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!

It's here - The Emerald Erin Black Beauty

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I came across Erin very early on in my lingerie journey when I was scouring the internet for patterns and supplies. This was before she had released any patterns but had a fabulous blog which has been the inspiration for some of my favorite makes. From bra making to swimwear the kits and supplies are some of the best I have come across. I have made up a number of the Jordy Bralette and the Tuesday Boy Shorts, the first patterns released, with great success and I have been eagerly awaiting a wired bra pattern. Then the fabulous pictures came up on IG and the newsletter came out. Luckily I was just a couple of hours from finishing a big project and could get going. Here is the Black Beauty, everything I was expecting and more.

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This pattern was made for me with endless possibilities for using tulle, lace, foam and fold over elastic combinations. However, it was the lookbook tulle version with fold over elastic binding on the external powerbar combined with the underarm binding to make a double strap that said WOW to me. I was in the process of making a summer collection for myself using a combination of lime and coral/pink supplies picked up from SewyourownWardrobe and had the perfect lace for this. So I thought I would combine the lace edge with the fold over elastic.

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Then I went on a bit of a size revelation journey. The pounding on the treadmill has changed my body quite a bit and I needed to take a bit more care over the size I made as I always try to make a wearable version on any test make. I took my measurements and I came up with a 32D/DD (UK sizing). I was a few stone lighter when I last wore a UK 32 (although it was an A cup!). So first I printed out the two sizes and made paper cups and it definitely looked like I was DD. This tied in with the size 38 wire I use in the bras I make for myself. Reading Erin’s sizing blog for US sizing you add 4” to your ribcage measurement and I would be a 36C (which is what I make in Orange Lingerie patterns). So the 32DD it was. Although I have to say it never works out like that in UK RTW.

I printed out all the pattern pieces for my size as I was going to mix the two versions. Then I put them in piles of version A, version B and foam cup pieces. It is really helpful to have the seam allowances drawn in as it helps to focus when thinking which version you are using. Then on to choosing the lining. They all looked fine but the soft pink tulle was perfect. With only a small length of lace I tried to make sure I had some left over to make some sort of underwear.

I used the lace (version B) for upper and lower cup. The upper cup is enclosed by the lower cup and then you apply clear elastic to the neckline edge. For the powerbar I used the fold over elastic version A and rather than just turn under the top edge I also lined with bra tulle and enclosed the seam

I attached the cups to the cradle before attaching the bands as I wanted to see how the various powernets would look. It was a dream to put together as the cups, cradle and powerbar fitted perfectly. Again the soft pink worked best but as this was a light weight powernet I used two layers.

The bottom band elastic is only 3/8” but this is all I had in the right colour. Having said this it was part of kit from Fit2Sew (who are the UK supplier for Bra-makers Supply) and is an excellent strong quality so I thought it would be fine. On to the underarm elastic. A lucky break as just a few inches to spare! I should point out that my fold over elastic is only 16mm (5/8”) before folding as this is all I can get here in the UK in most colours. I have used the wider elastic that Erin stocks and is great especially for the sports bras I have been making.

I also couldn’t source 1/4” twill tape which is used to stop the FOE straps over stretching. I used some satin ribbon which was only an 1/8” wide as 1/4” was too wide for the FOE. My bamboo stiletto was really useful for tucking in the ribbon. Although its point is a little off centre due to being used to clean the iron after using heat dissolvable stablilser (another story completely).

To finish I used the strap, hook and eye closure , rings and sliders from the kit. The strap isn’t enclosed in the back band elastic so I finished everything else and then tried on with them pinned in place. Just right.

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With no green FOE left or the right colour pink and only a scrap of lace left I had to rethink what underwear I would make. So I got out the files and came across the Evie la Luve Frankie which I remembered had a number of lace overlay options. As this was for FOE or lace I adjusted the waist and leg by the width of my picot elastic. Again I was in luck with just 1 inch to spare! They look just perfect with the bra.

Well what can I say. This is absolutely perfect from what ever angle you look. The fit and shape is unbelievable. What more could you ask for - the sizing was spot on, individual pattern pieces for each size, seam allowances marked, clear and precise instructions and fitted together like a dream.

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.

