Thursday, 20 April 2017

Harriet 2.0 & Ohh Lulu Grace Hipsters

Another day another bra! Today we bring you my second version of Clothhabit's Harriet bra, with some bonus Ohh Lulu Grace knickers to match!
I'm really happy with the way my second ever bra turned out. I made limited adjustments but the tiniest thing really makes a big difference on a bra.  
In my first Harriet I dutifully cut the measurement yielded from the instructions to "Measure around the fullest part of your bust without pulling the tape too tightly. Subtract your band measurement from your full bust measurement and use the Cup Size Chart to find your cup size." 
This put me around a 38DD which is what I made my first blue version in.
I decided that I'd cut closer to my RTW measurements this time, there was a lot of room in the cup and the band gave me little support. It was comfortable but not holding much up if you know what I mean.
 With that in mind I cut a 36D for my second version.
The fit on this one is fabulous! It is the most comfortable bra i've ever owned! I used rigid mesh and black powermesh for the back, lining the bridge and bottom of the cups with sheer cup lining. I'm not sure if I like the effect or if I should have lined the whole cup. Overall it turned out a lot more modern sexy than I was anticipating, but I quite like that about it. 
I thought i'd be clever and make my thread match my purple/pink mesh. That was a bad idea on my second ever bra. I like the effect from far away, but I don't think it looks as professional as the blue where I matched my threads as you can see every tiny detail, including a couple of popped stitches from when the underwire was inserted, also working with mesh and sheer cup lining was tricky, the little suckers loved slipping around even when pinned in place.
 Ah well, we live and learn!
I think on my next version of Harriet, (and there will be a next one) I need to scoop out just a small wedge from the top of the cup where it gapes a smidge, no more than half an inch and shorten the straps, where the sliders sit now is pretty much where they sit on me on the front side of my shoulders rather than the back. Other than that its pretty great on the fit, I feel supported but nothing pulls 
This was one of the few kits I purchased from Elise Patterns. I'm really happy with the quality of the supplies and I love how different bras can turn our just by your choices of which pieces you put with different materials. For example I did debate cutting the bridge in powermesh but I felt that only having cups in mesh broke up the effect too much. 
I did end up giving myself a lesson in appropriate fabrics for my knickers though!
 I picked the Ohh Lulu Grace Hipsters to go with this set. I had purchased some extra rigid mesh and so I had enough for them. Be advised if you buy a bra kit its sometimes tricky to squeeze a pair of underwear from your fabric too, unless the seller states that you can. I tried to be clever on these and cut my purple/pink mesh from spare fabric and the panels from powermesh. I used a fold over elastic for the edges and a scrap of jersey left over for the crotch lining. 
Here is my advice to you... Don't use powermesh for panties unless you love wearing spanx!
 I'm going to replace the side panels with regular black jersey on these as at present I can get them on but they are not comfortable! The pattern calls for some stretch and some non stretch fabrics, with the stretch around the side panels for comfort. I'd say you need at least a 20% stretch to be comfortable in these. They look great as a set, but to be honest i've just been wearing the bra with any black knickers I had already. 
 Thats the beauty of making your own underwear though! Its up to you to make it work. Now i'm starting to gain confidence in my lingerie sewing abilities, i'm going to start stashing more useful fabrics to have on hand such as stretch mesh in white and black, plain jerseys as well as foam cup lining and straps and sliders. I already have quite a large stash of fold over elastic in various colours which I found surprisingly in my local fabric shop, topped up with some from Evie La Luve.
 I'm really loving making my own lingerie, i'm finding that, like when I started sewing the endless possibilities of colour, fabric and design excites me. I like that using the same fabrics in a different combination, I could come up with countless different designs. I think its always been there. 
When I did fashion design and pattern cutting at college I did an underwear project for the CEO of Triumph and it was one of my favourite projects, didn't make a bra though. 
Have you started stitching your own lingerie? How did you find it? As you can tell I love talking about this, Let's talk in the comments!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Anatomy of a Bra Kit

When I started to look at bra making it was pretty overwhelming, I mean everything was pretty! Ohh that lace! Oh those straps! Those sliders and rings! (Yes really!) It was so difficult to know what I needed and why I needed it. So I opted for a Bra Kit. These are packs you can buy consisting of everything you need, all the accoutrements required (often without the pattern) to make your bra.
Even with all my enthusiasm and joi de vivre, when the kit came and I laid it out I still felt a little confused. Its all beautiful but where does this bit go?
So I thought i'd do a little run down of a commercial bra kit giving you an idea of what might be in your bra kit and what it is for.
I found when making Harriet, I made myself some sticky notes that I labelled with each items name to remind me during the making process. Think of this as a bit of a guide.
Within this post i've run through a recent bra kit i've purchased. I know not all kits will be 100% the same but they should have some standard items to get you going on your bramaking journey. This kit is from Elise patterns
 
First up is Powernet - This is used as the strength fabric in your bra. Its used for the back bands and often the bridge. The places where stability is an important factor. 
Main Fabric - This is where the magic is! There is many different fabrics you can use for a bra but something with less stretch is best at the start if you want to get the fit right. I've seen some stunners in Liberty Tana Lawn, but my first attempts were with Mesh and Cupro. Of course there is always lace!

Lace: Stretch or Rigid - Stretch and rigid laces are pretty self explanatory, one has some stretch created by some elastane content and the other has none and is more like a conventional fabric. This lace pictured is slightly stretchy. You can choose to put lace on the top piece of a cup or the whole thing. The fabulous thing about bra making is that you can really experiment with this, but don't forget to mirror your pieces! Lace often has one or both edges scalloped so you it doesn't require any further finishing. This looks great at a neckline and you can get lace in different widths and with directional prints. We also have some rigid nylon below that can be used for lining a sheer cup.
 
 Bra Strapping - Does what it says on the tin. It is used for the straps that hold your boobs up in the bra. It often has a "Plush" side (A slightly brushed, softer side,) this is the side that makes contact with the skin. This pink strap elastic has a pretty quilted pattern on the non plush side.
Band elastic- Often fairly wide and sturdy looking. This is sewn to the bottom edge of your bra so that it fits snugly around your ribcage. You sew this the wrong side and then flip it.
Picot elastic - Used to finish the top edge of most bras. This gets sewn along the top edge of the bra and along the top of the underarm. It has a little scalloped edge that peeks above the seam after being stitched. (Sometimes our band elastic also has Picot edges, but it should be easy to tell by the width of the elastic. The wider is used for the band.)
Bra Channelling - You will need this if you are adding an underwire to your beautiful bra, but often its still used to add a bit of structure to the cup. Its often difficult and fiddly to do, but if you squeeze the edges of the channelling towards the middle you will see the middle open up into a tube. When sewing on channelling it pays to be careful that you sew right at the edges otherwise you can have a bit of a battle with the underwire. (Not like I have experience of that or anything! Ahem...)
Bra Hooks, Rings and sliders - Last but certainly not least are the parts that hold everything together! The rings and sliders are used on the straps. The ring for the front or the back attachment of the strap to the main body of the bra and the sliders to make those straps adjustable. There is a fab tutorial from Evie La Luve of how to do this on Youtube.
The bra hooks, well we've all had to battle with these! They are your most common fastening on a traditional bra. Although now you can get some awesome front closures. I would also add underwires to this list if you so choose them. This particular kit doesn't include them but i'm sure there are others that do, finish it with a bow and you are done!
So there you have it! The anatomy of a bra kit! I hope this is helpful during your bra making adventures! Are there any supplies you can't live without?