I appear to have found myself again in the position where I’ve been doing an extreme amount of sewing and sewing-related activity, but I can talk about only a small portion of it, and I don’t have any proper photoshoots for the things I can talk about… Bad, Melissa, very bad!
So consider this a little roundup post to let you know what I’ve been up to, until I can get my act together properly…
Silver cowl top
I cut out this MyImage cowl top pattern before we went to Mexico, thinking I might have enough time to quickly sew it up before we left. I would’ve, too, if I hadn’t decided I needed to make a quick travel bag. So it was waiting for me when I got back to cold, grey London, mocking me with its sleeveless-ness. I finally just sewed it up so I could have the space back in my sewing room, though I’m afraid I won’t really get to wear this until next year.
I made it out of some absolutely glitter-tastic jersey I bought at Tissue Reine in Paris a few years back, and I recall it was on the pricey side. It also left a trail of silver all over my sewing room… Boo.read more >>
I arrived home from Mexico and wasn’t particularly filled with sewing mojo, to be honest, but happily this was short-lived, because I saw that Pattern Review had announced a short, two week Lingerie Sewing Contest for the second half of October! This was just what I needed to kick me into action and remind me that I’d been meaning to alter the seaming on my bra cup pattern after I’d made the eyelash bra.
The cups on that one were fine, but I have some gorgeous turquoise lace in my stash from Danglez’ closing down sale (sniff!), and it was too narrow for my one-dart cup pattern. So before I could even start sewing, I had to do some pattern drafting manipulation first – introducing some seam lines to account for the narrow lace, split and rotate the dart around a bit, and voila! Now I’ve got a three part cup!
I was so happy with the fit of this bra that I made myself a matching pair of Lacey Thongs (my free downloadable pattern, if you’d forgotten!) to go with it.
Seriously though – I think this must be about the 8th or 9th bra I’ve sewn, but only about the second I’d wear out of the house. Sewing a bra is easy – getting the bra to fit properly, feel comfortable, and look flattering is beyond challenging. I think I understand other people’s frustrations with trouser fitting now, because this bra fitting journey has been character-building!
My real breakthrough came when I stopped using commercial patterns and just traced existing RTW bras instead. For me, they were a much, much closer starting point than the bizarre cup shapes provided in the KwikSew and Elan patterns I’d previously tried.read more >>
After I completed my world tour, I had four and a half days at home to recuperate, so I of course spent a good portion of that in my sewing cave! The first of my finished garments is this bra, which I’m calling the “Eyelash” one because the layer of black lace on the top just made me think of the bra batting its eyelashes at me!
I used the same self-drafted/traced pattern as my third muslin, but with zero-stretch silk-cotton woven leftover from the slip I made almost exactly a year ago, and some black stretch lace I’ve had in my stash (not the same as I’d used in the slip, but that’s only noticeable if you squint really hard!).
The cups are fully lined and the wings/backs are made from a black power mesh that was in my lingerie sewing stash.
First I made each cups separately (two fronts and two linings). Then I basted the lace across the fronts and joined the fronts to the linings along the top edge. I could’ve then topstitched, but I opted to understitch instead, then basted around the other edges so the fronts and linings could then be treated as one for the rest of the construction.
Here you can see the cups as I was constructing them. You can see that the lace is hanging free, only really attached at the top edge, and for an inch or so at the sides. I carried on the lace motif over the bridge so it looks fairly seamless from afar.read more >>
…is one that finally fits after days and days of muslins and tweaks!
You see, this is the third muslin of my latest attempt to sew a Bra That Actually Fits and I think I’m finally happy with this one.
I started off by tracing a well-fitting RTW bra and I sewed up a muslin of it according to the fabulous instructions in Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. From that, I could see that the bottom of the bra cup was too long for my underwires, and, as I suspected, the straight legged dart was too pointy and I needed some room in front of it, so I made the front leg curved.
Then I ripped out the basting stitching of my muslin, sewed up new cups according to the second cup pattern, and reused all the other pieces from the muslin that were absolutely fine, namely the wings, bridge, straps (gingham ribbon here!), and underwire channels:
The cup shape of the second muslin seemed good (though it’s hard to be subjective in the mirror and selfies), but I had a bit of excess fabric along the top edge of the cup that needed pinching out. I didn’t want to create a dart at the top edge as I eventually want to make this bra from lace, so Norma suggested I take it out from the sides (bridge & underarm), making sure those lengths didn’t change as I did so.read more >>
You may have noticed that one of the items on my Spring Sewing Ideas list was a “self-drafted/copied from RTW” bra. I’ve sewn countless bras before, but really only been happy with the fit and look of one (a foam cup muslin, of all things!). I really want to try and get away from moulded foam cups for a number of reasons (which Orange Lingerie discusses here), so my dream bra drawer would be entirely lacey, gorgeous, self-made, frameless, underwired bras, with one nude moulded foam cup bra for when I really need a seamless look.
The problem is, I’d been buying foam cup bras for so long that I didn’t really have any non-padded ones I could clone, and on a whim last year, I bought a few M&S bras and was amazed to find that two (identical, apart from colour) all-lace, single-darted, frameless, underwire bras, fit me perfectly and gave me a great shape.
So in the back of my mind I’ve been wanting to clone these, since my last bra using the Elan pattern ended up fitting well (at first I thought I’d cracked it finally!!), but the cup shape looked B-A-D. Boobs like duck-bills, oh god no!
Anyway, so I started the process of cloning the white version of the M&S bra last night, by using my method of tracing patterns – placing the bra down on top of paper and running my serrated tracing wheel around it. This worked well for the band, but I wasn’t convinced I got an accurate trace for the cup, so I looked up an old Threads article, “Clone Your Favorite Bra” (Issue 99, Feb/March 2002 if you’ve got the archive DVDs), which suggested stabbing lots of pins around the bra edge until you got to a point where it would no longer lie flat. Then you unpin the first pins you put down, and re-shift everything using the latter pins (in my case, along the dart) as an anchor so it lies flat and you get all the edges pinned.
