#2018MakeNine and Top 5 Reflections, Highlights, and Goals

#2018MakeNine

For a few years now, Lucky Lucille has been running the #2018MakeNine hashtag on Instagram. I’ve taken part two years in a row. The first year, I failed miserably and last year I was able to get 4 items done which is still a percentage failure. This year I am trying something new by focusing not on patterns but on fabric meaning that I can be flexible about whatever I choose to make with my stashed fabric. I find the pattern focus fails me because a year can be a huge evolution in my style or I could end up needing other things to wear due to physical issues. The things that got made from my #2017MakeNine were far more on the comfort side of things than anything which is not surprising given my health issues all year. I know from my year of tracking my stash fabrics that knit fabrics are in and out of my stash very quickly. This year’s fabric purchases were definitely heavy on the knit fabric side. I would love to make the other projects planned from my #2017MakeNine but I am not sure when I will be able to get to them or want to make them. I also just purged a huge amount of clothing from my closet. I considered what I had worn and what I found comfortable and what issues I had with some things and bagged 4 large garbage bags for donation. I got rid of a bunch of old RTW that I wasn’t going for anymore plus a bunch of handmade garments that I just didn’t wear due to fit issues or not liking the fabric. A few got pulled aside for alterations that I will get to throughout the year. I definitely got upset over a couple due to loving the fabric so much, but I feel much better and finally have closet room and drawer room again for more handmade garments, of course! But enough talk, let’s look at the fabric plans

First up, 1.75 yards of a sparkly flannel cloud fabric. Of course, I could really put multiple flannels here, but this one is my favourite. It’s not quite enough (maybe) for a pair of pj pants for me. I could either go for pj capris or shorts, I think, or I could completely branch out and make a nightgown or a pillow case. Who knows?

Second on the list is this turquoise brocade with dragons on it. It’s one of my deepest stash items and purchased 6 plus years ago. I am thinking an Upton dress with pleats, but I could also see this as a long fitted blazer. I have 4 yards so the sky is the limit.

Third is the ever impossible to photograph black duoplex. I just grabbed the first duoplex fabric out of my lingerie fabrics drawer and it had to be black, right? I need new bras. I haven’t made them since 2016. WTF is wrong with me?! I may or may not use the black fabric specifically but I need to make damn bras already. In total, I have approximately 3 yards of duoplex.

Fourth is 4 yards of a mint cotton eyelet that I search high and low for and then got it for it to languish in my stash. Weird how these things work. I’ll need to line whatever I make, but top of my list is probably an Upton dress. But then again, maybe not?

Fifth is this beautiful light blue wool fabric from a friend. I have four yards. I also have thinsulate on the way to interline and a lovely fur to trim a new winter coat. My current winter coat is falling apart. I’ve learned a lot since then so I am hopeful this one will last for a really long time. I’m not sure of the pattern yet. I think I will actually hack a pattern I already own, because I don’t really want to go through fitting something. I know for sure the pattern doesn’t exist in my size and ones that come close would require a hood anyway so I might as well start with a pattern that fits well.

Sixth, the weirdest fabric in my stash, I think. I got it from Minerva Fabrics as a Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern month prize and at first was disappointed, but it’s a soft poly satin and so loud and fun that I have grown to love it. I have 2 yards of this bright orange leopard print. I also happen to have several yards of red fringe that might look amazing on it as a Designer Stitch Willow Kimono. I probably wouldn’t really wear it out of the house, but man, I would have fun wearing it.

My seventh fabric is a bit bluer than the picture is showing. It’s a super soft chambray from Fabricland. I have just over 4 yards of it so I could make anything. Part of me sees it as a lovely 1970s prairie dress with blouson sleeves and a pleated fronts. I could also see it as a casual shirt dress like Simplicity 8140 or I could just make a Cashmerette Harrison top.

Number eight on the list is 2.5 yards of navy blue polka-dots on white rayon fabric. I can see this looking beautiful as a Simplicity 8140 as well. If there were a bit more, I might make a Lenox shirtdress.

Finally, number nine is a antique gold stretch pleather. I only have 2 yards of it. Can you see this as a sexy pencil skirt or the bodice fabric for a biker jacket?

I’m pretty excited about these plans and see them as realistic. You’ll notice no knit fabric on the list, because I have no issues destashing that and, in fact, have a ton of it on the way from end of year sales. Oopsie!

I also want to finish up my Top 5 series with Reflections, Highlights, and Goals.

