Leverett Hook and Eye

With my lovely floral esplanade bra tantalisingly close to being finished, I thought I would share my sewing triumph from last weekend: The Leverett Hook and Eye.

My first attempt at the leverett hook and eye was on my esplanade toile, and while it went fairly well, there was definitely a lot of room for improvement.

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The main problem I encountered with the pattern was (as ever!) my fabric choices. It is suggested that a fabric with no stretch is used for this hook and eye, but I was attempting to use the same fabric as on my main bra, which was a stretch scuba knit. For my toile, I stabilised this fabric with a thin calico. This led to the hook and eye being quite bulky. I also found that the stretch fabric was shifting away from the non stretch base as I was sewing, resulting in small gathers and ripples on the fabric.

The other issue I had was with the hook and eyes themselves. As it was the first time I had ever attempted this, I hadn’t quite got the hang of how to secure the hook and eye pieces into place, and so as you can see on the picture above a lot of my hooks were nearly pulled out of place when I tried the bra on.

The third issue I had was that hook and eye ended up being smaller then the band of my bra and so I had to gather my bra slightly to get it to fit in place, once again creating ripples, this time in the band fabric.

There was so much bulk at the edges of the hook and eye piece because of the combo of scuba and calico, I also found attaching it a huge effort because it was so thick at the edges that I struggled to get it through my sewing machine. This meant that the whole finish was a little rough around the edges, and generally just not at neat as I was hoping for.

I was still determined to try and make my own hook and eye for the final version of this bra despite being left a little deflated after my first attempt, if for no other reason just so I could say I had tried it out once. Therefore I set about making a few changes on the final version in the hopes things would go a little more smoothly.

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I couldn’t change the fact that I was using a fairly thick, stretch fabric for the outer of my hook and eye, but I could change what it was backed onto. So for this version, rather then using a calico I used a very thin, non stretch bridge lining (A super thin tricot, I believe!). This added almost no bulk to the hook and eye, but hugely decreased the amount of stretch in the pieces.

I also took extra care to really securely sew my hook and eyes into place this time, having learnt from the toile that in this case ‘good enough’ was not quite good enough.

I also left the ends of my hook and eye pieces open this time around, rather then sewing them up before attaching them onto the bra band.

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This meant that, unlike the first time, I didn’t have to gather the band of my bra into a set length for my hook and eye. It was also much easier – and neater! – to sew into place without having the bulky seams on either end. Once it was secured into place on the front of the band, I then sewed the top and bottom edges so that all of the seams sat at the back of the bra. This once again reduced bulk at the front, leading to a neater finished over all.

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I then pressed all of the seams into the hook and eye and secured into place with a row of stitching, leaving me with a really neat hook side, front and back.

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I then sewed the hook side in exactly the same way, taking extra care to press all of the seams into my hook piece properly before sewing in the hooks. To finish off the hook side, I ran a line of top stitching around the outside edge. This stopped the fabric from shifting around so much and kept it secured into place. It also further helped to reduce some of the bulk around the edges that I had on my toile bu keeping all of the seam allowances inside the hook pieces flattened down.

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It is by no means perfect, but I was pretty impressed with the difference between my first and second hook and eye and how much flatter I had managed to get it to sit the second time round! The hooks and eyes themselves were also really nice and secure – no more risk of them pinging out while I’m wearing the bra!

Does anyone else enjoy making their own hook and eye closures to match their bras? Would love to hear if you have any great tips!

EW x

 

Leverett Hook and Eye pattern by Orange Lingerie

Esplanade Bra Pattern by Orange Lingerie

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Strapless Fun

Last week riding high on the success of my third attempt at the Watson, I decided to have a go at another pattern I brought ages ago and never did anything with: The strapless Esplanade bra from Orange Lingerie.

Finished Esplanade Bra

I have recently come to see the joy in strapless bras after years of hating them and thought it would be a nice addition to my lingerie wardrobe if I could make one for myself, using up some more of that darned floral scuba in the process.

I remembered from my previous orange lingerie pattern that trying to use the measurement chart provided I ended up with a size way off my ready to wear one, so I decided to make up a toile in the size I normally wear instead. Potential terrible idea? Most definitely, but this blog was not built on pure success.