Then, in my case, because the dart stayed in place and everything shifted around it, I had to cut through the dart and open it back up. Because the top edge of mine was the lace edge, I knew this had to be straight, so it made it easy to re-adjust.read more >>
You’ve heard me mention this book a few times as I’ve been experimenting with various drafts, but I felt it deserved a full review because, frankly, I’m a little obsessed with it right now. My mom surprised me with this when I was ill with shingles and the subsequent nerve damage pain, and it gave me something to focus on right as I was in the midst of
It’s “Patternmaking for Underwear Design”, by Kristina Shin, PhD, and here’s a (pretty bad) shot I took of it’s cover:
It’s primarily a book for drafting your own bras and lingerie (but much more, too), and the biggest difference I’ve seen here in that these bra drafts all start with the underwire shape, and build from there. Every other bra draft I’ve seen starts with a bodice sloper, which is then adapted into a bra shape. The approach taken here makes a lot more sense to me for getting an accurate fit, since there’s so much variation in breast shape and distribution for women who even wear the same size bodice. As anyone knows who’s ever sewn a bra, finding the right size underwire is absolutely key, so it really seems right here to use that as a starting point. And it helps that most women can make a small incision in a well-fitting bra and just trace off one they know fits them!
There’s not really any construction or sewing instructions included in this book, but there are a few pages at the beginning with stuff like tips on cutting lace…
…and the wide variety of bra backs you can use once you’ve got your basic draft sorted out…
…plus several pages of various tables of measurements for different sizes, and exactly what to measure, both for the breasts and the rest of the body.
Here’s an example page from the leggings draft so you can see the style of instructions and diagrams. I personally found these easier to follow than Metric Pattern Cutting and WAY easier than any of the Pattern Magic books!read more >>
Wow, the response to my free Lacey Thong pattern I released last month has been immense! Since the beginning of February, it’s been downloaded a staggering 1400 times! That’s a LOT of potential underwear, my friends!
So in no particular order, let’s have a fumble through your underwear drawers…
Lauriana’s pale green/blue pair kickstarted a month-long lingerie sewing binge, with more panties, and bras galore!
Frances Hall sent me photos of her gorgeous red & white pair:read more >>
A month on, and I’m still ravaged by the shingles attack that hit me in mid-January. Absolutely everyone who saw my torso said it was the worst case they’ve ever seen (doctors included), and lucky, lucky me, the little bugger caused nerve damage, which means the pain in my side could continue on for months or possibly a year (again, lucky, lucky me). I’m on four different prescription painkillers until the neural-specific one hopefully starts working soon, so I’ve been stuck at home Resting (I hate resting.). The good news is that the doctor says I can now go do the odd half day at work and very easy run here and there as it’s driving me crazy not to, but I’m not to overdo things. But even that’s better than being chained to a couch!
Anyway, I’ve done as much resting as it’s humanly possible for Melissa to do, which means I’ve been lying flat on my back and sleeping for most of the days, but I managed to squeeze in some sewing, almost entirely in 5 minute segments, followed by 20 minutes of rest. Rinse & repeat… These will have photoshoots and proper posts coming hopefully next week!
The amazingly simple-to-sew Style Arc Marita dress:
A grey wool “chic sweatshirt”:
A quick, gathered raglan merino wool sweater from the February BurdaStyle magazine:
So, how much fun was Lingerie Week last week, eh?? It may be Monday, but I thought I’d finish with a big list of free online patterns and tutorials for lingerie sewing, so you can carry on and make a bunch of pretty matching sets for yourself without breaking the bank!
- My Lacey Thong panty pattern
- Maddie’s Amerson Undies pattern (brand-new!!) and underwear pattern grading advice
- Sherry’s Ruby Slip pattern & sew along
- Clothhabit’s Bra-making Sew along and Rosy Ladyshorts boy shorts panty pattern
Have you been inspired by all the activity this week during Lingerie Week and fancy sewing your own Lacey Thong now?
Would you like to win a kit with all the bits you need to make your very own? (Of course you do!)
In the spirit of lingerie and bra kits you can buy from stores online, I shopped my (cough, rather extensive) lingerie sewing stash to put together all the bits you’ll need to make a Lacey Thong pattern (suitable for any of the sizes).read more >>
Continuing on with Lingerie Week, I wanted to give you some extra construction tips on my Lacey Thong pattern that wouldn’t quite fit in the pattern itself (if you start adding in large photos, the Pdf filesize goes up really quickly!).
First of all, I wanted to start with two areas I’ve had some questions on:
“The 4cm ruler isn’t 4cm when I print it”. If the ruler on page 3 isn’t measuring exactly 4cm when you print it, then the print software you’re using is scaling the pattern! I use Preview on OSX, and I know it’s got its quirks – on this particular programme, if you enter in 100% and just click Print, it’ll still print at whatever the settings were before you changed them. You need to enter 100%, tap elsewhere in the print preview to watch the thumbnail resize, and then click Print. I’m sure other programmes have their quirks, too, but the bottom line is, if your ruler doesn’t measure 4cm, the pattern is not at the proper scale!
“Which size should I choose?” Sizing if difficult from a pattern creator’s perspective, because so many bodies wear a full range of sizes. I’m most confident of the Burda sizes recommended (much less so for the Big Four), so if you know your Burda size, go with that. The finished half-hip measurement is probably less helpful, but it’ll save some of you measuring it yourself.
If you’re unsure of your size, another approach to take it to “try on” the elastic before you start. Measure the waist elastic for the different sizes (pin or mark it, don’t cut!) and try it out by checking the feel around your half hip area (these panties sit over your hip bones, well below your belly button). The elastic should be snug and partially stretched, but not tight or loose.
During the construction of my black pair I took some photos of the trickier construction tips so those of you who prefer photos to diagrams can have a better look (though perhaps choosing a black fabric with similar-looking right and wrong sides wasn’t the best idea, sorry!).
I’ll use the numbers from the steps in the Pdf pattern’s Sewing Instructions below so you can easily refer back. As usual, click any of these to view the larger versions.read more >>
Here’s the second of my recent lingerie sets I sewed while I’ve been ill, which I hope will inspire you! This purple set is again comprised of my (free!) Lacey Thong pattern and the (also free!) Ruby Slip pattern, shortened to camisole length.
