Bra Sewing, Swimsuit Sewing, Vacation Sewing

All the sewing in this post!

I still have a backlog of projects to share with you but I thought I would share some things that I recently sewed where I have used the pattern before or, in the case of bra sewing, am using an updated pattern.

Bra Sewing

I’m super pleased with my alterations on my bra pattern. This is definitely a better fit than the last bra I sewed. The last bra fit well but throughout the day my cup would spill over. This bra does that on the 3rd day of wear after washing.

After the last bra, I incorporated more volume in the lower center cup, split the bottom cup into three to better distribute the volume and give a nicer shape, shifted the straps in by 1/4 inch, and scooped out the underarm by about a half inch graded to a 1/4 inch at the top.

It’s really difficult to tell the difference between the two since the previous bra was in black, but the projection is shifted slightly more to the centre reducing the splaying from my pectus carinatam. Unfortunately, the above picture was also taken right before my period when I was swelling like crazy. I generally have a 2 -3 inch difference in my bust at that time. Hello hormones! It’s much better now and I can see how the volume in the cup is a much better fit.

Overall, the shape is great. I feel comfortable in the bra. There are tweaks, however, for next version.

  1. More volume in the lower cups
  2. Less length along the top edge of the upper cup
  3. Move in the strap another 1/4 inch since the strap is still flipping over
  4. Even out the horizontal line where the lower cup and upper cup meet (bring it down by about an inch and a half at the side grading to the height of the cup closest to the bridge)

I’m considering accounting for the differences in cup volume in my 2 breasts, but I think I will wait until after the next iteration to do it.

I’d like one more underwired bra in my rotation and then I want to make changes to my bralette pattern. I’m going to get myself a couple of pattern drafting books for lingerie soon and see if I can apply some of those techniques for a better fit.

Swimsuit Sewing

I recently made another Cashmerette Ipswich Swimsuit and I love it.

The mermaid scales are both from Water Tower Textiles. I chose to make a full side panel with firm powernet for a scandalous see-through look. I love it.

I did not make a bra for this. I lined it with powernet instead. The fit is not bad. Definitely some drooping in the water, but not too bad. The straps with bra strap elastic really do wonders for that. This is a size 24 G/H on top. Bottoms are 24 graded to a size 26.

Why make a swimsuit when winter is about to hit Canada?

Vacation Sewing

My husband took me to Varadero, Cuba for my 38th birthday!!

It was such a perfect birthday!!

We drank…

We ate…

We went to Havana…

I could definitely spend all my birthdays in warm weather and on the beach from now on!

Of course, I couldn’t leave without some marathon vacation sewing…

Cashmerette Rivermont top

Nothing like a mirror selfie with fox pj pants!

Simplicity 8344 Bodysuit

I love it so much. I may take the straps off, though, since I find the elastic can cover my bra straps comfortably.

I also shortened some Misty Jeans into shorts to give them new life, but neglected to take a picture.

For my birthday, I made it a goal to raise $200 for the Ehlers-Danlos Society and I exceeded my goal by $127 for a total of $327!! I am so grateful for the generous support of my friends and family. It made for the best birthday gift. ❤

In my reflection on the past year, I am grateful that I am managing my chronic illness better. It’s through my own hard work and that of my respirologist that I have come so far. With my chronic cough under better management, I am able to do more and get a better grasp on my health rather than struggling with the day to day of just breathing. I know without the meds, my health is tenuous so I have to be super careful to not miss a dosage or else my breathing becomes difficult as well. The fact that there are meds that do help me is huge and I am incredibly grateful for that.

Of course, saying I am managing my chronic illness is not a cure or that I am no longer chronically ill. I know my limitations better now and I know when to rest versus when to push it. I am gradually incorporating more exercise into my life, but I will not do it at the destruction of my body. I have a better understanding of what is good versus what is bad. I am disabled. I cannot do a lot of things normally and often have obstacles that prevent access for me. It’s been quite a year for me of setbacks and realizations and lots of wins. 38 feels good. I have hope and that is an amazing thing to have.

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Let’s Talk Sewing Failures

Fit fails are a large part of the sewing process and something that really cannot be avoided unless you are drafting the pattern for yourself or comparing it against your fit block. Even then, errors still occur that can dramatically effect the fit of your garment and turn it into a sewing failure.

