Saturday, November 16, 2013

Etherial squared

Since I was on a roll I made another bra from the remains of the blue stretch lace from Merckwaerdigh.  I had enough to cut the entire bra from lace, and even to match the motifs.  It's fully lined with the same light nude coloured fabric that has found its way into several bras here recently.

I promise not to clutter up these (virtual) pages too much with lingerie sewing, but here are some photos showing the inside, and how it's made.

Giant roll of
strap elastic
The straps are cut from my giant roll of silvery strap elastic.  I sewed them between the upper band elastic and the front of the bra to secure the ends at the top of the cups.

I let the scalloped edge of the lace be the lower edge of the bra band pieces, which meant I had to finish the band elastic a little differently.  First, I attached the lower band elastic to the lining only.  Then I basted the lace and lining (wrong sides together) at the top edge, folded the lower elastic to the inside, and finished the lower edge with triple stitch zig zag through all layers. The stitching is practically invisible on the face of the lace.

The top of the cups is finished similarly with very narrow but very snappy elastic from Merckwaerdigh since they supplied enough for two bras.  I'm pretty sure I've never seen similar elastic here so will have to give some thought to different ways to finish the cup top edge if I'm using lace again.  And I might; I'm pretty pleased with the look of this bra.

I attached the strap to the inside of the back band at both top and bottom for stability since the band is fairly narrow and the fabric fairly flimsy.

This is the end of the blue lace, but I still have quite a lot of the paisley mesh, and some blue elastic, and 1,000,000 metres (minus about 1) of strap elastic for some more bras.  And some more fabric from my ample stash.

I actually have another bra cut out, but think my blog audience might have had it up to here with the underwear by now.

I do promise to make something to wear on the outside soon.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Not utilitarian

Etherial, more like.

This is quite unlike The Sewing Lawyer's usual undergarments.  It's more colourful and lacier.  More ... delicate?

But still sturdy enough.  Here is a shot of the inside.

The mesh fabric and stretch lace (ordered on-line as a bra kit from Merckwaerdigh in Rotterdam) are pretty flimsy, when you get right down to it.  So I lined the entire bra with a light stretch mesh acquired a forgotten time ago from a forgotten source.  Luckily, I have lots.  Because I think I've been bitten by the lingerie bug. There was enough of the lace to cut out another bra.  The next one will be entirely blue lace, but lined like this one.  I have a RTW bra that uses stretch lace, with scalloped edges intact, for the side pieces.  I'm copying that.

A word about the supplier - Merckwaerdigh's supplies are reasonably priced and (I hate to say it) less expensive even including international shipping than Bra-Makers Supply in my home province. The kit included enough lace for two bras - even enough to mirror the motifs for both, enough printed mesh for at least one pair of panties plus bra(s), elastic - 4 kinds including for straps, stable mesh to line the bridge (you can sort of see it in the second photo) - enough for dozens more bras, a little piece of crotch lining, hooks & eye for the bra, loops and sliders for the straps, and wire casing.  And the shipping was quick, and you can save on shipping (relatively) by combining items.  I also bought a set of findings in white and wire casing in 3 colours (white, black and nude).  I'm a satisfied customer.

That said, I'm pretty sure I have enough lingerie notions now to last the rest of my natural life so they may not get much more of my business.  Especially since I came across about 9,000 metres of 1cm wide elastic at the Value Village on the weekend (exaggerating, but only slightly). See previous post re SABLE.

And a word on the pattern.  It's totally customized.  The cups are from an ancient Burda WOF (as it was) swimsuit pattern, much tweaked.  The side piece is from a Bra-Makers pattern.

And because I want to reward you for reading this far ...

Thanks to the skin-tone lining, it looks even more etherial than it really is.  But it's really not see-through.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Unfinished business

I owe you, my loyal readers, with some further explanation of my somewhat elliptical comments about the dress I made from V1183.

First, let's recall the photo of the dress from the pattern envelope, and have a look at the line drawing.

There is one difference between these two that can readily be seen - the corners at the upper CF edge of the bodice meet in the photo but lie apart, allowing a V to form, in the line drawing.  The drawing is an accurate depiction of the pattern; the photo is not. Perhaps the photo is of an actual Kay Unger dress rather than of the pattern made up. Luckily, I like the little V at the neck!

Next I'll shame myself by posting a photo of my original muslin, made in (gasp) 2010.  At the time, I weighed about 15lbs more than I do now, most of which was at or below the waist.  This had led me to add approximately 1.25" (3cm) of width at the back skirt princess seams, and to grade the pattern out from size 10 at the waist to beyond size 12 at the hip side seams.  I had also split the skirt front at the darts to make princess seams that allowed me to add more room at the hip.  The skirt was still too tight at the time.  Even though I'm slimmer now, I was comfortable keeping almost all these changes when I put the muslin back on.   Maybe I just like more ease than Vogue intended

More serious were the fitting problems in the front of the dress where the midriff piece interacted with the bodice above and the skirt below.

