Enjoying the chill in the air and dreaming up designs in velvet and wool.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I had a piece of soft, soft Lycra-filled jersey with some grosgrain ribbon that matched it to a moral, and some pretty lace fabric, and a hankering to use the eyelet setter I'd rediscovered when cleaning out a drawer last week. So instead of buying lingerie for a shower I was going to, I decided to throw out the intimidation that has always kept me from making intimates, and came up with this little nightie - and had so much fun doing so!

The top of a simple dress pattern gave some basic dimensions for the bodice, but I altered the front with a split in order to lace it up and made the back bodice one piece by cutting on the fold, taking up what would have otherwise have been the seam allowance with a few cute pintucks (I've been on a pintuck kick recently) at the center back. The Lycra stuff, which is incredibly stretchy - I think it is actually meant as a swimwear fabric, so it stretches in all directions - was a bit of a pain to work with, bunching and rippling instead of feeding through the machine correctly as I sewed it together with the lace, until I caved and started using Scotch tape to stabilize the fabric where I needed to put seams. That worked well, and it ripped neatly apart where the needle punched it, though I ended up with an inordinate number of little sticky strips stuck to my fingers and clothes by the time I was done. But I like that fabric well enough to make it worth it.

I cut out the skirt (a slightly modified rectangle that I eyeballed for size...you know how much of designing is just educated guesswork?) with a rotary cutter to keep the edges super-clean, and it's so fray-resistant that I didn't need to hem or finish the raw edges at all. I didn't even gather the skirt properly (secret: I hate gathering), but pinned it evenly around the bottom edge of the bodice and then fed the wrinkles in at regular intervals as I stitched the two together. Once that was done, I set my serger to a very short stitch length and trimmed and bound that skirt-bodice seam. The serging contains the edges of the lace well enough that they should be quite comfortable and not itchy.

And then all that was left was to bind the top of the bodice (I used a length of vintage acetate binding that I'd pulled from a grab-bag a friend had sent me from her grandmother's de-stashing) and set the eyelets and put in the ribbon for lacing and shoulder straps. Such a gratifying evening project! I don't think I'm going to switch focus off of the gowns anytime in the foreseeable future, but this was a great excursion into previously-unexplored design and sewing territory.

The antique gold eyelets were leftover from a corset order I filled a couple of years ago. I discovered that you can't actually use this kind of eyelet for real corsets; they're too flimsy to bear the stress for that, but they're perfectly suited for this kind of lacing. (I eventually had to go to a leather supply warehouse to get the strong eyelets and anvil set needed for the corset. That kind is not as fun and easy as this kind, which you do with this nifty special set of pliers.)

(P.S. - Making corsets might seem like it would be scarier than making negligees, but it's not. Making corsets is like building with Legos. They're sturdy, and you follow a diagram to put it together, and everything stays put. Working with lace and Lycra and ribbons, on the other hand...that's more like doing fancy French braids on a wiggly toddler with fine hair.)


Emily Lapish April 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM  

You are the most amazing person I know.

epichaiku April 15, 2012 at 3:19 AM  

ooooh.... so pretty!!!!!!!!!!!! So many things I want you to make me... get ready, when I visit the end of May I am ordering at least one thing.

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