Pen Pals, Peaches and Lace

Did you ever have a pen pal? (Do you remember those?) When I was a kid I always wanted one. Perhaps I’d get letters from France, or Scotland, or Florida, the envelopes decorated with stickers and hand drawings. I don’t know if this counts (because I was 19 not a kid), but I corresponded with a Polish fella for awhile, the summer after the Berlin Wall fell. His English was new and he wanted to practice. I wanted to know all about a place that had seemed behind a wall for most of my childhood. I was thinking about this today because what seemed so romantic then is so commonplace now. Blogging sort of feels like having a bunch of pen pals, and in instant time!

And I was excited to finally meet one in person last week, the beautiful Lavender of Threadsquare. Sadly, I don’t have photo proof of our meet-up but her dapper man was so kind to snap one. She was wearing an enviable fitted modal knit dress of her own making, and I felt a little bit sorry that all my me-made summer clothes were in the wash. (I am a “wait two weeks to do laundry” sort of lady.) Lavender is just as pretty in person as she is online, and gorgeous in the heart, too. After we parted, I realized how much sewing has been such a lone hobby for me, and that needs to change, STAT. I hope she and her husband find a way to move back to Austin, because it was wonderful to geek out about sewing, art, photography and blogging with someone, even just for a brief hour or so.

Maybe I can talk one of you guys into coming for a weekend to make our own dress forms. Or fit those cigarette pants. Hint, hint, hint. Or, or… bra-fitting?

That’s been the obsession du jour. I finally got cracking on my “Peaches & Cream” set, called thus because peaches are in season now, and I keep buying local ones from the market even though I can’t possibly eat them all. (I’m making cobbler today with the quickly turning leftover fruits.)

Ain’t she purty?

The patterns are Pin-up Girls Classic Bra and Merckwaerdigh Mix30 for the panties. The 2nd pair is my own draft. I used the Merck pattern as a starting point and drew out more of a hipster style with a higher waistline just using stretch lace (no elastic).

Over the last month, I’ve been experimenting a lot with my bra pattern, drawing out a few new styles and learning a bit about fabric and fit. My first two versions fit me very well, but only in the fabrics included in the Bra-makers Supply kits. The pattern calls for stable, non-stretch tricot for the cups and bridge area, and a firm stretch powernet for the band. Once you venture out into lightweight or stretchier fabrics like stretch lace and jersey–or anything with spandex–you’ll probably discover as I did that the pattern needs a bit of tweaking. My last version of this bra in my Byzantine set, turned out quite large in the cups and a little big in the band.

By pinching out the excess in the cups of my previous bra, I was able to get a good idea of what to remove and adjust. And it fits perfectly! Hopefully, this illustration will help someone else find a starting point for a similar alteration (say, if you’re changing from a more rigid fabric to cotton jersey that won’t be interfaced or padded). This adjustment removes both depth from the lower cup and length from the upper cup:

In my case, I removed almost 1/2″ in depth from the apex of the lower cup, going to zero at the sides. If you are using jersey or lingerie lycra for the band instead of powernet, you may need to shorten the back band a bit, too.

The fabric and notions are all from a Merckwaerdigh kit. If you’ve been stalking Novita’s bras as I have, you might recognize these fabrics from one of her sets. Peach and grey are one of my favorite color combinations, and I just couldn’t resist snapping up the same kit! The Merck kits are very similar to Elingeria’s, including a meter of stretch lace, and enough lingerie lycra (a nylon/spandex jersey) for one bra and two panties.

I like that Merckwerdigh’s kits also include cotton knit fabric for the panty lining, tiny elastic for the neckline on the cups and a small amount of stable sheer tricot to line and stabilize the lace or bridge, which you can see in the photo above. The tricot feels better against the skin than just lace, and adds a bit of modesty. (While Elingeria offers more variety, you’ll have to add those extras on your own if you want them.)

Happy sewing, y’all!

Back to the peach cobbler…

19 comments

  1. Sherry says:

    These are gorgeous Amy!
    I’m dying to give lingerie a go now that I have a machine that zig-zags, and seeing your pretty versions makes that even more so!

  2. These are beautiful, thanks for sharing the modification info. I was inspired by your earlier posts (and verypurpleperson’s posts too) so last week I bought my first pinupgirl pattern and kit from elingeria. I also got a very pretty maerckwerdig kit so I’ll be swimming in it soon XD I mean to make the bra cup seamless-by modifying the pattern off rtw stuff that I currently use (Anita Rosa Faia). Fingers crossed!

    • Amy says:

      Awesome! I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I’ve been taking a part some of my older bras to get an idea of shapes and once you get that first pattern down, hopefully it’ll start to come together how to mod the cups!

  3. Tanit-Isis says:

    Oh, aren’t meetups awesome? Surely a city like Austin must have other sewing bloggers!