Top 5 Reflections

  1. I am resilient. This year has been a roller coaster of health issues, but I am more and more impressed with my resilience and ability to cope with all that has happened. I am hopeful for the future and hopeful that change will and can happen for me to be healthier and thrive with EDS.
  2. I have amazing support systems. My family, my friends, both online and offline, have been amazing this year. My husband is incredibly supportive and I love having him in my life. I am so grateful for his calm spirit in the face of the emergencies we’ve had this year. I truly am loved.
  3. I have made a difference. This one is a huge one for me and is the reason I write about my health so openly. The people who have reached out to me to thank me for my words are so wonderful. If I can help even one person with chronic illness feel less alone, I’ve done a good job.
  4. I am happy. As a person who has suffered from depression and attempted suicide many times, I can confidently declare that I am happy and my mental health is in a good state. I am able to compartmentalize the health frustrations and still enjoy every moment. Thankfully, the cognitive behaviour therapy I learned years ago to help me out of suicidal depression can be transferred to pain management. 2018 is supposed to bring me a referral to group therapy and mindfulness based therapy for patients suffering from chronic pain. I only see my happiness improving.
  5. I am grateful. I am grateful for my support systems and I am grateful that my words reach people. I am grateful for everything.

Top 5 Highlights

  1. Going to Cuba for the holidays. There is seriously nothing better than swimming in warm ocean waters and laying about on the beach when you are used to freezing cold temperatures for Christmas. I’ll talk more about my fun times there as well as a mini wardrobe I made for it in a separate post.
  2. A weekend of fandoms at FanExpo Toronto. In September, I got to perform with my improv troupe, the Dandies. We did Star Trek, Doctor Who, Buffy, Harry Potter and SuperFollies, our Super Hero show. I was unable to attend the SuperFollies show, but had a blast at the rest. It was such a great weekend.
  3. Card Retreat. I had a great time organizing a Christmas cardmaking retreat for a small group of friends. I made tasty foods and designed 10 different cards. I look forward to growing that aspect of my creativity in the new year.
  4. Embracing my inner unicorn. As a queer bisexual woman, it’s tough married to a man, looking very femme, and being erased by most of the world as queer. When I joined the CSC, we got a comment that there were no queer editors or people of colour and I got really upset about being erased yet again. I realized that it wasn’t in my bio, though, and it is becoming more important to be public about your identities to help repair this messed up world. I have on more than one occasion had to defend my queer label. I was once asked by a gay man to prove it and list my same-sex partners as if I were on trial. I have been eroticized by straight males and had a few friends ghost me when they found out I wasn’t fully straight or fully lesbian. I am so tired of feeling on the fringe of the queer community. I’m just going to be super loud and super proud about it now. I went as a unicorn on Halloween as a tongue in cheek on the bisexual female nickname. I enjoyed being more out this year in the community (it’s now part of my bio in IG, CSC, and my blog here) and look forward to some fun queer goals in the new year.
  5. Getting my Lit on. I’m a lit nerd through and through with a Masters in English Lit, but in recent years I’ve not been reading a lot at all for a few different reasons. I found myself in a mourning period after dropping out of my PhD in 2013. I had spent so much on that emotionally and financially that it was difficult to read afterwards. I was burnt out and exhausted and disappointed in the academic world that failed me (I dropped out due to supervisor neglect and, even after I got two new supervisors, realized I was done with the PhD as a result). I find holding books to be very difficult with my EDS fingers. I recently got myself a kindle and loaded it up with a bunch of books. It’s much easier to hold and I read three books last month! I have a related goal to share about reading.

Top 5 Goals

  1. Self Care. I’ve had this as my goal before, but I have to continue to make it a priority. I am heading to the YMCA sometime this week to start up my membership and get into the pool for some doctor-approved low-impact exercise. I have 2 swimsuits as a result of my recent vacation to share and a bunch more fabric on the way so that I always have a dry swimsuit to take with me. Other than that, I want to make sure I stop beating myself up on “can’t” and focus more on “can.” I literally cannot do everything I want, but I can do a lot and I need to focus on being a lot easier on myself. I spent the majority of last year upset with my body’s failures and refuse to do that this year. I will celebrate the successes more often.
  2. Get Lit. I want to read more.  For my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge, I set 15 books as my goal. I think I can do it. I plan on rereading Wrinkle in Time for the movie release. I cannot wait!
  3. Scrapbusting/Stashbusting. Last year, I did a whole lot of organizing of scraps, but didn’t use a lot due to my up and down health. I’d like to sew scraps up and get it out of those bins. I’ll still be taking part in the Stashbusting Sewalong. I love that group! 🙂 I started off the year with a bit of splurging on year end sales, but I will be back on track soon with my #2018MakeNine fabric plans. I am going to focus on buying on things that I need for specific projects.
  4. Knitting and Crochet. I have been finding myself needing other crafts to do on my lower energy days and recently got back into knitting by finishing a cardigan I started 10 years ago. I am planning on teaching myself crochet as well. I really want to learn how to knit socks and plan on focusing on that first.
  5. Queer sewing. I used to wear a lot more gender neutral clothes before I started sewing. Unfortunately, the selection was small and ill fitting for a plus sized and very busty person. I would buy larger men’s button up shirts and wear them with ties on occasion, but never felt comfortable in them because they were either tents or too tight across the bust. I never bound my bust so nothing quite fit and the shoulders were always comically large. As a teen queer, doc martens and men’s jeans were my uniform. I’d like to embrace more gender play and sew up some nice button ups, bow ties, and ties. I want to make a blazer/pantsuit that would make Marlene Dietrich jealous. God damn, I want that. I was recently inspired to make this a goal after Shannon from Rare Device launched her Sew Queer project. Follow Sew Queer on IG!

