A Little Bit of Red Lace… and a Cat

I’m so glad to be home, and boy did I miss all the cat and dog cuddles.* They were in good hands, but it’s hard to be away from our zoo.

During most of August I had little time to even sew or think about sewing so it was fun to have my mini sewing machine with me on our holiday. My Janome managed to get most of the way through a bra project until I ran out of bobbin thread, so the second thing I did (after the pet cuddling of course) before even unpacking was to finish off this red lace set.

I’ve used the old standby pattern again–Pin-up Girls Classic, with the adjustments for stretch I made on my last lace bra. I’ve been far adrift in bra-drafting-land for the last couple of months, and have made more tester bras than any finished project. It’s armed me with a few good ideas for bra-making tutorials! But it’s still nice to be able to have an easy project and familiar pattern to fall back on. The hipsters are a recent draft, and not my favorite–they’re a little too low cut. I’ve made a lot of underundies that I just don’t like so I think it’s time I focused on those for awhile and at the very least copied my favorites. My absolute favorite unmentionables are $29 a pop. I know, crazy.

This time I paid extra careful attention to the seam allowances on the front where the lace scallops meet the bridge.

I thought you might want to see how the tiny decolette elastic is sewn to the top of scalloped cups. This is a little colored ribbon elastic that Merckwaerdigh sometimes includes in their kits, but many of my favorite bras use a 1/8″ clear elastic for the same purpose–to help the cups stay flat. It has to be stitched onto the cups before they are sewn into the band, so the channeling can seal it up.

All the materials are from a Merckwaerdigh kit. Kits are such a great way to dive into bra-making so you don’t have to mess around with collecting all the odds and ends, but I’ve not always been ecstatic about the materials or elastic quality and color. The lace is always pretty. One of the ways around the bra-notions-collecting conundrum is to buy the basics in bulk. Some of my best elastic came from Bramakers Supply but their costs can be pretty hefty. Sew Sassy is much closer to my home (shout out to Alabama!), has nice lingerie elastic that gets cheaper by the bulk, and some great prices on hook and eye tape and channeling and whatnot, so I plunged and bought enough notions for 10 bras, which came to about $4 a project. Sweet! Now of course if you’re going the bulk route, you have one color to stick with, but if it’s white that’s nothing 30 minutes in a pot of good ole Rit Dye can’t change. Here’s a little peak at a test bra I made this summer with all the elastics dyed to match:

Have any of you dyed elastic before? I’d love to hear about your experience…

*Oh, and this is Charlie. He has a twin brother, T-Bone, who’s hiding under the bed.

Normally Charlie is shy but he liked my tripod or maybe the dangling camera strap.

See how I managed to finally sneak a cat photo in after a year and a half of blogging?

24 comments

  1. K-Line says:

    That red bra is freakin’ gorgeous. Good for you. You are so liberated by having found bras that fit you that you can make for yourself. I hope that I perfect my efforts one of these days.

    And your kitty’s eyes are beautiful.

  2. Norma says:

    Beautiful set! It looks like kits are improving. I agree they make bra making so much more accessible.

    Since I am a bra maker, I buy in bulk and frequently dye bra components to match the fabric I am using. As you already know, dyeing elastic is easy and it takes dye really well. You can also dye the hooks and eyes and wire channeling with good results. I dye each type of elastic and bra component separately since each absorbs dye at a different rate. Sadly I have never found a great way to color the rings and sliders (neither Krylon or nail polish last) so I end up using gold or silver tone when I am color challenged.

    Using a large tea ball makes it easy to find and extract the hooks and eyes from the dye pot. Otherwise tongs work well to move everything around and extract the pieces when they reach the right color. I prefer liquid dye versus powdered for easy even color distribution in the pot and I always dye some extra, just in case! I found out the hard way that you can never replicate the exact color in a new pot of dye.

    Depending on the fiber contents, you can also dye bra fabrics. I frequently dye power net with good results.

    • Amy says:

      Norma, thanks so much for sharing your tech! I’m so glad to have found your site and beautiful lingerie photos! Tea ball–great idea. I fished mine out with a little spoon but that was a pain. The rings and sliders did dye but barely and slowly, and I wondered if they just needed longer time in the pot. Or what would’ve happened if I used a straight acid dye rather than Rit but that’s all I had at the moment. I do have a stash of gold metal rings/sliders and I think they take everything up a notch. As for fabrics, most of my content is nylon with some spandex. I want to dye lace…

  3. Heather Lou says:

    Once again – OUTTA THE PARK. The red!!! I really, really have to get one of those kits already…. And if you MacGyvered a sewalong for those Hanky Pankies I would DIE of happiness (although I have to say, I am not a huge fan of anything acrylic/synthetic near my lower half. I have tons of lace boy shorts but I almost always prefer my cotton Hanes boy shorts for comfort, and um, breathability. The TMI factor can’t be helped. We are discussing underwear after all). I was planning on taking the Hanes apart and trying to recreate with funner fabrics and details than the standard (now painfully faded) black cotton. I wonder how stretch silk would work? Underwear is a bit of a nightmare for me due to my conspicuous booty and the resulting lifelong battle against VPLs…

    Wow. I’m not sure I’ve ever been this open about underwear with a relative stranger before. You bring it out in me Amy.

    ps. I never even considered the dye potential of notions – totally brilliant way to avoid picking up everything in a bunch of colours.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Heather! Go red. Girl, last week I just had to ask my other half if I was starting to wade into the territory of TMI. I had to disconnect Pinterest from my facebook profile because I was bombarding my family with bras. You know what would make great boyshort fabric? something like modal jersey–soft. I might take you on for the sew-along idea. Been thinking of that, actually!

