Strapless Floral Girly Dress

I just love a strapless dress! For some reason, the style just looks so elegant and flattering (if the fit is absolutely perfect: not too tight, never too loose) on a special occasion dress, or even a summer day dress. Something about showing off the neck, décolletage, shoulders, arms and upper back I find so alluring while daring and sensual on a woman.

        I started making this dress over a year ago in hopes to wear to a garden wedding. The fabric, “Shimmering Pink Floral Polyester Twill” which I believe is from Oscar de la Renta,  I acquired from Mood Designer Fabrics back in 2015 and have been holding onto for the perfect dress. It’s time has come!

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As I was nearly done with it, I decided that it was a little too “young” looking on me and not quite as a sophisticated a look I was going for the occasion I was attending. So, with two days to spare, I set it aside for the wedding and whipped up a quick floral silk maxi dress (which turned out to be perfect) instead.

Meanwhile, about a year later, I managed to finish the floral dress (less a finished hem) and I just love the result and am just getting around to blogging about it:

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I began this dress with the fabric, a pattern and a vision:

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As you might notice from my sketch, I envisioned this dress with a horizontal sheer inset panel in the skirt made of organza. I also was planning to add black piping within the seams of the bodice to add texture and dimension, but neither of these design features made it into the dress.

I love these designer dresses with the pretty floral prints, fit & flare silhouette, flirty strapless bodice, and best of all, pockets!

 

Here is an image of a lovely skirt by Donna Karan from which I was thinking of borrowing the sheer inset design detail:

Donna Karan Sheer Inset Skirt

I used this dress pattern 7082 View A from McCalls to create this dress:

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McCalls 7082

I started this dress the “proper” way with a fitting muslin so I wouldn’t risk totally messing this dress up by just cutting out the pattern, and assuming all would fit right out of the package, like I have done too many times before. I did want to make the best use out of my pretty fabric after all the work and time that is put into projects such as this, so making a muslin version first just made sense.

The fit was pretty good in muslin. I needed to take in the back. Actually, now that I look at it more carefully and have had more sewing and fitting education and experience in the past year, I should have taken some length out horizontally in the back as I can see bunching and wrinkling here where it should lay smoothly across my back:

I then started cutting out and constructing the dress in the printed fabric as well as the wonderful bright pink lining after transferring the changes back to the pattern:

The rest of the construction went pretty smoothly. Making the bodice:

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The boned bodice lining:

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and the skirt, adding fun and handy pockets to the pattern (because I can!):

The inside of this dress makes me happy with the bright pink satin lining and the cute black and white polka dot ribbon I added to the side seams of the bodice to serve as hanging loops:

Here she is, the entire outer dress sewn together, ready for the lining to be set in:

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The inside of this little gem looks almost as good as the outside!

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I just love my little dress and hope for an occasion to wear it, or sell it off to one lucky lady who would enjoy this one of a kind sweet little dress! Any takers out there?

On to the next sewing adventure…Bye for now!

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Cold Shoulder Ruffled Tank Top

 

I bought this lovely coral pink silk crepe de chine from NY Fashion Center Fabrics online as I just love the quality of their silks and the color was SO yummy!

coral pink silk crepe de chine

I was not sure what I was going to make with this fabric when I bought it, but I knew that I wanted to make a fun, pretty top for summer.

Once I got my sewing mo-jo going, I decided a good match with this fabric could be this cute ruffled cold shoulder pattern from New Look that I had in my pattern stash since early spring:

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I know, it’s super trendy, we see this cold shoulder trend everywhere, however, I really like it (in most cases, when it is not super cheap-y looking or just a whimpy little peek a boo shoulder). I don’t want to disappoint anyone, so here are just a few inspirational photos I have gathered of this popular trend:

 

Pretty, right?

So, I set forth cutting this baby out from this pattern using my lovely fabric.

Things were going along pretty well, cutting out carefully and sewing it in parts in between other projects and life happenings.