A final announcement for the post to help along my goals and your goals is the #curvyyearofsewing. Editors and Contributors at the CSC have created an inclusive sewing challenge for the entire year with themes every two months to give people lots of time to sew. We will be creating pattern suggestions for each theme, but you are not confined to those. Look out for discount codes and prizes. Share your makes using the hashtag #curvyyearofsewing. I cannot wait to see what you create!

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PJ Party Time! Burda Neglige and Kimono Robe

Long time no blog posts! I sound like a broken record, but I was sicker than usual in November and early December and then I had to scramble to get a bunch done. I’ve sewn 50 yards in December! I’ll probably be sharing the things I made with those 50 yards in January along with my TOP 5 2017.

For CSC Party Time, I decided to have a fancy PJ party and made two Burda Magazine patterns: Burda Lace Neglige 01/2017 #125A and Burda Belted Kimono Robe 01/2012 #134AB. I shared this on the CSC the other day, but I thought I would share it here with a few more details.

For plus-sized intimates, there are not a lot of options, but magazines like Burda sometimes have themed months and January at Burda usually means either activewear or intimates. While their plus-sized patterns can often be pretty shapeless and uninteresting, there are occasionally some great collections and actually in the past year there have been more wins than duds for me. The January 2017 intimates collection is one of my favourites and I am slowly going to make my way through it. Burda plus sizes are 44 to 52. The sizing is a bit more generous than other companies and goes up to a 48 inch bust and 50 inch hip. That being said, I’m still a bit outside their range with a 50.5″ bust and 54/56″ hips. I am a fan of Burda patterns and find them well-drafted and often lack the major issues that I see in other Big 4 companies (larger than life shoulders and armsyce issues). I will always need to narrow shoulders in any company, but I narrow significantly less with Burda and sometimes don’t need it depending on the design. I have never needed to raise the armsyce or deal with gaping at the bust/armsyce with their patterns. Often, instead of grading up their patterns, I just do a quick 2 inch FBA and get a good fit. I haven’t made a ton of their patterns yet, but that’s my experience so far.

 

Based on my measurements, I graded size 52 up by 2 inches in both patterns using the slash and spread method effectively making a size 54. I did this instead of an FBA in order to achieve a loose fit all around. This worked really well, but made the darts on the nightgown a bit off and the neckline is a bit wide (would have likely been fine had I added in the lace). Instead of redrafting the darts on paper, I sewed up the back seam and side seams and pinned the pattern to get the darts in the right place. Curved bust darts (is there a different word for this type?) like this can be a bit difficult, especially with a large bust. The darts aren’t perfect and do angle in a bit at centre front. My advice, if you choose to sew this up, is to trim out the centre of the dart before sewing to give you 5/8 inch seam allowance (after pin-fitting them, though, you don’t want to trim and then not have them fit correctly) and then grade the seams to a 1/4 inch again after sewing. It will help you get a better handle on the fabric and make it a bit easier to sew. Curved bust darts like this aren’t used very often in patterns these days (they tend to be seen more in vintage patterns), but can really create a lovely fit and shouldn’t be feared. For the nightgown, I shortened it by about 12 inches in the front and 11 inches in the back for a slight high/low hem. What can I say, I prefer a short, short nightgown. For both patterns, I did french seams for a nice inside finish. I finished the bust dart seam allowances using my serger. The more difficult of the two patterns was definitely the lace nightgown. I’m not super proud of my sewing on that at all, but I really like the finished garment. Not perfect by any means, but lovely to wear.

 

Burda instructions are famously sparse and these are no exception. I would definitely list the patterns as intermediate based on the lack of good instructions. The construction of both is very basic, though, so they aren’t advanced patterns.

 

The fit is robe-like for the robe – loose fit and comfortable to wear. I immediately want to make a bunch more. But how many fancy robes does one person need? All of them, Andie, all of them. The original pattern calls for velvet and I can see that being super gorgeous! I can also see making a basic flannel version or a see-through lace version. Mrowwwwrrrrrr.

 

The fit on the nightgown could be better. I actually need a small FBA as there is some pulling forward of the side seams. I could also remove an inch from the centre back and bring the shoulders in a bit since the neckline does sit wide. At the end of the day, though, these are PJs and don’t require a lot of overfitting since they will not be seen that often by more people than my husband and the internet in this post. Hahah. I’ve never felt more fancy and luxurious and that is definitely something to celebrate.

 

In terms of time, both patterns were made at the same time and in total took about 8 hours. I’m definitely going to make the robe again.

 

The fabric I used for the nightgown is stretch satin with a crepe back. I didn’t use lace at all. I had mint stretch lace that would have looked nice but didn’t want to be sewn on to the stretch satin at all so I left it off and I still like the nightgown. I used the stretch satin as a contrast for the robe along with flannel backed satin to make it extremely cozy as well as luxurious.

