Tag Archives: tutorial

OAL2017: Invisible Zipper + Hemming

30 Jun

Hello, everyone! I’m back from Belize, burned butt and all (this dum-dum didn’t think about how her ass would literally be the ONLY thing sticking out of the water while snorkeling… oh well, worth it! I swam with sharks and stingrays and even waved at a manatee! He responded by showing off with an underwater somersault!). One more final OAL post, to wrap up our dresses and then get back to normal (post-vacation) (post OAL) life!

This post is pretty redundant as I’ve covered invisible zippers in the past, but I’m always keen to take some ~fresh photos~. Plus, this shows you how to insert an invisible zipper with the facing already sewn in, and a French seam at the bottom!

If you are sewing a lapped zipper, here is a tutorial for that! Or you can do an exposed zipper! THIS IS YOUR DRESS, U DO U.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Start by measuring exactly where your zipper stop will hit (or use the pattern marking if that’s your jam) and sew up to the marking, starting from the bottom and backstitching to secure. If you are using French seams, clip into the seam allowance right above the marking so the rest of the opening is free and can lie flat.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Finish the seam allowances where the zipper will go (a really lovely touch would be to bind these with self-fabric post zipper insertion, but since my fabric is sooo light, I am just serging here). I also like to apply a length of fusible stay tape along the seam allowance of opening, to give the fabric from extra stability.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Place your zipper with the right side facing down (so the straight side without teeth is next to the finished seam allowance, and the bulk of the teeth is facing upwards), aligning the zipper stop about 1/8″ away from the seam where the facing meets the bodice (if you want to insert a hook and eye, you can lower the zipper stop as needed).

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Start your sewing at the top stop (leaving the tail above the stop free), working your way down to the bottom of the zipper. You will want to use an invisible zipper foot- yesss, you can use a regular zipper foot if you want but OMGAH this foot will make your life sooo much easier I swear. Regardless, you want to line up your fabric edge with the 5/8″ marking on your throat plate (or whatever your seam allowance is) and determine your zipper placement from there. Sew down as far as you can, and then backstitch.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Before you attach the opposite side, zip the zipper closed and mark any matching points (such as the waist seam) with a pin or marking tool. When you place the zipper tape on the seam allowance to sew the opposite side, it makes it easier to match that point so the lines are uninterrupted.

Sew the opposite zipper side as you did the first one, again, starting from the top and working down to the bottom. If your machine does not that seam allowance markings on the left hand side, measure out the distance with a seam gauge and mark it with a piece of tape or a post-it note.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Here is the zipper after it has been sewn in. You can go ahead and try on your dress to make sure you like the fit (as you can probably see, mine was way too loose in the waist and I had to DETACH THE ENTIRE SKIRT to take in the waist seams, lord, my life).

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
If you measured accurately, your zipper *should* have ended right where you stopped sewing your center back seam. If it’s a little off – that’s ok! You can sew it right up, using a standard zipper foot with the needle moved all the way to one side. If you used a French seam, sew up along the seam line, and then zigzag over the raw edge to keep it finished. The bottom of the zipper will cover this, ain’t no one going to see it!

If you’re curious about the bottom of my zipper, I just bound it with self fabric bias because I thought it looked cute.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Next, you want to tack the zipper tape to the seam allowances at the bottom. This keeps the zipper secure and makes it much easier to zip up. I sew right where those pins are, about 1″ – 2″ along the seam allowance. You don’t want to catch the outside of your garment, just sew the tape to the seam allowances only.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Finally, the facing! First, take your little unsewn zipper tape tail (above the zipper stop – if you accidentally sewed this, no worries, just unpick it) and turn it down and out so it points toward the seam allowance. I have pinned this so you can see what it should look like, but in reality I just hold this with my finger when I’m sewing it. This will keep the tail from poking out of the top of your garment when the facing is secured.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Flip the facing down so it completely covers the zipper, with the finished edges lined up. The seam where the facing meets the bodice should be just barely below the fold. Pin in place, and use a zipper foot to sew along this edge. You’ll want to be about 1/4″ away from the zipper stitching – that’s enough to catch the zipper in the seam allowance, but not so close that it makes the zipper difficult to operate.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
This is what it should look like after it’s been stitched.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Push the center back seam allowance to one side, and turn the entire piece right side out. You can pull the top of the zipper to get a more square corner if you need to.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Ta da! A finished facing with NO HANDSTITCHING CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
The finished zipper from the outside! The top edges should match right up. Feel free to sew a hook and eye here if you would like. I always skip those if I think I can get away with it haha

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Now you can tack down the facings so they don’t flip out when you are wearing your garment (if you opted to include lining, you obviously can skip this step). I attached mine to the seam allowance of all princess seams, plus the side seams.

OAL2017 - Hem
Last step is hemming! I turned my hem up 1/2″ twice (for a total 1″ hem) and then topstitched by machine.

That’s all for this dress! Hang around a few weeks while I work up the nerve to take photos outside (I have a yard in this new house, but it’s not fenced and on a very busy cross street and therefore I have no privacy D: D: D: help), then it’s Big Reveal time!

