Archive of ‘Patternmaking’ category

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!

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!

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.)

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!

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?

[typography size="12"](I wish I could give you a better view of the back, but my dress form is like two sizes bigger than moi.)[/typography]

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…

Muslins & Yoke Pockets

It has been a wonderfully on-and-off overcast week here in Austin. I’m pretending it’s raining more than it really is and that I should be having an “inside” day. Which means sewing and lots of pattern-cutting. And blogging. And playing with new tech toys…

My silk shorts pattern is finished and I’ve decided to sew a couple of pairs at the same time. I love a little assembly-line sewing! Until I get them done, I thought I’d share a few things I learned along the way… Today is all about yoke pockets. Over the last year I’ve made several patterns that have had some form of hip yoke pocket. The Lonsdale, the Cambie dress and my shorts all have these pockets. And of course you’d be familiar with them from many trouser and most jeans patterns.

The top pocket is a pretty common Burda pocket in anything with a fly. In Burda patterns, there is often just one piece on the pattern sheet. You’d trace off two separate pieces from that–one for the yoke piece and one for the lining that sews into the front skirt or pant piece. (The little extension is sewn into the center front.) The example on the bottom is a folded yoke pocket that includes lining and pocket in one.

It seemed a bit laborious to sew entire pockets into the muslins of these patterns, but I did–four times! Now I’m guessing I may not be as clever as my readers, but I really didn’t think of a way around this till I started making several test runs of my silk shorts. To cut the pocket and front as one for a muslin, I lined up the yoke pocket piece with the side seams, making sure the grain lines of pocket and short fronts were parallel. The patterns with these pockets often have notches near the hipline and along the waistline where the pocket lines up, which helps lining them up.

When cutting them out, I kept weights on them to make sure they didn’t shift.

Once lined up and taped/weighted onto that front piece, I could draw in the hip shape, remove the pocket and then proceed to cut the front as one whole piece.

What I really want is a flexible shorts block that I can use for multiple styles. So after finally getting the fit I wanted, I ended up making two blocks, one for shorts with pockets and one without. Now I have possibilities for side zips!

If you’ve ever made something with these kind of pockets, you have probably noticed they pull and bulge a bit if there is not enough hip room. Sometimes bulging–or a draped pocket–is intentional, but the pocket and short/skirt front have to be cut that way. Once I did a muslin without pockets I got a much more accurate fit without depending on the ease of the pocket “give”.

Hmmm, now I might be playing around some cool draped pockets like these Philip Lim trousers…

p.s. Sorry all if you wanted or tried to comment on my last post. My offline blog writer played a tricksy on me. All should be working now!

Muslins & Yoke Pockets

It has been a wonderfully on-and-off overcast week here in Austin. I’m pretending it’s raining more than it really is and that I should be having an “inside” day. Which means sewing and lots of pattern-cutting. And blogging. And playing with new tech toys…

My silk shorts pattern is finished and I’ve decided to sew a couple of pairs at the same time. I love a little assembly-line sewing! Until I get them done, I thought I’d share a few things I learned along the way… Today is all about yoke pockets. Over the last year I’ve made several patterns that have had some form of hip yoke pocket. The Lonsdale, the Cambie dress and my shorts all have these pockets. And of course you’d be familiar with them from many trouser and most jeans patterns.

The top pocket is a pretty common Burda pocket in anything with a fly. In Burda patterns, there is often just one piece on the pattern sheet. You’d trace off two separate pieces from that–one for the yoke piece and one for the lining that sews into the front skirt or pant piece. (The little extension is sewn into the center front.) The example on the bottom is a folded yoke pocket that includes lining and pocket in one.

It seemed a bit laborious to sew entire pockets into the muslins of these patterns, but I did–four times! Now I’m guessing I may not be as clever as my readers, but I really didn’t think of a way around this till I started making several test runs of my silk shorts. To cut the pocket and front as one for a muslin, I lined up the yoke pocket piece with the side seams, making sure the grain lines of pocket and short fronts were parallel. The patterns with these pockets often have notches near the hipline and along the waistline where the pocket lines up, which helps lining them up.

When cutting them out, I kept weights on them to make sure they didn’t shift.

Once lined up and taped/weighted onto that front piece, I could draw in the hip shape, remove the pocket and then proceed to cut the front as one whole piece.

What I really want is a flexible shorts block that I can use for multiple styles. So after finally getting the fit I wanted, I ended up making two blocks, one for shorts with pockets and one without. Now I have possibilities for side zips!

