One Trick I Teach in All My Workshops by Orange Lingerie

One Trick I Teach in All My Workshops

One Trick I Teach in All My Workshops by Orange Lingerie

There is a simple way to be sure that your hook and eye closure fits onto your bra precisely. It can even be done after most of the sewing is complete! If you have my book you already know this handy tip and I make sure to teach this technique in all my workshops!

Because bra kit materials come in varying sizes, it is a good idea to start by examining your pattern and your supplies before you cut your fabric. Among other things, you want to compare the height of your hook and eye closure to what the pattern allows. The area you are measuring on the pattern is the finished width of the center back as shown below on the bra band.

Measuring Finished Height of Band by Orange Lingerie

If there is a difference between your hook and eye closure height and what the pattern allows, just mark your closure height and redraw a smooth scooping line that meets this mark. Shown below is a decrease in height followed by an illustration of an increase in height at the center back.

Band Too Tall for Closure Pattern Adjustment by Orange LingerieBand Too Short for Closure Pattern Adjustment by Orange Lingerie

Even with pre-sewing adjustments, sometimes things can get a bit off in the sewing process! It can be a slippery stretchy fabric or just a bobble starting or stopping the elastic attachment that changes the finished height of your bra band. Whatever the reason, you should get in the habit of checking that rear closure height of the bra before you finish the scoop of the band.

To check the bra closure height, hold up the hook or eye piece, depending on the side (you need to check both sides!), to make sure it will fit on nicely onto the bra.

If the area is too tall for the closure, the scoop elastic or fold over elastic will need to be attached lower. After marking the new lower point, cut a new back scoop that goes through that marking.

Band Too Tall Post Sewing Adjustment by Orange Lingerie

If the area is too short – also a problem – the trim needs to be attached so that it adds height to the closure area. To find that point, hold up the elastic or trim you will be using to the scoop area and adjust the trim positioning until you have added enough height to the band to attach to the closure. Now mark the point below the trim at the center back and use that mark, not the edge of the fabric as the guide for attaching the scoop trim.

Band Too Small Post Sewing Adjustment by Orange Lingerie

Of course, if you forget to make these adjustments, you can always make a custom size closure using my Leverett sewing pattern!

Strengthen Fold Over Elastic from Orange Lingerie

How to Strengthen Fold Over Elastic

Fenway Black Charmeuse and Tulle by Orange LingerieI have heard from a few Fenway bra makers that their fold over elastic does not have a very firm stretch. If this is the case for you, there is a simple solution! I use this same method when I want to use a decorative trim that is technically just a bit too stretchy for bra making.

Materials

In addition to your elastic trim you will need clear rubber elastic. Clear elastic is thin and smooth so it does not add bulk while adding strength and elasticity to the area.

The width of the clear elastic you use should be nearly equal to the finished width of your trim. In the case of fold over elastic, this will be ½ of the total width of the elastic and for other trims, make sure the width of clear elastic will be covered by the trim.

How to Strengthen Fold Over Elastic by Orange LingerieMethod

In the case of fold over elastic, when you are ready to apply your elastic, start by zigzag stitching the clear elastic to the bra along the bra edge on the wrong side of the bra. If necessary, use a 3-step zigzag stitch to prevent tunneling of the fabric and elastic. Follow by applying the fold over elastic as directed.

How to Strengthen Fold Over Elastic by Orange LingerieIf you are using trim that needs some extra firmness, the method of application is determined by the area of application. Just keep in mind that you want to be sure the clear elastic is not positioned on top of any plush elastic and that it is not visible from the right side of the fabric.

For the standard two-step elastic application process used in my bra sewing patterns, you can sandwich the clear elastic between the right side of the garment and the lingerie elastic and apply the lingerie elastic as usual.

Don’t you just love all the options you have when making your own bras?!

Fenway Foam Bra Tutorial by Orange Lingerie

How to Make Foam Cups for the Fenway Bra

 

Fenway Foam Bra Tutorial Blue Lace by Orange LingerieSometimes you want to use a lightweight cut and sew foam for bra making to add some extra support and create an extra smooth profile. Since the Fenway bra is a frameless (partial band) style, and often has a sheer contrast upper cup, the procedure is a bit different from what you are used to. It is also a lot of fun to sew up!

This tutorial will show you the simplest method to add foam to the Fenway bra. This method avoids folding foam which is a big no-no in bra making. I also think this method is really cool since the foam cup remains free floating in the bra. Let me show you what I mean!