      • Heather Lou says:

        It might be worth buying a yard to play with it. Have you discovered Dharma Trading co. yet? I just bought silk organza there for $7 A YARD!! They sell almost every fabric but wool in white only so you can dye it yourself. Which appeals to me when I am hunting for say, a silk crepe in emerald. They have modal jersey for about $8 a yard which seems reasonable.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks Lena! I practiced a lot on a few back to back test bras last month until I got a rhythm with it. Are you talking about stitching it to the inside or the top-stitching? On the inside, I think this is the hardest part about making bras at first and my channeling always went wonky. The trick is to go slowly… I make sure that the dent or stitches of the tunneling lay directly over the stitching of the cups to the cradle. This will make the channeling butt into the cup just so slightly. Then I stitch just a hair outside the stitches on the channeling. And I go slowly and keep re-aligning it. If it doesn’t come out right, I unpick!

      On the outside, I edgestitch, then align that stitch line with the edge of my presser foot and stitch the 2nd line. (The distance from my needle to the edge of the foot is exactly 1/4″ so that works out to a good tunnel width.) If that doesn’t make sense, give me a holla!

      • Lena Merrin says:

        Ahhh so that’s what I am doing wrong. I assumed that you stitch the channeling through all layers twice, but it is stitched to the seam allowances first, then edgestitched! Phew, I thought I was the only one on Earth who couldn’t get the two seams straight and in the right position. Thank you so much!

  4. poppykettle says:

    I’m with Heather Lou – I would DIE for a sewalong. I keep being super inspired and I’ve bought a few kits from that dutch company with the unpronounceable name and notions and what not… but I just can’t get myself to start. Maybe if I read the instructions? hehe. But those knickers with the lace top are just dreamy, and I desperately want to make a pair, plus a bra to match! Thanks for the info 🙂

  5. Bra tutorial! Do it, please! I’ve been admiring your creations for a while, but I’ve yet to take the plunge into sewing lingerie. I would love some pointers:) I love the idea of dying the bulk supplies. And Charlie is adorable. Love those blue eyes.

  6. oonaballoona says:

    your bra sets forever kill me!!!! i would adore a bra a long. yes please please. i’m so tired of having one bra that fits. if i stalled during the tutorial, i would just look at charlie’s bashful pleading mug.

    ps, i loved that picture of you & derek. i hope you have it hung up large somewhere.

    • Amy says:

      I think I must cook one up! And this cute and pleading look is exactly how he asks for food every day. It’s ridiculous, but he gets what he wants ;).

  7. Sallie says:

    So. Much. Drool. You can just keep posting pictures of your beautiful underthings for the rest of my days and I’ll be a happy camper! I love the idea of an underpinnings sew-a-long that I’m seeing thrown around in these comments. Yes please! I’d be all in – I need a bit of hand holding with the bras I think…
    The kitty is adorable and I’m so glad you and Derek returned safe and sound from your travels – nothing like being busy and on the move to make you appreciate home and fuzzy cuddles!!

  8. Carolyn says:

    This set is absolutely lovely! I’m really impressed that you have had such success dyeing the elastics… I haven’t even tried this! I didn’t think it was even possible, I’ve made several lingerie sets myself too, but have just stuck with the basic store-bought elastic colours so far. You have inspired me to have a go at dyeing the bits too; thank you so much for the inspiration!

  9. Stephanie says:

    Also, I was gifted a set of the “favorites” you mentioned, and they’re now my favorites and they last forever. I wonder what the secret is? There are lots of imitators but they just don’t compare.

    • Amy says:

      Seriously, Steph, you’re right. It’s the lace. My hunch is that the lace has the right amount of tight netting and stretch without being too heavy and wears well. A lot of stretch laces have looser/larger mesh designs. Lingerie companies like this put mucho investment into their textile development.

  10. Amy says:

    One of these days I’ll get to sewing unmentionables. I love that you’ve found a passion in it. And, I love getting a glimpse of your kitty as well!

  11. maddie says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post and the comments (especially Norma’s) because I have been going through the same thing has you – trial and error. It’s amazing how much detail can go into such a small garment, right? Most of my trial and error has been with underwear but I’m getting into bra making right now. Quick question – you said that the decollette elastic is sewn at the top of the cups for lace bras (to help them lie flat) but is this the same for a sheer fabric line chiffon (the cups are lined in mesh)?

    • Amy says:

      Hey Maddie, I have only seen the decollete elastic used in soft lace cups with a scalloped edge. Perhaps in a rigid lace it’s not necessary. If your cups are made of delicate or drapey material you probably need something at the neckline to keep it up or from gaping. It’d be fun to try a little binding of some sort! Or maybe a tiny picot elastic. Sounds like a pretty bra idea!

  12. Rosy says:

    OMG! My eyes are wide open, almost to get it from. This project is absolutely adorable! I took many years sewing and practicing different alternatives, but I never thought to dye the elastic, I thought they would lose their elasticity, you are great and I’m going to try that.

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