    That’s an adorable set. If I ever manage to make a pair of undies I’m willing to wear, maybe I’ll tackle bras. Sigh. 😉

    • Amy says:

      Girl, once you do get into bras, I guarantee you might get a little addicted. Probably because it doesn’t take up so much space or fabric or money. Austin does have other sewing bloggers–a lot of fashion bloggers–but ya know, I haven’t been in the sewing “scene” here and now I feel like I’m missing something! It’d be so great to have a fitting buddy.

  4. Oh I love these! A lot of the kits I’ve seen have kind of gross fabrics but this is lovely – I may totally copy your steez here and order the exact same thing. Those fleshy colours are the best for bras since they disappear under white and sheer fabrics.

    Totally on board with the pen pal thing too. The network of amazing/talented/hilarious/creative etc woman I have met online is kind of staggering. I would totally visit Texas to hang out with you and Sallie. If you ever feel like visiting Montreal…. just saying.

    • Amy says:

      I will have to visit some day.. I’ve never been to Montreal but my husband is in love with it. He says it’s the best place to shop for shoes, ever. 😉 And I just looked at the Merck ebay site and they ran out of this kit… I was going to post it for everybody! You’re so right about the color. I keep falling for really jewel-colored lingerie and forgetting about the show-through!

      • I saw that she sold out – I can wait. I have WAY too many projects on the go right now. As for the shoes – I always felt the opposite! I wanted to open a shoe store here for years because I felt there was a tremendous dirth of independent labels, but I think that has changed a lot in the last few years. I think NYC beats everyone over with a stiletto when it comes to shoe shopping however. But shoes aside, this is definitely a must visit North American city. All the charms of Paris (food, architecture etc.) in a bilingual environment that is young and cheap and not too polished. The nightlife is just getting better and better too. Also, we have some pretty awesome fabric sources.

    • Amy says:

      Why, thank you! I was actually surprised that making a bra wasn’t too hard, especially with good pattern instruction like Pin-up Girls. Just a lot of little seams and getting used to elastic sewing.

  5. maddie says:

    You’re bra looks awesome! Really really awesome!

    Oh you have me so jealous! I too have been tinkering with a panty pattern for a couple of weeks but the classic pin up girls bra pattern that you ordered never arrived in the mail. I emailed Elingeri and their contact forum said that will be closed until June 24th. NOO! Do you know anywhere else I can buy the pattern?

    • Amy says:

      Hey Maddie, thanks so much! And bummer on the wait! I got my pattern from Bra-makers Supply here. I don’t know of any u.s. sources (anyone?) for this pattern, but it came within a week from Canada. I’ve ordered twice from Elingeria and it took a while (over 3 weeks in one case) for my orders arrive, even without the holiday!

  6. Maddie says:

    Amy, thanks so much for the link! Elingeria has been such a pain to deal with. I want to make my bra already! I just made a pair of high waisted panty from Ohhh Lulu and wanted to have this bra to match. Looks like I’ll have to wait a little longer. Thanks again lady!

  7. Katherine says:

    These are really purty! Peach is both a pretty and practical colour. I have not ventured into using stretchy fabric for the cups yet, but I have a couple of kits from elingeria that will need this. I was going to make them padded sets, but perhaps I can adjust my patterns the way you have. Calvin Klein have a stretch cup bra that I would really like to copy.

    I have only bought elastic kits from Merckwerdigh, but was disappointed as some of them felt almost perished when I got them, and as elastics don’t last very well in my climate anyway, I didn’t want to use them on a bra.

    I would love to come and geek out with you about sewing…the distance is a little far though…but if you are ever planning a trip to Oz, let me know!

  8. Stephanie says:

    Those look fantastic! You should be really proud. I’d never imagine being able to make my own lingere sets. And those look quite fancy.

  9. Lavender says:

    I am sooo slow!!! Blogging & reading has slipped through the cracks since I got back 🙂 I’m so happy we got to meet up, and hopefully we’ll be back soon!

    Your bras are always so lovely. The peach and grey combo is soft and pretty, and the construction is perfect (as usual!). I STILL have my Pin-Up kit to assemble, though the Merck fabrics are so much prettier to look at. I wonder if my bust could handle stretch lace, though. I kinda doubt I’d feel supported enough 🙂

  10. sue says:

    Hi, am reading your page regarding bra making with much interest… I’m a large lady (wide back, med. size boobs… actually one bigger than the other by quite a bit.) I have been dying to try to make my own because all those I buy end up being terrible uncomfortable after a couple of wearings, or just don’t fit right…. Sure would like to like to try and make my own… never have attempted before….and before this old grandma leaves this planet for good, I’d like to have a good fitting comfortable bra…:-)
    Sue

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