Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sewing Bras: Foam Lace and Beyond

Lace placement


  • Remove the ¼" SA from the top of the cup and the strap ta, and straighten out the top line of the upper cup.



  • Mar ¼" in from the CF and 3/8" (width of the elastic) from the side.
  • Line the top edge of the upper cup pattern up with the low points (LOPOL) of the scallop on the lace and the CF SA mark with a low point.

Lining

  • Use stretch lining e.g. 15 Denier for stretch lace. Use a rigid lining under rigid lace e.g. sheer cup lining. Can't mix linings and laces. 
  • Cut lining pieces out and lie fabrics together with lining ending at LOPOL. Lay elastic along LOPOL of top edge and sew in place along both top and bottom of elastic, without stretching. Or, cut lining piece on the fold, using the top edge of the upper cup pattern as the fold line, and use this double to line the lace. This means the upper edge does not need finishing with elastic and is free floating. Or, could stitch and flip the lining to the fabric before cutting out the pattern. To do this, lie WS fabric with top edge along bottom edge of lining, lining lieing with ~¼" below LOPOL line and stitch in place. Flip lining down and iron flat. Cut out cup pieces.

  • Make straps from lace and line with suitable lining and attach to upper cup at outside edge. The scallop of the lace will lie along the inside of the strap and have a triangular appearance. These fabric straps are typically shorter with the strap elastic from the back coming up and over to the fabric strap.
  • Note that the bridge and the fabric straps must also be clean-finished as the top of the cups have been finished.

Stretch Lace on the band of a partial band bra

  • Redraft the lower band by marking the ½" SA  at either end of the bottom of the band and drawing a straight line across (even though low edge is curved) because lace can't curve, and cut off. This will be the LOPOL line. Cut lace out with scallop along the bottom edge
  • Line with power net, no finished edge required.
  • Lie elastic on WS of lace/lining, along LOPOL with elastic picot away from edge; zig zag with L=2 and W=2.5 along top and bottom of elastic, no stretch.

Rigid Lace on the band of a parital band bra

  • Only add lace to the side of the band as if the lace covered the entire band it wouldn't stretch enough. Way too complicated.

Lace on the bridge of a partial band bra

  • Cut the ¼" SA from the bottom of the bridge which is where the LOPOL will lie. Line lace by lieing the WS top of the lace fabric over the bottom of the lining and stitching along the SOPOL line the flipping down and ironing flat.













Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Presser Feet

I saw this deal for presser feet on So Sew Easy's website (HERE) and couldn't resist. So far I've only used a couple of them (invisible zipper foot, braiding foot and ¼" foot) but they have all worked perfectly. So much cheaper than purchasing the feet individually for my Viking Husqvarna machine.

Fringe Foot

  • Forms loose loops using a zig zag stitch over the centre bar to decorate an outlined design e.g. butterfly
  • Set zig zag to shortest and widest stitch e.g. L = 0.5, W = 7.0
  • Can form a fringe by straight stitching down one side and cutting along the other

Braiding Foot

  • Choose a braid that is narrower than the width of the channel on the underside of the foot. For my generic foot this is 7mm.
  • Snap foot on then feed e.g. narrow ribbon from top down into the front triangle, under the food and out the back.
  • Stitch ribbon to fabric using whatever stitch you like, straight stitch or zig zag
  • Can do the same with narrow elastic, pulling to gather and using wide zig zag stitch.
  • Can use to couch eg wooly yarn using a clear thread in the needle.
  • For narrower ribbon, adjust screw to smallen the window and ensure the ribbon feeds through evenly.

Piping Foot

  • There is a deep channel on the underside of the foot for the piping cord to feed through. Cover the cord with fabric with this foot and then shift the needle 1 point closer to the cord and stitch the piping to the fabric.

Roller Foot

  • For fabrics which have drag or resistance e.g. vinyl, leather. An alternative to a teflon foot, they literally have rollers under the foot! Increase the stitch length.

Darning Free Motion Foot

  • Darning, quilting, adding lace, free motion eg stippling
  • Drop the feed dogs and attach foot. Slow the speed control.

Gathering Foot

  • Adjust stitch length to e.g. 4.5 with upper tension up to 7.0.
  • Begin with finger at the back of the fabric to stop it until the feed teeth catch up and start to gather. Vary the gathering according to the stitch length and tension.
  • If you put 2 lengths of fabric through at the same time, it will gather the bottom fabric onto the top fabric.
  • Can gather either side (and even in the middle) to make an insert, or just in the middle of a bias strip as an embellishment.

Pintuck foot

  • Feet with a few grooves are appropriate for heavier weight fabric e.g. 3 or 5 groove, and those with more, say 7 or 9 grooves, are best for very lightweight fabrics.
  • Use a twin needle and set it in the centre position
  • Mark the starting and ending point for your pin tucks, and stitch the first tuck. For parallel pin tucks, place each completed tuck in a groove to the right or left of centre, and tstitch the next tuck. This means that the first pin tuck must be really exact as it sets the bar for all the rest. You can miss a groove in the pintuck foot and space the pintucks further apart.
  • Use cording for definition. Need a special bobbin cover.
  • You need to match the size of the needle to the size of the pintuck foot. They come in sizes 1.6 - 6.0 which is the distance in mm between the points. The needle has to match the foot, so the more grooves you have the smaller the needle distance needed.
  • Twin needle sizes (being the distance between the needle points in mm)
1.6 (use with 9 groove foot)

2.0 (use with 7 groove foot)

2.5, or 3.0 (use with 5 groove foot)

4.0 (use with 3 groove foot).
  • Adjust the top tension - set it to higher to get 'lift' to the pintucks but not too high that you get 'tunneling'  with bunching either side of the pintuck.

