I promised you all a big announcement this week, and my big news is that I’m releasing my first sewing patterns at the end of this month! I’m focusing on exercise gear, and the first two patterns are super versatile!
The xyt Workout Top
This is a pattern for a close-fitting, sleeveless workout top with front scoop neck, and choice of three upper back designs. An optional built-in bra is included, and neck and armhole edges can either be finished with hidden elastic or bound using a coverstitch binder.
You might see now why I named it the “XYT” – each of the three back variations forms the shape of the letter! The T back in particular has so much scope for variations as the vertical part can be any sort of fancy trim in your stash – lace, sequins, fishnet, fancy elastics, etc…
I absolutely love the built-in compression bra I’ve developed here, too – I’ve never had a RTW one work for me, but these are supportive enough for my B cups to run in, and some of my pattern testers with larger busts have had equal success with only a small FBA!
The pb Jam Leggings
This is a pattern for close-fitting, workout leggings with contrast swirl design on the upper front thigh leading to the upper back. There’s a hidden pocket inside at the upper centre back, perfect for gels, keys, or your phone, and contrast panels at the back of you knees are perfect for mesh fabrics. An elasticated, high-rise waistband means they won’t shift around as you move, either!
You may recognise these from my mocha running top photos earlier this week – these have become my favourite leggings ever in a very short amount of time, and when I wore them to my running crew I had several people begging to buy them off my body, no less! The design lines carry around the sides so you look good from all angles, and the hidden pocket in the centre back is sized so you can stash your phone, gel, or keys without having to carry anything.
Because I sew and so many of the great lycra stores only sell by the whole meter, I designed these so you only need to buy one meter of main fabric!
Oh and the name – “PB” stands for “Personal Best” (Americans use “Personal Record” I’m told), which is used in running circles as your gold standard – the fastest you’ve ever run that distance. “Jam” because I can’t see the letters “PB” without thinking “and jelly!” but jam is more fun as it’s sort of a little party, too. So together it’s about being the best you can be and having fun at the same time!
Q & A
To answer a few potential questions…
How much will they cost?
I’m not 100% certain on the prices yet, but they will certainly be in line with other independent patterns with similar complexity and size range!
What formats can I buy them in?
These will be digital patterns, in pdf format (for both Print at Home and Print at a Copy Shop). I’ve physically tested these on both A4 and US Letter printers and they work on both! There is no plan to release these as paper patterns at the moment. At 12 and 24 pages each, neither is too cumbersome to print and tape together at home.
Are there illustrated instructions?
YES! I’ve painstakingly illustrated each and every step for both patterns, and the feedback has been brilliant.
Will there be a Sew Along?
I’m not sure yet – if there’s a big demand I might, but frankly, I’d rather get started on my next set of pattern ideas! You’ll definitely get to see the collection of samples I’ve personally made of the patterns, though, as well as all the variations made by my pattern testers over the last month.
Where/When can I buy these?
These will be for sale from this site (via Etsy) from the last week in December. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of noise here when they are ready to buy! (I’ve got lots of work to do on the site to get everything ready for the launch, so don’t get too excited when you see a Shop section appear – I’ll announce it when they’re ready!)
I want to hugely, hugely thank my amazing team of pattern testers for their feedback, patience, extremely helpful criticism, and support over the past few months. This has been a massive learning experience for me, and the process has been far, far more hard work with so many unanticipated setbacks and the patterns wouldn’t be anywhere near as high quality without them.
So yes… exciting! What do you think of them?tags: exercise, fehr-trade-patterns
I appear to have found myself again in the position where I’ve been doing an extreme amount of sewing and sewing-related activity, but I can talk about only a small portion of it, and I don’t have any proper photoshoots for the things I can talk about… Bad, Melissa, very bad!
So consider this a little roundup post to let you know what I’ve been up to, until I can get my act together properly…
Silver cowl top
I cut out this MyImage cowl top pattern before we went to Mexico, thinking I might have enough time to quickly sew it up before we left. I would’ve, too, if I hadn’t decided I needed to make a quick travel bag. So it was waiting for me when I got back to cold, grey London, mocking me with its sleeveless-ness. I finally just sewed it up so I could have the space back in my sewing room, though I’m afraid I won’t really get to wear this until next year.
I made it out of some absolutely glitter-tastic jersey I bought at Tissue Reine in Paris a few years back, and I recall it was on the pricey side. It also left a trail of silver all over my sewing room… Boo.
Anyway, I like the top (though the cowl is waaaaaaay too deep to wear on its own), but I’ve been putting off doing the photoshoot for it because it’s freezing outside!