Making Foam Cups

To keep the sheer upper cup, foam will only be added to the lower cup. The first step is to create pattern pieces for foam lower cups by removing all the seam allowances as shown by the orange lines below. This is super easy with the Fenway bra sewing pattern since all the seam lines are clearly marked. Be sure to transfer the notch markings so you can be sure to get your foam lower cup pieces aligned properly throughout the construction process.

Converting Fenway Lower Cup to Foam Pieces by Orange LingerieSewing the Foam Cups

If you have made my Esplanade bra sewing pattern or read my article in Threads magazine, you know that to sew foam you butt the edges of the pieces together and use zigzag stitch to join the pieces. I like to use a 4.0mm wide 3-step zigzag stitch.

Sewing a Lower Foam Cup by Orange Lingerie

While you could cover that zigzag seam with tricot tape, I tend to leave it as is since adding any material to the foam means adding some bulk and/or potential body irritation. I also like to keep construction as simple as possible!

You will want to finish the upper edge of the lower cup with either a 3-step zigzag or overlock stitch. I usually just run that upper edge through my overlock machine. This not only finishes the upper edge of the cup but it also serves to flatten the area to eliminate any potential foam bump in the finished garment.Finishing a Lower Foam Cup by Orange Lingerie

Adding Foam Cups to the Bra

Assemble the bra as usual up to the point where you are ready to topstitch the underwire casing.

Before turning the underwire casing to the inside of the cups, align the foam lower cup with the lower cup area of the fabric cup. Work your way around the upper cup to lower cup seam line, aligning the lower cup seams. You can baste the foam in place or use pins on the right side of the bra.

Remember, you removed the seam allowances of the foam cup so with accurate cutting and sewing the foam will fit precisely below the lower cup to upper cup seam and above the line where the casing was sewn on to the cup. If this is not the case for you, trim the foam along the lower edge so it will not be folded when the casing is topstitched into place but will be covered by the folded over casing.
Foam Cup Placement in Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie

Next, turn the casing over the foam and topstitch the casing as usual. The foam cup will be secured only around the wire line along the bottom edge of the lower cup.

Fenway Lower Cup Foam Bra Tutorial by Orange LingerieYet another way you can sew up the Fenway bra! Have fun!

Eliminate Underwire Cutting by Orange Lingerie

How to Eliminate Cutting Underwires

Eliminate Underwire Cutting on the Orange Lingerie BlogAll Orange Lingerie bra sewing patterns are designed to use underwires and each style has a different neckline shape and center front height. This means the optimum underwire length varies by bra. Ordering a lot of bra underwires over the years I found that underwire lengths also vary, even when ordering the exact same wire. As you know, with bras, every ⅛” can make a difference!

For these reasons (plus a really small studio!), I maintain a supply of longer wires and I cut them to the size that I want using this method. I always make sure that I have ½” extra room in the casing channel. This extra space, often called “wire play”, allows the underwires to move when the bra is on the body so that they are not forced through the casing channel.

I realize not everyone likes to or wants to cut their underwires so in this tutorial, I will show you how to avoid cutting underwires for your bra. In exchange for the convenience, there is a cost! The cost is that you must alter the pattern and along with it, the style lines of the bra.

Measuring

The first step is to measure the wire line of the bra. The underwire sits ⅛” away from the underwire casing attachment line. For a full frame bra, this distance is measured outside the cup to frame seam line. For a frameless bra, like the Fenway bra shown below, this distance is measured inside the cup to frame seam line. The endpoint of the underwire at the underarm is below where any trim is attached and the endpoint at the center front is below where the wire casing will be stitched closed.

Next you need to take the measurement of the length of your underwire and add ½” for wire play.

Measuring Wire Line of Fenway Bra by Orange LingerieAltering

For this example, let’s say the pattern allows for 7½” for the underwires as measured above and your underwire plus the wire play amount measures 7”. This means you need to add ⅜” to the wire line for your underwires to fit into the casing without requiring you to cut them to size.

To add to the wire line, you will increase the height of the center front of the pattern. This needs to happen in two places: the bridge and the upper cup.

Starting with the bridge, follow the existing wire line and add the necessary ⅜” from the seam line. Remember, all pattern alterations are made from the seam line!

Increasing Wire Line on Bridge of Fenway Bra by Orange LingerieFor the upper cup, follow the upper cup to bridge seam line and add that same ⅜”. Then redraw the upper edge of your upper cup to correspond with the raised center front point.Increasing Wire Line on Upper Cup of Fenway Bra by Orange LingerieWhile you have increased the coverage of the bra along the neckline, you do not have to cut any wires!

