Pattern Hack Fairy


Sew Along: Strapless Foundation- Week Two

Here we are at Week Two of our Sew Along.

Our focus of this session will be:

  • Altering the pattern based on the fitting marks
  • Defining the bust pad shape and pattern
  • Sealing the ends of the boning
  • A new way of “basting” the boning in place
  • Constructing the front foundation that goes against the skin

At this stage you have basted together a fitting shell with a few pieces of boning.   You will want to mark the ideal perimeter of the bust pad area, and also the back waist.  This will be so that you can create bust padding from the actual pattern so it will be a perfect nested fit, and also the back “bra” panels that will have their own closure method.  The closures you can choose for these inner “bra” panels could be a separating zipper, a long regular zipper, hook and eyes, or eyelets and lacing strings.  I’ve seen velcro done, but I think that has been more for quick fitting sample garments for brides of various sizes to try on.


Next,  you will want to mark the pin location from your fitting so that you can transfer those adjustments to your working pattern.   In my case, I like to use a air/water erasable marker since I use my fitting shells over and over for clients to try on.  But if this is a one-shot deal for you, a pencil is fine.

I do my marking on the inside of the muslin on each side of the seam allowance right where the pin is.


Then you can remove all of the pins.


Next you will lay the cut edge of the seam along the cut edge of your pattern and mark your new “sew” lines.  I like to use a pin wheel that has sharp points.


You will also “wheel off” your bust pad lines.


If you had a “bust pinch” in the upper edge of the neckline, you will “draft out” that fullness like this.  Create a pattern “dart”.  Next, join the dart legs together to eliminate that fullness and give the more contoured bust shape.



After you have traced off all you new sew lines and offset the new cut lines, you can trim away the excess.  I also like to trace off the center front piece on a folded piece of paper so it can butterfly open into a full piece that I can cut flat instead of “on the fold”.  In fit crucial pieces like this, the “cut on fold” method can be inaccurate.  Of course, if you design has a center front seam, you don’t have to worry about this.




Now let’s create the bust padding.  The bust pad pattern is traced off onto new paper from the markings you mad on your base pattern.  The center front “horizontal” dart is eliminated, and the upper part of the princess seam is merged together.  For fabrication, I like using “Warm ‘n Natural” quilting cotton.  Sometimes I add a layer of stiff woven interlining to it if I feel like that particular design and the wearer’s shape warrants it.


Even though the bust padding area does NOT include seam allowance, I still shave an additional 1/8″ off the top edge so that there is no risk of it being too bulky in the upper edge of the neckline.


I add a notch at the top of the princess seam, and a double notch on the outer edge so I don’t get confused where the center and side placements are.




The pads are cut out… remember, there is NO seam allowance in the joining seam under the bust.


To join that lower seam, you can use some of the bias cut organza as a joining foundation, or you could even use a triple zig zag to join the edges together.

I used the strip of organza in this case because I didn’t feel like threading and setting my portable Janome for a triple zigzag.   If it was already set up, it would have been one quick step to close this seam, but on the single-needle it took me three passes… so go figure my logic!  lol



I also “thumb ease” around the edges by putting my finger behind the pressure foot so stitches can kind of “stack” and compress.




So… the padding is out of the way now.  A bit of work, but worth it to have a perfect shape to go inside your foundation.  If you want more thickness, you can add one or two more graduated layers.



Now we can cut and sew the inner most layer of the foundation that goes against the skin.

I like to use Duchess Silk Satin.  It’s thin, but sturdy enough for me to use on it’s own without needing another interlining, and it’s very soft on the skin and has such a lux look for the interior of a gown.  You unzip a gown and see the bodice is lined in Duchess Silk Satin… you know it’s something special!  You can also use charmeuse or china silk with a layer of muslin behind it.  There have also been times I used a polyester peau satin to keep costs down and it was fine, too.  I just think the silk is more breathable and special.

So, we cut our silk lining pieces in each of the bodice pattern pieces from our newly revised pattern pieces.

I also want to take a moment to talk about the boning we will sew into these lining pieces.

The first issue is that we need to be more careful with sealing the edges of the boning since this is not the “real deal” and not just a temporary fitting shell.  Normally I use a “hotfix” want that you use for iron-on crystals or a soldering iron to slightly “melt” and “meld” the edges together so the prickly ends of the boning threads are seared together and will never come apart and needle stab our lovely bride.   %$&@#!   With having moved into a new house  recently (uhh, almost two years ago), I still have not fully unpacked and couldn’t find my heat tools anywhere.  So a new idea and a new tangent emerged.

My next idea was to use a dab of E-6000 glue dabbed on the ends.  The only annoyance was having to wait for it to dry, which was fine because I came up with a spiffy new idea while waiting.  I though… how about baste stitching the boning to a strip of woven fusible (glue side down), and then iron it in place on the lining pieces to make stitching easier AND give a little extra body in those areas?  Win/win, right?

See how this plastic mini-rods if left to unravel could make for a very grumpy bride?


So let’s be sure and seal those ends.


Here is my new idea for basting on to a strip of woven fusible.


And for good measure I also put a little square pad of the cotton batting under each tip.


Next I just “ironed” the boning in place! (yes, I know my middle one didn’t quite make it to the middle- so sue me!)  I could have peeled it off and re-positioned it, but I would like to post TODAY.


Next, I stitch down the boning with teeny tiny stitches.. like 1.5 to 2.0 mm.  Tiny stitches read bespoke couture quality!  You know what I mean… you’ve seen those big sloppy “fast fashion factory” stitches.



Next we stitch the bust princess seams and press towards the center front.   I like to finish the look with a “show off” fine double top stitching.  Remember, there is NO BONING in the seams of the lining layer.  The boning will go into the seams of the middle inner lining layer.  I do this because I want those fabulous top stitched seams exposed on the interior, AND I like the boning to be present in each of the layers (juxtaposed so there is never “boning on top of boning).

Here is the interior of the lining with the boning stitched down and the center horizontal bust dart sewn.


And here is the outside view.  Notice how I also do a double row of top stitching from the upper side bust, to the apex and across the center front dart?  It secures the side from having “bias stretch out” and also holds down the seam allowance of the dart nicely.  Plus I think it looks kinda cool.  🙂   Sometimes I do a decorative stitch there on my Janome instead of the double top stitch… and sometimes in baby blue thread.  But we already established that today I’m feeling too lazy to set up a second machine, let alone another thread color!  lol


And now see how nicely the bust padding will tack neatly to the inside… no wonder because they were made from the pattern.  I  have purchased “pre-made” bust cup pads before, and they never nested in there correctly.  Now I know there is the possibility that you will end up wanting to add more support, or even side/bust push-up pillows… but trust me, we will cover that.  You still want to do the interior light bust padding that I have covered here.  The other issues of more support or push-up padding will be an easy addition to what we already have here.




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  • Posted: 04/14/2016 08:19


    After altering the centre front the fold line is no longer straight, how do I cut this? Cheers Gill