Thursday, October 8, 2015

some random tips for sewing lingerie

There are a bajillion great posts out there with good tips for sewing lingerie; hopefully this one is adding one or two new pieces of info into the pot... 
Pattern pieces: If your pattern pieces are half ones it's well worth doubling them to make full pattern pieces, that do not need to be placed on a fold.  This is useful for many reasons; one is pattern placement when it comes to lining up lace motifs, another is getting the most economical layout on a small piece of possibly expensive lace.  
Also if your pieces are to be cut on the bias... some knickers patterns are suitable for fine wovens like Liberty, and need to be cut on the bias and it's only about 1000 times easier with a full pattern piece than folding the fabric accurately for a "cut on the fold".  Mark the bias line on all new pattern pieces too.  
Usually I save paper by taping together scrap pieces or even newspaper to make the other half pieces; for frequently used patterns, or if the original is a fragile tissue paper pattern, the pieces can be traced as whole new ones on thin, sheer plastic which is more durable (above).  For this I use plastic table-clothing, sold in 30m rolls from the party section of Spotlight.
Also, I jot on the actual pattern pieces the lengths of elastic needed, to save re-measuring for each new project.

When sewing the ends of the rings and sliders; cut, pin and sew the pairs together and at the same time.  It's hand down the best way to guarantee the two sides will be identical, if such things as symmetry are important to you.  Actually the same goes for anything there will be a "pair" of in the project.
Satin ribbon trim; I always "heat seal" the cut ends of ribbon bows so they don't fray during wear.  Just hold the cut end of the ribbon close to a candle flame and carefully watch it as you sloooowly move it closer; it gets to a point where it starts to melt away in the heat.  This happens pretty quickly so you need to keep a close eye on it and pull it away the very second you see it happening.
Hook and eye tape: I prefer to buy separate hook and eye tape if it's available but my closest store sells only "bra extenders".  I've found these to be an adequate substitute if I can't find the proper arrangement;  the pieces can just be picked apart quite easily.  If the "hook" piece is too long the extra length can be cut away and the edge zig-zagged.  It's not as neatly finished or as professional looking, but it's perfectly fine in a pinch.
Sewing edging elastic onto lightweight and super-stretchy fabrics ... 
Super stretchy fabrics are obviously perfect for underthingies but also obviously come with their own little challenges... and one of them is the dreaded "lettuce leaf" edge happening.  
yes, this is my own work *hangs head in shame*
I've found it very helpful to sew a long basting or stay stitching 6mm (1/4") from all edges before attaching any elastic.  I know, straight stitch on knits, *horrified gasp*   it's a huge no-no and I could get blasted for this! but meh, it works out pretty good for me :)
I mean, everyone has their own, slightly unique way of attaching elastic, I'm of the school of thought that whatever works, works; and lots of different ways are going to work.
The lettuce leaf occurs when the elastic is overstretched while sewing it to the edge of the fabric, and it's pretty easy to do this when sewing with a particularly stretchy fabric.  It's better for the elastic to be sewn to the edge of the fabric "flat" that is, for the elastic to be stretched to the minimal amount and for the fabric to be stretched not at all, while sewing them together.   A stay stitching helps to prevent this, and after the elastic is attached and before the final zig-zag you can pull out those initial basting/stay-stitching threads, if you like; to keep things looking nice and neat and tidy.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

mocha set

...  for me!
Fabric; slithery, slinky-malinki poly knit from Fabulous Fabrics in a divinely luxuriously glossy mocha shade; all elastic and other findings from Homecraft Textiles.  I wanted to make a Sierra bra for myself too; and while I love lace-y underthingies, this time I went for smooth, sleek and sophisticated, with a grownup vibe more befitting to an ancient old crone such as myself.
Haha, no really, I do have a nice selection of frillies already and just wanted a change of pace  :)
Features; none.  Letting the fabric glow on its own with absolutely nil embellishment.
LOVE this unadorned look, I mean I adore pretty bits and bobs too but sometimes the simplest and plainest of styles in a sophisticated colour and liquid-y fabric like this feels just as gorgeous!
Technical blahdy-blah: I cut two backs, clean finished the seams within the layers, and also lined the front/cups with self fabric to about centre front.  I just left the lining CF straight edge floating unfinished on the inside; it's not going to fray or anything and doesn't show up at all.  The remainder of the fronts/straps are single layered.  The lower edge is finished with elastic, folded under and zig-zagged on the right side, just the same finish as the top edges and all edges of the knickers (as pictured below).  I cut the elastic 7% shorter than the edge it was to be attached to, measuring the paper pattern pieces.
That black hook and eye tape at the back is bothering me, but well, colour options here are pretty limited.  I've found Homecraft Textiles to have the absolute best array of lingerie elastics to be found in Perth.  Well worth hitting up.
2x pairs of undies, both super plain Watson briefs.  Boring and barely worth a photo... close-up for elastic-attachment detail purposes only.
Full set: so normally I love my things to be photographed looking artfully arranged to best show them off but couldn't resist going the full Merchant and Mills here.

artistic dishevelment and not a randomly chucked down pile of clothes at all 
What is that aesthetic anyway? just kind of throw it down in a messed up crumpled heap on the floor, y'know? just like when your teenagers kick their grotty clothes aside as they step into the shower or something, and leave them there.  For days, if you don't nag gently point it out.
*deep breath*
Embrace the crumple.  
Feel the crumple.  
BE.  The crumple.