How are you coming along with your garments? As always, let me know if you have any questions!

OAL2017: Assembling the Bodice

9 Jun

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the second week of the 2017 OAL! This post today is all about assembling the bodice of the dress – stabilizing the neckline, sewing French seams, and attaching the facing.

A few things before we jump in:

  • The pattern I using is the Kim Dress from By Hand London, but these method should apply to most any pattern that you are sewing!
  • If you missed the first post, you can find it here.
  • If you don’t give a shit about sewalongs and hate me right now (it’s cool, I don’t give a shit about anyone else’s sewalongs either haha), I promise it will be over soon! πŸ˜‰ It is impossible to please everyone, but lord knows I try!

Your fabric should be cut, your markings all clipped and transferred to your pieces, and you should be ready to sew!

OAL2017: Stabilizing Neckline

OAL2017: Stabilizing Neckline

Before you drag your pieces over to the sewing machine, it’s a good idea to stabilize your neckline first. This will prevent it from stretching and distorting over time – which can happen both during the sewing, and over normal wear. They are multiple ways to stabilize a neckline – such a staystitching or using silk organza (here are 3 methods, all with their own tutorial!) – but for the purposes of this particular garment (considering how lightweight the fabric is, and also the overall casual-ness of the dress), I chose to use a lightweight fusible stay tape. This “extremely fine fusible knit stay tape” is the exact one I used – I bought it at my local Bernina dealer years ago, and it is especially helpful to stabilize shoulder seams on knits! Since it’s knit, it curves very easily, which makes it perfect for this pattern.

I fused my stay tape to the curved edges of both the front and back neckline, ending just before the tips of the strap ties. Since the seam allowances are 5/8″ and my stay tape is 1/2″, I made sure it was 1/4″ from the edge so I would be sure to catch it in my stitching. Since I am using stay tape, I did not staystitch these areas.

Now you’ll want to sew your front and back princess seams. Because my rayon is nice and lightweight, I using French seams, which I love because they conceal the raw edges beautifully. Pretty sure I don’t need to throw out another French seam tutorial into the WWW, but I was really having fun with this white piece of posterboard backdrop SO HERE YOU GET IT ANYWAY:

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

I start by placing the pieces WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and sewing with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Lay the piece flat and trim the seam allowances down quite aggressively – to about 1/8″. You want them to be smaller than the second seam you sew, so they don’t peek out.

I should mention – this is assuming you are using a pattern with a 5/8″ seam allowance. If your seam allowance is larger or smaller, you’l want to adjust your math accordingly.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Press the seam allowances open as best you can. They are tiny, so this won’t be the easiest thing – I’ve found I get the best luck if I use my fingernail to pry them open, and then the tip of the iron the whole way down. If you found you have cut them *too* small and simply cannot press them open, it’s acceptable to iron to one side.

At this point, your bodice is going to look at sorts of wrong. Just trust me here.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Now flip your pieces so the right sides are facing, effectively sandwiching the seam you just created. I like to take this to the iron and press right around the seamline I just sewed, so everything lies flat. Then sew along the edge at a 1/4″ seam allowance.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Press your seam allowances to one side, according to your pattern instructions. In the case of this pattern, we are pressing them toward the side seams.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Repeat for the remaining princess seams. Your front and back pieces should look like this.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Finally, sew your front and back pieces together at the side seams. Again, I used French seams for this.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Now to attach the facing! Start by fusing interfacing to the front and back facing pieces that you created. I used a very lightweight interfacing, and opted to cut it so that the interfacing does not extend all the way into the ties (I want those to stay soft and floppy!). To prevent a hard ridge from showing where the interfacing ends, I cut that with pinking shears.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Attach the front and back facings at the side seams, and press the seam allowances open (don’t worry about using French seams for this, unless you wanna be super extra or some shit). You will also want to finish the lower edge of your facing – I serged mine, to prevent it from fraying and also from showing bulk from the outside. You can also using pinking shears here, or bind the seam allowance.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Attach the facing to the bodice, all the way around the neckline and strap edges. Trim the seam allowances down, and then understitch to help turn the facing to the inside. You won’t be able to understitch all the way if you are doing tie straps – just go as far as you can.

Turn the facing to the inside of the bodice, and give it a good press. You’re done!

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Ok, that’s all for this week! As always, let me know if you have any questions! πŸ™‚

OAL 2017: Getting Started!

1 Jun

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 2017 Outfit Along! My apologies that this post is a bit late – I moved house yesterday, and only just got my internet turned on in the new place. Taking a short break from unpacking to get this OAL rolling! Let’s do this!