I’m so pleased to finally break into the lace and materials I bought at Kantje Boord in Amsterdam when I was there running the marathon in October! I was very restrained in the shop, buying only this lace, the purple lycra remnant, and coordinating lime elastic and motif with this exact camisole in mind!
I’ve definitely got enough materials left (okay, I had to hit up Danglez.nl* for some more coordinating bra supplies!) to make a matching bra in the next week or two, so I might whip up another pair of panties to make this set a foursome like the black lingerie set too.
The only real difference between this set and the black one you saw earlier this week is that the body fabric used here is a lycra rather than a woven. The lace bodices are strikingly similar, even though the laces themselves are so different!read more >>
Wow, thank you so much for all your enthusiasm on the Lacey Thong pattern! It was downloaded nearly 200 times in the first 24 hours, and that’s without any promotion beyond your word of mouth!
I’m wondering who’s going to be the first to send me their finished panty photos, but in the meantime, I thought it might be inspiring to show you all two more lingerie sets I’ve made while I’ve been ill with shingles (and likely to continue to be ill for several more weeks, ugh).
You may think this lace looks familiar, and that’s because it’s the same lace I used a few weeks ago to make a bra and another thong panty, so now I’ve got a set of four to wear together (and have finally used up all 2 metres of the Gabi lace I’d bought!). This time I used a thin poly(?) black satin for the body of the cami and panties, and used a beige picot elastic on the panties instead of black, like I had in my earlier set.read more >>
I’m very excited to announce a special week here on FehrTrade – for the benefit of those of you reading this from RSS subscriptions and can’t see the site header…
Yes, an entire week devoted to sewing lingerie, and we’re going to start the week off with something very special indeed – a free downloadable sewing pattern for a pair of thong-style panties, with lace over the hips and a special diamond-inset at the front and back.
The pattern is for sizes S-XL with seam allowances included, and for those of you who hate downloadable patterns – there’s only 4 pages of pattern to print, and only one join to tape together! I’ve written out step-by-step directions with a few diagrams, but there will also be some construction photos later this week to help out those of you who prefer them.
(If you’d like to spread the word about this pattern, please link to this post and not directly to the pdf file! thanks!) read more >>
As I mentioned last week, I’ve been inspired by the Cloth Habit Bra Sew-Along to try my hand at sewing some bras again. I was fairly happy with the foam cup bra I made a while back, but I finally found some Marks & Spencer’s non-padded bras that I really like the fit of and I was encouraged by these that I could probably make my own that fit nicely, too.
In all my previous attempts I’d used KwikSew 3300 as my base pattern, but this time around, I wanted a fresh start, so I pulled out Elan 530 which I’d bought years ago and never sewn up. The seaming of the cups is different to the KwikSew and I thought that might make all the difference for me.
In the past, I’d been really frustrated because you can’t check the fit until you’d absolutely completed sewing the bra, wasting hours and materials if the fit was off, but the Sew-Along offered some really good advice in terms of making a muslin and exactly what was important and what could be left out. So here’s mine, with some fetching gingham ribbons for straps (and underwire channelling, ha).
I adapted the bridge (based on excellent instructions in Orange Lingerie‘s upcoming book!!), added 1.5cm to the band as it was too tight, and pinched a little out of the cups along the seam line before unpicking it all to reuse some of the parts in the finished bra.
For the finished bra, I used the “Gabi” lace from eLingeria that Katherine also used to make a lingerie set! (That lace also comes as a handy bra kit or panty kit if you’d rather buy it that way). I had to look up my order details, but I’d bought this lace last May, and paid only €9 for the 2 meters, which is fantastic value if you ask me!
I learned a lot about careful lace placement from my sewing of the Ruby Slips so I always take a photo of the pieces before I assemble, as for some reason I can get a better overall picture when looking at a photo than I do in real life.
At first I didn’t overlay the bottom cups with lace, but this looked a bit weird, so I added those. Even though it’s mostly black lace on the bottoms, it makes a world of difference and cut back on the shininess.
So for the finished bra, the cups have three layers each – the lace (which is pretty flimsy, and also stretches, which you don’t want in cups), a black nylon underlining layer (with the stretch running opposite to the lace), and the same black nylon as a lining.
From my previous bra making experience, I learned a nice trick to getting everything finished and lined nicely…read more >>
As I write this, London is in the midst of the second snowfall of the year (if you count Monday’s over-hyped yet under-delivered snow, that is) and I’m bundled up in a full-body thin layer of silk (long johns), plus my wool foldover trousers, my bamboo turtleneck, two pairs of socks, and my Russian greatcoat for my 35min walk into work today. It’s nothing on the Pennsylvania winters I grew up with, but at least I feel prepared!*
The good news is that, while it’s freezing outside, my sewing cave is one of the warmest spots on the boat, so I’ve been busy!
Papercut Peter & the Wolf Trousers
The new trouser pattern from Papercut Patterns was burning a hole in my To Sew list, so I just had to try them out! I finished these before last weekend, but Saturday I was covered in mud (another cross country race) and Sunday it was freezing and I didn’t fancy a photshoot.
I did an awesome job lining up the seams on the side invisible side zipper, if I do say so myself!
I really like that they have you topstitch all the mid-leg vertical seams as well as all the yoke seams – that topstitching really makes the seaming stand out nicely. It also meant I actually finished a huge 1000m spool of black Gutermann thread! I thought those things were infinite!
I’ve not yet worn these to work (the tulip hems mean my long johns are visible in front, the horror!) but I can tell already they’ve got a nice fit throughout – I especially like the trouser hems and the hip yokes, though they do mean the pockets are placed further down the leg than I’m used to…
I’ll try to get some photos this weekend, even though the details will be lost in the dark brown stretch twill (hey, it was in the stash alright!?) I’d bought in Paris last Spring. I didn’t have any particular attachment to it and it was a stretch woven as per the pattern requirements, so I made these as a trial version (or wearable muslin if you prefer). I might fancy making these again in some stretch wool suiting in my stash from last winter…
Another Chic Sweatshirt
When my parents were visiting in October, my mom looked through all my recent makes and decided she’d like a chic sweatshirt for her belated Christmas gift, and she picked out a lovely lavender sweatshirting for it while she was here. Remember how lovely she looks in lavender? I think it was a great choice. For my gift, she re-taught herself to crochet and made me a wonderful hat in mustard wool I picked out. Hooray for our little skills exchange! read more >>
Some (rather racy) panties
Remember how I had flu for 3 weeks earlier this month? Well lucky freakin me, because I got ill again on the first day of my holidays. I’ve essentially felt like crap since two days before Thanksgiving, arrrrgh. So on Christmas Day, I did a little bit of comfort sewing, in the form of some crazy, racy, leopard print and black lace panties.
Avert your eyes now if you’re of a gentle disposition!
I’d never buy leopard print of my own free will, but I’d bought a lingerie grab bag for a pound a while back, and this came from there, and I added some scrap black stretch lace to the sides. Nobody need know what my tastefully dressed exterior conceals…
Burda December cover dress muslin
The big project I wanted to tackle over the holidays is the Burda December cover dress (Burda Dec 2012 #112). read more >>
What a weekend! I’ve been to Amsterdam several times before, so I felt zero need to see the tourist sites (though I did take a boat tour, more for the hour of sitting than anything else!). For me, this weekend was all about sewing and running, my two favourite pasttimes! I flew in Saturday morning and fellow sewing blogger Lauriana met me at the station to drive to the legendary Kantje Boord.
If you’re not familiar with Kantje Boord (and let’s be fair, their website is appalling), it’s a specialty lingerie haberdashery and fabric store, and is pretty much the only one of its kind in the world as far as I know. But it’s pretty far out of town, well away from the usual public transport, so I was very grateful to be driven there and give my legs a rest!
I’d heard stories about Kantje Boord, and I was not disappointed! It’s a tiny shop, but it’s stacked floor to ceiling with everything lingerie, lace, and elastic you could possibly imagine, and in every colour of the rainbow.
There must’ve been several hundred different kits (with everything you need to make a bra and panties in matching colours), but I decided what I’d rather make is another Ruby Slip, but in camisole length, with matching panties, so I instead focused on the wide laces, of which there must’ve been 3-4 times as many as the kits! Once I settled on a lace, I then crawled around the floor to get matching picot lingerie elastics to match it and my fabric swatches I’d brought from home.
So here’s what I bought! It might’ve been a bit more than I pledged, but I stayed away from the tempting Wall of Crazy Lycra, and only bought pieces that matched what I already owned!read more >>
In advance of visiting Kantje Boord with Lauriana this weekend while I’m in Amsterdam to run the marathon, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a full inventory of my lingerie sewing supplies so I could see what I had vs what I needed, and hopefully not make duplicate purchases.
Oh. my. god. I really don’t think of myself as a “stasher” – I try to sew what I’ve got and keep it all fitting within the confines of my tiny sewing room, but I seriously have a ridiculous amount of lingerie supplies, and I hadn’t even realised it, because it was all stored in about four different places.
As a confession, here’s what I’ve got:
- Black picot edge
- Black ridge edge
- Round stretch cord (white & black)
- Medium grey picot edge
Sorry for the stream of consciousness, but I’ve had a busy few days of sewing activity, but in more disjointed areas than any one common goal.
Burda and KnipMode magazines & PM3
The June editions of Burda & KnipMode arrived on the same day and made for a nice comparison. I loooooooved the May Burda, but the June one is way too summery for me, and I’m not really feeling it. I’ll review the KnipMode shortly, as soon as I can get the scanner going. I almost feel like I should start doing Burda magazine reviews since their online previews are getting more and more cumbersome to use, now that they’re eliminating the French site, the German does is a total PITA to view on mobile devices, and the English site only gets a third of the patterns a month after everyone else. But then again, so many other bloggers already do this so I don’t want to create a “New Vogue effect” where every sewing blog suddenly shows the same five pictures all at once.
What do you think? Is Burda niche enough that you want to see my picks like I do for Manequim and (soon to be much less frequently) KnipMode?
Also at the same time, my KnipMode renewal notice came through. I don’t want to renew, but I want to make sure I don’t need to do anything in order to cancel (ie: I don’t want it to renew me automatically). Could I pretty please send an image of the latter to a Dutch speaker just to confirm what I need to do? (Volunteers, please leave a comment) I don’t need a full translation, just someone to tell me whether I need to formally cancel or not.
My copy of Pattern Magic 3 (in English) also finally arrived, after the first copy got lost in the post from Amazon! There are some Must Sews in there (including one I’ve started drafting already) but also some hi-LAR-ious things in there. A review will be coming soon for this, too.
On Saturday, after my long run with friends, I made some new pants (underwear). As per usual, I used my TNT thong pattern, which originally came from a KnipMode magazine from 2007 or 2008.read more >>
While our boat is in drydock for maintenance, we’re temporarily living on a very kind neighbour’s boat. Packing for a month (though possibly 2 weeks) was a challenge in itself, as you want to to give yourself choices (in clothing, entertainment, comforts, and cooking), but yet you’ve still got to physically move everything, so you don’t want to overpack, either.
I brought the bare minimum of sewing supplies, which for me means my JL Mini sewing machine, which is great for travel and beginners alike (speaking of, I have a friend who’s selling her identical red JL Mini as she’s upgraded to a fuller-featured machine. If anyone’s interested in buying it from her for £30, please leave a comment and I’ll put you in touch!).
I also brought a few patterns and the fabrics to go with them, and I set up a temporary sewing station in the bedroom we’re staying in:
I thought it was quite amusing that the only place in the boat that was suitable for sitting and sewing was a pretty dressing table, and my boudoir sewing station inspired me to start one of my transported projects last weekend – another Ruby Slip!
