Pin-Up Girls Ruby Bra - definitely a jewel accompanied by the Evie La Luve Esme

Always eager to try new patterns I had been following the posts for Beverly Johnson’s Jewel Collection of bra patterns. As usual I get drawn in by a discount so when Fit2Sew, UK distibutor for Bra-makers Supply, launched their new website with 30% discount I stocked up on a few patterns! First up is the Ruby, “an off-set vertical seamed cup for the roundest styling, and a shortened upper cup for maximum lift”. A lot to live up to but, oh boy, no wonder I am obsessed with making lingerie.

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The pattern uses a unique sizing system based on your Bottom Cup Depth (BCD). Taking my own measurements in a mirror was a sight to be seen but hey, I’m an accountant and don’t normally have much to laugh about. I did a little more reading on Beverly’s blog about sizing and using her methods I came up with my RTW size. So I was really excited to see how well this would work out, although I need no excuse to get on and finish. For each BCD there is a band size which is your rib cage measurement. I made up a little paper cup just to check the size out against my RTW.

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I wanted to make this in lace so I first had to redraft the frame, following Beverly’s Craftsy Class, adding a seam allowance to the centre front and taking off the bottom band elastic allowance.

I also marked the foam pattern pieces in red so I didn’t get them confused with the fabric set.

Then on to the huge decision as to what fabric to make it in. For me this means getting the stash out of very tightly packed plastic boxes. The first choice was the leopard print lace. Again, another recent post, reminded me of this lace from Tailor Made. I chose a skin tone foam rather than black as I didn’t want the cups to be obviously foam lined.

Cutting foam isn’t my favourite task. I find it easier to draw around each piece and cut out separately. I do check both sides are the same size. Then I mark the notches with a heat erasable pen. This is a four piece cup so it is really important to line up each piece.

I really like pattern instructions that give you stitch sizes and this is especially important when butting up the foam pieces. As expected from a Beverly pattern, the cups came together beautifully and I could move on the to the covers. I should mention that you need to stabilise the inside of the neckline and underarm edges of the foam.

All the seams are opened up and top stitched on either side, close to the seam line. I trimmed back to the stitching on the upper cup seams so they lay even flatter against the foam. I then placed the fabric over the foam ensuring all the seam lines matched before machine basting all around the cup. I would normally attach fold over elastic in two passes but the pattern has you use a glue stick and then stitch in one pass with a small zigzag. As there is no stretching of the FOE this worked really well.

For the frame I chose to line with beige duoplex rather than sheer cup lining so that it would have the same appearance from the front as the cups, I used a temporary spray adhesive to hold in place. I opened up the centre seam and again topstitched either side, trimming back to the stitching for a neat finish. Next, I would normally put on the back bands but went straight to inserting the cups into the frame to ensure the lace stayed in place.

Then I put on the back bands. As I had adapted the frame for a lace edge I needed to ensure that the band extended past the frame to allow the fold back of the elastic. I then trimmed the duoplex back slightly so that when I folded towards the cup and top stitched it did not show through.

On the first pass you apply the elastic to the bottom band as normal, stopping at the point the band joins the frame and again on the other side of the frame. Then I turned the elastic to the inside of the frame, pinned at the centre front to ensure symmetrical and stitched down on the opposite side of the frame.

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I thought I would share how I attach the wire casing. First, I change from a stretch to a microtex needle and then I use my stitch in the ditch foot. I have the blade of the foot just covering the stitching line and I butt the casing up against this and move my needle over slightly to sew within the seam allowance. Perfect result every time.

With the underarm elastic done just the straps and fastener to do. As always I check the fit of the fastener before I attach the strap at the back. Just a little to take off. The straps are made in two pieces. The front strap should be reinforced with ribbon to stop stretching although I did omit this for my version. The only black rings I had were a little small and the foam front didn’t really want to go through. This is one reason why I leave the tails on my elastic. I overlapped the the underarm and FOE elastic to in effect extend and fold this over the ring. I hand stitched in place and then trimmed back to where I wanted the seam to finish. Then I used a small narrow zigzag to overlap the edge. So neat.

The bra used quite a lot of the lace so I had to think what underwear I could make. This just keeps happening to me, but Evie La Luve introduced an update for the Esme that morning! The PDF came in and within hours I had made a new version.

I put together two versions, using a lace front and a mesh back. This would fit perfectly with the look of the bra. I followed the instructions for the front, basting the lace gusset to the lining and applying picot elastic to the sides and then attaching to front. The updated version of the pattern finishes in a different order. The back pieces are placed over the front pieces, the waist elastic applied and then the backs are stitched together, finished by attaching the back to the gusset.

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I enclosed the back seam by placing one folded back piece over the other and stitching through all layers. You pull through to the right side and the seam is enclosed. This is the method I picked up from the Orange Lingerie Montgomery Brief, although this is the first time I have done it on a curved seam but it looks fabulous. Finally I applied the FOE to the waist in the round and attached the back to the gusset.

