After a lengthy wait for the local telecommunications company to connect my landline and wifi I am now online again. And not a moment too soon, as I’ve used the enforced break to make things. Lots of things. Lots of underthings.
It started with a mishap. As I’m camping out in my mother’s flat until my own flat is ready, most of the stuff I brought over from the UK with me to Germany are still in boxes. I thought I’d packed carefully, so that I’d have easy access to the things I’d need once I arrived. Like my sewing patterns. Not so. I’ve sought them here, I’ve sought them there… The only thing I can say with confidence is that they’re in a removals box downstairs.
But I wanted to make some new underpants and simple bras. So, I gritted my teeth and started over.
First, I copied the shape of one of my favourite simple bras. I keep calling them ‘simple’: what I mean is that they don’t have underwiring, padding, lace or other types of garnish – they are truly simple. I value comfort and simplicity in most of my garments, and, luckily, given my tiny cup size, I can get away with it.
I don’t like fasteners at the back, preferring to slip into my bra as if into a camisole. The construction, therefore, couldn’t be simpler. The bit on the right is the cup, which has a central seam, a dart and a side seam. The bit on the left is the back, which is cut on the fold (centre of back) and attached to the side seam of the cup. Easy peasy.
Here’s how it works in practice. Cut out cups. Sew darts, and add fold-over elastic to the top.
Then close the central seam and sew the back piece to one side. Now the genius bit: Take a generous measure of fold-over elastic (at least 40cm) and sew together. Then attach to the cup, and sew all the way around to the other end. Do the same with the other side. You now have two straps. You can also now add the elastic on the bottom.
The next step is to sew shut the remaining side seam and to add loops at the back. To make loops, take about 10 cm of the fold-over elastic, sew it shut, form a loop, string a small plastic or metal circle through it and attach to the back.
The final step is to attach the straps to the loops. You’ll need to use plastic or metal sliders that allow you to adjust the strap when necessary.
And you’re done. These simple bras are ever so easy to make. After I made the first, I found that I had to adjust the pattern a bit. The more skin-tight a garment is, the more I find I need to adjust the patter to get it absolutely right.
I’m pleased with my glut of bras. They’re comfortable as anything. And because I was so motivated, I added a similar glut of pants to go with them. Well, I say ‘go with them’…
While making them, I discovered a beautiful trick. Normally, I’d sew in some elastic, fold it over and sew over it again. But given that I was dealing with two layers of fabric (folded over = 4 layers of fabric + elastic), it had always been difficult to sew an even seam. Until I began using fold-over elastic for my pants, too!
Just like regular binding, fold-over elastic encloses fabric and just requires one seam. Job done! It looks much neater than my other pants, quite apart from being a lot quicker to sew. Win win win.
My underwear drawer is now pretty much stuffed full, but I can see myself sewing a couple more. Just to use up those jersey fabric scraps…