The official pattern for this year is the Kim Dress from By Hand London. There are a few options for this pattern – choose between a straight or sweetheart neckline, and a gathered skirt with pintucks at the hem or a sleek tulip skirt. I will be making the sweetheart neckline with the gathered skirt, but obviously feel free to make whatever your heart is calling for – whether it’s another variation of this pattern, or a different pattern completely! We want you to love and wear what you make, so don’t waste your time on something that doesn’t check those boxes for ya πŸ˜‰

As I mentioned in my announcement post, I will not be running a full, in-depth sewalong for this pattern. I will be popping in every week with updates on my progress, as well as tips and tricks (with tutorials!) that you can apply to any pattern you are sewing – not necessarily specifically this one. However, if you are feeling that you need that extra help – there is a great sewalong on the By Hand London blog for this pattern, so please feel free to utilize that! You got this!!

For the first post, I’m gonna keep this one reasonably short and sweet!! This week is all about preparation!

If you still haven’t chosen your fabric, you will probably want to do that first πŸ˜‰ This particular pattern works well with a smorgasbord of fabrics – from crisp cotton lawn to slinky silk, the sky is really the limit here! The main thing you want to keep in mind when deciding on fabric is how you want the finished garment to hang when you are wearing it. Do you want a more structured garment or one with a softΒ drape? Choosing a fabric with the correct amount of body and drape is key for this. That cotton lawn will result in a more structured bodice and full skirt that wants to stand out on it’s own, verus the slinky silk will give you a soft, floaty bodice with a skirt that drapes beautifully around your body. For more in-depth information about this, see this post from a previous OAL that goes over the differences in drape and body in fabric.

OAL2017 - my fabric

Here is the fabric I am using this year – a soft rayon print from Mood Fabrics with a nice drape to it. I love wearing rayon in the summer – it breathes really well in the heat, and a dark color/pattern means that sweat is less likely to show. Rayon traditionally can be a little tricky – both to work with and care for – but I ultimately think it is worth the additional effort. This particular rayon is pretty stable and easy to work with, compared to other rayons I’ve used in the past, so I will not be doing any sort of pre-treatment to aid with sewing. That being said, if you are sewing one of the aforementioned slinky rayons – or a silk, or slippery poly, anything that wants to float off the table when you try to cut it – you may want to consider pre-treating your fabric to be a bit more stable before you cut it. You have a few options for this – for something quick and easy with no mess, spray stabilizer works very well. Just spray it on your fabric, allow to dry, and then treat it as usual. Once you are finished sewing the garment, it easily washes out so your fabric goes back to it’s glorious, drapey self. For a cheaper option, I’ve been very happy with the results I’ve gotten from using gelatine. This method is more time-consuming, but also WAY cheaper. You basically boil the gelatine in water, soak your fabric, and then spread it flat (or hang) until it’s dry (Threads has a full tutorial on their website). Again, this washes out easily once you are finished. The major downside is finding space to dry it flat – if you live in a small space, that can be tricky – but it’s a fraction of the cost of using spray stabilizer and works just as well one it has dried. I have used both of these methods with great success, it just depends on your time and budget!

Make sure you pre-wash your fabric before you do anything – you want to make sure you get all the shrinkage out before your pattern pieces are cut. I wash and dry all my fabric the same way I plan on treating it once it’s been turned into a garment. For delicate fabrics like rayon, you don’t necessarily want to throw it in the dryer every time you launder it – over time, this will break down the fibers. But I do think it’s a good idea to use the dryer for the very first pre-wash, as it will shrink up the fabric sufficiently and then if the garment does accidentally end up in the dryer, it won’t shrink more!

As a side note, there are plenty of “dry clean” only fabrics that actually can be washed in a machine. Fibers such as silk and rayon are totally machine washable – you just want to ensure that you are washed them before they are cut, again, so that you get all the shrinkage out. I wash all my silks and rayons on cold water, use the dryer for pre-washing (and hang to dry once they are finished) and have not ruined anything yet. Keep in mind that this will take a bit of the shine and stiffness out of your fabric, but I think it’s worth it to not be a slave to the dry cleaner! When in doubt, test with a swatch to make sure you are ok with how the fabric looks after it’s been laundered.

I am making a few changes to my pattern that are a bit different from how it’s drafted:
– I converted the straps to tie at the top (instead of being a continuous loop)
– Rather than line my bodice, I drafted all-in-one facings to clean finish all the top edges

For the tie-top straps, I used this tutorial from By Hand London. It’s super simple – you just trace your pattern piece, and then extend the top strap by 6″-7″, rounding out the end to a nice shape.

To draft the all-in-one-facing, here is what I did:
OAL2017 - drafting a facing

First, I marked my seam allowances on all the bodice pattern pieces. Since these bodice pieces have princess seams on both the front and back, we want to eliminate those so that the facing pieces are one continuous piece.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

Once the seam allowances are marked, I overlapped the pieces as they would be sewn together (center back to side back, and center front to side front). Then I laid my pattern pieces on a sheet of blank paper (mine is just kraft paper from a roll, but you can use whatever you have on hand) and traced around the neckline, arm holes, and straps. I drew down the side about 3.5″ and center about 4″, which will be the depth of the facing.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

I used a curved ruler to connect the center back/front with the side seam, just to give it a gentle curve. Then I transferred all my notches and grainlines, and marked the pattern pieces.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

It’s a good idea to lay your drafted piece under your pattern pieces, just to make sure everything fits and matches up. Which this one does! Yay!

