Rosy Ladyshorts: Construction

This is the new pair of Ladyshorts I wanted to make for a construction tutorial, but I was getting a little tired of black and white so I went with… grey.

Radical, huh? Actually, the dye I used on my white lace was named “silver grey”, and on my dye chart was a pretty pale silver but turned out a very dark lavender grey (the water was purple!). I’m still a newb with dyes but it’s easy and fun and I like getting surprise colors.

The pieces

Just so I don’t get the two ends of the lining confused I put a pin in the end that’s going to be sewn into the crotch seam. (This end is marked with a dotted line at the seamline on the pattern.)

1. Sew the front and back seams

Pick up the main pieces just as they are and take them right to the machine and sew the seams on each side. (Assuming they’re already right sides together.) You can either serge or zig-zag these together–the seam allowances are 3/8″ (1cm), which allows for some of the edge to cut off if using a serger. I like using a really narrow 3-thread stitch on my serger because it’s soft and I think it looks and feels better in lace or sheer fabrics. (Even if I’ve zig-zagged, I trim the seams down to 1/4″.) But that’s up to you!

2. Stitch the trim ends together

Sew/serge the ends of each trim piece together with a 3/8″ allowance.

If you like to have the free edge of the lining finished with a serger, do that now. (I forgot! It won’t ravel so it can be left raw, too!)

3. Sew the crotch seam

You can see my liner fabric doesn’t want to be flat…

Sew the front, back and liner in one “sandwich”. In the top photo you can see the ladyshorts are wrong side out, the front is on bottom, the back is in the middle, and the crotch lining is on top. The wrong side of the crotch lining piece is facing out. Again this can be serged or zig-zagged (it will be completely hidden). I usually like to serge, but sometimes it can be hard to send three layers through the serger without one layer bunching. When I was first practicing serging delicate laces or knits, I’d first sew a long basting stitch on my sewing machine to keep the layers in place and then serge.

4. Baste the lining

Now fold the lining toward the front and baste it to the edge of the lace.

5. Add the trim

There’s just a tiny bit of ease in the legs and waist so I pin the trim at a couple of spots to try to even out the fullness. In this photo I “half” the waist trim and mark the center front. The seamed side is sewn to the back seam and the pinned side is sewn to the front.

Place the edge of the elastic trim so that it overlaps the waist by 1/4″ and start sewing with a narrow zig zag right in that overlap. Sometimes you have to stop every couple of inches to rearrange the layers.

In these pictures, I’m stretching the lace trim a bit, holding it down to the edge of the fabric and then letting it relax as it goes through the machine. I use my left hand to ease the fabric into the elastic and the feed dogs do the rest of the work. In other words, I’m trying not to pull on everything as it goes under the presser foot. If you stitch while pulling, the elastic trim stays stretched and you want the trim to keep most if not all of its original elasticity. It’s much more comfortable! (I really have to thank Katherine from SewBlooms for sharing this elastic-sewing tip with me.)

Repeat for the legs.

And this is what it looks like on the inside!

Optional little tip: I like to do one last little securing step, a little something I learned from my store-bought undies. I like to flatten the seam allowance on the edges of the lace trim by zig-zagging over it a couple of times. This is also a way to secure the thread tails or chains.

That’s it! Pretty and comfy!

Download the Rosy Ladyshorts here.

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Rosy Ladyshorts: Materials

Alrighty! Today I want to write a bit about different materials you can use for the Rosy Ladyshorts pattern. It took me awhile to finish this post, with surgeries and birthdays and whatnot going on. But first I want to thannnk you for your enthusiasm about the pattern! It really reminded me that I love designing things. I love sewing!

Onto the materials… Friends are often asking me where I find my fabrics. For lingerie fabrics in particular I like to hunt! So I’ll also include some possible online sources.

Main Fabric

For the main fabric of the Ladyshorts, the possibilities are wide open. I designed them around stretch lace, but I know it might not be everyone’s choice and some of us prefer natural fibers. Any kind of lightweight jersey would be beautiful! I made these pairs out of a stretch mesh and a rayon/lycra jersey.

Jerseys are easier to find so I won’t focus on those so much. Stretch lace for lingerie is usually a nylon fabric and may have some spandex/lycra in it. Look for something soft and lightweight, that stretches at least 60%.

White stretch lace fabric (which I’ve already cut for another pair) from Sew Sassy, turquoise galloon stretch lace from Merckwaerdigh.

