Patternmaking

Blue Jeans Baby

IMG_5163

Hello, hello! Hello, November and goodbye to my favorite month of the year. Am I in the minority in that I love autumn? I can finally spend blissful hours in my garden without sweating or getting attacked by mosquitoes. But it’s more than the weather; I love the transitions, slowness and more contemplative emotions of fall. It’s also the time of my birthday, so I was born for it.

So this is what became of my jeans project. Since my last post about these, I took a long & scenic route to fitting. I’d take them apart, re-cut and stitch them back together, preen in front of the mirror, pin out here and there, take them apart again, then take a few days off and distract myself with a fun dyeing project so I didn’t get overwhelmed. Wash, rinse, repeat.

self-drafted-jeans

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what’s going on with this outfit. I have had one of those months where I feel like throwing my clothes out and starting all over. It doesn’t help that most of my winter clothes are in our attic, stored from our move this spring. What I really wanted to do was roll up the jeans and wear a long tunic–a favorite style of mine–but then you wouldn’t get the all-important booty shot!

self-drafted-jeans-back

This month I’ve been working on a lot of pattern drafting projects. These kinds of projects are slow and full of learning, and really excite me, because they involve learning the fundamentals of fit and not just fixing symptoms. So while fitting these jeans, I went down some very fascinating rabbit holes reading about pant design. I read online and off, including stuff from arcane men’s drafting journals.

One of my very scenic side roads involved watching the videos in my long-ago purchased Craftsy Jeanius course, and then spending an evening making a pattern from one of my favorite pairs of wide-legged jeans. They are a totally different style than what I’m working on but the resulting pattern was very educational! (The front leg of this pattern was so much narrower than the back, for instance, while almost every draft I’ve seen makes front and back nearly equal.) I still plan to make up the pattern I got from my jeans, but that will have to wait for another rainy day. If you have been frustrated with jeans patterns, but already have a pair that you love, I’d recommend trying this class as one way to start.

So I left this project with a head full of fitting ideas, but for now this is how far I got. I love some things and am bothered by others, which I will fix the next go-around. Because of all my unpicking, recutting and re-stitching until I had just a shred of a seam allowance left in some parts. The waistband and fly are attached by something like 1/8″, and I couldn’t fit a fly that covers the zipper. Don’t tell the jeans that, because they seem to be holding up just fine! Unfortunately, I also had no length left for hemming so had to settle on an odd ankle length.

The scenic route was totally worth it! Drafting my own was worth it. I’m not sure I had a clear idea of the style I was after, hence the scenic route, but the process got me a lot closer to learning about my fit, and I ended up with a couple of potential patterns which won’t require starting a major fit process all over again. Win win!

Alrighty, who hasn’t tried jeans yet?

Details:
Pattern: self-drafted (starting with Bunka Pants & Skirts, with details like the yoke and pockets copied from other jeans)
Stretch denim: Gorgeous Fabrics, but at least five years old!
Pocketing: B. Black & Sons
Rivets & Button: Cast Bullet

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In Process: Jeans Fitting

I spent a good rainy indoorsy Sunday sewing up and fitting my jeans.

Just for a good laugh, here’s version 1.0:

first-jeans-muslin

What is going on with that waistband? you might wonder. It’s a cautionary tale about pattern drafting. I know that I should always measure twice, double-check my calculations. In this case, I drafted the waistline in metric but accidentally added ease in imperial, about three inches too much! Oops. I like to draft in metric as it’s more precise–it’s also what my pattern book used–but I think in imperial. It’s sort of like learning a language; I’m not quite at the point where I dream in metric, so I switch back and forth with my rulers to “translate”.

I took apart my pieces and cut out a version 2.0 with a completely new pattern adjusted to zero ease with a little bit of negative ease in some parts, including the waist. On my first pattern I drafted the hip and thighs with about 2.5cm total ease, which is a really small amount for a non-stretch woven, but this denim has 35% stretch–and it fit like it had almost 10cm of ease. So rather than take in adjustments willy-nilly here and there and everywhere, I figured it was easier to recut.

On version 2.0, some things improved and others seemed to get worse…

2nd-jeans-fitting

There’s some excess here and there, especially around the seat and the front crotch length. Ahh, that dreaded crotch fit. I have fit this area before with success in pants and shorts, but working with stretch fabric is a different beast. And jeans curves are shaped very differently than other pants. If you have ever examined your RTW jeans you might have noticed that the front fork is often much shorter and the curve is flatter than you think it’s going to be. Really slim stretch jeans and pants often have the inseams and outseams closer to the front around the seat/crotch area than trousers. This could have been my first problem–I used a slim trouser draft that wasn’t specifically for jeans.

But thinking about the differences gave me an idea I want to try but it will have to wait until next weekend.

The glorious mess…

jeans-mess

At the bottom is Leo. He snuck in this room overnight and did some kind of happy claw dance on my fabric, which left snags I had to cut around. I think he’s plotting his next move.

So jeans 3.0 will have to wait but at least I got to play with topstitching! (Thanks to readers who suggested that I use regular thread in the bobbin. That really helped.)

topstitching-pockets

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The J Word

Look ma, I’m making jeans!

jeans cutting

It’s taken me awhile to jump into jeans sewing. Now and then I’d see a cute pair on a sewing blog and get the warm fuzzies. They’d send me hunting for some dream denim, of which I have now accumulated a few yards. And I blame those fuzzies for seducing me into buying Colette’s Clover (to transform into slim fits–I blame Sallie!) and the famous Jalie jeans pattern (I blame the rest of the sewing universe!). I even signed up for Kenneth King’s jeans knock-off course on Craftsy. Inevitably the warm fuzzies wear off, and I swear up and down that jeans are just not something I want to make. I still like to buy them and love trying out different styles and cuts. High waisted, yes please. High waisted and wide-legged, double yes. Straight and slim, colored, waxed and trouser-style jeans are all in my wardrobe.

So obviously I’m having a change of heart again. Here’s what really sealed the deal: We just got back from a week in San Francisco, during which I landed on a massive denim sale at Discount Fabrics in the Mission. $3.50 PER YARD. That’s insane for beautiful Japanese selvage, designer stretch denim, in every weight and color of blue and black. Thank goodness I didn’t have an extra suitcase.

And honestly, drafting my own jeans, rather than using an existing pattern, would keep me interested, plus teach me a thing or two about fit and style lines. I had a couple of options for that:

jeans-drafting-books

One was a “classic jeans” draft from Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting. The other was a close-fitting trouser from Bunka’s Skirts & Pants. They’re fairly similar but I liked some of the finer points of the Bunka draft. It also includes better explanations of ease and shaping, and how they relate to different pants styles. All the Aldrich books tend toward a “just the facts, ma’am” sort of drafting style.

jeans-drafts

Skirts & Pants is a part of a 5-book pattern drafting series published by Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. You might recognize the name as the original publisher of the Pattern Magic books, and it seems like most of the Japanese sewing authors (Drape Drape, etc.) teach or were educated there. A veritable hotbed of pattern drafting goodness! I bought the whole series a couple of years ago but have never gotten around to using them till now. They’re unique books in that they are more than just drafting books. Each drafting section includes actual sewing instruction (great illustrations) and fitting ideas. They’re really holistic for a self-taught drafter.

So I spent a weekend in and out of the patternmaking zone and came up with this:

my-jeans-draft

I played around till I came up with a basic slim-cut jean, narrowish around the thighs but straight to the floor from the knee. This is one of my favorite styles for every day. Just as a side note, one of my biggest frustrations with just about every pants draft I’ve come across–and I have a serious patternmaking book addiction–is the drafting of the center back, and how to angle it depending on style. The Bunka method is better about this, although I still like the backs of pants even higher, so I fudged around till I got the back length I wanted.

I already know I’m going to have to tweak the yoke shaping but I’m looking forward to sewing them up this weekend! I’m going to make a trial pair, sans pockets, out of this space ranger denim I bought about five years ago. It’s really shiny and metallic on the reverse, and not my favoritest color in the universe. I don’t know what I was thinking at the time–I blame half my fabric stash on the warm fuzzies!

shiny-denim

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Lingerie Friday: The Frameless Bra

frameless-bra-2

I love fashion etymology. My friends have been getting an earful education in lingerie definitions–things like nursing sling, cookie (you know, that insertable floating foam thing in bra cups), and longline. The distinction between a tanga, a boyshort, or a cheeky. (For example, the Ladyshorts pattern is drafted in a style of cheeky.)

