Category Archives: Sewing lingerie

Be Bashful Bikini: the début pattern from At First Blush

I have some exciting news to share with you this week: my lovely friend Kelly of Sewing Unaffiliated just released the first pattern from her new brand, At First Blush Patterns! Be Bashful is a pretty pair of bikini-style knickers and I got to sew them up in advance of release, so I wanted to share them with you today, the day Be Bashful hits the virtual shelves.

First of all let me tell you about Kelly. You can read about her in her own words, but I wanted to add a few words of my own. Kelly is everything I love about the sewing community: passionate, generous, kind, and talented. She left a career working in the fashion industry to pursue her dreams, and for as long as I’ve known her she has been learning pattern drafting with a focus on lingerie and activewear. I first “met” Kelly a few days after I had opened my Instagram account last year. We were both doing the “Sew April” challenge and we started commenting on each other’s posts. It was the first proper connection I made, and has evolved over the months outside of Instagram and blogs. I’m proud to call Kelly my friend, and I’m thrilled to be able to share my Be Bashful Bikini with you today:

Be Bashful Bikini by At First Blush Patterns

It’s always a bit scary when a friend or family member wants your honest opinion on something they’ve done that’s important to them. What if you don’t like it? How do you tell them? Fortunately that wasn’t an issue here. I knew Kelly’s work would be careful and professional because I know how hard she’s been working towards this. But there was one big thing I was crossing my fingers for when I opened the instruction file: I hoped that the gusset would have a clean finish, because that’s one of things I look for in a knickers pattern. I held my breath, read the instructions, and there it was: a clean gusset finish. Hurrah!!

I love the branding Kelly has chosen: it’s clear she’s thought about what she wants her new company to represent. It’s feminine and understated, as you can tell from the name she chose for her brand and for her first pattern.

Subtle pinks and greys make up Kelly’s chosen palette. Image taken from https://sewingunaffiliated.com/

The construction of Be Bashful is straightforward: first you attach the front and back pieces to the gusset and gusset lining, so that when you lay your panties out flat, they look like this:

Excuse the lighting: I started making these in the evening, so the photos were taken in artificial light!

Next you sew the side seams and then cut your three lengths of elastic (which are the circumference of the opening minus 2 inches), sew the ends of the elastic together to make a circle, then attach the elastic circles to the waist and leg openings.

Be Bashful before elastic

The instructions are clear and concise, and there was no difficulty at all in the method. The elastic is evenly attached, and cinches the pattern pieces in to make a snug-fitting bikini.

I started out with the waistband, and then once I’d sewn the elastic on, I realised that having carefully put a burgundy thread in my top reel and a white thread in my bobbin to match the fabric and lace respectively, I’d got them the wrong way round and my burgundy stitching would be visible on the lace inside. Not that it matters, it’s just that I’d gone to all that trouble only to get it the wrong way round! Plus there’s a bit on the top right where the stitching is uneven. That was when I knew it was time to call it a night and go to bed…

Wrong colour thread! Wonky stitches! Go to bed!!

So the next day I attached the elastic to the leg openings, topstitched my elastic down, and did the final finishings to the garment.

Finished!

It looks pretty, right? But I bet you want to know whether it’s comfy too… so I’m happy to confirm that it is! As you can tell from the pictures, it’s a high-leg pattern with a low rise, and the butt coverage is enough to stop it from (how can I say this politely?) verging into wedgie territory (there’s just no nice way to say that but you need to know it, right?!)

I made my Be Bashful in a cotton jersey, but there are plenty of other recommended fabrics (just make sure that if you use a synthetic fabric, you do the gusset lining in cotton or other breathable jersey).

To find out more about Be Bashful you can read the launch post, which contains instructions on how to download the pattern. So join me in wishing Kelly every success in her new adventure: Kelly, I’m so happy and excited for you, and I hope you will have the success you so richly deserve.

Image taken from https://sewingunaffiliated.com/

Click image to go straight to Kelly’s online store

SCRAPBUSTERS: A trio of Ballerinas and a duo of nameless panties

Here’s a random fact about me: I hate waste. I have a horror of landfill, and although I am nowhere near eco-warrior status, I am all too aware of the dangers of the “disposable” trend that seems to be the norm these days. I think that one of the great things about sewing is that we are more likely to make garments we love and will use, but what about all the leftover bits of fabric that end up languishing in a storage box, or the garments that hang in the wardrobe, unloved and unworn? If you read my post about my sewing resolutions for 2018, you might remember that I said I wanted to make use of things I already have rather than buying more. Well, when I made a recent version of Jenny Hellström’s Ballerina top, I remembered how narrow the pattern pieces are (because it’s such a slim fit top), making it perfect for using up remnants. My love for this pattern knows no bounds, so today I want to show you three scrapbusting modifications I made to it to use up my remnants, including one epic rescue mission.

Three, you say? But what about that “slow sewing” resolution from only a week ago? Fear not, the makes in this post were sewn bit by bit over the last two months, but all blogged together as they’re quite similar!