I've annotated the photo of the muslin using Skitch to illustrate the fitting problems inherent in this pattern.  I say "inherent" because some variant of these problems is evident in just about every example of this pattern I've seen in my internet travels.

The red and blue arrows point to some awkward pulling in the CF bodice pieces coming from the points where the fronts overlap.  These pieces are not sewn together.  Many who have made this dress had to stitch the overlapped side down to prevent the entire front from gaping open.  This may in part be because they needed a FBA, but it is also due to the fact that there is a drafting problem with these pieces.  The bodice felt and looked too short on me (and I've never needed an FBA!).  The green arrows show the distortion that translated to the midriff piece from the fact that the bodice was too short between the princess seams.

At the same time, the skirt below the midriff felt and looked too long.  It was pooching out.  The black arrow shows the tuck I had pinned out to get rid of this extra length.

My friend G, who has a lot of experience fitting and sewing, commented that if the bodice was too short and the skirt was too long, it was probably the midriff piece itself that was the real problem.  She is probably right, but the midriff piece seemed to be the right shape, and for me it was easier to adjust the pieces on either side of it.

Once I added length (about 3/8" or .75cm at CF, tapering to nothing near the princess seams) to the lower edge of the bodice pieces and shaved approximately the same amount off the top edge of the front skirt pieces, the whole thing settled into place, as you can see at right.  Phew!

To answer a question in the comments to my last post, the overlapping front is very secure and does not gape open, once it fits properly!

Next up: more info on construction.  This dress is fully lined and as already noted, the bodice front overlaps.  This means that the bodice fronts had to be finished to the CF edges before they could be attached to the midriff.  You cannot construct the outer shell and the inner lining and attach them at the edges.

Vogue's instructions say to sew the front and back bodice pieces together (including topstitching) and join them at the shoulder, and then do the same with the bodice lining.  Before the fronts are connected to anything, you can then machine sew the lining to the fashion fabric at CF and neck edges, and at arm openings, and turn it right side out.  Then topstitch the CF and neck edges.  All good.  However, then Vogue wanted me to fully construct the other two vertical components i.e. the midriff and skirt, in each case sewing the side seams together, before attaching them at the horizontal seams.  The midriff edges are supposed to be topstitched in one pass all the way around which makes for a nice smooth line at the side seams.

And the zipper comes dead last.  No way!  It's harder to sew in a zipper after the dress is fully constructed in the round. I decided to build the entire back and sew the zipper in flat before attaching the bodice fronts at the shoulder and clean finishing the bodice edges.  Long story short, I completely finished the front and the back and sewed the side seams last which is completely not how Vogue wanted me to make this dress.  I was very pleased when I was able to get the lines of midriff topstitching to line up almost perfectly at the side seams.

Take that, Vogue instruction-writers!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Kay Unger dress - completed!

For some reason I had a terrible time getting any decent full length pictures of me in my new dress, and the other photos were all hit and miss.  It could be due to:  a dark November evening; a short window in which to fiddle with my camera; inept fiddling with my camera; an unpredictable flash; or all of the above.

 It's late so I will save comments on the pattern and the many adjustments I had to make to it for a later post, if I have the energy.

On the plus side, I love the finished dress.  It's soft and the cotton underlining somehow makes it kind of cozy.  The colour looks pretty with this jacket.  It does fit me well, and so it's very comfortable to wear.  I would even consider making the pattern again.

And I love the shape of the midriff, now that it actually works with the pattern pieces above and below it.  Just look at this side view.  Not bad, especially when you consider that I sewed the side seams last.

This soft wool and cashmere suiting looks wrinkled in all the pictures.  You'll have to take my word for the fact that the dress looks better in real life.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Why the Sewing Lawyer was MIA

When one gets to a certain stage of life, one's parents are necessarily at a more advanced stage.  This led to The Sewing Lawyer giving up a week of sewing and knitting (and blogging) to help her parents reduce and recycle.  The re-using will have to wait until they have relocated.  In the course of that exercise
, some family heirlooms were unearthed.

A christening gown.  Not worn by me.  It was apparently considered too fragile in the 1950s.  I tossed it blithely into the washing machine and ironed it, except for the sleeves.  They are so tiny I couldn't figure out how.

It is machine made but quite lovely.  Every edge is either encased in a tight scalloped hem stitch, or in a French seam.

To the right are the embroidered motifs from the skirt, and on the bodice.

And who doesn't need white cotton guest towels, complete with monogram and crocheted lace inset at each hem?  I now have a matched pair.

Soon, I'll post my just-completed version of Vogue 1183.  What with the time change, it may be a while before I can get any decent photos.  In the meantime, here's a teaser in-progress shot of the insides of the dress (inside-out on my dress form).  You can see the lining (light blue Bemberg), fashion fabric (dark blue wool/cashmere) and interlining (striped cotton).