Here I am sewing a ruffle to the side seam:

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I didn’t realize that this top was lined when I was looking at the back of the envelope and the fabric yardage and type needed for best results. It is quite nice that it is lined, but added a little more work and time to this project that I was not expecting. Luckily, I had a nice tan light weight silk remnant on hand that was perfect for the lining. Here I am examining the outer layer and lining of this top:

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I added the ruffle incorrectly, sewing it all the way down to the side of the top instead of leaving it free under the arm to form the “cold shoulder” affect, so I had to carefully unpick the seams and re-sew. It actually didn’t look too bad just sewn down to the side as a tank top, but I really wanted the cold shoulder look, so I took a deep breath, took a seat and got comfortable with my seam ripper.

Here, I pinned the top to my dress form with her little arm attachment thing-y to just see how it was laying before adding the shoulder straps:NL6490c

 

I had some major issues with the shoulder straps. The instructions are not helpful for this part and I think the illustrations are incorrect. I sewed it as best I could, but ended up having to unpick most of it, pin it in place and re-sew it so that it made sense and laid flat against the neck. Not fun.

Making the hem is usually my favorite part of most projects because it means I am almost done! This was an easy one with just a double turned under top stitched hem for both the outer and lining layers:

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I love how the top turned out, although it is quite large and low at the side under the arm (pretty peek-a boo bra opportunity!) and I should have really made some sort of test muslin. Despite all of the hick-ups with this pattern, I’ll be wearing this top very soon as now summer is pretty much over. I hope to post some good photos of me wearing my new top as long as my hair cooperates, and I don’t look like an old lady trying to look young and hip in it. We’ll see…

 

Wish me luck!

PS: I LOVE my new top!

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Kiss me, Darling!

Separates Become One-A Love Story

Something Soft

Something New

Something Silky

Something Blue

Wonderful opportunities can arise out of a last-minute dilemma, which is exactly what happened between my lovely friend (and former co-worker) and myself.

Since she got engaged to an incredibly sweet and very handsome man, we have been chatting and getting excited about all the details of the plans of their small and intimate wedding day. She shared photos of what kind of dress she wanted, how she wanted everything to be very intimate, small, simple, non-traditional and unique, and just a beautiful day to celebrate their love and life together. We even threw out the idea and possibility of me making the dress for her, which I would have (and maybe should have) been delighted to do!

She decided to her dream wedding dress designed and made by a local bridal dressmaker. It was to be a relatively simple gown with a high/low hem, lined in a subtly contrasting color, fit perfectly to her slender and fit figure. They took measurements and sketched out her vision, and then the anticipation set in.

Well, at the fitting just prior to the delivery of the dress, the designer managed to produce a dress that was ill-fitting and too short at the bodice, far too short at the hemline and the neckline she desired all wrong. Plus, the designer had the confidence to make the pattern and the final gown out of many yards silk without making any sort of test garment for her to try on to approve the design and fit. Even I know better than to do something like that!

So, of course, the poor bride was very upset and disappointed, and only had a few weeks until her wedding day and NO dress!

In comes Yours Truly to save the day!

We met right away and discussed Plan B. She liked the idea of doing bridal separates and had a fancy 2-piece wedding gown on rush order from David’s Bridal, but wanted a different top than what came with the skirt.

She was going for a look such as this:

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or this:

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What she needed from me was the simple little silky tank top in the perfect shade of blue.

I got to work right away as we only had about 12 days to her wedding day to get it right. I sent her to Mill End fabric store to the bridal department to find the perfect fabric in the color that she wanted. She brought me this beautiful, good quality polyester charmeuse in a soft pale slate blue and plenty of yardage to make the top just in case…

Elizabeth Fabric

I went to the internet to find a tank top pattern that had the neckline and shoulder strap shape and size that she desired to start with. I found a nice, simple one at the pattern store on Burdastyle.com that would fit the bill, with a few tweaks of course:

 

To make the top more to her liking, I revised the shape of the neckline slightly, took in the sides to make it a little more fitted, and fully lined the top. Easy changes to make to make it to her liking, so I got to work making these alterations to the pattern and cutting the top and lining out of the same material, using the non-shiny side of the fabric as the right side as she preferred (and so did I).