This was my first time ever using cut and sew foam and I actually found it surprisingly fun to work with. The only slight probably I had was that I had to use a stitch much, much wider then was recommended to sew the pieces of my cups together, as using the suggested size I found they just kept pulling apart.

Foamy Cup Goodness

Foamy cup goodness all nicely zig-aged together.

I wondered if this may leave dents in my cups where the seams were, but hoped my outer fabric would be thick enough to cover them if they did.

For the outer fabric of this bra I used a plain white scuba knit of a similar sort of stretch and weight to the floral one I intended to use on the real deal. For the first cup, my outer fabric stretched slightly when I was sewing it together, resulting in an overhang at one side. For the second cup I tried to fix this by sewing from the middle of the cups out towards the edge and this seemed to work better.

Esplanade Cups

The cups get their cover.

In the make up instructions it suggested pressing all of the seams before topstitching them. Everything in my instinct told me that I should not press a scuba fabric on a curved seam (Heads up: my instinct was wrong :D). Therefore, I decided for the toile I would have a go at just coaxing all of my seams into place without ironing them. I figured if it looked terrible, I could just make sure to press my seams on the next attempt.

For the sides of my bra I wanted a super clean and simple finish, so wanted to use the same fabric on the frame and the band of the bra, rather then having the front as a decorative fabric and the back as just mesh. However, I still wanted stability and strength in the bra and so I decided to line the band pieces with the mesh in the hopes this would provide that.

Esplanade lay plan

The lay plan for my pattern pieces. The centre bridge is lined with a non stretch lining and then the frame pieces are lined with mesh.

Similarly, I decided to use a plain edge elastic rather then one with scalloping or a picot edge. This came with it’s own set or drawbacks. Picot elastic, in my experience can be quite forgiving and still turn out looking pretty good even if your sewing is a little bit wobbly. However, with the plain edge accuracy is 100% key. As you can see it took me a couple attempts to figure out exactly where I needed to sew so that my zig zags were not visible, but the fabric butted right up to the edge of it beautifully!

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Pesky visible stitches on my first sewing attempt, but the second was much cleaner.

I also wanted my hook and eyes to blend seamlessly with this bra so this is where I broke out the bonus pattern: the Orange Lingerie Hook and Eye.

Making the pattern up was more simple then I had anticipated, but with the combination of my scuba fabric and the calico I was using as a stabiliser underneath they were SUPER CHUNKY. They also didn’t hold up very well when I tried my toile on, so much more practice definitely needed here.

Leverette Hook and Eyes

Leverette Hook and Eyes

Once it was all sewn together it was time to try my bra on and (as I had suspected) It didn’t fit terribly well. Aside from being slightly too small across the back, the bra was waaaay too long. Like, it was down past my waist. I knew before I started that this would be the case, but I was surprised by how long it actually was. The cups were also a fraction too big and gaped at the top.

I was also unhappy with some of the finishing on the inside and didn’t like how the ends of the boning channels finished underneath underwire channel. These are all things that I would look at to try and figure out how to neaten up when I made my second version of the bra.

Inside the Bra

So all in all, not the best project in the world

E W x

Pattern: Esplanade Bra by Orange Lingerie

Bonus Pattern: Leverett Hook and Eye by Orange Lingerie

Watson 3.0

A little while ago I made up another version of Cloth Habit’s Watson bra and briefs – my third to be precise – and thought it was finally time to upload a couple pictures of it.

This version was easy my most successful yet and as I was making it for one of my friends as a gift I also had a lot of fun doing it! The first thing which made this experience so different to sewing my previous watson’s was the size – why did no one ever tell me HOW MUCH EASIER it is to sew lingerie in smaller sizes??? The pieces all fit together so beautifully with no need for extreme curves, hundreds of pins or snipping into the seams allowances. Literally pure joy.

Fabric

My second Watson attempt next to some of the trims I found in my stash; playing around trying to find the perfect colour combinations.

Such a joy, in fact, that I even momentarily forgot my hatred for sewing with scuba fabric. Almost. The reason I decided to push on and try this fabric again was mainly because the print I had was so pretty and I thought my friend would love it. I also happened to have quite a lot of it left in my stash….

