Who needs a reason to make more lingerie!

I don’t but I have lost so much weight since I have been back in the gym that nothing really fits so August turned into a bit of a lingerie sewing marathon. Luckily I have a stack of patterns to work with but picked up a few more along the way. So here are a few of my makes.

Emerald Erin Black Beauty

Emerald Erin Black Beauty

Orange Lingerie Devonshire

Orange Lingerie Devonshire

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Having found my most recent make, the Emerald Erin Black Beauty, to be a perfect fit I thought I would make another version. I was intending to use one of the tulle kits in pistachio or rose with latte findings but Nellie Joans posted a kit with mint and seashell pink and I was sold. I checked my stash and was really pleased to be able to put together a similar look using a Tailor Made kit. I added the nude foam as I wanted a pretty day bra without any show through. For a set I made both an Orange Lingerie Montgomery brief and a plain Evie la Luve Binky.

The tulle comes specially cut and laid out in two layers, with opposing direction of stretch and soft sides out, ready to cut into as a single layer. So much attention to detail with both the kit and the pattern means you get a bra that fits as it should. I pretty much followed the instructions except I added an extra layer of nude tulle so I could enclose all the seams of the cradle.

Luckily I had bought some stretch tulle from Small Bobbins which matched perfectly. A bit wary of using such sheer material for underwear I first made the Montgomery brief. This uses two layers for a no vpl look. A big favorite of mine as you can use just a scrap of lace. The coral and pink lace from Fit2Sew worked perfectly but I only had a small piece meant for the upper cup of a bra. I lined the lace with some nude mesh.

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The stretch tulle was so easy to work with that I decided to try a very sheer Binky. All three look absolutely amazing. So I moved on to using the scrap of lace left. I wanted something to match the first Black Beauty and went back to another Emerald Erin pattern, the Tuesday boyshort. I ended up photocopying the lace to make sure I could get a match. Worked beautifully with the pink bamboo also from Emerald Erin.

Around the same time the Black Beauty was released Orange Lingerie released the Devonshire bra. The patterns description says “I wanted to create beautiful uplift with delicate lace… Vertical seams are great for uplift and the result of the cup structure with the lace scallop edge is just gorgeous!” And that is exactly what you get!

The timing was perfect as it was released just as my order from Tailor Made arrived. I made up a paper cup to check the size and worked with that. For a little more support I added the navy foam (Fit2Sew) rather than line. Again I followed the instructions except for the front strap. Rather than a fabric strap I attached navy ribbon to the gorgeous neon pink that came with the kit to stabilise. I didn’t have a bright pink fastener so I made my own from pink duoplex using another Orange Lingerie pattern - the Leverett. A little fiddly but but well worth the effort.

As with all Tailor Made kits there was plenty of lace to make both the Studio Costura Stella Panties and an all lace Evie la Luve Esme which I hadn’t done before. The colours are just amazing and fit beautifully.

Without making this too long I just want to add two more makes. The first is the free Madalynne Raquel bralette pattern using some some beautiful lace and dot stretch mesh that I picked in person when she came over to London! I added a middle strap to the centre front and stabilised all three pieces. This is just so amazingly pretty and looks fabulous.

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And I thought I would finish with another beautiful Bra-makers Supply Ruby. This is the third I have made to match my diminishing size and their BCD method works every time! So now I am three band and cup sizes smaller than when I made my first. It looks and fits perfect. What I like is that it is made using supplies from relatively local sources. Evie la Luve is now stocking soft foam in beautiful colours along with matching powernet. This is called shell and is perfect with the lace from Sew Your Own Wardrobe. This is for everyday wear and teamed with another Stella.

I adjusted the pattern for a lace upper cup as well as a lace frame. As this is a four piece cup I carefully marked all the notches as well as labelled the corners to make sure I got the right way up. The foam pieces matched perfectly.

I made the cups up first and then added a tapered short strap which I had seen on Beverly Johnson’s Bluprint (was called Craftsy) Sewing Bras: Designer Techniques class. For the cradle I permanently adhered the lace to the tulle using Misty Fuse, another Beverly tip. Then I had to decide on the actual strap as the colour I thought of using wasn’t quite right. So with Strap-tember Bramakers Challenge in mind I cut a strip of the lace wide enough to wrap the strap. I then attached to the strap along the raw edge using the overlocker so I could then wrap around leaving the scallop edge on top which I stitched in place. What a result!