Cording Foot

  • 3 or 5 hole foot that allows decorative thread, yarn or elastic to be applied. Don't have to use all holes, could just use 1 or 2. e.g.. use a decorative yarn in the middle and 2 elastic threads either side to gather eg the top of a pocket.
  • Insert cords (through ports and then down through hole in foot) and sew with 3-step zig zag

Rolled Hem Foot (or Narrow Hemmer)

  • The hem allowance for a 6mm rolled hem will be 12mm. The 6mm hemmer is for medium weight fabrics.
  • The edge needs to be ABSOLUTELY SMOOTH - no jags or stray threads.
  • Finger press 12mm of fabric over, and then in half to make a 6mm double fold, for about an inch and pin in place. Place under the presser foot but don't put the fold into the scroll yet. Line the needle up with the fold of the fabric, take a few stitches to anchor the thread and stop with the needle down. Raise the presser foot and tug the fold of the fabric into the scroll, pulling gently on the fabric in front of the presser foot. Lower the presser foot and continue sewing. Note that fusing a 1 - 2" strip of interfacing, ⅛" wide, can help to start the process on sheer fabrics.
  • Start sewing slowly, pushing the fabric to the right with your left hand and the fold to the left with your right hand, and keeping the fabric slightly raised above the scroll. The raw edge of the fabric on top should feed in via the left hand side of the foot, along the groove, and the right side fold of the fabric should line up with the outside of the foot.
  • Adjust the needle position to make sure the stitching line is close to the fold. This is usually in the middle.
  • There are ways to go around corners well, see the Threads Magazine article or Sew4Home article on this.
  • To do a rolled hem on a curve, run a straight stitch around the edge first. When sewing, exaggerate the feeding through of the fabric (to the right with the left hand, etc). Could use this on e.g. a neckline.
  • Sew a shell edge using the rolled hem foot by selecting an overlocker stitch or blind hem stitch and lengthening the stitch length (the length of the scallop) and width (the depth of the scallop)

Teflon Foot

  • Coated to glide over leather, vinyl, laminate, suede, rubberised fabric
  • Consider using an upholstery thread

¼" Foot

  • comes with or without guide, and can add quilting bar (which slides into top of foot). Can add quilting bar to walking foot for e.g. quilting

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Invisible zipper insertion - Craftsy


  • Apply fusible stay tape to both sides of where invisible zipper will go, twice as wide as the zipper.
  • Don't sew any part of the seam first.
  • Shorten zipper to desired length
  • Invisible zipper foot = wide but with 2 channels underneath where coils will go.
  • Adjustable zipper foot = narrow with no channels but can butt up to the coils.
  • Lightly press 5/8" SA on each separate piece of fabric to form a guide.
  • With zipper stop down, pin one side of zipper in place, placing coils next right over the pressed seam line.
  • From top, line coil up with LHS groove of invisible zipper foot and stitch close to coils, pulling coils open as you go, all the way down, L = 2.5. At the slider, backstitch and finish. Pulling the coils open encourages the seam allowance to roll back and makes the zipper invisible.
  • Do the zipper up, flip to the other side and move finished SA out of the way, and check where the other piece of fabric lines up.
  • Undo the zipper, pin the second side of the zipper in place along the steamed seam line and sew in place. Backstitch before the slider.
  • Do the zipper up, flip to WS and stitch from bottom of zipper to end of seam using the adjustable zipper foot to get really close to the stopper. Start a couple of stitches above where the invisible zipper stopped. Press SAs open below zipper from both WS and RS. Steam invisible zipper from RS.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Craftsy 2: Designer Techniques for Bras

  • Lesson 1: Turn a full band bra (eg Pin up Girls Classic Bra) into a partial band

Introduction

  • A partial band bra has no frame under the cups and a smaller bridge. This allows greater design freedom. and eliminates the rolling of the bottom elastic of a full band bra, good for large tummies. The underwire channeling turns to the inside of the cup, cw the channeling on a full band bra turning outside towards the frame.  The partial band cups are therefore larger to accommodate the channeling - the full band bra has the seamline on the breast side of the underwire while the partial band bra has the seamline on the chest side of the wire, so the seamline has moved over by the width of the channeling. Cannot switch cups from partial to full band bra but can convert the full band bra pattern to a partial bra pattern, applying same fit alterations as made for the full band bra. Therefore, trace off adjusted full band bra pattern pieces and then make changes into a partial band bra.

Drafting the cups

  • Add the width of the channeling eg 3/8 to the CF line of the upper cup.
  • Add the width of the channeling eg 3/8" to the lower line of the lower cup

Drafting the band

  • Overlap the frame and back band pattern pieces by ½" and tape together. 
  • Draw elastic SA  (½") onto lower edge of back band.
  • Draw ¼" SA around wire line from top edge of frame around to CF.
  • Draw from back band to B notch (where the cup curve starts to go vertical), a pretty straight line. Add ½" SA, joining vertically to the B notch. This forms the back band - the new seamline under the wire down to the bottom of the frame and across the back band. This can either be sewn as one in the same fabric (powernet) or treated as two separate pattern pieces by separating at the band/frame seamline and making from two different fabrics.

