How to attach fold-over elastic onto lingerie

I wrote about attaching fold-over elastic previously and currently i'm going back through posts seeing how I can update/rewrite them to benefit you so with more information and just because I love to hear the noise of my fingers hitting the keys.

Fold over elastic is an elastic that (like it says ) can be folded over, so it becomes half its width and it encases the edge of a piece of lingerie. I love this little beauty, it promote clean lines, blocks of colour and gives a hum-dig of a clean finish.

There are a couple of ways to attach it depending on your skill level of sewing, so lingerie patterns at the ready here we go.

Ensure the lingerie pattern you are using has no seam allowance on any part that you are attaching the fold over elastic, for example if your pattern has seam allowance around the legs of your brief and you attach fold-over elastic there then the gusset part (bit between your legs) is going to be very wide and uncomfortable. So if it does trace the pattern and cut off the seam allowance (if there is no measurement it's usually 6mm).


When starting out it might be easier to sew the elastic in a two step operation, although once your confidence and your straightness of your stitches gets better, notch it up a level and sew the elastic in one operation (reasons why in a moment).

1. So what you are going to do is place the elastic behind the raw edge (see step one you've smashed out).

Elastic is behind the fabric

Elastic is behind the fabric

2. Get the fabric as close to the fold in the elastic as possible, this will ensure that the fabric doesn't slip out and that the elastic is flush with the fabric around the whole piece. With the stitch set at zig zag stitch, to gain slight tension on the elastic I have a pen mark on my sewing machine in which I pull (with my right hand) the elastic to. I then grip the fabric and let the machine sew. I use my left hand to gently either keep the fabric flat or gently push the fabric towards the needle, this ensures that the fabric doesn't stretch which would then result in a wavy appearance.

Sew zig zag on top of fabric with elastic underneath

Sew zig zag on top of fabric with elastic underneath

3. Once all attached, fold over the elastic encasing the raw edge, you will need to have a slight tension again, so the fabric sits flat (pull the same amount as first application) and again with the zigzag stitch, line up your sewing foot with the edge of the elastic begin to sew. Using the edge of the foot means that you will have a straight stitch the whole way round.

Second application of zig zag stitching attaching the fold over elastic.

Second application of zig zag stitching attaching the fold over elastic.

Now the only problem with sewing in two operations is that this may cause your elastic to make S-shape waves. The more thread you have whilst sewing the less chance the elastic has to snap back to it's original state. On brushed back elastic this doesn't cause so much as a problem as the elastic is firmer.

*Instead of pulling the elastic to achieve it's tension, another way is to sew the brief together fully then measure out the elastic, sew the ends together so you have a circle, then pin at the side seam, fold both (elastic and brief) in half pin at that point, then fold so you get the quarter mark and pin again at that point (so you have four pins in each at the quarter point). Do whatever you find easier, it's just a personal preference of mine to sew the side seam lasts using fold-over elastic. 


To be able to sew in one step, will be quicker and neater. To sew in one step:

1. Fold over the elastic and zig zag together when you have enough elastic at the back to hold onto, keep the needle down into the elastic and place the fabric in between, sandwiching the fabric with the elastic.

Sewing fold-over elastic in one operation

Sewing fold-over elastic in one operation

2. Holding the elastic at a slight tension begin to sew with a zig zag stitch. The hardest bit about this is not letting the fabric slip out when you go around the curves of legs.

With attaching the elastic with one operation also gives you a cleaner finish on the reverse.

Left side is attaching the elastic in two steps, right is attaching the elastic in one step.

Left side is attaching the elastic in two steps, right is attaching the elastic in one step.





How to draft a dart shape for your bra pattern

Designing a pattern for a darted cup bra is all about the curve of the dart. If you make it like a triangle then when you begin to sew it, you will be left with a pointy cup and be able to pinch the ends of the bra and your boobs won't fill it.

correct shape of dart

correct shape of dart

The dart shape needs to have some curve to it.  If you were to put them side by side, then you'd see that the dart comes slowly together at the top rather than at a sharp angle, this ensures that the curve of the dart continues up into the cup rather than abruptly end causing the unwanted point.

correct shape of darted bra pattern

If you were to lay the darts over one another you would see how the dart comes out then goes slightly higher than the one with straight lines.