These failures aren’t often posted on blogs. Most blogs post about successes and wonderful pictures, giving most people having issues with sewing a sense that they are the problem. Sometimes, sewing bloggers may even have a poor fit, but not talk about the issues in the post. If you are like me and love sewing failure posts, then I wrote this for you! I think talking about fit, fabric, and sewing issues is extremely helpful for any sewist at any stage. Adjusting patterns for the issues that a sewing blogger reports on means that maybe someone else using the same pattern can avoid that issue in the future. Talking about fabric choices and the adjustments needed for lower stretch materials also helps anyone planning on doing the same thing in the future. I’m going to go over three failures I’ve had lately and speak abut why they failed and what was the issue. None of these will be modeled by me but I will talk about the fit issues in each.

Peppermint Magazine’s In the Fold’s Peplum top

The armholes are GIGANTIC. I sewed up a size K and HOLY MOLY… The armholes gape like crazy. The neckline is too large and gapes as well. The side seams come forward as well.

The neckline and armholes are a product of bad pattern grading. Side seams coming forward means I need an FBA.

In good pattern grading for larger sizes, the pattern would subtly reduce how the neckline and the armholes are increased. People who are larger, generally don’t have a huge difference in necklines, shoulder widths or armholes sizes. Larger biceps can definitely require more room to get through a top, but not that much. The armhole is so big that it stops where my bust point line sits. The neckline is a product of super wide shoulders. Sure, I have narrow shoulders but even so the straps on this top would sit off my shoulders to get the neckline to sit flat.

I’ll probably wear this with pjs and make darts or gathering to fix the issues. Overall, I don’t love the style of the top. I thought this might be the case for me. Without darts or shaping of any kind, it just sort of looks matronly and a bit like sleepwear.

Cashmerette Cedar Dolman in woven rayon

The Cedar Dolman is made for knit fabrics but can also be made in lightweight wovens. This Cedar Dolman was a cute idea in my head, but didn’t execute very well. First off, my size is a bit bloated right now and, as a result, the top fits me like a sausage casing. When you have a size that can go up and down depending on your health, it is really tough to manage fit. I cut this top out in the early summer and by now needed a couple of sizes up to fit. Now, this is partially due to my size change, but I am also not sure how it would work in a woven since the sleeves are a bit tight and I know that hasn’t changed for me. I will attribute this to chronic illness size changes, since I cannot attest to the fit at my previous size.

The frustrating part of it is that this may fit again soon. My size fluctuates a lot and goes up and down depending on inflammation. Right now, I am having major flares of inflammation.

How will I fix this to make it work? I plan on adding panels to the sides since I have some of the tropical fabric left. The panels will taper off for the sleeves, but still give me extra room there since they are slightly tight.

Blank Slate Patterns Denver Tunic

I really regret not trying this in a less expensive fabric first. First failure on this is the sewing. I really wish that instead of using my serger, I had done this on my sewing machine and just finished the seams with my serger. The serger pulls the fabric out of place so any careful print matching I had planned went out the window.

Second failure is fabric. The fabric is super thick. Blank Slate specifically warns you against this: “Heavier fabrics create bulky seams, which may be problematic on the front of the garment in particular. It’s also not a very stretchy material so the fit is TERRIBLE. It’s very very tight.

Overall, this is quite a cute pattern and I think it would work in a stretchier material without any pattern matching.

How will I fix this one? I am out of fabric for this, sadly. I think the only way to fix it is to resew the princess seams, remove the pockets, waistband, and neckband, where a lot of the bulk is making it not feel comfortable. I may also turn it into a cropped sweater to wear with dresses or skirts in the winter/fall and use a white ribbing to finish the cuffs, neckband and waistband.

Everyone has failures

Whether it is about fabric, bodily changes, or pattern issues, everyone has failures and no one is perfect in anything. I hate to sound like a motivational speech, but failures are opportunities for learning. Also, I should note that failures are sometimes just failures and sometimes we need to do it over and over again to suddenly figure out a different result. And no matter what level you are at with sewing or anything you are working on, failures will continue to happen. That’s not your fault. There is no fault in this…. sure choices got you there, but there is no need to blame yourself and feel like you cannot learn more and move forward. No one stops learning.

