[Sewist] Original has a new home!

We’ve moved!

[Sewist] Original is now live at www.sewistoriginal.com!

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The Dolores Skirt Pattern Review

berkeley with pattern

The Berkeley Bra Pattern Review

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Copy Your RTW Panties Tutorial!

See you in our new space!

Three Reasons I Love to Teach Sewing Classes

A month or so back, the owner of Three Little Birds, a sewing store and studio in Hyattsville, MD, and I first met via Instagram. This online meeting resulted in my stopping into the store to do a bit of fabric shopping. An offer to teach lingerie sewing classes was extended and I excitedly agreed.

Three lingerie sewing classes, Perfect Panties, were scheduled. So far, I have taught two of the three classes and enjoyed them so much!

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Class in-progress!

Professionally, I am a teacher. I have been working in education at various levels (middle school, high school, and university) and have held many different roles (teacher, literacy coach, school administrator, and district administrator) since 2004. A year ago I earned a Ph.D. in secondary literacy. I literally ate, slept, and breathed education while I worked on my degree. It was grueling and wonderful. Ultimately, I adore working with students and am the best version of myself when I am teaching. Simply put, education is my jam.

While teaching sewing isn’t the exact same thing as teaching secondary or university classes, there are a lot of similarities. For example, the basics of teaching remain the same. Directions must be clear and sequential. Students should be supported to success and a job well done should be celebrated. In some ways, it is even better than teaching in a traditional classroom. No one is forced to take my class, so there isn’t any grumbling or snarky comments. I also don’t have to manage any errant adolescent behaviors (spitballs, thrown pencils, curse words, etc.).

 

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Pantie making wonderfulness in full swing!
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Pinning the tricky crotch seam for sewing

Reflecting on what makes teaching sewing so enjoyable, I identified three reasons why I love teaching sewing:

  1. Everyone taking the class has a growth mindset. They are hungry to learn something new and excited about their learning. I find this really energizing.
  2. Nothing is graded. In Perfect Panties, everyone gets an A+! Sewing with stretch fabrics and elastics for the first time is hard. The first pair of panties I created certainly wasn’t perfect and my students’ aren’t either, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t perfectly wonderful! They are the first in a hopefully long line of successful panty makes that will become more professional looking with patience and practice. Victoria Secret can eat her heart out.
  3. I get to empower women. Lingerie retailers like the one mentioned above sell panties for tiny bums while many high end brands price out the average woman. $100 panties, anyone? By learning to make your own, you take control. You can make panties out of luxury materials that fit your bum perfectly for a fraction of the cost of high end RTW. I don’t think it gets more empowering than that!

I can’t wait to teach my next class. It promises to be a fantastic learning experience!

 

If you live in the D.C. metro area and are interested in joining us, class will be held on Sunday, October 22 at 11:00am at Three Little Birds Sewing Company. Click here for their website to register.

Let’s Talk Lingerie. Pattern Review: Arccos Undies

It’s only a few months into my #LetsTalkLingerie efforts and I am hopelessly addicted to making bras and panties.

I’ve been sewing a LOT of panties. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I am a thong devotee, but there are times when I prefer panties with full bum coverage. Sometimes, I just want to lie on the sofa binge watching Netflix in sweat pants. I crave comfort and a panty that politely hugs my bum.

Enter the Arccos Undies by independent pattern designer Sophie Hines and say hello to comfort!

The Arccos feature full-bum coverage and a wrap around side detail. I particularly like the drafting regarding the elastic at the waist and legs. There isn’t a huge difference between the length of the elastic and the circumference of the panty opening on which the elastic will be sewn. This results in minimal yanking on the elastic during sewing and produces a neat finish. Once applied to the panty, I found the suggested elastic measurements sew up to a comfortable fit around the waist and legs.

The directions to sew the crotch are very clever. The crotch is applied in such a way that all seams are sandwiched between the crotch and crotch lining, therefore, not visible in the final panty. While this is an awesome sewing trick, the directions to accomplish it are a little confusing. At different steps, differing terms are used to refer to the crotch and crotch lining, making it confusing regarding which panty piece should go where. I messed this up a few times before properly wrapping my head around the construction.