To gain an overview of the whole picture here is the shape of the full darted cup shape pattern.

Darted bra pattern

Darted bra pattern

How to alter a bra pattern at strap point.

Connecting the strap to the apex of a bra can be done in several ways and there is nothing more frustrating then when the apex comes out past the bra once it's attached to the strap. 


altering a bra pattern on a crop top

Designing a bra

There are three ways I usually attach the bra strap depending  what look I'm going for.

1. Laying the strap right side face down, on the bra right side up, sewing then flipping the strap upwards so your seam is hidden and then securing the strap down. This method hides the raw edges, but can be quite bulky, and if you're sewing on a domestic machine, can cause needles to break due to the thickness of all the materials. A lesson that was repeatedly learnt when making bras for my brand Vanjo.

2. Laying the bra strap behind the apex of the bra, this method produces a less bulky finish than method one, but leaves the raw edge of the bra, unless you bar-tack over it or place a bow there.

3. Placing the strap behind the apex, and then finishing off your attachment of your elastic, so that the neck-edge and underarm elastic when turned covers the bra strap. It still leaves a raw edge on the bra but the insides of the bra is beautifully finished.


I used method one,  when I made a toile of the Martha pattern (a racer back crop top), so to rectify this problem, I can either reduce the width of the pattern by 3mm, though this might turning the elastic quite tricky, heighten the pattern slightly, so when the strap gets turned its not being turned onto a thicker part of the pattern. Or I can change the method of attaching and place the strap behind the apex to create a seamless transition from bra to strap.

I think I will alter my way of attaching it on this style, also if I change the elastic width in future sewing, I won't have to alter the pattern if I do it this way.



How to alter the Tippi pattern to a boy pant.

I got asked the other day, how to alter the Tippi pattern into a boy pant, so I thought I'd stick a tutorial up on how I would go about it. I have left all my workings out on one piece so you can see and compare how they sit from one piece to the other.

The light blue is the Tippi pattern, the dark blue with the yellow stripes is the new pattern.

The red lines are your anchor lines and the pink are your shifting lines.

Front pattern piece of Tippi

Draw around the pattern piece, all the patterns that are available on this website have a separate gusset piece, this makes altering the pattern piece easier as you don't have to worry about re-shaping the gusset piece back in.

Basically if you have a brief shape you're happy with and want to alter it to a boy pant brief I start with the following .

1. Lower the waist - boy pants should sit lower and more on the hips, depending on the style I would lower by 1cm. (pink guide line 1cm, shift the pattern down and draw in the new waist line)

2. The depth of the side seam needs to deeper so on this pattern I have deepened the side seam by 4cm. Also as the brief is sitting more on the hips then your legs have to be wider, as the briefs won't be sitting on the natural crease of the leg, but will be sat across your hips. Usually the legs are also seam covered or if elastic is attached there won't be as much tension on the elastic as the previous briefs (the tippi ones).

(pink guide line 4cm, shift the pattern down, also shift edge of pattern to the red vertical guide line of 2cm and draw in bottom of side seam and legs corner.

3. Connect top of side seam to bottom of seam seam using a ruler.

5. Draw in new leg shape, blending into the gusset area (approx 2cm up from the bottom), the curve of the leg can be done either with a french curve or the brief pattern.

Remember the new leg curve has to come up  and then go down to the side seam, rather than just curving into the side seam, this allows for ease and movement of the legs. (if you're unsure if you have done this correct,  get a set square and from the vertical guide line, square off into the bottom of the side seam, and you should see that part of new leg line is above the horizontal line (set square).

altering pattern to a boy pant

Back Pattern piece of Tippi

The back brief measurements are the same increase as the front.

1. However to start with, re-join the back brief pieces (the Tippi brief is in two parts, to allow two fabrics to be used). It's easier to re-join your pieces at the start, knowing that they work and cut them up afterwards re-adding the seam allowance.

2. I drew 1.2cm on the top piece so the pieces would re-sit flush again (pink dotted line: 6mm seam allowance plus 6mm seam allowance).