My standard “no good at building up suspense” opening pic

The first pieces of leftover fabric were this Girl Charlee floral, which I had left over from my GBSB Dune dress. Because the maxi dress pattern pieces are so much wider at the bottom than at the top, there are decent-sized chunks of fabric left over beside the bodice part after cutting out; they’re wide enough to cut sleeves from, and they’re also just big enough to accommodate the bodice pieces of a Ballerina top! I’d already used some of the remnants of this fabric to make a top for my daughter, so I was quite limited in what I had left. I had just enough for a front and back, but then not enough single pieces for the sleeves. So I decided to do a small modification to the pattern, and shorten the sleeves.

Sideways glance. I’d like to say I was contemplating my sleeves, but really I was just hoping to get the photos done before the rain came.

Since the sleeve is so close-fitting, I didn’t need to alter the line at all, just mark where I’d have to cut it off. I had just enough to make elbow-length sleeves: this isn’t a length I used to like, but since we offered it as an option on the Cassandra pattern, I’ve been getting more into it, so I decided to go for that rather than “short short” sleeves.

I usually find that designers choose specific features for a reason, and I think the ¾ length sleeves of the original pattern work best with the cut, but this is definitely a cute and very wearable t-shirt of the kind that will be in heavy rotation!

and now I’m looking downwards. There are only so many ways you can photograph a sleeve…

AND, bonus make: there were just enough scraps of offcuts left to try out the latest draft of the panties pattern we’re working on!

pretty panties!

I’m in love with the combination of this floral fabric and the pale coral lace. Plus from three metres of fabric I got a maxi dress, a peplum top for my daughter, a t-shirt, and a pair of knickers. That’s pretty hard-working fabric!

My next scraps were rescued from an early version of the Cassandra dress. When we were drafting we initially put too much swing in it, and it felt sack-like (we felt we’d crossed the line from “eat, drink, be merry, and your tummy still won’t show” to “is she eating for two?”, so went back to the drafting stage!) I’d made it in one of my favourite fabrics, so was gutted when I realised that we needed to make further adjustments. I put it in my wardrobe and thought I’d get some wear out of it anyway… but it just sat there, ignored and unloved. Time to reach for the scissors…

So much better as a Ballerina top!

Now, I don’t know about you, but I always find it hard to cut pattern pieces out of existing garments, because the ones you’re cutting from are often narrower in the wrong place than you need them to be. So I carefully cut all the seams to maximise fabric usage, and managed to get the bodice front and back from the skirt part of the dress. The sleeves could be cut down for the Ballerina sleeves, as the Cassandra ones are slightly wider, and then there was a bit left at the bodice top that wasn’t going to be big enough to save.

Can you spot the difference in this version? Look at the dress version of the Ballerina top on the pattern packet: it has cuffs. Cuffs that would just squeeze into my last little bit of fabric! So I decided to go for it, and make some cuffs for the top.

Behold! Cuffs on the dress version!

Now I do like a cuff. I won’t lie to you: a big part of this is dispensing with the need to hem sleeves. I don’t know why I dislike hemming sleeves, it’s not that it’s hard or anything, but it’s as if in my head it’s harder than it is in reality. So bring on the cuffs.

Cuff love

It’s a nice new twist on a TNT pattern, especially since the pattern itself doesn’t offer a variety of options. I wonder whether it might have been better in a more casual or even contrast fabric, but I do like how it adds some length to the sleeve. Because the fabric print is quite busy, the photos don’t show it brilliantly, but I promise they’re there!

AND there was just enough fabric left from the scraps of the original dress to make… another pair of our new knickers!

Ta-daaa! Scrapbusting like a boss. Plus more pretty lace.

We’re still undecided about a name for these, hence the “nameless panties” of the title. I have a name that I’m 90% certain about, but watch this space…

Anyway, on to the final make… This was less of a desire to use up scraps and more of a rescue mission. I had this idea in my head that it would be great to hack the Dune maxi into a skirt. But you know how I’ve ignored the voice of reason before? I did it again. I cut it off at the high waist instead of the low waist, but attached a waistband that fit my low waist. So it was either too long if I wore the waistband at the right place, or too baggy if I hoiked it up. Also, you know what I said earlier about designers making choices for a reason? Dune is a great dress, because of its skimming lines. You lose the whole skim factor if you make it into a waistbanded skirt. So yes, when I started out on this one my voice of reason might as well have been screaming at me from another room while I sang my heart out wearing headphones and doing the vacuuming, because I just didn’t hear it…

Sit tight, there’s a story behind this top…

Anyway, I was left with two large pieces of navy fabric in a skirt shape. By a wing and a prayer I managed to squeeze the bodice of the Cassandra top and an elbow-length sleeve out of each piece (I’m talking to within a couple of millimetres). While I was attaching the sleeves, I noticed I was struggling to set the sleeves nicely. I thought it was strange, but I put it down to being tired and a bit fed up of my rescue project.

Well, when I came to try on the top, I could barely squeeze my arms into the sleeves.

No, I hadn’t been eating lots of spinach (OK, if you never saw Popeye, that joke just went down like a lead balloon).

