Boylston Bra by Orange Lingerie

Introducing the Boylston Bra Sewing Pattern!

Boylston Bra by Orange Lingerie

You may have seen an early prototype of this design in the article I wrote for Threads magazine (#174). Now you can get the pattern to make your own custom foam t-shirt bra, cut-and-sew bra or even bikini top! The Boylston bra is super versatile.

In terms of design I wanted to create a demi cup style with good coverage and shaping. I also wanted a different neckline for the Boylston so I used a fabric strap that is fairly wide where it attaches to the upper cup and narrows as it goes over the shoulder. In addition to the flattering neckline, I love the look of carrying the pattern of the fabric up through the strap.

Boylston Bra - Floral Silk Charmeuse

There are so many variations you can make from this design! Stay tuned to the usual social media outlets to see more of them. To get started making your own Boylston bras, you can buy the pattern on Etsy or in my shop!

Boylston Bra - Beige Flower

Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie

Introducing the Marlborough Bra Sewing Pattern!

Marlborough Bra by Orange LingerieMy first lingerie sewing pattern is now available! This bra, called the Marlborough, has been engineered for great shaping and support. This is one of my custom clients favorite bras since it is not only beautiful but it is also a style that can be worn everyday. One of the reasons I like it so much is that this style provides a great foundation for playing with different laces and fabric prints for fun and variety. You can see some samples of completed Marlborough bras in the style gallery starting here.

I worked very hard to make the best pattern possible, including some unique features:

  • A PDF pattern that does not require any taping. All pattern pieces fit entirely inside the printable space of US Letter or A4 size paper. For printing ease each size is grouped together.
  • All pattern pieces are separate, not nested, and clearly show the seam allowance and/or trim allowance as applicable. This allows for construction clarity and simplifies any pattern alterations.
  • The detailed illustrations in the instructions make the seemingly complex steps of bra construction very clear and easy to understand.
  • This pattern was reviewed and graded by professionals who typically send their output directly into production so you can be extra confident that you have a great starting point for your garment.

You can buy the pattern here!

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you actually found out about the new pattern last month. If you are not on the newsletter list, sign up here to keep up-to-date. There are more lingerie sewing patterns on the way!

 

New Notions on Orange Lingerie Blog

Fun New Sewing Notions

I am always on the look out for new tools to help me get my job done better, faster and easier. I previously detailed the notions used most in my workroom in my book and on my resources page. Since then I have added a few new tools to the mix!

“Pizza wheel”

I discovered this one on Claire’s blog and Melissa wrote about it as well. I had wanted to purchase one and when I spotted it at Odakaya in Tokyo last month, I snapped it right up. This tool allows me to easily measure around curves, a great time saver when I need to make pattern adjustments. I love that it measures in metric units – my preference for pattern work. Claire’s blog post has information on how to buy this one. For those who like to work in imperial measurements, the EZ Measuring Wheel is available here.

 

Clover Desk Needle Threader

I learned about this gem at the last Susan Khalje couture class. This needle threader works every time, even through the tiny eyes of the Japanese needles that I love to use. I have three of these in various locations between the studio and my home so I am never without one!

 

 

Pilot FriXion Point Erasable Gel Pen

Katy & Laney introduced me to this pen by in November while I was shopping at Grey’s Fabric. First of all, I love an erasable pen, but the best feature is that the markings disappear with the heat of an iron. I have successfully used this marker on all sorts of fabrics and the point is nice and fine for precise markings.

 

Pentel Tri Eraser and Tombow MONO Zero Eraser

I always start bra pattern drafting by hand and there are all sorts of little pieces and tiny lines. When I need to erase a mark, I need to be careful and that is where these tiny erasers come in handy.

 

Olfa 18mm Rotary Cutter

Even though cutting with shears is more precise, I still love rotary cutting. This size is perfect for cutting small pieces and tight curves. It handles like a pencil so I have more control when cutting.

 

Japanese Pin Cushion

I like this colorful pin cushion because it reminds me of my visit to the shop in Kyoto that sells handmade sewing needles. The shop was just magical and this reminds of their fine craftsmanship, something I like to keep in mind while working.

A gadget girl at heart, I am always on the lookout for new notions! What are your favorites?

Disclosure: I used affiliate links for the above notions so if you click through and decide to purchase, I will be compensated.

 

Couture Camisole by Orange Lingerie

Couture Lingerie

With the graphic designer, artist and pattern grader all working on their parts of the upcoming Orange Lingerie sewing pattern I met up with a great group of women including Leisa from A Challenging Sew and Sarah from Goodbye Valentino to practice couture sewing as taught by Susan Khalje.

Lucky for me, this class came at the perfect time to test different couture construction techniques for the bias cut silk camisole pattern I am working on for release later this year. If you follow me on Instagram you got a glimpse into the process and saw some of the other amazing laces in the workroom like this one:

My favorite lesson was on how to make the ultimate spaghetti straps. Just look at how tiny you can get them! They may look dainty but they are super strong and turn out perfect every time.

Now I am back from class finalizing my first sewing pattern and refining the prototype for the second – both bras. I have learned that it takes at least 6 months to create a sewing pattern because while a sewing pattern could be only a template for the pieces to cut and sew (like Marfy patterns), I felt it was important to provide more with my lingerie patterns.

It is all the additional elements beyond the pattern itself like the instructions for sewing and measuring for size as well as the artwork and packaging that take up a lot of time. Regardless, everyday there is progress and the first pattern will available shortly!

 

Orange Lingerie in the Studio

Progress

I didn’t just move my home across the country, I also moved my work into its own separate studio! One thing about moving that I discovered is that it makes you look at things from a different perspective. It is a happy side effect that the move made me take a fresh look at my work.

Preparing to launch a line of lingerie sewing patterns, over the Summer I designed, drafted and graded my first pattern release. I was all set to move on to the next steps of the process when I learned we were moving to Boston. After we set up our home and my new studio last month, I reviewed my work plan and realized that instead of continuing to complete the original designs, I should be creating what the readers of my book are actually asking for: a really great bra pattern. So in case you were wondering, yes, I really am listening!

I have been solely focused on creating a sewing pattern for a bra that incorporates the style lines and features that I found consistently produced the most flattering fit and support for my custom clients. With the change in plans, the pattern won’t be available until next year but I promise it is worth waiting for!

Orange Lingerie Moving to Boston

Expect the Unexpected

What is the line about the world laughing at you when you make plans? Well, that saying exactly sums up my month. At the beginning of August, my husband and I were planning to move to an apartment in the East Village neighborhood in Chicago. We searched for and found an amazing apartment and spent time negotiating the lease. Then, the day we were to sign the lease, the unexpected happened.

My husband was offered a great career opportunity. In Boston. Just to complicate matters we could not start the moving process or even share the news broadly as his company went through their process to finalize the arrangements, filling these last few weeks with a lot of uncertainty. At last everything has fallen into place and I can finally share the news. We are moving to Boston!

I am not going to lie, moving cross country is highly disruptive. It is not just the move itself but the fact that all of our belongings will be in storage for at least a month while we find a place to live. While I am working hard to keep my projects on track it could take a bit longer than I expected to release my first pattern. You see, not expecting three distraction filled weeks and the Boston move, I got ambitious and decided to make a set (bralette and matching knickers) for my first pattern.

Luckily the pattern has already been graded and digitized and most of my test sewing is complete. Who knows, the move could lead to an unexpected increase in productivity since my stash of fabric and tempting extracurricular sewing projects will be temporarily out of reach. Now off to decide what can be temporarily exiled to storage and what I can not live without.

Orange Lingerie Table at Dose Market

Sewing Patterns!

Ever since I launched Orange Lingerie (nearly 4 years ago!) I have been drafting bra patterns to fit individual clients and to make small batches of ready-to-wear lingerie for local designer markets. When it came time to edit and test my book Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction I decided that I needed to use the materials my readers would have access to so I used a variety commercially available bra patterns to run through the techniques in my book.

As I worked with commercial patterns I saw room for innovation and a different point of view so I started to think about producing my patterns for those who wanted to sew my designs. As readers of my book and my blog started asking more about Orange Lingerie patterns, the thought really took hold.

I have mentioned this to a few of you but here is the formal announcement: I am going to start making my lingerie patterns available! I still have work to do to get everything ready for the release of the first pattern but soon you will be able to purchase Orange Lingerie sewing patterns!

I will continue to tweet and post pictures of my progress on Instagram. You can also join my email list to be notified as soon as patterns are released and to find out how and where you can buy them.

Now back to work!

Where to Buy Bra Making Supplies in NYC on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Where to Buy Bra Making Supplies in New York

When I was creating a list of lingerie supply sources for my book I focused on online suppliers. Interestingly, I end up buying many of my bra making supplies in New York. For those lucky enough to be in New York City, you will be happy to know that you can find all the necessary supplies readily available within the span of a few blocks in the garment district.

First let’s review the materials and notions you need to make a bra. You can find additional details on each item below as well as the recommended sewing supplies used for bra making in my book.

Fabrics: band fabric, cup fabric, frame and/or bridge fabric, stabilizer and/or lining fabric

Notions: band elastic, underarm elastic, neckline elastic or trim, strap elastic, underwires, underwire casing, hook and eye closure, rings and sliders

The list of bra making supplies may look long but you only need to hit 2 or 3 stores to get everything you need. When you go shopping take a list of the materials you need along with the necessary yardage, widths, etc. from your pattern, a tape measure for stretch testing and swatches of any laces or trims you want to use.

In terms of a shopping strategy, I suggest starting with the fabrics. If you can’t find coordinating notions you always have the option of dyeing them to match. For things like underwires, underwire casing, hook and eye closures and rings and sliders, I buy in bulk so I always have some on hand. It is also much more economical if you plan on making a lot of bras.

Now on to the shops! Following are the shops (presented in alphabetical order) that I visit for bra making supplies as well as what I buy at each store when I visit the New York.

B&J Fabrics at 525 7th Ave., 2nd Floor

B&J carries an off white as well as a black 60” wide nylon tricot for $5.95 a yard that can be used for cup lining and stabilizer. You can find these on bolts in the stretch fabric aisle. Note, nylon dyes well so the off white works for just about anything.

Chic Fabrics at 225 W 39th St. # 11

This store has some of the best prices I have ever found for silk charmeuse and silk organza in the far right corner of the store (prices vary slightly by visit).

Daytona Trim at 251 W 39th St.

Toward the back of the store on the right wall is a nice selection of lingerie and fold over elastics. I end up looking for different strap and neckline trim ideas here as well. I visit this store if I can’t find what I need at Pacific Trimming (details below).

Fabrics and Fabrics (formerly Lace Star) at 270 West 38th St., 3rd Floor

They have an amazing selection of laces. Since they moved to this location and changed their name the stock is much better organized and much more accessible.

Pacific Trimming at 218 W 38th St.

My first stop for elastics since they stock several colors of fold over and lingerie elastic as well as clear and gripper elastics. I often find fun bra strap options here as well. If you don’t want to make a trip to Steinlauf & Stoller (details below) you can see if they have your size underwires from a limited supply on a bookshelf unit to the right of the registers. They also have plush underwire casing, boning and boning casing.

Spandex World at 228 W 38th St.

A great selection of Powernets in a variety of weights and colors. They also have stretch satins and other fabrics suitable for bra cups as bra bands in the $5 to $12 a yard range.

SIL Thread at 257 W 38th St. # 1

They stock a limited selection of underwires, packaged plastic boning, rings and sliders and hook and eye tape. I usually buy all these things at Steinlauf and Stoller (details below) but if you like to browse for your supplies, you can do that here. They also have basic sewing supplies with a nice selection of Clover tools.

Steinlauf and Stoller at 239 W 39th St.

They stock underwires in a variety of shapes and sizes, underwire casing, boning and boning casing, rings and sliders, hook and eye tape as well as general sewing tools and notions. Know what you want before you shop here – as in have a list of what you need with the sizes and quantities. They always have the sizes of underwires and boning that I need along with my other basics plus I love their speed and efficiency. If you want to browse for your supplies, visit SIL Thread instead (details above).

