How to Launder Lingerie on the Orange Lingerie Blog

How to Launder Lingerie While Traveling

How to Launder Lingerie on the Orange Lingerie BlogBy committing to launder your lingerie while traveling, you are not only freeing up valuable suitcase space but you are also ensuring your lingerie looks great and has a long life. Don’t worry, laundering your delicates on the road is really easy and takes hardly any time at all!

If you have read my post about how to care for your lingerie you know that you should only wear a bra twice before laundering. In short, it helps preserve the life of the elastics. Underwear should be washed after a single wearing.

Just like at home, bras and underwear are hand washed and air dried. Let’s go through the process step-by-step.

Fill sink with lukewarm water along with a travel packet of Soak laundry wash.
I travel with a sink stopper, just in case the one in my room does not work properly — it happens more than you think! A versatile stopper also ensures that I can do laundry in any sink or tub. Laundry must soak to get truly clean so a stopper is pretty crucial. In terms of the soap, I like Soak since it does not require rinsing which is a nice time saver.

Put your dirty delicates into the soapy water.
Don’t forget to wash similar colors together! You will need to wash your pink sets separately from your black sets to avoid any potential color bleed.

Soak laundry for 15 to 20 minutes
I usually start the laundry process before I shower so the lingerie soaks while I am showering and I don’t lose valuable travel time waiting on my laundry.

Remove garments from sink and press out extra water.
You don’t want to wring or squeeze your bras or underwear. Just think of those delicate fabrics and laces! To get the extra water out of the garments press bras between layers of a microfiber towel. For underwear, roll them up in a microfiber towel.

Hang up garments and microfiber towel on a clothes line.
I want to be sure I have an easy way to hang up my garments so they can properly dry out so I travel with a clothes line that allows me to create a place to dry my clothes regardless of the location or layout of the space. I usually lie bras flat on a towel to dry at home but when traveling, I need them to dry faster so I put them on the line as well. To hang a bra on this clothes line (pictured below) I insert the hook or eye side into the line. That way I do not distort or stretch the straps or center front bridge of the bra.

That’s it! Freshly laundered bras and underwear will be dry and ready for deployment in 24 hours or less!

How to Launder Lingerie on the Orange Lingerie Blog

 

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!

Last Minute Bra Makers Gift Guide by Orange Lingerie

Last Minute Bra Makers Gift Guide!

Last Minute Bra Makers Gift Guide by Orange Lingerie

If your holidays are anything like mine, you are looking for last minute gifts. Right NOW! Preferably for things that will arrive before Christmas. Well, if you have a bra maker on your list, things just got easier for you! If you act fast, every item below will arrive before Sunday if you order in the next day or so. Easy, right?

If they want to learn how to make a bra:

Last Minute Bra Makers Gift Guide by Orange Lingerie

If they love sewing tools and gadgets, these items will make it easier to sew bras:

  • Olfa 18mm Small Rotary Cutter. This is my favorite rotary cutter. So small and easy to handle, it is great for cutting out all those curves. Bonus, you can get replacement blades and/or a rotary cutting mat to go along with it! I keep a cutting mat next to my sewing machine for easy, last minute cutting.
  • Gingher 6-Inch Applique Scissors. I use these for every bra I make. They are my favorite tool for trimming away extra fabric behind the first pass of elastic or for grading seams.
  • Sulky Temporary Spray Adhesive. This air dissolvable temporary bonder is really helpful when working with multiple layers of fabric. I use this to temporarily bond lace over fabric so I can handle the two layers as one throughout the construction process. Definitely a must have for me.

If you just want to surprise them, get one of these fun extras:

Now that a little bit more of your shopping is sorted you can relax and have a happy and healthy holiday season!

Disclosure: Please note that the links for books and equipment and supplies above are affiliate links. This means that I will be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking through.

Orange Lingerie Bra Making Workshop Fitting Day

Bra Making Workshop Fitting Day Recap

Orange Lingerie Bra Making Workshop Fitting DayThis fall has been busy! In addition to working on new patterns for 2017, over the last two months I taught three sold out bra making workshops! The most recent class at Stitch Sew Shop was my classic two-day workshop where I teach students how to construct their own  professional looking bra and how to fit the Marlborough bra to their figure. I never tire of seeing students get super excited to discover they now have the sewing superpowers to make their own bras!

I already posted a recap of what the first day of my workshops looks like so I won’t review that here. The second day of my two-day workshop is all about fitting, making pattern adjustments and sewing up another bra to reinforce new bra making skills so students will be able to make their own bras at home on their own after they leave class.

The second day of class starts with students trying on the bra they made on the first day of class. I examine the fit and notate any necessary pattern changes. Once the group has been fitted I walk them through how to make each pattern change and then check their work before they cut out another bra.

