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 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 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,

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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. 

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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. 

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

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

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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.

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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