Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

9.07.2010

Camisole Couture

Every other blouse, shirt, dress, jacket, and sweater in my closet requires a camisole to augment its low neck--and, even worse, every single blouse, shirt, dress, jacket and sweater in the stores requires something to provide coverage (or at least, that's what it seems like to me). Wearing a camisole under a low neckline, however, is a frustrating and fruitless exercise, it seems, because most camisoles themselves are too low, and so I end up "settling" for something less than modest.

I strive to dress modestly not because I am forced to, or must "work" my way into being a good Christian, but because I want to, and because I take joy in beautifully modest clothing, and because I desire to have people focus on my countenance and not my body parts. However, that camisole quandrary? I haven't been so successful at that. You see, my ideal camisole is made of a light, dressy knit somewhat thicker than jersey, with no lining, rising up to the vicinity of my collar bone, and going down to my hips, smooth and close-fitting, but not skin tight. Oh, and did I mention that I refuse to pay more than $15 for one, and I grimace at anything over $10?

It goes without saying that I have not been successful thus far in my camisole quest.

Until last week, when I suddenly got smart and realized: "Why don't I make myself a camisole?" So, off I went to Jo-Ann's Fabrics, where I acquired a suitable pattern (New Look 6571) and a light-weight knit fabric.

Over the weekend, I put together the camisole with adjustments here and tweaks there, and I thought I would take you along in case you want to try your hand at this easy creation!

Prep: Although you'll probably have enough fabric, you might want to get between 1/8 to 1/4 of a yard of extra fabric beyond what the pattern calls for, because you will be adding length and height to the camisole. Don't forget to wash your fabric in order to preshrink it! When sizing your camisole, I suggest going to at least the size below your measured size (but remember that dress size and pattern size are entirely different entities, so do measure yourself). By my measurements, I would have been a pattern size 12, but I ended up making a size 8, and it turned out just to my taste--not too tight, and not too loose. Before you cut the pattern pieces out of the paper, add some height to the front piece (I did about 1" this time, but I think I will do 2" next time) and some length to the front and back pieces (I added 3 3/8" this time, but I will do at least 4" next time) and shorten the long straight piece (your future straps) by 1 to 1 1/2" (take the length out of the middle instead of one of the ends, or you will mess up the markings on the pattern piece that you are supposed to transfer to your fabric).

Now, lay everything out according to the layout guide in the pattern, match the grainline to the selvages, pin, and cut!

If you have a stitch on your machine for stretch fabrics, then use it. Otherwise, a zigzag stitch or a regular straight stitch (sewn while stretching out the fabric) can substitute--experiment with what looks best and follow your machine's guidelines for needle size.



Now, it's as easy as sewing up the back and side seams, hemming the neckline, and sewing each strip together and pressing one end under to create a binding.


Pin your binding to the armholes, stretching it to match the dots to the armhole edge, and sew. Press the binding over the raw armhole edge and press the binding above the armhole to create a finished strap. Sew it up! (The stretch stitch did not work well for me on this step, so I am contemplating using a regular straight stitch next time, since there is enough thicknesses of fabric to keep the whole thing secure.)

The hem is as easy as can be; since knit fabric doesn't fray easily, you just have to fold the bottom up once and sew it!




Next time I make it to the fabric store, I'm going to pick up some lace to add to the neckline. Other than that, however, my camisole is finished! I plan to make my next one a bit longer and a bit higher, but overall, I am very pleased with the end product. The total cost (not counting lace) was $6.96, but the next cami will be $4.00 cheaper, because I will be able to reuse the pattern. $3 to $7 is right in my price range! So what are you waiting for?






13 comments:

  1. I love it! What a great idea! I too have the problem of finding a decent cami to wear under my tops. Most times they are too low as you said. I have been wanting some new camis as mine are older and I only have 2. A few more would be welcome. I will have to figure out a pattern that is the right cami for me and try to do it with the knit! I don't know why but knits scare me. :) Any tips for sewing with knit fabrics? it would be much appreciated. I already have some I just need to get a pattern or make one up.

    In Christ,
    Rebecca

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  2. I don't have much experience with knits either, so my first advice is just to go for it, experiment, and don't expect your first creation to be perfect (mine certainly wasn't)! Use a single knit fabric for this type of thing, and use a needle size 9 or 11, with 10-12 inches per stitch. Other than what I mentioned in the article, I would only add that it is CRUCIAL that you use a pattern made for knit fabrics (the one I used was designed to use with knits). Usually, the back of the pattern will have a "knit gauge" where you can determine if your knit's stretchiness factor is compatible with the pattern. I don't worry too much about it being exact, though.
    One odd thing I encountered sewing with knits this time around was that the fabric kept getting caught in the hole by the feed dogs, where the bobbin thread comes out and the needle goes in. It was highly irritating, so if someone has a solution, I'd love to hear it! Obviously, I made it through despite that dilemma, though, and I plan to make more!
    Happy Sewing!

