Saturday, 11 August 2012

Heaven & Hell

Guess what they make here?
We had a wonderful week away in Dublin on the choir tour: singing (listening to singing), laughing, shopping, eating, walking, sightseeing, more eating, sewing buttons on choir robes and and so on. A good time was had by all. The weather was fine and it was surprising how just a 100 miles further south can make a difference in the temperature - warm and balmy. 
A giant sized pint of Guinness made with aspects from all the advertisements and with hand made lace as the foam at the top. It was exquisite. The lace I mean, although the Guinness was fine too.

Christ Church, Dublin. One of the churches in which the boys sang

This is the back of Dublin Castle - just look at the colours and how well they compliment each other.

Ethereal in robes. It was too dark for my little camera to take a decent photo, but I like this one.
The whole trip was heavenly - not just the wonderful singing that the choir did but the company and the craic and the laughs. Can't wait for next year's!

So back to porridge, as my mother would say, meaning an attempt to return to routine and normality. I still have 10 days of holiday before going back to work so I really have to make good use of my time because come September - life will be manic as the new term starts.

I have so much blog reading to catch up on and already I notice that you have all been extremely busy and productive in my absence. Well done on all those finished items and works in progress - keep it up!

My bra making kit had been delivered while we were away, so while out collecting the cat from her cat hotel I picked up the package from ELingeriA at the Post Office. It contains all you need to make a bra and at least one pair of knickers - except for patterns. So I'd also ordered two patterns from them too - one for bras and the other for knickers -  all set to go on the bra making adventure.

ELingeriA is a Dutch company but the website is in English (which makes my life easier)  and they have a staggering array of fabrics, patterns, notions and potions. It makes the head reel at the choice and the endless combinations of colours.

I selected this pattern for the bra as it has 5 variations in the envelope so seemed good value and most importantly - it comes with an English instruction sheet. The pattern includes: 1 sports bra, 2 bras without wires and 2 bras with wires and underbust band. One of the wired bras is padded.
And this one for the panties. The pattern includes: 2 different panties with delicate lace insets. One can also be used as tommy control panty. Multisize pattern in sizes: S - M - L - XL - XXL and German or English instruction sheet

 Difficulty: Experience in sewing lingerie is required. This worried me - I've no experience of sewing lingerie and did feel a little overwhelmed.

I was daunted: I was terrified actually. Rings and sliders and other bits of hardware! What's the difference between plush elastic and picot elastic and knicker elastic and some other kind of elastic? How can five little pieces of lace and lycra instil such an overwhelming sense of doom and dread? 

 I took things slowly - I measured (accurately) and traced the pieces rather than cutting the pattern - even colour coded them - purple for view C.

My sincere apologies go out to all of you who make bras and panties  - what you are about to see should be classified as 18 only. We are now entering hell.........

It started out well enough. Upper cups (lace) attached successfully to lower cups (Lycra). 

 Cups attached to mid-band. Mmmmm , what do I do about that point in the middle? I'll come back to it later and figure it out then. Good plan.

Sides attached. Not too neatly but it's black and you have to look very carefully to see the wonky stitching.

However, at this stage I'm beginning to think about fit. When can I try this on to check fit? At the end? There are that many zigzags and overlock stitches that it would be a nightmare to rip out.

So I carried on in blind faith.
The machine felt my uncertainty and started acted up -  trapped fabric in the dog-feed. Not just once either!

Broken threads.

Fabric not feeding through the needle.

My frustration was mounting; my time was wasting away; I questioned my sanity and why didn't I feel the addiction that all other sewers seem to feel when making lingerie?

I adjusted and twiddled and tinkered about and carried on - getting angrier and angrier. You know the feeling?

To cut a very long story short - the bra was eventually completed and a pair of matching knickers was hacked together. Now for the scary details......

Atrocious attachment of hook and eyes at the back. The hooks and eyes I ordered were the wrong size for the back bands so I cobbled together a clasp from a bra extender. The cups were a bit baggy so I made a scrappy dart-thing at the sides to pull them in a bit.