  • Make a line from uner the cup to the CF, making an S. This curve should sit a little higher than the bottom of the back band. Add ¼" SA under this line. Therefore, the new bridge pattern piece will be from the new wire seam line down and then across to CF. f

Construction

  • Use a washable marker to mark the notches - don't snip, the SAs are only ¼" and are too prone to getting cut into.
  • Add stickers to the right sides of the fabric pieces.
  • Staytape the neckline and underarm area of the upper cups from strap to wireline, using either twill tape (can be bulky) or a strip of tricot (= duoplex) - use a shorter stitch length and sew with ⅛" seam so it remains invisible after the elastic/straps have been sewn in place.
  • Sew inner lower cup to outer lower cup and press seam open.
  • Sew upper cup to lower cup at internal seam line with absolutely no stretching, from point to point, with just a pin at either end. Stitch using an edge stitch foot in ¼" seam with the lower cup on top (helps prevent the seam from stretching out) and a stitch length of 2.5. Make sure not to stretch the upper layer as you sew.
  • Press cup seams open over a newell knob screwed onto a piece of wood with lots of steam. Topstitch both sides of the cup seam with a 3.5 stitch length at 1/16", pulling the seam apart as you go. Trim the SAs back to the stitching line using Pelican scissors.
  • Sew the straps to the upper cups, the square end of the strap to the cup not the tapered end, so that the straps lie pointing away from the midline. Press the strap seams closed and up towards strap. Topstitch 2 lines of stitching on the strap at 1/16" and ⅛"
  • Form the bridge. Lie two rectangular pieces of bridge fabric (either same e.g. duoplex, or could cut e.g. sheer cup lining + decorative fabric; add interfacing layer if needed - aiming at 0% stretch for the bridge) bigger than the bridge pattern piece, RS together. With a washable marker, draw around the bridge pattern piece. Sew with a straight stitch, through both layers, along bottom of bridge with SA 1'4". Cut around outline, trimming off corners. Clip into curve and turn to the RS. This gives a much more accurate line than cutting the bridge pieces out first and trying to sew that tiny seam line. Baste the raw edges at ⅛".
  • Sew bridge to cups. With RS together, pin top of bridge to top of cup only then walk the two curves together using a stitch length of 2.5. At the bottom of the bridge, don't stop, continue stitching just the cup all the way along the wire line = stay stitching. Check that the two cups are even across the bridge.
  • Sew elastic to the back band. Sew elastic (½ - 3/4" wide) to the bottom of the band (note that the band may be cut all in one or in two with a seam), laying RS together with picot edge facing in and stitching with a zig-zag (width = 2.5. length = 2) close to the picot edge. Trim SA, turn elastic to inside and stitch with 3-step zig-zag (width = 5, length = 2.5).
  • Sew cups to the band. Sew the edge of the band to the side of the cup, matching notch B, using the staystitching as a guide and sewing to the bottom of the elastic. Will need to stretch the band to fit. This leaves the lower edge of the cup raw (will get covered by the channeling).
  • Sew channeling to the cups. Precurve the channeling with steam. With RS bra facing up, fold back band on right in up over the cup and the other back band/cup/bridge in and over the cup, exposing the lower wire line.


  • Lie the channeling from the band end with the channeling curving away from the curve of the cup. so that it will turn into place, along exposed seam allowance. Stitch, starting about 1" from the end of the band, right on the edge of the channeling, following the staystitch line and pulling the channeling into place. Stop about ½" before the top of the bridge. Turn the channeling to the inside.


  •  Add neckline elastic. Pin tails of channeling down, out of the way.
    • Pin the cup SAs towards the bridge CF
    • Stitch the neckline elastic (34" long) down the inside edge of the strap (not stretched), across the top of the cup (not stretched), across the bridge (not stretched) and back up, with RS together using a zig zag (L = 2, W = 2.5) and keeping the stitching close to the (inner) decorative edge of the elastic. Don't flip and stitch down elastic from RS yet.
  • Complete bar tacks. Bar tacks stop the underwire from pushing out of the channeling.On inside, at CF, fold neckline elastic down and lay both channels on top of the trim. Mark upper and lower edge of trim on channeling. Lift neckline elastic up out of the way. On lower line, through the channeling only, straight stitch across and back (L = 1), then zig zag across and back (L = 0.8, W = 1.5).Cut channeling off at upper mark so that the ends will fit under the neckline trim.
  • Flip neckline elastic to the inside and stitch from the RS using a 3-step zig zag (L = 1, W = 4)  making sure the channeling follows the cup seam and the ends are tucked under the neckline elastic, using 1 pin at the CF. The bar tack should lie along the lower edge of the neckline trim.
  • Topstitch the channeling. Start at the bridge and sew 1/16" from the channeling edge, pulling the layers apart so no pleats form, sewing from the wrong side. Make sure that the outside edge of the channeling matches up with the seamline at the very edge. Sew right to the end, stitching down the free end of the channeling.
  • Insert the underwire. Insert the underwire with the low end toward CF.
  • Add the side elastic. Choose 5/16" or 3/8" wide elastic, 22" long. Sew elastic along the outside of strap (not stretched), along the side of the cup (stretched by 1" - make sure to hold the fabric either side of the needle so the needle doesn't break), and along the back band (slightly stretched) using a zig zag (L = 2, W = 2.5). Sew with RS together and picot towards the strap. Flip elastic to the inside, trim the strap SA and sew near picot edge using a 3-step zig zag (L = 1, W = 4) from the RS.
  • Add the strap elasticStrap elastic is available in 3/8 - 1" widths with fancy edges, a satin face and a plush back. Sliders and rings should be the same size as the elastic width. Typical is 3/4".
  • Cut 10" of the elastic and push one end up through the slider, over the centre bar and down the other side, forming a short ½" tail. Stitch from the RS using a short straight stitch and zipper foot, across and back twice (= 4 rows).
    • Slide ring onto strap with WS up. Take tail and pass up through slider, over centre bar and down the other side, leaving a long tail.
    • Check that the width of the back band is the same size as the hook and eye closure and if not, trim to fit.
    • Pin the strap to the lower curve of the band on RS. Line the straight edges of the strap and band up together than straighten the fabric to fit the straight elastic even though there might be pleats formed and pin. Stitch on the inside edge to top of bra band, form 2 steps across top, then stitch down middle of strap, and 2 steps across the bottom, using a lightning stitch.
    • Thread fabric strap though ring, from front to back, and pin in place. Stitch in place with straight stitch, across and back, twice.
  • Attaching the hooks and eyes