 

What’s in the glass, you ask? Root beer. Nothing like drinking soda out of fancy crystal wine glasses! Now that is a party!

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Burda Lace Neglige 01/2017 #125A
  • Pros: Love the curved darts. They give the nightgown extra shape and interest.
  • Cons: The usual sparse instructions issues for Burda patterns.
  • Make again?: Absolutely after a few fit adjustments
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md4/5 stars
  • Pattern: Burda Belted Kimono Robe 01/2012 #134AB
  • Pros: Everything! I adore this pattern!
  • Cons: The usual sparse instructions issues for Burda patterns.
  • Make again?: Absolutely! Is it possible to have more robes than actual clothes? Hmmm….
  • Rating: pink-star-black-md pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-md5/5 stars

If you are wondering why I gave a different rating on the CSC, it is because the rating system is different for reviews. My 5 stars are based on how well the sewing went, the fit, and the size range and most importantly how I feel about the pattern. 🙂

 

Simplicity 8137 Wrap top

Disclaimer:  I received this pattern free of charge in return for a review on the CSC. All my opinions are my own. 

Today, I am sharing my thoughts on Simplicity 8137 in a navy blue crepe lined with black rayon. The pattern includes a top, dress (knee length and full length), and pants. I made the top. I was given the pattern for free as part of Curvy Simplicity Week on the Curvy Sewing Collective. My review appeared on CSC yesterday.

Simplicity 8137

I made a size 28W and did very few adjustments! 

I narrowed the shoulders by 1 inch and did a large bicep adjustment of 3 inches as well as adding 1 inch to each side seam in order to give adequate room to the armscye for the bicep adjustment. After doing a quick tissue fit, I figured an FBA wasn’t necessary since the princess seams crossed the apex in the correct location, but narrowing the shoulder and a large bicep adjustment would be necessary.

This is actually the least I’ve done for anything I’ve sewn up in a while from the Big 4. Simplicity patterns aren’t widely available in Canada due to a pricing dispute between the major distributor and Simplicity. The shipping/duty charges tend not to make ordering from the website manageable so this is only the second time I have used a Simplicity pattern, but after seeing how few adjustments I needed for the plus sized pattern, I will be asking my US friends to send me a couple of patterns in the future. I also have a few in my pattern stash that are probably going to go up in my sewing queue now!

Edit: Turns out the shipping costs have gone down significantly since the last time I was looking a few years ago. But the currency conversion and higher cost/lack of sales/duty charges are still an issue and overall it is more inconvenient to order online rather than buy locally.

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Simplicity 8137

The construction process went okay. The instructions were a bit…lacking. I looked over them several times, but didn’t see where it referred to actually sewing up the lining before you sew the lining to the bodice or sewing the side seams. They aren’t the kind of instructions for a beginner to follow, but I was okay. The pattern doesn’t have a difficulty rating, but I would place it in advanced beginner simply based on the instructions. With better instructions, there is nothing at all complicated with the design or construction and a beginner could complete it, but the missing parts would confuse them.

I decided to save time and not slip stitch the lining at the waist by hand during construction and simply treated the lining and main fabric as one piece in attaching the peplum to it. It worked out just fine, but is maybe not as neat of a look as the design intended. I finished all my seams on the serger.

Simplicity 8137

 

I think the pattern fits pretty well! I do think it tends toward being wide and low in the v-neck. For someone who works in a conservative setting, this is a slight issue. I felt more comfortable wearing a camisole underneath the top as it does go quite low. The wrap top is fixed by snaps and the ties don’t actually have much function beside a design feature and a bit of cinching in at the waist. They don’t pull in the fronts as much as traditional wrap tops where they are affixed to the ends of the bodice and slipped through at the waist. That makes the construction a lot easier since they are sewn in at the side seams and waist but it doesn’t help keep the bodice v together like traditional wrap top designs.  I think the wrap design is great for my body shape and would work for a lot of people since it goes in at the waist and flares at the hips adding a nice curve. Overall, the fit is really good except for the low front.

Simplicity 8137

I will make this again for sure. I will probably add another couple of snaps to this version to cinch in the front and make the v-neckline a bit less revealing. In future versions, I will raise the neckline, as well as add in extra snaps so that the v shape stays in place. I can see this becoming a staple in my wardrobe in both the top version and the dress version. I doubt I will make the pants, though, since my hips do go beyond the 28W sizing and I don’t really wear pants anyway. I can also see how this top would look nice with a pencil skirt or even a circle skirt on the bottom. So, it works quite well with my wardrobe.

I can see this becoming a wardrobe staple for me and think you’ll be seeing a full length dress version on me in the summer next year!