Summer Lingerie Part 1 - Watson and Binky Perfect Partners

A lot of the designers I follow use Spoonflower designs so I thought I would test some of the fabrics out.  My first purchase included some beautiful watercolour cotton spandex jersey designed by Crystal Walen with the lovely title of Mystical Floral.  The thought was to make a collection of wireless bras or bralettes for those hot summer days and obviously some coordinating bottoms.

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So what to do with the fabric.  Too many choices.  My first thought was the Cloth Habit Watson.  This is a pattern for a stretch fabric bra without wires.  Perfect for warm summer days.  I had made the regular version last year and it was a fabulous fit.  It is The only issue for me is that it does ride up a little.  So this time I went for the longline version hoping it would stay in place. 

Then had to decide what colour trims to use.  I ordered bra finding kits in navy, grey and turquoise from Fit2Sew along with purple powernet and lace from Sewing Chest.  Then found some plum, grey and ice blue fold over elastic from Evie la Luve.   

I really like the pattern instructions for this bra.  There is a good section about what fabrics to use and how this may affect the size you make.  What I also like is that Amy gives stitch width and length indications.  I found this really useful when I started my lingerie journey last year.

For the first set I went for navy as the kits include some pretty neckline elastic.  For the cradle I used sheer cup lining to stabilise the very stretchy fabric.  I cut the cradle in one piece after using my favourite temporary adhesive spray to hold the fabrics together.  For the rest I used a lightweight powernet lining.  

The patterns doesn't have you enclose the seams but I always prefer to do so where I can.  The inner cup is enclosed by the outer cup and then I baste the two layers together all around the cup.  My dilemma is always what colour thread to use when the elastic is a contract to the fabric.  I tried the navy but looked wrong so I ended up with white on top and blue in the bobbin.  The white did show slightly on the elastic but not enough to bother me.  Then I enclosed the cradle in the band and band lining.

You can just make out the mark for the 1/4" centre point mark where you sew up to for the first cup.  Then you sew the second cup from this point.  This was little awkward because the elastic had such a fancy picot edge but fitted together pretty well.  

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A year on and a little more fussy about the inside of my makes I decided to tackle the unfinished seam.  The next step is to topstitch the seam allowance to the cradle.  I decided to use my coverstitch with wooly nylon for the underneath as it gives great coverage.  Pretty pleased with the result.  All looking so neat and tidy.

 

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Before I put the strap elastic on I had to adjust the band as I didn't have a long fastener.  Quite a bit to take off so I got out my french curve to ensure a smooth blend.  I then pin the bands together and cut in one so match exactly.  Although a small kit the strap is quite wide but actually helps the look bringing out a little more of the navy.  The bow came with the kit so decided to use.

 

I found a tiny bit of navy lace which was just enough to make the lace overlay Binky which I have covered in earlier blogs.  This new pattern from Evie la Luve is so versatile and  a great fit.  Perfect partner for summer lingerie.  Pretty and comfortable!

Part 4 – Evie la Luve Darcey and Binky

Part 3 - Evie la Luve Rosie and Esme

Part 2 - Ohhhlulu Romy and Grace

 

Even More Evie la Luve - The Mimi Bikini Practice

A little rushed last year I thought year I would give myself time to make the perfect swimwear.  I had a big success with the Jalie 3350 but ran out of time for a bikini. On a run with Evie la Luve patterns and a 20% off offer I decided to give the Mimi Bikini a go. The description on the website is "The Mimi Bikini is a gorgeous cut combining a simple silhouette with a twist. You can be sure this bikini will stay in place with the two straps at the back and good coverage at the front!"

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Showing off my updated model.  A tin of white spray paint later and most of the shine gone!  Really need to get myself a proper lingerie form.

I knew I had loads of practice fabric left from my buy by the weight lycra from Abakhan.  However, I was delighted to find I had enough of the beautiful fabric, from Emerald Erin, that I had used for my swimming costume.   Although only a trial, you want to be able to wear if the fit goes well. Still loads of lining left from B Wear, another good source of lingerie supplies from Sweden. The pattern does need over 8 metres of elastic. I didn’t have quite enough of the rubber elastic which I had from Fit2Sew, a UK supplier with an ever expanding range of products, but I did have some alternative non rubber which not quite as strong but thought would try.

