Blog

Champagne & black lacy lingerie set

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been inspired by the Cloth Habit Bra Sew-Along to try my hand at sewing some bras again. I was fairly happy with the foam cup bra I made a while back, but I finally found some Marks & Spencer’s non-padded bras that I really like the fit of and I was encouraged by these that I could probably make my own that fit nicely, too.

In all my previous attempts I’d used KwikSew 3300 as my base pattern, but this time around, I wanted a fresh start, so I pulled out Elan 530 which I’d bought years ago and never sewn up. The seaming of the cups is different to the KwikSew and I thought that might make all the difference for me.

In the past, I’d been really frustrated because you can’t check the fit until you’d absolutely completed sewing the bra, wasting hours and materials if the fit was off, but the Sew-Along offered some really good advice in terms of making a muslin and exactly what was important and what could be left out. So here’s mine, with some fetching gingham ribbons for straps (and underwire channelling, ha).

I adapted the bridge (based on excellent instructions in Orange Lingerie‘s upcoming book!!), added 1.5cm to the band as it was too tight, and pinched a little out of the cups along the seam line before unpicking it all to reuse some of the parts in the finished bra.

For the finished bra, I used the “Gabi” lace from eLingeria that Katherine also used to make a lingerie set! (That lace also comes as a handy bra kit or panty kit if you’d rather buy it that way). I had to look up my order details, but I’d bought this lace last May, and paid only €9 for the 2 meters, which is fantastic value if you ask me!

I learned a lot about careful lace placement from my sewing of the Ruby Slips so I always take a photo of the pieces before I assemble, as for some reason I can get a better overall picture when looking at a photo than I do in real life.

At first I didn’t overlay the bottom cups with lace, but this looked a bit weird, so I added those. Even though it’s mostly black lace on the bottoms, it makes a world of difference and cut back on the shininess.

So for the finished bra, the cups have three layers each – the lace (which is pretty flimsy, and also stretches, which you don’t want in cups), a black nylon underlining layer (with the stretch running opposite to the lace), and the same black nylon as a lining.

From my previous bra making experience, I learned a nice trick to getting everything finished and lined nicely…

Too cold for photos – just sewing instead!

As I write this, London is in the midst of the second snowfall of the year (if you count Monday’s over-hyped yet under-delivered snow, that is) and I’m bundled up in a full-body thin layer of silk (long johns), plus my wool foldover trousers, my bamboo turtleneck, two pairs of socks, and my Russian greatcoat for my 35min walk into work today. It’s nothing on the Pennsylvania winters I grew up with, but at least I feel prepared!*

The good news is that, while it’s freezing outside, my sewing cave is one of the warmest spots on the boat, so I’ve been busy!

Papercut Peter & the Wolf Trousers

The new trouser pattern from Papercut Patterns was burning a hole in my To Sew list, so I just had to try them out! I finished these before last weekend, but Saturday I was covered in mud (another cross country race) and Sunday it was freezing and I didn’t fancy a photshoot.

I did an awesome job lining up the seams on the side invisible side zipper, if I do say so myself!

I really like that they have you topstitch all the mid-leg vertical seams as well as all the yoke seams – that topstitching really makes the seaming stand out nicely. It also meant I actually finished a huge 1000m spool of black Gutermann thread! I thought those things were infinite!

I’ve not yet worn these to work (the tulip hems mean my long johns are visible in front, the horror!) but I can tell already they’ve got a nice fit throughout – I especially like the trouser hems and the hip yokes, though they do mean the pockets are placed further down the leg than I’m used to…

I’ll try to get some photos this weekend, even though the details will be lost in the dark brown stretch twill (hey, it was in the stash alright!?) I’d bought in Paris last Spring. I didn’t have any particular attachment to it and it was a stretch woven as per the pattern requirements, so I made these as a trial version (or wearable muslin if you prefer). I might fancy making these again in some stretch wool suiting in my stash from last winter…

Another Chic Sweatshirt

When my parents were visiting in October, my mom looked through all my recent makes and decided she’d like a chic sweatshirt for her belated Christmas gift, and she picked out a lovely lavender sweatshirting for it while she was here. Remember how lovely she looks in lavender? I think it was a great choice. For my gift, she re-taught herself to crochet and made me a wonderful hat in mustard wool I picked out. Hooray for our little skills exchange!

Holiday sewing update

Some (rather racy) panties

Remember how I had flu for 3 weeks earlier this month? Well lucky freakin me, because I got ill again on the first day of my holidays. I’ve essentially felt like crap since two days before Thanksgiving, arrrrgh. So on Christmas Day, I did a little bit of comfort sewing, in the form of some crazy, racy, leopard print and black lace panties.

Avert your eyes now if you’re of a gentle disposition!

I’d never buy leopard print of my own free will, but I’d bought a lingerie grab bag for a pound a while back, and this came from there, and I added some scrap black stretch lace to the sides. Nobody need know what my tastefully dressed exterior conceals…

Burda December cover dress muslin

The big project I wanted to tackle over the holidays is the Burda December cover dress (Burda Dec 2012 #112).