Directions for sewing several elastic types are given, but, to date, I have only used fold over elastic (FOE). The directions for applying FOE are ambitious. They suggest sewing the elastic down in one go with a three-step zigzag stitch. This is advanced level ninja sewing. I much prefer sewing my FOE in two steps. One, sew fabric to elastic under the middle fold line. Two, fold elastic over the line of stitching just created and sew down to secure. I find that I make fewer mistakes and have greater control over the FOE application than if I used the method suggested by the pattern.

My favorite aspect of these panties is how much they can be customized to suit the sewist’s personal style. They can be made in stretch lace, knit fabrics with substantial stretch and lingerie mesh. I’ve been playing around with several different fabrications. So far, my favorite is the full lace back.

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Front and crotch made in grey t-shirt knit. Back is a printed stretch lingerie mesh.

All FOE, lace, and mesh were purchased from my favorite online lingerie supplier, Tailor Made Shop. The knit fabrics were scraps left over from previous sewing projects.

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Lace front lined with bra mesh. Knit back. Outer crotch is lace with a knit lining. This photographed a bit more yellow than it looks in real life.
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My favorite pair. Knit front and crotch with a stretch lace back.

I may be burrowed deep in the couch cushions but my panty game is on point.

In the past weeks, I’ve been teaching panty making classes using this pattern with my students. I will devote a post to the classes later this week (They’ve been awesome!) and am in the process of creating tutorials for the method used by the pattern designer to sew the crotch as well as how I prefer to apply FOE. Check this space for updates on the development of these tutorials!

Let’s Talk Lingerie: Refining Fit and Discovering I Love Pink Lace

Over on Instagram, #Braugust2017 is filling my feed with daily lingerie loveliness. The month of bra and pantie sewing on IG couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Just last month, I launched my #letstalklingerie efforts and #braugust has made kept me on track and motivated to keep sewing bras and panties.

 

Refining Fit: The Kingston Thong

In my last lingerie post, the Kingston Thong by Orange Lingerie earned a A- score due to fitting a little bit too tight across my hips. Before making my latest versions, I cut the pattern piece for the side panel in the center. I spread the two halves of the pattern piece apart by 1/2 inch. Then, I filled in the empty space between the two halves with some swiss tracing paper. The added inch (1/2 inch on each side panel) perfected the fit. The Kingston Thong is now a A+ pattern for me!

My first perfect Kingston Thong was made to match an Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra that I made a few months back. I had enough extra material in the kit I ordered from Tailor Made Shop to squeeze out a matching thong.

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The second perfect Kingston Thong matches my new pink Marlborough Bra.

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I Love Pink Lace!

This is my third and favorite Marlborough. The fit couldn’t be better and I am in love with this pink lace. Shockingly, this is the first pink bra I’ve ever owned! I now want to sew with all the pink laces. All of them! If you know of an amazing pink stretch lace for sale, let me know. I am officially obsessed!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABras sew up quickly and this one only took a few hours over the weekend. Sewing my own bras has heightened my awareness of proper fit. A few days ago, I put on a Victoria’s Secret bra I bought before I learned to sew my own and promptly tossed it into the trash. When compared to my handmade bras, the fit was really poor. I’m afraid sewing my own lingerie has ruined me for RTW.

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What’s Next?

I have a Gia thong by Ohhh Lulu and a pair of Esme panties by Evie la Luve cut and ready to be sewn. They aren’t done yet because I ran out of fold over elastic. Oops!  I’ve ordered more from Tailor Made Shop and it should be here soon so I can continue sewing. I’m also thinking I should sew up another Marlborough Bra. I have some beautiful laces waiting to be sewn- maybe this coming weekend?

Have you been participating in #braugust2017? Know of any great pink stretch lace?

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

Let’s Talk Lingerie: Gia Thong & Kingston Thong

My first makes towards my #letstalklingerie efforts are complete!

In my last post, I lamented the sad state of my lingerie and nightwear collection and proposed a plan for building a feminine collection that makes me feel empowered (I made it!) and sexy (you’re welcome, husband!).

