Pattern testing can really stretch your sewing and pattern adjusting skills. Especially when the pattern involves princess seams. While some people are lucky enough to have “average” bodies, I think most of us need to do at least a little bit of tweaking and fine tuning of patterns. In fact, that’s probably why some of us started sewing in the first place. To get a better fit than off the rack clothing.
The Designer Stitch Olivia Bralette and Knickers, Briefs, Panties pattern is a gorgeous set designed for comfortable lounging, while looking enticing. 😉 It isn’t designed to be a mega supportive workout bra, though my husband did say that it looks like a cross between a workout bra and a swimsuit top! To be fair, I have made plenty of workout bras and swimsuits, so I can see where he’s coming from. 🙂
Ann (the designer at Designer Stitch) always recommends making a muslin or toile to perfect your fit, before cutting into your “good” fabric. When making a muslin (practice garment), it is important to use fabric with the same stretch as your good fabric. If your fabrics don’t have similar stretch, you aren’t going to get the same results. The Olivia size chart and tutorial give clear instructions on selecting your size. So I traced the pattern in my size and got to work.
Years of sewing for myself have shown me that my bust apex is lower than average. Time, gravity, and having breastfed my two children also means that my bust is much fuller on the bottom half than it is on the top. So I knew that a round curved princess seam was going to need a little bit of adjustment. It’s not hard to fix, it’s more a matter of trial and adjustment, trial and adjustment. I stitched the cups together, held them up to my bust and kind of pinched out the excess fabric at the top of the bust to make my first adjustment. I took the cups in along my pinned together line, and marked the change on my pattern.
Then I stitched the rest of the bralette together without bothering to use any elastic, since this was just my muslin. The top curve needed to be flattened out even more, so I carefully pinned the excess fabric and again marked the change on my pattern. Finally I felt ready to move onto my good fabric. Which, surprise, surprise, 😉 also led to a pattern hack. Since the bralette was such a fun design, I decided to make it into a nightgown. Who doesn’t need more summer nighties?
Since I like adding support to all my bras, swimwear, and workout tops, I used all the bralette pattern pieces to cut a layer of powernet, and another layer of fabric to use as a lining. I basted the powernet to my main fabric, and treated it as one layer, sewing the bralette together. Then I sewed all the lining pieces (out of the same nylon/spandex tricot fabric) together, basically making a second bralette. After carefully pinning the two bralettes right sides together, I stitched the two together along the top edge. (I did leave openings at the top to insert straps). I tried it on, determined my strap length, and sewed the straps in place. With the bralette inside out, I added clear elastic within the top edge seam allowance, zigzagging it in place. The pattern tutorial gives suggested elastic lengths, so you don’t have to guess what length to use. Then I turned the bralette right sides out, and basted the bottom together.
I cut a rectangle of fabric 21″ high by the 60″ width of my fabric. After folding the “skirt” in half right sides together, I stitched along the short end of the fabric, leaving the bottom 7″ unsewn to form a slit. Using a long zigzag stitch, I gathered the top of the skirt until it was the same width as the bottom of the bodice. Evenly distributing the gathers, I aligned the slit with one of the bodice seams and attached the skirt to the bodice. Then I hemmed the bottom and edges of the slit to complete the nightgown.
My topstitching caused a few puckers along the princess seam, so it’s not perfect, but it is perfectly wearable and comfortable.
Then it was time to move along and make a pretty set using stretch lace and trimming with double plush picot edge elastic. The high rise waist of the panties felt a little too high for me, so I cut an inch off the top at the waist. Some of my favorite RTW panties have lace accents at the hip, so I decided to try a similar look with my lace. After picking out a pretty motif in the lace, I laid the flowery design on top of the front panty piece on an angle, and pinned it in place. The lace got stitched in place with a zigzag stitch, then I laid the lace on the opposite hip and tried to get the mirror image motif perfectly aligned.
Once the lace was zigzagged in place it was super easy to follow the pattern tutorial and complete the panties. My foolproof tip for sewing on the picot elastic (I use the same technique with swim elastic on swimsuits) is to set the zigzag stitch length at 2.5, and the width at 3.0, and sew with the fabric and elastic lined up with the edge of my presser foot. (The tutorial has a labeled drawing showing how to divide the elastic length along the leg opening for the perfect amount of stretch in each area.) Then I flip the elastic to the inside and pin or clip it in place. Using the same stitch length and width, and sewing on the right side of the garment, zigzag around the leg opening, again lining the fabric up with the edge of the presser foot, and gently stretching the fabric until it lays flat while you stitch.
When it came to the bralette, I again cut a layer of powernet and basted it to the fabric, treating it as one layer. I basted the bralette together, and did one last little adjustment to the cups so they fit perfectly smooth. Never underestimate the value of basting and trying on to perfect your fit. Then take the time to trace your changes onto your pattern piece. I started with the yellow highlighted lines, which got trimmed back to the orange, which got adjusted to the blue, and in the final tweaking, down to the green.
I added a layer of the stretch lace to the Cup Center Front, again aligning the lace motifs so that they would match. Rather than hacking to add a lining, I followed the pattern tutorial, and finished the bralette edges with the picot elastic. I took the time to change out the thread to match the fabric and elastic on each side for a professional finish.
And I ended up with a very pretty set, that almost looks beach ready!
I could not help but laugh at the ridiculousness of me trying to take “sexy looking” photos! It’s just not gonna happen! I’m a 50+ year old Grandma, who enjoys the occasional cookie or apple crisp, (after a delicious salad of course), and I’ve got the real life body to prove it! 🙂
So I kicked off the heels, and hopped on the lounge chair and tried again.
Eyes closed and laughing, with leaves blown into the pool. Yep, that’s as sexy as it gets! Hahahahahahahaha! #reallifesexy
So, if you’re looking for a real life sexy set, that can pretty easily be made as swimwear, or hacked into a nightie, and adjusted to fit your curves, Olivia has got you covered!
The nightgown was made of nylon spandex tricot, purchased at Phee Fabrics. The bralette and panties were made of circular knit, with powernet, stretch lace, bra strapping, and picot edge elastic all purchased from Phee Fabrics.
Thank you for reading and sharing my love of sewing, fabric, patterns, and pattern hacking. ❤
5 thoughts on “Oh Olivia!”
Great sewing Debora, love both the nightgown and the bra and panties set. I think you’re sexy my beautiful daughter
Wow amazing work!! So much fun to sew 🙂
Thank you! It’s always fun to personalize patterns and make something pretty.
I agree!! We love to do the same thing 😍
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