Outside of poetic retail descriptions that often lump really different styles under the same terms, there are many distinct cuts and styles in underwear. In the first chapter of Bra-makers Manual II, Beverly Johnson reminds her readers that there really aren’t any standard naming conventions–in lingerie or in any apparel category. “The more a bra style evolves,” she writes, “the more specific its definition becomes.” She uses the example of padded bras, which twenty years ago referred to any bra with any kind of foam or fiberfill lining, but are now a distinctive (extra-padded) idea in the sea of foam-lined bras.

Among underwired bras, one could at least divide them into two main types: those with a frame and those without. The frameless bra is sometimes known in sewing as a “partial band bra”.

frameless-bra-cups

In frameless bras, the underwire and its casing are sewn into the cups, since there is no frame or cradle running under the cups. The wings and bridge have to be completely finished before sewing them into the cup. The cup seams are different than a framed bra, since there needs to be enough room for the wire to go into the cup. One of my patternmaking books calls it the “hook-up bra”, which I’m guessing means that the wings and bridge are “hooked up” to the cup?

I never really noticed the difference between the two types before I started making bras. When I looked through my older purchased bras, nearly all of them were frameless. So by default, that’s what I made for my first-ever bra. Since then I’ve veered into all kinds of new styles. I just love longlines, and that you can’t do with a frameless bra.

There are pros and cons for each. I find that the frameless bra is just a bit easier to sew, but it is also harder to modify into new styles. I tend to put more plusses under the frame bra since it can be a foundation for all sorts of other styles (bodysuits, longlines, strapless). On a frameless bra, there is a limit to how wide the band can be which is a con especially for larger cup sizes. A too-narrow band wouldn’t put enough balancing force in the back, causing the front to drop down. I have been thinking of the band as a lever. Wearing it more tightly is one solution but then there is the potential for pinched skin and pushing the elastic–and fabric stretch–to its limits. Then the straps want to absorb some of the pressure. All that to say, a wider band can alleviate strap pain, pinching, and help with a little smoothing.

But I still dig the frameless style, so I had a go at designing one of my own.

red-leopard-set

Last summer I spied a cute little leopard bra in one of my favorite lingerie shops and wrote it down on my “project idea list”. Oh that long wishlist. The muse did strike eventually, when I found the right fabric, an unusual jacquard mesh. I made the knickers right away but kept them neatly folded in a sewing drawer until I could get around to a matching bra. I’m just that particular about finishing. My studio is happily strewn with bits of lace lying about like lines of half-started poems. I also have notebooks full of just lines, phrases I hear right in that half-dream state when I’m about to fall asleep.

I’m so glad I experimented with this pattern. I drafted the cup with a single dart and used a plunge wire for a demi style. It’s the shortest cup I’ve made so far, but I really love how it fits and it has turned out to be a good style for me. The undies are a simple high-waisted knicker (the same pattern from which I based my bodysuit).

red-leopard-set-collage

Now how did I end up putting levers, red leopard and poetry in the same blog post?

Details:
Patterns: self-drafted
Main Fabric: leopard mesh from Etsy
Lining Fabrics:stretch mesh and sheer tricot lining, Fabric Depot Co.
Plush and strap elastics: Fabric Depot Co., a few from stash
Elastic and Lining Dye: Rit “Scarlet”

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Back to Basics

bras and undies

Hi again! So this week we just got back from a trip to my favoritest city, San Francisco. It was a much-deserved get-away after all the moving and house fixing we did this spring. And all that good food and fog must have gone to my head because I came back really looking forward to an Austin summer.

Before we left, I finally finished up the last of my hand-dyed lingerie sets, so I thought you might like to see what became of my dyeing adventures.

hand-dyed cotton bra

Remember the neon lemon elastic? My original intent was to dye this cotton knit somewhat of an ecru color but instead I experimented with a mink brown.

cotton lingerie sets

On these next set of pieces I was experimenting with a cotton/modal knit and a Tencel knit. Both modal and Tencel are dreamy lingerie fabrics. They’re just a bit silkier than cotton, which tends to cling–Velcro, anyone? I’m waiting for a new shipment of Tencel jersey to test some more dyeing, because I think it might just be my absolute favorite.

