. So many different widths, styles and colors! In this video I will show you a few samples from my collection of lace, explain a term you might see on your pattern (lopol), and show you how to sew along the scalloped edge of lace.
In this video you will learn about what picot elastic is, how to choose the correct kind of picot elastic for sewing panties (and how it is different than the elastic used in bra-making), and two different methods for sewing picot edge elastic.
Yesterday I made my first partial band bra! Back when I wore store-bought bras, partial band styles were what I usually went for. So why did it take me so long to make one? Well... I guess I wanted to perfect the fit on my full-frame bra before jumping into more patternmaking with a totally different style.
I followed Beverly Johnson's instructions (from her Bluprint class "Sewing Bras: Designer Techniques") for making the partial band pattern, and I have to say it made me nervous. I understood adding an allowance for the channeling to the cups, but removing the seam allowance from the bridge just didn't seem right. But Beverly must have read my mind because she even said it might not seem right and to just trust her.
The actual sewing seemed to go a bit faster than a full-frame bra, probably because there is a lot less elastic to sew. My only problems , which are minor, came with the fit. There is some gaping at the top of the bridge, but I feel like it comes up too high for my taste anyway. For the next bra I will lower the bridge and cups and just trim my wires.
Also I think I made my separate strap attachment piece a bit too short, so I will add about half an inch to the length. Folding back the strap attachment over the O-ring and sewing through all those fabric and elastic layers never goes well for me (I usually break my needle) so I think I need to go back to the new type of strap attachment I used on my blue sheer bra and just put the O-rings in the back.
On this bra I used hook and eye tape instead of a heat-sealed hook and eye closure. Sometimes the stiff edges of the heat sealed closure irritate my skin, so i wanted to see if this would be a bit softer. Maybe it doesn't look as pretty with the zigzag stitching around the edges, but I'd rather be comfortable.
Look at all those thread ends! Haha. I never can seem to trim them all as I go. I like to show the guts of the bra so you can see the finishing. The duoplex cups are lined with 15D tricot sheer cup lining. I used a stitch-and-flip technique to enclose the cross-cup seam, but those four layers of seam allowance all going in the same direction did create a bit of bulkiness. I usually sew both cup layers separately and join at the top and bottom, so I might go back to doing that just to have a flatter seam that will be less visible under clothes.
One more thing I think I'll change is the angle at which the bottom of the band joins the cup. On this bra it is quite low and looks a bit awkward on my body. I think I'll raise it about half an inch and straighten out the line a bit.
For some reason, when it's hot out I become much more sensitive to elastics. By the afternoon rolls around, I have welts on my ribcage and feel very squirmy. So the less elastic I can get away with, the better!
Have you tried converting a full-frame bra pattern to a partial band bra?
I made a new bra today, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I'll start off by saying my dress form doesn't really fill it out properly; it fits me perfectly! This is the diagonal seam cup I tested out on my bra fitting band. The lace sling is the same pattern piece that I used in my black lace balconette, but in this case is purely decorative and not functional as a powerbar.
I used 40 denier nylon tricot for the cups and frame. One of the prolific bra-makers in the bra-making group on Facebook frequently makes bras with nylon tricot fused with lightweight interfacing, and I was inspired to try it out. I am not an interfacing expert, so I wasn't sure exactly which type to use. I have a lightweight woven interfacing by Fashion Sewing Supply, and decided to try out a test piece. After fusing, the resulting fabric still has a tiny bit of stretch, which is perfect for bra cups.
I usually line my cups with 15 denier tricot, but I wondered if that was really necessary for this project. Lined cups are probably more comfortable, since there is no seam allowance to irritate my skin, but I decided to just make an unlined bra this time.
I tried to topstitch the seam allowances close to the edge. I probably should have stitched closer to the seamline and just trimmed away the excess fabric. Or covered the seam with seam tape, which I do have in my big pile of bra trims.
I was planning to use picot elastic in the underarm area, but I really liked the piping elastic I used on the neckline and decided to continue it around the top edge.
Now, about the straps. I am experimenting with different methods of strap attachment. Folding the top of the cup down through an O-ring always turns into a very bulky seam for me, and I don't care much for it. I had a roughly rectangular piece of fused tricot leftover, and decided to make partial straps from the fabric. I could have just make a single wider strap, but I like the look of bra straps made from multiple strands of spaghetti. Instead of fussing with multiple edges of folded back and sewn straps, I used a lark's head knot through the O-ring. Is it weird? I don't know. Just an experiment.