My first Ruby Slip was seafoam green with brick red lace and I loved it so much that I knew I’d be making another. If you missed the discussion then, Sherry offered a free pdf pattern and fantastic photo tutorials, which I highly recommend, even for beginners, as it’s beautiful and quite easy to sew (especially if you choose a thin cotton lawn).
To match my sewing station, I set up a pressing station in the kitchen, with a travel iron and mini ironing board which live on the boat.read more >>
The Ruby Slip is a free pdf pattern and comprehensive set of tutorials over at Pattern Scissors Cloth, and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was just the most perfect pattern ever for me and I had to sew it ASAP!
I had 2m of seafoam green silk in my stash that I’d bought at Bhopal Fabric on Brick Lane over the summer (at £6/m), so I took a swatch of that along with me to MacCulloch and Wallis just before Christmas to buy lace specifically for this. Their lace selection isn’t great, but I totally fell in love with this stretch lace, made up of seafoam green, grey, and brick-red flowers, and it was the required 18cm for the pattern. It was pretty eye wateringly-expensive at £14/m, but I ended up with a silk matching lingerie set for £40 exactly, so I think the economics of my decision were sound.
Sherry has done an incredible job going through all the ins and outs of lace cutting, bias silk sewing, how to do an FBA, etc, but I did get a surprise when I found that 18cm lace is not wide enough for the side front:
Since I went out and bought the lace specifically for this, I was a little annoyed, but I was also feeling flu-ish so I sat down with my copy of Bridal Couture and hand-pieced some lace from my scraps to make up the missing corner. It involved a ton of tiny hand stitches in both seafoam and brick to get everything to match seamlessly, but I’m pleased with the end result (she’s since posted some ways of dealing with narrow lace).
I also wanted to demonstrate how much you need to pay attention which cutting lace. I was paying heed to all of the scallops in order to get them in join up nicely at the seams, but I totally didn’t see that my motif was off at first. Happily, I had enough to re-cut that piece to have a nicer join over the seam (seen on the right).
Right, all that aside, and let’s see some finished photos! But, er, not modeled on me since there’s see-through lace and I’m not an exhibitionist. So you’ll just have to take my word that I squealed with delight when I first tried this on, because the fit is just perfect! The bias skirt really just hugs my curves without being tight, and everything just fits like it was meant to be. I made the “short” version, and the hem lies about 3-4 inches above the knee, which is perfect for me.read more >>
Back on the 17th I set some bold goals to finish by New Year’s:
I thought it was time for a little progress report, seeing as how I only have a few days to go…
Paco’s Drape Collar Tunic– I sewed this up in an evening before Christmas. Though I had to get very creative in order to get long sleeves out of the 2m of sweater knit I bought… Note to self: Buy more yardage, or shorten the body length next time! Clover jeans– I just finished these! I’m totally loving the fit and the (IMHO) improved pockets, too.
- Holly’s maternity maxi-dress, Burda 08/2008 #125 – Having no place to cut the fabric of the enormous skirt pieces, I actually took it along to work yesterday and cut it out on the big (and empty) lunch table at lunchtime! The few guys left in the office already think I’m weird anyway. Shrug. In any case, this is now ready to sew!
- Ruby Slip – I wanted to cut the skirt pieces at the same time I cut out the maxi dress, but the low table height was killing my back by the time I finished with the maxi dress. I don’t think this will take long to sew together if I can ever find somewhere to cut the single-layer, bias layout… A good cutting area is my new productivity choke point.
I think it was inevitable that I’d need a quick and fun distraction from all my pattern drafting and muslins, and nothing spells “quick” and “fun” like lingerie! Seriously, if you’ve never sewn lingerie, you won’t really understand the appeal, but playing with tiny bits of lace and trim is just so creative and rewarding, especially for ladies like me who really aren’t into embellishment elsewhere in their wardrobes.
Since it fit so well before, I used the same modified bra pattern from my purple hearts bra, though this time I used black, pushup foam cups and the black/brown Alice lingerie kit from The Sewing Chest.
The first step was to cover the cups with the rigid lace. The lace in the kit was 50cm long, with two scalloped edges, so I aligned a scalloped edge along the top of the cup, then pinned and smoothed and made a few needed pleats in order to get it looking nice. If the lace or covering material is stretchy, then you don’t need any pleats in it, but as mine was rigid, a few small pleats were necessary towards the bottom.
Then I did the same with the other cup, though I had to use the opposite scalloped edge so both cups were symmetrical. In bra making, symmetry is king!!
With a wide zigzag stitch, I basted the lace around all the edges and trimmed the excess. I actually went back later and added some stretched, narrow elastic on the inside of the top of the cups, but I’d recommend actually doing this, or applying FOE (foldover elastic) to the upper cup edge before stretching the lace over your cups to avoid a second line of zigzagging over the lace. Even if you think your cups are sturdy enough to not need the elastic, it really makes a difference in keeping the top of the cup close to your body and not getting any gaping.read more >>
You’ve seen my version of this fantastic cowl top, now’s your chance to make your own and show me yours!
As you’ll recall, the above is made using Lekala 4020, but I’ve created sleeve bands on the back to echo the ones on the front, so our first step is to alter the pattern for this.
Lekala give full pattern pieces rather than placing some patterns on the fold, so the first thing I like to do is fold the front and the back in half. If you’re altering the back like me, then cut the back piece in half along this foldline (at the CB).
To echo the sleeve bands/yokes on the back, first lay the front sleeve band/yoke piece onto the back, and mark the corresponding widths at the back shoulder and the back side seam, so the two bands will align nicely when sewn together. Then, using the front yoke piece as a guide, draw a nice curve to join the two points, trying to keep the width of the yoke even. Lastly, draw a double notch somewhere in the lower half across the line, so you’ve got the notches on both the back piece and your new back band piece. Then cut along the line and treat as two pieces.read more >>
I’ve made three bras so far, and despite winning the PR Lingerie contest last year, I’ve never been that happy with the fit of any of those bras. I mean, they were okay, but the style is different to the kind of bras I buy, and the underwires dug in, and well, the girls just didn’t look their best. So they’ve kinda worked their way to the bottom of my lingerie drawer, which makes me sad. I sew to wear, not to shove in a drawer!