Orange Lingerie Bra Making Workshop Fitting Day

Pattern changes for this group included altering the bra band, removing excess material from the upper cup, increasing the cup volume and moving the straps. I have covered a couple of these changes previously (see links above) and I will be adding posts for the remainder shortly. As requested, I will also write a post on how to move the straps of the Marlborough bra since it is done a bit differently than for the Boylston bra.

For the second bra students get their pick from a variety of bra making kits ranging from a versatile beige to a hot pink to a leopard lace! As usual, the brightest and boldest kits were selected first. Of course if students still want to practice their new skills they usually have enough white material to make another white bra, but no one has ever done that!

Orange Lingerie Bra Making Workshop Fitting DayThe second bras come together much faster than the first day and once complete I provide another fitting. At this point the fit is usually quite good with only a few small refinements recommended to further fine tune the fit. Once again I notate the changes and demonstrate how to make any remaining pattern changes so students can leave class with a fitted Marlborough pattern.

In terms of the venue, Stitch Sew Shop is lovely! They use Bernina machines (my favorite) for classes. They even have my favorite iron, the Reliable i300. I love that iron so much! Their massive cutting table was also a hit. If you live in the Arlington, VA area I highly recommend checking out this beautiful shop!

Orange Lingerie Bra Making Workshop Fitting Day

My next two-day bra making workshop is set for March 18-19 at Three Little Birds Sewing Co. As of today it is half full so grab your spot while you still can!

More Boylston Bra Sewing Pattern Sizes from Orange Lingerie

New Boylston Bra Pattern for DDD to J Cups!

More Boylston Bra Sewing Pattern Sizes from Orange LingerieLike the Marlborough bra, the Boylston bra is now available for DDD to J cup sizes!

Once again, the new size range is a separate pattern because grading sizes above DD is quite different than grading sizes below DD and there were also a few necessary changes to the pattern to get the same styling, lift and shaping for the new size range.

To refine the fit and grading for the new size range, I was once again very fortunate to have the support of some amazing fit models including Jenny from Cashmerette! Jenny tried on nearly a half dozen variations of the Boylston bra to find the perfect fit. (By the way, I recommend checking out her patterns which are available by cup size!)

For your reference, below is a sister size chart for the new pattern. You can read my post about how to enlarge the band of the bra to reach those sister sizes in gray on the table below.

New Marlborough Bra Sewing Pattern Size Range by Orange Lingerie

Happy bra making everyone!

How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie Blog

How to Increase a Bra Band

How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie BlogWith the release of the new size range for the Marlborough bra sewing pattern, I thought it would be a good time to review some bra sewing pattern adjustments. Since I have had requests for larger band sizes, I am going to start with a tutorial on how increase a bra band.

For some background, I draft my bands based on the ideal bra fit that I describe in this post. To provide the best support, my general rule is that you should not be able to get more than two fingers under the band.

Sister Sizing

The good news is that adjusting a bra band is really simple. Let’s start by taking a look at the size range of the DDD to J cup pattern shown below. The recommended wire size is in the far left hand column followed by sister sizes as you read across the table. The sizes in black text are included in the pattern and the grayed out sizes are some of the sister sizes.

“Sister size” is a bra term that means that the cup volume is the same, only the band is different. For example, the 34J, 36I, 38H, 40G and 42DDD all use the size 50 wire, they are sister sizes and all have the same cup volume. The difference between those sizes is in the band.New Marlborough Bra Sewing Pattern Size Range by Orange Lingerie

So let’s talk about how to get those grayed out sizes!

Amount to Add to the Bra Band

To make it super easy for you, the table below tells you what you need to add to the band of the Marlborough DDD to J cup size pattern depending on how many band sizes you want to add.
How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Now for the step-by-step pattern changes!

How to Add to the Bra Band

I wanted to make it super easy to add to the bra band for this size range so all you need to do is increase the span of the band. My favorite way to make this adjustment is to find the flattest area of the band, use a slash and spread technique to make the increase then smooth the lines to get your new enlarged band pattern piece. The slash and spread technique means you don’t have to mess with truing up the side seam.

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Find the flattest point of the band pattern piece and at that point draw a line parallel to the side seam.How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie blog
  2. Cut along the line you drew in Step 2 and spread the band apart by the amount needed.How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie blog
  3. Smooth out the lines of the band (I left I the original lines so you can how this looks).How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie blog

As with all pattern adjustments, I highly recommend making a toile (a.k.a. a muslin) before making your final garment. Remember, it is easier to take away from a band that is too large versus trying to add to a band that is too small!

I have more pattern adjustment posts on the way! If there is anything in particular that you are interested in learning about, let me know in the comments!

New Marlborough Bra Sewing Pattern Size Range by Orange Lingerie

New Marlborough Bra Sewing Pattern for DDD to J cups!

New Marlborough Bra Sewing Pattern Size Range by Orange LingerieEver since I released the Marlborough bra sewing pattern, the number one request I receive is to add more sizes. So starting today a new Marlborough bra sewing pattern is available for DDD to J cups for size 30 to 40 bands. I am super excited to be able to make this beautiful bra sewing pattern available to even more sewists!

The new size range is a separate pattern primarily because grading sizes above DD is different than grading sizes below DD. Also, as you would expect, there were a few changes to the pattern to get the same styling, lift and shaping for the new size range.

To refine the fit and grading for the new size range, I was incredibly fortunate to have the support of some amazing fit models including Jenny from Cashmerette! Jenny was incredibly patient, trying on multiple variations of the Marlborough bra to find the perfect fit! I recommend checking out her patterns which are available by cup size!

For your reference, here is a sister size chart for the new pattern. You can read my post about sister sizing that includes a tutorial on how to alter the band to get the sister sizes that are outside of the pattern range (the gray text in this table).

New Marlborough Bra Sewing Pattern Size Range by Orange Lingerie

Happy bra making everyone!

The Easiest Way to Increase Your Sewing Speed on the Orange Lingerie Blog

The Easiest Way to Increase Your Sewing Speed

 

The Easiest Way to Increase Your Sewing Speed on the Orange Lingerie Blog

The time it takes to sew a project is largely the sum of the time it takes to complete each task. The time it takes to complete each task is primarily driven by body motion, so the more motions that are required, the more time it takes to complete a project. What all this means is that the key to decreasing the overall time to complete a project is to decrease the necessary motions.

There are actually many time and motion studies surrounding sewing because in manufacturing time is money. Time and motion influence the layout of the workroom, the order of operations, the structure of the production team, the cost of production and more. While the time you personally spend sewing may not equal money, time spent sewing one garment is certainly time you could spend on your next project!

Luckily, the easiest way to decrease body motion in sewing is to simply eliminate the use of pins!

Think about the activity of pinning. You pick up a pin, align the fabric edges, insert a pin and repeat for the length of each seam. Then, you have to remove the pins as you sew. You take a pin out of the fabric, put it into its dish (or drop it on the floor and have to pick it up!) and repeat for the length of each seam. Additionally, you slow or stop sewing as you remove each pin, further decreasing your sewing speed.

Admittedly, I was a pin user until a friend who does production sewing challenged me to go without (he never uses pins in the machine sewing process). I took the challenge and I was immediately able to make a bra 30% faster. Yes, I actually time these things! I was so impressed by the results that I have never gone back to using pins.

If you decide to take the no pin challenge, here are a few tips. First, it helps to have a knee lever to operate your machine presser foot. Industrial machines have this feature so machine operators can use their hands to get the fabric aligned for sewing. Many home sewing machines also have this feature. I don’t think I could have a pin free workroom without it! If your machine does not have this feature, try using only one pin, just to get the seam set for the machine, then remove it as soon as the presser foot is securing the fabric.

Second, see my tips on accurate cutting and marking. Following the practices outlined in those posts go a long way toward increasing your sewing speed.

The Easiest Way to Increase Your Sewing Speed on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Finally, I like to sew as many seams as possible in one go as shown above. Not only does that help with speed but it also makes starting the seam lines for some of the smaller bra pieces much easier since this practice effectively gives you a “leader” piece for your seam.

Do you have any tips for sewing without pins? Or tips for sewing faster? Please share in the comments!

How to Get Perfect ¼" Seams for Lingerie Sewing on the Orange Lingerie Blog

How to Get Perfect ¼” Seams for Lingerie Sewing

Most lingerie sewing involves ¼” seam allowances. These small seam allowances make it easier than the standard garment seam allowances to sew all the curves involved in making lingerie. In fact, if your lingerie pattern has larger seam allowances, I recommend decreasing them to ¼”.

Importance of Accurate Seam Allowances

Because seam lines are not usually marked on your lingerie fabric to show you where you need to sew, being able to sew an accurate seam is important, especially when it comes to sewing bras. If you take even an extra 1/16” into the seam allowance you decrease the size of each pattern piece by 1/8” (1/16” x 2) in each direction which can significantly affect the fit.

One of the first things I do in every workshop I teach is to check each student’s seam allowance to be sure they are sewing at ¼”. I often see students align the edge of their presser foot with the edge of the fabric, thinking they are sewing a ¼” seam. Unless you are using a ¼” foot, that it is not the case! Every machine differs and you need to find how to achieve a ¼” seam on your machine and get that set before you start sewing the garment.

Finding the ¼” seam allowance setting

To get a ¼” seam allowance with a standard machine foot, I prefer to move the needle position so I can use the edge of the presser foot rather than finding a suitable fabric alignment point on the bed of the machine. To find the ¼” seam allowance, I put a gauge under the machine presser foot with the ¼“ aligned with the edge of the presser foot as pictured below. I then move the needle position until it aligns with the zero point of the gauge. If I am setting an unfamiliar machine, I will also sew a quick test swatch just to be sure.