If you’ve ever made something with these kind of pockets, you have probably noticed they pull and bulge a bit if there is not enough hip room. Sometimes bulging–or a draped pocket–is intentional, but the pocket and short/skirt front have to be cut that way. Once I did a muslin without pockets I got a much more accurate fit without depending on the ease of the pocket “give”.

Hmmm, now I might be playing around some cool draped pockets like these Philip Lim trousers…

p.s. Sorry all if you wanted or tried to comment on my last post. My offline blog writer played a tricksy on me. All should be working now!

If It Weren’t for the Skeeters

{update: Oops, I didn’t realize comments on this post were disabled. I had a conflict with one of my plugins. All is working now!}

I’ll go for months and months without shopping and then suddenly I get a get a bee in my bonnet to make a whole day of it. I rarely drive anywhere–most of my week happens within a five-block radius–but I love my car so it gives me an excuse to tool around town in my Ladybug.

A shopping day starts with a latte from my favorite coffee shop and then I visit a few local boutiques. There’s always a stop at Anthropologie, and mostly I just drool over their furniture and all the little knick-knack housewares. Sometimes I’ll cruise as far as the mall to check out lingerie sales at Nordstrom. But I really love small boutiques that have their own creative voice, that operate more like galleries rather than try to serve everyone at once. Kick Pleat is one of those shops, with a tightly edited, small collection of designers, mostly independent European brands you wouldn’t find elsewhere in Austin.

Two of my absolute musts for the summer were a blouse-y white tee shirt and silk shorts. I really thought I’d get around to making a tee by now, so I couldn’t resist this floaty white tee which has that right amount of haphazard slouch I like to throw on with everything.

{I’m a sucker for lady sandals, especially ones with bizarre slug ornaments…}

If it weren’t for the mean skeeters, I’d probably wear something short every day. I had a few pairs I planned to make this summer, including a remake of my pretty purple silk charmeuse shorts. They were one of those projects on which I spent more time working out the finishing techniques than fitting them properly and I accidentally cut the wrong size (down). I mocked up the next size up only to realize that the pattern is better suited for a more structured fabric than charmeuse. The original pattern was in the Burda June 2010 issue and is a sweet little short pattern, but has a bit of tailored fit and not quite the drapey loose-fitting style suited to something like charmeuse. (There were two looks in the magazine, which are both available at BurdaStyle here and here.)

My sewing hours the last week have been spent working out a new pattern, but keeping all the trouser-y details. A contour waistband, fly, options for cuffs and welts are all unexpected touches in silk, dontcha think? I’m working out sample #3 and I think I’ve got the pant leg just right. It’s almost a different pattern entirely and sometimes I wonder why I just don’t have a trouser block to begin with!

A few of my inspiration shorts:

{Credits: Shopbop, ForwardForward, Ralph Lauren}

One in Every Color

Do you have a signature pair of sneakers? These are mine, in my favorite summer color of the moment, a cooling mint–like a mojito on my feet.

I tend to find a classic and stick with it. For years I loved Chucks, then classic Vans. Then I discovered Superga. They are Supercomfortable and seem to last longer than Vans. Unfortunately, all of my sneaks eventually get holes and turn into muddy-colored garden shoes. Derek and I once considered making a wall sculpture out of our dead but sentimental shoes from the past, but quickly realized it’d be a rather stinky sculpture…

So sneakers and tanks are the mode du jour. We are officially in the dog days of summer. The 100s have arrived, and just like last summer I have realized my wardrobe doesn’t have enough floaty, breezy tanks. So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been refining a tank pattern I started in on last summer. I’m determined to have one in every color!

These are a few samples from leftover yardage. Each one is from a different knit (modal/lycra, rayon/lycra, and an organic cotton jersey). I was trying to learn a bit about fabric fit and behavior, particularly with bindings.

One of my favorite tank shapes is a loose sort of a-line fit with a deep u-neck and a slight racer back. My first version (not pictured) looked more or less like a sleeveless tee with a slightly tented hemline. On the next three I added a shirttail hem and kept scooping the neckline and armhole a little bit more each time. It’s super easy to draft a tank from your favorite tee pattern and it’s only taken a few experiments to get the right scoop shapes to my tank. If you need a book to guide you, I really like Built by Wendy’s Home Stretch, a good beginner’s guide to sewing with knits. It includes a few starting patterns, like a tee, and walks through modifying a basic tee pattern into other shapes. Although I’ve never used the book’s patterns, it gave me some starter drafting ideas when I first started playing with my tee shirt pattern (BurdaStyle’s Lydia) a couple years ago.

