Question: My undergarments wear out too quickly. They are expensive to replace. I’ll bet you have hints.
Mimi: Why can’t we all just run around naked in the sunshine? Okay, that is not acceptable. So here’s the Girdle News and the rest of that.
To keep your girdle, body shaper, tummy tamer, etc. from wearing out so fast, put your legs in and then fold the garment over in half. As you tug it up, your fingernails are not as likely to poke into the elastic because you aren’t pulling by the top. You will shape the girdle over your curves and then unfold it to bring it up to your waist. This is the same principle that you use in putting on socks. You don’t just hold the socks by the cuffs and pull them on; you fit them over your heels, and then pull the cuffs up. This keeps the cuffs in shape.
Girdles and body shapers are uncomfortable and chafe the skin on your thighs. Wear panty hose under the girdle. Put powder inside your girdle so it slips on easier and doesn’t chafe.
When you buy a bra, try it on. A new bra should hook on the loosest hook. Then as it stretches out, you can tighten it up. When you wash your bra, hook the hooks so they don’t snag on other clothes. Put the bra in a mesh washing bag. Wash in cold water. Do not put bras and girdles into the dryer. The heat will ruin the rubber in the elastic. By the way, never put a bathing suit in the dryer either.
When a bra gets so loose that it has no lift, take tucks in the sides. Make a fold from the top of the bra, under the arm, straight down to the bottom of the bra. How big a tuck you make depends on how loose the bra is. If it is really dead, you may need to take ½ inch on each side. Turn the bra to the inside and sew a seam from top to bottom to create the tuck. Push the tuck flat to the body of the bra and sew it down flat. The tuck will be under your arm when you wear the bra. This will act as a “stay.” Stays are created in bras for large busted women. The stay helps hold the bust tissue forward so it doesn’t slide under the arm, into the armpit. This new stay that you created may help your bust actually appear larger. Read the past column on increasing your bra size. When you have your bra on, reach into the left hand cup and pull the breast tissue forward using your right hand. The stay (tuck that you have sewn) will help keep the tissue forward. Now do the same with the right hand cup using your left hand to reach into the cup and pull breast tissue forward into the cup.
If the elastic in the straps has died, you have several options. You can just fold over the elastic and sew across it to shorten the strap. You can cut out the elastic and sew the strap to the bra. You can cut away the dead elastic and replace it with new elastic.
If hooks get squashed, push a blade screwdriver under the squashed hook and lift up until it is in the correct position. If an eye comes loose, sew it back in place.
If a half-slip has worn-out elastic, see how the elastic is attached. If it is in a carrier (like a hem) carefully open it about two inches using a seam ripper to pluck individual stitches out. Look at the width of the old elastic. Buy the same width. Buy enough to go around your waist without stretching. The stretching will come from the overlap. Cut the old elastic and LEAVE IT IN THE CARRIER. Attach the end of the new elastic to the old with a tiny safety pin. Gently ease the safety pin into the carrier. Pull on the opposite end of the old, cut elastic to pull it out of the carrier. This will bring the new elastic into the carrier so you don’t have to thread it through. As the end of the new elastic approaches the carrier, pin it to the slip so the end of the elastic doesn’t go in. Keep the elastic flat. You don’t want it twirling around in the carrier. When the old elastic is all out, undo the safety pin. Over lap the ends of the new elastic about one inch. This will remove 2 inches from the entire length of the elastic and give you the stretch that you need. Safety pin the ends together or sew them together. Sew the carrier shut again. This entire procedure takes more time to explain than it does to accomplish.
If the elastic is not in a carrier but sewn directly onto the slip, cut it off. Turn the edge under twice and create a carrier. Leave two inches open to over lap the elastic in and to sew it shut. Make the carrier wide enough to accommodate the elastic. Thread the new elastic through the carrier using a safety pin as a bodkin.
Or, turn the cut edge of the slip over one turn toward the OUTSIDE of the slip, and pin in place with the pins vertical. Sew the ends of the elastic together to make a big loop. Be careful not to twist the elastic. Fold the loop in half so the sewn part is at one end and a fold of elastic is at the other end. Put a pin in the folded end. Fold in half again. Put pins in single layers of elastic at the folds. Now you have the elastic divided into fourths.
Divide the slip into fourths the same way starting with the seam, marking the folds with pins. Place the elastic over the folded down edge, on the OUTSIDE of the slip. The slip material will be on the INSIDE to make the slip more comfortable. Line up the overlap in the elastic with the seam of the slip. Pin together, vertically on the elastic side. Have the head of the pin toward the top of the slip, beyond the elastic. Have the point down toward the slip. This will make it easier when you remove the pins. (If you are left handed, reverse.) Line up the ½ mark of the elastic with the ½ mark of the slip. Pin. Match up the ¼ marks and pin.
You will have a loop of elastic with sagging slip between the pins. Find the ½ way mark between the pins on the slip and on the elastic. Pin those points together. If you are a good seamstress, you are ready to go. If you are a novice, find another ½ way mark between pins. You will have lots of pins all around the elastic with puckers of loose slip between.
Start at the slip’s seam and the elastic overlap. Smooth out your work on the sewing machine. Put the presser foot on the seam and overlap. Slowly start the machine. Hold the slip and elastic BEHIND the presser foot and IN FRONT of the presser foot. Stretch and sew. As you stretch the elastic, it will fit the loose fabric. When you get to a pin, stop; remove the pin; and proceed. Go slowly—stretching, sewing, stopping, removing pins, and continuing. Do NOT get in a hurry and sew over pins. You will ruin your machine and not get a nice sewing job.
If all of this confuses you but you still want to repair your slip, contact me and I will give you a personal lesson. The instructions are difficult, but the procedure is easy. The sewing job may end up sloppy. But, come on, it’s your underwear. Who’s going to see it?
Never bleach underwear. If it gets dingy, soak in washing soda or borax solution. If it’s stained add hydrogen peroxide to the wash water. Never wash in hot water or dry in the dryer. Dry indoors or in the shade.
To make nylon hose last longer, store them in the freezer before wearing them for the first time. I don’t know if it works. It’s an old wives' tale. Also a tale which I’ve never tried—to make them last longer, add a little starch to the rinse water. That makes sense. It would make the fabric stronger. Another is to add vinegar to the rinse water to make them shiny. If the color isn’t dark enough, rinse in strong tea. Chamomile tea is supposed to make them smell good. The old fashioned idea of putting cologne in the rinse water isn’t good. The alcohol in the cologne could weaken the fibers.
When you get a run in your hose, a dab of clear nail polish will stop the run. You can wash and wear repaired nylons repeatedly with this fix. There will be a blob where the nail polish is. Usually the run isn’t where is shows, so it doesn’t matter. However, another fix, not permanent, may be better. Spray hairspray on a run to stop it. It doesn’t show.
To prevent snags when putting on hose, moisturize your hands well or wear gloves. Moisture gloves that you wear at night work well. Roll your nylons down so you put your toes in first and slide up your legs unrolling as you go. Keep your heels smooth so you don’t snag your nylons.
Now doesn’t all this really make you want to just run around naked?