Cynthia Rowley satin jacket
We have a wedding coming up this weekend, which I’m planning on wearing my purple Matthew Willamson birthday dress to, but seeing as how it’s November, I wanted to make a little jacket/coverup to wear with the dress. The problem is that there wasn’t very much of the purple satin leftover, but I liked how it looked paired with the salmon satin of my swirl sheath dress, so I decided I’d make a jacket using both fabrics and then I could wear it with either one. Clever, see?
The pattern is the same Cynthia Rowley Simplicity pattern I used for my fuschia party dress – a simple, loose, open jacket with dropped shoulders and wide sleeves. I just drew some extra seamlines onto the pattern pieces for my colourblocking. It’s also unlined, so I sewed it all with french seams and neat finish facings (where you sew the facing to the interfacing, then flip it around to fuse). It’s debatable whether just drafting a lining would’ve taken up more time!
Anyway, I’m not entirely sure whether I like it or not, or whether it’s “me” – I vacillate between thinking it’s a chic kimono vs a “lady of a certain age” style. I guess I’ll ultimately decide at the wedding, where I’ll try to get some photos of me wearing it with the dress.
After my success with my turquoise lingerie set, I immediately started on a lemon yellow & pale blue set, but I ran into some supply issues that forced me to stall a bit. I’m still waiting on the straps to arrive, but the panties have been done for ages. Here’s the set in progress:
And if you did like my turquoise lingerie set, then please vote on Pattern Review if you’re a member! I’ve entered it in the lingerie contest, but voting is only open for a few scant days so do it now!
Lauriana alerted me last week that KnipMode’s future is looking uncertain as its parent publisher is looking to sell off the bulk of their titles, KnipMode included. I really hope they can find a buyer who can keep the sewing focus and make it even better. I’ve stopped buying it over the past few years as it’s gotten very expensive and IMHO the styles went downhill after the latest editor took over, but there have also been big improvements made, too (most noteably the pd download store) and it’d be a shame for such a Dutch sewing institution to fail now… tags: knipmode, lingerie, mexico13, myimage, satin, simplicity, ss13
We’re travelling to Mexico in a few weeks, and I decided I should probably have a money belt to keep my passports and spare cash secure while we’re there, especially since we’ll be staying in mid-range hotels and travelling by coach. But the money belts available to buy are all really uncomfortable-looking, made of either rough fabric that will get soaked by sweat, or plasticky fabric that will stick to your skin, and with chunky buckles that will dig in over the course of a day.
Since I’m sewing a bunch of bottoms for my trip anyway, I figured there must be another way, so I had the idea to draft up a simple zippered pocket that attaches onto the waistband and hangs discreetly inside. It can be accessed easily in a private place (like a toilet stall), but not easily seen or pickpocketed, and the zippered opening means its contents aren’t going to just fall out, either.
You can choose to either permanently sew the pocket into the waistband of your skirt or trousers, or you can use snaps to make it removable at the last step, like I did for my leggings.
It’s sized to allow a standard passport to fit through the zipper, plus some emergency cards and cash and other small items you want to keep on you at all times, but that don’t have to be readily accessible.
You’ll need a 20cm/8” invisible zipper, and a small amount of fabric, either in matching fabric or something you’ve got lying around (since no one’s going to see it but you, why not make it FUNKY?). Why an invisible zipper? Well, because the zipper will be facing towards the body, you’ll probably want to minimise the contact of it against your skin, as fabric will be more comfortable pressing against your waist all day. But if you’ve got lots of regular zippers on hand and don’t mind this, feel free to use those instead.
Step 1 – Pattern prep
Print it out, making sure your print scaling is set to 100% or you may not be able to fit a passport in! There are only two pieces here, but one is too big for the standard Letter/A4 page so you need to tape it together, aligning the triangles. Cut along the solid lines so your two pattern pieces are free, then cut out each in the fabric of your choice (you only need one of each so cut in a single layer).
Step 2 – Invisible zipper
Open up the zipper and place it right side facing down onto the right side of Piece A, aligning the teeth with the dashed “zipper” line. If your zipper is too long (like mine is), align the open ends with the edge of the fabric and let the joined end hang off the edge. Sew the zipper to Piece A, using a zipper foot or invisible zipper foot.
Close the zipper and align the teeth onto the marked “zipper” line on Piece B, right sides facing, and making sure that the sides of the fabric are aligned. Pin in place, then unzip the zipper and sew.