Most of the time galloon lace trims like my turquoise lace are too narrow to cut an entire underwear pattern. It just so happens that this one is extra wide and enough to fit my pattern. Galloon laces often have a strong design pattern with scallops on both edges, so they’re a bit harder to work around. A wide stretch lace fabric, with a consistent design repeat like the white lace, is usually easier to work with. I’ve since dyed the white lace because I had some extra yardage and really want to play with dyeing!

Trim

For the legs and waist you need an elastic lace trim. Sometimes called elastic lace or stretch lace trim, it’s basically a narrow lace trim that stretches like elastic. There are a lot of folks making baby headbands out of this stuff on Etsy. Who knew baby headbands were such a booming business?

This is really fun to use in underwear in place of regular lingerie elastic. You can try other widths than 1″ but keep in mind that the trim goes around the leg and so the wider it is the wider the crotch will get. I found that 3/4 to 1″ were just right. Look for a trim that has a fairly straight edge or small scallops.

For the liner, I usually just use whatever light jersey I happen to have, sometimes cotton, sometimes rayon. No one’s going to notice what color it is… but if you plan to make several pairs of undies, a light cotton jersey in nude is always a good thing to have around.

Sources and ideas…

Sources for stretch lace fabric: Sew Sassy, Spandex World, Spandex House. Some of the European lingerie-supply-sellers like Merckwaerdigh and Elingeria may have some stretch lace fabric although they usually carry the galloon types. Harts Fabric sometimes sells soft stretch lace fabric.

For some ideas to get you started, these would all make cool Ladyshorts:



(click on the photos for more info)

For lace trim: Most of the same places I listed for fabric carry it. Sometimes you can find it in the trims section of a fabric store. Mine are mostly from Sew Sassy, but I’ve also found some nice trims on Etsy. I like to narrow down the search by adding “lingerie” to it so I’m finding something soft enough. (On Etsy, sometimes you’ll get “vintage lace” which isn’t always a good thing when elastic is involved!)

If you know of other stops for lingerie laces, especially outside the U.S., let us know in the comments. And I’m making a new pair with my dyed fabric over the weekend so you can have a picture tutorial soon! But in the meantime, please feel free to shoot me any questions about fabrics.

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A Birthday Stroll

This week was a bit of funny one. I had a long-overdue surgery and my first stitches ever in 20 years. Nothing major, only a skin surface thing, but it was hard to move for a few days and I’m of the low-pain-threshold variety. The tiniest toe stub sends me screaming across the house in high-pitched drama.

But it was birthday week! Around here “birthday day” usually means ‘do favorite things for an entire day at your own pace’, but you can pace it out all week long if you want.

Birthday cuddles with T-bone. Well really, it’s my favorite part of every morning!–he’s a very spazzy cat but I love when he’s so sleepy and sweet.

In my front yard with my brand new hula hoop!

On a recent trip to California, we ended up being in the middle of two hula hoop jams in separate parks. I had no idea how big hooping really was, nor how acrobatic people are with these (I thought, ‘you just go round and round?’), but it is crazy fun. Everybody gets into it, all ages, and everybody laughs the whole time. So I got addicted by the idea and threw a hoop jam over the weekend with friends and all the kiddos. The kids were inventing “robotic hooping” which just makes sense with Daft Punk as soundtrack.

My actual birthday day almost always involves a stroll through a garden of some kind or perhaps a hike through a preserve. Austin is really at its most beautiful this time of year. Things are blooming madly.

Birthday dinner involved beets with sorrel puree, olive oil drizzle and parmesan crisps at Contigo. I’ve been on a serious beet kick this year and this was so perfectly done. (Main course was rabbit stew with cipollini onions and sage dumplings… Yummmm.)

I love to eat.

Contigo is a great place to sit outside and chill over a drink on a warm Austin night. I’m severely proud of my Scottish roots so I always have to have a taste of scotch at the very end of my birthdays and they have a great selection. (This year it was Oban.)

All in all, a perfectly chilled out birthday!

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Lingerie Friday: The ‘Rosy Ladyshorts’ Pattern

I’m so excited I’m beside myself. My first lingerie pattern!

The Rosy Ladyshorts pattern–free to download here.

I really loved making this pattern and I foresee more in the future! But phew, even for a small pattern, there is so much work that goes into it from start to finish and I have loads of respect for those who make downloadable patterns and tutorials.

Underwear is a really fun and easy way to gain a bit of experience sewing lingerie and its sometimes delicate fabrics. I really wanted this, my first pattern, to be a beginner-friendly type of project, something to dive into to gain some confidence working with little seams, lace, elastic, etc. You could make about five of these in an afternoon!

The pattern only has text instructions but if you’ve made underwear or swimwear before, it’s fairly self-explanatory. I thought about a sew-along but I think it might be easier if I post a couple tutorials in the next week or so, with tips on fabrics and pattern adjustments, as well as a step-by-step of making these.