On a winning note…

I’ll leave you with a win from my recent sewing.

A pair of Blank Slate Barton shorts made in the cutest flannel for pjs.

My best advice with failures is to follow them up with quick wins using TNT patterns that you know work for you.

 

Autumn/Winter Sewing Plans

I’m still alive! The Dandies were at the Blyth Festival of Wizardry on September 21-23 and I had a lot of prep that went into the weekend for costumes and props (more on that later). Then there was the inevitable crash after the festival. Since we had just gone through FanExpo at the beginning of the month….well I crashed hard. This past weekend I had (still have?) a migraine off and on for 4 days. I am still not certain it is gone… It is raining today, though, which is usually a good sign for some relief from migraines.

My Summer sewing plans were kind of thrown out the window by health issues and festival prep. I did manage to get about half of it done or cut out. I still hope to get them done at some point since they work for transition weather or with a cardigan throughout winter.

Dresses

This Burda Praire Style dress has been on my list for a while and it’s pretty trendy. I am torn on fabric, though, since I would love to use a small scale floral, but that requires buying it and a lot of small scale florals are only in quilting cotton locally. I could use some polkadot chambray I have, but I am not certain I want to use it for this project.

The dress view of this pattern looks lovely. I’m hoping to get this done this week and posted for the Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern Month dresses week challenge. Holy moly, that’s a mouth full. I have some hunter green jersey for it, but I can’t decide whether to play with some colour blocking since it’s a perfect pattern for that.

Blouses

Since my style is evolving, I’ve noticed that I want more blouses in my wardrobe.

I’ve been wanting to make the Seamwork Arden for a while now, but I realized that I don’t really want more dresses. Plans are to shorten this to a blouse length and omit the darts for more volumn. I have some white rayon with navy polkadots that I plan to use for this top.

 

 

Similar look, but using a knit fabric is this Hot Patterns Metropolitan Tie Me Down top that I found in a local thrift store. It’s uncut! I’m excited to try this out, especially because I have never done shirring before.

Since making this McCall’s 7094, I have worn it a LOT. It’s definitely a top choice for me. I’m going to make some pattern adjustments since the fit is not 100%. I will do a “dowager’s hump” adjustment. I don’t really have one but the places the adjustment adds extra room are where I need it. This makes sense considering the pattern is designed for people who are much smaller than me. I also would love to add more length to the sleeve and a small cuff and button. I have two soft “velvet” drapey satins that would be perfect for this pattern.

Sweaters

I plan on making some more of these Cashmerette Cedar Dolman ruffle sweaters.

Trousers

 

 

 

 

I just made some ponte trousers using the Misty Jeans pattern that I have made several times before. They are super comfortable and great for work as well (secret pjs!). I hope to get some more ponte in some patterns to make more. I have some grey knit and was thinking of making them with flared bottoms.

McCall’s 7726 is a popular pattern right now. I have dreams of using some lovely magenta rayon twill that I got from Blackbird fabrics earlier this summer for view D. I’m thinking, though, since this pattern won’t work in the winter with boots that I may wait until February or March to make these. That’s probably going to be the case since I will have holiday sewing to do pretty soon.

Winter Coat

Now here is where my dilemma lies. I keep waffling on which pattern to use for a new winter coat.

Waffle Patterns’ Tosti utility jacket seems like a great choice. I have some lightweight light blue wool and thinsulate for lining. But…. I am not sure about the shape for me and I would need to grade it up quite a bit. UGH. But I do love my Pepernoot coat and find Waffle Patterns to be really nice patterns.

I also love this Ottobre coat from the 05/2017 issue. It’s such a lovely design. I would still need to grade this one up but more like 2 sizes instead of 4 sizes.

The impulsive part of me is thinking… well…..why not both!?

And well….why not both? 😉

 

Drafting a bralette

I have been wanting a decent bralette for a while. However, there is no pattern that goes up to my size. Well…. Seamwork Florence does, but that was a disaster when I made it…

I knew the basics I wanted: racerback, non-stretch cups for support, wide elastic band, front closure, etc.