I decided to tackle panties first, specifically, thongs. I know many of you readers may groan in horror at the sheer thought of a thong, but I wear them all the time. I blame my college experience. My sorority house was gripped with crippling pantyline-fears and thong underwear is a sure way to avoid the horrors of a visible pantyline. Since becoming a thong underwear devotee, I find it difficult to wear fuller coverage panties during the day. There. Is. So. Much. Fabric. And it moves. Everywhere. All day. It drives me nuts.

Kingston Thong by Orange Lingerie

My panty sewing adventures started with Orange Lingerie’s Kingston. I’ve made this pattern once before, but sewed up a size too small and it was super uncomfortable. The last time I sewed it, I used my waist measurement to select my size (29 inches). I’m not sure what I was thinking. The widest point of my hip is substantially wider than my waist (40 inches). Since the Kingston sits more on the hip than the waist, I should have used my hip measurement to select my size. This time, I used my hip measurement and the fit is soooo much better.

I sewed a size large and made no adjustments.

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I utilized materials left over from a bra making kit I bought from Tailor Made Shop. I’ve ordered several kits from this online store and been very pleased with the quality of the materials. I purchased the kit to make a Marlborough bra (see photo below) and had enough materials left over to create these panties to match.

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My Kingston was road tested earlier this week and scored well. Here’s the breakdown using my made up and completely subjective categories:

Fit: A-

It’s close to perfect. I need a little more room across the hip. I have debated going up a size, but, based on my measurements and the measurements of the XL pattern pieces, it will be too big. For my next one, I’ll just add a little to the length to the side bands.

Stays in Place: A

Yes! No shifting issues to report.

Appearance: B

When not on me, it’s sexy and looks expensive. The construction methods result in a polished and professional panty that I would expect to pay quite a bit for in a lingerie store.

When on me, the side bands dig into my hips a bit on account of being too short for me. The result is a strange, and thankfully very small, thong-strap muffin top. It definitely could be better.

Overall score: A- 

I’m 100% sure I will make this again with a side strap adjustment to add a little length. I have high hopes the re-sew will be a perfect fit.

Gia Thong by Ohhh Lulu

Next, I sewed up the Gia Thong by Ohhh Lulu. I really like the fact this pattern calls for knit fabric. For my panty, I used some ivory jersey left over from a Burda wrap top I made over a year ago. The fabric is very soft- a fine knit- and on the sheer side. I used some more of the lace that came with my Tailor Made Shop kit and black fold over elastic. The elastic is a little stiffer than I would like. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I bought it!

Again, I used my hip measurement to select my size and sewed up a size large. I made no adjustments.

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Here’s the scorecard:

Fit: C

It’s too big. Gaping around my hips too big. I was careful to cut the elastic around the waist an inch shorter than the waist length, so I don’t think the root cause is an error on my part. Next time, I will shorten the length of the lace side panels by at least an inch. I am worried that if I go down a size, the front coverage will appear too skimpy.

Stays in Place: ?

Too big to tell!

Appearance: B-

When not on me, it looks like something I would pay at least $15 for in Victoria’s Secret. The knit and fold over elastic aren’t as luxurious as the mesh used by the Kingston. It is, however, a great way to use some pretty knit scraps.

When on me, it gapes along the waist. It’s not so big that I feel it’s falling off, but it’s not the fit for which I’m aiming. I’ll keep it in rotation for those days when I’m feeling bloated…

Overall score: B-

I’m disappointed in the fit on this panty. I do like the fact knit scraps can be used. I also like the fact the side panels can be made of knit or lace, giving lots of design options. I’ll try this one again, but with substantial length out of the side panels.

Concluding Thoughts

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Neither panty is a perfect fit, but I don’t think seeking a perfect fit in a pattern straight out of the envelope (or in this case from a PDF) is realistic. My waist and hip measurements are not standard in proportion, so I expect to make adjustments to achieve the fit I want. I think that with adjustments, both panties will fit really well.

In the coming days, I intend to remake both patterns with my fit adjustments. I will report back here.

In the meantime, check out the gorgeous websites and IG feeds of Orange Lingerie and Ohhh Lulu. Both offer up a lot of sewing inspiration.