At a craft store I bought a mixed bag of bows with pearls, and the pink color just happened to match my bra perfectly!
Of course, I have to show you the back even though it's not terribly interesting. I didn't have pink powernet, so I figured beige was my next best option.
I'm already dreaming up my next bra project. I'm thinking about altering my pattern yet again, and trying out a partial band bra.
Today I made a bra fitting band following the instructions on the Merckwaerdigh blog. A bra fitting band serves two purposes:
1. When first fitting a bra pattern, after finding the correct wire, the next step is to fit the band. It is easier to fit the bra in steps than try to fit the underwire, band and cups all at the same time.
2. Even though I now have a well-fitting bra pattern, I want to try out different bra cup designs, and rather than make an entire bra every time I make a style change, I can sew up a single cup to check the design and fit.
To begin, cut out the bridge, cradle, and back band pieces. Since this is only for fitting, I cut a single layer of simplex for the bridge and cradle and didn't bother with lining.
Sew the elastics on as usual. This would be a good opportunity to use up scraps, and you could zigzag together shorter pieces if necessary. I didn't happen to have any scraps in the correct widths, so I just used white.
If I was sewing a regular bra, the next step would be to sew the channeling to the cup/cradle seam allowances. Since I don't have a cup, I marked out the seam allowance on the cradle and sewed the channeling below the markings. I sewed the channeling to the inside of the bra, but it could work on the outside as well. Finish the underarm elastic as usual. As you can see in the picture below, I inserted the wires and closed the channeling at the center front. Don't do that! As soon as I started to sew on a tester bra cup I realized the underwire would be in the way (duh) and I had to unpick the seam. So leave one end of each channeling open.
And here is the fitting band on my dress form. The straps are just pieces of elastic, I figured it would be simpler to pin the front of the straps to the cups and didn't bother with rings and sliders.
Now the new cup styles. My self-drafted bra has horizontal cup seams, and I wanted to try both vertical and diagonal seams.
I cut and sewed one cup in each style, with the vertical seam as a right cup and the diagonal seam as a left cup.
After removing the underwires from the channeling, I basted the cups into my fitting band, keeping in mind that extra seam allowance would stick out at the underarm edge that would normally be finished with elastic. Looks like I forgot to add seam allowance to the neck edge of the vertical cup. Oops! Now pop the underwires back in and try it on.
My dress form is not as squishy as I am, and doesn't have as much lower cup fullness as I do. The diagonal seam cup fits me very well and doesn't seem to need any changes. There is some weirdness in the fit of the vertical seam cup. Horizontal wrinkles in the lower part of the cup seem to indicate not enough room, and the bulging above the apex means there is too much curve in the seam. Looks like I have some alterations to work on!
In my previous post, I shared how I altered the Barrett Bralette pattern to fit me. Last week I realized that most of my old sports bra are falling apart, so it was time to cut out another Barrette.
I have a large pile in the corner of my bedroom of clothing and other items that are going to be donated to the local thrift store. My husband likes to fling just about every old thing into the pile, without really discerning whether anyone would actually be likely to buy it. One of the pieces of clothing in the pile was an old t-shirt, which had a neck band that was stretched out. I really liked the fabric, a cotton/poly jersey in blue and black, and decided that since it was too worn out to donate I would cut it up into a couple sewing projects.
So far, that one t-shirt has turned into two pairs of panties and a bralette. I'd say that is a pretty good deal!
It bothers me when trims don't perfectly match the fabric color, so I tend to go for contrasting colors. I had some magenta picot elastic (from Lace Heaven) and I really like the bright pop of color it adds. The back band is black powernet. This time around I didn't add a lining to the cups, so I topstitched the seam allowance open. We shall see if the raw seam allowances are irritating to my skin or not. Also, I used my 1" black elastic again for the straps and band. If you read my previous post, you know why!
Have you cut up old clothes and turned them into new creations?
