March 19, 2014

The Famous Downward Hike

The downward hike band is one of the nicest touches you can add for your bra wearing comfort. It is easy and not too time consuming to do, and can be done on both the full and partial band bra patterns without any trouble. It's become famous because of my story relating to its discovery. But, I digress...

The downward hike band is far more supportive than a regular band; that extra dip downward brings the bottom edge of the band down an inch or more, so if your client has a band that looks like it is riding up, this may be a good alteration to do for her.

The downward hike band is NOT for those who already have their bands sitting low on the back, otherwise the hook and eyes are set too low to do the job of supporting the band.

To start with, trace and cut out the back pattern piece. I have shown a partial band back here, but the method of alteration is the same on the full band as well. Draw a line from the strap attachment point straight down, parallel with the hook and eye as shown below. Use tape to secure the pattern piece to another piece of paper, avoiding tape in the area between the line and the hook and eye. Cut along this line from top to bottom, going TO but not THROUGH the bottom band. Also mark a line to the desired drop point. See below.

You will probably want to drop down an inch to an inch and a half (25 - 37 mm). There IS a limit to how much you can drop the back; I would say that 2” (50 mm) is the absolute limit, but this depends on the length of the back piece. For example, a 32 band cannot drop as low as a 42 band, there simply isn’t the length to achieve this drop. Pivot this cut-off piece so that the hook and eye rotates downward until it reaches the line as in the drawing below. Once you have pivoted the hook and eye extension, tape it down in this position.

All that is left to do is to join up the hook and eye curve to the top of the band. Unfortunately, the line that is the most obvious is NOT the line to follow. The mistake that many drafters make is to join the top of the hook and eye over to the top of the wire line. This results in the loss of much of the support that the band can give. It also makes the top length too long and this will result in gapping along the top edge. Avoid the draft shown at the top of the drawing below.

The drawing shown directly above is the correct line to use. Just join the top of the hook and eye over to where it joined originally. This maintains the length of the top of the band, and makes the hook and eye curve much more shallow, making the elastic a dream to apply.

Tip from Charine Brown of Sewing Success in London: Use your machine’s lightning stitch to apply the strap elastic to the hook and eye area. It stretches with the elastic but looks like a straight stitch! I 'll admit, I never thought of using this stitch prior to seeing Charine use it in a class, but I love it. If you are using an industrial machine, sorry,'s a stitch found only on moderate to high end domestics.

Posted later.....And here is the lightning stitch, just for you Sandra :) This is an exaggerated view, for sure, but what makes it work for stretch fabrics is the fact that is a somewhat modified zig-zag. When sewn out, it looks very much like a straight stitch, but because the needle penetrations are staggered, the line of stitches will stretch with the seam, or with the elastic as the case may be. Some machine manuals will call this a stretch stitch, but I've seen some machines that have 10 different "stretch stitches" and none of them look like this. That's why I hesitate to call it a stretch stitch. I liked the name "lightning stitch" because that is what it looks like to me.

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