I think I’d like deeper armhole scoops for future versions. I was being a bit conservative at first, worried I might reveal too much. You can see that the white tank looks a little tighter around the bustline. When I first drafted this pattern off my tee, I narrowed the bustline to account for stretch. The stripey modal fabric stretched over 100% and fit just perfectly. Even though the white knit is about t-shirt weight, it’s quite stable and stretches only about 20%, so I’ll probably need a second pattern adjusted to fit stabler knits.

It’s good to know the stretch percent of knits particularly when it comes to bindings. The more elastic the fabric, the shorter the binding needs to be. I experimented on scraps before binding each tank to get the right reduction for a flat, clean look. So, for example, on the striped fabric, I narrowed the binding length by 30% and for the cotton knit by 10%. Too long bindings cause all that ugly rippling and the binding to stand away, while too short bindings gather too much and pull in and up.

My favorite edge finish is a sewn-on band using this method, which I’ve been doing for most of my tees the last couple of years. I start out by basting the folded binding to the seam (right sides together), then I serge over the basting, then I fold the binding out and topstitch the seam allowance down from the front to keep the seam flat. I see a lot of store-bought tees with this sort of binding, in which the seam isn’t actually “bound”.

For actual bindings that enclose the seam, I think it’s difficult to get a clean, consistent look unless a binder is involved. And I actually have a couple of binding attachments for my old Bernina, but still need to do some experimenting to get them right on knits. For some tanks I’d love to have a little baby binding with just a single stitch on top (rather than twin needle or coverstitch) for a more elegant look. For the white cotton version, I knew the fabric was a bit more stable and would take better to this kind of single fold binding so I tried a method Sherry described on her blog. It came out very clean and pretty!

Stay cool everyone! Now back to that glass of lemonade…

The Mariner’s Suit

I’m such a copycat.

Grease was my first big person’s movie (not, you know, Tubby the Tuba). So of course I really wanted an Olivia bodysuit, just like Christine’s. Then I wanted a nautical chevron-y one, just like hers, to go with my new red shorts. I have an insane amount of blue and white striped modal jersey that was perfect for this (when you see good stripes, you gotta go for them, right?). And of course I wanted to try out sewing in bra cups, just like she did.

So you saw the bodysuit in action yesterday, and here’s the scoop. It’s super easy and fun to draft your own, thanks to her awesome tutorial. All you need is your favorite pair of undies, a ruler and some paper.

She also has a good tip on how to cut matching chevron stripes. Y’all have probably learned this the hard way, but sometimes a serger wants to push the top layer when you first start a seam, and that causes all sorts of mismatchiness even after super-careful cutting. So sometimes, if I’m really feeling perfectionist, I’ll baste the seam first with the sewing machine, than serge. That’s what I did for the center front. Other times, I will pin about an inch down from the beginning of the seam and then push the top layer upwards a bit so that by the time it goes past the knife, the two layers are even. This takes a bit of experimenting to get right but I’ve got the hang of it on my machine.

On the geeky pattern side of things, I’ve been meaning to draft my own bathing suit for awhile, and perhaps use it for other tight-fitting knit tops. Occasionally, I stalk the Pattern School website, which has all kinds of stretch patterns one can draft, including a basic one-piece block. I spent an hour or so drafting this from my measurements, and two bodysuits are pretty darn close, except for the neckline.

For the sewn-in bra, I made a lining from the same fabric and stitched in foam cups just like the tutorial.

It might have worked better if I stitched the cups to the inside rather than the outside (in the wrong light, they definitely show through!). And next time I will probably cut the lining from a beefier knit, perhaps a cotton/lycra, or some kind of supportive stretch mesh…. experiment, experiment, experiment! My jersey is very light and flimsy and definitely not support material, but at least it’s holding the cups in the generally correct location! I’ll be experimenting a bit more with making these, but it was fun to just jump in with what I’ve got laying around.

I messed around with the bottom shape a bit and I made a separate gusset. A gusset can either be its own piece that is sewn in to both front and back, or it can be part of the front or back pieces. You can also use the gusset piece to cut out a lining (a light cotton knit is the best for this, but I just go with whatever jersey I have on hand).

The only thing missing from mine is some elastic for the leg openings. I really like plush-backed elastic. (And it’d also feel nicer than the waistband elastic that I used on the bra lining.) Some folks like fold-over elastic. I should probably stash some basic colors for my lingerie adventures!

Has anyone else made self-supporting tanks or t-shirts? I’d love to hear your tips! (Steph published a great tutorial for sewing in a bra for a woven pattern. I’ve been meaning to try that one, too.)

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