I have to admit, despite my reservations after my last attempt with making this bra in scuba, this time the fabric was much better behaved. I think a large part of that probably had to do with the smaller cup size, so there was much less (man)handling of the fabric trying to force it through the sewing machine, resulting in less snagging and pulls. I also used a combination of scuba and mesh on this bra rather then just scuba, as with my previous version. This meant there was less of an overall surface area to be irritated by!

On top of being a smaller size, I also decided to manipulate my pattern pieces much more with this make then I had previously to get some more interesting shapes in the set. For my briefs, I cut the front into 3 pieces, creating a triangular scuba section at the front and then mesh at the sides and the back.

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Moving and altering the sides seams on my bra and adding a panel into the briefs to create more interesting lines in the garment

To echo this, I decided to add some diagonal seams onto my bra band. I shifted the side seams closer to the front of the bra and then altered them to instead of sitting in a straight line, the side seam sat on a diagonal, at an angle complementary to the angled seams on the pants. This led to (in my opinion anyway!) a family pleasing shape and pattern/solid, mesh/scuba combo in the final garment.

As with my second attempt at the Watson, I once again moved the sliders on the straps round to the back of the bra rather then having them at the front, because if there is one thing I can’t stand it is sliders digging into my shoulders. I hoped my friend would feel the same!

Watson 3, Back

Rings and sliders moved around to the back of the bra and fixed at the cups apex. Bonus close up of my (pretty good if I do say so myself) trimmed seams on the cups.

On this make I also really took the time to try and get a super neat finish on all of my seams, trimming them all down as evenly as possible after top stitching them into place. It was fiddly, but I think the difference was definitely worth the effort compared to previous makes where I had rushed through this step.

I also took extra care to really neatly finish my hook and eye with teeny tiny zig zags – and i think it paid off! This is the neatest I have managed to finish a hook and eye closure to date and the method I used this time is one that I will be replicating in the future.

Hook and eye closure

Itty bitty zig-zags

Over all, pretty good make! I can only hope that my friend felt the same!

Finished Set

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EW x

 

Failing occasionally and why that’s ok.

As a creative individual, I feel like I am in a constant battle with failure.

Actual failure or fear of failure, it’s lurking in the back ground every time I pick up something new to do, be it sewing or drawing, writing or playing an instrument or any the multitude of other things I attempt on a regular basis to fuel said creativity.

Even though I am a perfectionist, realistically I know fearing failure is ridiculous. Even when you do have a massive fail whale of a project, generally these are the projects that help you to learn and grown your skills. But the fear of these fails can still always stop you from starting: what about the wasted money, the wasted time and the wasted effort of pouring your heart into a project headed for disaster?

I have had a bit of a break from the world of sewing (though still completed one little project, to be revealed soon!) for many reasons this last half of 2017. Failure was not the main reason, but it did feature on this list. Not so much the fear of sewing ‘badly’, but more an endless nagging question I have around trying to decide how I want to approach the world of sewing: career or hobby?

Am I still looking to pursue a career in sewing, or will this slowly destroy the love I have for it when it becomes a day job? Can it’s support me full time and provide enough income for me to live the lifestyle I aspire to, or will I be slowing run into the ground until I am forced to give it up and go back to a regular 9-5?

The fear is real.

I have no doubt that these are questions all creatives face about their passions a hundred times a day. And make no mistake, I have learnt no answers to these questions – just that having a little break has reconfirmed one thing and one thing only to me: I love sewing. Specifically the satisfaction of sewing lingerie.  And from now on I am aiming to make it more of a priority in my life again in a bid to refuel the passion.

To keep this post somewhat related to actual lingerie rather then just my inner ramblings on existential crisis, I present you with this:

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To this day, this is the lingerie make I felt the most failure about. At the time I made it, I felt it was the most ill-designed, slapped together thing I had ever seen. Not even worthy of attempting to fix, but instead shoved to the back of a shelf to be forgotten about.

These were the second pair of knickers I ever tried to make, and riding high on the success of my pretty as a picnic briefs I decided to make another pair from the same book, these cute embroidered tulle knickers.

They had ruffles! And polka dots! And embroidery! I mean, could these knickers be more up my ally? The image in the book uses a lovely peachy coloured tulle which I liked and wanted to recreate. First faux pas of the pants, I rushed into buying the first tulle I could find and ended up with a yellowy fleshy colour rather then a peach. Nice colour, but not at all complimentary to my very pasty white skin!