Simplicity 8137

 

TL:DR Review

  • Pattern: Simplicity 8137
  • Pros: Design is super flattering due to the princess seams, ties, and the flare of the peplum.
  • Cons: Instructions were lacking a few details and the v isn’t as cinched in as I would like it.
  • Make again?: Yesabsolutely. I will add more snaps as well as raise the v for modesty reasons. I love a good revealing top, but my work environment is a bit conservative for that.
  • Rating: pink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdpink-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md4/5 stars

 

Maya Bra

Oh you were expecting a non-lingerie post…. I’m the worst. I swear I have a bunch of non-lingerie garments to share. I just need to find the time to take pictures. Sooooon.

This was originally posted on the Curvy Sewing Collective for Lingerie Month.

Today I am reviewing the free (YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT!) Maya Bra pattern from AFI. AFI wrote a great post about why she made this a free pattern. It’s worth a read. I’m extremely happy about the free part since most bra patterns are $15-$20 plus shipping in some circumstances.

The Maya bra is a three piece foam cup bra with lining and an outer fabric as well as a full cradle and band wings. AFI includes different band wing pieces for a 2 eye hook and a 3 eye hook, as well as pieces for the foam cups and the lining/main fabric cups. This saves time changing a pattern for bigger hooks and takes the guess work out of removing seam allowances for the foam pieces.

The size range is extensive and AFI adds new sizes all the time. There is a range from EU 60C/ UK 28C / US 28C to EU 100J/ UK 44GG/ US 44J in letter size and A4 size in English and Romanian. If your size isn’t available for download, simply comment on the download page and ask when that size will be added. AFI is pretty responsive to comments.

To choose your size, you need to know two things: rib cage measurement and wire size. There is a guide on how to measure and how to choose your size along with downloadable wire charts.

I am a 40H in some RTW bra sizes. But I didn’t choose my size based on that. I followed the guide on how to measure. I measured my ribcage at 44 inches and used my wire size 60 that I’ve found to be comfortable in other bras I’ve made. Based on that, I sit at the very end of the size range with a US 44J. I printed off that size and got to work.

Using Emerald Erin’s tutorial on how to piece the foam cups, I found sewing the foam cups went well. The foam pattern pieces have the seam allowance taken out saving you that job. You butt the pieces together with no overlap and use a satin stitch to sew them together. Using the satin stitch in Erin’s tutorial, I was able to put the foam cups together very quickly and the seam is super strong. At this point, you can sort of hold the cups up to your breasts and test a bit of the fit. Unfortunately, it won’t give you a really clear indication of how the cups will really fit since there will be all sorts of factors affecting the fit (gravity being the big one). With bra making, you test the fit when it is all done. It can be a costly endeavor to fit a bra pattern.

You can compare with other bras to get a general idea of fit. I was sewing another bra during one of my versions and able to do a bit of comparison:

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These are pretty close in size which is a good sign.

The instructions are great for novice bra makers to follow along with. However, they aren’t complete just yet. AFI is working on them all the time. Unless you have experience sewing a bra, I wouldn’t suggest you begin with this pattern as the instructions aren’t complete. Once they are though, I think a novice bra maker could follow them easily; AFI provides pictures and clear instructions for the steps that are available. You will need to have some experience with sewing to sew a bra. Beverly Johnson says that as long as you can set a sleeve, you can sew a bra. Think of that as your beginning point.

Construction process was easy. I did disagree with the materials required. AFI uses cotton fabric for the cradle and the lining, stretch lace for the bands, neoprene for the cups, etc. These are good materials when someone is making a bra for a smaller bust and band, but the materials need to be a bit better when making a bra for a larger bust. Instead, I used no lining fabric (I suggest you do line it with sheer cup lining, though; I was lazy and would definitely line it in any future versions), a stretch satin for the main fabric and one layer of the cradle and stretch lace for my 3rd version with black duoplex on the cradle, lined my cradle with sheer cup lining, and doubled powernet for the band wings. It also suggests boning for the sides where the cradle and the band wings meet. I’ve had this in bras before and found it horribly uncomfortable so I left it out, but I did put channeling in that location and that provides enough support to keep the sides from wrinkling.

Version #1

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The first version I made was very large in the upper cup. While I am full all over, I do seem to have a shallow upper cup and a narrow shoulder. Since the method for measuring yourself doesn’t take into account the bust measurements and instead goes by the wire measurements, it does have a much larger cup than may be necessary for your two measurements. My upper cup ended up being far too large. The lower cup seemed okay in that first version, but it was difficult to gauge that. I had more than two inches of excess fabric in the upper cup on each side. The bridge (where the wires meet between your breasts) was also coming away from my chest quite a bit. The band was a little big as well.

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Here is a front-on picture without the excess pinned out and then a picture with the excess pinned out. You can see the difference. The bridge comes away from my chest, but that is difficult to get a picture of.

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Here is a wonky side picture to show you the wrinkling in the band indicating that it is too large.

Version # 2

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For my next version, I removed two inches from the upper cup and one inch from the band. I noticed in the this version that the lower cup didn’t have enough room. It created quite the push up bra experience and was fine to wear for a day, but since the bridge sat away from my body by an inch or two, it was rather uncomfortable by the end of the day. Under the arm came up too high in this version, however, and is a little uncomfortable.