If sewing your own lingerie isn’t your thing, Ohhh Lulu sells panties sewn based on her patterns through Etsy.  I haven’t purchased any from her yet, but they all look beautiful. I’m sure if you sent her your measurements, they’d be a great fit!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

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PS: In the photo at the top of this post, I am wearing a Sewaholic Pendrell Blouse I made ages ago in a satin-like material purchased from Joann Fabrics.

Let’s Talk Lingerie

I love lingerie. Lace. Silk. Satin. I love it all; however, if you were to open my lingerie drawers, you would not know this. You would find several rows of identical beige t-shirt bras and cotton panties. My nightwear collection is worse. An old t-shirt and threadbare cotton pj pants have become my evening uniform. It is, at best, underwhelming.

How has this happened?! When I reflect on the dismal state of my lingerie and sleepwear, there are two reasons that come to light.

  1. I am cheap. The high cost of RTW lingerie and sleepwear seems extravagant to me. Spending $50 to $70 on a bra is ridiculous. There is barely any fabric involved and underwires aren’t gold plated…  I recently admired an embroidered beauty on La Perla’s website and realized it would set me back over $700, I nearly passed out. Panties aren’t much better. On La Perla’s website, they have a georgette panty listed at over $200. On the other end of the market, Victoria’s Secret sells lacy numbers for $14. Admittedly, this is not bank-breaking, but when compared to the cost of fabric, it still feels like a high price. Sleepwear is worse. A cute pj set from Eberjey costs $120. In short, I want pretty lingerie, but I don’t want to go poor building a beautiful collection.
  2. Nothing fits quite right. My drawers are filled with identical bras and panties because I found a style that fits and bought multiples. I’m boring myself, but I prefer boredom to hours in fitting rooms struggling with bras and panties that gap here and are tight there.

There are some bright spots in my lingerie collection: two me-made bras and a few lovely robes I received as gifts when I got married. Surprisingly, my me-made bras fit better than the expensive (but boring) store-bought bras. Another point in the hand-mades’ favor is the fact my husband has… ahem… expressed his appreciation of theses brassieres. He’s requested I make more.

Struck by the sad state of my collection, I’ve decided to make some improvements. As a sewist with some bra making under her belt, I can take matters into my own hands and build the collection I want. (Sewing is AWESOME!) Assuming I don’t go crazy buying expensive fabrics, I should be able to build a collection at a fraction of the cost of RTW. To build my collection, I’ve decided to use some sleepwear patterns I already own and I plan on purchasing several lingerie patterns. As I sew, I will review the patterns I use on this blog. On IG, I’ll document my progress with a fancy hashtag: #letstalklingerie

Below is my current plan.

Bras:

  • More Marlborough Bras by Orange Lingerie. I took a workshop with Orange Lingerie a while back and had a great experience. My current me-made bras are Marlboroughs.

Marlborough

  • Boylston Bra by Orange Lingerie. This is a pretty non-stretch fabric bra option.

Boylston

  • A strapless Esplanade Bra also by Orange Lingerie. I’m nervous about this make. Good strapless bras are tough to find in RTW, so I’m a little worried this will be a huge fit challenge.

Esplanade

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Panties:

Esme panty

Kingston

oh lulu thong

Brazilian panties

Sleepwear:

I already own several sleepwear sewing patterns. I intend on sewing these before making any new purchases.

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Vogue

  • Simplicity 1720. I made view C ages ago when my sewing skills were still weak. I want to remake it without wonky seams. I also want to sew the matching pants from view D.Simplicity
  • Seamwork’s Lisbon. I’ve had a caramel silk from Mood and matching lace in my stash forever to make this night gown.  I think it’s time! Lisbon

I’m not creating a timeline for this project. I’m still working hard to learn more about garment fit, so I anticipate I’ll alternate sewing lingerie and sleepwear with fussier day-wear projects. My current goal is to sew at least one piece for #letstalklingerie each month, but if life gets in the way, I’m okay with that. It will all get done eventually!

If your lingerie drawers are also in need of some overhauling, feel free to join me and tag your makes on IG so I can follow along! If you have a pattern you love that I’ve missed here, please let me know. I learn so much from other sewists!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO