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Camisole Inspiration, a sew along, no serger required

Camisole Inspiration, a sew along, no serger required

My daughters and I love camisoles. My two daughters wear them almost everyday. My younger daughter wears them all by themselves on hot days and to bed; she’s still little. My older daughter wears them underneath other shirts and dresses for modesty. Here’s the kicker: most camisoles are not designed for modesty. She is constantly adjusting in the front, causing her to feel awkward and self-conscience.

Well, we did find one company that makes more appropriate fitting camisoles: Shade. Thank goodness for a designer who doesn’t believe all Americans dress as if they are on a soap opera. We did get a few on sale, but $12  each for basic colors is more than we want to spend, especially when considering how much she wears them.

So we are making our own. We have a fantastic fabric store in town, locally owned, that sells an outrageous number of knits, knits of all kinds, and best of all: none of it is made in China.

Jalie 2564 is gonna help us in this adventure. One pattern for all three of us.  Sweet. The directions are, well, a bit on the short side. The pictures, well, aren’t really that descriptive, either. But Camisoles are super easy and fun to make–  No serger is needed (in fact, the only step that you use the serger for is the side seams),  and with the continuous binding/strap method, excellent results are very achievable for most sewing levels.  SO…I thought I may be able to inspire some other sewists to do for themselves what designers won’t do:  make it modest, and help our daughters keep their personal dignity 🙂

Grab the pattern.  Jalie makes several camisole patterns.  This style was what my daughters wanted, but others should be fairly similar to sew up. Sizing is pretty accurate. For my 10 year, I used “L” for her camisoles that she runs around in during the summer, complete with a shelf bra. Because it fits a bit looser, I used one size smaller for her tankini tops.  Jalie patterns allow you to adjust the pattern for a custom fit. For my older daughter, I traced “T” for the bust, but tapered in and traced size “S” along the waist and hips. I also added a bit of length for both girls.

To sew a cami, you’ll need:

  • a knit fabric, less than one yard (refer to your pattern for exact requirement). The fabric I’ve chosen is a special fabric my daughter chose (I also have some wicking jersey knit fabric to use)
  • a very small amount of knit fabric for shelf bra
  • felt backed, picot trimmed elastic
  • fold over elastic
  • thread
  • stretch needle, and a stretch twin needle
  • if using a serger, then woolly nylon thread in the loopers makes the camisole more comfortable

After you trace and cut out your pattern, you will have 4 pieces cut out if you are adding a shelf bra:  a front and back, a front shelf bra and back shelf bra {{or 2 pieces if not, as  I have done for my older daughter}}.

Step 1

Pin front and back together, having right sides facing, and sew side seams. Do the same for the shelf bra. If you do not have a serger, use a stretch stitch (sometimes called a lightning stitch) or a slight zigzag stitch.

Step 2

Place shelf bra on top of cami, having right side of  shelf bra facing the wrong side of camisole.In other words: with both shelf bra and camisole inside out, place camisole inside shelf bra. Match side seams and notches together.  Pin all around the top edge, keeping raw edges together. Use a zigzag stitch (and stretch needle) to baste the two together along the upper edge.

Step 3

Cut a piece of fold over elastic the length of the front top of cami, or follow pattern’s measurements. Pin fold over elastic to cami, sandwiching the cami in the center and  the fold over elastic folded over the upper edge of camisole, as shown. Remember to have the FOE slightly shorter that the area to which it’s being sewn. Stretch the FOE as you sew.

Use a twin stretch needle to sew it in place. Sew with the right side of the fabric facing up.  Make sure to remove pins as you sew, because sewing over straight pins is bad (very bad).  *Remember not to back stitch when sewing with a twin needle. Please note: you can also sew the fold over elastic on using a zigzag stitch.

Step 4 (One continuous piece method for binding and  straps)

Using the  measurements given in your pattern, cut another piece of fold over elastic. Mark the center of the piece of fold over elastic and pin it to the center back point on the cami (along that upper edge, folding the fold over elastic over the upper edge, and sandwiching the camisole in the middle). Continue pinning the fold over elastic in place along the upper edge. When you get to the front, continue to fold the fold over elastic onto itself, creating straps.

Using a twin stretch needle, sew the fold over elastic, beginning on the end of fold over elastic and continuing onto the point where the cami is sandwiched in the Fold Over Elastic, and all the way to the other end of the fold over elastic.  Make sure you will be sewing with the right side of the cami facing up–otherwise you will have a zig zag stitch showing on the outside, instead of a double row of straight stitches.

Step 5

I like to hem now, since my machine is already set up with a twin needle. You can also use a zigzag stitch to hem your camisole, but my daughter prefers the twin needle look.

Fold fabric 3/8 of an inch toward the inside (toward the wrong side of fabric) and press. With right side of fabric facing up, sew  hem, using a long straight stitch with a twin needle, keeping within the hem allowance. Sew past the point at which you began sewing, overlapping your stitches for an inch or so. On the inside you can trim any fabric that did not get sewn down by your twin needle.

Step 6 (Optional shelf bra)

Cut felt backed elastic according to pattern. Sew elastic  into a loop. Divide both elastic loop and shelf bra into fourths, using the cami’s side seams as 2 of these points. Pin the shelf bra and the elastic together at these marks. You will want the fuzzy side on top, picot trim on upper edge, and pin elastic to the right side of shelf bra.

Sew it in place with a zigzag stitch, stretching the elastic to fit shelf bra. Trim raw edge of shelf bra. Flip the elastic over toward the inside (wrong side of fabric). Sew in place with a zigzag stitch.

Step 7

Put camisole on to determine how long you want the straps. Pin and sew straps in place along the back of camisole, having raw edge of strap on the inside. Trim any extra strap.

Done and done 🙂

I would hate to think we are limited to wear what is available out there in mass production land. From my own experience with my teen aged daughter, it is a challenge to find clothes that don’t reveal too much. It’s horrible to feel exposed and uncomfortable in one’s clothes–AND we shouldn’t have to give up being fashionable or trendy.  But  if the designers only put out that type of clothing, then what’s a girl to do? DIY!!

Hope you find this sew along helpful! If any steps need more clarification, please don’t hesitate to ask.


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