Getting your lingerie made by a factory

One of the most common questions I get asked, is 'how do i get my lingerie made by a factory?' As I like to tackle all things technical in lingerie. The booklet "How to write a bra and brief tech pack" will be out early next year. 

The booklet takes you step-by-step through sewing terms, what pages should be in a tech pack, the lay out. And it also uses the same lingerie shapes in 'How to spec a bra and brief' so should you need both booklets, you can work with them together and aren't starting from afresh.

If you aren't ready for your lingerie to be produced at a factory, the booklet may be a handy reference for manufacturing tips and layouts.

How to sew a high waisted brief

If you have been following the 'Creating SS15 collection' then this is one of the collection pieces being made. We have gone from mood boards, sketches, working drawings and patterns, Now the pieces of fabric have been cut and sewn. I have sewn the brief on a standard sewing machine - just because it's what most people will have to start out.

All the components and fabric cut ready to go.

All the components and fabric cut ready to go.

A reminder of the shape of the brief:

The legs and waist will have fold over elastic, which is as it sounds, elastic that fold over the front of the fabric and back, it's great for creating a clean finish. Also as I am only using a sewing machine and not an overlocker, I have to think about the internal seams. Traditionally french seams are used on delicate fabric to enclose your raw edge. If you are planning to use a french seam remember to add the seam allowance into the pattern. As I am wanting to create a control brief look, I'm going to make the seams a detail, so have bias cut binding in which I am going to enclose the seam, then turn to the side and sew down so it looks like the seam has been taped.

To begin with I always create the front panel, if you always follow a structure of your sewing it's easier to keep track if you have many pieces.

sewing the side seams
SEWING THE BINDING TO ENCLOSE THE SEAM

SEWING THE BINDING TO ENCLOSE THE SEAM

Once the side seams are attached, next the gusset is sewn on. If you're making your briefs on a domestic sewing machine only and no overlocker, then have the  gusset in two pieces the outer gusset which is part of the front and the inner gusset which is the gusset part, this means that you can hide, both the front and back seam.

Shown in the picture, the top layer of fabric is the front of the brief, the second layer is the back of the brief, and the bottom is the gusset.

SEWING THE GUSSET

SEWING THE GUSSET

To create the hidden gusset seam, you need to twist the inner gusset and sew to the back gusset, so when straightened the gusset lies flat and seam is hidden.

Next sew the back side seams like the front and then the whole brief is complete. I usually sew the full brief first then apply the elastics and over lap the ends and then sew down the overlap of the elastic to secure. 

The elastic to the legs and waist are attached by x/stitch, starting at the back seam. See finished brief below.

FINAL FRONT OF HIGH WAIST BRIEF

FINAL FRONT OF HIGH WAIST BRIEF

WHAT I WOULD CHANGE

Having sketched out the pattern freehand, there are usually alterations to make after the first toile. What i would change for the next fit and toile, would be lighter elastic, the elastic was too strong for the legs, you can see this on the back brief picture just up from the gusset, as they are not lying completely flat. Also because the elastic is quite heavy you can see the join. 

Having tried them on, I would take 3 cm off the back side panel and add it to the back centre panel. This will allow for a better stretch around the body, and will have better hanger appeal, as the front seam will then be in line with the back seam.

More seams equals more support

When it come to cups in bras, as a general rule (though not going crazy) the more seams you have the better support and fit the cup with be. The most popular of the larger cup, is a three-piece-cup. With two-pieces making up the lower cup and a seam running across the cup for the top cup. The more curve you have on these seams, the more volume will be projected.  

The following brands use the three-piece-cup. 

CLAUDETTE

CLAUDETTE

MISS MANDALAY

MISS MANDALAY

FREYA

FREYA

CURVY KATE

CURVY KATE

1920s sewing techniques

If you read any lingerie blogs, you will have noted that most have them have covered that there is a rise in interest in 1920s lingerie, mainly due to the film 'The Great Gatsby'. In turn you may be inspired to make your own lingerie in this style.

Before you start, take a look at the sewing techniques that were around then, as they differ to the ones we used today in modern clothing. Also if you're using vintage patterns, information again differs from today.

Patterns: Remember to look at the given measurements not dress size (if stated) as they have altered considerable. After the 1940s the seam allowance was established at 5/8 inch. Before then, depending on the year and company it can be marked at 3/8, 1/2, 3/4 or 5/8.
 

Seams: Although they will take more time and effort that modern day techniques, you will have a more authentic looking garment and may very well last you longer. 

French seams:  The raw edges of the seam are enclosed, this method may be used in place of overlocking. First the fabric is placed and sewn with the wrong sides together, then trimmed and pressed. The second seam is sewn with the right sides of the fabric together, enclosing the raw edge of the seam.

Bias Binding seams: The fabric is placed and sewn with the right sides of the fabrics together, pressed then each raw edge is enclosed by the bias binding. You can buy bias binding already made or you can make your own by cutting a strip of fabric at a 45 degrees angle. You then fold in half and iron, then bring each side into the centre and iron. And you should have you're very own bias binding. Please note though if the fabric is moves in a fluid way then this procedure will be a nightmare.

Other techniques would include Tailors tacks: this is transferring important information on to the fabric with loose stitches, such as positioning of buttons, this is usually done with pen nowadays. The Bound button hole was also the way to make button holes.