As you can see, most of these are fairly simple styles. A few months ago a friend and I got to talking about 70s lingerie and how understated it was–feminine and flirty with a little bit of French insouciance. So I took that as a challenge to come up with simple bikini and bra styles that were easy to make and wear. Nothing screams 70s more than a little hipster bikini and triangle bra, dontcha think? Surprisingly, I spent way more time working on the bikini patterns than the bras. It took me five samples before I came up with my idea of a perfect bikini style. Maybe I imagine Annie Hall wearing these under her Saturday clothes, a little slouchy tee and wrinkled jeans. I’m a Woody Allen nerd, what can I say…

I hope you had a great week and happy June!

P.s. Is anyone else getting sidetracked by all the swimwear sewing going on around blogland? I think it might be time to finally pull out that oh-so-soft lycra I’ve been storing for the last year and get cracking on a swimsuit.

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Body Scanning, For the People

measuring from Dress Design, Hillhouse

My measurements change, and frequently. It all depends on chocolate or circuit training. Or the time of the year. I am more athletic in the summer. I’m dormant in the winter. A few years ago I drafted some close-fit slopers, which I’ve occasionally used as a “body map” to correct dart and length placements on patterns, but it was time to do some re-measuring. I really want to try some pattern drafts from a few of my new-er books and every drafting style always has its own specific measurement needs.

And obviously there are some measurements that you can’t do yourself–and some which are very particular to posture. I definitely straighten up for myself. And take little smidgens off here and there. I subconsciously cheat!

So I hopped over to a friend’s house for some help in taking my current measurements. Some of the results surprised me and I wondered if she may have been holding the tape too loose. I wanted backup data. How else could I get measurements? Ooh, perhaps a body scanning? After a bit of googling about fit technology I discovered a startup company from Berlin called UPcload, who designed software that scans your body through a laptop webcam. Web 2.5 plus German technology = now that’s what I’m talkin about!

Like the few 3D scanning technologies that have trickled down to retail, this is aimed at shoppers who want to find better-fitting store clothing and it supports itself through retail partnerships. But I was curious what it could do for me in terms of pattern-drafting measurements.

ETA: And IT’S FREE. (Oopsy, forgot to add that.)

So here’s how it works. After a simple sign-up process the software connects to your webcam and a flash movie begins taking you step by step through a set-up process in front of your laptop. First it has you change into tight-fitting dark clothing, with a helpful guide on what constitutes tight–and pull up your hair if you have long hair. To get an accurate body profile you move the laptop and yourself until you fit into a frame. Then you hold a CD or DVD in front of your stomach as a point of reference.

Then another movie starts taking you through the measuring process. I forgot to take screenshots of the process as I was doing it, but these are the poses…

Upcload poses

It’s all demonstrated by this cute 20-something couple who seem very happy about the whole thing; their apartment is much cleaner and less colorful than my house (no white walls here!).

The whole thing took about 10 minutes with some swishy disco “scan” noises and voila! body measurements.

upcload profile

So you might be wondering, how accurate are they? I was shocked! Most of my width measurements were spot on within .5 cm of what my friend had measured. The lengths were different but those were the ones I suspected my friend had taken too loosely, so I went with UPcload’s. Of course UPcload’s measurements are minimal and I needed several others specific to the draft I am working on, but at least I got the basics!

Anyone ever done a body scanning (outside of the airport, of course!)? I’d love to hear about it. Or have you ever had a tailor or other professional measure you?

Additional notes: If drafting custom-fitting patterns is your thing, I highly recommend European Cut by Elizabeth Allemong. There are some great drafting explanations in that book, but worth the price alone is the extensive chapter on how to measure–where to hold the tape, how tight to hold it, when to use aids, etc. Few patternmaking books go into that much detail. There’s always The Art of Measuring, reprinted by Center for Pattern Design. But then that’s vintage drafting and specific to tailoring, but I’m definitely curious about it!

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Bra-making Sew Along: Vertical Seam Variation

(Hack Your Bra Part 2!)

I love a diagonally-seamed cup because it is especially pretty in lace, with an unbroken line of scallops across the top. But it’s been fun to play around with seam directions for different style and shape options.

vertically-seamed cups

In today’s tutorial, I’ll share two pattern variations you can make to your cup: 1. adding an additional seam to your lower cup for a 3-piece pattern and 2. changing the entire cup to a vertically-seamed one. I’m using the 2nd variation for my own bra which you will see in action next week!

