When to give up on a design

Let's talk about quitting on a design, or shelving it for a later time. That design you've invested so much time to, the one which is about finished and if you just maybe work on it for a bit longer give it that final push you can move on to another design right?

Yes? No? Maybe?

This is always a hard one for me, there's the logical aspect of designing and timing then there's the designing which feels right, where you can lose time, get in the flow. I usually follow the second aspect though my head screams at me sometimes, just commit to this idea, it's nearly finished.

I'm there right now, the Harper soft bra, is a pattern I produced last year. I've spent hours on it, making it, fitting it, re-making it, re-fitting it. Changing the pattern so the seam which when into the apex now goes into the underarm for easy sewing. I've graded it, mapped out the pattern pack, and now just need to draw it up and lay it out. So the hours left to invest in this bra is less than the hours I've already committed to it. 

when to give up on a lingerie design

Yet something isn't right. And I don't know what it is. I've even changed the named the name of this bra pattern, it started out as Hemmie, and now it's Harper - to see if it was that (I know right??)

So I'm pulling it. It's standing in my way of new things. Every time I start a new pattern, I keep thinking of the soft bra pattern that I haven't finished. Just get it out the way then I can move on my brain thinks. But every time I head back to it, every alteration is slow, every sewing procedure stalls.  

I've learnt through experience that when this happens, it's best to shelve it. Not get rid. Just put it away ready to head back to it if I so desire. It's by making this choice that I can embrace new patterns to make available, that my work can hopefully speed up to the level I like to work at. 

It's hard letting go of something you've invested so much time to, but once you make that decision, a whole lot of new opportunities become available.

Try it. What have you been stalling on?

Choosing the right needle to sew bras and briefs

You've probably never thought about it but choosing the right needle for sewing the lingerie your about to make is very important. Covered already in a previous post about why your stitches skip - choosing the right needle can equate to beautifully seen lingerie made with ease to, well, not so beautifully sewn lingerie.  

Let's start with the needle widths: different needles are different widths to use on different weights and types of your fabric.  There are two needle sizing systems: the European and the American. The European range from 60 to 120 and the American range from 8 to 20. You will usually see both sizes on the packet. Basically the larger the number the larger the blade  of the needle will be and the heavier the fabric you can sew.

choosing right needle for lingerie sewing

 

As well as all the speciality needles out there the three main types of needles that I use for the majority of my sewing are:

  • Universal needles: These have a slightly rounded tip, and I use this for general purpose sewing for wovens as well as some sturdy knits.
  • Jersey needles: These have a medium ballpoint tip, and I would use these  for knit fabrics. The needle slips between the knit fibres and does not break or damage the fabric while sewing.
  • Stretch needles: These often confused with Jersey needles, they also have a medium ballpoint tip, but these have a special eye (the hole in which you thread the needle)  and scarf (the indentation on the back of the needle - which allows the bobbin hook to grab the thread when it goes under the plate of the machine to create a stitch). These needles are designed for extremely stretchy fabrics and elastic, so applying elastic to lycra etc. It would be this needle that I would use the most.

A look at needle sizes

- 8/60, 9/65, 10/70 use on very fine fabrics such as fine silk, chiffon and fine lace.

- 11/75, 12/80 use on light weight fabrics such as cotton voile, silk and lycra.

- 14/90 use on medium weight fabrics such as cotton, velvet and jersey,

- 16/100 use on heavy fabrics such as denim and leather

You wouldn't really use the next two needles in lingerie but for information

-18/110 use on very heavy fabrics such as upholstery

-20/120 use on fabrics heavier than upholstery

Also remember to change your needle often, the average needle lasts roughly 6-8 hours of sewing use.

your questions that I answer: How do i design without ripping off other designers.

February 14th: How do I design without feeling like I'm ripping off other designers?

Q I Found your website this evening and yay it is just what I needed! I've only recently started getting into making my own lingerie and I feel like I've finally found my passion. I'm very keen to work on my own designs but have one question that I continually return to (one for #transformationtuesday maybe?).  Designing something like a bra or knickers is not exactly reinventing the wheel so how do you go about doing this without feeling as though you're ripping off someone else's design. Essentially there are only so many ways you can make a bra for example??!!