Limitations

In case you were wondering, you can also make this adjustment in the opposite direction by decreasing the height of the bridge an upper cup, however, given the style lines of bras are carefully crafted for shaping and support, I don’t recommend making an adjustment up or down by more than ⅜”!

Two Ways to Use Lace for the Fenway Bra

Lace Cups Two Ways Side by Side by Orange Lingerie

In my Fenway Bra Sewing Inspiration post, I included a few bras that used lace. Last week in my Instagram stories I showed some options for using lace to recreate those inspirational looks. In this post I will show you exactly how to get those looks for your Fenway bra!

Lace Scallop Edge Neckline

The first method uses a lace scallop edge for the neckline. To get this look, your lace should be wide enough to accommodate the entire upper cup pattern piece. Of course if the lace you want to use is not wide enough, you can always piece the lace together but lace piecing requires its own dedicated blog post!

Lace Scallop Edge for Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie

To modify the Fenway pattern to use a scallop edge, draw a straight line from the center front seam line to the uppermost point of the bra.While you lose the curved shaping of the neckline, you gain a lovely lace edge.

 

Lace Edge Pattern Alteration by Orange LingerieWhen you go to cut out the upper cup, position that straight line on your lace so that the center front seam line and upper most tip match up with a lace edge. You can read more about cutting lace in this post. Be sure to also cut the upper cup from a sheer lining to stabilize the lace.

Start your sewing by stabilizing the scallop edge of the lace with a narrow clear elastic or color matched elastic. Just place the stabilizer elastic on top of the lining on the wrong side of the upper cup, both positioned just below the valley of the lace scallops so neither will be visible from the right side of the garment. Attach the elastic with a zigzag stitch that spans the width of the elastic.

Stabilize Lace Edge of Bra by Orange Lingerie

Sew up the rest of the bra as usual, omitting the fold over elastic from the lace scallop edge.

Lace Scallop Edge Cup

Achieving this lace look is a bit more work but what a lovely result!

Lace Effect Cup for Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie

The goal with this style is to give the appearance of the lace scallop going around the lower cup seam line. Of course the Fenway cup seam is very curvy so you won’t be able to match up a lace scallop entirely unless you want to do some lace piecing!

Without lace piecing, the way to get the most lace scallop around that seam with the Fenway bra is to start by focusing on the point above the notch on the upper cup. You should have at least ½” visible lace above the seam line over the notch. I found the best way to do that is to put a high point of the lace above the notch. Then adjust the pattern piece to capture as much lace scallop near the seam line as shown below.

Lace Effect Cutting by Orange LingerieOn the pattern piece you will want to draw in reference lines, such as a solid portion of the lace edge, so you can align your pattern piece for mirroring and cutting. Note the pattern piece alignment will vary for each lace so you will need to draw in a new reference line for each lace.

Cut the lace from the lower part of the upper cup and cut a complete upper cup from bra tulle or other stable sheer fabric. To complete the effect, cut your lower cup pieces from the same lace and a nylon sheer cup lining.

Lace effect pattern piece cut by Orange LingerieTo sew the cup, I like to start by using Sulky KK 2000 temporary adhesive spray (more on my love of this spray in this post) to temporarily bind the lace with the tulle and/or lining pieces.

Your first sewing step is to zigzag stitch the lace edge to the tulle on the upper cup as shown below. Then you can sew the bra up as usual!

Attaching Lace Edge by Orange LingerieP.S. If you like this lace, stay tuned for how you can get your hands on some!

Fenway Bra Sewing Inspiration

Thank you for the enthusiastic response to the Fenway bra sewing pattern! I love the possibilities of all the different bras you can make with this new style. I thought I would share some of my inspiration to give you ideas for making your own Fenway bra.

 

Inspiration for Sewing Your Own Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie

 

Starting on the left hand side above, there are some great ideas in this pair of bras from Lonely Lingerie. In the black bra, a virtual upper cup is created using strap elastic that originates at the underwire casing on either side of the cup. There is also another strap that extends from the lower cup center seam (you can click through to Journelle to see this on a model). It may take a bit of playing around to get the length of that center elastic piece just so, but what a fun project!

Both Lonely Lingerie bras make use of a lace scallop edge for the lower cup. This could be done as an overlay, concealing the lower cup to upper cup seam as pictured in the yellow bra. Given the curves of the Fenway bra lower cup it may involve some lace piecing to get the same effect.

Sticking with the lace theme (because who does not love lace?!), the ID Sarrieri bra, pictured in the bottom right corner, uses a beautiful lace scallop edge for the neckline. This can be done with a simple pattern change. Just straighten out the neckline and then cut the neckline edge of the upper cup aligned with the valley of the lace scallops. I like to see that they stabilized the lace neckline and you should definitely do the same if you make a version like this one!