For today, let’s talk the very basics! First, I wanted to make this pattern as easy as possible to fit, so there are 8 sizes. I think that allows for more refined fitting than the usual 4-sizes-fits-all undies. For this pattern, you pick a size based on your hip. I’m right in between two sizes so I went with the smaller of the two sizes but I could probably just as easily go with the larger if I wanted a slightly looser fit.

To make these, you need:

  • 1 yard/meter lightweight stretch lace fabric (45-60″ wide)
  • 1″ (1.25cm) elastic lace trim
  • little piece of light cotton knit for the liner

I originally designed the pattern around lightweight stretch lace that stretches from 60-70% comfortably. But there are tons of possibilities for fabrics–rayon or cotton jersey, stretch mesh, or lingerie lycra. Really, whatever feels comfy! The main thing is that your fabric needs to be able to stretch 60% without making it taut. That eliminates most woven fabrics so I would definitely go with lace, jersey or mesh. If you know a lace or knit has spandex/lycra, chances are it’ll have a good enough stretch. But since all fabrics behave a little differently, test! Stretch lace is very open, soft and loose and so even when it stretches as much as a jersey it often doesn’t feel as tight–this is why I like the lace boyshorts so much! I’ll share in another post how to make some educated adjustments for different stretch fabrics.

That’s it for today, short and sweet! Let me know if you have any questions about fabrics, pattern printing, whatever!

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Lingerie Friday: Ladyshorts

Mmm, it’s technically Saturday here but who’s keeping track? This week I was working mad late-night hours on a special treat for you. It was a little ambitious and I got reallly far, but at some point (i.e., very late last night) I had to take a break before carpal-mouse-tunnel or brain-fry-tunnel took over. Read on…

My passion of the week is boyshorts–and butts. I can say that with totally comic ironic distance. I’m so analytical I forget how funny I sound, and when I stepped back for a second, I realized I’d been staring at butts a lot over the last week, or at least mannequin butts in underwear. Did I ever think for a minute I’d be writing about these things in public? Noooo. But even funnier:

Booty mannequins! I’m trying to find some fun ways to shoot lingerie, and I squealed when I found these last week at a local store fixture warehouse near my neighborhood. The guys running this hoot of a place are sweet old-timer Austinites with old-timey Texan accents. They were eager to sell me just about every mannequin in the joint to move their inventory. I was quite happy, having found a cheap torso in good shape, when they encouraged me to go upstairs and have a peak at another massively dusty floor of fixtures. Squirreled away on a shelf were these satin-covered lingerie forms for $5 a pop. I gave them a good clean and I’m probably going to re-cover them at some point. Another project!

And they’re wearing my new pattern. A few weeks back, the lovely Heather Lou suggested I make a pattern inspired by my favorite lacy boyshorts. So I took on the challenge; I wanted to figure out the “secret” that made them fit so well.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with boyshorts. So many of them fit me terribly. I remember when they were first becoming popular, sometime in the mid-90s or so. Overnight, boyshorts practically colonized Victoria’s Secret, packed with pairs in every collegiate color. They were everything their previous counterparts weren’t–boyish, high-cut and athletic-looking. And unlike their sisters, they didn’t have any elastic in the legs–at most a lightweight stretch lace holding them to the body–which is genius for comfort and eliminating that thing that everybody got obsessed with eliminating after the 80s: VPL. Of course, now VPL the brand celebrates that very thing. (Ironic distance in design!) The boyshort has certainly grown up in the last couple of decades, the cuts gone up and down, and even at times crossed genes with the thong. Boythongs–now who invented that name?

{clockwise: Mary Green silk knit, Hanky Panky Signature, Forever 21, Simone Perele, Huit Icone and Huit ‘Lucky Doll’}

There’s a style for just about any body if you like them, but they usually hold in common the seaming at the center front and back. Here’s the “secret” to my favorite pair, or at least part of it: they are cut a little like a boyshort in the back and a little like a brief in the front. They curve right along the hip, not falling low like hot pants or creeping up over the day like some boyshorts. (You know of what I speak?) I love having a drawer full of laceys like this because they cross that wonderful line between ornamental and everyday comfort.

The pattern for these is almost finished. I’ve been working a little crazy on it the last couple of weeks, making samples in different fabrics and grading it into eight sizes. I ambitiously thought it’d be done by yesterday but since it’s my first, I needed to make templates for everything so I could make the process easier the next time. I’m calling them the “Rosy Ladyshorts”. Ladyshorts, because that’s what I think they’ve grown up to be. So stay tuned, it won’t be long and I’ll be sure to post with a little how-to and some fabric tips along with the pattern!