Hehe, not to diss Merchant and Mills! I actually have the workbook myself... a recent birthday pressie, and heavy hints had nothing to do with it at all! *cough cough* and I love a lot of the stuff in it!  Just that the screwed-up-and abandoned-on-the-floor thing cracks me up.  The new cool... OK!
Actually, my clothing is more usually kept like below...  
Aaaah, that's better!  *sigh of contended happiness*  ooo, did someone say neat freak?  Order and method, my friends.  Order and method:)
Happiness factor; plain, but supremely happy with that plainness, and I love the wraparound bra style; it's nice to have something a bit different.  Construction, smooth sailing all the way.  For visual purposes I'm deducting one point for the black hook and eyes at the back.  9/10  :)

Bra; the Sierra by Madalynne, free to download here
Knickers; the Watson briefs by Cloth Habit.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

pink lace Sierra + Watsons

OK, so I couldn't resist downloading Madalynne's free bralette pattern the Sierra and giving it a go!  Plus I made the usual two pairs of matching knickers to go with it.  These are both the Watson knickers, by Cloth Habit.
Fabrics; pink bamboo knit and pink, slightly glittery, lace from Fabulous Fabrics, all elastics and other findings from Homecraft Textiles
I made this set for Cassie.  I bought materials to make a Sierra and Watson set for me too, but mine is quite different in style.

 The Sierra bra is a really cute and interesting design for smaller chested ladies, and is something a bit different in a bra design, which I like.  Well, we all love a bit of variety, yes?  It looks kinda complex on, but it's really a fairly straightforward, wraparound bra; and for a simple soft bra with no shaping or obvious support, does feel nicely secure and snug when worn.  And did I mention; it's freeeeeeeeee!
Cassie chose the fabrics, including that pink lace.  That lace!  Looks so pretty and girlishly innocent and totes adorbs, right?!
Well, so did that kid in the Exorcist, just saying... and unpicking fine-grade slinky stretchy bamboo knit away from delicate lace; tendril by freaking tendril is NOT the joyous meditative pastime to sake and soothe your soul like you want your hobbies to be.
Initially I intended to have the two fabrics entirely overlaid for the whole set, like the bra, and the bra went together really well.  Then I made a pair of knickers with the two overlaid like that.   The lace then showed itself to be completely wrong for knickers.  It was such an ordeal and they looked so hideous that I was just too depressed to even bother salvaging any of it...  that got emotionally binned, and I had to walk out to eat chocolate and sulk in front of the TV for an evening.  
Went back to it the next morning with renewed vigour.  Did think about not having any lace on the knickers at all.   But she wanted it to be a nice cohesive set, so some lace had appear somewhere, and it's all worked out, I think.  I like the knickers to match the bra but still be different to it, like this.
There's nowhere to put a little decorative bow on the bra, part from just below the shoulder straps like this, and I actually love it! my favourite bit of the bra.  It's also a nice way to hide the stitching of bra cup-to-ring.  I sewed the bra shoulder straps as two regular ones rather than halter; but she's thinking about that.  If she decides she wants the halter I'm gonna change it, because I think the halter is a lot easier to put on in this design. Update; yep, changed it to halter...

I think the set did eventually turn out very nice and the bra looks really cute on.  Cassie is happy so I'm happy.  Well, I'm happy now it's finished.
Happiness factor; well the memory of those failed knickers hasn't faded away completely, so I'm awarding this project 5/10 overall.  It's gone up since yesterday, believe me!
Bra; the Sierra by Madalynne, free to download here
Knickers; the Watson by Cloth Habit

Friday, October 2, 2015

do you Art?