Finally, in the upper right hand corner is a bra by Lou Lingerie. (This is the same style as the headline image for this post.) I like the use of a print fabric with a fun trim along the neckline. Keep in mind that if you want to use a trim on your Fenway instead of fold over elastic, you will need to alter the pattern by adding a trim allowance to those areas. My bra sewing patterns all have the seam allowances and trim lines clearly marked so you can see where you need to make the adjustment!

Which version are you going to try next? Be sure to tag your Fenway bras with #fenwaybra so everyone can find yours!

 

P.S. I have heard from many of you who want an expanded size range for the Fenway bra! The more requests I receive the more likely it is that I will work on that project! 

The Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie this version in Polka Dot Silk with Tulle

Another New Bra Sewing Pattern!

The Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie this version in Polka Dot Silk with TulleIntroducing the Fenway bra!

As you may guess from the name, this style was inspired by baseball and because today is the home opener at Fenway Park in Boston, I have been waiting until today to release this pattern!

I first started thinking about his bra style when a foul ball unexpectedly fell into my lap at a ball game. I was inspired by the curves and stitching detail on the ball and started thinking about what a baseball inspired bra would look like.

Baseball Inspiration from Orange Lingerie

I knew for sure that I wanted a curvy lower cup shape, which I was able to get by removing the frame of the bra. The rest of the style elements – the triangle upper cup and the fold over elastic – contribute to an overall fresh and sporty look, all of which seem to say “baseball” to me.

Close Up of Round Lower Cup on the Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie

This is my first frameless design; that is, the cups are not set into a frame but are attached to separate band and bridge pieces. This means the construction is a bit different when applying the underwire casing. Of course, as usual, I have fully illustrated instructions to walk you through the process.

Frameless Cup of the Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie

As mentioned, this bra uses fold over elastic to finish the upper edges of the bra for a fun and sporty finish. If you have shied away from using fold over elastic in the past, fear not – my instructions include a super simple method to attach that trim! I am convinced that the fold over elastic is the reason why this bra sews up faster than any of my other styles!

Side View of the Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie

I used a sheer fabric for the upper cup for the initial samples. I am just loving the play of the sheer and the opaque right now. Of course, because this is sewing and you get to make what you want, you do not have to use a sheer contrast! You can be sure that I will be making several Fenway variations over the coming months and sharing them on Instagram.
Close Up of Bra Tulle Upper Cup on Fenway Bra by Orange Lingerie
In terms of sizing, the initial range for the Fenway bra is 30A to 40DD. However, I am considering working on an expanded range for this style. As with my previous bra sewing patterns, the key determinants for developing a larger size range are sufficient demand and the ability to create proper support with similar styling as the original design. What this means is that if you want to see a larger size range for the Fenway bra, be sure to let me know!

Buy the Fenway Bra Pattern Now!

How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie Blog

How to Move Straps on the Marlborough Bra

How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie BlogWhen I posted the tutorial “How to Move Straps for a Better Fitting Bra” I used the Boylston bra sewing pattern for my example. Afterwards I was asked for the same tutorial for the Marlborough bra sewing pattern. Well, ask and you shall receive!

While it is slightly more complicated to move the straps on the Marlborough bra, the same principles apply. To better see the change let’s first align the pieces that comprise the upper cup area at their seam lines. How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie Blog

 

Looking at the above you can see that to move the straps that attach to the top of the power bar we will need to do the following:

  • Redraw the power bar seam line where it joins to the upper cup.
  • Redraw the outer edge of the power bar.
  • Redraw the upper cup to power bar seam line.
  • All while not changing the lower cup to power bar seam line to maintain needed cup volume.

First let’s look at moving the straps in:

  • Start by marking where you want to move the straps. I am using ½” for this example which may be a bit exaggerated, but I want to clearly show what the change looks like.How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie Blog
  • Redraw the power bar to upper cup seam line so the inner edge of the strap starts at the new, marked point. Remember all pattern alterations are from the seam lines! How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie Blog
  • Redraw the remainder of the power bar using the existing power bar dimensions as a guide and draw in the new cutting lines. Remember the finished power bar should be close to ½” (¾” D to J cups) across the top where the strap ring is attached. Also remember to maintain the allowance for the trim at the underarm (⅜”  for A to C cups and ½” for D to J cups).How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Now, let’s look at how to move the straps out. (Though I must say that I have never heard of anyone moving the straps out on this pattern!)