That’s all for this week! You’ll want to cut and mark your pattern pieces, and be ready to sew next week! Let me know if you have any questions about anything covered in this post or, you know, life in general πŸ™‚

In Progress: Butterick 6019 (Continued!)

20 Apr

Butterick 6019

I’m back for round two of this prom dress in-the-making extravaganza! Let’s get right to it!

After finishing the construction of the bodice, I assembled the skirt. Since I chose the option with the circle skirt, this was incredibly easy (especially compared to engineering that dang bodice!). Three pieces, three seams. I serged all the edges and pressed them open (I normally French seam my silk, but silk faille is a bit thick so it’s not really suitable for that), and also serged the edges of where the zipper will go. I don’t have a photo of all this, but, I reckon y’all know what a circle skirt looks like πŸ™‚

Butterick 6019 - progress//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

After that, I attached the bodice to the skirt and finished the raw edges (again, with my serger). Because the center back pieces include a lining, I made sure to not stitch those down (they will be slip-stitched to the zipper later).

Butterick 6019 - progress

My dress will have a lapped zipper, so I prepared the back bodice by folding back and pressing – 5/8″ on the left side, and 1/2″ on the right side. The lining pieces were already folded back and pressed 5/8″, as per the instructions.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Butterick 6019 - progress

My zipper was quite a bit too long, but it’s easy to shorten! I just use the machine – no hand-stitching required! Mark where the zipper should end, and sew back and forth over that marking a few times with a straight stitch, then cut off the remaining zipper end about 1″ below the stitching. Easy! πŸ™‚

Butterick 6019 - progress

On the right side (the side folded under 1/2″), the zipper is sewn with the teeth up against the fold, like so. At this point, I don’t worry about the top of the zipper past the pull – you can push that under the lining and deal with it when everything is getting slip-stitched down. But you do want to be sure that the teeth of the zipper are riiiiight up in that fold’s business.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Butterick 6019 - progress

This is where the humble zipper foot comes into play. Most machines come standard with this foot. On the Spiegel 60609, it looks like this. The side is notched out to let you get really close to the zipper, like so.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Side one done, now to the second side!

Butterick 6019 - progress

The left side (the side folded under 5/8″) will be placed along the zipper tape with the folded edge right on top of the stitching you just did (on the right side), thus creating a lap. I start by matching at the waistline seam, so I can be sure the seamline is uninterrupted.

Butterick 6019 - progress

When I pull the left side open, I can see where the zipper tape needs to lay along the fold to create that overlap. I find this much easier than trying to overlap and pin while the zipper is closed.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Then you just pin all the way up (to the bodice *only*, the lining should remain free). Once you get to the top, you can tuck the remaining zipper tape down and inside where the lining will cover.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Here it is pinned front the outside. One thing I highly recommend (which I didn’t take a photo of, hm) is to hand baste the zipper into place before stitching. This ensures that everything is in the right place and won’t shift when it gets under the needle (and that you’re actually catching the zipper tape!). The topstitching step of this process is not difficult, but it can be tricky to see what you are doing! Definitely take the extra couple minutes and baste that sucker into place with some long basting stitches.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Once basted, open up the zipper and topstitch from the right side, again, keeping the lining free.

Butterick 6019 - progress

When you get to the bottom, lower your needle, lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric, then sew across the bottom of the zipper back and forth a couple times to secure everything.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Finally, pin the lining to the zipper tape and slip-stitch everything down.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Beautiful, right? πŸ™‚

Butterick 6019 - progress

Next step is hemming! Since this dress has a circle skirt, that means the bias needs to settle before hemming (otherwise, the hem will end up being super uneven!). I have a dressform for this purpose – both for hanging and hemming (if you don’t have a dressform, you can hang bias stuff on a hanger, but you’ll probably need a second person to help you with the actual hemming. There are also doodads you can use for solo-hem jobs, but I don’t have any experience with those). Bias garments need to hang for a minimum of 24 hours to get their stretch out. Being paranoid, I let this one chill for like 5 days lolol.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Once that’s done, you hold a yardstick (or in my case, a T Square) at the floor and measure the same point all the way around the hem.

Butterick 6019 - progress

I mark every couple includes or so with a pin. Look at how uneven my skirt was!

Butterick 6019 - progress

After trimming the skirt, I added 2″ wide black horsehair braid to the hem. Mostly, to give it some extra body – but also because it makes hemming easier, as the braid kind of acts like bias tape (as in it’s very flexible and curves along with the curve of the circle skirt). I started by sewing it to the right side of the side, using the width of the Spiegel 60609 presser foot as my seam allowance guide.

Butterick 6019 - progress

First press pushes the horsehair braid down and the seam allowances up.

Butterick 6019 - progress

Then second press folds everything to the inside nice and flat.

Butterick 6019 - progress

From there, it’s just endless slip stitching (well, not *too* endless – I think this took me about an episode and a half of Mad Men haha). You can topstitch at this step, but I feel like a fancy prom dress needs an invisible hem! It just looks so nice!