    • Note that the LHS of the band has the eyes.
    • Clean up the back band edge.
    • Insert band into raw edge of eye band. Stitch across the end of the band, turn, take 2 steps, sew across to the other end, turn and take 2 steps back to the beginning.
    • For the hook band, insert in the same way as for eyes, or, if there is no prefinished pouch for the hooks but instead a flap, fold flap down and under bra band and stitch in place from hook side using a straight stitch and zipper foot to get close to hooks.

Lesson 2: Modifying upper cups and straps

Introduction

  • The trifecta of the neckline trim = inside strap, top of cups and top of bridge. In a traditionaly finished bra, the neckline trim takes care of all three of these together. However, if one of these is finished in a different way, the others will be affected.
  • Below are different finishes that you can pick and choose for different looks.

Straight top cups

  • No neckline trim, the cup fabric is doubled and gives a clean, tailored look. Can be used on full or partial band bra. Allows a variety of strap styles as there is no strap tab on the upper cup.
  • Drafting the upper cup. Draw a line across the top of the upper cup including across the strap tab.


  • Continue the underarm curve on the upper cup up through the strap tab to meet the first line.

Long or short tapered straps


  • Short tapered strap. Fold lengthwise, WS together, and lie on top corner of upper cup, RS together, keeping in mind the ¼" SA that will be sewn. If using neckline elastic along the top, sew this in now. If doing a straight double cup, insert the short tapered strap in between the two layers and sew in place.




  • Strap elastic finishes the underarm curve edge of the strap.

Padded straps

  • Good for large, heavy cups. Padding can be fully enclosed or not.
  • Draft the strap. Tape usual strap pattern piece to a piece of paper and mark where the shoulder will be - for most women this is 6 - 8" above the upper cup. At that mark, mark ¼" each side of the strap and then draw tapering lines to the original strap lines, using a French curve.




  • The padding doesn't cover the full width of the strap, because turning the elastic needs room.  ie turn of the cloth. Mark 3/8" allowance on strap pattern piece on all 3 non-tapered edges; at the tapered end stop 3/4" away from the edge.
  • Use Cut n Sew foam (not craft) in ⅛" thick. Cut foam to pattern above. Use a glue stick to glue padding to WS of strap. Sew strap to upper cup making sure to catch the padding into the seam line.
  • Sew first pass of underarm elastic and first pass of neckline trim to the bra cup. Sew the second passes of the elastic and trim, covering the edges of the foam padding. Consider the width of the strap when selecting the width of the 3-step zig zag and make it proportional.

Lesson 3: Modifying the Frame

Thin Full band bra

  • can be done, involves re-drafting the pattern.

Gothic Arch Bra

  • Can only be drafted for a full band bra, has a high arch under the bridge.
  • On the frame pattern piece, draw from the lower edge, under the cups, continuing the line straight up towards the CF to a point ½' up.

  • Clip the CF ⅛" less than the width of the band elastic. This is because the lower band elastic will be sewn on in two parts. After sewing the band to the frame at the sides, stitch the lower elastic, RS together and with usual zig zag, stretching under the cups, from the band edge up to the CF clip, making sure that there is a tail of free elastic that comes up to the edge of the cup. Lie the second piece of elastic over the first elastic at the CF clip so that you start stitching at exactly where the first elastic finished.

  • Flip the lower elastic and sew from the WS, inner edge with a 3 step zig zag, from band end continuing to the end of the elastic, allowing the elastic to curve up and sit across the bridge toward the cup, keeping the other elastic out of the way.

  • Sew the other elastic in place, starting at the CF, making sure the elastic tails are even across the bridge. This forms a criss cross that is visible from the RS. If you don't want this, make the criss cross just the width of the elastic.

Front Closing Bra

I can't imagine me ever using this technique but never say never! 

Keyhole Bridge

I can't imagine me ever using this technique but never say never! 

4. Modifying the Back Band

See the class for modifications

Fold over elastic


  • Keep in mind that the FOE is an edge finish i.e.. no seam allowance, so trim this off.
  • FOE has a narrow side and a slightly wider side. The narrow side should be on the right side of the fabric so that when you zig zag from the RS, the second pass of sewing, you are guaranteed to catch the wider back side.
  • Sew in two passes with no pinning or glueing - lie WS of FOE to WS of fabric, with FOE lieing open and flat and lining up the centre line of the FOE along the edge of the fabric, and sew with a small zig zag (W = 1.5 L = 1.5) close to the edge, leaving a 1" tail of FOE. Fold FOE over to the RS and sew with same zig zag from the RS, continuing along the 1" tail.. The tail can be used as a strap extension that a ring can slide on to, taking the place of the strap elastic on a traditional bra.

