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Minimum Stretch in Underwear

minimum stretch1 Minimum Stretch in Underwear

Undies are one of the easiest garments to sew (don’t ask me to call them panties, because I won’t). Streamlining construction, I combine the front and the back pieces at the crotch, so the only seams to sew are the side seams. Easy to make, yes, but I need more hands and fingers to tell you the number of times I’ve made a pair, but couldn’t fit them over my hips. That’s until I learned about minimum stretch.

Working as an assistant in the technical design department, knits category, a big chunk of my time was spent flat measuring. Laying a garment flat on a table, I measured front body length, back body length, armhole depth, sweep, etc. One of the measurements I took was minimum stretch, and it was probably the most important spec I recorded. In a woven, closures such as zippers, buttons and plackets ensure that a customer can get in and out of a garment, but in a knit, you have to make sure that the garment can stretch enough so a customer can put his or her head, hips, hand or foot through the opening (that’s assuming it doesn’t have a closure). An example is a long-sleeve knit tee – one of the minimum stretch specs (there might be several in one garment) would be at the sleeve opening, and it would make sure a customer’s hand can get through. If the garment doesn’t meet spec, the pattern must be adjusted (or garments resewn) before it goes to production. No way, no how would any retailer allow a style to hit stores that a customer couldn’t wear. This is what I was missing in my undie makings.

In an undie, the minimum stretch spec would be at the waist, and two factors affect it – fabric and elastic. If you want to wear that pair of undies you’re making, you have to make sure both the fabric and the elastic stretch to the largest part of your bottom half – your hips. How do you find this out? Let’s take my current, WIP pair as an example. The widest part of my hips measures 33 1/2″ (yes, I’m straight as a board from waist to hip), so I had to make sure that the waist opening, which measured 11″ flat, stretched to at least 17″ (which is the flat measurement of my hips: 33 1/2″ divided by 2). So, I cut a rectangular piece of my intended fabric and marked 11″ in the center (don’t mark at the edge – it’s not an accurate place to take this kind of measurement). I then stretched it to see if it would extend to 17.” It didn’t, so I increased to 12,” and it still didn’t meet the requirement. Thirteen ended up being the magic number, which meant I had to slash straight from waist to leg opening and open the pattern 2″ on front and back as shown below (you’re pattern will be on the half, but the diagram shows a whole pattern for clarity). Once I made sure the fabric suited my pattern, I used the same method to test my elastic.

Because every fabric and elastic stretches differently, you have to test with every pair you make. Have you heard a lingerie maker express how important fabric is to fit? Well, it’s true!

diagram Minimum Stretch in Underwear

I hope this gives struggling lingerie makers out there some help. I know I was frustrated when I couldn’t figure out what was going wrong and threw a ton of undies in the trash. So sad to see lace in such a place!

post footer pattern making Minimum Stretch in Underwear

Weekend: Bulk Vs Frequent Shopper + Update on Mishka

weekend 1 of 11 Weekend: Bulk Vs Frequent Shopper + Update on Mishka

The planning phase is over. I thought about color, fit and silhouettes, and I thought about my current and aspirational closet, specifically how they will go together. Now, it’s time to build – to sew and to shop the wardrobe that, with the help of Sarai and her series, I created. It surprises people when I tell them I don’t shop a lot; maybe three times a year with one to two spurts in between out of necessity (boots wore out or purse broke) or when I visit my dad (we’re great shopping buddies). But, when I shop those those few occurrences, I go all out, purchasing an entire season worth of clothing including undies, home decor and bedding. I started doing this when I entered the 9-5 life and had less time to shop. I hated it at first, but after many seasons, it has turned out that this is a very effective way to create a cohesive closet. I can honestly say that it takes me less than 5 minutes to put an outfit together in the morning because everything goes together.

So for spring, this is what I bought. The items from Anthropologie are my investment pieces, but they are lifetime garments  (I still own and wear the dress I wore to my high school graduation). Overall, I think my choices are me and will last me well into summer, probably fall. What do you think? Also, do you shop this way, or are you a more frequent shopper? If so, why?

And what is that you see above? Oh, just snippets of a work in progress.

Last, I received news this week that Mishka is on the mend. She’s without a gallbladder and a spleen, but hey, she’s alive and on the road to recovery. Man, she’s a trooper. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers.

post footers giveaway winner Weekend: Bulk Vs Frequent Shopper + Update on Mishka

I’m Back to Bra Making!

bramaking 2 of 3 Im Back to Bra Making!bramaking 3 of 31 Im Back to Bra Making!

When I joined Lauren last month in NYC for a meet-up, one of the women there was Norma Loehr. A huge fan of hers, I was ecstatic to meet the author and the bra maker whose book I devoured at the height of my bra making last year. In January, I consciously pushed lingerie making to the back burner, not because I didn’t like it, but because I needed a break. I had spent the last year and a half researching fabrics, learning techniques and reading books and blog posts that I almost had too much information in my head. Natasha once wrote that coming back to something after a break, you only remember the important stuff, the stuff that matters and the stuff that should stick. I needed that. So, I didn’t touch any stretchy fabric or read anything related to lingerie making for a good 4 months. I planned on taking 6 months off, but when I saw Norma, she lit the fire inside me to get back into it. And when I did, rubbing off a bra pattern, I was amazed how smoothly I went through the drafting process. Natasha was right, I am better now than ever. My current project is Tasia’s Gabriola skirt and a simple blouse using fabric to date that was gifted to me by Rachel. But this project doesn’t end there. I’m also making the bra and undies too. Now that’s what I call a completely me-made look! Stay tuned!

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Mother’s Day, Part 1: What My Mom Wore

MothersDay 012 Mothers Day, Part 1: What My Mom WoreMothersDay 022 Mothers Day, Part 1: What My Mom Wore















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