Well how beautiful do they look. I am getting pretty good at this lingerie lark!

Another astonishing success. The bra fits perfectly and is a fabulous shape. I just need some ladies who will let me practice in other sizes. And, Evie La Luve has also updated the Bella for even more possiblilites. Christmas sewing here I come.

Mystic - Another Orange Lingerie Pattern Release!

No sooner had I finished the Orange Lingerie Lansdowne when the Mystic bra pattern flashed up on Instagram. It is described as a seamless t-shirt bra providing invisible shaping and support underneath even the most fitted garments! Never mind the numerous other projects I have stacked I just had to try. A busy work week so I had to wait until the weekend. So just in time for Strictly I managed another gorgeous set.

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The pattern is based on pre-formed foam bra cups. Luckily, I had a pair in my stash purchased from BWear when I first attempted making bras. I had used two sets for the Pin-Up Girl’s Anita/Amelia Foam Cup Bra Pattern. This offers both a lace and fabric cup option with a lace full band. I had bought the pattern after watching Beverly Johnson’s Craftsy Class Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace & Beyond. Then I had tried a self drafted partial band which I found hard going because of the bulk of the foam on the bottom edge of the cup. So I was intrigued to see how Orange Lingerie tackled the issue.

I knew from previous makes that you need your fabric to be really stretchy so I looked around for some soft jersey scraps and there on the pile was this super organic cotton from Jelly Fabrics I had just used to line my Charlie Jacket. I only had black foam cups but when I stretched the fabric over slightly it looked fine so I went ahead.

I read the instructions and the trick is to to attach a seam allowance to the inside of the cup. I struggled to find something appropriate and I ended up with some tape. Once you have the tape in place you have to place your fabric with the greatest stretch direction in line with the upper edge and then manipulate until you get out all the creases.

This does take some time and patience. You just need to keep moving the pins around until the creases eventually are stretched out, taking care not to distort the foam cup. Once you are happy with this you then mark a line on the upper cup as well as a notch in the middle on both the fabric and cup. You then need to take out your pins and put the right side of the fabric against the cup with the line matching the edge as well as the notches. You sew an 1/8” seam along the edge and then roll the fabric over and then start the placing of the fabric all over again. When all the wrinkles have gone you sew the fabric to the new seam allowance and cut the the underarm fabric back to 3/8”.

I did one cup and decided to try something different with the second for a smoother look. I left attaching the seam allowance until after I finished the upper edge and got the fabric back in place. Then I basted the fabric in place along the side and bottom edge. With the fabric in place I butted fusible tape along the edge of the cup and fused to the fabric only and then trimmed back to the 1/4” seam allowance.

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With the cups done I had to choose what fabric to use for the rest of the bra. I had some matching red jersey as well as some aqua marine stretch mesh from Costura Secret Shop. Then a decision between red findings or a Fit2Sew findings kit in turquoise. Too much choice but I decided on using the same fabric for the bridge and side band with two layers of the mesh for the back band. With this combination the turquoise findings looked best.

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On to the bridge. The pattern does say to stabilise if using your cup fabric. This is really important as I found out in previous makes. The jersey stretches out and causes creases when used with a stable lining. So I used an ultra soft fusible to stabilise. Initially I was going to use black sheer lining to match the foam cup but changed to beige. Attaching the bridge to the cups is quite fiddly to get right but worth the effort.

The elastic is added to the cup at this stage. On the first pass the elastic is attached to the fabric seam allowance only. You then attach stabiliser to the end of the elastic so that it is not stretched out by the strap. The pattern has you hand stitch the elastic in place using a fell stitch. However, I just used a machine zigzag as thought a stronger finish and my hand stitching is not very neat.

After stabilising the side bands I used temporary adhesive spray to attach the beige lining to the back and also to keep the two layers of mesh together. The back band is then attached to the side band. This should be pressed towards the side band but my fabric preferred to sit the other way because of the bulk. So rather than overlock the seam and add extra bulk I topstitched close to the edge and trimmed back to the stitching. I think it is worth saying it would be hard to pattern match the cups. I started with two different flamingos in the middle of each cup and this looks fine. However, with so much moving of the fabric you could struggle to be anymore precise.

After attaching the top and bottom elastic to the bands you make the strap. Before attaching the strap I checked the fit of the fastener. The band was too wide so I pinned the two sides together and reshaped to fit. This ensures the bands are exactly the same.

The bands are then attached to the cups. There is an awful lot of bulk where the two elastics meet on the underarm but thankfully not an issue for the sewing machine. Just the chaneling to do before attaching the strap. Before sealing off the ends I made sure that the wires fit through . All done and on to making a matching set.

The Orange Lingerie Montgomery brief is a perfect match as it has an innovative design that eliminates elastic from the bottom for a smooth profile under clothing. I have made this pattern a number of times as it is a really comfortable fit. Although a pattern for a lace front there is a great guide on Norma’s website for a simple adaption so you can use fabric.

You just need to add the seam allowance for the waist elastic and because you are not using the edge of the lace you can draw a light curve for the waist. To make sure it was symmetrical I folded the pattern piece over and used on the fold rather than cut on one layer. To use as much of my fabric as I could I also added the gusset to the panel, rather than use the mesh. So you need to eliminate the seam allowance . This would mean I wouldn’t be able to enclose the front seam but not a big issue for me. I overlocked the front edge and basted in place.

The findings kit was just for a bra so there was not enough 3/8” elastic for both the legs and waist. The kit does contain a neck edge elastic which is rather decorative so I used this for the waist instead. I always put my waist elastic join on the side but the match on this was so good you can’t see it! The guide does say not to stretch the elastic over the front panel as it is meant for a rigid lace. However, this jersey is very stretchy so I calculated my usual deduction and distributed the elastic evenly. Worked perfectly.

Another fabulous make. It is a time consuming process but worth the effort. It did help that I had used a similar method before and knew what size cup, wire and back band works for me and all made from my stash.

Now let's make a corset - Part 1!

This is just so exciting.  I am a big fan of Craftsy and their deals have taken me off in so many directions.  It all began with the Beverly Johnson "Sewing Bras: Construction and Fit". This is a must if you are considering bra making.  I soon had the rest of her courses, taking in some formal tailoring, pattern drafting with Suzy Furrer along the way, all interspersed with embroidery classes and whatever came on offer that took my fancy.  At this point I should say that I finish all projects I start but some start dates are put back as something new grabs my attention.  So this is my latest "I have got to try this" 

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Sewing Corsets - Essential Techniques

Alison Smith

 

 

Although there is a supplies and resources list I watched the class most of the way through to be double sure.  Besides the fabric and metalware for the corset itself I had most of the tools required except for the 12mm bias tape maker.  As the class uses Alison's Zara pattern I thought that would be the best place to start.  I have found that you get so much more from the class if you use the pattern being demonstrated.  The pattern is available at Sew Wardrobe, Alison's website, where they also offer a kit, available in three colours, to get you started.  I went for the black as at first I wasn't going to use any decorative fabric and thought this would be the best choice.  

Rather than trace I just cut out the size I needed and I will print out again for another size.  With a small number of pages and some close together lines this is so much quicker than tracing.  

All the pattern pieces cut in a stiff calico and labelled including marking top.

All the pattern pieces cut in a stiff calico and labelled including marking top.

I stitched all the seams including centre front.  If you use Swedish tracing paper you can just sew your pattern pieces together.  I do need to try this.

So now you need some help to try on and check the fit at the back!

So now you need some help to try on and check the fit at the back!

The fit was fine for me but, if necessary, Alison takes you through a full bust adjustment (FBA).  Now can't wait for the kit to arrive.  

Evie La Luve Inspiration and Art Gallery Fabric

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I saw this Art Gallery fabric (Pandalicious Yinghua Cherrylight) in one of Hannah's tutorials and decided I must have some.  I found it on an a number of websites but used Minerva Crafts as I get a 10% discount on all purchases as a member of their Craft Club.  

As the Esme pattern is my go to pattern I made this version first.  The fit is fabulous and the cross over lace looks gorgeous whatever you make it in.  Just as I bought the fabric Hannah launched her Frankie pattern so the other two in the Art Gallery fabric are versions 1 and 3.  The Frankie's are a mid rise fit perfect for every day wear.  There are over 40 combinations  using variations of wide stretch lace, narrow stretch lace, fabric and elastics and all with beautiful colour instructions it really is a must have pattern.  I have since made a lace overlay version but have yet to make the dip and strap back version, although I have bought the rose gold findings for when I find the right fabric.  

The bra is my own design using foam cups from BWear based on a technique I picked up from Beverly Johnson's Craftsy Class - Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace & Beyond.  You place a piece of the fabric on the cup and work it around the perimeter so it is smooth and without puckers or creases.  If I am using FOE for the front edge I then zigzag all around from the inside and cut back the fabric to the cup.   The fabric is really stretchy so I lined the frame and bridge with sheer nylon.  For extra support and to enclose the seams I lined the back band with a microfibre tricot stretch fabric which is really soft against the skin.  

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As I have seen so many good reviews I thought I would also try the Watson bra from Cloth Habit.  The instructions are so good with an explanation of stretch fabrics and guidance as to the stitch length and width to use.  I used a tricot lining for the cradle and lined the cups and band with what I consider a light powernet.  The size guide was pretty accurate for me but next time I make this bra I would probably make the longline version for that extra bit of support. 

To complete the set I used the rest of the mint lace to make the free pattern from So Sew Easy.  There is more of the Art Gallery fabric but that is for another day!