It was an easy sew, making the darts first, then the side seams, then sewing the neckline and armholes of the outer and lining together, sewing the shoulders and finally the hem.

I think it turned out pretty nice!

 

We had a few days before the Big Day to have time to try on the top and make sure it would be OK and go well with the skirt. She decided she wanted a little more taken in at the sides and several inches hemmed from the bottom, but otherwise was delighted with it, which made me so happy! I made the changes that night, gave it a nice steaming with my great garment steamer, and she picked up the top the next afternoon.

She sent me this photo with glee that the flowers she chose would look perfect with the color of the top:

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The wedding day was a beautiful day, and she was a radiant bride in her top and gorgeous skirt! He made a very handsome groom, and the tie that he chose on his own to wear, without knowing what she was planning to wear, happened to match perfectly to her top. It was all meant to be!

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I am so happy for this wonderful and handsome couple, and was delighted to have been able to help her save her bridal outfit and have a small, yet important, part in their wedding day.

CONGRATULATIONS ELIZABETH AND FRANCOIS!

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Love to you both always and forever,

Stephanie

 

Ruffle Me Pretty!

I’ve finally finished this dress and I am really excited about it!

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I purchased the beautiful floral print silk and cotton blend voile at Josephine’s Dry Goods and the pink silk habotai lining at Mill End Store back in April, as well as the McCall’s 7537 sewing pattern around the same time. I gently laundered the fabric and cut out the pattern fairly shortly after that, and that is saying a lot because many of my desired projects sit and wait patiently their turn in the sewing queue.

I eagerly got started on this dress as I had a special event for which I wanted to make this that occurred back in June. However, by the time the date rolled around for the event I was not even close to being done in time for the event, plus it poured buckets that day and I would have been miserable (not to mention way overdressed!) if I had worn it, so it wasn’t meant to be quite yet.

Usually, I don’t take too much time sewing up trendy garments, but something about ruffles just calls to my inner femininity and I felt that the pattern silhouette it was classic enough that the trend would stick around for at least a little while, so I went for it.

Here are some of my ruffle inspiration looks that I find to be quite appealing, super feminine and flattering:

 

As with most dresses or garments that carry the details at the top and near the neckline, this pattern took the most time and attention to make at the bodice and gathered waist band. This pattern is labeled “Advanced” on the envelope and I can agree with that rating as there are quite a few pattern pieces and more advanced sewing and construction details.

Looking at the pattern envelope, it is a little more difficult to see all these pretty details with the print of the dress she is wearing:

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However, the line drawing shows these details clearly:

M7537 Line Art

I was immediately drawn to the feminine and girly silhouette of this dress! I love the sort of boho-chic, gypsy vibe this dress gives off. I think it would be amazing (although a total beeotch to sew) in a floaty silk chiffon, with or without the sleeves, made with all couture seams and construction (of course) and I believe would turn out a high end boutique-worthy frock.

So, I took to making this dress the best I could with the spendy fabric and luxe lining. I used French seams where ever I could, and took the time to sew by hand where needed.

It took many hours to carefully pin and sew the two separate ruffles, each ruffle consisting of three pattern pieces to be sewn together first and then hemmed with a micro-mini curved hem before attaching to the neckline:

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Then, a lined facing was attached over the two tiers of ruffles and slip stitched by hand to the inside of the facing. I don’t have a photo of this in process, but it took a great deal of time and ended up kind of bulky, uneven and wavy with all of those layers. I skipped the elastic loops and lace up ties since there was NO WAY I could get these tiny loops made from elastic thread to sew down. I then edge stitched around the inner edge go the neckline to try to tame the ruffles and keep them from sticking up too much.