Amsterdamage – lingerie and marathon edition

What a weekend! I’ve been to Amsterdam several times before, so I felt zero need to see the tourist sites (though I did take a boat tour, more for the hour of sitting than anything else!). For me, this weekend was all about sewing and running, my two favourite pasttimes! I flew in Saturday morning and fellow sewing blogger Lauriana met me at the station to drive to the legendary Kantje Boord.

If you’re not familiar with Kantje Boord (and let’s be fair, their website is appalling), it’s a specialty lingerie haberdashery and fabric store, and is pretty much the only one of its kind in the world as far as I know. But it’s pretty far out of town, well away from the usual public transport, so I was very grateful to be driven there and give my legs a rest!

I’d heard stories about Kantje Boord, and I was not disappointed! It’s a tiny shop, but it’s stacked floor to ceiling with everything lingerie, lace, and elastic you could possibly imagine, and in every colour of the rainbow.

There must’ve been several hundred different kits (with everything you need to make a bra and panties in matching colours), but I decided what I’d rather make is another Ruby Slip, but in camisole length, with matching panties, so I instead focused on the wide laces, of which there must’ve been 3-4 times as many as the kits! Once I settled on a lace, I then crawled around the floor to get matching picot lingerie elastics to match it and my fabric swatches I’d brought from home.

So here’s what I bought! It might’ve been a bit more than I pledged, but I stayed away from the tempting Wall of Crazy Lycra, and only bought pieces that matched what I already owned!

Lingerie sewing supplies inventory

In advance of visiting Kantje Boord with Lauriana this weekend while I’m in Amsterdam to run the marathon, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a full inventory of my lingerie sewing supplies so I could see what I had vs what I needed, and hopefully not make duplicate purchases.

Oh. my. god. I really don’t think of myself as a “stasher” – I try to sew what I’ve got and keep it all fitting within the confines of my tiny sewing room, but I seriously have a ridiculous amount of lingerie supplies, and I hadn’t even realised it, because it was all stored in about four different places.

As a confession, here’s what I’ve got:

Elastics:

  • Black picot edge
  • Black ridge edge
  • Round stretch cord (white & black)
  • Medium grey picot edge

Weekend bits & pieces

Sorry for the stream of consciousness, but I’ve had a busy few days of sewing activity, but in more disjointed areas than any one common goal.

Burda and KnipMode magazines & PM3

The June editions of Burda & KnipMode arrived on the same day and made for a nice comparison. I loooooooved the May Burda, but the June one is way too summery for me, and I’m not really feeling it. I’ll review the KnipMode shortly, as soon as I can get the scanner going. I almost feel like I should start doing Burda magazine reviews since their online previews are getting more and more cumbersome to use, now that they’re eliminating the French site, the German does is a total PITA to view on mobile devices, and the English site only gets a third of the patterns a month after everyone else. But then again, so many other bloggers already do this so I don’t want to create a “New Vogue effect” where every sewing blog suddenly shows the same five pictures all at once.

What do you think? Is Burda niche enough that you want to see my picks like I do for Manequim and (soon to be much less frequently) KnipMode?

Also at the same time, my KnipMode renewal notice came through. I don’t want to renew, but I want to make sure I don’t need to do anything in order to cancel (ie: I don’t want it to renew me automatically). Could I pretty please send an image of the latter to a Dutch speaker just to confirm what I need to do? (Volunteers, please leave a comment) I don’t need a full translation, just someone to tell me whether I need to formally cancel or not.

My copy of Pattern Magic 3 (in English) also finally arrived, after the first copy got lost in the post from Amazon! There are some Must Sews in there (including one I’ve started drafting already) but also some hi-LAR-ious things in there. A review will be coming soon for this, too.

Underwear!

On Saturday, after my long run with friends, I made some new pants (underwear). As per usual, I used my TNT thong pattern, which originally came from a KnipMode magazine from 2007 or 2008.

Temporary sewing

While our boat is in drydock for maintenance, we’re temporarily living on a very kind neighbour’s boat. Packing for a month (though possibly 2 weeks) was a challenge in itself, as you want to to give yourself choices (in clothing, entertainment, comforts, and cooking), but yet you’ve still got to physically move everything, so you don’t want to overpack, either.

I brought the bare minimum of sewing supplies, which for me means my JL Mini sewing machine, which is great for travel and beginners alike (speaking of, I have a friend who’s selling her identical red JL Mini as she’s upgraded to a fuller-featured machine. If anyone’s interested in buying it from her for £30, please leave a comment and I’ll put you in touch!).

I also brought a few patterns and the fabrics to go with them, and I set up a temporary sewing station in the bedroom we’re staying in:

I thought it was quite amusing that the only place in the boat that was suitable for sitting and sewing was a pretty dressing table, and my boudoir sewing station inspired me to start one of my transported projects last weekend – another Ruby Slip!