Hope you can help. Ordering a book this week - would you suggest the How to Become a Lingerie Designer as first port of call?

A: Okay in answer to your question: You don't have to re-invent the wheel, unless you are planning to bring a new concept to lingerie, and lets be honest it's not changed a lot in the past decades of years. But then so hasn't a lot of clothing apparel. I would start by setting up a private Pinterest board and add lingerie designs that inspire you every day, and by the end of a couple of weeks if you have a look back you should be able to see a style of what you want to design - your style. 

Look at all the strappy bras and briefs there are about at the moment, I'm even working on a pattern for one. There are many about but there are still so many changes you can do - fabrics: mesh, lace, bamboo, cotton, lycra, and colours, prints, placement of straps, sizing of bras etc.

When I had Vanjo I concentrated of a two piece cup for the bigger boobed , smalled backed ladies, but there is lots of companies and brands that use the three piece cup shape, the exact same shape yet they all look different because they have a strong brand look. Take a look at for example Freya, Miss Mandalay, Love Claudette and Curvy Kate - all of these use the same/similar shape, obviously the fits will be different as each fits to their brand, but just by looking at them you will be able to see that they are completely different.  The picture shown is the final collection of Vanjo which was my take on the three piece cup.

ripping other lingerie designers off

Once you start designing you may find that your style naturally changes as you go on, you may start being inspired by certain designers, then find your own rhythm of what works for you, but only by trial and error of starting will you reach that. 

Also I think you'll know when you start to design whether you're ripping off someones else's design off, you'll feel it, you'll know.

In answer to your second question, I'd order,"how to become a lingerie designer" it covers this topic and the gives an overview of a lot of concepts to do with lingerie design.

Hope that helps.

(and yup your question is about to go on transformational tuesday)



January 16th: Where do i start?

This weeks #transformationtuesday is a question that I think hounds us all.

Q: Hellllpppppp me! For the past year or so I have been researching designing and starting my own line, but I still don't know where to start? I have so many ideas, I want to design for the bigger sized market, design sports bras and have ideas for maternity wear. Which do I do first? Where do I start? It feels like I start then change direction and get nothing done. Any advice would be great Arrggghhhh so many questions I would like to ask you.

A: Firstly, this problem is very common. I know I have many a half finished project, or designs that didn't make the cut. Sometimes you have to work through what doesn't work to see what does. That said I think you need to narrow down your designs, leave wanting to cater to everyone to the big companies, they have the money and can hire many designers for each area of expertise. So in which area does your passion or skills arise? I think you need to sit down and work out your customer, and your unique selling point, also by doing this when you approach people about your brand or if they find you , you have a strong brand from the outset. Also make a list of what you need to learn or can do. Do you want to make and sew your own lingerie? If so do you have the skills you need, if not what is your next step? By breaking everything down it should give you a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses. I would also suggest setting up a private pinterest board, begin every night adding lingerie and non lingerie images that you like then after say a week or so, look at the board on a whole and you should see a theme. This is the direction of your brand or theme of your designs. Are you images bright or muted colours? Try to see a link between them all. By placing everything in one place should keep you on the right track when you begin to want to wander on to the next thing. Lastly when you find something that is not working, question why. By looking back on what doesn't work will allow you to move on to what does. 


December 13th: How can I become a lingerie designer with no experience?

#transformationtuesday to getting you one step closer to becoming a designer. Todays question: You blog has given me inspiration, zeal and motivation to go ahead with improving myself and learning new things. But i have a little problem. My friend and I want to start our own lingerie brand but we have no design experience whatsoever. My question is how can become a lingerie designer and own my own brand when I have no design experience? is it possible at all?

designing lingerie with no experience

Answer: This is the most common question I must get asked. Yes it is possible to become a lingerie designer without any prior lingerie design knowledge, there are lingerie companies out there who have successful lingerie brands, it just takes a lot more time. "Negative Underwear" took four years working on their brand whilst they had other jobs, neither had lingerie design experience before they started they just wanted to offer ladies sleek lingerie wasn't over the top with frills. I think the most important thing is to get a strong brand together to start. What are you offering? I started Vanjo with the niche of catering for women who had small backs and big boobs, mainly in bright Liberty prints and colours that at the time weren't being offered to women. Next thing would be to work out what you want to outsource and what you want to do yourself, if you don't plan to sew them yourself then you need to look for a sample machinist/factory. Do you need your drawings drawn up? Graded? etc. Once you know which direction you want to go in it's easier to start to move in that direction.