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This took up a lot of lace so after much playing around with the pattern pieces I went with the configuration that left the smallest gap. I already needed a piece for the middle as the lace wasn’t wide enough (good tip from Studio Costura). I matched the corner with a scrap of lace. I stitched in place with a small zigzag and then trimmed back to the stitching with applique scissors. As it is close to the seam allowance and the fold of the waist elastic you can’t see it. With no lace leftover I made the gusset with the powernet and looks fabulous.

And now for a break!

Delving into Denim with Closet Case Ginger Jeans and Alina Sewing & Design Hampton Jacket

My journey with denim began a long time ago when at 15, inspired by my home economics teacher, Miss Hobbs, I made my first pair of straight leg jeans along with a tweed waistcoat and matching tie! No stretch denim back then and luckily no photos. My interest was renewed just a couple of years ago when I was lucky enough to be the only person in a Jeans Technique class with Lorna Knight. Sewing machines and fabric have certainly moved on in forty years.

The Ginger pattern I bought last year after seeing so many great reviews on IG but only got around to making up last month when I decided I needed to use my embroidery machine more. Having signed up for the Alina Sewing and Design newsletter when I bought the Chi pattern for SewMyStyle2019 I got an email on a promotion for the Hampton - more denim practice as well as another chance to embroider.

First I made the skinny leg version of the Ginger mid-rise pattern using some lovely dark denim from Guthrie & Ghani. This is a 61 page PDF pattern so I had printed at Netprinter. The big debate was which size to make as I have little difference between waist and hips. I compared my favourite RTW pair with the finished size measurements and went with the 8. I didn’t think through the fact that my fabric had a lot less stretch than the RTW pair so they fit pretty tight and had to reduce the leg seam allowance to be able to pull up.

On to the lining fabric. I have so much cotton fabric left from quilting to choose from but went for a colourful fabric that I thought would look good with denim. Then I wanted an embroidery design for the pocket to tie in with the lining fabric colours. It was quite hard to find a design with multi colours and would also fit well within the stitch lines. The design is Western Flair by Embroidery Library.

Choosing the embroidery thread was quite difficult as I was also matching the topstitch thread as well. So in the end it was more orange gold than the fabric and a lighter purple as the darker colour didn’t show up enough. I had just watched a class on my Bluprint subscription called Machine Embroidery on Denim by Katrina Walker which went through these issues.

I mostly followed the sewalong as I prefer photos to technical drawings. However, the pattern has been updated since the sewalong to accommodate a pocket stay (attached in the fly) which at the time of the sewalong was just an option. My only out of sync action was to sew the back pockets in before attaching to the front. The idea is to get to the stage of being able to test fit and check the position but I went with where my RTW sat as didn’t want to fiddle around topstitching later.

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I have to say if you follow the instructions you should come out with some impressive looking jeans. The contrasting overlocker thread is a great idea and I picked up the lining fabric colour and followed through with my embroidered name. I ordered a couple of zips, one as per the instructions and then 1” shorter, but in the end I used a much shorter one I had lying around. It was still a little long and uncomfortable with feeling for the metal teeth I used my little kit to take out the extra teeth and replace the end stops.

I hadn’t bothered with a test make so the only room I had for adjusting was when I came to sew the outside leg seams. This is when I realised how little stretch my fabric had. So from just above my knee I reduced the seam allowance by 1/4” and this is enough to get them on. Although I did end up with loads of small bruises where I caught my skin on my first attempt to get them on.

I attempted to sew on the belt loops with my walking foot attached but I just couldn’t see what I was doing. In the end I used my applique foot which is quite short and open. Along with the jean-a-ma-jig and wonder tape I managed 5 perfectly placed neat belt loops. And then the dreaded buttonhole. The buttonhole foot just kept catching in the seam allowance and knotted. I tried normal thread the same colour as the topstitch thread. After a google search I came across a Youtube video on a manual buttonhole. It takes a bit of practice but looks fantastic. However, I did use fraycheck on the back and let dry before I cut open.

Now a little more relaxed around denim I thought I would tackle the jacket - all those buttonholes! It was easier to decide which size to make as my waist measurement ties in with my bust and I again made an 8. Another PDF but this pattern is layered so I could just print out the one size and a manageable number of pages. Every single page lined up perfectly. Then it struck me there were an awful lot of pattern pieces - 20 in fact, A to T. Thankfully, as with the Ginger there is a fabulous sewalong to accompany the pattern instructions which have technical drawings. Again I mostly followed the sewalong occasionally referring back to the pattern but I should point out that they are enough but I prefer photos.

I wanted to embroider the back but wanted the design to fit within the centre back panel as I didn’t want to go over the bulky seams. This time the pattern is for a non-stretch denim and I used a mid blue from Empress Mills. This influenced the design I used because a lot of the designs would work on either bleached or very dark denim. I found another Embroidery Library design that I thought would work really well called Wild West Blooms. I changed out the teal for a more turquoise colour to pop on the denim.