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Not as much excess in the upper cup, but the bridge still comes away from my body.

Very little wrinkling in the side, if any. You can see a bit of the push up effect of the bra by the cleavage happening there.

Here is a comparison of the previous version with this one:

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The upper cup of the first version is folding inside the upper cup of this version.

I added a nice little detail for this bra since I was pretty happy with it:

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Version #3

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For my third version, I increased the volume in the lower cup, narrowed the bridge, and decreased the upper cup yet again. And then I made a disaster sewing… I decided to just make the pieces for the main fabric and trim the seam allowances once I cut out the foam. I definitely did not trim them enough and had to rip the cups out after I sewed up the bra. My seam ripper broke after the first cup and then I used a knife. That turned out to be a great idea and I got the other cup out in half the time. Now I have a knife in my sewing room. Quite the badass here. When I resewed the bra, the issues seemed to be almost the same as the previous version: not enough room in the lower cup and the bridge sits away from my body. The fit it better under the arm, though, and the issues are better albeit in minor ways.

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No wrinkles on the band, but you can really see the bridge issue in this version. Probably due to the fabric choices and not lining the bra with a non-stretch lining. There is also definitely not enough room added to those lower cups.

Here is a comparison of this version with the first version:

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The bigger first version is super squished inside the third version.

Conclusions

I think the Maya bra fit me a lot better than the first time I made the Pin Up Girl Classic bra. Helps that I am using a wire size that is comfortable for me. Maya definitely flatters much better and has a nice round shape instead of the pointy shape of the Classic bra. Except for the upper cup being far too wide, the fit was pretty good. The bridge being too wide is a common issue I have, as well as it not sitting against my chest completely. This is true in RTW. There is a very narrow space between my breasts and it’s difficult to fit for that and still have enough space for the channeling and wires.

I know I will eventually get the right fit with the Maya bra. In the meantime, I’m not using up too much in materials since I can pull apart the bigger bras and try again. I will make the pattern again since it is such a nice shape and the foam really pushes my breasts up. The whole push up bra thing is a novelty in my size!

My advice for anyone trying out this pattern is to compare that upper cup to a bra that fits you well in that area and see whether you need to take it in first. I think the upper cup is likely the part that would not fit for a lot of people unless they have very very full breasts that haven’t felt the effects of gravity ever. Since none of us are lucky enough to live in zero gravity, we’ll have to deal with upper cup adjustments. The bridge may also be too wide. Again compare it to a well fitting bra and adjust before making your first version. There are some things we can do to alter bra patterns before we sew them. If you need some help figuring out some basic bra pattern adjustments, Norma Loehr’s Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction has a section on bra pattern adjustments based on the fit issue. There are also many amazing tips in the first Beverly Johnson Craftsy class. Or you can check out these Cloth Habit posts: cup adjustments, and band and frame adjustments.

With bras, the larger the cup, the more adjustments and failed bras you will go through. Sorry everyone… BUT! You can always baste the entire bra together to get the idea of how it will fit before completing the bra. Compare to your other bras to see if the fit will be similar. The important thing to remember is that even though the fitting curve is steeper with large bras, once you get a good fit, you can make all the bras at a lower cost in most cases than RTW. My RTW bras cost me between $60 and $200. The bras I cloned were $80 bras. In comparison, my materials cost me on average $25-$30. If I do factor in labour costs, I actually end up with a $150-$200 value bra for the price of $25-$30. That is a pretty sweet dollar savings and I get the bonus of having a custom bra in my style. Even cloning a RTW bra, it took me until about the fifth one before I could say it was really good. There are always fit issues. With bras, you have to be a lot more precise. My advice to you is to take it slow, be patient, and not get discouraged. Also, feel free to tag me or message me privately on Instagram to ask for help. I love talking bramaking! There are also two great private facebook groups where you can ask a bunch of people for help: Bra Making Forum and Bra Makers – Beginners through Intermediate. You can always use the contact page on my blog and we can chat through email as well.

Size Range (1-5): 5
Instructions (1-5): 3.5 (5 for the ones that are complete, but lost marks due to incompleteness of final steps)
Construction Process (1-5): 4
Final Fit (1-5): 3.5
Overall Rating (1-5) + Explanation: 4

The Maya bra is a great foam cup bra pattern with an impressive size range and an amazing shape. It is unfortunate that the instructions aren’t complete just yet and that places it in the intermediate bra making experience zone. Once the instructions are complete, I can see it being a good place for beginner bra makers to start. Not for beginner sewers, though. You need to have enough experience to confidently set a sleeve to be able to sew a bra.

Garden Bra

Yep, more lingerie. I am not sorry for this! I love it! That being said, I will have a v-neck Jenna cardi and a Jenna top to share with you soon.

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This is my latest cloned bra, the Garden bra.

Why the Garden bra?

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I have an entire garden of little flowers sewn to the bridge and some lovely floral lace.

