Harriet: My First Wired Bra

It appears to be bra month around here at Phee Fabrics if you haven’t noticed already. I started off with a pattern that has been in my stash for a couple of years, then once I received my lace realized that it wasn’t going to work for my pattern. So I set to find a different pattern because I had a look I was going for, and had to use this beautiful black and white lace.

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I then decided to use Cloth Habit’s Harriet Bra Pattern in view C, it comes in sizes 28-41 A-H. I used the Cloth Habit uses the UK method for bra sizing, and provides a sizing guide on their site so you can figure out if the pattern will work for you before you buy. Since I haven’t worn a real bra in far too long, my closest thing to a real bra is from Athleta and comes in a size medium made for cups A-C, so I’m not sure how to compare the sizes. I made a size 32DD, and the fit worked out pretty well, although I did find the band a tad tight.

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With this being my first underwire bra that I’ve sewn, and first lace item, I made a lot of mistakes with the actual sewing (I’ll share some tips at the end of my post so you don’t make the same ones). I used Phee’s Heavy Duty Underwires, which I initially ordered in what I thought was my bra size, plus one size over and one size under. I found out that the largest of the three would work for only my right breast, and it was really easy to send back the other 2 and get the next 2 sizes. I loved that I wasn’t stuck with wires that wouldn’t work for me and I got the wires I did need.

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I got a little scissor happy and started cutting into my lace and quickly realized it wasn’t going to look the way I wanted it to. So I ordered some additional 9” wide white lace to use for the rest of the cups and the cradle. I used a lot of different materials on this bra, but with them all coming from Phee, they worked together beautifully. I wanted to pull from the black in the lace at the top of the cups, so I opted to use black notions and black powernet for the wings of the bra. I love how they all come together.

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Materials Used

Fabrics/Laces:

Notions:

Tips

  • Follow the instructions on the pattern, and if they don’t make sense, then see if your pattern maker has a photo tutorial on their website. I don’t suggest trying to make things up as you go, that’s where I got in trouble. I decided to not follow the instructions and it made things really hard in the end. Cloth Habit does have a great Sew Along if you need more help.
  • The Harriet calls for a 1/2” band elastic, I didn’t pay any attention to this, and I should have lengthened the seam allowance on the cradle and band to account for this and make for easier sewing.
  • Don’t stretch elastic when it says hold taunt, I did this on my clear elastic at the top of my cup on my scalloped elastic, and now it’s not smooth, it pulls in on my breasts.
  • Practice stitches on scraps of the same lace/powernet/fabric combos before actually sewing on your bra. I don’t know the last time I’ve used my seam ripper as much as I did on one project as I did on this bra. And trying to take seams out of a lace bra is not the easiest.
  • When sewing your hook and eye on, make sure they are facing the correct direction before sewing. I accidentally sewed my hook on so that it faces out.

Happy bra sewing!

Note: This post contains affiliate links to products. All opinions and thoughts are my own. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

How I Developed a Pattern…

(Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)

We are wrapping up February 2019, and I’ve already had a not so stellar year! I broke the radius bone in my right arm on January 11th. I am now 6 weeks post surgery, and everything is healing as expected!

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But, I did have to forgo sewing during the initial weeks after surgery. During that time, I worked on expressing another creative side: pattern making!

I am so happy to debut a pattern drafted specially for Phee! You see, I have a love affair with the activewear and swimwear fabrics from Phee. And love is not a one way street, right? I couldn’t expect Melissa to keep supplying the good stuff without giving back some lovin’!

It all started out with an idea inspired by the new stretch mesh and some RTW sexy thangs on Pinterest. And while I was in my unintentional sewing fast, 100% of my initial pattern tests were done in paper.

Finally at 4 weeks post op, I was given the OK to sew! And I dug right into my new mesh and the most luscious plum supplex.

Scroll through the photo gallery to see the pattern making process of this special Phee pattern:

The Future of this Pattern

The pattern will still require some tweaks before the official release, and it needs a name! I have a running list of great suggestions so if you’ve got a name for this pattern, PLEASE SHARE it in the comments below!

This pattern will come with a few variations that play with either the mesh overlay or the bandeau. Additionally, I’ve graded it to multiple cup and band sizes! What I’m wearing in the pictures is a 34A (team Sport Edition Boobs right here!)

Fabric Choice and Notions

You can get almost everything you see in my sample piece from Phee!