As I mentioned last week, I got very excited about the notion of sewing a bra made with foam cups, which are the sort I always buy, and speaking to Kellie at The Sewing Chest, she got me all set up with the right bits to have my first go. I made a toile using her purple hearts foam cups over the weekend and the fit is so good I wore it all day Sunday and now again Monday!
I started the process by making a rigorous comparison of the Kwik Sew 3300 pattern vs two RTW bra backs and ended up drafting a back similar to a Ted Baker one that fits me well.
Here you can see the difference between the KwikSew back (in brown) and my newly drafted-from-RTW back (in white) –read more >>
My turquoise and silver motif dress is nearly done (check out the fantastic lace hem tape I found in my stash to pretty-fy my hem, too!), but it doesn’t stop me thinking ahead…
- Lekala 4020 – My brain needs a quick knit top, and I looooove the cowl neck and shoulder yokes on this. I’ve created echoing sleeve bands on the back to decrease the “coffin back” look (the only reason I haven’t made their “S dress” yet is that I’m contemplating how to jazz up the back on it. Any ideas?). I’ve got some small lengths of silver silk jersey left in my stash that I think will find a good home in this top.
Even better is that they’ve got every pattern available in a free size 44 pdf this month if you want to try them free before you do the custom-size thing!
- A foam cup bra – OMG I am amazingly excited to learn there’s a pattern out now for making the type of bras I buy in RTW with the moulded, foam cups! It’s the Pin Up Girls “Amanda” bra pattern. I’ve made bras before, but I’ve never been happy with the fit, and I think that half my problem is that I’m trying to sew the kind of bras I never actually buy…
I had an email chat with the lovely Kellie, owner of The Sewing Chest shop (the best UK source of elastic and boning and lingerie fabrics, hands down!), and I’m now totally excited about sewing bras again. She’s advised me to put some of her foam cups onto the non-cup parts of the KwikSew 3300 bra I’ve made before, and see how that goes. She’s also advised me to use a different underwire size, too. Fingers crossed for bra success!
read more >>
Sunday afternoon was Lesson Two for my beginning sewing ladies, following along from the first lesson a few weeks ago when they learned how to operate a sewing machine and make a shopping bag.
At the end of the last lesson, Holly, Ness, and Veda were all begging to learn how to make a skirt, so how could I refuse? I decided they should follow in my footsteps and learn with New Look 6843, which was one of the VERY first patterns I ever made (then remade over and over again with a few variations!).
They picked out their own fabric and zippers, with Ness choosing a navy corduroy (so we got to talk about nap!), Holly choosing a beautiful navy wool suiting fabric, and Veda going for a bright and cheerful Liberty print.
Here’s Veda sewing on her own purple JL Mini machine (like my red one!)
We talked through measurements, pattern layouts, what the symbols on patterns mean, and also how you don’t have to follow the directions if you don’t want to (since I thought New Look’s order of construction made it awkward to check the fit of darts, and their zipper insertion made things more difficult than they had to be!).read more >>
James isn’t normally the pyjama sort, but it’s been particularly cold this winter and he’s been in need of some PJ bottoms for quite a while. He only has one pair and it’s kinda sad to be wearing Santa Homer Simpson in February:
(Note to family – please don’t take this as a plea to send more. He really only needs and wants this one pair!)
So I took pity on him and said I’d sew him a new pair to wear, and Burda magazine 12-2010 #134 was particularly handy. There are tons and tons of unisex pyjama trouser patterns out there, but this one was easy to find, and I know Burda’s sizing is so consistent that a 52 would fit him fine.
We were going to use the grey knit fabric we bought at Ditto, but I greatly underestimated the width of that so there was nowhere near enough (totally my fault as Gill asked “are you sure that’s enough?”). In a sea of insipid cutsey prints, Chawla’s came through with this solid black cotton flannel for cheap (3m for £11 shipped and I’ve got extra for jacket interlining if I like now, too). Chawla’s may not have the widest selection of natural fibre fabrics, but they are consistently the fastest shippers ever – I ordered this on a Tuesday, and it arrived in Thursday’s post!read more >>
“Oh”, I hear you think*, “another one of those Burda turtlenecks?!?!”
Endless others have already made this, and I admit I was hesitant to make it myself because:
- When a pattern gets made a LOT, it kinda makes me want to sew it less (maybe it’s shades of “I sew so I don’t wear the same thing as everyone else” coming through?)
- I love love loved the Burda September issue and it almost feels like a cop-out to make the super easy pattern from it first when there’s just so many great patterns in there
But in the end, I still really needed more long sleeved tops and I already had the fabric and the overlocker and coverstitch were still threaded in the right colours. So it’s fate.read more >>
Are you ready for some random sewing goodness? Let the randomosity begin!
- When I was at the bookstore on Brick Lane buying James’s birthday card, I couldn’t resist this reusable wrapping paper (okay, it’s just fabric to me and you!) with London streetsigns. I love that it’s a London fabric without being OMG UNION JACKS THE QUEEN TOWER BRIDGE! I figure I could use it as a lining like I did with that Japanese tea towel and my bolero jacket a few years back…
- We were supposed to meet up with Pip and her boyfriend two weeks ago to celebrate Christmas, but we had to reschedule due to my swine flu, so I’m only just now able to sew up her present – a Nairobi bag made up in gorgeously soft red wine leather, bought in NYC from Global Leathers (I find it interesting that Americans would call this colour “burgundy”, whereas in the UK it’d be “claret”). I’m about halfway done and already I can tell she’s going to love it!
About 8 months ago, I got an awesome email from FehrTrade reader Hilde asking if I’d like her mom’s stash of KnipMode magazines from 2005-2007 as she wasn’t really using them much any more and they both thought I’d give them a good home.
Would I??? Omg.
