With temperatures dropping here in Belgium, I was inspired to challenge myself by making something that combined my favorite aspects of sewing my own lingerie (soft, delicate fabrics, form-fitting silhouettes, straps and sex appeal, etc.), plus warmth and wearability. I love wearing my plum bodysuit, but now that we’re on the cusp of winter, I am dreaming of sleeves, more coverage, and heavier fabrics.
I took inspiration from the lingerie and clothing brand Undress code; when their gorgeous bodysuits came across my Instagram feed, I was immediately smitten with the ones combining mesh and velvet. The play on transparency and textures really appealed to me!
Once I had materials in mind (I’m always looking for an excuse to use a bit of stretch velvet for myself), I looked through my pattern collection and immediately found the perfect match with the Trapeze backless bodysuit by Studio Calicot. I used to do some pattern testing for this brand and have made this pattern before, so I felt confident to dive in without making a test version.
Trapeze has a big, bold cut-out in the back, of course, but it also has long sleeves and a high turtleneck to keep most of my torso warm. It also has a built-in shelf bra, using powernet and underband elastic, to provide some support in the front. I mapped out which fabrics I’d use for each piece (velvet for the front, collar, and finishing the edge of the cut-out, mesh for everything else), and set out making the bodysuit.
The trickiest bits? Keeping track of the right and wrong side of the mesh (they’re verrrrry similar, which probably also means it doesn’t matter too much if you mix them up!), and a slight change in construction order after I decided to use picot elastic in place of the yoke band on the back. It was pretty straightforward to solve in the moment though. I also drafted separate gusset lining pieces (front and back) as an extra layer between me and the precious velvet.
Okay okay okay, but that’s not the star of this outfit though! What’s another thing to love about sewing lingerie? Straps, details, sparkles, extra extra extra, flare! My exposed back would serve as the inspiration for a fabulous strappy harness to accessorize with. (If you want to buy a finished harness, it’s available in my lingerie shop, Studio Dénoue!)
After I finished my bodysuit, I sketched and schemed to come up with a harness design. Since it would go on my back, I had more freedom to come up with a more expansive design (since there wouldn’t be…uh.. two “3D objects” getting in the way). I attempted to “draft” the harness on my mannequin, using pins, rings, and wonderclips on uncut pieces of strap elastic (not wanting to waste the elastic by cutting it at an early stage), but it was…an unwieldy process.
So, I just went for it!
I sketched a very professional template on a piece of paper and laid out the rings I would use, aiming to have approximately 3cm of strap length between each one (each strap piece started at around 7cm to allow space to stitch and loop around each ring). I counted out how many connection points I would need (42!) and started sewing.
I used 8mm satin strap elastic, the narrowest strap elastic I have in the shop, to connect each of the rings. It’s not quite easy to tell, but there’s a diamond shape of 18mm gold rings, surrounded by 15mm gold rings. The difference is too slight to notice, especially with some rings holding up to six pieces of elastic.
The most difficult part of construction is just that it gets a bit tedious sewing small pieces of straps over and over. It required a lot of focus to make sure each piece was as close to equal as possible, and to not get tangled up. If I were to make this harness again, I would keep better track of snipping threads and sealing edges (with a quick run under a lighter, be very careful if you do this!) before moving on to the next strap. It was much more difficult to do this to all of the straps at the end.
Once the main honeycomb design was finished, I needed a way to actually wear it. I played around with incorporating g-hooks or metal closures, but I settled on having six long straps convene on one main, big statement ring that would sit in the middle of my chest. The front straps (12mm satin strap elastic, 50cm in length per strap) are adjustable and have enough slack built in that I can lengthen them with the slider and easily slip the harness on and off. This was definitely the easiest place in the process to really mess up and sew the straps on backwards, twisted, etc., so pay careful attention.
And… that’s it! A lot a lot a lot of repetitive straight stitches. The lengths of each piece of strap elastic was mostly a guess based on my own body, so your results may differ! All I can say is, my head is positively swimming with new harness designs, so this won’t be the last you see of them on Small Bobbins.
If you are interested in making similar garments, here’s the list of materials I used:
For the bodysuit:
- 1m stretch velvet, black
- 1m stretch mesh, black
- 1/4m (50x70cm) powernet, black
- 1m 15mm scalloped underband elastic, black
- 3m 10mm picot elastic, black
- 1m 15mm foldover elastic, black
- 1 piece, bamboo jersey gusset lining, black
And for the harness: