Couture sewing part 2

Here’s the finished guipure lace skirt I made at Susan Khalje’s 3 day guipure lace skirt workshop in Brisbane using fabric from Minerva Crafts. I’m now hooked on making anything ‘guipure’.

While this project is a bit formal I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more skills. Now I’m thinking of more ‘urban’ ways to use guipure lace.

Any straight skirt pattern can be used for a guipure skirt so I used Simplicity 1460. Tapered skirts are my fav but I had to learn about shaping lace first at the waist before attempting shaping lace at the hem as well ie learn to walk before you learn to run.

Can I just say that it doesn’t matter what your skill level is, everyone at this workshop created a guipure lace skirt and used a straight skirt pattern that worked for them. Please don’t think you have to be super skilled to do this type of sewing. You only need to be open-minded and patient with yourself. Everyone in the class was really focused but also amazed they could learn these skills and build on their existing skills. That’s enough encouragement to try new skills from me for now.

What I learnt
I enjoyed seeing how Susan worked on everyone else’s skirts to get a better fit, including getting a better fit for my skirt.
Jigsaw puzzles have always been a favourite past time of mine so watching Susan piece guipure lace to get your body shaping was mesmerising.

Sewing a hand -picked zipper takes very little time so I’m sold on this technique. Applying an inner grosgrain waist facing is really only limited by the Petersham tape you use.

I picked these fabrics from the website. I didn’t get samples beforehand and I was really pleased with these choices.

The descriptions on Minerva Crafts website and their photography are spot on. I’m happy with my website choices when the fabric arrives at my door step.

Vicki now processes the Network Blogger orders through their normal order system and the beauty of this is you get to see the name of who packed each part of your order. It’s amazing to see how many people are involved in their packaging/mail service. I’ve always loved the personal side of Minerva Crafts and it just keeps getting better. Thanks guys.

Guipure lace
The course specified guipure and when I put guipure in the search criteria on their website, it brought up 11 types of guipure fabric options. The range of colours are extensive and the quality is exactly what I needed for this workshop.

I chose this awesome purple because it’s a strong colour, scalloped on both sides and special. It looks special and flattering. You only need to purchase your length plus 10cm of this guipure lace for a skirt.

Guipure lace is tightly sewn together. This means you can safely cut out lace motifs by snipping through the lace connectors and place the motifs where you want. These lace motifs they don’t fray. That’s the lace quality you need.

Lace underlayer 

The skirt required a contrasting colour as the under layer fabric. You can use a matching colour but the lacework won’t show up (pop) as well as a when you use contrasting base fabric.

I used this pearl white colour against the guipure lace. I could have used a warmer pale colour to add more impact to the purple guipure lace. There are so many options you can decide upon, it’s all based on your preferences.


This skirt also uses calico or a reasonably-bodied cotton batiste as an underlining. The underlining is worthwhile doing as it helps the skirt hold its shape with guipure lace. Guipure lace is heavy and it needs a few strong layers so it doesn’t bag or sag.

A silk crepe de chine or similar measured the same length as the lace. I used an everyday lining so I could get used to the couture steps. This lining matched the petersham tape I bought.
You can see the Petersham tape and lining match.


The detailing involved in creating this skirt requires a select few notions.
2.5cm wide grosgrain ribbon enough for the waist facing plus 10cm. The grosgrain ribbon should have the curved edges so you can shape it for your waistband.
A medium hook and eye is needed for the waistband. The grosgrain is used to cover up as much of the metal on the hook and eye as possible.
I used three thread colours for this skirt. White for the underlining. Purple for the lace and a coffee colour thread for the lining and waistband finishes.

The other tools I needed were long hand sewing needles, a ham, small very sharp scissors and large shears which I was able to use my Prym products for.

I used my Prym pins, shears and measuring tools for better accuracy.

Day one

We fitted our skirt toiles. As with the previous workshop, the stitching lines were marked with carbon paper and machine stitched in a contrasting thread on calico. I machine basted the seams using another contrasting thread and long stitches.

Susan checked the fit of our toiles and I made the initial adjustments to the toile. The new stitching lines were hand basted to the toile.

We used this adjusted toile to cut out the fashion fabric and I marked the stitching lines on this with carbon tracing paper and then hand basted these lines.

Day two
A nail-biting day as we had to cut out our guipure lace.

An important part of this process was to mark (hand baste) the hip line on the fashion fabric. This line was critical to align our lace and help keep the skirt flat as initially thread basted the lace in one piece, across the width of the skirt.

A lot of time was spent hand basting the lace to the skirt so the lace didn’t create shadows.

Day three
We were all in a tizz doing our best to finish our skirts. There was an air of excitement among us all day even though we felt shattered in a happy way, to have achieved so much.
This shows the lace shaping I did for my waistline

Post workshop

Three days after the workshop I finally sat down and got my act into gear to finish this skirt. I still had to piece the lace up the centre back seam so it looked seamless. I also needed to:
– Fuse part of the skirt front to stop it from bagging
– hand stitch more parts of the lace to avoid shadowing
– stitch press studs (snap) on the lace overlay covering the zipper
– resew the waistband grosgrain at the darts and seams in the same colour thread
– remove basting threads
– hand sew the lining to the skirt with a jump pleat
– sew on the hook and eye.
This took 5 hours to complete with breaks in between. Walking away from an intense project like this is a good way to pull away from the detail and assess if you’re getting the overall effect you want. 
Doing this work at home, means I still needed to do my share of the housework but I could duck into the Craftsy course to relook at Susan’s part of the workshop I had to finish.
Oh. Did I mention I made this blouse too?
I couldn’t not use the underlayer silk and not have a Summer blouse to wear with this skirt.
I used Cynthia Rowley view D Simplicity 2215, from a previous Minerva Crafts project.
The collar has a lace overlay. It’s really light-weight lace and was in my stash. I decided this would negate the need to wear earrings.
This skirt and blouse is now part of a cocktail capsule that I’ve made. The jacket is one of my first Minerva Craft makes from 2012.
I wore this outfit to a wedding dinner with friends on a hot humid night and I felt great.

Don’t forget to use the discount code ‘maria’ when you purchase any Prym products from Minerva Crafts website.
Now to research some more guipure projects!

What was I thinking

This is one project I just could not understand – making a stock-standard bra. Nothing spesh. Plain and ordinary.
Kwik Sew 3300 has been around and has been reviewed by lots of really competent sewing bloggers. Right now there are so many new bra patterns that it made no sense for me to buy another pattern until I cracked this pattern.

This underwire bra pattern uses 

  • power net for the back bands, 
  • plush elastic for the band base and top, 
  • picot elastic for the top cup edges finished, 
  • self made shoulder straps from tricot and 
  • self made wire channelling. 

View A cups are made from lace and tricot, and view B cups are made from tricot.
I decided to use pre-made shoulder straps and re-made underwire chanelling.

Most of my notions were bought at Metro Fabrics, the Remnant Warehouse and from an ebay seller who was selling their lingerie fabrics and notions. I should have bought 3×3 hook/eye sets.

My ignorance
My first two attempts were plain stupid. I had no knowledge about the fabrics needed, types of elastics, underwires, shoulder straps, hooks and the list goes on and on.
This is my 3rd attempt and I’ve salvage some of the notions.

I decided to make the 34B but I kept changing my mind about elastics, laces, hooks/eyes, straps because I had no idea about what was what.

Here’s my 4th attempt.

This plain white attempt is my 4th attempt and it fits nicely. #success

It’s taken me two years to go back to the first two attempts and try again. The first two attempts were failures but I was able to tweak the pattern pieces for a better fit.

Machine stitching

There are a number of stitch types used to a decent bra that I hadn’t used before. It took several viewings of Craftsy’s bra making course to learn about the stitching. Beverly Johnson is a certainly a bra fairy or bra-whisperer and owner of Bra makers supply. I bought this course on sale and it’s now got me over the line.
Beverley advises to place all your pieces and notions on a board when you’re about to start sewing.

Beverly’s bra knowledge especially her bra notions and hardware knowledge were and are invaluable to me and she’ll remain my ‘go-to’ bra resource.

What did I change
The lace version is full lace cup and some lace on the side and on the bridge.

The main cup shape change was on the upper cup piece. I altered the shoulder strap location to be closer to my neck as RTW bra straps sliding off my shoulders.

I also darted out some space in the upper cup piece because it seemed too wide at the top.

The bridge is also slimmer than the pattern.

Measuretwicecutonce Mary knickers with Kwik Sew 3300

Ongoing learning
Beverly’s knowledge made the Kwik Sew instructions a lot more workable. When I first attempted this pattern I put it aside because there were too many variables that I did not understand #noidea.

There isn’t a local bra making workshop so being able to go back through the class steps when I needed them has helped me made this bra pattern work.

My main blogger sewing references are Fehr Trade, kathhhhy, Ms McCall, Sigrid and measuretwicecutonce

After I made these bras I found this pattern freebie page.

Road test
I’ve since worn the lace bra all day: it sits properly; is comfortable to wear; and has been through the wash and come out unscathed.

I’ll only post up future bras posts if:

  • they look amazing or 
  • I’ve used a different pattern or
  • I attempt to sew a sports bra.

So for now, that’s my bra making story.