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. 😉

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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….

 

 

Cashmerette Ipswich Swimsuit

This post was originally on the CSC for the Curvy Year of Sewing Bodysuits and Swimsuits theme.

Today I am reviewing the Cashmerette Ipswich Swimsuit. I did also test the swimsuit before release but my opinions are my own. There were some changes made between the version we tested and the final version so for obvious reasons this review it based on the final version.

The pattern has two views: view A is a one piece swimsuit and view B is a two-piece swimsuit. The size range is size 12-28 with cup sizes C/D, E/F, and G/H; bust 40 inches to 58 inches. I chose to make view B for this review. I prefer two-piece swimsuits as they make bathroom trips a lot easier in the middle of swimming and they are easier for me to put on and take off with my disabilities. The pattern also has an internal wired bra that is optional. I chose to make it with the internal bra since I have experience making bras.

My measurements are 51.5 bust, 44 underbust, 46 waist, and 55 hip. I chose to make a size 22 G/H. I could have graded to a 24 at the hip but I chose not to do that and it worked out just fine except in one area which I will get to a bit later.

  

The fabric I used is nylon spandex lightening print and black poly spandex with black swimsuit lining and black bra foam as well as powernet for the bra band and black duoplex fabric for the bra bridge (duoplex is a stable polyester fabric used in bramaking). There are a lot of notions for this suit: swimsuit elastic, stable elastic for the straps, swimsuit clickers for the back closures, underwires, and underwire channeling. Phew. You can make the swimsuit without the internal bra and that definitely cuts down on the amount of materials, but you might not get the support you need. If you do choose to do that, I recommend using powernet to line the front as well to give a bit more support. Powernet should still be used in the back as well as directed.

In terms of construction, swimsuits are definitely not for beginners. Cashmerette lists the pattern as intermediate and it definitely is for that level. The pattern instructions are great and very detailed. There is also an online course for it, but I haven’t tried it out. There were some construction methods that I didn’t prefer. For the most part, however, those were personal preferences based on what is easier for me.

In terms of fit, there are a few issues. First off, this pair is my second pair for the bottoms. The first pair I made were a lot lower rise due to my belly and bum. I raised the pattern by 7 inches. However, I took about 3 inches away after construction. In total, there are 4 inches added to both front and back using the lengthen/shorten lines. They fit a lot better for me this way. You may need to make adjustments for a larger belly or bum.

 

The leg holes are finished by attaching elastic and then flipping it to the inside and topstitching over it using a stretch stitch. For my next pair, I will used bands with elastic enclosed in them. It’s my preferred method and tends to feel a bit more secure.

The top fits okay. I am going to narrow the neckband a bit since my shoulders and upperbust are narrow. This will help stop that wavy/loose bit at the centre of the neckband.

The bra does not fit me well. For people who are familiar with bramaking and have a bra pattern that fits well, continue to use that for your swimsuit, any swimsuit. I haven’t made a bra in over 2 years so I didn’t have that option and I wanted to see how the pattern bra fit me. There definitely needs to be more room in the cups for me. I am spilling over and the wires are lower than the should be instead of following my breast root. The shape of the cup works okay, but I definitely need more projection. Everyone’s needs are going to be different here so if you don’t have a TNT bra pattern, start by trying it out and then tweaking from there. I will need to do quite a bit of tweaking to get this one to fit well but it’s definitely going to happen.

Word of caution, though, for anyone pursuing the internal bra is to not expect a 100% great fit out the package. As with all bramaking, fitting is the hard part. Don’t use your super expensive material on that first one. Muslins for bras and swimsuits are a bit more expensive, but completely worth it.

I made one tweak for this version instead of following direction and used band elastic on the bottom of the top. For me, it helps keep the bottom in place a bit better and is firmer than the swimsuit elastic.

 

Overall, I really like the design and plan on making it again. I’d love to make the tankini using the free expansion pack. I also want to play with cutouts using powermesh or tweak the neckline into different looks.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Cashmerette Ipswich Swimsuit
  • Pros: I loved the pattern. I think there are definitely fit issues (as there would be with any swimsuit pattern) but overall there are more wins in terms of support for the bust and fun use of pattern mixing with the panels. The instructions are great as usual with Cashmerette. I definitely need to get a better fit in the bra and tweak a bit more here and there, but I’m not far off from a great fit.
  • Cons: I do think that the neckline could be a bit more flattering. The boobs do look a bit like a single block. I plan on tweaking that a bit.
  • Make again?: Absolutely! I am working on my bra pattern and then I will get more foam so I can use it for the internal bra.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md4.5/5 stars

 

Striped Simplicity 8342 top

I made Simplicity 8342 tie top as a result of Tasha’s many versions of it. Of course, Tasha and I have very different body shapes. But I also saw Jasmin Lucero post her version of it on instagram as well and figured that I could make it work for me, too. Both inspirations make this a bit of a Sew Style Hero nod to both Tasha’s and Jasmin’s lovely styles. ❤

 

I knew I would need some adjustments to the length of the top since my bust is larger than average. Even with the pattern going up to a 28W or a 50 inch bust, I knew that it wouldn’t quite fit perfectly the first time.

I lengthened the bust cups by about 3 inches for this version. I made the mistake of also increasing the size of the ties. Basically, I was lazy and instead of doing pattern adjustments, I just made the adjustments as I was cutting it out. Silly me. Especially since I was low on spoons and in lots of pain.

I solemnly swear I will do my pattern adjustments properly next time. 😉

 

The bust fits….okayish. The underbust doesn’t hit quite at my underbust so I need to do a proper bust adjustment for the next time that doesn’t change the tie at all. Although, the tie being that big does cover my bra in the cutout so that is good. I am also thinking of adding some elastic on the underbust seam so it sits better. The straps are in the right location and the back comes up far enough for my bra to be covered. I need some more room in the hips/stomach for sure. It looks good tucked into my chore skirt but not ideal otherwise. The shirt length would be better a bit longer as well.

 

The fabric I used is a cotton lycra purchased locally. I have more of it left so I am thinking of completely remaking the top again with the adjustments.

I definitely don’t hate the top. I actually really like it, but it’s not a good fit just yet. I think I will feel better in it when I redo my bra pattern to be lower. Right now, the bridge of my bra pokes up above the tie.

Some more adjustments plus a better fitting bra pattern and I think this could be a winner for the summer.

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Simplicity 8342 tie top
  • Pros: Okay size range. Love the vintage style.
  • Cons: The pattern would be greatly improved by including cup sizes, but that’s my only complaint. I guess I am spoiled for patterns with different cup sizes. 😉
  • Make again?: Absolutely! I also want to tackle those cute pants some day.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md4/5 stars

 

My Sew Style Hero: Shannon from Rare Device

I originally posted on the Sewcialists blog about this project, but I definitely wanted to also post here, because Hello my blog needs this post too! I also have a bunch more pictures to share.

I chose Shannon from Rare Device for my Sew Style Hero for many many reasons.

  1. I love her style. She has a knack for great colour and fabric choices. The things she wears always look great on her and embrace trends like crop tops, wide legged pants, etc.
  2. She plays with gender in her style. Something I used to do a lot, but haven’t done in recent years since I started sewing for myself. It is something I want to do again (I even have a button up shirt cut out!) with a focus on making things that are comfortable for me to wear given my physical disabilities.
  3. She started Sew Queer and that prompted me to start Chronically Sewn to help highlight sewists with physical and mental chronic illnesses.

Speaking of style, Shannon is known for her crop top and flowing skirt or pant sets, either matching or mismatching. She is actually just finishing up another set using a monstera leaf print that makes me super envious!

 

I looooove the look, but I had never tried a crop top before in my life. What better time to overcome a fear of releasing the mid-drift?

I went through my stash looking for a fabric that would be perfect for the set and had just enough of a lovely soft cotton tropical flower print. For the crop top, I chose the bodice from the Simplicity 8096 dress view A.

To the Simplicity bodice, I added a band at the bottom and elastic through the band. I also added a button band at centre front and cut the back on the fold eliminating the zipper back there. The entire top unbuttons from the front and is incredibly easy for me to get on and off with my physical constraints. It’s incredibly comfortable.

 

I made the skirt without a pattern. It’s just a simple pleated skirt with pockets and a button band. The look above on the far right of Shannon is the look that inspired mine. The skirt is cut a bit shorter due to fabric constraints. I am also much shorter than Shannon so it actually looks the same length on me!

A big floppy sun hat completes the inspiration look!

   

And I actually feel incredible in this look! Crop tops are some kind of wonderful.

   

I love the purple buttons I got locally for both the crop top and skirt. They look great with the floral print. The skirt could be a bit tighter. I may actually put some elastic across the back after I run it through the wash once to see whether the fabric shrinks a bit. To add the elastic, I will just open up two spots along the waistband at the back and then run some 1 inch elastic through and tack it down. That should do the trick.

  

Thank you, Shannon, for all that you do for the sewing community. You are an amazing Sew Style Hero!