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  3. Hi! I have never posted on your site, but I have been reading it for a month or so now. I really enjoy it and I really enjoyed today's post! I find it difficult to find modest tops but I manage without having to make my own (which is good, because I have no sewing machine!!).

    I was thinking that you would probably like this website if you hadn't already seen it: http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/

    There was just one thing that I thought when I read that you wanted to find a bit of lace for the top. After having read the Modesty Survey and asking my wonderfully honest and open fiancé, I found that having lace on camisoles is actually a stumbling block for most guys - no matter how modest it is and how much it covers. Apparently it's because of the connotations that lace carries - it reminds them of lingerie.

    I hope this is interesting or useful :) It's difficult to dress modestly for men, but it is worth it :)

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  4. You might also invest in a pattern for a top where you can leave the sleeves off. Some have beautiful necklines which are squared, and you can always embellish them with buttons, ribbons or flat lace or fancy lace. Sewing could be your solution with a too short skirt! Group sewing is a great way to influence your friends in being more modest also and have a great time learning other things like quilting and pieceing!

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  5. It's great that you have time to make your own clothing, I wish I could, though I'm not so sure I would wear them....

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  6. Only thing I can think of for your problem Mikaela is making sure the fabric is taut. But I don't know if it would work with a knit fabric...

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  7. You sound just like me! I always want to make things for myself and get inspiration- but for me it is finding the time, since my job is sewing!

    Tips for knit- use a ballpoint needle, that way it doesn't rip the knit, but goes through the weave

    Also- use an overlock (also called chain) stitch on the side seams or waist seams. This will still let the knit stretch to its fullest capacity on the seam.

    Last thing- When running it through the machine you want to hold it taught (pulling it a little bit from the back and front)

    Have fun making your other camis!

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  8. Jessica Rose--thanks for "delurking"! ;-) I have seen/read the modesty survey before, and you bring up an interesting point. I went to go check out what exactly the survey said about camis w/ lace, and, although the consensus is very split, a small majority (51%) do say it would be a stumbling block for them. Definitely something to mull over!
    Shepherd's Ewe--great ideas! I often sew my own shirts, skirts, and dresses, but it just never *occurred* to me to sew layering pieces! Also, I loved your suggestion to use sewing groups to encourage other girls to create modest fashion. In my experience, so many girls desire to dress modestly, but just lack the resources.
    Alessandra--My sewing time is few and far between, unfortunately, but I do love it when I can carve out a few hours! I was blessed enough to study under a knowledgeable and wonderful group of skilled older ladies, so they helped me learn how to make things I would actually WANT to wear! The credit has to go to them. ;-)
    Elizabeth and Victoria--thanks so much for the tips! I did use the chain stitch on my seams, Victoria and that does make a HUGE difference. I will definitely try pulling the fabric next time--I have a great feeling that it will solve my problem, so I can't wait to try!

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  9. Wow you did a great job Mikaela!
    My mom likes to wear them under other shirts also and she had the same problem of the camisole being to low.
    She asked me to cut the straps in half and sew them back together again just a little tighter.

    Thanks for the post!

    Abigail

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  10. Thank you for the ideas. I have the same problem. Have you tried the camisoles with the adjustable straps? You can slide the straps to fit.

    Your blog inspired me to change mine from the generic craft blog to one that delves into deeper topics. If you wouldn't mind, would you take a look? It would be a blessing, thank you!
    peanutbutterpiecanfly.blogspot.com

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  11. Brilliant, Mika! Looks great...I may have to get my courage up and try sewing knits! :D

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  12. Thanks, Abby! That's so nice of you to help out your Mom! I have sewn straps up too, but then it usually ends up too short or with the armholes rubbing on my arm. It is a good solution, though, that I've used many a time!
    Peanut Butter Pie--ooh, now I'm hungry for some of my Mom's delicious, homemade peanut butter pie! ;-) I have tried adjustable straps, but they're just usually not adjustable enough--never makes it high enough for me. I'm thrilled that One Bright Corner inspired your blog content change...the world definitely needs more bright corners! I'll certainly take a look at your blog.
    Sarah--do, do! After all the hints from the lovely people commenting here, how hard can it be? ;-)

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  13. Mikaela thanks so much for replying with your suguestions! Maybe I will end of using my knit fabric sometime soon. I do want to go to the store and get a pattern sometime. It would be a great experiment with all the advice how could I go wrong. Thanks to everyone and Mikaela for the great post and inspiration! Oh and i love you fitted blue jacket! Its pretty on you.

    In Christ,
    Rebecca

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