*Transformation Tuesday is published every week on Instagram. if you have a question please email me. laurie@howtobecomealingeriedesigner.com or use the contact form on the 'my story' page.

 

START your lingerie label - use the resources you have

A tidy up around the office led me to find the first copy of the book "How to become a Lingerie Designer" and let me remember how far I had come with this business, and how it all started, telling people that I was going to write a book before I had even attempted or started it.

I think that we all need to be reminded that sometimes you need to remember you have all the resources to need to start. If you are waiting for your life to be less busy, have more money, more time, better ideas or more experience then you are forever going to be waiting. It's been seven years from when I first started to write "How to become a Lingerie Designer" and if I had of waited for conditions to be right then I would have just been seven years older. Full stop.

The truth is there is never enough time and the timing will never be right. Fact. You never see what goes on behind someone's creation of their work, you just see a finished product and wish you had the resources to be where they are. Well you do.

Use the resources you already have

I had the idea for the book for 2009 and it took me three years of writing, re-writing it, and questioning myself over it. Working in a non lingerie based job and writing before or after work. 2012 came around and I got sponsorship to move to Melbourne, Australia to lingerie design, so new country, new work, shock to the system about my lack of internet where I lived, but I managed to finish the book. Now what? Keep going. Yes it's hard, yes you may want to stop, yes you may question it all and problems will occur that you think you don't know how to solve but remember....

Use the resources you already have

being a lingerie designer using resources you have

For example: I needed a front cover and didn't really know anyone enough in Australia to design me one - so I used a model shot I had previously done from my label and the wording - well in all honestly there are fridge magnets, I wrote "How to become a Lingerie Designer" on the fridge, took a picture and then used photoshop.  Not the idea I had in mind when I first started the book, but since then I've been able to get the book re-drafted, and have a new shiny front cover which is more in line of the ethos of the brand and far more professional, but if I hadn't have started and kept going, I would never have been able to update, re-brand and write more books, I would have just been looking for more time, more money and more ideas to write the first. 

Your lingerie label that you keep wanting to start, will always be in the future if you don't simply don't start it, be that either ordering fabrics, practising sewing, or attempting to make a pattern. It's easier to keep things moving than it is to start, so if you start tonight - well you've done the hard part.

*How to become a lingerie designer"  book available here

 

 

 

Five items to always be found in a lingerie designers tool box.

Ever wondered what's inside a toolbox of a lingerie designer? Well here's a quick look into mine.

1. Needles, needles, needles. You will always find a good supply of needles in the box. There is nothing as annoying as sewing up a sample and running out of them. I even have a container to put the blunt ones in, so  can keep a track of them i.e. not find them on the floor later and wonder if they are any good or not. 

2. Sewing machine attachment feet - I think my most used one apart from the standard foot, is the button holder foot. I put the bow underneath to hold it. Exactly how is here.

3. Little Scissors - I have more than one pair of little scissors, for some reason when I'm un-picking stitches I switch from one pair to the other ( and the stitch ripper) when I think my progress is slowing up. Whether it works or is all in my head - I don't know - I just know that un-picking stitches can be boring, tedious and plain annoying.

4. Big Scissors - The shears - pretty obvious - for cutting patterns from the fabric, I often use the cutting wheel as well, it depends what type of fabric I am using.

5. Screw Drivers - These are mainly used to tighten the bobbin case, and to open the side of the machine to get access to the bulb wen it goes.

Items not featured that are usually in the box, are thread, bobbins, accessories such as buttons, hooks and eyes, pens, and measuring tape.

Items that I have had in the past and need to re-stock on - magnetic wrist pin holder and a magnetic extendable pick-up tool. This is invaluable if you are a student, with so many pins that drop on the floor and never get picked up, you can whizz it around the floor and never need buy pins again for your duration in the studio.