Lace, Tea Dyeing & Body Image

Hi All,

It’s been quite a while since I blogged, and quite a while since I made a bra just for myself- not for a pattern sample or to test a pattern. Just for me 🙂

As you can see from the title of this post, I want to tell you all about my new set, but I also wanted to talk about a subject that I’m really passionate about – body image & body positivity.

So first, let’s launch into the details of this set!

I used the same self-drafted pattern as I did for the Latte at Midnight set. It’s a 5 piece cup: powerbar, upper cup and lower cup split into 3.

The very special thing about this set is that I made it using a small piece of embroidered tulle lace that I bought on my trip to Barcelona last year in a little shop that my friend Sofia Luzon brought me to called L’Arca. I’ve been holding on to it to make something special, and this was the perfect project!

For the other materials in this set, I used my bra tulle in warm white, which was a perfect match to the lace, and then I took my all my elastics, findings and powernet and dyed them to match with tea. Yes, you can dye your findings with tea (as long as they’re all nylon based). I just soaked everything in a little bit of Twinnings Early Grey, my morning staple, and then hung them to dry overnight. The secret to getting an even dye is to soak everything in water before you add the dye or tea, so that it absorbs evenly everywhere. I was so happy that it all turned out such a perfect colour match!

All the materials I used for this set (except the lace) are in my tulle underwired bra kit.


Now for the body image talk…

The day that I was taking these photos in this bra set, I was listening to the Love to Sew Podcast, their recent episode with Allie Olson and near the end they started talking about body image and body confidence, specifically in the sewing world where people are making their own clothes and taking pictures of themselves and posting them online for the community.

It got me thinking about my journey with body confidence and sewing. It’s not something I’ve talked about online before, but it’s something that has been a big part of my life. I’ve struggled a lot with self esteem, body confidence, dieting and disordered eating. It was something that dominated my teen years and early twenties, and something that took a sharp turn for the better when I got into the sewing world.

When I got into sewing, and involved in the sewing community, my view of myself and my relationship to clothing and size started to change. I learned quickly that every body is different. Everyone was making modifications to their patterns, grading between sizes for top and bottom. Alterations were the rule, not the exception, which immediately made it feel so normal to have a body that wasn’t ‘industry standard’.

Getting into bra making and swimwear was another leap. I learned a lot more about my body and fit, but the bigger leap was sharing the things I made and sharing them on my body to the online sewing community. I think it was my passion for bra & swim sewing that really pushed me at the beginning. I remember thinking ‘ugh, I hate this picture of me, but I REALLY want to share this bathing suit that I made… and everyone in the sewing community is always really nice, and my blog is so small, hardly anyone is going to see it anyways… so I’ll just do it” – then the moment of mini panic after you hit the publish button- eeeeekkk!

Over time it got easier and easier to take pictures, and share pictures. And, don’t get me wrong, I still have bad body days – where I really wrestle to like myself or to post any pictures of myself, or not be super critical and over-analyze every aspect of my body in a photo. But now, I’m a lot better at taking a step back and reminding myself that I’m in an unhealthy mindset and need to get a better perspective.

It’s also helped going into my mid/late 20’s and learning so much more about myself and what makes me happy and comfortable, so I don’t put myself in a place where I’m going to be in a negative mindset. One of those things for me, was learning that I feel best about my photos when I look happy, and my poses are about comfort, joy, or being a girl boss! (like posing with sunflowers, my puppy or power-poses in my studio) – not when I look ‘dramatic’ or ‘sexy’ – or really anything where I feel objectified. [not that there is anything wrong with taking pictures like that if you love it! I just learned that it’s not for me!]

But, coming back full circle, taking these photos of my new set, with a big bunch of sunflowers – listening to the podcast – I couldn’t help but think about how far I’ve come, and how much happier I am in my journey now. And that I should share that more 🙂



I would LOVE to hear any of your experiences with body image and if sewing has helped you, if you understand or can relate.

I feel like I could talk about this endlessly, and especially in relation to how women feel about their bodies in bras and underwear! That is a whole other area of this topic that I’m massively passionate about.


Hope you’re all having a lovely Sunday!




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  • Reply

    You are so right, I feel like the only way that has helped me overcome my body dismorphia is to take lots of full pictures of myself (not just selfies) and just put them out there.