A tip for these alterations: The main seams in a cup should cross over your bust point. In some patterns, there is a notch at that point–usually right at the apex–if not, find it on your bra and mark it on your pattern so you know where it is. After your alterations, walk your pieces and double check that the lengths of the actual seam lines match.

Adding a Seam to the Lower Cup

ONE: For a second seam in the lower cup, mark a line going from your bust point down to the bottom seam line.

lower cup seam #1

It doesn’t matter where the line ends at the bottom so feel free to experiment! In this example, I’m dividing the lower cup into two relatively equal pieces, which will result in a seam that runs perpendicular to the main seam.

TWO: Cut the pattern piece along the lines and trace your two new pieces. Draw in a smooth, even curve connecting the top and bottom seamlines. The curve should be fairly subtle.

lower cup seam #2

THREE: That’s it–your new pieces! Don’t forget to walk the seamlines and add 1/4″ allowances to the new seam.

lower cup seam #3

Vertical Seam Alteration

For this alteration, first mark where you want your seam to start and end. A vertical seam doesn’t have to be straight up and down–you could slant inwards or outwards. I found my starting points by marking these positions on a previous bra. It just so happens that my pattern–Pin-up Girls Classic–has a notch right at the center bottom, which is usually where a straight vertical seam starts.

ONE: Mark the bust point of your pattern.

vertical seam alteration #1

TWO: On both pieces, mark in lines on the top and bottom cups, going from the desired starting point of your new seam to the bust point. I rotated the bottom cup in this example so I could draw a straight line down the two.

vertical seam variation #2

THREE: Split these pieces apart on the lines. You should now have four pieces total.

vertical seam variation #3

FOUR: Line up the top and bottom pieces along the sides until the seamline along the sides of the cup form smooth curves.

vertical seam variation #4

The cross-cup seamlines will match each other for a short distance, but will not come together at the bust point. Trace off the these new inner and outer pieces.

FIVE: Depending on your pattern style and where the apex is, one side may have smaller “dart” than the other. In this case, the outer cup has the smaller dart, so draw your new seam line on this side first. Draw in a smooth curve connecting the two upper and lower pieces close to the bust point.

vertical seam variation #5

On the inner cup, draw another curve of equal length. Because the “dart” on this side is so wide, the curve will not go around the apex. (You need to take some out from that “dart”, if that makes sense!) You can use a measuring tape to find the right curve length.

ETA: The flatter these curves, the less length (and volume) the cup will have. In your fitting, experiment with them to find the shape you like. If you’d like to pull things in more, you can experiment with making the inner curve slightly flatter than the outer curve–a good tool to use in shaping!

SIX: Smooth out all the new seam lines, mark your bust point notch, and add seam allowances.

vertical seam variation #6

In the above illustration I’m also smoothing off that strap extension from my pattern, because I’m not going to use a fabric strap.

There ya go–a totally new cup!

I hope these are clear, so let me know if you have any questions!

Have a beautiful weekend, all. And get ready to start the engines–on Monday we’ll finally get to sewing and I’ll start with some cutting and layout tips. See you then!

17 Comments

Bra-making Sew Along: Hack Your Bra #1

I have to admit that this part of the sew-along is the part I was most excited about! I love the process of thinking about shapes, of sitting down with paper and rulers (or lately, Illustrator) and drawing new design ideas. I know pattern-making can seem intimidating but bras are such a great way to jump in and exercise your secret hacker. It all involves so little paper and fabric!

So in the spirit of my Lingerie Fridays, I want to share some of my favorite bras with you along with some ideas on how to generate them from your base pattern.

band style

How about a longline? (Cool examples: Freya, Fortnight…) I love these for style but they’ve got a function, too. The wider the band, the more supportive it is. And I think they look pretty sweet underneath thinner tops. I’ve made this alteration to a few of my bras:

purple silk longline bra

You can lengthen the band straight from center front, side seam and back, as the lines in red demonstrate. The longer these lines get, the narrower the band will at the bottom so if you need more width you might have to try lengthening at a different angle (lines in blue).

longline bra alteration

strap style

How about fabric or lace straps?

stella mccartney silk bra with lace straps

Again, style and function–the less elastic the strap, the longer it lasts. This beautiful Stella bra uses a scalloped lace and a silk satin strap in the front.