The seaming on the knickers is like something from a thing that's so bad I can't even think of a metaphor. But I had to complete the panties because I had to find out about their fit too and you have to wait until the final moment to check. The stitching on the inside of both items should remain totally out of sight of respectable human beings - it's scary and would frighten little children.

Both fit. But I'm not happy about it.

Please tell me your first attempt was as horrendous as this!

I've been honest with you and admitted to all these mistakes and shown you the gory details. I've bared my soul and confessed.

I still don't feel a sense of accomplishment or pride, nor an overwhelming desire to make more. Is there something wrong with me?

I'm off to make something easy like a tailored jacket in a check (plaid) fabric using haute couture and Saville Row tailoring techniques - matching all the checks and lines across the lapels and sleeves and fronts; bit of pad stitching; shrinking and stretching the wool for a perfect fit; underlining, interfacing, padding and lining. Oh look....

I've already started....


  1. Ruth, well done on your first attempt at the bra and panties - I have to say HOW LUCKY I was to have Sigrid to hand when attempting my first bra because she went through everything with me step by step and I am sure my first attempt wouldn't have been so successful. She has got some good tutorials on her blog (did you heck these out). The bra pattern I bought, she thought was totally wrong for me, but I was lucky enough to try on her bra and the only adjustment I needed was the back width which was easy to deal with. Dont be disheartened by this because once you get the technique right you will love making them (I do now). Why not unpick a pair of RTW to pants and use them as a template and guide.

    Hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation.

    1. Thanks Patricia - I've calmed down a bit since this attempt and I'm trying to look at it rationally.

  2. I have yet to make a bra, but I think you need to give it another try. Look at this one as a test run and don't give up. Your jacket is going to be incredible. Can't wait to see it finished.

    1. The jacket will be a slow cook job - working on it little bit at a time in between the last of the summer outfits.

  3. No sense of accomplishment? Oh, thats too harsh, lady! A first attempt at something with so many specialized techniques and issues- you need be very proud and of course,thank you for showing them- no one learns from other peoples perfection, they just get annoyed! I will admit my mild disappointment at no 'crouching tiger, hidden vogue' envelope pose for us, but ok....

    1. You're right - this was a first attempt and who was I to think I could do everything first time? It would definitely be a X rated post if I posed in these - regardless of the styling!

  4. Lace, lycra, a small garment requiring precision and a perfect fit... I can't think of any project that would be more challenging. It was a brave undertaking and you did just fine!

    Just imagine if you'd made the perfect garment at which you worked for days and the end result still didn't work, e.g the knickers that don't stay in place when you walk... Underwear is the PHD of sewing imho.

    Enjoy making the jacket. Is it to be part of the new term's work wardrobe?

    1. The tolerances at the seam allowances are so small in comparison to normal sewing. Yes, starting to think of autumn wardrobe and some severe-librarian type clothing to scare the students.

  5. I have tried to make a bra for myself several times, and botched mess is the closest I have got yet. I think the worst thing is not being able to try on for fit until nearly completed, so you just know the first try or two will be a wadder. I may get past this stage one day, but am still spending $$$at the ling erie shop.
    If your first go fits, you can finesse the technique later, the knit fabrics, the lace attachment, the elastic, the itsy seam allowances... it is not easy sewing.

    1. I'm so happy to hear this - I feel happy when other people make messes too.

  6. AlaskapsychAugust 12, 2012

    I got the book and pattern to make a bra with a couple of kits from Bra Makers Supply. I went really slow with the bra construction totally unsure of anything I was doing. EVERY seam I took out and put in at least twice. I found the instructions pretty good although there were a couple of times I felt like steps were missing. And I felt like the book didn't have any more information than the pattern leaflet. But in the end, I had a very comfortable bra that I will make again. I have yet to make panties. But I'm planning to branch out soon!

    Bra Maker's Supply:

    We emailed a couple of times in order to get the order correct. Overall, I thought it was a good resource.

    1. The instructions and pattern were just fine - good really - this was definitely user error and novice at work. Thanks for the link - will check it out - always happy to receive info on new places I can spend my money.