Things that were from my own stash were 1″ black fold over elastic and swim cups/inserts.

One of the pattern variations will show you how to use Phee’s poly laminate foam to create a padded bandeau.

Helpful Hints…sort of ;P

This was the very first time that I have worked with a stretch mesh fabric. And while it does produce such an amazing effect on your clothing, I was really dumbfounded on how to sew it lol!

When it came to binding my edges with fold over elastic, I laid the pattern piece as flat as possible, and pinned down every little bit to my FOE while carefully following the curvature of the pattern piece. Then sewed very slowly, making sure to capture each little bit with my stitches.

This was probably the most difficult part, but it’s not impossible! It just takes patience.

Bye, for now!

My return to sewing after my injury was the highlight of my dreary winter. I’m so excited to put the finishing touches on this pattern and then release it to all you Phee-natics!

And remember: If you’ve got a badass name suggestion for this pattern, reply in the comments below! The winning namer will receive this pattern for free 🙂

Much love,

Monica

Sew-With-Me: Evie La Luve Frankie Panties

Ah the granny panty. The comfy panty. The period panty. The sleeping panty.

Whatever you call them, most of us have them and we love them though we don’t want people to ever see them or know how much we love them. But they don’t have to be something that we hide, comfy panties can be just as pretty to look at as the rest of our lingerie drawer, especially for those of us that are able to sew our very own! My personal go to for comfy, every day panties is style five of Evie La Luve’s Frankie panties. This are a nice full coverage, a side waistband, and are super comfortable for both everyday and all of the lounging we usually associate with this “kind” of panties.

The Frankie panty pattern can be made classic, and simply like I am showing here or lacy and sexy. There are many different views included in the one pattern giving it great bang for your buck! I shared a few different lacy versions, all from Phee fabrics on SewUprising if you are interested in checking out more of what this pattern can do! Continue reading

Using Lingerie Sewing Patterns for Swimwear

Posted by Nicole Voegele

Hi. My name is Nicki and I can’t leave well enough alone! As soon as swim week was announced I was immediately thinking of all of the lingerie patterns I have purchased and sewn recently and how awesome those designs could be as swimwear. After trying to convince my trouble making self to use of one the many swimwear patterns I already own for over a week I gave in and ended up using not one, not two, but four lingerie sewing patterns to make my own swimwear mini capsule all out of Phee fabrics!

It was a whirlwind week of sewing but in the end I fell completely and totally in love with using lingerie patterns for swimwear and I am here to show you how you can do it too! The best part about using lingerie patterns to make swimwear? The patterns require minimum hacking but endless potential for unique and custom swimsuits!

Choosing a Pattern

First things first, we need a pattern to work from! When choosing a lingerie pattern to make into swimwear the main things you need to consider are fit (i.e. coverage) and support. I am a firm believer in people wearing whatever makes them happy but there are laws dictating how much of the body can be shown legally (bummer, right?!) so make sure you are choosing a pattern that won’t get you arrested (Unless that’s your goal. You do you boo.) and that you feel confident and comfortable in from the start, it will make all the difference in the end!

So what lingerie patterns lend themselves well to becoming swimsuits? In theory all of them but some will be easier than others to manipulate! Personally, I have had the best luck converting soft bra patterns, like the OhhLuLu Jasmine or the EvieLaLuve Willow bra, into swim tops and there are so many great free panty patterns available online that make great swim bottoms as well (Check out this post on sewuprising.com for my five favorite free lingerie sewing patterns for some of them!). The use of underwires and channeling is an advanced lingerie technique so if this is your first experience sewing lingerie I would avoid those for now but just keep in mind that they are an option as you progress and underwire swimsuits are AHHHMAZING!

The second thing you are going to need to consider is support. Support can mean a lot of different things but for the purposes of keeping this easy let’s just focus on breast support for now. One of the biggest advantages of learning how to transform lingerie patterns into swimwear patterns is being able to use stronger elastics, underwires, and specific construction techniques to make the most supportive and flattering swimsuit possible for your unique body. If you fall on the smaller side of the breast spectrum this may not be as big of a concern for you but if you fall on the lager side look for patterns that have large under bust elastic, fuller breast coverage, and a wider back band to offer the most support. If tummy/bum support is more your game, look for one piece options, like the Jamie Bodysuit (pictured below) , or high waisted pantie options like Maxine from Evielaluve or the Ava Panties from OhhLuLu.