I just decided to take the plunge at drafting my own using my measurements. There are lots of different ways to do that… and since this was a completely new thing for me, I didn’t really document that process. I may at some point, but it was a learning experience every step of the way.

First try on was a little bit disheartening since the amount I subtracted in the cup was a bit too much so I actually needed to add most of that back in. The back, however, was perfect. Really really perfect actually. I didn’t want that lovely velvet to go to waste since a friend had given it to me so I decided to add a third cup piece for a 3-piece cup so that I didn’t have to scrap the mock up entirely. I really love the result and the shape of the cup. Still some more work fit-wise but it is very close!

The cups are made with stretch velvet and lined with sheer cup lining (either from Emerald Erin or Artes Crafts, I can’t remember but either of them have great quality sheer cup lining). Back is stretch powernet from either Blackbird Fabrics or Emerald Erin; I also doubled it up for more support. I finished the edges of the back and cups with fold over elastic from Emerald Erin. The band elastic is wide elastic from Emerald Erin and the straps and slides/hoops are from Arte Crafts. Front closure from Bra Maker’s Supply, I believe.

As you can see the front is still a bit scandalous and I needed to cover it with my long hair. Hahah. The length of the cup is also off in the center front, meaning that there is a bit of spillage instead of support there. It would benefit from at least 2 inches taken out as well as 2.5 inches to 3 inches added into the cup volume. My next steps are to lower the armsyce a bit since it comes up a bit far. I also want to move the straps on the front a bit closer to the center to match up with the back. I want to make the cups rounder to give a nicer shape In the process of making the curves in the cups rounder, I should be able to add in the extra material needed to give coverage in the center. I am going to make the elastic band a bit tighter since it is a little loose causing the front closure to twist forward a little and not lay flat. The length of the cup also needs to be shortened slightly overall (maybe an inch on the side and a few in the front center. This is going to bring the whole cup up and make the band sit a bit better under my breast tissue.

I really really like the 3-piece cup. I think it offers a nice shape and look and great support. It will also be nice for using some lace in the center cup or doing some colour blocking. The racerback is so incredibly comfortable and makes my back feel great. I might actually make my wired bra into a racer back, too, given how great it feels. I’m really pleased with this bralette. It feels supportive but incredibly comfortable. The support in it is a bit less than my wired bras. I think it will be improved by the fit changes I am making.

I got a few people asking for a pattern for it on instagram. I have no sewing pattern plans for this or ever! It was a learning experience and I really enjoyed doing it. I would be interested in developing it for sale of the actual product, but creating sewing patterns is so not in my interest. I’d much rather sew. 😉

Simplicity 8344 Bodysuit

I haven’t worn a bodysuit since the early 90s. Back then, I had one or two that I wore all the time. I love them. Then I started getting a stomach and was told to conceal it with baggy tops that weren’t tucked in. At 12, I was being given the worst fashion advice ever: you can’t show confidence if you are fat.

Fast forward to now and I am all about tucking in my tops and don’t care if they are curve-hugging. At 37, I show my confidence like crazy.

I wanted to try a bodysuit again. I’m all about revisiting and unlearning bad fashion advice that didn’t include wear whatever you want. I wear shorts now because of that.

I also really wanted to try the shoulderless or off the shoulder trend that I am late to the game for… So I knew I needed to make view E or F. I chose this lovely liverpool knit that LA Finch Fabrics sent me (edit: along with a bunch of other knit fabrics in a bundle) when I won the #letssewthistogether challenge for May, Summer Whites. I am not a huge fan of liverpool knit, but this is definitely one of the best quality liverpool knits I’ve come across. It feels a lot nicer than any of the others I have used and it sewed up better than the others. My main issue with liverpool knit is that the prints are printed on white backing which sometimes shows through when you are sewing or if the garment stretches too much in a particular area. This knit does do that but at a higher stretch than most other liverpools I have used. Liverpool knit is also mostly polyester and can be really hot to wear…hence being perfect for a shoulderless top so I can breathe!

LA Finch sent me just over a yard of the liverpool knit so it was pattern tetris to get this to fit with some smart changes to make use of the fabric. I just squeezed this into one yard by cutting only half of the sleeve in the liverpool knit and then lining it with some white poly knit I have as well as using the white knit for the leg bands.