Yesterday I finished sewing my second Barrett Bralette, a free pattern from Madalynne. Before I share my newest project with you, I wanted to share my first Barrett Bralette and how I altered the pattern to fit me. It seems like this sort of bralette only works well on small cup sizes, so when this pattern was published I was anxious to see how it worked on women with small rib cages and larger cup sizes. On Instagram I saw Barrett Bralettes on a wide variety of figures, and realized I had two options for altering the pattern to work for me. For reference, my underbust measurement is 31.5" and my full bust measurement is 37". I usually wear a 32D in my handmade bras.
Options for altering the pattern:
1. Use a large cup size and pair it with a small band.
2. Use a small size appropriate to fit my underbust measurement and increase the projection.
I decided to go for #2, since most of my fullness is in the lower cup, and I prefer not to have a lot of fabric in the upper cup going towards my armpit.
According to the pattern directions my underbust measurement would have technically put me in an x-small, but I decided that would probably be too tight and cut a size small instead. At the apex (fullest part of the bust) I added 3/8"on both the center front and side cup pieces and gradually blended back to the size small. Why 3/8"? To be honest, it was just an educated guess and luckily it worked for me.
I cut my project from cotton/lycra jersey and lined it with stretch mesh. I planned to use this bralette as a sort of sports bra, but I don't do very vigorous exercise so a super supportive bra was not necessary for me.
One of the changes I decided to make was to use 1" elastic as both the straps and the entire back band. Why elastic only? Well, there's a story to tell and I'll get to that once I finish showing you my bralette.
I used the back band pattern piece as a guide and cut three lengths of elastic. I basted them to the edge of the side cups, then topstitched down the entire seam. To secure the straps to the back elastics, I sewed a zigzag box over all the crossing points.
I'm quite happy with the fit and feel that it gives me a good amount of support for a bralette. I think using a strechy-but-firm knit fabric really helps to provide support, and so does adding a mesh lining. I like to show the guts of my bra makes, even if they are a bit messy. Please excuse any wonky stitching.
Now.. why did I use so much 1" wide black elastic? Because I have lots of it. Lots and lots of it.
My husband spent all of 2016 stationed in South Korea, about 20 minutes from Seoul. He is a brave and adventurous type (and also has a degree in anthropology), so on his days off he'd hop on the subway, pick a random exit, and just explore the surrounding area. One day, he happened to stumble upon Dondaemun, Seoul's fabric market. Seven floors of fabric, trims, and commercial embroidery and sewing. He was amazed by all the vendors and wanted to get something for me.
At that time I was beginning my bra-making journey, so I sent him swatches of the plush back elastics and straps that I was looking for. While I am blessed to have a husband that is eager to do nice things for me, he doesn't quite have the eye to pick out things that match the samples I give him. He found a vendor selling this black elastic and thought he had hit the jackpot. The vendor did not speak English, but through a few Korean words and gestures, Aaron thought he communicated that he would like five yards of elastic. The man nodded and began unrolling the elastic and measuring. And measuring and measuring, and unrolling and unrolling. Aaron became alarmed when the pile of elastic grew bigger and bigger and quickly looked up the Korean word for five (daseos) and waved his five fingers. The man nodded his head and just kept measuring. Aaron's friend said "Dude... I think you're getting that whole roll." Sure enough, that is what happened. The man shoved all the elastic into a grocery bag and wrote up the bill... which, translated into American dollars was a grand total of $15. Hah! Quite a good deal.
While not plush back elastic, it is quite soft against the skin, and not overly firm like packaged elastic. So I am happy to use it in sports bras and waistbands.
I put my bralette on my form to check the strap placement and realized that with my latest pair of briefs (from the pattern I am developing, stay tuned!) I had inadvertently created a matching set.
Have you tried the Barrett bralette? What do you think of the fit?
Also, have you been to any of the amazing fabric markets around the world? Have you found any good fabric and trim deals?
Remember the red shirt I made my husband for Valentine's Day? He loves it and has worn it several times, but there is a fit issue still bothering me.
Diagonal wrinkles from the armhole up towards the neck. This is a common fit issue in RTW shirts for him as well. I searched through all my books on fitting, and all of them say the problem is sloping shoulders. Before I made this shirt, I had adjusted the shoulder slope several times and I really didn't think that was the problem.
The typical shoulder slope adjustment is to lower the shoulder line at the armhole edge, and then lower the armhole by the same amount to preserve the armhole length. The wrinkles in this shirt were not loose; in fact they were quite tight on his body.
Just to be sure the problem was not the shoulder slope, I followed the instructions in this video from Threads, and traced around my husband's neck and shoulders to check the slope against the pattern.