I traced the pattern piece and roughly cut around so I didn’t have to be too precise in the hooping as I am still a complete beginner with the bigger hoops. I then traced out the pattern piece ensuring it was exactly in the centre.

I used smaller designs in the set for the front yoke and side panel. To help with placement I drew on all the seam allowances and top stitching lines. I am so pleased with the result.

The welt pocket worked beautifully and with a sigh of relief I moved onto the front pocket flaps and the buttonholes. First, I had to choose a button. The copper laurel wreath looks fabulous with the embroidery. Remembering to ensure the seam allowances would be out of the way I managed two perfect buttonholes. I was using a Gütermann Jeans thread which had caught my eye on the trip to Sew Your Own Wardrobe. The description is a “two-colour appearance which makes it suitable for darning and decoration”. As I was embroidering the jacket I didn’t want the design to compete with the thread and I thought this would be ideal. It looks metallic especially in the dense stitching of the bar tacks and buttonholes but it isn’t as thick as the topstitch thread I had used on the jeans.

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At this point I thought all the hard work had been done. The jacket was coming together and was looking fantastic. The first struggle was top stitching the front yoke. My machine just did not like going over the flap with all those layers. A few bangs with the rubber mallet really did help! There is also a lot of fabric to get through on the centre front edges especially at the corners but I pressed well and called on the services on my husband for some brute force.

The collar isn’t lined so that went in really well. The instructions for the cuff are excellent and looks so professional. The only fiddly bit is topstitching the second sleeve seam where you are sewing in a tunnel. Having just done this with my leggings I wasn’t phased. This is one of the best patterns I have used as everything lined up perfectly and even the button placement was where it should be. However, my favourite part was the set in sleeves. The pattern requires three rows of gathering stitches and then I pulled these up over a pressing ham before placing into the jacket. Perfect first time.

Fit For Purpose - My Activewear Marathon!

After the success of the sports bra the idea was to build a new activewear wardrobe but with my mum in hospital for over seven weeks now I have had little chance for sewing since it was finished. Along with all the research that has gone into this project I am quite exhausted. However, I finally got around to the first two items in my capsule wardrobe along with a number of other, wearable, test items along the way. Overall I am feeling rather pleased with myself.

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First up was to try Greenstyle’s Stride Athletic Tights, or leggings, as we would call them in the UK. I bought the pattern bundle which includes girls sizes and a shorts version. The PDF is layered which I really like when you have so many size options but, as with the Endurance, I did have some issues with the A4 version fitting together. I did work out that the problem was with the full length version only and did not impact on the capri length I had chosen to make.

I again used some fabric bought by the weight from Abakhan and left out the pockets as this was just a size test. I was brave and I did go for the gusset version.

There was no turning back once I had cut away the extra fabric. The instructions say to baste the two gusset pieces together but I used temporary adhesive spray as this fabric is just so slippery. You need to carefully mark the front as it is quite easy to get it the wrong way! I also put my waistband on back to front (inner waistband with elastic side facing out) but for the test version it was not a problem. The next day I took them to the gym (as wrong as the colour may be) and I did both a run and a training session. And yes they stayed up!!! So onto the real thing.

The first issue was to find the right fabric. Melissa Fehr has a really good global list on her website and touches on this in her Bluprint class “Serging Activewear”. After scouring the internet I decided to use two of her suggestions, Fashion Formula for the prints and Funkifabrics for the plains. The bottom two prints are Active Lycra and the top is soft jersey. First point is that I hadn’t thought through the scale of the print. With Fashion Formula you can scale this yourself so next time I would actually go and measure out rather than judge on screen. Second, although less white show through than Spoonflower Sport Lycra, it is still a little see through for me when stretched. So I thought I would try some of the plain technical fabrics from Funkifabrics. I ordered the navy Meryl which I think is the same type of fabric as their plain black supplex (I ordered as a backup) but with slightly less weight and the same composition as my very favorite RTW. Then I added the Spider micro mesh, the navy being a new release.

Then on to the way I would finish the seams. I wanted the look of the flatlock seams on RTW. Again after many hours on the internet and several practice seams later I got to where I was comfortable. My first thought was to produce a flatlock on my serger and then a three needle coverstitch on top. On the curve this didn’t seem to work too well and also my coverstitch skipped stitches. However, I did pick up a couple of useful machine feet on this first run. A centre guide for the coverstitch and a blind hem foot for the overlocker. The blind hem foot can be used to line up the edge of the fabric to keep it consistent. You also need to trim the seam allowances neatly if you use this technique and I didn’t think I was ready for this.