Instead of the Cassandra elbow length sleeves, I’d grabbed the pattern piece for a pattern I’d been making for my 4-year-old daughter.

No, don’t ask how I could be so stupid.

My remaining pieces of fabric were even smaller now. No way even my trusty Ballerina top could fit onto those. BUT… part of it could. From about the armscye down, in fact. And I had some remnants of black cotton jersey of roughly the same weight left over from my Rise turtleneck. I managed to get the upper parts of the bodice front and back, plus a neckband, with a tiny bit left over – just big enough for short sleeves – from the black jersey. So I was going to make this a short-sleeved top, until I realised that in my offcuts from the original navy maxi skirt I had a couple of pieces big enough to make the rest of the sleeve piece. Hurray!

I’m going to pretend that this is what these fabrics were destined for all along.

The only drawback is that it’s a bit, well, Vulcan…

Live long and prosper, friends…

Till next time, have a great week!

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Sewalong: The Florence bra (Seamwork magazine)

Back in April, my wonderful sewing friend Kelly and I were chatting on an Instagram thread about sewing underwear. We had both thought about making our own bras, and we both had the Seamwork Florence pattern, but we’d never got round to doing it. So we decided to do it together, and give each other the push we needed to get on with it! It has been so much fun sewing a bra AND doing it with Kelly. You know how you meet someone on social media and wish you knew them in real life? That’s me with Kelly. She’s not only talented and creative, but also a truly lovely and generous person. We chose the start of June as our bra sewalong time, although we postponed by a couple of weeks so that Kelly’s supplies could arrive before we started. Once they arrived, we decided to do set stages each day, and send each other pictures of each completed stage so that despite the time zone difference we could still feel like we were doing it together.

 

In my head I was going to go for a nice classic bra, but somehow along with my white stretch lace I ended up ordering neon pink straps and elastic. So obviously the only thing to do for the contrast cup sections was go for a bright green floral. I did check on Instagram whether I needed to dial back the crazy, but the lovely community of IG sewists told me to go for it… so here is the story of the brightest bra I’ve ever owned!

 

It was easy to print and stick together the pattern, as there were so few pieces and they were small. I chose an XS as I am not well endowed, and even the measurements for the XS were a little large for me! The only issue with the pattern was a slightly wonky curve on the side cup. I checked all the other sizes and there was no wobble on those, so I guessed it was an accident and re-drew the curve, which made it fit perfectly with the corresponding front cup piece.

 

This was my first time making bra straps, and it was fun! The hardest part was just teasing the plush elastic back through the slider, so you can see that the sewing itself was pretty straightforward! The cups also went together easily. The pattern calls for a zigzag or a twin needle topstitch on the side cup, and I went for a zigzag as this is the stitch I see on my RTW bras.

 

The trickiest part was sewing the cups to the straps. I followed the instructions (right sides together, then flip the elastic to the back), but because of the angle of the cup, there was an ugly excess of the top point of the cup visible on the right side of the strap. I unpicked and tucked the top point under:

 

Then I got to use the triple-point zigzag stitch on my machine for the first time! (I’m not the only one who gets excited about using a new stitch, right?!) Because my side cup and my cup front were made from different colour fabrics, I did each bit separately with matching thread. It was worth that extra effort as the stitching blends really well into the bra. BUT… when I attached the cups to the bra, things started going less well.

 

Firstly, you sew each cup in from the side towards the middle, but there were no instructions for making that centre seam look neat when they meet in the middle. I did some careful pinning and got a centre point, which I then stitched in place with a bar tack so the seam didn’t peep out over my (admittedly not terribly impressive) cleavage. I also decided to topstitch the seams where the cups meet the bra, so that they too would stay in place.

 

Then the centre back seam is sewn (again, I topstitched to avoid bits of seam peeking out) and the straps are attached to the back of the bra. At this point I tried the bra on, and it wasn’t a happy moment. The straps flipped out at the sides, and the fit didn’t seem great. After long perusals and a chat online with Kelly, I concluded the cup fit in itself was fine, but it’s that centre meeting point that was pulling the cups in an odd way. I couldn’t fix that, but I could fix the straps with another line of topstitching. I compared with my RTW bras and found that the straps on those were only attached at the top of the cup – so I think it’s the fact of attaching a strap along the curved angle of a cup and then wanting it to sit flat that’s the problem. I don’t know if this would be an issue for larger cup sizes as you’d have more… er… filling out the bra and pushing against the straps to make them sit nicely. But for me and my XS cups… there wasn’t much my body could do to help it along!

The final stage was to sew the elastic along the bottom, and that did help cinch things in a bit. I can’t deny it’s a comfy bra, and I do like it but I just don’t love it. I had to do a lot of extra work to make it look as nice as it does, which takes it well beyond the quick sew it’s promoted as. I learnt a lot though, and I have another bra pattern waiting in the wings that I may try next…

This sewalong was so much fun! If you haven’t already read Kelly’s post, you can find it here, and marvel at her beautiful bra!