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.

Advertisements

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.

 

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

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….

 

 

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!

 

Introducing the Muse Patterns Manuka top and dress

I had promised myself to take a hiatus from testing patterns for a little bit and then immediately broke my promise when Kat posted about Muse Patterns next pattern, the Manuka top and dress, which was designed by Johanna Morris. It just happened to be the exact thing that I wanted to add to my wardrobe.

The Manuka top and dress is a loose fit with a dropped shoulder that skims over the hips. The pattern comes in three lengths: crop top, hip length, and dress length. As with all Muse Pattern releases, the first week the full profit of the sales goes to a charity. This time it is Kids Can.

I absolutely love the models for this pattern. They both look fantastic.

I made the crop top version with short flutter sleeves. I chose a size 48 with D-cup and I think the fit is spot on.

The reason I wanted to make this top was to go with this skirt. I have a couple of red tops, but they are all long sleeved tops instead of something nice and light for summer. The top also has no closures on it so it just slips over my head and shoulders with ease. It’s really great!

The length hits just above my belly button in the front and a little bit lower in the back.

Since the skirt is high-waisted, the top still tucks in nicely.

I love the sleeves on this top. They are circles and the shape of the shorter sleeves are perfect for summer. I definitely feel cool whenever I wear this top.

I really love the look of the top tucked into the skirt with a bit of a blousey look in the back.

I can’t wait to try out the dress version. I love the way it looks on the plus sized model! ❤

In other news, I have a few posts on other blogs that I am proud of and really excited to share. Check them out: