Dear past me

Here are 5 tips that I wish I’d known when I started sewing lingerie.

1. Cut the elastic an inch longer than needed so you have some to hold onto.

2. Fabric pulled into the bobbin hole? You can start in the middle and sew to one end, then start back in the middle and sew to the other end

3. Fabric still pulled into the bobbin hole? Use a little piece of fabric between each thing you sew so you don’t have long threads. Everytime you finish a seam run straight onto this scrap. Then sew straight from the scrap straight onto the next piece.

4. Skipped stitches? Use good quality thread and the right needle. Bessie (my sewing machine) won’t sew elastic without Gutterman thread with a stretch needle.

5. USA and UK bra sizes are not the same, Cloth habit has a useful conversion chart you can check out here.

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5 tools for lingerie making I can’t live without

1. A small rotary cutter

I’ve found pinning and cutting with scissors is not the easiest way to go with lingerie, some of the fabric is silky, and lace doesn’t pin very well. Instead I like to use pattern weights and a rotary cutter. I already had a larger rotary cutter for sewing with knits, but for little fiddly pieces the small one is sooo much easier!

Much like your scissors don’t use it on paper or you will blunt the blade, and cut away from your fingers (I was warned, what did I do!).

2. Duckbill scissors

These special scissors are great to cut the seam allowance back to the stitch line without accidentally cutting through your fabric. Really great for trimming close to elastics. I really, really can’t live without these.

3. Flat head pins

As mentioned pinning lace can be a bit if a nightmare, especially with normal pins or if your lace has big holes. These pins are longer, and with a bigger head so the stay in place better. Also, I think pretty!

Another good thing is when I drop them on the carpet I can actually find them again before I stand on them. Yay!

4. Little clips

Wow these are a god send, if working with little pieces, or with lace you can clip pieces together instead of pinning, or use a combo. They hold the pieces perfectly in place and save you putting pin holes in your pristine fabric.

The downside is that they can be a little chunky and get in the way so either remove them as you go or make a pin combo.

If you’re worried about using too much plastic how about mini wooden pegs?

5. Seam allowance measure

I use this to add or remove seam allowance from a pattern piece. This is useful if I want to change a pattern to use cut and sew foam, as you don’t make a seam, you just butt the two pieces up against each other. I’ve also used it if I’ve changed from lingerie elastic to fold over elastic, as you don’t need the allowance anymore.

There are different types of tool for doing this, personally I like these discs as I think they are super easy to use. Plus they have the size of the seam written on them which is very handy as I’d definitely forget otherwise.

I was unsure about adding links of places to buy these as I don’t really want to endorse a particular brand or shop, and I myself like to buy local. However, here is an example of each of these tools from Amazon so you can get a better look at them:

Rotary cutter, duckbill scissors, lace pins, clips, seam allowance measures