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General instructions for sewing underwear
Sewing lingerie can be very well done with home sewing machine. You will only need two basic stitches: straigth stitch and zigzag stitch. When sewing other underwear, an over-locker will come in very handy, unless you own a sewing machine that has a good stretch stitch and that feeds the fabric evenly.
Before you start sewing, it is good to check the thread tension of the sewing machine (the upper thread can be quite loose). It is easiest to test with the materials under work each time. A good stitch can be recognized from the fact that it is not too tight and the upper or lower threads do not form loops in the opposite side of the fabric. It is difficult to give precise adjustment instructions, because they depend on the sewing machine and the age of the machine, as well.
You will need the following stitches:
straight stitch, length of the stitch about 3mm (combining the pieces)
zigzag stitch, length of the stitch about 2.5mm and width about 5.5mm (attaching the elastics)
zigzag stitch, length of the stitch about 1.5mm and width about 3.5mm (topstitch of the cup, attaching the straps and hook tape)
overlock stitch, width about 6mm (e.g. for sewing the side seams of panties)
It is important that the needle of the sewing machine is sharp, so that it pierces the fabric and elastic without effort. In underwear sewing, a suitable needle size is 80. You can also use a ballpoint needle. For sewing thread, a good choice is a quality polyester thread, for instance Gütermann. In stretching clothes the thread is exposed to hard wearing.
When selecting bra materials, the most important thing is that the band fabric is stretchy. Also, the band fabric can be quite snug, especially in larger bra sizes. When you are looking for suitable materials, compare them to the materials of ready bras. In the MB method, the bra cup always has a lining, on top of which the actual cup is built on. This makes it possible to use many different kinds of fabrics as the top material of the cup. You can even use a non-stretchy fabric, in which case the pieces are bias cut to make them ”fit” better. A non-stretchy fabric also requires larger seam allowances. The best cup is, however, made from a slightly elastic, quite thin fabric or lace.
As material for panties, naturally only cotton tricot, Lycra, or lace that stretch in both directions are suitable. A non-stretchy material can, of course, be used in a small area as a decoraction, for instance in the front of the pants.
You can place the parts of the bra pattern on the fabric quite freely, depending on the fabric figures or amount of fabric available. The most important thing is that the right and the left side are placed symmetrically. The MB bra patterns include seam allowances, so you do not need to do anything else than to cut the pattern off the sheet and it is ready to be used. However, it is recommend to add extra material 3-4cm on bra back seam in case alteration is necessary.
Note! Printing paper works excellently as pattern paper. When you copy the pattern from the original, do it against a window. This way you can see the outlines through an even thicker paper.
When cutting underwear pieces, I use a cutter and a cutting mat meant for patchwork. With the cutter, it is easy to follow the edge of the pattern paper and the cutting will be precise and neat. If you use scissors, draw the outline of the pattern carefully on the fabric before cutting. Use a pen with a small point for drawing. The patterns can be taped to the fabric from a few points, so they stay in place better. Leave the patterns on top of the cut pieces, so it will be easier to combine the pieces as you go on.
Before making your first bra, you can start making a tester cup, for instance from an old sheeting. Sew a channel for the underwire from bias tape to the bottom edge of the tester cup. You can try this single cup separately to both breasts. Keep the lower edge of the cup in place with one hand and pull upwards from the attachment point of the strap with the other hand. This is a little tricky and a precise fit cannot be stated with this method. Mainly this helps you to check if you have chosen the right size. You can also make a trial version of whole bras easily..
Bras are properly fitted in the stage when they are nearly finished and the straps are attached in the front. The proper size of the band is concluded by pinning the band at the back to a correct tightness. The band should be fairly tight and firm. After you have pinned the band, attach the straps in the back in suitable places with pins. Mark the center-back and the places of the straps with pins.
Now you have a pin to mark the right spot in the centre back. Cut a further 1cm off from both sides in the back where the pin is. If you now attach the hook tape to its place, the hooks will be attached to the first row of eyes. Since, however, bras “get tired” as time goes by, it is good if the hooks are attached either to the middle or the last row in new bras. So cut another 1cm more from both sides. Don’t hesitate to take the extra centimetres away, so the bra will fit snugly!
The best way to try on panties is to finish them and put them on! You will make them so fast and from such a small amount of fabric that if they turn out to be the wrong size, they will certainly fit to someone else.
Now you are ready to start sewing…