So therein started the logistical planning to transport a rather heavy stack of magazines from The Netherlands over to London… Around this time we thought we’d be driving navigation equipment over to northern Holland in preparation for a neighbour’s North Sea crossing, so we’d make a detour to Hilde’s, but logistics didn’t work out and we weren’t needed for the neighbour’s barge anyway. And then, in a fantastic twist, a few weeks ago Hilde told me her sister lives in London and brought the stash over in her suitcase for me! So I only had to make a 10 minute walk from my office to her sister’s flat (seriously, what luck that she lives so close!) to pick up the magazines and thank her profusely for lugging them in her suitcase.
And for the past fortnight or so I’ve been absolutely pouring over them, picking out my Must Sews, investigating tiny design details, and noticing what changes Knip have made in the past 5 years.
There were too many for me to scan in one session, so here’s my picks from the early half of the stash, with Part Two to follow next week!
OMG Lingerie!! I have already got the most perfect fabrics in my stash to make the camisole with the bra cups – the olive green stretch lace I bought in Paris coordinates perfectly with a teeshirt I got free with a magazine but was comically tiny (what percentage of the UK female population has a bust smaller than 27 inches? Seriously.). I think there might be enough to do the cami with a bit of the teeshirt’s sleeves left for a thong gusset. And you know how much I liked the KnipMode lingerie pattern I already had…read more >>
After my first muslin of a potential honeymoon nightgown knocked that pattern out of the running, I turned to the slip dress pattern (#219) from the May 2010 issue of Manequim magazine as my next candidate.
This is a simple bias dress with bust darts and bias edge on the neckline. The pattern calls for you to have two lengths of bias edging – the longer one finishes the neckline from the front bust peak, under the arms, around the back and up to the other bust peak. The shorter length of bias finishes the neckline in the centre front portion and continues up to form the straps. Since I didn’t have any suitable lightweight muslin in my stash, I sacrificed this bamboo-printed Robert Kauffman cotton I’d bought on a binge at equilter.com about 6-7 years ago. I hadn’t decided what to do with it between then and now so I figured it’d be good for a wearable muslin.read more >>
True confessions – I took a brief break from the wedding gown. I don’t deal well with long projects and I was getting really itchy to complete something (I didn’t have any completed projects in July because of the gown, aaaaagghh!).
This is a brand-new Burda envelope pattern, but I just went and bought the pdf version instead because a) I’m impatient, b) the pdf patterns are way cheaper than the paper versions (we have a laser printer and printer paper is cheap!), c) piecing together pdf patterns takes only 5 minutes longer than tracing a paper pattern and I can do it sitting down, and d) no seam allowances, woooooooop!
This was my first downloadable pattern from the German Burda site, and I was pleased to find that the instructions were in nine languages, with fully illustrated instructions. I was expecting it to just be in German! But do pay attention to the print preview, though, because you may not need to print the last ten pages or so (the English instructions only take up a few pages). The only weird thing is that they decided to waste some paper giving us two side panel pattern pieces (one to be cut in lace and the other in self-fabric) and the two pieces are absolutely identical. Weird.read more >>
When fellow blogger Sigrid visited me last May, she brought along a birthday gift for me – a fantastic lingerie kit from Kantje Boord (a big lingerie notions shop in Amsterdam), full of really cool goodies you only ever see on high-end RTW underwear. In fact, it was all so nice that I was hesitant to cut into it as my bra-making skills are not quite as polished as the rest of my sewing yet.
But Pattern Review are having their first-ever Lingerie sewing contest, so that gave me the impetus to cut into the kit!
I planned on making the same partial-band, underwired bra I’d sewn once before (twice if you count the muslin) with a few improvements, plus my TNT thong panty from KnipMode, and, as it turns out, I was able to squeeze a camisole out of the yardage included in the kit, too!
We’ll start with the largest item first, even though I made it last… This one was really easy – I started with a RTW knit vest (tank top if you’re American) that I really liked, laid it on my fabric and traced the front, then did the same with the back. read more >>
In light of NancyK’s conclusion that KnipMode designer knockoffs aren’t as thoroughly tested as the rest of their patterns, I decided to make a muslin of the KnipMode August 09 Marni catwalk blouse before cutting into my nice teal silk satin (charmeuse).
Only now that I’ve got my bedsheet muslin done, I’m unsure about whether I like it or not. Now, you do have to use a bit of imagination here to block out the busy bedsheet prints (in reality, it’ll all be one solid teal colour, plus collar and cuffs):read more >>
I traced out the pattern pieces for this summery surplice knit top from the July 09 issue of KnipMode magazine a few months back, and it’s been hanging on my pattern rack tempting me at every turn. I know it’s silly to be sewing short sleeved, summery tops this late in the season, but that’s what cardigans are for, amiright?
I bought just one metre of this soft lycra jersey from Fabric World on Goldhawk Road for a whopping £3 as I just loved all the different sweeping stripes curving in and over each other. It’s a good fit for a wrap top like this as it creates a bit of an optical illusion, with curves going every which way!read more >>
Remember back to the warm, sunny days of August… You there yet? Because that’s when I sewed up this top, in between the dresses I made for my mom while she was visiting!
I’d bought the Hot Patterns Weekender Sunshine Top pattern almost two years ago, but I’ve had such a hit & miss experience with their patterns that I never quite worked up the nerve to sew this one. But with review after glowing review appearing on PR, I finally had to take the plunge and make my own, especially since it seemed quite a forgiving style for my hospital- and medication-induced chubbiness.
This cotton/lycra knit fabric from Totally Fabrics is so lush and soft that I’ve actually held off posting this so I could buy some more before you all snapped it up (but alas, it sold out just before they posted another site-wide sale)! I got this on sale, so the 1 metre I used here was only £3.75!read more >>
When I first thought I’d be going into hospital, I was anticipating wearing winter pyjamas, but with all the delays and waiting on a bed, it’s now rolling into summer time. Luckily, I sewed my pyjama sets in medium weight knits rather than thick fleeces, but I had a tiny bit of Sharon’s sheep fabric leftover so I thought I’d create more wearing options for myself.