3. Follow the same order as the front pattern piece (waist, side seam and legs). This time with the legs you're making the new line (once it's blending into the gusset seam and side seam),  as straight as possible with a slight curve outwards. This is because with a boy pant it covers the butt cheeks more, than a bikini style brief. and doesn't have to sit flush against the skin.

4. For the window part of the brief (lower part) I extended the seam curve line out (blue dotted line), this pattern was then cut along this blue line, and 1.2cm was added along the line (the seam allowance as you chopped it off previously).

Remember to make a toile and adjust accordingly, but this is a good starting point for your boy pant.

altering the back pattern of tippi brief

HOw to tie a ribbon bow for lingerie

Being able to tie your own bows for your lingerie will not only save you money but you'll have a wider range of colours to be able to choose from - sometimes sourcing the right colour can be a headache.

how to tie a bow for lingerie

This tutorial was done using 3mm double faced ribbon

Get 3mm of ribbon and start making your bows for lingerie.

1. Measure the ribbon to 15cm

2. Fold in half, then fold in half again to make two loops, this ensures that the bow has no twists in the loops

3. Fold over the right loop over the left and through (like tying the beginning of your shoe lace). Pull through and adjust if there are any twists in the loops

4. The loops should measure 2cm, adjust accordingly

5. The tails of the bows should measure 3cm

6. Cut so they match

Bow is complete.

*please note that by making your own bows that the ends aren't sealed so may unravel after washing, cut at 45 degree angle to discourage this.

For wider bows, heated scissors can also be bought so that they cut and seal at the same time. Or a wood burning tool works as well, or even clear nail varnish at the ends or a product called 'Fray Check'. Please practise these methods, to avoid burning and to be neat.  

How to alter a pattern

I wrote a piece for Morplan last week, about how to alter a pattern, a copy of the  piece can be found below.

how to alter a pattern

If you’re trying to make a new pattern, it makes sense to alter a similar one that you already have, rather than draft out a brand-new pattern.
This tutorial will show you how to take a standard brief into a boy shape brief.
The steps are shown in series, rather than separate pictures, so you can print them out and have them as a reference.

With five steps, you can have a new pattern.

You have two ways of altering an existing pattern, one would be making up the brief in a light colour fabric, then trying it on and drawing on your new style lines, then cutting along the new style lines and taking a new pattern from your pieces. The pros with this is that you know exactly where your new style lines are, as sometimes drawing on a flat pattern, lines can look correct but when placed on the body look completely incorrect.

The second way would be drafting your new style lines directly onto the pattern then making up a new garment for fits and altering where necessary.
If I’m adding complicated style lines, I often go for the first method, but over the years I’m confident to alter the patterns.

We will be going over the second method as it’s quite a simple change we are making.

Step One
Draw around the pattern that you want to alter.

Step Two
Draw a line from leg to waist at the mid-leg point this is usually approx. 10cm from the side seam.

five steps to alter a lingerie pattern

Step Three
Cut around the brief pattern along the new style line, so you have two pieces. (Front piece and side piece) ….

…. Next
Draw around your new pieces, leaving enough room to add 6mm seam allowance.

Step Four
Add 6mm along the style line. This is your seam allowance so when you sew you end up with the correct size brief. *Note every style line needs seam allowance adding…..

…. Next
Give this pattern a new style number or name, and add any other information you need onto the pattern, it can get quite confusing when you have a lot of pattern pieces all look similar. Cut out the new pattern.

Step Five
Place side piece front seam (where your new style line is) 1.2cm over the front piece (this is your seam allowance tolerance) to check the curve at the leg. Often when you add you seam allowance curves can become distorted and instead of a nice leg curve, you may end up with your seams coming to point. If your pattern has gone to a point, then re-draw your leg curve back in.

five steps to alter a lingerie pattern

How to attach elastic with zig-zag stitch

For a clean finish on your brief or top of the bra cup, the zig-zag stitch allows the elastic to stretch as when used on stretch fabrics like jersey or mesh.

1. With the right side of the fabric facing up, place (pin) the elastic on the edge of the fabric with decorative side facing in.

2. Sew the elastic with a zig-zag stitch to secure the elastic into place. You want the stitch as close to the decorative edge as possible and the edge of the fabric not to poke out past the elastic otherwise you'll be trimming the fabric before the next step. Keep your groove of your foot in line with edge of the elastic to ensure a straight stitch.

how to attache elastic with zig zag stitch

3. Turn the elastic back on itself so the elastic is now underneath when the right side of the fabric is facing up. You should just be able to see the edge of the elastic peeking out from the fabric. Secure with second row of zig-zag, the zig-zag should be near the edge of elastic so the elastic doesn't flip up and the edge of the fabric doesn't poke out. 



How to fix the curve of the leg flipping up

I'm in the process of sewing up the first toiles of the patterns that will available to buy in November this year (2016). I finished #2 pattern The Penelope, a tanga with fold-over elastic, and the curve of the front leg of the elastic, instead of sitting flat, stood up vertically, perpendicular to the brief. 

Has this ever happened to you? And do you know how to fix it? There is nothing worse than having spent all that time and effort sewing up a pair of briefs, for there to be an error and not know the reason why.

On this particular brief, it was all down to the elastic, it was too heavy and it didn't stretch very much. It was the type of elastic that would be best used on the top wing of the bra or maybe even the top of the bra cup.

As you stretch the elastic when stitching around the legs if it's too heavy it takes it's original form, it's not soft enough to sit flat. 

Other reasons that the elastic may flip up:

1. Would be if the curve of the leg is too sharp, so you would need to make the leg curve shallower.

2. The elastic is too wide so the elastic can't sit flat around the curve, so the only way it can sit is if it flips up.

I hope that helps? Also if you are new to elastic and can't gauge if an elastic is heavy or not, hold it up to the light and stretch it, the lighter it is then more light will shine through it. So a dense heavy elastic you won;t be able to see through it.

how to Draw a fashion model

I will be the first to admit, that I am not the greatest drawer when it comes to designing. However give me a sketch and I will be able to produce a pattern and handset a garment together that will fit. I prefer to design from seeing fabric, rather than plan out the design and go from there. 

This way hasn't always been the most productive though when in my younger years I had to prove my design abilities and have a portfolio showcasing my work. Along the way Ihave practised practised practised - until I found my own style. To help me I followed the rule of splitting the fashion model 5 times and taking a couple of mm off around the edge of the body.

For those of you who have read "How to become a Lingerie Designer" will recognise this picture, for those who haven't, this tip and a whole host of others can be found in the book to get you started.

How to sew a hidden gusset

If you don't own an overlocker, being able to sew a hidden gusset, not only keeps your work neater but it allows you hide all raw edges of the top of the gusset piece. It's not a hard thing to sew, however if you have tried, you've probably ended up with a twisted inner or outer gusset, and had to unpick and re-start again, I know I have in the past.

The way I am going to show you, is the easiest way I have found without twisting seams and attempting to hold all the pieces together and ending up with some pieces stretched. Apologies for the garish nature of the fabrics, I hauled together all the brights so you could see exactly what was going on and did the top stitching in lilac and bottom stitching in black.

Roll up the front piece, and sandwich between inner and outer gusset, ensuring you have the right sides and wrong sides correct. See above.

Turn upside down, and lift the inner gusset back, roll up the back piece and place onto the outer gusset, again ensuring the correct sides are together.

Flip the inner gusset back over and pin together the with the outer gusset and back piece.

Sew together.

Pull out the front and back pieces, and the seams connecting them to the gusset pieces will be hidden. Sew the inner and outer gusset together which will make applying the elastic easier.

The final piece - all seams hidden.

How to fix skipped stitches

Having made a toile of the 'Betty' Brief (which pattern will be made available in the up coming months) I suffered what is every seamstresses nightmare - skipped stitches. Even though I know it's fixable it still annoys me, especially if I don't notice it straight away.

how to fix skipped stitches

So what causes stitches to skip? And most importantly how do you fix them?

1. Needles, needles, needles - if you didn't get it, then I shall repeat and say neddles, 9 times out of ten it will be your needle. Needle tips only really last about 6 hours of sewing. Even if you can't see an obvious bluntness, if you've sewn a few sets of bras and briefs then it's time to change your needle.

2. Needle again - yup still on about the needle. Have you go the correct one for your fabric? Just as there are many different fabrics, there are many different needles to go with your fabric. Choosing the right size needles is important to the fabrics you're about to sew.

3. Thread - What thread are you using? That thin 6 pack that comes free with the machine? Change it. It does make a difference, buy the best thread you can, your sewing will thank you, and remember to use the same quality, on the bobbin and on the spool.

4. Pulling - How's your grip on that fabric? Relax, let those feet feed your fabrics through and not your hands. Don't pull it!!

5. Dials - This is usually the first thing people want to change, but to be honest, you will rarely have to, (unless it's really obvious), most machines will have been set to a factory mid point for you.

6. Go away - weirdly sometimes going away, grabbing a cuppa, sitting back down and re-threading your machine for some reason sometimes works.

6. If stitches are still skipping, it may be time to take it in somewhere and get a tune up.

How to spec a bra and brief

It's finally here. The book I've been mentioning for soooooo long, it went through edit after edit to make sure that it was fully understood, so aimed at complete novices and also people with knowledge. 

Providing industry knowledge on what to write on a spec sheet and how to write a spec sheet, this book should demystify specification sheets. With different blank spec sheets that can be used, for those wanting to make different sizes of their lingerie or get them made by a manufacturer then this book will take you there.

*This book is part of three, including How to write a tech pack, and How to grade a bra and brief.

You can buy it here:  e-book.



how to understand Lingerie Abbreviations

When reading a spec there are some lingerie abbreviations, learning them makes life a lot easier. 

understanding lingerie abbreviations

CF - centre front

CB - centre back

BP - Bust point

NL - neck line

OB - over bust

SS - side seam

UA - under arm

UB - under band

WB - waist band

H&E - hook and eye

how to attach bows neatly

When I use to make samples, or hand-make short runs of orders of lingerie that shops had placed; the one thing that always slowed me down was the attachment of the bows. To start with I hand sewed them all on, to gain the neatness i required; as I didn't have an industrial bar tacker (a machine that stitches side to side in the same place to secure bows).

how to sew lingerie bows on neatly

I tried to practise with putting my domestic machine on a zigzag and going slowly back and forth, but it just resulted in a messy attachment with zigzag stitching on the bow and on the lingerie. 

And then.... one day whilst sewing a button on, I had the idea - could I put a bow underneath the foot for it to be held in place for me to sew. Result. Treating the bow like a button, place it under the button foot with the bow secure under the prongs. Place so the stitch will go over the centre of the bow, and with the stitch on zigzag, it forms a stitch without the bow or garment moving.


How to check a bra pattern

The pattern I made is from this drawing

how to check a bra pattern

I always start with the cups, the important part is the volume, and that there is a gap at the centre front that needs to be accounted for. When you lay the cups touching at the middle point of the bust; the further away the pattern at each end the more volume is created. To work out where the curve of the wing sits,


To work out the width at the top then you have to know your strap width, then take into account seam allowance. The strap point is designed to go in line with the outer part of the nipple, as the outer part of the breast is the heaviest. 


The side cup is designed to come right to the side of the body (where a side seam on outer wear would be). Putting the patterns together at the bottom ensures that the underband is a smooth curve, and also the curve across the bust. A vertical seam on a bra will be more up lifting than a horizontal seam.

Over lapping the cup patterns you can see the amount of volume that will occur. From making this pattern, next up will be making a toile for fits.

How to make a Soft Bra

Following on from the tutorial 'How to make a pair of briefs'  is 'How to make a soft bra'. Using just a sewing machine and the same fabric as the briefs, the following is how I would put a bra together. The style is inspired from the 1950's with a high apex (where the strap meets the top of the bra). The size is a 34DD, I have chosen a bigger size to show you that this style can go up to a bigger size but will be fully lined for support. If you were making a smaller size then you wouldn't have to line it, but you could just use tape or ribbon over the seams to hide them. As this bra is being fully lined we are using the fabric to hide the seams. 