The back is cut in two pieces and the the back centre seam provides some lovely shaping. I really like it. It might still need a bit of a swayback adjustment, but it’s pretty close and seems to have a bit of a swayback built into the pattern.

The pattern went together really well. The instructions were pretty clear. I did make a few changes. I added straps to conceal my bra straps so I can wear a regular bra with it. That’s always been my issue with the off the shoulder trends. I am not making a whole new bra pattern just for it! I also didn’t use snap tape but instead sewed on a strip of bias tape and then sewed snaps to that. The snaps I have are big heavy duty ones so they work well and don’t unsnap from stretching. The whole bodysuit can actually slip on from the bottom since the neckline is so wide. That helps bunches with my bad shoulders. I call this a win for my accessibility.

Fit is good. I made 28W with my 50 inch bust and graded to a 30W at the hips for my 54 inch hips. The liverpool knit doesn’t have a lot of lengthwise stretch so the bodysuit feels a bit snug lengthwise. Not really an issue with my short torso but something to keep in mind for others to have a knit with good 4-way stretch. I mean…the pattern says that, but when you get it in your head to use a specific fabric…well….. haha.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Simplicity 8344 Bodysuit
  • Pros: I love the final result! I think the size range is great. I am glad to not be choosing the biggest size for my bodysuit!
  • Cons: I don’t think I have any cons. It’s a nicely constructed pattern!
  • Make again?: YES! I love it. I’m still sort of deciding whether I want to change it to a top, though, since it’s not the easiest garment for bathroom emergencies even with the snaps. lol.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

Bra Fitting for People with Pectus Carinatum

Pectus Carinatum, or pigeon chest, is a chest shape where the breastbone is pronounced from the rib cage creating an egg shaped chest where the point of the egg is about where your bridge for your bra sits. It is often described as a “deformity” and considered “abnormal.” It is a chest shape and I will not describe it using those words again. It exists in the world, is common. It can be caused by breathing problems, such as emphysema, or rare diseases, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is my case.

You can’t really tell that I have this chest shape until you see me without a bra or feel my rib cage. The usual suggestion to hide this chest shape, if it causes no physical distress, for women is to get a breast augmentation and have larger breasts to disguise the difference. For men, as long as there is no physical distress, they are often told to do weight lifting to have chest muscles that disguise the shape. I’ve always had a large chest since I was very young so my chest shape is often ignored unless the health professional is looking for it. Interestingly, the doctors that noticed it also talked to me about EDS before I was diagnosed, especially when they saw my range of motion. It wasn’t until I got diagnosed and realized that maybe this chest shape was causing all of my major bra fitting problems: bridge not sitting flat against my chest or the apex splaying toward my sides.

Using the image from the Fashion Incubator, you can see how an egg shaped chest does this:

No matter what I tried, these issues were not going away and I wasn’t able to think outside the “normal” box. The “normal” box is where most bra patterns are drafted. In fact, this was all confirmed recently by Erin’s Love to Sew podcast interview where she talked about how bra patterns are drafted for a pretty narrow range of chest and bust shapes and there isn’t a lot of specialization for different shapes.

I found a Fashion Incubator article on the Wacoal Style #65547 bra, which is drafted for egg-shaped chests. The post outlines a long list of things that help the bra fit egg-shaped chests. I’ll summarize a bit:

  1. Straps closer together in front and back
  2. Fullness closer to the bridge than normal
  3. Narrow bridge
  4. Taller bridge

A taller bridge doesn’t actually work for my particular chest shape. My chest protrusion actually decreases about where the bra band sits meaning that the chest protrusion has a pretty large angle from the band up to the centre between my breasts. No matter what I do, the bridge could never sit flat because I do not have a flat chest area there. Instead of a taller bridge, I need a shorter bridge to get a better fit and a wire that does not angle forward poking out in various pictures, like it does below:

I also have the wonderful luck of having shoulders and ribs that like to go out of place if I try to use a back closure. For me, a front closure is much much better.

I needed to change a few things in my bra pattern to accomodate these issues.