Adjusting the Pattern

No matter what pattern you choose, be ready to make a couple practice pieces (or more!) before cutting into your good swim fabric. Just like with any other kind of apparel sewing the right fit is key to a perfect product and not every lingerie pattern is going to fit every person right out of the package.

I would recommend making your first practice piece (or couple of pieces) for whatever pattern you choose out of the fabrics recommended by the pattern to get the general overall fit right and then make another practice piece, or two or three, out of swim fabrics before using your “good” fabrics. The stretch percentages between lingerie fabrics and swim fabrics can be very different, which could cause the swimsuit to fit differently than intended. There are some lingerie patterns I have had to muslin seven or eight times before getting the perfect fit so don’t get discouraged if it takes you a while, it is all a part of the learning process! Personally, I have found a consistent need for sizing up at least one size when switching from lingerie fabrics to swim fabrics when using lingerie patterns for swimwear. If you need help fitting bra or panty patterns the Bra Makers Forum group on Facebook can be a great place to ask questions.

Since many lingerie patterns are basically swimsuit shaped to begin with, you may not need to make any adjustments at all to make swimwear out of your chosen lingerie patterns beyond swapping out the types of elastic you use. If the pattern you choose calls for picot elastic, plush backed or regular, like most do I am going to very, very strongly encourage you to swap that elastic out for either fold over elastic (I like to buy in bulk from amazon) or swim specific elastic. Picot elastic just doesn’t hold up to salt or chlorine like these other types of elastic and nothing is worse than your beautiful swimsuit stretching out because you used the wrong elastic. Trust me.

If you are using swim specific elastic and can find it in the same width as the called for picot elastic you won’t have to make any changes at all to your pattern which is a total win and probably the easiest way to get started. If you can’t find the width of swim elastic that matches the width of the picot elastic, you will need to widen or narrow the pattern seam allowance to match the elastic you can find BEFORE you cut out your pattern pieces. Remember you will be folding the elastic in so you need to adjust twice to get the same end result. Example: If the pattern calls for ½ inch picot elastic and you can only find ⅜ inch swim elastic you will need to remove a total of ¼ inch of seam allowance from each edge where the picot elastic will be, ⅛ for the initial elastic attachment and ⅛ for when it is turned under and topstitched.

PS if you need help attaching swimwear elastic, check out this swim week SAL video!

If you don’t want to use swim elastic your next best bet is to use fold over elastic, or FOE. FOE is a great option for when you want a pop of color contrast, a sportier look to your suit, or are making something that will be fully reversible. Using this type of elastic almost always means altering seam allowance, however, which is off putting to some people but I promise it isn’t hard at all, again it is all about the math!

FOE doesn’t get turned in on itself like picot elastic does so if you can find FOE the same width as the called for picot all you have to do is take that same amount off your seam allowance. Example: if your pattern calls for ½ inch picot and you have ½ inch FOE elastic to use, then you need to remove ½ inch of each edge the FOE will be used on.

If you do not have FOE the same width as your pattern called for in picot you will need to remove the called for width plus or minus the difference in what you have versus what the pattern calls for. Example: The pattern calls for 1/2 inch picot elastic and you have ¼ inch FOE elastic, you will need to remove a total of ¾ inch seam allowance, ½ inch for the unturned area and ¼ inch for the difference in elastic widths.

Okay maybe it is a little complicated but that is what all those practice suits are for right?!

Beyond elastic, any other pattern adjustments you choose are totally up to you! You might consider adjusting the back closure of your suit top from a traditional hook and eye, which totally work and you do not have to remove if you don’t want, to a traditional swim style closure or adjusting to have no back closure at all. Or you may want to play with different strap options, crossovers, or widths to change the feel of your finished pieces in a big way or even mash different patterns to get a totally unique to you look. Both are super quick changes to any pattern but make sure you are practicing before you start cutting into those good fabrics!

So there you have it, the quick and easy breakdown of using lingerie patterns to make custom swimwear. If you have questions, I am always available to help but really there is no better way to learn than just to dive right in and get started! All of the patterns I mentioned above are tried and approved by yours truly so start with them if you are a bit nervous but have fun exploring this whole new world of sewing! Give it a try and I promise you be sewing your own swimsuits, and lingerie, in no time!

Want to see all seven of my Phee swimsuits from lingerie sewing patterns and how I made a completely reversible Made for Mermaids Mama Bridgette bikini top? Be sure to visit me at sewuprising.com and let me know you came from Phee!