5. Power Bars


Power bars can be used in both full and partial band bras. They lie on the outside edge of the cups and push the breast forward. They can be internal, in seam or external.

  • Internal power bar.  Mark the ¼" seamline on both the upper and lower cups, from the outside edge to the apex point. Mark a point about half way along this line. Lie the lower cup over the upper cup with the outer edge seamline point and the marked point matched up. Tape in place. Draw a straight line from the inside corner of the strap through the marked point and down to the bottom of the lower cup.



Trace off the power bar pattern (the left of the line). Mark the DOGS on the pattern piece - this is parallel to the strap seam. Tape long edge of pattern piece to the edge of a piece of paper, fold over and trace so that there is a full pattern piece. Make the power bar out of the same fabric as the cup e.g. duplex or 15 denier, nothing too thick. Fold the fabric in half along the long, bias edge and sew to outer edges of cups.

.


  • In seam power bar.. Less visible. Complicated.
  • Ruched external power bra. For fashion rather than support.

Modifying Cup Seams

How to draft seamliness.




Monday, 26 December 2016

Installing Grommets

I recently made Claude the Clio dress by Tilly and the Buttons which called for grommets and jeans buttons. This is how to install them.

  • Mark the position on the fabric and poke a hole through the fabric with a nail or sharp screw.
  • Press the button back through from the WS of the fabric and add the button front to the RS.
  • Place face down over a cast iron pan and hammer in place.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Craftsy Class 1: Constructing & Fitting a Bra

These notes are taken from my latest Craftsy course, Bra making Fit and Construction, with Beverly Johnson. I chose to make the same bra that is featured in the course, the Pinup Girls Classic Full Band Bra. Note that seam allowances are ¼" throughout, typical for bra making.