Butterick 6019 - progress

Here is some of the inside finishing – I added buttons for the strap, as well as ribbon loops for hanging (literally a piece of ribbon lopped and handstitched in). And my tags! I need a tag that says β™₯Made with My Spiegel 60609β™₯ hahaha

And some full shots on the form – these were taken before hemming or adding the hook & eye, but you get the idea πŸ˜‰

Butterick 6019 - progress

Butterick 6019 - progress

Let me know if you have any questions about any part of this process – I tried to explain as clearly as I could, but I have a cold right now so I’m pretty medicated haha. And the fact that I’m sewing with black fabric doesn’t help!

Super pumped for prom next week!! πŸ˜€ Is it bad that I want to wear my converse with this dress? I don’t think I’ve worn heels since I quit my office job 3 years ago! :B

Bramaking: Tips & Tricks I’ve Learned Along the Way

28 Aug

bra making

Since I started my bra making adventure nearly a year ago (woah, has it really been that long??), I’ve picked up a few tips along the way, as well as figured out a handful of shortcuts myself. This post has been a long time coming, and I’m not really sure why it’s taken me ages to get it all written out – but better late than never, yeah? πŸ™‚ I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on lingerie making (I’ll leave that title to people like Norma, Maddie, and Amy), but I’ve made enough to figure out a general idea of what does and doesn’t work, as well as navigate the really confusing parts that can confuse a beginner (like me!). Anyway, I hope some of y’all novice and afraid-to-dive-in-just-yet bra makers find this useful!

The first thing I want to address in this post is all those weird little notions and bits that you need to collect in order to make a proper bra. There are tons of places where you can basically pay someone to source all that stuff for you (kits I’ve used and loved: Bra Makers Supply, Grey’s Fabrics, Blackbird Fabrics. Obviously there are TONS more out there, those are just the ones I’ve personally tried!), which is pretty awesome and definitely what I recommend for at least your first couple of bras. The only thing I found confusing with the kits (at first, anyway) was that they don’t really tell you which elastic is for what. Further, while the pattern will tell you what materials to buy – it can be hard to visualize how everything goes together if you haven’t actually sewn up a bra before. I know I had a hard time wrapping my head around all that info at first! So I’ve made a couple ~findings guides~ of some of the more popular bra patterns, pointing to each notion so you can get an idea of where they go on the finished bra. I know some of these labels are a bit “No shit, Sherlock” (such as where the hook & eye go – haha!), but, whatever. No finding left behind blah blah blah.

bramaking - boylston findings guide

Boylston bra pattern // my polkadot Boylston bra

bramaking - marlborough findings guide

Marlborough bra pattern // my floral/lace Marlborough bra

bramaking - watson findings guide

Watson soft bra & bikini pattern // my #starwatch Watson bra

Some additional notes on elastics:

  • Kit sizes: You may have noticed that some kits come in sizes Small and Large. This took me a while to completely understand – but the difference in kit sizes have nothing to do with the amount of fabric included (or, maybe they do, but it’s not something I’ve noticed). It’s more so whether you need the wider elastics and 3 row hook & eye, or narrower elastics and 2 row hook & eye. *Generally* speaking, sizes D and above require the large kit, and sizes C and below use a small kit. That being said, it’s up to your personal preferences – I wear a DD, but I’m perfectly comfortable in a small kit (keep in mind that I’m a small DD, so a small kit won’t really work for the super blessed/endowed. My ~ideal kit~ has the narrower elastics, 1/2″-5/8″ strapping, and 3 row hook & eye). Some people prefer the look of the narrower elastics, and some people like the security of the wider findings. Your bra, your choice πŸ™‚ But anyway, point being – when in doubt of kit size, choose based on your cup size!
  • Elastic width: Most patterns will include this information with the fabric/elastic requirements. Generally speaking, you want the wider elastic for the bottom band (so, depending on cup size – this is usually 1/2″ to 3/4″) and the narrower elastic for the underarm and/or top of the cup (that’s the 3/8″ to 1/2″, sometimes 1/4″). Like I said, I like the narrower elastics personally for me, but feel free to play around with widths if you aren’t feeling the pattern suggestion. The pattern you sew will be drafted for that width of elastic and hook & eye, so if you change the width too much, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • Type of elastic: Ideally, you want to use plush-back elastic for all your lingerie sewing. This type of elastic has a wrong side that is slightly fuzzy (hence the name) and is intended to be soft against the skin. Of course, you can use any pretty lace edged elastic and/or stretch lace, but bear in mind that anything without the plush back may not be super comfortable to wear.
  • Bra strapping / rings & sliders : This is going to sound really fucking obvious, but make sure you buy the right rings & sliders to correspond with your strapping! I did not even think of this when I was going crazy buying bra notions, but those suckers need to match in width or they’ll look stupid (or be too tight to slide). Same as with the elastics, strap width is determined by cup size. Wider straps will give you more support, so if you’re rockin’ the DD and up, you probably don’t want to use 3/8″ strapping.