  • Toni

    Erin, thankyou for this beautiful post. I am just getting into sewing myself for these very reasons. I am never happy with the fit of RTW clothing and especially bras. You always look amazing in your photos and i am looking forward to having some clothes and undergarments that make me feel good because they fit properly

  • Fleur

    You are amazing! You give me so much inspiration :).

  • Reply

    Such a beautiful set Erin. I just discovered your blog

  • Cheri Partridge

    I have to tell you that you are very courageous for posting pictures of yourself in underwear. You look absolutely beautiful. You encourage so many people when you post pictures. You should never listen to people that make negative remarks. I feel that as women we need to stick together and encourage one another not tear each other down. You are truly an inspiration to me I’m 52years old and I know the struggle of body image. So many women think that everyone should look like the starving models in magazines and that’s just not true. We should embrace our bodies and not compare ourselves to models, it’s just not healthy. Like she you have a baby ,people always ask you how much weight did you gain ? What we should be saying is what a beautiful thing that you’ve accomplished by bringing a beautiful baby into this world.
    So I have to congratulate you for your beautiful pictures i feel they are encouraging to us sewers. We want to see a normal person wearing lingerie not a fake model. So please keep the beautiful makes coming because we really appreciate seeing them. So again thank you.

    • Emerald Erin

      Thank you so much for this amazing comment Cheri! You are so right- women need to stick together and support each other! I’m so happy that I could inspire you and other sewists to be more comfortable in their bodies 🙂 🙂

  • Reply

    Bravo Erin. You are very beautiful as is your lingerie. Thank you for your courage & generosity xx

  • Di

    Hey Erin.
    Isn’t it funny. I always look at your pics and all I see is a beautiful girl with a lovely figure that I assume is happy in that lovely figure, and aware of just how lovely that figure is (in a good way). It never crossed my mind that wasn’t the truth of the situation! Especially as you sew such beautiful things! It’s a good reality check to realise we all struggle with something, whether it’s only our own perceptions or not.
    I adore our sewing community for howwe support and encourage one another. It’s the best part of it, aside from the actual sewing. We have lived in w quite a few counties now, and so don’t work full time, is always totally up to me to find my support network of friends, and I have learned to start with my sewing hobby for that, despite language barriers, cultural differences etc, it seems to be a universal thing… People that sew rock! And are always up to share tips, teach the sewing geography (where to get everything) and just generally be nice humans worth getting to know.
    I love seeing all the beautiful things you sew. Thank-you fur sharing this post. And fyi I’ve had good results with weak coffee too! And red wine makes a beautiful cornflower colour

    • Emerald Erin

      Hi Di! Thank you for this lovely comment <3 It's so true, the sewing community is so amazing- sewists are the best! And thank you so much for the tip- I need to go dunk my elastic in some red wine now!!

  • Jan

    Hi Erin and readers of this blog,
    I am thankful that you wrote about positive body image. In this media age we are bombarded with the tall, slim and beautiful people. I have always struggled with my body image from the time I was a teen to how I look now at 69. Yes, I am now overweight, and for health reasons it would be good to lose those extra pounds. I am glad to learn from you and other readers that alterations on patterns are the norm not the exception. This will make it easier to sew clothing and not always feel guilty because I don’t fit perfectly into a set size. Thanks for your encouragement! Your undergarments are always beautiful!

    • Emerald Erin

      Thank you so much for your comment Jan!! It’s so nice to hear everyones stories and perspectives, and to feel the support of the community!

  • Reply

    Beautiful as always, Erin. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply

    I am 75 years old, fat but happy. I have been sewing since I was nine years old and am just getting back to making my clothes; mostly because I am not happy with the fit of plus size RTW. Your story gives me encouragement to go ahead and make the size I really am. Thank you for sharing, and you and your work are beautiful.

  • Sherri

    Do you sell your stuff?

  • Reply

    Hey Erin!

    Gorgeous set as always! 🙂 And I heard the tea-hint from another seamstress, but I never tried dyeing.. maybe next time 🙁

    About body-image: I agree with you, sewing makes someone’s body image REAL. Like… You don’t concentrate on standard sizes anymore, instead you leaen at which points you have to tweak the pattern, and focus on the fit. And getting better and better fit. And learn so much about your body! I know my boobs’ shape inside and out haha 😀 when i make a new bra I try them on near at every step, check it, how i want it to look, how i like the shape.

    And you have a beautiful body, I wish I would be braver to show my makes. (and wish I had a nice studio/background :))

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