Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Notes on Bra Making

These notes are taken from my latest Craftsy course, Bra making with Beverley Johnson. I chose to make the same bra that is featured in the course, the Pinup Girls Classic Full Band Bra.

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), (2) Simplex, (3) a stable lace, and (4) woven fabric cut on the bias.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Sew an Invisible Zipper

This technique is courtesy of the Sewing Divas.


  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.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Insert an Exposed Zipper

This technique is taken from Simplicity #1168, a Threads pattern. I used this on Claude's snake print dress.


  1. Interface either side of the zipper opening.
  2. Stitch CB seam from bottom zipper marking and press seam open.
  3. Press open 3/4" on CB edges above bottom zipper marking.
  4. On outside, pin closed zipper to CB with RS facing and zipper top towards the hem of the garment (thebottom of the zipper should be about ½" below the bottom zipper marking).
  5. Stitch across the end of the zipper ½" above the zipper stop.
  6. Flip the zipper up and centre it over the opening edges. Baste across the neck edge.
  7. On the inside, pin the zipper in place with pressed edges along the zipper teeth. Baste close to pressed edges but not along the lower end of the opening.
  8. On the outside, topstitch the zipper tape along the basting (ie edgestitching the pressed edges.
  9. Stitch a second line of topstitching close to the edges of the zipper teeth and across the bottom. Remove basting.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Add Trim to a Zipper

This technique is courtesy of Sandra Betzina.


  1. Press Steam a Seam to both sides of the zipper front, remove paper and lie trim or ribbon along either side ot the teeth. Press in place. Sew close to each side of the teeth.
  2. Sew the zipper exposed or as usual.

Tips for Sewing with Vinyl

These tips are courtesy of Sandra Betzina.


  1. Use a knit needle, a teflon foot and a longer stitch length (3.5)
  2. Stick a teflon sheet to the bed of the machine, with a rectangular hole cut out where the feed dogs will go.
  3. Curves are difficult so try to remove ease/ shaping. eg create a bust dart rather than a princess line.
  4. Add Steam a Seam under the seam allowances - this allows neat topstitching with no drag lines.

Add a Floating Welt Pocket

This technique is courtesy of Sandra Betzina. This pocket can be add after the garment has been constructed. The pocket is attached to the garment at the upper edges only, the pocket hanging free.


  1. Cut 2 pocket pieces 8 x 10" and one to form the welt piece, 8 x 11". Interface the top 3" of the welt piece as this is where the window box will go.
  2. Draw the window box onto the interfacing - draw a horizontal line 2" down from the top and one parallel to that a further ½" down. Make a 5" window box in the centre by adding short ends.
  3. With RS together, pin the outside fabric to the welt piece, and sew along the box, starting on a long edge with a smaller stitch length (2.2) and hand walking with 1 stictch diagonally at the corners (2 stitches in heavy fabric).
  4. Cut into the centre of the window box, through both layers, with a ½" triangle into the corners. Fray Check the corners. Turn the welt piece through to the back and press with a clapper.
  5. On the WS, lift up the lower edge of the welt piece and lie a piece of Steam a Seam under the welt SA. Press in place. Fold the top of the welt piece up into a ½" horizontal pleat that neatly fills the window box and press in place. The lower edges of the outside piece and welt piece should now be the same length.
  6. From the RS, lift the outside fabric up from the short edge of the window box and stitch along the previous short edge stitching line, sewing the horizontal pleat in place. Do both ends.
  7. Pin the other pocket piece to the eel/outside piece, RS together. Stitch all 4 sides together, starting on a long edge. Trim the corners, press the SA open, grade and trim seams then turn through the opening and press with a clapper.
  8. Pin the completed pocket to the garment and edge stitch the upper part of the pocket in place, starting at the window box, up along the top and down to the other side of the window box - the pocket hangs free.

Add an Inset Pocket with Bias Binding Trim

I love the look of these pockets on dresses and tops.

An inset pockets starts in a seam, any seam but typically a side seam. Construct the pocket before sewing the side seam. Note that each pocket will have two pocket pieces, one the pocket lining and one the facing.


  1. Cut two pocket pieces the shape you want with one straighter edge the shape of the side seam, adding 5/8" seam allowances all around. One will be the pocket lining and one the facing.
  2. With WS together, lay one pocket piece lined up with the side seam of the garment body and pin in place. This is the pocket lining. 
  3. Draw the opening shape for the pocket, whatever you want it to be, onto the right side of the garment. Pin bias binding along the drawn opening on the RS then stitch in place at whatever width you want the finished binding to be. Cut along the drawn opening line, through both the garment and the pocket lining. Clip the seam allowance and turn the binding to the inside, then stitch in the ditch from the RS. (Note: if you don't want the bias binding trim, pin the pocket lining to the garment, RS together, draw on the opening shape, stitch ¼" away, flip to the wrong side and edge stitch).
  4. Lay the pocket facing on the wrong side of the garment, matching edges with the pocket lining and completing the side seam, and sew around the edge in a ¼" seam. Overlock or pink the edges.
  5. Sew the side seam.