And while we’re talking about kits, the fabric can also be a little confusing! What pattern piece gets cut out of which fabric?

  • Main fabric: Totally dependent on bra pattern, of course, but generally you’ll cut the cups, bridge and frame out of the main fabric. The grainline on the pattern indicates the direction of greatest stretch on the fabric. Give the fabric a pull to figure out what that is. It might not be the same as what we consider to be the grainline when sewing normal clothes.
  • Lining fabric (tricot): For most patterns, this is used the stabilize the bridge. You can also use lining fabric to line the cups, if you so desire.
  • Powernet: Use this to cut your back band. You can also line with powernet, if your main fabric is a little bit too stretchy for the pattern. You can *also* use powernet to line the bridge, if you don’t have lining fabric on hand. Powernet is awesome!
  • Lace: Usually just the upper cup of the pattern. If you want to cut the entire cup, you may need to line or stabilize it (with the lining or powernet) if it’s too stretchy. For any flatlining, I like to temporarily baste the pieces together with a spray adhesive and then handle them as one (a tip I learned from Maddie).

Now I’m going to share with you my favorite PROTIPS for actually assembling the whole thing together. bramaking - pinning curvesPROTIP #1: Pinning

I know, the urge to pin the everloving shit out of every single piece runs strong and true. But bramaking is a little different, and you gotta fight those urges. Especially when you are sewing a convex curve to a concave curve, it’s actually easier to do if you don’t have to navigate an army of pins along the way. I pin the beginning and end of the seam, and any notches/seamlines that need to match. Also, try sewing with the bigger piece (the convex curve) on the bottom layer. The feed dogs of your sewing machine will help ease it in to the smaller curve.

bramaking - securing stitchPROTIP #2: Starting & stopping, part 1

One of the things I find the most difficult about sewing lingerie is beginning and ending those teeny little pieces with their itty bitty seam allowances. It’s hard enough trying to cram everything under the foot and get it going without having the machine eat it, but then you have to worry about backtacking each end as well. And this really isn’t a step you can’t skip, because you don’t want your seams to unravel when you start handling them. My solution is to use the “securing stitch.” This might have a different name, depending on your machine (and those of y’all who are using mechanical machines – sorry! You can’t sit with us). Essentially, it automatically backtacks a few stitches at both the beginning and end of each seam. Every machine is different, so you may want to pull our your user manual for this one – but on my Bernina, to backtack the end, you just hit the reverse button and it does it automatically (the beginning starts the seam with a backtack). It’s been a total lifesaver for me and my seams are always secure as a result. bramaking - needle downPROTIP #3: Starting & stopping, part 2

Another thing to use if your machine has the capabilities (again, those of y’all with the mechanical machines – YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US) (just kidding ilu use the handwheel for this) – the needle down button! OMG this is forreal the #1 reason why I own a computerized machine. I just hit this button before I start sewing, and every time I take my foot off the pedal, the needle automatically goes down and stays there. It’s brilliant for readjusting layers or turning corners, and you stitch line won’t go wonky from stopping in the middle. I actually use this button for most of my sewing, not just exclusively to bramaking.

bramaking - starting the seamPROTIP #4: Starting & stopping, part 3

Back on the subject of tiny seam allowances and hungry feed dogs. The easiest way to keep your fabric from getting sucked down into the machine at the beginning of a seam is to grab both thread tails and *gently* pull as you start sewing the first couple of stitches. This is especially important if you’re using the securing stitch – once it’s done securing, you can let the tails go and sew on with your life. Don’t pull the tails too hard, just gently guide them to prevent the fabric from getting jammed down into the machine, and make sure you catch the tails for both the bobbin and the needle (for some reason, it looks like I’m only holding one in the above picture, wtf). This is a good tip for working with slinky fabrics, too, even if you’re not making a bra.

bramaking - 1/4PROTIP #5: Keeping 1/4″ seam allowances

Most lingerie patterns have teeny little 1/4″ seam allowances, which can be kind of hard to keep consistent. Unfortunately, you REALLY can’t fudge this one because it can drastically alter the size of the finished bra if you’re not careful. My solution to this was to buy a special foot with a 1/4″ guide. It is the best thing ever. It’s also useful for topstitching (especially jeans!) and making the most adorable and perfect little 1/4″ French seams.

bramaking - using 1/4Here it is in action. The dull blade runs against the raw edge of the fabric, keeping the needle exactly 1/4″ from the edge. bramaking - 1/4And here is my finished seam. Ah! Perfectly 1/4″ from the edge, every time. Ooh, see my backtacking, too? Thanks, securing stitch!

bramaking- edgestitching footPROTIP #6: Perfect topstitching This is my secret weapon for topstitching, lingerie or not. It’s a special foot and it’s called the edgestitching foot. Besides the 1/4″ foot, it’s the best thing ever. You can also use it to understitch and stitch in the ditch, with little to no tears of frustration and/or wonky stitch lines.bramaking - edgestitching/topstitchingHere it is in action. The dull blade goes right in the center, and you can move the needle either right or left as needed. If you keep the blade against your seamline and move the needle all the way to one side, you’ll end up with a perfect 1/8″ topstitching line. I find this easier than trying to line up part of my foot with the seamline; for whatever reason, shit always goes wonky when I try to do that.