Lesson 1: Fitting and Fabric

  • Take your high bust and full bust measurements and round up to the nearest even number. For me, that was 42 and 46". My band size is therefore a size 42. My cup size is the difference between the two measurements (4") which correlates to a letter of the alphabet - 1" = A, 2"' = B etc so 4" = D cup. The underwire should be longer than you need and the same as the band size i.e. 42". I ordered WL42 along with the kit from Sew Squirrel online.
  • DOGS = Direction/amount Of Greatest Stretch. May not be same as grainline.
  • Band fabric - always good to have spandex in it for a little extra recovery. Aim 25 - 40% stretch measuring 10" in an inch or two from the edge of the fabric. Examples of band fabric include: (1) Techsheen (a type of power net) and (2) mesh.
  • Frame fabric - you never want to have spandex in it, too much stretch. Aim < 20% stretch. Examples of frame fabric include (1) Duoplex (can use shiny or matte side), which is similar to tricot, has 5 - 10% stretch (2) Simplex, (3) a stable lace, and (4) woven fabric cut on the bias. Also sheer cup lining ('Marquisette') is extremely rigid, good for frames and bridge, and doesn't fray. Ironically, not so good for cups as doesn't 'mould'.
  • When looking for bra making fabric you are most concerned the movement of the fabric. Movement refers to both stretch, which means the fabric contains Spandex fibers (also known as Lycra and elastane), and give, which means there is mechanical movement of the fabric based on its weave or knit.
    The fabric for the bra cups should have little to no movement to contain and provide shape to the breasts. When you look for cup fabric think smooth, thin and strong because you want support and you want your clothing to move freely over the bra. You also want a fabric that is comfortable and washable.
    Typical bra cup fabric fibers are nylon, polyester, cotton, Spandex and silk. Bra fabrics are usually a tricot, raschel or even jersey knit. Woven fabrics like stretch silk charmeuse (silk with Spandex) are used for luxury lingerie, as is 100% silk, used on the bias. 15 Denier is too soft for larger cups. Bra tulle can be used for bra cups, either singly with lace over the top or double with the stretch in opposite directions.
    The bridge and frame also need to be made in a low to no movement fabric to keep the cups in the correct place on the body. Generally the same material that is used for the cups is used for these parts of the bra along with a stable lining for the bridge.
  • Lining fabric is used to stabilize the bridge of the bra. Lining can also be used in the fabric manipulation process to create a more stable fabric.
    When you start shopping for bra making linings you will see the term “denier”. Simply put, denier is a measure of the density of the weave of the fabric. The lower the number, the more sheer and lightweight the fabric.
    There is no need to line Duoplex but when I do line bra cups, the lining I like to use is a 15 denier nylon with 25% crosswise and 0% lengthwise movement (pictured at the bottom right in the image above). There are also nylon “sheer cup” linings with virtually no movement that I like to use for the bridge (the swatches pictured in the top row above).To manipulate a fabric to make it have low to no movement properties you can double it, line it, fuse it to a tricot interfacing or bond it to another fabric using fusible weft. If you are not sure how to go about manipulating your fabric, no worries! I will take you through the different fabric manipulation approaches in an upcoming post. Once you know how to adapt fabrics for bra making, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities!
  • If you want to steer clear of manipulating your fabric for now but want to use something other than Duoplex, I have had good results using bias cut silk, bias cut Liberty Tana Lawn and even a double layer of stretch charmeuse for the Marlborough. Remember to test any fabric changes in the muslin process before you sew up your final bra.
Layering
My definition of layering is treating two layers of fabric as one throughout the construction process but allowing the layers to remain independent from one another in the final bra. Examples of layering include putting a stretch lace or mesh over a tricot or over a power net (both pictured below) or even doubling the fashion fabric itself. The easiest way to connect two layers of fabric together for easier handling during construction is to use a dissolvable spray adhesive (you can find my resource list here). Adhere the base fabric to the upper layer in a large rectangle, and then cut the desired pattern pieces from the “new” fabric you created. Just be sure that the direction of greatest movement in the overlay fabric matches up with that of the base layer and that it is smooth and flat on top of the base fabric. This approach works well when you have a delicate open work overlay such as a stretch mesh or where there is no other option for beefing up your fabric such as in the band. Layering is not a great option if your fabric is already beefy (like swimwear Lycra weight) because the fabric combination will end up being too bulky for a bra.
Lining
Lining is closely related to layering, the difference being that the layers are constructed independently. This approach is primarily used when you want to line a cup that is made out of a fraying fabric such as silk. In that case, you want all the seam allowances to be enclosed and concealed. This means that two separate sets of cups are constructed. Like layering, lining does not work well if the fabric has any bulk.
Bonding
Bonding fabric means permanently adhering two layers of fabric together. Bonding has quickly become my favorite fabric manipulation option. It allows me to convert Spandex prints into a suitable bra making fabric and allows me to create my own fabrics by layering laces on top of colored tricots. It has the added benefit of making the pieces incredibly easy to handle during the construction process and limits any potential puckering or bagginess that can occur when working with two layers of fabric.
There are two ways to bond fabric. One is to bond a fabric to a fusible tricot interfacing. The other is to use a fusible web between two layers of fabric.
Lightweight tricot interfacing, pictured below, is often used for knits. It has some crosswise movement and little lengthwise movement making it a suitable bra making material on its own. The non-fusible side is also smooth against the body, as you would expect from a tricot.
Block fusing is the easiest way to bond fabric. This means taking pieces of interfacing and fabric, that are large enough to accommodate your pattern pieces, fusing the two together and then cutting the pattern pieces out of the new fabric you created. In this process you will want to be sure to match the direction of greatest movement in your fabric and interfacing.
 drawback of using tricot interfacing is that it is only available in black and white so if your fabric does not look good with either as a base, you will need to find another option. You can see from the above picture, where the lower right half of the spandex print has been fused to a white tricot interfacing, that it does alter the appearance of the fabric. I should also mention that tricot interfacing does not make a good base for open work fabrics. Something about the look of the interfacing where the fusible has melted is not really suitable for the right side of the garment.
That brings us to the second bonding approach – fusible web (a.k.a. MistyFuse). Once I found fusible web, I felt like I had discovered bra making magic.
Fusible web, pictured below, looks like a fine cobweb and is correspondingly very lightweight. It comes either with paper on one side or plain as pictured below. It has the wonderful property of disappearing as it melts to combine two layers of fabric, even when you bond an open work lace to a tricot fabric.
To use fusible web, use the same block fusing approach described above with one important change: use a non-stick surface such as parchment paper or a Teflon pressing sheet above and below the fusing area to prevent the web from sticking to your ironing board or iron. Note that if you use parchment paper on the right side of an open work fabric, you will get more of a matte finish than if you use a Teflon pressing cloth.
Bonding with either fusible can also be used in another way: to create your own tricot bonded foam to use for making bra cups. Just bond tricot fabric or tricot interfacing to both sides of a thin batting and you have a sheet of cut-and-sew foam. You can read more about sewing bra cups with foam in my article in Threads magazine, Issue #174 (subscription required).
While bonding has many benefits, it also has one big limitation; it cannot be used for the band of the bra because of the stretch demand in that area. Layering is the only manipulation option you can use to make a band firmer.

Lesson 2: Getting Started

  • Mark the DOGS on each piece of fabric then pin the pattern pieces to the fabrics with arrows parallel to the DOGS.
  • Use a small rotary cutter (18mm is best) to cut out the pieces - you could draw around the pieces first for greater accuracy.
  • Use a washable marker to mark the notches - don't snip, the SAs are only ¼" and are too prone to getting cut into.
  • Add stickers to the right sides of the fabric pieces.
  • Staytape the neckline and underarm area of the upper cups from strap to wireline, using either twill tape (can be bulky) or a strip of tricot (= duoplex) - use a shorter stitch length and sew with ⅛" seam so it remains invisible after the elastic/straps have been sewn in place.
  • Sew upper cup to lower cup at internal seam line with absolutely no stretching, from point to point, with just a pin at either end. Stitch using an edge stitch foot in ¼" seam with the lower cup on top (helps prevent the seam from stretching out) and a stitch length of 2.5. Make sure not to stretch the upper layer as you sew.
  • Press cup seams open over a newell knob screwed onto a piece of wood with lots of steam. Topstitch both sides of the cup seam with a 3.5 stitch length at 1/16", pulling the seam apart as you go. Trim the SAs back to the stitching line using Pelican scissors.
  • Sew the straps to the upper cups, the square end of the strap to the cup not the tapered end, so that the straps lie pointing away from the midline. Press the strap seams closed and up towards strap. Topstitch 2 lines of stitching on the strap, at 1/16" and ⅛"
  • Sew the back band to the band frame, matching seam lines. Press SAs towards front frame and topstitch with 2 lines.
  • Sew the cups to the band, sewing with the band on top and only 2 pins.
  • Mark ½" down from the CF and 1" down from the underarm, on the cup.
  • Cut channeling pieces 2" longer than underwire. Press the underwire channeling into a half-circle curve using steam. Sew channeling to upper side of cup SA only (use a wider size of channeling for larger cup sizes), lining up the edges of the channeling with the seam line and not using pins. The aim is to sew exactly on the seamline. Only sew the channeling up to the ½" mark from the neck edge of the cup and to the 1" mark down from the side of the cups. The channeling will extend either end.
  • Turn the channeling toward the band side of the bra, away from the cup, and edge stitch close to the seam line from the right side, making sure to pull fabric away from the seam line so no pleats form.