For this version, I added some to the power bar. Big mistake. I thought this might help with lift and push the girls forward, but it didn’t sadly. The good thing is that I still have my previous pattern pieces and can go back.

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It’s a little bit of a frumpier look with the girls going a bit more sideways. There is very little vertical stretch in the lace, too, which causes that horizontal line to look a little bit wonky. I look fine wearing this under a dress, though:

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I probably would have been better off to line the power bar with a sheer cup lining for extra support. For now, though, I am moving forward. I recently had to retire a different Elomi bra from the rotation and decided to clone it, because I am having trouble parting with it. The upper cup is split into two pieces with the top half in non-stretch sheer cup lining. Since I want to copy Erin’s Parisian bra, I will be using this pattern and putting the gathered bra tulle into the upper cup. I’ve made a “test” version in sheer cup lining and navy lace and will be sewing that up before CSC lingerie month is up.
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Then I am taking a break from sewing bras, because that will make 7 bras this year… I do want to sew a couple more before the honeymoon, though, but those can wait. I’ve got my pepernoot coat to work on. I’m almost done the flat pattern adjustments and ready for the muslin! There were a lot of pattern pieces to adjust.

I’m happy to announce that the hook and eye installation went so much better for this version after all the feedback I got before. I cleaned out my machine. There was an entire dust bunny in there! I put on a new needle before sewing this part. I’m using a zigzag stitch now and it looks great.

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I made another bra after that (my third Maya bra) and it went even better. The strap elastic also went on better there and I got much better in the Maya bra (review for that will be posted on the Curvy Sewing Collective this week) as well. I’m feeling pretty confident after all this crazy bra sewing.

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Of course, no bra of mine is complete without at least one sewing error. Look at that wonky shit on the power bar above the lace. Hahaha. Oh my!

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How weird do these bras look hanging on a hanger? My band can’t even close because it’s so much smaller than my cup and the wire is huge in comparison, but somehow this thing looks just fine and is comfortable as a pillow on.

 

Burda Faux Wrap Tunic Dress

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Fittingly, I found the Burda Faux Wrap Dress through a link on the Curvy Sewing Collective’s facebook page. And I sewed it up for the CSC Wrapalong and as part of my FESA 2014 sewing plans (a fabulous frock, indeed!)

I’m pleased with the result. In the middle of summer, I would probably see the dress as frumpy and shapeless and find the draping really odd, but in the middle of our Canadian fall with the doom-stricken Game of Thrones-like “Winter is Coming” on the horizon, I am loving the comfort of the dress. It’s like wearing a sweatshirt and still looking stylish with all that draping and the cuff details.

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The look at my pockets stance

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The casual lean against the wall and look cool stance

Sorry for the indoor photos. All it does it rain rain rain and when it doesn’t rain, I am too busy to take pictures so I sucked it up and took pictures in the house. I finished this up last week and figured I should get on posting it.

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Fashion….

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….Turn to the left…. FASHION

I had quite the time with the pattern instructions. You can read about some issues with Burda patterns in CSC’s burda sewing tour wrap-up post. Basically, to sum up, the pattern pieces are marked with numbers and don’t also have what they are written on them (ie. front bodice, back skirt, etc.). A lot of the direction isn’t written on the pattern pieces either. The instructions are also all in text and the instructions for this dress specifically were missing steps.

Burda magazine patterns can be challenging and are definitely not for beginners. One of my first dresses was a burda dress, in fact, but the Kristen dress actually had really nicely detailed instructions, if the pattern itself ran extremely large. Start off by reading through the instructions really well and then read through them again and again and go slowly to make sure you get them.

For the instructions, there were missing steps and not clear steps. Missing was the step to sew the back bodice together. I get that is practical knowledge, but it’s not there at all and that is a huge oversight. Unclear was the draping at the front. Basically, the front skirt is one large piece, where you take the bottom and then fold it in half and pleat and baste the bottom into the waistline, essentially making the fold line the hem. The pattern really stumped me in how that was worded and I ripped the thing out three times before I got the pleating and the folding right. There is also pleating in the centre back, which to be honest made very little design sense to me. I did it, but I think the pleating adds unnecessary bulk to the waistline where it can easily be gathered more. The other part that was unclear was the waistband construction. I chose to use the instructions from Colette’s Myrtle dress instead, except that I fed the elastic into the channel, which was reallllly difficult with all the pleats and fabric bulk in the channel. Anyway, I did it and it came out lovely. The last bit that I just chucked out the window was the waistband ties. The placement of the faux ties didn’t work out for me and so I didn’t add them. I also didn’t do flat felled seams, because again it added a lot of bulk. I used a lightweight jersey, but maybe not light enough for this pattern and all that fabric!