The only bra making supply that I like to use that is in short supply in New York are stretch laces. For stretch laces, Etsy is the place to hunt. There are also Etsy stores that sell bra making kits that have everything you need to make a bra.

Of course, if you want to shop for all your supplies online, you can take a peek at my resources page that I created for readers of my book here.

Introduction to the Ideal Bra Wardrobe by Orange Lingerie

Sewing By The Book

It may seem to have been quiet around here but I do actually have a couple of very good reasons.

First I have been hard at work on my upcoming book, “Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction”. After a lot of work, the book is nearly ready and it will be released this April. If you want to be alerted when my book is available, you can head over here and add yourself to the email list.

The second thing keeping me busy also has to do with the book. Over the last few weeks my book has undergone testing by an amazing group of sewists and as this lovely group was testing my book, so was I!

To test my book I worked through a selection of commercially available bra patterns to see what it was like to sew a bra from a beginning bra maker’s perspective. It was fun to work with some different styles but there were two main problems:

1. Bra pattern instructions leave out a lot of important construction details. In some cases they make construction more difficult or just don’t make sense. There is also a lot of missing information such as the fabric properties that the pattern was drafted for.

2. A beginning bra maker would not know how to adjust the pattern to get a good fit or to how fill in the missing instructions to get a professional looking result.

Now I truly understand why even intermediate to advanced sewists shy away from bra making.

Good news on point two: I think my book solves this problem since I wrote it from a beginning bra maker’s perspective. On point one, well, time will tell, though I have some ideas!

 

10 Reasons to Sew Your Own Bras from Orange Lingerie

10 Reasons to Sew Your Own Bras

Over the last few days, a lot of sewists have said that one of their New Year’s resolutions is to sew more lingerie.  In case you need any more incentive to follow up on this goal, here are the top 10 reasons to sew your own bras.

1. It is actually cheaper than buying a bra.

Surprise! Once you have the pattern, all the materials – fabric, findings and trims – can cost as little as $15. Of course you can also spend a lot more too! Regardless of what you spend on materials, the quality of the bra you make yourself will far surpass the one from the store.

2. It is faster and more efficient than shopping for a bra.

With experience, it will only take a few hours from tracing the pattern to wearing the completed bra. Compare this to the time it takes you to get to the store, park, find the bras you like, try them on, pay, etc. Even finding bras online can take some serious time, especially once you factor in the returns and exchanges as you try to find the ones that fit.

3. You get what exactly you want.

You get to choose the color, fabric, trim, etc. You could, if you were so inclined, make a bra for each outfit. That plunging top? That racer back tank? That sheer blouse? No problem. You have a bra for that.

4. You get a bra that fits.

With no real size standardization for ready-to-wear bras, your best hope for a bra that fits is to make your own (or have one made for you!). Plus, once you have a pattern that fits, you can replicate it time and time again without worrying about the bra being discontinued, sold out or no longer available. Since bras must be regularly replaced, this is a big deal.

5. It will be easier to fit the other garments you are sewing.

You will find fewer alterations are necessary to the bodice of your garment when your bust is contained and is positioned correctly on your body, due to a bra that fits you properly.

6. You will become a better seamstress.

There are plenty of construction techniques in a bra making project to help you refine your skills. We can all benefit from practicing precision ¼” seaming and parallel lines of topstitching. The best part is that no one else but you (well almost no one!) will see any of those microscopic sewing “imperfections”.

7. You can regain your sewing momentum.

There is nothing like a high utility project that can be completed in a few hours to get you back into sewing. Bras are a perfect sewing jumpstart when you are stalled on other more complicated projects.

8. You can replicate your favorite bra.

We have all been there. You love it, it fits, but it must be retired. You search and cannot find one anywhere. Copy it. You can also improve on the fit in the duplication process.

9. You’ve just found a way to use your sewing machine’s embroidery and embellishment features.

All those decorative stitches that you have not used since you bought your machine can be put to work. Astonishingly, with today’s embroidery-enabled machines you can even make your own lace.

10. You become a better judge of quality materials and craftsmanship and know when to pay for it.

There you have it – ten great reasons to sew your own bras. Time to get sewing!