bramaking - topstitched seamHere is the finished topstitching. One thing to note – I don’t backtack my topstitching if it’s going to intersect with another piece. I only backtack construction seams (otherwise they’ll pull apart at the ends). Since I use a different stitch for each of these steps, that means I can keep my settings saved for each step and just flip between stitches. Which is super handy, because that means I don’t need to re-enter all my preferences each time I move from constructing to topstitching. I use stitch #1 for topstitching (with a slightly longer stitch length and the needle moved all the way to one side), and stitch #5 for constructing. bramaking - duckbill/applique shearsPROTIP #7: Trimming
Always trim seam allowances before flipping down elastic for the final topstitching. Some patterns tell you to do this, some don’t. I find it looks a lot cleaner (and it easier to handle in general) if the seam allowances aren’t flapping around while you’re trying to finagle a good zigzag topstitch. I also like to trim my seam allowances under the wire casing as well. You can use any ol’ scissors to do this, but I like using duckbill applique scissors. The way they are constructed makes trimming down seam allowances almost foolproof and you’re less likely to cut a hole in the seam allowance that you’re trying to avoid. These scissors are awesome for non-bra things, too (I bought them looong before I got into sewing lingerie) – coat making, grading seam allowances, applique. They also look kind of crazy and I like that a lot.

Ok, I think that’s enough for one post! I hope y’all find these tips useful and that it encourages you to start that bra making journey if you were considering it! To me, it’s one of those learning experiences that seems really intimidating until you actually start doing it – kind of like learning how to drive a standard transmission (and just like driving a standard, once you learn – it’s REALLY hard to stop doing it! Well, for me, anyway. I think it’s fun!).

I know I only just grazed the surface with these tips here, so – what are your best tips for sewing lingerie?

OAL2015: Finishing!

13 Jul

One last installment of these OAL2015 tutorials and then we are OUTTA here! Finally!

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This post is gonna be pretty short and sweet (well, compared to the other ones haha) – all that’s left is inserting the zipper into our skirt, adding the buttons and buttonholes to the back of the bodice (or sewing that section shut) and hemming the skirt. That’s it! Yay!

Let’s get to it!

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OAL2015

OAL2015

If you’re making the view with the back cut-out, you’ll need a 7″ invisible zipper. If you’re anything like me and only have 22″ zippers lurking around, it’s pretty easy to shorten the zipper. Just mark the length where the new zipper stop needs to go, sew over the mark a couple of times (I use my machine and go back and forth twice each way -you can also do this by hand) and then cut off the excess zipper, leaving about 1″ between the cut and the new zipper stop.

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Sew the center back seam of the skirt at 5/8″, ending 1-2″ from where the zipper stop will be located.

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Unpick the topstitched part of the bias facing along the edges of each side of the back cut-out, just about 1-2″ from the edge. Position the zipper stop so that it’s about 1/8″-1/4″ away from the bottom edge of the bias facing, and pin so that the facing is flipped out flat (see photo if this doesn’t make sense!).

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Attach the zipper to the skirt back using an invisible zipper foot and a 5/8″ seam allowance, then close up the hole at the bottom where the zipper stop meets the center back stitching. If you need more instructions for this, here’s my tutorial on inserting invisible zippers πŸ™‚

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Once the zipper is sewn down, you should be able to fold the bias facing back to the wrong side, like so.

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Then fold the zipper seam allowance back to the wrong side as well, like so. Topstitch the bias facing back down, being careful not to sew the zipper teeth. You can also tack down the edges at the top of the zipper/seam allowance if you’d like.

Finished zipper:
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OAL2015

If you’d like to add a hook & eye to the top of your zipper, you may do so now.

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To finish the back bodice, you’ll either want to sew buttons & button holes – or just close the entire thing up. I lapped one side over the other and topstitched all the way around, then sewed buttons in the middle. If you decide to close this off, MAKE SURE you can get the dress on without needing to undo the back! I can wriggle into mine, but only just barely hahaha.

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Finally, hem your dress! I used the rest of my bias facing so I’d have a happy hem πŸ™‚ I followed the same method for attaching the bias to get this hem finish. Here is a tutorial from last year’s OAL on hemming if you need it!

Aaaaand here’s my finished dress:

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OAL2015

And the inside:

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OAL2015

Yeah!!!!

This concludes the sewalong portion of the OAL. Once you’ve finished your garments for the OAL, don’t forget to post them in the OAL 2015 Finished Outfits Thread on Ravelry so we can all have a lurk! The deadline is 7/31/15, so y’all still have a couple of weeks to catch up if you need to! Once I finish my sweater (yeaaah… I’m nearly done with the first sleeve. Getting there!) I will share photos of my finished outfit as well πŸ™‚

Let me know if you have any questions!