An important factor when making a (soft) bra is that the outer part of your breast is the heaviest so this is the area which will require the most support. With this mind when I line a bra I ensure the outer fabric stretches the most, across the fabric, and the inner piece stretches at a 45 degree angle of the outer piece, this ensures that the fabric stretches at different amounts at certain parts of the bra (this only really works with a two way or four way stretch fabric), which will give support of the breast. Also the front underband is curved under the breast so when worn it straightens out for added support.


how to sew a soft bra

The first thing I would do is sew together any piece that is doubled up and is not turned to hide the seams.  In this case it was the front cups.

Front cup pieces sewed together

Front cup pieces sewed together

Next the neck elastic needs to be attached, this is zig-zagged on. Depending on your skill or the width of the fabric the elastic can be applied on the right side with the elastic edge going inwards then turned and sewn into place, or simply fold the edge of the fabric and place the elastic underneath and zig zag attach. The elastic needs to be sewn with tension so it needs to be pulled slightly, I find the best way to do this is to physically mark your machine and pull the elastic to the mark to get consistency. 


The neckline should slightly bow due to the tension you applied. This will then lie flat against the body once worn. 


To complete the cups, the front and side sups need to be sewn together. As we are hiding the overbust seam, the front cup piece will be sandwiched in-between the both side cups. 


Sewing on top of the seam through the liner of the side cup, will offer strength and neatness. 

As you can see the grain of the liner of the side cup differs from the front cup.

As you can see the grain of the liner of the side cup differs from the front cup.

The cups should look like this.

The cups should look like this.

Next the underband is sewn on,  again the cups are sandwiched in-between the outer piece of fabric and liner, so the seams are hidden. At the centre front of the bra I have crossed the cups, on the smaller cup sizes I would just butt the cups together as smaller breasts are naturally set further apart.


The wings are sewn to the edge of the side cups. Again the cups are sandwiched in so to hide the seams. On this style the side cups may look bigger than the wing, this is because the seam is designed to match up with the side seams of your clothes giving you a clean silhouette and profile. The wings angle down for fit, so when they are on the body they will straighten out and give support, creating a shelf type support for the breast. If you're starting out designing bras I would recommend that all your wings/underband slope down. I have designed bras where the band was straight , but these tended to be specialised balconnette bras, and by straightening out the underband you have to adapt the underband and then the angle of the boning.


Next attach the brushed back elastic to the underband and underarm. I have attached the elastic on top of the bra with zigzag then turned it underneath and secured it with a further zigzag stitch. 

The elastic on top of the bra with the first zigzag row attachment.

The elastic on top of the bra with the first zigzag row attachment.

A close up of the stitching of the inside of the bra.

A close up of the stitching of the inside of the bra.

Next I attach the bra strapping to the back of the bra. This is zigzagged on top of the curve at the back (Leotard strap attachment), I would recommend the curve on the wing at the back when doing larger cup sizes, as the weight of the breast is distributed through the whole curve, rather than inserting the straps into the wing (camisole strap attachment)  where the weight of the breast would be just on the two anchor points going into the strap. 

The elastic is then threaded through the ring and secured with two rows of stitching going back and forth. In production this would be bar-tacked. 


The hook and eyes are sewn on the wings at the back, if I am sewing them on just using my sewing machine I start in the middle so not to have to ease or pull the wing in to make it fit, and I sew down, keep the needle in, turn it around, go to the top, turn it again and finish where I started, this also ensures strength with it having two lines of stitching on top of one another.



The straps are threaded through the middle bit of the slider and sewn to secure them in place, then they are threaded through the rings and back on themselves through the slider again. To attach them to apex, I have placed the straps under the meeting point and secured by sewing in two places, to hide the seam you could place bows over the join. In production the two right sides are usually placed together, turned, then bar-tacked into place, but this can be quite bulky if you are doing it on your normal sewing machine.


To finish the bra off, I added a black 3mm bow at the centre front. I attached it using the zigzag stitch, if you're finding it hard to keep the stitch in the same place, when I was first starting out, I used a button foot attachment which clamped my bows in place.

Finished bra

Finished bra