If you recall, I made a snap-front long sleeve shirt and drawstring trousers before:
And now I’ve got a camisole to wear either under the long sleeve top or on its own with the trousers!read more >>
Last Tuesday I had the extreme pleasure of meeting fellow sewer Sigrid as she was visiting London with her family and had a short break in their sightseeing to come and stop by the moorings! It’s so funny, within minutes it was like we’d known each other for years, even though we’d never met in real life before, only observing each other from our respective sewing blogs…
Besides the great opportunity to blather on about sewing with someone whose eyes don’t glaze over within 5 minutes, she also brought me some really nice gifts! Oh Sigrid, you can definitely come visit again, you didn’t have to bribe me!!
First up was a gorgeous silver and black Kantje Boord lingerie kit for my birthday!read more >>
Cast your mind back to May last year, when I posted about sending off some submitted projects for a book about reusing old pillowcases… You there yet? Great!
Because Craft Challenge: Dozens of Ways to Repurpose a Pillowcase has now been published! Or rather, it was a month or so ago, I’m a tad late…
I’ve got my copy here, which is full of really basic, easy sewing projects that are perfect for beginning sewers. The other cool things is that you don’t really have to use pillowcases for your starting points here – you could just as easily make things like the hat, stuffed toys, kimono (pictured above), remote control armchair caddy, cape, etc, from equivalent lengths of scrap fabric or fun quilting cottons. I sourced all my vintage pillowcases off eBay to make my samples for the book, too, so you don’t have to feel bad about cutting up your family heirlooms if you don’t want to, either.
So without further ado, here’s my winning submission, the “Flirty pyjama set”, featuring a camisole and French knickers made from one pair of pillowcases!read more >>
Wow, I’m really falling behind with my photos, it feels like so long ago that I finished all these lacy bits! But then again, I bought the brown and turquoise bra kit from eLingeria.de way back in January 2008 so I suppose a week or so isn’t much in the lifespan of this fabric!
The kits from eLingeria.de give you all the bits you need to make one bra and two panties – really soft, stretchy microfibre, stretch lace, elastic, bra straps, underwire channeling, hooks, and the strap loops and findings. The only thing I needed to buy extra were the underwires, since they’re so size-specific. I really enjoyed sewing these, and having the kit meant I didn’t have to gather all the materials in matching colours on my own, so I’m definitely going this route again. €20 for a matching lingerie set is a steal, even with the current exchange rate!read more >>
In continuation of my quest for comfortable pyjamas and tops that can work as pyjamas or casualwear, I’ve made BWOF 12/08 #113 pleated neck tee and KnipMode 03/2007 #11 leggings, which I made once before as pyjama bottoms in the pink retro guitars waffle knit.
The heathered and super soft grey jersey is from my first trip to Goldhawk Road, which I bought for £4 a metre, and it was enough to make both the top and leggings, with enough spare for another top someday, I reckon.read more >>
I’ve been wanting to try my hand at bra-making for over a year now, but I just kept putting it off because it seemed so complicated and easy to mess up and I didn’t want to ruin the really pretty fabrics I’d bought for it. So my bra-making ambitions sat in a box, waiting… Until I saw that thesewingchest.co.uk was giving away free toile kits with any bra pattern purchase and knowing that I’d have all the fabric and bits I’d need to make a bra, but without the worry of ruining one finally gave me the courage to try!
Even though I have two bra patterns I bought last year, I picked up KwikSew 3300 plunge bra – and made View B with both lower and upper cups in lined cloth as my muslin. View A has the upper cup in lace, which I’ll try next…read more >>
As soon as I received the sheep fabric given to me by Brian and Sharon in the post, I knew I’d be making some comfy pyjamas from it in the form of Jalie 2686, which, you’ll remember, I’ve already made in purple silk for my friend Pip.
They’re not quite as luxurious as the silk, but they’ve still got a silky sheen to them, they’re super soft, and the one big advantage over silk is that I can throw these in the washing machine without fear.read more >>
Recently I’ve been doing more batch tracing rather than tracing one pattern, sewing it up, then tracing the next. I find my sewing bottleneck is often in the tracing step (even though it doesn’t take much time), so by doing a bunch at once I can always have something on the go to work on in the mornings and evenings.
I’ve been mentally matching up my patterns to fabrics in my stash and tracing an awful lot the last few nights. Here’s what I’ve got coming up in the next few weeks, though you can see my plans have had to change somewhat to focus more on comfortable knits…read more >>
Twas the day before Christmas and all through the boat, all the creatures were stirring, especially Melissa at her sewing machine and Bosco with his catnip mouse!
We were invited to breakfast on Christmas morning at a neighbour’s and she kept saying how we should all just come in our pyjamas for some bucks fizz, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, so I thought it’d be fun to whip up some brand new pyjamas to wear! Christmas has always meant new pyjamas to my mom in particular – growing up, she and her brother and sister would always wake to find a new pair at the top of the stairs which they’d then be expected to change into so they were wearing new PJs in the christmas photos! I didn’t take it that far (I changed into the blue silk cocktail dress in time for dinner!), but it was awfully nice to wake up and put on new, comfortable clothes!read more >>
I’m continuing to toil away making Christmas gifts, but due to the fact that my family and friends read this site, I can’t really get away with spoiling the surprise by posting many photos here! But my friend (and will-be bridesmaid!) Pip is a lady who knows what she wants, and who knows to get her gift requests in early, so hers isn’t a surprise at all!
She had a pair of RTW pyjamas that she really liked, except that they were made in polyester satin and she’d much rather they were made of silk for comfort’s sake. So I took her specifications and found that Jalie 2686 was almost identical to her other pair of pyjamas. On top of the fabric difference, Pip also wanted to leave off the chest pocket and turn the half-elastic, half-drawstring waist into an entirely drawstring one, both of which were easy changes with this pattern.read more >>
I’m making good progress on my tuxedo-y suit using my grandmother’s vintage Pendleton wool. I’ve done the single welt pockets (a first time for me!) and the construction of the jacket body, and I’m now working on the many collars and lapels. The placement of the welt pockets (which are hidden under a front flap) is way too high, though, and the pockets are too narrow to be useful, though – this is the second time I’ve had BWOF jacket pockets be waaaay too narrow for my hands to fit through, so I must remember that for next time.read more >>