When only pattern weights and a rotary cutter will do. Or in may case heart balloon weights from my wedding party. Still had to neaten up a little as the fabric is so slippy. Using scraps I each piece was cut as a single layer.

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At this point I thought I would share my favourite aides for sewing with slippery stretch fabric.  I have both stretch and jersey machine needles. Both are ball point but the difference is that the eye of the stretch needle is higher so it produces a longer loop allowing more stretch.  A snippet I picked up from Lauren Guthrie at the Olympia Knitting and Stitching Show. On this note I also use ball point pins and hand sewing needles. All designed to part the fibres rather than piercing so as not to ladder the fabric. I find the bamboo stiletto invaluable for keeping fabric in place whilst under the foot especially on narrow seams. Then I often start seams with some Sitch and Tear underneath to stop the fabric being sucked in.  If I have to do basting I use a silk thread which pulls out easily without leaving any marks.

I did hand baste the linings to the main fabric.  You can use a zigzag or long machine stitch around the edge but sometimes the material just doesn't like being played with.  All the seams for the top are enclosed.  You then attach the elastic to the top edge and band ensuring it will fit into your closure.  Previously I have shied away from attaching elastic using an overlocker but thought I would give it a go as the folded edge looks so much better.  Starting off is a little tricky but after that so quick.  Then the pattern suggests using a twin needle or a three step zigzag to stitch in place.  I have a cover stitch for this but as only a trial I just went with the zigzag especially as my edge had already been covered.

The next step is to attach the bottom band.  This is where I wasn't quite sure where the folded back elastic should sit.  There is a little gap between the overlocked edge and the end of the seam which doesn't quite look right.  The instructions don't show you from this side so can't tell what it should look like.  However, there was a picture in the second PDF file for the bottoms.  The elastic is applied to the band before moving on to the straps.

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The patterns gives you a really neat way of doing this and there is a link to a video tutorial on the Evie la Luve You Tube channel.  With the strap folded right sides together you use a small zigzag to attach the elastic to the fabric, half on the elastic and half off.  You then trim close to the stitches and turn to the right side using a safety pin or hairgrip.

At this point I pinned the closure on to check the fit.  Very impressed with the fit for me so on to the bottoms.

I basted the lining to the front and back pieces and, unlike the pattern, only one of the top bands as you can enclose the seam for a neater look.  The gusset is applied using the burrito method so then only the side seams needed finishing.

The leg elastic is applied in the round and again I used the overlocker.  All fears now conquered!  The side seam elastic band is applied in the same way as the top.  This time I was a little more careful how I placed against the band and the pattern does include a picture of how this should look.  The instructions for the bottoms are in a second PDF file which I didn't read until I started making up.

Then the big try on.  Unfortunately, not quite what I was expecting.  The band was a very unflattering fit due to the fact my high hip is more or less the same measurement as my low hip as I found out when pattern drafting ie not curvy.  So to find a solution - nude powernet.  I placed the back and front pattern pieces together overlapping by the seam allowance and drew around the curve and straight across the top.  I added the width of the seam and cut out.  I pinned one side in place and tried on.  Solution found!  I finished the edge with the overlocker then  I sewed on from the front going over the same three step zigzag.  For a quick fix doesn't look bad on the inside.

Well another triumph for Evie la Luve.  For me the size options were spot on and no need for any alterations.  What I love about the patterns is that fit exactly how they are described.  This is definitely a go swimming in bikini and not be afraid whether it is still in place when you get out of the pool!  However, there are some important points to make.  The first is that not all fabric is as could as this.  It is a good weight, it recovers well and looked as good after washing.  Second, both top and bottom are lined.  Third, always use the rubber swimwear elastic if you can.  And, as suggested in the instructions, try and use similar products for your test garment as the results can be so different.

What next?  My print to order sport lycra from Spoonflower has arrived as well as tons of elastic from Fit2Sew (and bra finding kits in some lovely colours).  Just waiting for delivery of bikini clasps in an array of colours from Sewing Chest (another great UK supplier).  And to top it all off Evie la Luve is due to release another Bikini pattern this week!!!!!