I read other sewing reviews about this on my favorite go-to sewing website Pattern Review that claimed that the neckline on this pattern was a pain to work with, which I do agree with, and very low cut, but I find the neckline to be OK and not reveal too much boobage.

Next came the gathered midriff. This was not too tough to do, just getting the gathers even between the top and bottom of the midriff was the only real challenge. As a finishing touch, I’ll make tiny invisible tack stitches on these gathers in various spots to keep them from poofing out or shifting around. This is a little trick I learned while working in alterations at a bridal shop where many dresses and gowns had this technique done on gathered areas of midriffs and necklines.

I thought I might make the long gathered sleeves of this dress, lengthening them to wrist length to suit my liking, but then as the summer days in Oregon reached temperatures in the 100 degree range a few weeks ago, I couldn’t bare the thought of a long sleeve and decided to cut the little cap sleeves from view C of the pattern:

M7537 view C line art

Here is the bodice before and after I sewed on the sleeve:

 

 

The pattern directions have you just sew the sleeve to the armhole and press it towards the bodice, but I felt that this left a raw edge here that could potentially show and fray when worn (or hanging on a pretty hanger in a fancy boutique!), so I serged over the armhole and sleeve seam after sewing it and plan to tack it down at the under arm seam to keep in under control. I usually don’t like to serge seams and take shortcuts when I am making a dress as “couture” as possible, so if I were to make this pattern again in the future, I would most likely make a French or some other finished seam here.

Before the serger:

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Sewing the skirt and skirt lining was a breeze. I used French seams for the side seams of both, then attached the two at the top and part of the side where the zipper opening was. Attaching it to the bodice while gathering it to fit proved to be a tedious task, but I got through it carefully and slowly as not to have any uneven gathers or puckers here.

Next, I slip stitched the midriff facing (or lining, whatever you want to call it) over the skirt seam by hand. I usually really enjoy this step in making a dress, whether with ot without a waistline band, as it really finishes off the inside of the dress, and is usually near the end of the process. Here is the facing pressed under and pinned in to place ready to hand stitch in place:

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Putting in the side zipper was a little tricky since the seam doesn’t open all the way (the zip opening begins a couple of inches down from the armhole and extends through the midriff into the skirt), so it is a little difficult to maneuver the zipper in. The inside of the zip opening doesn’t look very pretty, so I might go back over this covering it with a binding to finish the edge and prevent stray threads from getting caught in the zipper teeth. I think I have enough of the lining material to make self binding over the zipper tape, that would be nice!

I hemmed the dress and lining just doing a fold and turn hem, nothing too crazy. Possibly an invisible hem would have been a little better for the outer skirt, but I don’t have my better sewing machine with the blind stitch foot and setting with me just yet (I’m in the process of moving and currently just have my “travel” machine at home with me), so I just made do with the turned under hem as shown here on the lining:

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A few things I wish I had done differently with this dress is to 1) make in seam pockets. That would have been great, and an easy add. And 2) I should have taken the time to make a muslin mock up, even if it was just the bodice and midriff, as I feel that it is a little short in the torso length for me, and slightly too tight. We will see how it wears and how comfortable it is. Otherwise, the dress is great and very pretty!

I really enjoy how this dress turned out after all, but am not 100% sure if it is a great fit (whoops, I skipped the muslin mock up and just compared my measurements to the pattern measurements), or of it’s a great look for me. It may end up becoming a one of a kind Love, Stephanie for sale garment, so prepare to possibly place your bids Kids!

 

 

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Love,
Stephanie

Luxe Silk Overlay Top

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I just finished sewing up this lovely top in silk georgette. It turned out gorgeous and so luxe to the touch. I can’t wait to wear it, but first, it is meant for a sample to showcase in an adorable little shop in Lake Oswego, Oregon, Nick and Figs, where I aspire to teach and instruct sewing this top in the near future.