The back design is really up to you. I love having options in back strap designs. It’s easy to change your pattern back and forth from a u-back to a camisole back.

changing from u-back to camisole back

In a camisole style, the elastic works best if it is tacked down to both the top and bottom of the band.

bridge style

You can do a lot of funky things with the bridge, too. If you are using longer underwires but want create a little plunge effect, you can try using separator wires, as in this lovely Huit bra.

using separators in bridge

These wires come in all sorts of shapes. The construction would be a fun puzzle, as you either need channeling or a tunnel to insert the wire. I may try this on my next bra and I’ll let ya know how it turns out!

demi cups

If a demi style appeals to you, you can always take some of the height out of your cup and bridge. This is an Elle Macpherson demi bra with similar seams as some of our patterns. To do this you’ll need shorter or plunge wires, or clip your own.

Elle Macpherson demi cup bra

alteration for a demi bra with strap extension

I love playing the game of “How Did They Do That?” and often do a little investigation in the stores (it must look funny, as I look inside the seams–the things you do when you sew!). So I hope this gives you some fun ideas as you continue your bra-making adventure.

Tomorrow I’ll be taking the pattern-hacking a bit further with a tutorial on adding vertical seams to your cups. After bit of a breather over the weekend, on Monday we can finally get down to the business of sewing our bras. Woo!

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Bra-making Sew Along: Pattern Tracing

Let’s take a look at our patterns!

tracing my pattern!

Today and tomorrow I’m going to prep the pattern and make a test bra for my friend. I’ve been drafting different bras so I needed a quick and dirty way to test them without sewing in the elastic. So I’ll share how I’ve been doing that. There are some things you can’t predict in a tester bra or cups, and you may just want to skip this part. But if you want to save your materials for the good stuff and do some fitting and styling fun next week, give it a whirl!

Before I get to tracing, let’s take a look at our pattern pieces. This is an illustrated scan of the pieces in Elan 645, and most of your patterns will be in some combination of these pieces.

elan 645 pattern pieces

If you are working with a three-piece cup (such as the Danglez patterns), sometimes the lower cup consists of two pieces, or there will be a side panel that reaches into the strap. A couple of the suggested patterns also include a fabric strap piece.

You’ll also notice that the band and cradle can have various seams, some with a seam below the cup, some with a side seam, or both. These are mostly just style differences.

tracing the pattern

When tracing your pattern don’t forget to transfer pattern markings like notches, direction of stretch (the ‘grainline’) and bust point. I’m going to trace a 32D from the Elan pattern.

traced bra pattern

The Elan pattern also has a little facing piece for the top of the cup. I might not use it but I traced it anyway.

For my initial pattern, I’m using this vellum paper to trace off but later I’m going to transfer the pattern to oak tag or something like card stock. I find it much easier and more accurate to weigh down the patterns and trace around them with chalk, rather than pin and cut. You could do this straight away if you wanted.

the seam allowances

Now there’s one more step I like to do and that’s draw in the seamlines. This is certainly not an essential thing, but I find them helpful when making fitting adjustments. Some of you may have the Danglez or another European pattern which comes without seam allowances so you’ll need to add them on.

Bras use small, precise seam allowances. The major seams are all 1/4″ (6mm), and trust me, these small allowances help with sewing precision, especially in sewing convex to concave curves! They also help the curves to lay smoothly.

The underarm seam on cups and top of the band are 3/8″ (1cm), for 3/8″ picot elastic.

bra pattern top hem allowances

(Totally random prop with my little Czech car.) And for the Danglez cups:

Danglez DB4 seam allowances

The hemline and bottom of the entire band is 1/2″-5/8″ (12-15mm) for your band elastic. Check your pattern to see if it has specifics. For the Danglez pattern, add the width of the elastic you plan to use.

bra band hemline allowances

The center back and the strap seam near it do not have seam allowances.

back band CB

Everything else is 1/4″ (6mm). The center front of the band is either cut on fold or has a seam allowance–check your pattern to make sure! (ETA: I totally goofed and had 1/4″ at 8mm before–I still don’t think in metric!)

Alrighty, I’m ready to cut and sew a test bra! I hope to have photos of the process by tomorrow but it’s been abysmally dark and rainy here. (Bad photo light… bad.)

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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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