OAL2015: Attaching the Skirt // Finishing the Cut-Out

7 Jul

Good morning, everyone! My apologies that this post is a day late – I spent one full day of my weekend throwing a 4th of July shindig (complete with a slip-in-slide, food decorated to look like flags, and fireworks at the end of the night. I passed out before the fireworks happened, though, hahahahaha!! I heard they were lovely, anyway!), and then the second full day was much-needed RNR (laying on the couch, coloring and eating leftover party food. I surprisingly was not hungover for this, but I treated it like a hangover day regardless). It was an AWESOME weekend, but I didn’t make the time to write up this post – so you get it on Tuesday! Yay!

ANYWAAAAAY, time to get down to business!

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Today we are going to attach the skirt to our bodices, as well as finish that back cut-out. The end is so close!!

OAL 2015

First thing you are going to want to do is finish the edge of the back cut-out, using bias facing and the same method we used for the neckline (here’s a refresher on that tutorial if you need it!). Once you get to the back where the interfacing has been applied, you have two options – you can either leave that part unsewn, or attach the bias facing and then unpick it. I prefer to sew+unpick because I like the guidance of the creased seamline, as well as having the seam allowances already trimmed down, but it’s up to you!

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Once you’ve finished that, unpick the facing where the interfacing is, plus a little extra (or pat yourself on the back for saving yourself a little extra work!). You’ll do this at both the top and bottom of the interfaced section.

OAL 2015

Go ahead and clip off the excess bias facing, leaving at least an inch or so that overlaps where the interfacing starts. Err on the side of longer here – you can always trim off more later if you need to.

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Notch the fabric right where the interfacing starts, going about 1/4″ in, or the depth of your seam allowance.

OAL 2015

Finish the edge of the interfaced section howeverrrr you want. I just serged mine.

OAL 2015

Now fold the interfaced section back on itself, right sides together, along the center. The edge that you just finished should meet right against the edge where you clipped that notch.

OAL 2015

Sew along both short ends, following your seam allowance (this is where the guidance of an unpicked edge comes in handy). Be careful not to catch the ends of the bias facing just yet.

Ooh, look! New manicure! Haha!

OAL 2015

Turn the interfaced section right side out. To get a nice, sharp corner: first off, don’t clip that corner or trim your seam allowances unless they’re bigger than 1/4″. Use your fingers to push the seam allowance in one direction all the way to the point (I’ve found this is easiest when I hold it the way you see in the photo)…

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Keep your fingers holding that seam allowance in place and start turning everything right side out…

OAL 2015

Use your pointer finger for the final little push.

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You should have a pretty good-looking corner at this point, but you can also use a point turner (or a knitting needle, or a chopstick, or a pencil, or whatever you have on hand) to gently coax that corner out a little more. Don’t mash it around, just manipulate the seam allowance over until everything looks good. Repeat for the other corner.

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Here’s where we are so far!

OAL 2015

Now take those floppy ends of the bias facing and tuck them into the little pocket you just created.

OAL 2015

OAL 2015

Pin the finished edge into place and sew everything down. I also topstitch 1/4″ around the outside edges, to match the rest of the topstitching on the dress.

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Done! Now do the other side πŸ˜› haha!

Ok, now for attaching the skirt!

OAL 2015

Pin and sew the skirt to the bodice, matching notches and seamlines, and using your normal 5/8″ seam allowance. The bodice will be quite a bit shorter than the skirt – that’s the back cut-out, and we’re gonna deal with that next. If you want to add piping to your waistline seam, now is the time to do it (well, I did it, anyway! ha! It’s easier if the piping does not extend all the way around the waist – end it right where the bodice ends).

OAL 2015

Trim the seam allowance down along the top of the skirt that isn’t attached to the bodice, leaving yourself 1/4″ seam allowance for dealing with the bias facing. Then clip a notch where the bodice stops – this was hard to photograph, so right where my scissors are pointing! You can also see where my piping ends; it’s the little black rectangle below. Don’t clip your notice any deeper than the seam allowance.

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Attach the bias facing along the top edge of the skirt, stopping at the notch you just clipped. Allow about 1/4″ or so of bias excess so you can tuck it under itself.

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Here’s a closer picture. Once you’ve sewn the first swipe of bias facing (and understitched, if you’re doing that), take everything over to the ironing board and press the seam allowances up, and then the excess over to the wrong side (at the end that’s next to the bodice). If you added piping, the tail end of your piping should also be in this equation.

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Now fold the bias facing to the wrong side, as normal, and pin in place. All your raw edges should be encased and the corners of the bias facing should be pretty close to one another (if not butted up against each other).

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Finally, just stitch the bias facing down. Once you get to the corner where the other section of bias facing is, lower your needle and pivot, stitch along the existing stitching line just a little bit, then backtack. This will reinforce that corner and secure everything.

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Here it is from the right side. If you want to be extra secure, you can also sew a diagonal line to the point of the intersecting facings.

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I’m not really sure why I took a second picture of this, but here you go.

Ok, that’s all for today! Let me know if any of this needs clarification or if you have any questions πŸ™‚