The material is a silk georgette I bought at Mill End Store in Beaverton in a gorgeous shade of green:

teal silk georgette

the color of this fabric is more of a blue/green than this photo shows

This fabric was NOT easy to sew! It frays, it’s super slippery and figetey to work with. This fabric is lucky that I love it, otherwise, this would never be in my sewing room!

I used this new McCalls pattern 7411 to make this top:

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I traced off onto separate pattern paper and cut out view C in size Small with no changes or adjustments to the pattern. The only thing I goofed up on was the side seam of the overlay. I is supposed to be split and longer in the back than the front as this line art shows:

M7411viewClineartI didn’t realize this and just cut the overlay straight across from the front to the back, so the seams match and are not split as shown. I’m fine with that, it’s just not as the pattern intended.

On one of my Pinterest boards, I had pinned some lovely tops in a similar look to keep in mind while making this top:

Hello Spring

Looks great with white jeans

Red overlay top

 

After settling in with the pattern cut and all my markings and notches were complete, things went fairly smoothly with sewing this top. Taking my time pinning each raw edge together and carefully sewing, I completed this top in a few days:

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pinning the front neckline

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making a baby (hem)

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tiny hook and eye hand sewed to the back neck edge

 

The most difficult parts of sewing this double layer top was getting the part where the two layers of the back opening at the bottom of it to come together perfectly and have a smooth finish to it. I carefully went over this area twice so not to have a gaping hole here, then gave her a good press to make it smooth and ripple free. Sorry, no photo…

Also, figuring out the last part, sewing the two layers of the shoulder seams together was a little confusing and tricky, but after some careful thought and basting seams here, I figured it out by just imagining what it should look like when finished and sort of thinking backwards (if that makes any sense). Sorry again, no photo…it wasn’t a pretty sight anyway…

 

After all that, it turned out a lovely simple yet luxe top that I hope to sew again, next time along with eager students in my intermediate sewing class at a wonderful little local creative arts school.

 

 

Happy Spring!

Cold Shoulder Project

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OMG, why is it freezing in here? Oh, right, I’m wearing a COLD SHOULDER top! Duh!

Seriously, now, I love this trend. A loose-fitting top (or a tight one) with a little skin showing at the upper arm and shoulder. What a great way to show off one of the skinny and toned (read: bony) parts of my body and a perfect spot to dab on a light perfume or scented body lotion and invite a sweet kiss there from my Boo!

I set out to sew this top using a lovely silk chiffon by Suno I purchased a few years ago from Josephine’s Dry Goods in Portland, OR. It is a wonderfully soft, airy and flowy feel to it and has a colorful navy blue, mossy green and chartreuse brush stroke-like pattern to it (I love fabrics and clothing that mimic art in case you were wondering) that happens to go great with denim:

printed silk charmeuse

I felt that this silk was a tad too sheer to prance around in and not feel too exposed while wearing this top (that open shoulder was already so daring and risqué!), so I decided to add another layer of chiffon to the front and back of the top, a lining of a sort, leaving the sleeves just one layer. I used a nice tan silk chiffon I have had in my fabric stash since who-knows-when:

tan silk chiffon

This tan layer was the perfect color and weight under the printed fabric as it looks similar to my skin tone and kept the integrity of the fashion fabric light and airy while providing the coverage desired.

cutting the tan silk chiffon front and back

 

I was going for a look like the following cold shoulder tops I have seen in stores and on Pinterest:

There are several commercial sewing patterns available now to sew and achieve this look, and I chose this one, B6457 from Butterick to try:

Butterick 6457I chose view A with the V neck and the elastic sleeve hem to make.

The sleeve pattern piece was the most interesting to me. Of course, this is the most interesting part of the design of this top. Here it is shown flat as I was cutting it out of my fabric:

sleeve pattern piece

It was a relatively easy top to make, accept for the difficult fabric I chose to use (chiffon is quite delicate, shifty and frays when you simply look at it), and that V-neck band turned out to cause me a good deal frustration and time figuring out the exact placement of the sleeve and the point of the V. UGH!