Fitting for this pattern runs super large. I cut a size 52 and added the seam allowances. I am probably more in line with a size 54 + FBA with Burda, but I figured the stretch in the material would make that a non-issue, but I could have cut out a 52 without adding the seam allowance and still had the dress be roomy. If you decide to try this pattern out and don’t size down, I definitely recommend sizing down for the cuffs, because they are humongous and by the end of the day are stretched out and falling down. Do yourself a favour and cut two sizes smaller for the cuffs, because ripping out all of the drawstring channels and drawstrings to size down the cuffs is not something I am willing to do. I do recommend grading up to the larger size for the kimono sleeves, though, if you have bigger arms like me. Mine are fine, but not as puffy as the pattern picture.

I followed Jen’s instructions in the wrapalong for the neckline. Partially because the instructions rock and also because the pattern pieces for the neckline in this pattern are cut into three pieces: left side, neck curve, right side. I tried going with burda’s pattern pieces and then ripped out the whole thing and drafted my own piece.  The neck curve ends up being stupid. It bunches and doesn’t sit right and is just stupid. STUPID. One long continuous band is much much smarter. Draft it slightly shorter than the length of the neck and right and left sides and stretch it a little as you sew. I should have made it shorter and stretched, because it is a faux wrap, but I didn’t. It’s fine, but by the end of the day the neckline stretches out a bit even though my fabric has good recovery and becomes slightly revealing. Hence, the camisole underneath for work. So, I recommend making it two inches shorter and then stretching to fit the bodice and neck. Gillian over at Crafting a Rainbow has an excellent guide on where to stretch for a faux wrap dress neckband.

To sum up:

  • Start by sewing the back together, because the pattern doesn’t mention it!
  • Draft a new neckband (one long piece two to three inches shorter than the length of the right side/neck/left side combined) and follow the CSC tutorial for sewing it like a t-shirt neckband and follow Gillian’s tutorial on where to stretch the neckband to get the perfect faux wrap dress look
  • Size down or leave the seam allowances out, because the pattern runs large (Size 52 is supposed to fit up to a 48 inch bust, but my bust is 52 inches and it is still very roomy)
  • If you decide not to size down, make the cuffs smaller or else you will have them fall all over the place by the end of the day
  • If you have big upper arms, size up the kimono sleeves to get the puffy look
  • Follow the Colette tutorial for installing the waistband
  • Use a lightweight jersey keeping in mind the bulk of the material throughout (the lighter the better without being totally see-through)
  • Fold the bottom of the front skirt up to the waistband and pleat at the waistband
  • Mark paper pattern pieces with what they are (front right, cuff, etc.) and with some instructions, especially for the front folds/pleats

I actually, in spite of all of that, enjoyed sewing this up and love wearing it. It’s a super comfy faux wrap dress and perfect for the impending Canadian winter.

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WINTER IS COMING!!!

Welcome to the Gillian Dress from Muse Patterns!! And a giveaway!

Muse Patterns created by the amazing Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes just released their second pattern today! It’s the Gillian wrap dress!

I had the wonderful opportunity to test the pattern in the past week and a bit. I received the pattern for free, but all my opinions and glee are my own.

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The pattern is made for lightweight stretch materials, such as merino wool, jersey, and other knit fabrics with stretch. This pattern has three variations: dress, top, and skirt. I chose to make the top in long sleeves for a lovely light fall cardigan.

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It’s definitely fall here in Canada! Obligatory leave-throwing shots!

I love this pattern! The above is the test pattern only and not the final product that was released. There were some changes made from the test pattern, but I have yet to try them out since it was released today. I will, though, because I adore this top and want to make the dress and the skirt and make the top again.

It’s perfect timing to release the pattern with the Curvy Sewing Collective Wrapalong happening. I really recommend this pattern. I’m reallllly busty (H cup….. :S) and it has amazing coverage with no need for a camisole underneath. The pattern can also easily fit above the largest size on their size chart, because of the wrap. The details with the shoulder yokes are just lovely and really quite flattering. The waistband also hits in my high waist and is flattering for an hourglass figure.

I’m in love with it and can’t gush more about it. It was also my first time testing a pattern and made me really appreciate the process. I was very attentive to the instructions unlike in other sewing. I tend to just look at the pictures and do my own thing, but here I really focused in on the instructions and made sure they made sense to me. I made notes and went slowly. As a result, I am extremely proud of the top. The topstitching details are almost perfectly sewn. It was probably the most pleasurable sewing experience I’ve had yet.

Along with the release, Kat is offering a discount this week of 15% off the pattern (code: GILLIANDRESS found here), as well as from now until October 19th giving 100% of the profits to the NZ Breast Cancer Foundation!

Because of this awesome gesture, I am buying up a couple of these patterns myself this week to giveaway to two lucky people!

How do you enter? Easily! Comment on this blog post with your email address and then on the 16th I will randomly draw 2 names and send them the pdf of the Gillian wrap dress.

It’s my first giveaway! But I couldn’t think of a better cause. Giving to breast cancer research AND giving to wonderful sewists. I can’t wait to see your Gillian dresses, tops, or skirts.

Join the giveaway and support breast cancer awareness.

UPDATE: Giveaway is now closed and two names have been drawn