Lesson 3: Sewing the Elastic

Bottom band elastic

  •  Choose ½ - 3/4" width elastic with little stretch - plush side goes next to the body. Measure the length of the lower frame/band and cut elastic to length.
  • Mark the band with a washable marker at the following points: under each cup where the curve changes at either side ( = total of 4 marks).
  • With RS together sew elastic to bra band - picot edge towards the body of the bra - using a zig-zag stitch (L = 2, W = 2.5). Sew right next to the picot edge with no stretch of the elastic until the first mark. Needle down. Between marks, stretch elastic by ½", stitch to mark making sure to keep the (curved) edges even.
  • Between the cups, clip the band fabric at ½" intervals so that the curved edge of the band lies flat. Stitch to next mark. Needle down, stretch elastic by ½", stitch to next mark. Stitch to the end. When the bra is laid out, the lower curve of the frame/band should be gentle not wavy. Trim the band SA.
  • Turn elastic to inside and stitch on opposite edge of elastic edge using a 3-step zig zag (L = 1, W = 5). Sew from inside, manipulating the curves under the bust and keeping the channeling out of the way.

Side elastic

  • Choose 5/16" or 3/8" wide elastic.
  • Sew elastic along the outside of strap (not stretched), along the side of the cup (stretched by 1" - make sure to hold the fabric either side of the needle so the needle doesn't break), and along the back band (slightly stretched) using a zig zag (L = 2, W = 2.5). Sew with RS together and picot towards the strap. Flip elastic to the inside, trim the strap SA and sew near picot edge using 3-step zig zag (L = 1, W = 4).

Neckline Trim

  • Pin tails of channeling down, out of the way.
  • Pin the cup SAs towards the bridge CF
  • Stitch the neckline trim runs down the inside edge of the strap (not stretched), across the top of the cup (not stretched), across the bridge (not stretched) and back up, with RS together using a zig zag (L = 2, W = 2.5) and keeping the stitching on the elastic (outer) part of the trim. 
  • Insert the underwire with the low end toward CF and bar tack in place.
  • Bar Tacks

    • Bar tacks stop the underwire from pushing out of the channeling.
    • On inside, at CF, fold neckline trim down and lay both channels on top of the trim. Mark upper and lower edge of trim on channeling. On lower line, straight stitch across and back (L = 1), then zig zag across and back (L = 0.8, W = 1.5), on the channeling only.
    • Cut channeling off at upper mark so that the ends will fit under the neckline trim.
    • Sew other side of neckline trim (not stretched) using a 3-step zig zag (L = 1, W = 4)  making sure the channeling follows the cup seam and the ends are tucked under, using 1 pin at the CF. The bar tack should lie along the lower edge of the neckline trim.
    • On the inside, stitch the other side of the channeling in place, making sure there is enough room for the underwire.



Lesson 4: Finishing the back band

Applying the strap elastic

  • Strap elastic is available in 3/8- 1" widths with fancy edges, a satin face and a plush back. Sliders and rings should be the same size as the elastic width.
  • Cut 10" of the elastic and push one end up through the slider, over the centre bar and down the other side, forming a short ½" tail. Stitch from the RS using a short straight stitch and zipper foot, across and back twice (= 4 rows).
  • Slide ring onto strap with WS up. Take tail and pass up through slider, over centre bar and down the other side, leaving a long tail.
  • Check that the width of the back band is the same size as the hook and eye closure and if not, trim to fit.
  • Pin the strap to the lower curve of the band on RS. Lie the straight edge of the strap elastic up with the straight edge of the band then straighten the fabric to fit the straight elastic even though there might be pleats formed and pin. Stitch on the inside edge to top of bra band, form 2 steps across top, then stitch down middle of strap, and 2 steps across the bottom, using a lightning stitch.
  • Thread fabric strap though ring, from front to back, and pin in place. Stitch in place with straight stitch, across and back, twice.

Attaching the hooks and eyes

  • Note that the LHS of the band has the eyes.
  • Clean up the back band edge.
  • Insert band into raw edge of eye band. Stitch across the end of the band, turn, take 2 steps, sew across to the other end, turn and take 2 steps back to the beginning.
  • For the hook band, insert in the same way as for eyes, or, if there is no prefinished pouch for the hooks but instead a flap, fold flap down and under bra band and stitch in place from hook side using a straight stitch and zipper foot to get close to hooks.