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I digress. Rather then stopping and considering acquiring a more suitable fabric, I ploughed on and lovingly marked out and then embroidered my little polka dots – hours and hours of work making them all perfect!

Once my polka dots were all finished and lovely I was hit with my next question: ‘now what, how to finish these??’ At this point I quickly realised I had not yet acquired any stash of nude or complimentary toned elastics or jersey to finish the pants. Riding high on the anxiety I had been harbouring of having to find THE PERFECT SHADE OF MATCHING NUDE AND NOTHING ELSE WILL DO, I threw the pants into the UFO pile never to be seen again.

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About 6 months later I saw them taunting me from the bottom of the pile and pulled them out with a new determination to get them finished. This was the summer where stretchy tulle body suits with strategically placed lace and chunky black elastic finishes were EVERYWHERE.

I figured what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so snatched up all of the black stretchy goodness I could find and blindly sped towards knicker completion.

WHY, EMILIE, WHY.

The outcome, in my opinion, was less then desirable. The sewing itself was fairly solid and the the knickers were as good a fit as I could hope for this puffy/gathered style. But the design choices? No.

The solid, high contrast black clashed woefully with with delicate polkadots I had spent so long hand embroidering. The dark elastic drew all the attention away from those little frills I loved and using black thread to sew over the nude meant every little bit of less then perfect sewing stood out like a sore thumb. And not to mention that jet black gusset which I just cannot tear my eyes away from.

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So how did I feel after this failure? Anxious? Scared? Down?

Actually, non of the above. Just more determined then ever to improve and happy to write this one off as a bad design decision.

And do you know what? I remember so vividly being so ashamed of this knickers when I first completed them maybe a year and a half ago, but having stared at them hanging on my wardrobe all week after photographing them for this post I have come to decide they actually aren’t so bad after all. Definitely not worth all the hate I’ve sent their way. Funny what a bit of time can do huh?

So from now on, it’s time for us all to embrace the fails. And not be so hard on our selves when we need to take a little hiatus 😉

EW X

Watson 2.0

This little beauty is my finished Watson 2.0. Over all I was really pleased with the make and both the fit and finish were much improved on my original version. This version offered not only more support, but also an improved shape compared to the last one which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Watson 2.0

Watson 2.0 Brief

The main difference between this version and my first was the change in size, making the band smaller so that I had a snugger and more supportive fit. I think that changing the fabric to the thick scuba knit rather then the thinner stretch mesh I had used previously also helped with that.

Watson 2.0 Back View

I also changed up the straps so that they altered at the back rather then at the front as I don’t find it comfortable when the sliders sit on my shoulders. This was a simple change but made the world of difference to how comfortable the bra was when it’s on.

Watson 2.0, ring has been moved to the back of the bra as has the bra slider with a fixed point on the cup.

Original Watson, ring slider at top of cup and fixed point on the band, meaning the bra straps altered from the front.

This bra was also a bit of an experimentation as it was the first time I was working with the scuba fabric and I have to say, I HATED it. Although it was pretty easy to sew with and did create a nice shape (on the bra at least, I found it came out quite baggy on the knickers) it was just a complete pain. I found it pulled on EVERYTHING, the foot of my sewing machine, my finger nails, bits of paper on my desk, EVERYTHING. I also ended up completely having to re-cut my bridge piece as my first attempt at sewing it together resulted in my sewing machine needle (One I thought was stretch but it turned out was not) pulling all the way along the piece.

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Original Bridge piece complete with pulls

Once the bra was complete, I also found that although it created a nice shape, the scuba was really bulky. This meant in areas such as the top of the cups where it attached the straps and the middle of the cups where they meet at a point, I wasn’t able to fold the fabric under and hide the raw edges as I would normally like to. Since none of the fabrics fray it was no big deal – just personal preference for making everything as neat as possible!

So my ultimate decision is, though I feel the scuba is fine for more casual styles such as this non wired Watson, I don’t think I would rush to use it again. I do however have a lot of this fabric left, and as the pattern is so beautiful I will definitely be using it up on my next couple of makes where appropriate!

EW x