  • Start by marking where you want to move the straps. I am using ¼” for this example. How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie Blog
  • Redraw the power bar to upper cup seam line so the inner edge of the strap starts at the new, marked point. Be sure to maintain a smooth line the length of the power bar.How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie Blog
  • Redraw the remainder of the power bar using the existing power bar dimensions as a guide and draw in the new cutting lines. Remember the finished power bar should be close to ½” (¾” D to J cups) across the top where the strap ring is attached. Also remember to maintain the allowance for the trim at the underarm (⅜”  for A to C cups and ½” for D to J cups).

How to Move Marlborough Bra Straps on the Orange Lingerie Blog

The process for moving the band positioning on the back of the bra remains the same. You can get a refresher on how to do that here.

Did you know that you should not alter the bra straps until the band and frame fit you properly? If you want to learn more about pattern alterations for bra fitting you can get my book where I take you through my systematic fitting process and the most common bra sewing pattern fitting adjustments!

How to Make a Lace Upper Cup for a Foam Cup Bra

How to Make a Lace Upper Cup for a Foam Cup Bra by Orange LingerieI love lace bras and I especially love the look of a lace scallop edge. Luckily it is simple to convert the upper cup of many bra patterns to use a lace scallop edge, even when that cup is made of foam.

This tutorial will show you how to covert the upper cup of the Esplanade bra to show off a lace scallop edge. You can use this same approach for the Boylston bra and this tutorial will help you understand how to use foam underneath the lace upper cup of the Marlborough bra.

The first step is to alter the upper cup pattern for both the foam and fabric pattern pieces. All you need to do is straighten the top edge for both pieces which you do by drawing a straight line from seam line to seam line as shown below.

How to Make a Lace Upper Cup for a Foam Cup Bra

When you modify the fabric pattern for lace, you lose the portion of the cup that folds over the foam. This is intentional and allows the lace scallop edge to remain visible in the final bra.

You will cut out your upper cup as you normally cut out lace upper cups, aligning the seam lines with the edge of the lace. Depending on your lace, it can take some experimentation to get the best cutting layout. The primary goal is to preserve the length of the seam lines, something that is particularly important with working with the small seam allowances and close fit of a bra. When covering foam, we also need to be sure we covering the foam cup as much as possible so it does not show through to the right side of the bra.

For this particular lace, the below layout works best:

How to Make a Lace Upper Cup for a Foam Cup Bra by Orange Lingerie

To contrast, while the following layout preserves the lengthy of the seam lines, you can see there are several gaps created where the foam would be very visible. Something we definitely do not want!

How to Make a Lace Upper Cup for a Foam Cup Bra by Orange LingerieIn terms of putting it all together, assemble the cups as instructed in the pattern. When you get to step six of the Esplanade instructions, instead of sewing the fabric cup to the foam cup and flipping the fabric over the foam, put the wrong side of the lace cup to the right side of the foam cup, aligning the base of the lace scallops with the upper edge of the foam cup. Then sew a zigzag stitch across the top of the foam cup to join the two layers.

If you want to finish the upper edge of the foam with more than just a zigzag over the edge you could optionally finish the foam edge with some tricot tape prior to attaching the lace cup. Just be sure not to add any bulk to this area since we want it to lie flat on the body. A zigzag stitch helps to flatten out that upper edge of the foam cup without creating any ridges. I actually prefer the flatness I can achieve without any additional finishing along that upper edge.

Now you have beautiful lace scallop edge cups for you Esplanade bra and you can finish sewing the cups and bra as usual!

Esplanade Bra Making Kits Now Available!

Esplanade Bra Making Kits Now Available!

Peach Multi Floral Esplanade Bra by Orange LingerieOnce again I have teamed up with Tailor Made Shop to offer bra making kits, this time for the Esplanade bra! Just add the pattern and underwires to these Orange Lingerie x Tailor Made Shop kits and you have everything you need to make your own beautiful long line strapless bra.

You may recognize a couple of these print fabrics from my last collaboration with Tailor Made Shop. I have to say that I love them even more made into an Esplanade bra!

Rose Floral Esplanade Bra by Orange Lingerie

We also have a new fabric, a lightweight scuba (pictured below), which is super easy to handle and works really well for bra making!

Scuba Floral Esplanade Bra by Orange Lingerie

There are only a limited number of kits available so order yours soon! The pre-sale for these kits is from March 13 – 24 and they will ship April 3 – 7.

I can’t wait to see all the beautiful Esplanade bras everyone is going to make with these kits! Be sure to tag your make #OrangeLingeriexTMS so we can find them all!