Monday, March 29, 2010

Coming Soon!

New colors should be in the shop by the end of the week!  I've already dyed up three of the seven, but still need to dry, sort and fold the kits contents.

The new colors include:  Brilliant Blue (very bright!), Wedgewood Blue, Straw (renaming that one!), French Vanilla, Herb Green, Raspberry and Terracotta.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Elan 530 - Tutorial - Part Four

Straps and Finishing

There are only three more things to finish before it is wearable: straps, wires and back closure.

Let's start with the wires. Insert the wires into the channels so that the white end of the wire is at the underarm and the end with the colored sparkles is at the center. In some cases, it will seem like the wire is a bit too long - do not worry, just shove it in. In the most careful way, of course. When you start to wear the final product the cups and channeling will stretch a bit and everything will fit just fine.

Once the wires are in, bar tack across the ends of the channeling on the bridge to close the channels. If this is only for a try on - you don't have to close the channeling. It will be just one less thing to rip out if you need to.  After closing the channeling, trim the excess channeling above the edge of the cup.

The next thing to make is the straps. The straps must be put on before the closure in this style. You will need to assemble the straps first. There are two options for straps with this pattern.  One type of strap is a partial elastic strap with the other part being made of the solid fabric.  The other type is a full elastic strap.  In either case, you will need to make elastic straps. This can be a bit tricky, but I hope this series of photos will help.

1. Thread the strapping through a slider leaving a tail about 3/4".

2. Stitch down the tail so that the slider can not come off.

3. Thread the free end of the strap through a ring.

4. Bring the free end of the strap around to the left, toward the slider.

5. Thread the free end of the strap through the slider again and pull tight.

That's it, the strap is ready to be attached.

If making full elastic straps, take the ring and insert that little bit of elastic that you left at the top of the cup through it, bringing the elastic to the back.

Bar tack the elastic in place. If this is only for a try on - just stitch across the elastic a few times, you can even leave the tails of the thread so you can find it and clip it out if necessary.

For the partial elastic straps, you will also need to make the fabric portion of the strap.  After interfacing the fabric sections, fold the strap piece right sides together the long way and stitch on the long curved side.  Turn the strap piece right side out and press.

The strap is attached to the front at the corner of the cup where the elastic stops.

Then attach the other end of the fabric strap to the elastic strap through the ring and stitch securely, bar tacking to make sure it is strong and secure.

For either strap version, the straps are attached to the back band the same way.  Bring the strap around to the back of the bra and line up the edge of the strap with the last unfinished edge of the back.
Zigzag close to the edge of strap to attach it, then bar tack at the elastic. This is a stress point, so it is a good idea to make it secure.

The final step is to add your closure. Check to see if the closure is the same width as the back. You might have to trim each section of the closure to fit. From the back, the hooks go on the section to your left. One end of the eyes opens up - just slip that over the raw edge of the back, with the fuzzy side (the side toward your body when wearing) down. The hooks go on the side to your right. Fold them in half, with the hooks facing down and attach like the eye section.

You can then either zigzag, satin stitch or baste it in place. If you're basting, use a regular stitch length. You don't want this coming loose during a try on!

You're done!  As a side note, this does look better on a body than on my dressform - my dressform is a little bigger than my daughter in the band, but smaller in cups!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Elan 530 - Tutorial - Part Three

Channeling and Upper Elastic

Once the bridge and back bands are applied, the channeling can be added. Fold the bridge and the cup so that they are right sides together with the cup.  The channeling is then applied with the seam of the channeling lined up with the two previous (bridge and band) seam lines. Make sure that the folded edge of the channeling is facing away from the cup and other fabrics at this point.

Make sure to stop stitching the channeling about 1/2" from the armhole edge so that the elastic will be easier to apply in the next step - the pin on the far left that is perpendicular to the channeling is my mark for stopping. You can trim away the channeling about 1/2" away from the armhole edge, too. 

Stitch the channeling in place along the seam line of the channeling.  When done and unpinned, it will look like this:

Fold the channeling to the inside of the cup and topstitch the folded edge of the channeling down.

To finish the top edge, 3/8" elastic is applied. This elastic is applied in the same way as the bottom elastic from the previous post, with two passes of zigzag stitching. Following the instructions, measure and cut the elastic (3/8" wide) to the 80% of the top edge measurement, plus 1" extra if using full elastic straps. Pin and sew as for the bottom elastic, except to optionally leave 1" of elastic extra above the top edge of the lace. This will be part of the strap attachment.

Almost done - all that is left is straps and finishing, which is the next tutorial!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Elan 530 - Tutorial - Part Two

Bridge and Back Band

To prepare the bridge, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the bridge.  Fold the bridge, right sides together, and stitch the raw edges at the top together.

Turn the bridge right side out, and press.

With right sides together, stitch each diagonal edge to the cups, aligning the top of the bridge with the top of the cup. Bridge width can vary. If you have a bra that has a bridge with a good width for you, then trim the bridge to the same width before stitching. If not, just baste both sides so that you can adjust the width later.

 Stitch one side, and then stitch the other side of the bridge to the other cup.

To prepare the back bands for attachment, the bottom elastic will need to be sewn on. Cut a piece of elastic 80% of the measurement of the bottom of the back band. Place the elastic on the band with the plush side up on the right side of the band, and the straight edges together as shown below.  The elastic will be smaller than the back band, so you will need quarter mark both the elastic and the band and then pin the elastic to the band matching the marks.  To quarter mark, fold the item in half and mark the half way point.  Then, with the item still folded in half, fold it in half again and mark the two positions between the half way point and then ends. 

The elastic will be stitched on in two passes. First, stitch close to the loop edge with a small zigzag.  You will need to stretch the elastic as you sew it.  Be careful not to stretch the band, too, as your band will then be out of shape permanently.  This can be a bit tricky because the band is a stretchy fabric too!  Be patient and sew slowly, stretching from pin to pin.  This is what the stitching will look like:

Then turn the elastic to wrong side of the band and stitch with a zigzag close to the straight edge of the elastic.  You will be stitching with the wrong side of the fabric facing up. If you are basting this together for a try on, you can use a long straight stitch for the first pass, and a wide zigzag for the second pass.

This is what it looks like from the outside and inside:

Stitch the back bands to the cups, right sides together, aligning the marks and the top edge with the armhole edge of the cup.

Now we ready for the channeling and upper elastic, and you should have what looks like this:

Next Post:  Channeling and upper elastic!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Elan 530 Tutorial

Part One: Trace, Cut and Assemble Cups

This tutorial is for Elan 530. Elan 530 has a partial band and full coverage cups with optional partial self-fabric straps. If you have read the Elan 511 tutorial, you'll notice that some of the instructions are the same - that's because some of the same things apply, especially to the cutting out process. The sample shown in this tutorial will be a 34A.

Once you have your pattern and have found your size, find the pieces and trace them. You will need to trace off the pattern pieces - do not cut them out of the tissue! You or whoever you are making this for may change in size and you might need those other sizes some day. The seam allowances are already included in the pattern pieces, so all you have to do is trace. I just trace onto white tissue paper, the kind you'd use in gifts and gift bags. It is very easy to get and cheap. Make sure you mark all the dots, notches, direction of greatest stretch, and note the pattern number and size.

Once you have your pattern pieces, you can then cut out the fabric. To cut out the pieces, first check the pattern pieces for the greatest direction of stretch - this is similar to a grain line in a woven. Similarly, strange things happen if you don't follow the correct line - things will stretch that you don't want to stretch and stretchy parts won't stretch at all!

Now, find the direction of greatest stretch of the fabric. The fabric in my kits is a one way stretch fabric, meaning that it will stretch in one direction but not in the other. The power net is a 4 way stretch, meaning that it stretches in practically any direction. In the first photo, the fabric stretches in the horizontal direction, but not in the vertical as you see in the second photo.

Following the direction of greatest stretch or grain lines on the pattern pieces, pin and cut. You may prefer to rotary cut the pieces, that's fine. I actually prefer to use scissors.

You can use the power net for the back bands, as you've probably seen in RTW or under lace for a really pretty back band.  Elan 530 does not have a lace option, so the back band is a nice place to use the lace.  The upper cups can have some lace if desired, just by overlaying the lace on the upper cup pieces, as you'll see in the tutorial.  Take a look at RTW, just to get an idea of what fabric they are using in what places.

As a general rule, I cut two of the upper cups of the lace and the two of either powernet or solid fabric depending on the strength of the lace and whether I want a little sheerness. I cut 4 of the lower cup, and I'll show you how I use those to line the lower cup and hid the seam allowance in another post. I cut two of the back band in either powernet, lace or solid fabric and the rectangle for the bridge in solid fabric.  I also cut out interfacing for the bridge and the optional straps.  The upper cup facing strip can be cut of fusible web as per the pattern instructions.

The last thing you'll need to cut is the lace if you're using it for the cups or band. Place the upper edge of the cup pattern pattern piece along the scalloped edge of the lace and cut out one side. Flip the pattern piece over to cut out the lace for the other side, aligning the pattern piece to have as close to a mirror image as you can get.

Once you have your pieces cut out, you are *almost* ready to begin sewing.

Before you begin, make sure you have the proper needle in your machine - one that will be able to sew stretch fabrics. This type of needle is different for every machine, but generally a stretch needle is the right one. You will be stitching a lot of elastic and stretch fabrics and the wrong needle will cause frustration every time. It is such a simple thing to fix, too!

The strange thing about bras is that unlike many other garments that can be fitted along the way, these garments are a little different. You just about have to have a completed garment before trying it on. Careful measurements help, but since every body is unique, you may have to adjust along the way. What I suggest doing, is doing what we do in regular garment sewing: baste! You can machine baste with a longer stitch before committing to permanently sewing the pieces together. You can also attach the elastics with a wide and long zigzag before making a commitment. It will be much easier to remove the stitching and adjust something rather than picking out little bitty stitches. Trust me, I've picked apart quite a few bras and it's no fun. As we progress, I'll show you both ways of stitching.


To begin assembly, you will need to finish the top edge.  The top edge is finished with a strip that has fusible web applied to it.  The strip is actually cut as one, but will be cut in two lengthwise to produce a strip for each side. 

Each strip is stitched to the top edge of the top cut piece, turning the strip to the inside and fusing in place.

If using lace, overlap the lace on the upper cup sections and pin or baste in place.

Now, matching the symbols and notches, stitch the lower and upper cups together. I like to line the bottom cups - this is why I cut out four of them - which also helps to hide the seam allowances and make the inside of the cups smooth. To do so, I place the upper and lower cups right sides together and then place the remaining lower cup piece face down, right sides together *with the other lower cup*. You can see lace sandwiched in between in the photo below.

Don't be afraid to use a lot of pins. These fabrics can be slippery and your seam allowance is only 1/4". Make sure everything is lined up properly.

I stitch my seams with a 2.6 stitch length for a permanent seam. If you're basting, use something larger, like 4.0 length. This is big enough to be easily removed, but small enough to hold the pieces together properly. Once the seam is stitched, the cups can be opened, pressed and the center seam top stitched if desired. This is the cup from the inside, notice how the seam allowances are hidden:

The cups are now ready for the next step: the bridge and bottom band. That's the next tutorial.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Tutorial!

Tomorrow I will start posting a tutorial for Elan 530.  This pattern is very similar to Elan 511, in that it is a partial band bra;  different in that it has full coverage cups and optional partial self fabric straps.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Patterns Back In Stock and a New Style!

I just received a small order of Elan patterns, so they are back in stock in the Etsy store, both #511 with a partial band and #645 with a full band.

I've also ordered and now have in stock style #530, which has a partial band and optional self fabric straps. The size range is from 32B through 40DD.