My first Ruby Slip was seafoam green with brick red lace and I loved it so much that I knew I’d be making another. If you missed the discussion then, Sherry offered a free pdf pattern and fantastic photo tutorials, which I highly recommend, even for beginners, as it’s beautiful and quite easy to sew (especially if you choose a thin cotton lawn).

To match my sewing station, I set up a pressing station in the kitchen, with a travel iron and mini ironing board which live on the boat.

A seafoam green Ruby Slip (and matching panties)

The Ruby Slip is a free pdf pattern and comprehensive set of tutorials over at Pattern Scissors Cloth, and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was just the most perfect pattern ever for me and I had to sew it ASAP!

I had 2m of seafoam green silk in my stash that I’d bought at Bhopal Fabric on Brick Lane over the summer (at £6/m), so I took a swatch of that along with me to MacCulloch and Wallis just before Christmas to buy lace specifically for this. Their lace selection isn’t great, but I totally fell in love with this stretch lace, made up of seafoam green, grey, and brick-red flowers, and it was the required 18cm for the pattern. It was pretty eye wateringly-expensive at £14/m, but I ended up with a silk matching lingerie set for £40 exactly, so I think the economics of my decision were sound.

Sherry has done an incredible job going through all the ins and outs of lace cutting, bias silk sewing, how to do an FBA, etc, but I did get a surprise when I found that 18cm lace is not wide enough for the side front:

Since I went out and bought the lace specifically for this, I was a little annoyed, but I was also feeling flu-ish so I sat down with my copy of Bridal Couture and hand-pieced some lace from my scraps to make up the missing corner. It involved a ton of tiny hand stitches in both seafoam and brick to get everything to match seamlessly, but I’m pleased with the end result (she’s since posted some ways of dealing with narrow lace).

I also wanted to demonstrate how much you need to pay attention which cutting lace. I was paying heed to all of the scallops in order to get them in join up nicely at the seams, but I totally didn’t see that my motif was off at first. Happily, I had enough to re-cut that piece to have a nicer join over the seam (seen on the right).

Right, all that aside, and let’s see some finished photos! But, er, not modeled on me since there’s see-through lace and I’m not an exhibitionist. So you’ll just have to take my word that I squealed with delight when I first tried this on, because the fit is just perfect! The bias skirt really just hugs my curves without being tight, and everything just fits like it was meant to be. I made the “short” version, and the hem lies about 3-4 inches above the knee, which is perfect for me.

New Year's Progress Report

Back on the 17th I set some bold goals to finish by New Year’s:

I thought it was time for a little progress report, seeing as how I only have a few days to go…

  1. Paco’s Drape Collar Tunic – I sewed this up in an evening before Christmas. Though I had to get very creative in order to get long sleeves out of the 2m of sweater knit I bought… Note to self: Buy more yardage, or shorten the body length next time!
  2. Clover jeans – I just finished these! I’m totally loving the fit and the (IMHO) improved pockets, too.
  3. Holly’s maternity maxi-dress, Burda 08/2008 #125 – Having no place to cut the fabric of the enormous skirt pieces, I actually took it along to work yesterday and cut it out on the big (and empty) lunch table at lunchtime! The few guys left in the office already think I’m weird anyway. Shrug. In any case, this is now ready to sew!
  4. Ruby Slip – I wanted to cut the skirt pieces at the same time I cut out the maxi dress, but the low table height was killing my back by the time I finished with the maxi dress. I don’t think this will take long to sew together if I can ever find somewhere to cut the single-layer, bias layout… A good cutting area is my new productivity choke point.

A black and brown lacey lingerie set (and exclusive freebie!)

I think it was inevitable that I’d need a quick and fun distraction from all my pattern drafting and muslins, and nothing spells “quick” and “fun” like lingerie! Seriously, if you’ve never sewn lingerie, you won’t really understand the appeal, but playing with tiny bits of lace and trim is just so creative and rewarding, especially for ladies like me who really aren’t into embellishment elsewhere in their wardrobes.

Since it fit so well before, I used the same modified bra pattern from my purple hearts bra, though this time I used black, pushup foam cups and the black/brown Alice lingerie kit from The Sewing Chest.

The first step was to cover the cups with the rigid lace. The lace in the kit was 50cm long, with two scalloped edges, so I aligned a scalloped edge along the top of the cup, then pinned and smoothed and made a few needed pleats in order to get it looking nice. If the lace or covering material is stretchy, then you don’t need any pleats in it, but as mine was rigid, a few small pleats were necessary towards the bottom.

Here’s the covered and uncovered cups:

Then I did the same with the other cup, though I had to use the opposite scalloped edge so both cups were symmetrical. In bra making, symmetry is king!!

With a wide zigzag stitch, I basted the lace around all the edges and trimmed the excess. I actually went back later and added some stretched, narrow elastic on the inside of the top of the cups, but I’d recommend actually doing this, or applying FOE (foldover elastic) to the upper cup edge before stretching the lace over your cups to avoid a second line of zigzagging over the lace. Even if you think your cups are sturdy enough to not need the elastic, it really makes a difference in keeping the top of the cup close to your body and not getting any gaping.