Have a great rest of the weekend!

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Lingerie Friday: Illustrative

About 10 years ago I flirted with the idea of doing a fashion design program. I didn’t need another degree nor career option but wanted that little push to take my love of sewing and clothes further. At the time, the interwebs obviously wasn’t the place it is now so one really had to hunt information. So I ended up enrolling in a few part-time semesters of art school which if anything fueled my passion for collecting illustration books. Perhaps it’s because I was first exposed to fashion through sewing pattern envelopes and late 70s/early 80s fashion magazines–which used to feature a lot more illustration in their ads and editorials–that I have a bit of a thing for fashion illustration. I love a good line.

So for my first Lingerie Friday, how about a glance at illustrators who’ve given life to underthings?

Antonio Lopez was a part of the Warhol crowd and a personality in the fashion scene of the 70s and 80s. His signature styles were glamorous, marker-saturated 80s illustrations, but I love his earlier more whimsical styles. What can I say, I like the 70s. W magazine recently published an article about Lopez in conjunction with an exhibition and beautiful new book of his work.

René Gruau. I love his ads for Dior.

Thea Kliros, from a lingerie editorial in Seventeen Magazine, October 1968. (More of these here.)

Erte-illustrated lingerie for the theater. (Lots more at the Met archives.)

Sandra Suy is one of my favorite contemporary illustrators. This isn’t the prettiest example of her work but it seems rare for an international brand to use illustration anymore.

Sometimes I get lost browsing portfolio sites like Behance. That’s how I found Kateryna Kyslitska. Edward Gorey underwear! Sort of how it usually looks all crumpled in the drawer, right?

Almost as if they read my mind, Sarah at Pattern Vault has just shared about the illustrator behind the Vogue ‘Practical Dressmaking’ book and Sallie shared some sneaky peaks from her fashion-y sketchbooks. Don’t miss!

Do you have any favorite illustrators?

{Bra illustration at top: fashion illustrator Coco for Galliano.}

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Fresh Starts and Wish Lists

Happy Happy October! I love this month. It cools off, the weather is gorrrgeous, the roses come back out to play. It’s my favorite time of year and alright, I’m not totally unbiased. I’m an October birthday.

It’s a few weeks away but I’m already starting on my wish list. Here’s one fantasy…

Have you seen this beauty? It’s not in production but a finalist in this year’s James Dyson Awards. UK university student Sarah Dickens designed her “Alto” as a basic make-do-and-mend machine. (I love the name, too–I’m an alto!)

This would be an awesome Kickstarter project. About time someone made the “Mac” of sewing machines, right? You can read about the Alto and watch a video of it in use at Ecouterre. (Thanks Steph for the link!)

Wish list aside, I like fresh starts and I almost always hit the reset button on a lot of things in October. Maybe it’s that beginning-of-school-year feeling. And I have a confession for this new year… Over the summer I got bored with blogging. Maybe restless is a better word. Every time I went to write a post, I’d write and rewrite sentences 15 times before I’d blast the whole thing and assign it to blog draft purgatory. There are a lot of lonely ideas in there that would like to be free. A month-long break from blogland helped, but I still wanted a bit more focus, perhaps some new direction. Up till this point I’ve written mostly about personal sewing projects. The problem is, I start to feel pulled and nagged by a project queue, rushing toward the finish line just to have something to blog about and that’s no fun, is it? Blogging is an art in itself and I want to get better at that.

So sat down for a few hours and wrote out some thoughts about the topics I like, where I’d love to go with this whole blogging-sewing-fashion-thing and how to keep a natural rhythm with it. And one thing really stood out to me. I LOVE to teach, and more than half of my blog ideas were teaching about sewing and designing, not just sharing my own makes. I spend far more time experimenting with patterns and fabrics than finishing them because I love to learn more than I want finished clothes. I love the process of problem-solving, too, and my constant instinct is to help others solve problems. But teaching is a skill and I need to sharpen it.

So to that end I’ve just initiated a local sewing workshop with friends. It’s still in the planning stages but I’m so excited about this! I’d like to bring that here too by sharing some of my own patterns, technique tutorials, re-fashioning. And I heard y’all about the bra-making sew-along. It’s in the works! Friends, that will really sharpen my scissors.

I’m going to start simply this week, with a new weekly post called “Lingerie Friday” featuring some of my favorite designs with a big sprinkle of DIY. I like having a little something to hang my hat on each week no matter what I’m working on.

And thank you to all my readers and friends for following thus far–you are amazing people and I hope that what I express here can be a source of refreshment for you.

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