With insights from UK pattern designer Zoe Edwards, Amy Chapman (of Cloth Habit fame), and me, writer Jessica Yen focuses on making lingerie from scraps of fabric— something I love to do!* Included are tips on everything from choosing patterns strategically to make the most of irregularly-shaped scraps to my own ideas for working with color palettes.
I’d love it if you would visit Seamwork Magazine and read this article, along with the rest of February’s issue, which focuses entirely on intimates. And tell me what you think! Oh, and I’d be interested to hear about your own experiences with sewing lingerie from fabric scraps.
The blatant self-promotional part: Want to see my own DIY lingerie sewing kits? I design and produce them for Colormusing, and many feature materials and trims I’ve dyed myself; all include links to blog posts I’ve written with details and tutorials specific to each kit.
And while you’re visiting Colormusing, be sure to sign up to receive Hue News, CM’s free monthly e-mail newsletter, including discount coupon codes you’ll only find in Hue News!
My last post was an introduction of sorts to my current project: The Little White Bra, a.k.a. The Bra Before Dyeing (or just “Before”). Now, since this was the first time I’ve used this bra pattern, I’ll show you how I made it, including a few changes I made.
My pattern is Kwik-Sew 3300— I’m being adventurous and trying my first partial-band bra! For those of you who might not know the difference (and I’m not sure I noticed it myself before I started making bras), partial-band just means that, rather than a continuous band running all the way around the bra, including under the cups, the band comes around from the back to attach to the sides of the cups only, with a small bridge piece connecting the cups in the middle, like so:
So there I was, debating over new bra patterns/fabrics/colors to try, and I had this idea…
What if I made an all-white bra that was meant to be dyed? That is, rather than dyeing the materials first, then cutting and sewing, maybe I could make the bra, then dye it. Ultimately, I want to be applying my original color palettes (and their corresponding dye recipes) to my lingerie pieces, just as I’m already doing with my yarns, so this seems like a good plan.
Advantages to this approach:
It’s fairly easy to find all necessary bra-making materials in white.
I wouldn’t waste dye on materials that would end up in the scrap heap after cutting my bra pieces out.
I could take my time deciding what color I wanted my bra to be.
Or heck, I could just decide to leave it white! I was severely tempted by this thought when I was finished making this bra. And I’m pretty sure Vogue advises every woman to own at least one Little White Bra, right?
I have to think and plan very carefully about the materials I use; everything from the lace and elastic trims to the strap rings and sliders needs to be compatible with the type of dye I want to use. And speaking of which…
As a wise person on the Facebook Bra Making Forum* pointed out, don’t forget about the thread! If I’m going to use the usual polyester sewing thread, it won’t be dyeable with either the acid or RIT types of dyes. Meaning my bra will be dyed, but the thread will stay white. Probably not the look I’m going for.
It can be a little tricky maneuvering the bra around while dyeing, especially with the underwired parts being stiff and generally getting in the way. (This was mainly a problem for me because I decided to ombré-dye my bra, so it had to be dipped repeatedly into various dye baths; it shouldn’t be an issue if you’re dunking the whole bra into the dye at once. Just make sure the container you’re dyeing in is large enough.)
Unless you’re extremely lucky, it’s unlikely that all materials will dye evenly to the exact same shade, even if they’re all the same fiber. I happen to like that, but you may not.
Tip: Crash course in dye types and what they’re used for: Acid dyes (the kind I use most frequently for my yarns) work on animal fibers like wool, mohair, and silk, and also on nylon (very important to lingerie makers). Fiber-reactive dyes are used for plant fibers, such as cotton, linen, and rayon. RIT dyes are what’s known as the union-type dye, meaning they’re a combination of acid and fiber-reactive dyes, so they can be used on any natural fiber, including combinations of animal and plant fibers. I use RIT dyes most frequently for panties, since I usually make them with cotton crotch linings.
Next up: I’ll show you the making of this Little White Bra, including some minor pattern changes I made along the way. And it’ll have a link to kits to make your very own LWB!
And coming soon after that: I’ll take you through my process for ombré-dyeing this bra, including how I got around the non-dyeing-white-thread thing, plus posts on making (and dyeing) a Little White Panty!
*This is a closed group on Facebook, so if you’d like to join it (and it’s fabulous), please contact me (Lindy Thibodaux on FB) with your FB name, and I’ll send you an invitation to the group.
Resources for this post:
The bra pattern I used is Kwik-Sew 3300; right now, this page says it’s “temporarily out of stock”. Let’s hope they bring it back soon!
Bra! I meant my fourth bra! For my third, I know I said that was something completely different, and it was, especially compared to my first and second, which were both made from the same pattern. But for this one, I went even further afield. I didn’t just try a new pattern, I made a foam-lined bra!
After making both my first bra and the second with the same pattern (the Marlborough Bra from Orange Lingerie), and making them both mostly out of silk, I’ve started to feel the urge to try something different. Completely different.
Here’s what I have in mind:
1. Instead of making the bra first, then trying to find stretch panty materials to coordinate, I’m going to pick my panty fabric first, then use that for the bra as well. This will mean using (gasp!) a stretch fabric for the bra, rather than woven.
Now I just need to add the remaining bits and pieces that go into making a bra: channeling (this is what houses the underwires), strap material, elastic trim (for both bra and panty), powernet fabric (for the back band), and the back closure for the bra.
And here is where I come crashing right up against the dreaded, frustrating, tear-my-hair-out question:Read More »
Now I’ve chosen my pattern, made a few minor alterations to it, and organized the pattern elements. With the goal of making as much of this bra as possible with materials I already have on hand, I’m anxious to pick my main fabrics. Off to my scrap stash!
Tip: Be sure to read through your bra pattern’s instructions before even thinking about fabrics. In my case, my pattern specifies fabrics with no stretch for every part except the back bands, which use powernet. But some of the patterns I’ve looked at, especially the bralette and some foam-lined styles, call for fabrics with stretch. My pattern also calls for non-stretch lace for the upper part of the cups.