  1. I needed a front closure, but I also needed an adjustable back closure for days where I am swollen due to my chronic illness.
  2. I needed more fullness in my cups since I have gained weight since I last made a bra.
  3. I needed a lower bridge and probably needed to cut the bra wires to fit it.

My muslin was an incredible success. Made here in a basic cotton fabric so the cups are wrinkly since the fabric won’t stretch a bit like duoplex does:

Obviously, the wires poke up since they are too long, but I have good coverage in the cup and with elastic on the edges of the cups, I will feel pretty secure in the bra. The cups fit much better than before. My wire size has not really changed.

I decided to make the bra using my duoplex fabric.

Since making these changes, I do see that the apex isn’t quite as forward as it could be. I will move my straps a bit closer to the bridge to maybe help get my apex closer to the centre and not splay to my sides. I will also try to move the lower cup seam a bit to the centre as well so the fullness is shifted a bit. I also decided to split the bottom 2 cup pieces into 3 to see how that distributes the fullness. I also think that the shape will look a bit better like that. Additionally, I added a slight bit more to the upper cup where the elastic is attached as well as a bit more in the lower cup.

I have to say, though, that this bra is as close to perfect and comfortable as I have gotten in my entire bramaking journey.

I’m pretty pleased with the bra in terms of sewing. What a difference a machine makes. My Singer is way more capable of handing the materials and maintaining control. It’s not 100% perfect. I mean, what is? But it is way way better than my last bra in terms of sewing.

Materials are duoplex, firm powernet, lace, elastics and hook and eye closures.

I am in a lingerie making kick lately along with wanting to make all the pjs. I’m working on a bralette pattern that will hopefully work and I am tweaking my underwear pattern to have panels that will work well with lace or powernet.

Pageboy Outfit Plus a Cashmerette Harrison

Recently, I made two pieces for two different costumes. I will eventually share those costumes with you, but I decided to share the two pieces together.

 

It looks a bit like an outfit worn by a member of the Newsies cast. I just need suspenders and a pageboy hat.

Now if only I could jump that high and do the splits without dislocating my hip! hahah!

I made the vest using the Cashmerette Concord t-shirt pattern with the v-neck. I used a hacci knit in a dark grey/brown colour and put bands on the armholes and the bottom hem. It was a quick garment to make up and it took me about 30 minutes once I factored out serger issues.

The capri sweatpants are made using the Blank Slate Patterns Forsythe trousers and using a jersey sheet from the thrift store. I put elastic in bands on the hems of both legs.

I know I made this capri sweatpants for a costume piece, but they are super duper comfortable and I throw them on so often that I need to make another pair so I don’t wear out this pair since I need it as a costume piece going forward. The only thing I would change (and you can’t tell in these pictures) is to switch out the slash pockets for side seam pockets since jersey fabric tends to droop a bit more and the pockets don’t look that good.

I also got an old UFO finished. I haven’t actually made the Cashmerette Harrison pattern in the final  version. I tested it, though.

What you can’t see is how incredibly uncomfortable I am in this top. That’s not really a pattern issue, but a few different issues. 1) The fabric I used is actually a poly cotton. I bought it thinking it was cotton and being told it was cotton to wash it and go….uh this is poly cotton. Disappointing. Too bad you can’t do burn tests in stores to prove store keepers wrong. Anyway, it’s been a while since I bought it and it was only 5 bucks for like 4 yards so I am not going to complain. But I hate it. I originally made this with the longer sleeves and then needed to chop off the sleeves to see if that would help. It did a bit…. but not really. 2) OMG my sewing is wonky on this…. I didn’t have consistent seam allowances for it at all. 3) I just don’t have symmetrical shoulders at all (thanks EDS!). The button band just does this super weird thing in the centre because one breast is higher than the other and it’s throwing those double princess seams in weird directions. It’s not really an issue when it’s only one princess seam per side or when it’s a darted bodice, but on this style… it just doesn’t work for me. 4) I am bigger than when I cut it out so it doesn’t fit well at all…. booooo.

I will be putting this in the donation bin, but I wanted to share it. It’s a good pattern but just doesn’t work for me and that is okay!

I am definitely thinking about making a pageboy hat….