How to Get Perfect ¼" Seams for Lingerie Sewing on the Orange Lingerie BlogI prefer the needle repositioning approach because I want the feed dogs of the machine to evenly feed all the fabric where the machine is making a stitch. You can see below that if I keep the needle in the center to get a ¼” seam allowance (indicated by the pin on the ruler), the feed dogs will not be under all of the fabric. As a fan of control and good stitch quality, I like to have the feed dogs able to do their work as the sewing machine intended.

I also like using a standard machine foot since many ¼” presser feet are designed for a straight stitch only. When I am making lingerie I frequently move between straight stitches and zigzag stitches and I don’t want to have to take the time to change machine feet each time I want to change the stitch.

How to Get Perfect ¼" Seams for Lingerie Sewing on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Things to Look Out For

In addition to even feed, another great thing about using the edge of the presser foot is that you can use the helpful markings on the foot. In these pictures you can clearly see the horizontal red line on the foot that appears directly across from the needle. That horizontal line represents where the needle is entering the fabric to make a stitch. That line is the alignment point for the edge of your fabric when sewing, not the base of the foot. 

This is an important point because lingerie sewing involves a lot of curves. If you align a curvy fabric edge with the base of the foot, the fabric will likely bow inside or outside of the ¼” marker by the time the needle enters the fabric to make a stitch. It seems like a small thing but if you are taking out more or less fabric from the garment around the curves and ultimately changing the size and fit .

Commit it to Memory

Once you know the ¼” seam allowance setting for your machine either write it down or, if your sewing machine allows, store it in the machine’s memory so you can quickly retrieve the setting as needed.

Do you have any tips for getting an accurate seam allowance? Feel free to add your suggestions to the comments!

Tips and Tricks for Marking Fabric on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Tips and Tricks for Marking Fabric

Continuing on with the summer “pro tips” series, today is about marking tools and how to mark your fabric. Marking lingerie sewing pattern pieces is important, especially for bras, since it is not always obvious how the pieces fit together. Accurate marking also makes it much easier to assemble your garment.

First things First

When it comes to markers, I believe in thorough pre-testing. To truly test a marker, you need to mark the fabric, remove the marking then wash and dry the test swatch, exactly as you will treat the final garment. It sounds like a hassle but it is even more of a hassle to have a marking reappear in a visible spot on your finished garment after its first wash!

Marker Recommendations

Let’s dive right in with my top recommendation, the Clover Chacopen. It washes right out, even from white Duoplex fabric and does not reappear after washing. Easy marking and removal make this marker a winner.

I know some sewists swear by the Pilot Frixion pen, a gel pen that uses heat to remove its markings. I do not use them since they failed my wash and dry test on white Duoplex. The markings faintly reappear. The pen’s marks will also reappear if the garment gets cold. It is worth noting that, Frixion pens are designed as erasable gel pens, not as removable fabric markers. You are actually putting gel ink on your fabric when you use these pens.

Top Tips for Marking Fabric on the Orange Lingerie Blog

On darker fabrics, I like to use chalk in the form of the Clover Pen Style Chaco Liner (in yellow above). Depending on how quickly I will be working with the garment, I may even use disappearing tailors chalk, a chalk that disappears on its own over the span of a few days. Clover also makes an air erasable marker (the pink marker pictured) but I find those markings disappear too quickly!

Some of my students like to use Hera markers (the white plastic tool pictured above). I find the markings too hard to see but if it works for you it is a great option since you don’t apply anything but pressure to the fabric to make a marking. I would still test this marker first to be sure it does not cause any long term damage the fibers of your fabric.

When it comes to larger projects like my couture camisole or this chemise I mark construction details using cotton basting thread as pictured below.

Top Tips for Marking Fabric on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Marking

Now you know which markers to use, so what should you mark?

If you are not used to sewing bras, the pattern pieces and how the pieces fit together can be confusing so I recommend placing a marker to indicate the top (and/or bottom) of each pattern piece for your reference so you know how the pieces come together. You may even want to label what each piece is (e.g. lower outside cup) I like to use small adhesive labels as pictured below.

Top Tips for Marking Fabric on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Of course you also want to be sure to transfer construction markers onto your fabric. Another tip – do not snip any notches! Think about what happens when you cut into a knit garment or snag a pair of stockings – the fabric unravels. Even when using a woven fabric for lingerie the small seam allowances make snipping notches is a bit dangerous! To make it easier to transfer notches to my fabric using a marker, I notch my pattern pieces.

Do you have any tips for marking fabric? Feel free to add your tips to the comments below!

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links and if you click through and make a purchase I will be compensated.