Lesson 5: Fitting

There should be no large vertical pleats under the strap area (= cups too big)
There should be no overflow at the top of the bra or underneath (= cups too small)
Bra band should be snug and not ride up at the back (=band too big)
Straps shouldn't move outwards or pull bra up at the front (= straps too short)

Straps wrong length

  • If the straps are too long or too short, cut off/add on 2" to the square end of the strap pattern.
  • Note that straps sitting too far in or too far out is a cup issue, not a strap issue.

Band wrong length

  • Slice the band pattern vertically and add or subtract width. Make sure to true the top line again from furthest points which don't change.
  • If the straps are sitting too far out, move their position on the back band by elongating the top line of the back band towards CB by ½ - 3/4". Redraw the curve from lower scoop point to the newly drawn point.

Side seam fit

  • Check the fit of the side seams, particularly for any excess around the side seam line. If there is excess, eg can pinch out an inch at the top of the side seam, you may need a dart.
  • To do this, on pattern alter both front frame and back band at the side seam area. Draw a line from ½" in from top of the frame side seam almost to the lower corner (forming a hinge) and move the flap across eg ½" and tape in place. Do the same to the bra band side seam. Redraw the top line between the side seam point and the top point.

Bottom band

  • If the bottom band rolls at the side or there is a horizontal pleat, usually at about ½ - 3/4" up from the side seam.
  • Lie the frame and band pattern pieces together, matching side seam lines (draw them in). Mark a point ½" up the side seam on both frame and band. Draw a curved lower line from the mark down towards the centre of the cup on the frame and towards the bra back on the band.
  • Redraw the short end of the bra band back to form a 90o angle.

Altering the bridge

  • The bridge can be too wide (feels like the wires pressing on the breast tissue so need to trim ⅛" from CF fold on pattern) or too narrow (feels like wires and cups are pulling apart so need to add ⅛" to CF fold on pattern).
  • If the bridge is okay at the top but too narrow or wide at the bottom of the bridge (eg a gap forming under the CF if the bridge is too wide), you may need to add a dart. Draw a line from CF corner at the top of the bridge almost to lower edge, ¼" in from CF (forming a hinge) and move flap in the desired amount. Make the lower edge and top edge 90o. Do the opposite if the bridge is too narrow at the lower edge. Draw in new DOGS line parallel to new line.

Front strap position

  • On the upper cup pattern, draw a line from the outer, lower side point of the strap area across to 1" before the edge of the pattern, parallel to the DOGS line, and up to the top of the pattern. Cut along the line and move whole piece e.g. ½" towards CF or CB. True the line from lower point of strap to lower point of cup, the points that don't move.

CF neckline is baggy

  • If the CF neckline is baggy a dart can be taken out of the upper cup eg ¼".  To do this, cut almost from ½" in on top right of upper cup to the lower right point, forming a hinge. Overlap the hinge pattern piece over the larger left pattern piece by eg ¼" and tape in place.
  • Re-cruve the top line from the known points ie the top right point of the upper cup over to the top left point near the strap, using a French Curve. Trim off the excess pattern.
  • If the neckline is too tight, do the opposite.

Rounding the crown

  • Tape the lower cup to a piece of paper and mark ⅛" at the CC mark. Redraw curve to the left of the mark. Add an amount equal to that taken away, to the other side of the cup. Walk the upper cup seam line around the new lower cup seam line, either side of the CC notch, and redraw as necessary to make seam line lengths match.

Lower cup flattening

  • If the volume of the lower cup is rounder than the fabric, a flattened area will appear just above the underwire. This can be eliminated by splitting the lower cup and building in extra room.
  • On the lower cup, draw a line from the CC point to point A. Cut along the line, separate and tape each pattern piece (inner lower cup and outer lower cup) to paper. Draw a line from top and bottom corner of each pattern piece using a French curve that adds ⅛" at middle between marks. Use the same numbers on the French Curve to add to both pattern pieces. Add ¼" SA. Add a notch towards the top of one new line and transfer exactly to the other by tracing it.
  • Alter the DOGS on each pattern piece. On the inner lower cup piece draw a line form ~ ⅓ of the way along the lower seam line (from the newly notched line) to the apex. Note that this will be nothing like the old DOGS line; it aims to push the breast. Turn the pattern piece over and trace DOGS onto the outer lower cup pattern piece.

Lesson 6: Bra embellishment

  • Add rigid lace or embroidered tulle to the bra, considering mirroring or at least balancing the pattern.
  • Cut the lace the same shape as the upper cup top and sides but let the lower edge fall over the cup seam. Glue in place with a Uhu stick while the pattern pieces are flat, construct the cup seam and then attach the free edge of the lace.
  • To attach the free edge of the lace (usually scalloped), use a wide zig zag and a lighter pressor foot pressure


























Sunday, 4 December 2016

Sew an Invisible Zipper

This technique is courtesy of the Sewing Divas.

Technique:

  1. Pin the back seam together and mark where the zipper will end, leaving 5cm of zipper below the mark. Mark with chalk on the zipper and also on the seam allowances.
  2. Machine baste where the zipper will go down to the bottom mark, then change the stitch length and sew the rest of the seam. Press the seam open with a hard press.
  3. Gently press the zipper tape and teeth open, on low heat.
  4. Remove the basting stitches and align the zipper, face down, on the seam. Pin so that the teeth are aligned with the pressed edge. Pin the zipper to the seam allowances only.
  5. Machine baste the zipper to the seam allowances down the middle of the tape. Do the zipper up and check that the zipper has been inserted evenly.
  6. With a zipper foot, sew close to the teeth from top to bottom on both sides, stopping at the lower mark.