Another way would be to overlock the seam with wrong sides together and then coverstitch the seam allowance in place to look like a flatlock stitch.

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Alternatively, I thought I would overlock the seam and then sew with the three needle coverstitch in reverse. Researching this I came across Johanna Lundström. After watching all her videos I bought her book, Master the Coverstitch Machine, which only came out a few weeks ago, and coverstitch needles for knit fabrics as well as Madeira Aeroflock. I was never sure of which brand of woolly nylon (although this brand is polyester) to use and I had certainly not see the needles before, luckily both were available from Barnyarns.

More research on settings for a reverse coverstitch and I have not had not a skipped stitch since. The only issue remaining was to keep the stitching straight with the bulk and slipperiness of the fabric. My simple solution was to use a silk thread to baste in place and make sure the overlocked seam was to the right of my left needle mark.

Back to actually making the leggings and this time I decided to put in both the side and hidden pocket. The side pocket is such a great feature especially as I am a tissue carrier and it is awkward to keep reaching into a zipped back pocket where I keep my locker key. I even matched the pattern.

Once you have made the pocket the construction is the same. What I did find in my test version is that the layers slip around so for the first seam where the centre backs meet I stitched with my lightning stitch first to make sure both sides were an exact 3/8”.

Then I overlocked the inner seam before attempting the reverse coverstitch on all four seams. I was amazed how good it looked. These seams are just so strong. Then the gusset is inserted. I watched the video which makes it look so easy and it is. Not sure what I was afraid of. You pin the gusset at the notch to the inner seam, making sure the gusset is the right way up, and then overlock starting just above the gusset. Once you get to the pin you tug the gusset around to continue to just after the end of the gusset.

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Then you do the other half of the seam starting at the centre front and continuing all the way around the other side of the gusset, folding the first seam allowance back and out of the way. Again I stitched the first part of the centre back to make sure the seams were matched. I then used a reverse coverstitch over the first side and then all along the second from centre front to centre back. I had to stop at the insert as there was just too much bulk to get through.

Then the side seams are stitched together. I hadn’t thought this step through as I now had to reverse coverstitch through the completed legs. Not as bad as I thought. Just enough room to get to the bottom of the capri length version although not quite as neat as the other seams as I had to keep stopping to adjust the fabric tunnel. Only the waistband and hems to finish.

The inner pocket was quick and easy. Although I should point out to make sure you put the pocket pieces to the correct ends of the inner and outer waistband so they match up! I prefer clear elastic to knit elastic and use a three step zigzag to secure in place. Once the waistband was inserted using the overlocker I secured the seam allowance with a chainstitch. I chose to place the hidden pocket on the front rather than the back. Then I checked the length before hemming as I like to wear mine just below the knee. I cut two inches off the bottom and used a three needle coverstitch to finish.

The perfect legging pattern sorted I am still working on the perfect tank. I first tried the Greenstyle Xpres. I really liked the loose version I made to try out the size but I will make the tie back option next for use in the gym. Then I realised I have a tank variation on a Jalie pattern I already had - the racerback tank (3245). I made using some really inexpensive jersey which is not appropriate for activewear. It fits really well so I tried out my new glitter HTV from Happy Fabrics using a cricut access design. Really happy with the vinyl.

Then I thought i would try another Jalie pattern, the Anne-Marie, so I could use some of the spider mesh on the side pieces. This is another versatile pattern offering both a tank and tunic version with built in bra and endless possibilities for playing with colour combinations. The tank is fitted with negative ease but I am really comfortable with Jalie sizing so went straight for it.

As with many Jalie patterns there is a great video which I watched before even looking at the instructions although they did tie into the video. The pattern is a layered PDF and went together perfectly. I used the Active Lycra for the main panels, the Spider for the upper side panels, the Meryl for the bottom side panels and strong powernet for the bra.

It went together like a dream. I mostly used the overlocker for the seams but for the curved front and back neckline I used a lightning stitch to keep the bulk down. I did the reverse coverstitch on the centre front and back panels as with the leggings.

A little fiddly to sew but the video is very clear and I really like the idea of no binding around the neck or armholes. There is elastic inserted around the upper back from one princess seam to the other so it stays in place.

As I have used strong powernet I could use this without a sports bra for most activities. It fits so well and the finish is so neat and tidy.

So next up is another Endurance but with all the gym work I now have to make a different size! I also want to make some mix and match items including the Greenstyle Solo tank. However, first I am departing from knits and hoping to make a Til the Sun Down vintage look dress for a special occasion.