I took my time for this area, using tailors tacks in fuchsia pink thread, basting by hand before sewing on the machine and trying my hardest to carefully match the points as needed:

After all the careful sewing work, I really, really love this top! It is great for the spring weather as it is light and colorful, and the sleeves give just the right amount of coverage (accept for my poor, bony, freezing cold shoulders, HA!).

I am not sure I will sew the same pattern again, but I do plan to make other variations on the “cold shoulder” trend in the near future because it is fun and flirty.

 

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Cheers to you and Happy Spring!

Lace Racer Back Bra and Cheeky Panties

 

I love me some lingerie! I always have been drawn to the pretty laces, slippy fabrics and alluring nature of these somewhat “unmentionable” garments. I’ve even had dreams of owning my own little pretty lingerie boutique where I could buy and sell my favorite choice pieces to clients who share my admiration.

I got the opportunity to take a lingerie sewing class at Portland Fashion Institute a couple of years ago where I learned about the best seaming techniques, the specialty fabrics, and construction of various lingerie items such as bias cut slips and knickers, stretch lace undies and even an underwire bra. I need to dig into my UFO (unfinished objects) stash and pull out some of these gems and finish what I started (I’m notorious for UFO’s by the way).

I have also watched the Lingere Sewing on line class on Craftsy taught by Alison Smith. I just love to hear her soft British accent while soaking up some of her vast knowledge of sewing lingerie and other garment construction techniques. I do plan to make up a silk robe and little slip with lace trim that is part of this class. Maybe that’s next on my cutting table!

My good friend asked me recently if I might be able to “copy” a pair of her favorite undies, and I agreed, but first, I just had to try out this new sewing pattern from Simplicity that was released recently and she was to be my guinea pig.

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She, of course, happily agreed to be my guinea pig and we got started taking her measurements and finding fabric and colors she would like. She decided that she could get more wear out of the racer back pattern, but didn’t care for the larger-than-necessary briefs that came with the pattern, so I found a much more modern and “younger”, if you will, panty pattern on Etsy from Ohhh Lulu Sews patterns to match the bra:

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Cute, right? I thought these would suit her much better, so I purchased and downloaded the PDF of this pattern and got out my paper scissors and cut out the hipster version of these pretties.

Rewind to a couple of months ago, I purchased a few yards this lovely double scalloped edge 8″ wide stretch lace from Tailor Made Shoppe also on Etsy as my friend likes to wear pink and also black:

 

After too much procrastination on starting this project (5 months), I realized that both her birthday and Valentine’s Day was rapidly approaching and my sewing to-do list was getting too long, so I got to cutting and sewing this set for my lovely friend as a gift to her (and her husband too!).

Matching and mirroring the scalloped edges of the pattern pieces proved to be the most tedious and time consuming part of this project. I copied all of the little pattern pieces as needed to best lay out the pattern on the fabric along the lace edges in the most efficient manner:

Sewing up the bra didn’t take too long, two nights after work was sufficient time to sew and serge the seams. I was falling in love with the bra more and more as I constructed it, dreaming of making it up in different colors, and maybe changing up some of the design of it.

Sewing up the panties was even faster. In just a couple of hours, I had cut out and sewn up a cute little panty!

 

As I dressed my new Pink Lady body form, I realized that I need to go back and fix the elastic placement at the left back neck top edge of the bra so that the pattern of the lace mirrors that of the right side as you can see in this photo, but that should be an easy fix.

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Also, I am not 100% happy with all of the pink part of the panty and not as much lace showing here. I have enough of the fabric to give it another shot, plus sewing these was so fast and easy, so I might go ahead and do that.

But, all in all, for my first little set of bra and knickers for a “client” turned out pretty darn nice I think! I am super excited to give them to her and force her to show me how it looks (I don’t think she will have any problem at all showing off her fantastic figure to all who will admire!). I also can’t hardly wait to sew up more lingerie as I just get such a thrill out of making such pretty things!

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Voila!

Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Birthday my dear friend!

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