A Vintage Mood Silk Bra

Just when I thought I was done with purple silk, I was inspired to scour through the scraps for a new project. I try not to keep saving miniscule remnants of fabric but they keep piling up and now I have yet another reason than “oh, this one-inch selvage might make a cool bow thingy some day”: bras!

This is a little project I’ve been refining in bits and pieces over the last few months. Since the spring I’ve been filling a notebook with little lingerie design ideas and sort of immersed in learning whatever I can about bra construction and design. I’ve gone crazy thinking about bra patterns! I sometimes fall asleep thinking about them, thinking in abstract shapes. I’d hoped to test this particular design in a stretch silk so the charmeuse from my shorts was absolutely perfect. It all came together because I happened to have the right notions and elastic stashed for a future project. I love it when a plan comes together.

Shall I do a bit of show and tell?

(I wish I could give you a better view of the back, but my dress form is like two sizes bigger than moi.)

Fabric: “Majesty Purple” stretch silk charmeuse from Mood Fabrics, nylon/lycra (“lingerie lycra”) from e-lingeria for the band.

Notions: metal rings/sliders and picot elastic from e-lingeria, closure and piping elastic (I love this!) from Sew Sassy.

This bra started with me having a bit of an crush on vintage-inspired longline bras, and particularly these soft longlines from Fortnight Lingerie. Back when they had a shop on Etsy last fall, I almost almost ordered one but was far too taken with the idea of drafting something like it myself. My first challenge was to draft a vertically-seamed cup on which I could build other patterns. I really this kind of seaming but it seems difficult to find in bra and bustier sewing patterns.

From there I came up with soft triangle-cup bra that plunges at the center front. Because it doesn’t have a bridge, underwires won’t work in this kind of style but it surprisingly holds its shape without them. (And it doesn’t really need them either with such a supportive band.) You can see I also split the front band because I didn’t have enough fabric for a single piece, but I think this adds a nice visual line with the cups. And just in case you’re wondering, do silk and bras mix? I think so. I have a couple of silk bras, one with quite a bit of structure and and underwired soft bra, and they wear and wash very well. I’ve fused my silk with a soft interfacing both to keep shape, reduce some of the stretch and also make an extra little layer of smoothness.

I’m so excited to have gotten this far on a bra design. I made my first sample out of non-stretch Duoplex and powernet, then adjusted the pattern to work with a stretch woven like silk, and I have another pattern which I’ve adjusted even further to make the cups and front band from a nylon/lycra jersey much like the Fortnight bra. That means 3 separate cup patterns! The more the stretch, the more the cup needs to be reduced in some way. (You would think I could apply that understanding to my other projects.)

Just for kicks, while I had all the remnants out, I tried out the OhLuLu Betty pattern for matching knickers, which I won back in May from A Good Wardrobe. They’ll need a bit of work to fit properly and I already had to chop off two inches so they didn’t reach up to my bra band, but I’m still deciding if I can do this style. It’d be more tempting if it had some mystery svelt-ing material to hold in my figure. I can just hear Bridget Jones: However, chances of reaching crucial moment greatly increased by wearing these… scary-stomach-holding-in panties very popular with grannies the world over… tricky… very tricky…

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Silk Shorts, Deja Vu

My my, is it August already?

This has been one of the more pleasant summers we’ve experienced in Austin, but August is always the hardest, like an oven that’s been slowly heating for a few months. It’s that time of year I like to read more, just chill more, and generally halt all forms of pressure and deadlines. And really just enjoy basic Southern pleasures like sitting on the porch at night with a iced tall something. (I love making lemonade.)

One of those summer pleasures was going to include that floaty pair of silk shorts, the remix of last summer’s ill-fitting pair. You are about to experience a bit of blog deja-vu because here I am 10 months later, posting some pretty pictures again of pretty purple silk shorts with pretty interior details, but NOT on me.

These became an epic do-over. I bought more of the same gorgeous silk charmeuse (this time in stretch, just in case) from Mood. I made three muslins and redrafted the leg to my liking. I hacked off the fly and just like my last pair drafted my own with a fly shield. I changed the waistband to a longer and folded tab front. I spent even more time on the insides than I did on the last pair. Things were going so well…

And then, you know what’s coming, I did a try on before sewing in the final buttonhole and hemming up the cuffs. They were girnormous! So much so that I can’t model on me or I’d be indecent without a paper bag waist belt. An epic do-over turned into another epically unwearable piece.

I went back over my fitting notes and realized two things: 1) Don’t try on muslins at night and right after you eat. I’d made a good adjustment to the waist and hips but then decided against the changes after trying them on again. And 2.) Stretch fabrics can play a number on you. I made my muslins in a light rayon challis which has gave me an idea of the weight and drape, but I really didn’t think about how the stretch would strettchhh. I so wish it was easier to predict stretch behavior… and perhaps I need to get in the habit of fitting as I go.

However… I love this fabric too much so I am going to unpick. I will have to unpick quite a bit of understitching and somehow make my way into my very tiny trimmed waistband seams. Unfortunately, charmeuse is prone to needle marks, but I will have to live with that. Am I crazy? I don’t know what it is about this project. Normally I’d be really disappointed but I wasn’t the last time, either. More than anything I feel as if I’m getting the hang of trouser interiors and perhaps am ready to attack the satin tuxedo pants I’ve always dreamed of making…

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