Imagine that said in an vehhy posh accent along the lines of "are you being served modom?"...  
Little anecdote; many years ago I took part in a group craft project, and another lady in the group had clear and firm ideas about what we were to produce, and how.  At our first meeting she approached one lady and as a first spoken utterance to her, enquired "do you appliqué?"  
Hehe, that's neither here nor there obviously, but it's stuck with me for years and years and still gives me a laugh.  
Man I need to get out more...
We bought this novelty print cotton drill from Spotlight a few years ago, and Cassie was supposed to make the skirt herself, but you know.. time goes on, you get busy, life takes over, whatevs, and it eventually falls to your mother who is sick to blinking death of looking at this blasted fabric hanging around, gathering dust and generally taking up precious stash space that could be given over to her own fabrics ... gathering dust ahem...
Anyway! time for some interventive action.
I used no pattern but just made it up to fit what she wanted.  She wanted high-waisted, close-fitting at the waist and this length, and for the paintbrushes to be situated exactly so high and for not a single skerrick of print to be hidden or broken up in any darts or shaping.  I cut two rectangles with no shaping, to maintain the print, put in an invisible zip at centre back, and pinned tapered box pleats to fit her waist, each one going straight at first then tapering narrower for the last third to accommodate her hips.  There are four such pleats both front and back.
Pretty easy, once I got going on it!  I added a shaped, interfaced facing, and hand-hemmed.
The one difficulty; inserting the zip centre back was a teeny bit angsty, because I discovered that the paintbrushes are printed just slightly slanty and off-grain... OF COURSE THEY ARE.
I chose that shortest pencil on the fold to be the "sacrificial" pencil through which to cut the centre back seam, and sewed the seam with as narrow seam allowances as practically possible and as close to the pencil/brush on either side as I could get.  It passes right on each one, touching the very tippy top of the one at left and scraping the very bottom of the one at right.  Phew!
Answer? Yaaas dahhling, we do most certainly Art.

Monday, September 28, 2015

blue Issey Miyake trousers

To complete my Issey Miyake trilogy; the trousers.
Pattern; Vogue 1693, an Issey Miyake design from 1986.
I used a navy blue cotton drill from Spotlight, buttons from Fabulous Fabrics.  
Hmmm, navy blue again.  Can't explain it but I'm a bit mad for it right now.  Navy; so hot right now!
When I finished these and popped them on; I felt quite happy and positive about them, thinking they looked pretty sharp.  A bit reminiscent of sailor's pants, which pleases me a lot.   And wide legs are IN IN IN.  One of my favourite pieces in the Paris autumn/winter collections was Dries van Noten's super wide leg pants; slouchy, relaxed, oversized trousers in the plainest of plain khaki cotton chino.  So comfy, so practical, so unfussy, so damn chic.  I saw, and I wanted!
So I strutted out confidently to my husband to show him, anticipating a comment along the lines of, hey super cool pants! or something like that.  Ha! his reaction: hmmm VERY eighties, aren't they?  His tone was not the tone of a man who thought the eighties had anything worth resurrecting, fashion-wise. 
Bubble burst.
Hmm, well, yes; no denying that they are, most definitely, eighties.  A full-on ridgydidge piece of authentic eighties, right here.  But I'm an eighties girl.  Owning that.  And anyway I reckon this shape is pretty NOW too!
In eighties speak we used to say gauchos, but the hip n' happening term now is culottes, whether rightly or wrongly?  They are very wide at the waistline and pulled in with four big pleats, held into place with buttoned arrowhead tabs to nip in and define your waist, so have that little something different and interesting about them.  They also have satisfyingly deep slanted front pockets, like all the 80's and early 90's Vogues used to have.  
Some technical bizzo:  the instructions left some parts a little bit shonky/half-done; I went back and unpicked a few spots so I could re-do/overlock to neaten it up inside when I realised that was the case...  Also, the construction of the waistband was a little strange, and so I modified it slightly; instead of hand-stitching the short edges of the waistband facing, I wrapped it around over on the outside of the waistband and front, machine-stitched the side seams, then pulling the front back through so the front is all nicely enclosed between the waistband/waistband facing.  This results in it all being far more securely stitched together.  I still fell-stitched the lower edge of the facing though.
Finally though, I couldn't be happier with the finished product! so I'm deducting just one point for the dodgy waistband construction issues.  
Happiness factor; 9/10
Pants; Vogue 1693, navy blue cotton drill
Top; Nettie Tshirt with breast pocket, Closet Case patterns, details here
Shoes; bensimon, from seed boutique

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Issey Miyake blouse

Continuing my trip down nostalgia lane, I've made the top from my 1986 Issey Miyake pattern; Vogue 1693...
Fabric: a lightweight, fully embroidered cotton voile in pure-as-the-driven-snow white, a remnant from Potter's Textiles.  I had barely enough fabric to squeak out the pattern pieces, and had to lay the belt and front bands across the grain.  Since they are interfaced I don't think that's going to affect the efficacy of the blouse too drastically.  Lack of fabric forced me to cut the armhole facings from a different white cotton from my stash, provenance long forgotten.  White buttons from Fabulous Fabrics.
I'd half forgotten how much I love this blouse pattern but it all came flooding back over me in a happy sentimental wave during the construction of this new blouse.  The finishing instructions are wonderful with a truly great attention to detail that you rarely see in a pattern any more; all raw edges are neatly hidden away, either under flat felled seams or neatly turned under and top-stitched down on either side of a seam.
The style is also very much my cuppa tea; loose, asymmetric, interesting.  It closes with just two buttons on a gently diagonal crossover front and two crossed belts at the back pull the blousiness in to the small of the back and help define your shape quite nicely.
Happiness scale; 10/10  Say no more!

Blouse; Vogue 1693, embroidered cotton voile
Trousers; own design, very old, white linen