Spot on! So if that wasn't the problem, then what was? I continued to do more research on the internet, and came across a post in a sewing forum of someone having a similar problem in fitting a men's t-shirt. The issue? Atheltic build. More fabric is needed in the upper back and upper chest to accommodate muscles.
So I traced off the pattern onto tissue paper, and drew lines across the upper chest and back. Beginning at the center, I cut them open, leaving a hinge at the armhole. I had my husband try them on carefully, and I let the tissue hang open. Sure enough, he needed about 1" on the front and 3/4" on the back for the tension in the tissue to be released.
I don't have pictures of the fitting because he gets antsy and I need to work as quickly as possible. While I try to be professional (even with my spouse) during a fitting, I think he still feels I am negatively judging his shape and not the shape of the pattern. Something for me to work on, I think.
I had to re-draw the neckline, and also straighten the center back and center front seams. Time to work on a new muslin! These fitting issues are making me wonder if it would be worthwhile to develop a men's shirt pattern for athletic builds. The Sewcialists recently posted an interesting article on sewing for plus-size men. Sewing patterns for men already seem to be limited, and plus-size even more so. I already have a long queue of patterns I wish to develop, but I think I will add in a men's shirt for athletic builds in larger sizes.
Do you sew clothes for men? What sort of fit issues do you have?
I wrote in my previous blog post about why I began making shirts for my husband. So far I have only made two shirts from his custom-fit sloper, so we are still on the long journey of tweaking the fit. I made two basic patterns, one a 'standard' fit and one 'closer fit'.
I usually make him an article of clothing for every gift-giving holiday. A few months ago I found some red/blue cross dyed cotton/linen on clearance in my local quilt store, and thought it would be perfect for a shirt. On the day I went to cut out this shirt, we were having some bizarre weather and it happened to be 80 degrees in early February. I realized that winter wouldn't be around much longer, so I opted for short sleeves. Fine by me, less fuss if I don't have to make a sleeve placket and cuffs!
One of the things that drives me crazy about home sewing patterns (especially from the Big Four) is directions that include hand-sewing. There is no hand-sewing in mass-market production of clothing, so I know there must be a way to do it all by machine! Sometimes it seems the directions, especially for finishing, are purposely done so that the end product just screams homemade. So here are a few things I've learned for sewing professional looking shirts.
If you want to learn some shirtmaking techniques, I recommend the book Shirtmaking by David Page Coffin. Especially for sewing the collar and cuffs, which employs the 'burrito method'. Nice crisp edges where everything lines up. The Sewaholic blog also has some great posts about sewing the collar and placket.
What else makes a good collar? Decent interfacing. And no, not the Pellon interfacing from Joann. I like to use Shirt Crisp from Fashion Sewing Supply. It's a bit expensive, but since I only use it in the collar and cuffs, a yard will last me quite awhile. The collar and cuffs end up so smooth, I love it!
In the first sew shirts I made, I really struggled to get nice edges for my patch pockets. Then I saw a tip somewhere, I think it was the Colette sewing blog, to baste the pockets together, turn them RS out and press well. Then pull out the basting and you have nice crisp edges ready for sewing.
As you can see, my edgestitching still needs some work. Lots of edgestitching and/or topstitching is another thing you can do that will make your shirts look professional and not homemade.
I spent some time examining the dress shirts in my husband's closet, and found that most of them had body and sleeve seams that were flat felled. I bought a flat felling foot for my machine on Amazon and figured out pretty quickly how to use it. Some people just use a regular presser foot and do some trimming, but I'd rather have the foot help me turn under the edge. While it works great for straight seams, setting in the sleeve was a bit challenging for me and I ended up with some puckers and ripples.
During the fitting process it seemed like a regular shirtsleeve with a wide and shallow cap just doesn't work well for him, so I was attempting to flat fell a pretty curved sleeve cap. I might have to alter my pattern a bit to reduce the curve just to make it easier to sew, or turn to french seams in the sleeve cap.
Overall I'm quite happy with how it turned out. My new Juki machine machine (an Excel F600) makes beautiful buttonholes, so there was no crying this time like there was on previous shirts, and there was no cursing and broken needles while topstitching through all the layers in the collar.
And, best of all, here is my happy customer. This big grin is why I sew.