Step 3 – Side seams
Open the zipper part-way and fold the pocket pieces together, right sides facing, so that the marked “under waistband” portions are together. Pin the side seams and sew with a 1cm (3/8”) seam allowance, taking extra care to backstitch securely over the zipper.
Step 4 – Trim
Clip the corners, and trim the zipper teeth as closely as possible to the seams.
Step 5 – Flip & baste
Flip the pocket right-side-out, and machine baste along the top edge.
The main construction of the pocket is now complete!
Step 6 – Attach to your waistband
If you’re making this pocket a permanent addition to your skirt or trousers you just need to sandwich the top portion of the pocket into your waistband facing and topstitch it in place. You may want to put your passport inside and pin or baste it into place first to check the placement. I found that an off-centre position in front worked best, but remember that passports don’t bend easily, so if you place it right over your hip, it may stick out funny!
Optional: Removable pockets
You may not want your skirt or trousers to have a hidden pocket in place all the time – one of my travel wardrobe is a pair of leggings, and I didn’t want the extra bulk for everyday wear, but I still wanted to option to have the hidden pocket during my travels. You may also decide that one or two interchangeable pockets is plenty, so can attach the same travel pocket to whatever bottoms you’re wearing that day.
If this is the case, you can attach snaps (like I did) or velcro or buttons to the top edge of the travel pocket, and the corresponding side to the waistband of the skirts or trousers you’d like to attach them to. I used ring snaps here, but you could just as easily use sew-in snaps!
A word on comfort – always place the uncomfortable part of the fastening away from the body, on the pocket side (so the male portion of snaps, or the button, or the scratchy velcro). This way when the pocket is not in place, the softer potion on the waistband won’t irritate you.
Please let me know if you’ve tried this, or if you have any questions!
Pro-tip: You can now print this tutorial (or any other post on this site) without wasting paper on the sidebars or comments!tags: mexico13, tutorial
I’ve made a few mentions of it over the past few weeks, but James and I are off on a grand holiday to Mexico at the end of September! We’ve been talking about going for years and we’re so excited to have finally booked everything. We decided on the Intrepid “Mexico Unplugged” trip since it stops everywhere we want to go, is a small group & eco company, and provides the perfect mix of taking care of booking hotels and transportation, but doesn’t tell us how to fill our days. Which will mostly be filled with eating and visiting ruins!
Anyway, as this is a different sort of holiday than the past few we’ve gone on, and I have a few weeks left to prepare, I thought I’d share with you the few pieces I’d like to sew before we leave…
As you can see, I’ve included lots of bottoms as those are what I’m most in need of right now after losing weight for my track race! My tops still fit reasonably well, though so I’m happy to just bring along ones I’ve already made to pair with them.
I’m hoping to sew:
- A Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three skirt
- A Cake Patterns Hummingbird skirt
- Self drafted leggings
- A Style Arc Pamela Dress
(I’m cheating a bit by posting this after I’ve started sewing – two of these are done already!)
We’re not going in the hottest part of the year, but we are at the tail end of the rainy season, so I’m expecting it to be fairly humid. Plus, we got a lot of time on buses in between the different cities, so comfort is a consideration, as is the ability to avoid wrinkles, stains, and sweat marks (eww).
I’ve got another trick up my sleeve to share in a bit, too. I was researching money belts online as I’m not entirely comfortable leaving my passports and spare cards in middle-of-the-range hotels, but all the belts looked rough and uncomfortable. So I’ve drafted up a “travel pocket” in place of a money belt – a pattern & tutorial will follow as soon as I can digitise it, but that might not be til after we leave!
Has anyone been to the same areas of Mexico that we’re going to? Any tips to share?tags: cake-patterns, christine-jonson, dress, knit, mexico13, skirt, style-arc, travel
I’ve found myself at the end of yet another extraordinarily busy week, one where we’ve been out pretty much every single night, and we’ve had a friend over from the States, too. However, I have managed to make progress, albeit slow, on my swirl sheath dress in a series of 10 minute segments snatched here and there.
Since I bought my silver stretch lining fabric on Goldhawk Road last Saturday, I’ve managed to sew and press all the darts (the lining uses the original base pattern so no swirls inside), attach it to the facings, sew the side seam, and attach it to the invisible zipper.
Here’s the back of the dress hanging flat in my sewing cave:
I did the lining hem by machine, but the coral fabric hem needs doing by hand, possibly in the car this weekend. The right side strap also needs a little bra keeper snap strap to keep it in place as it’s a pinch too long. Otherwise it’s done!
It doesn’t quite fit as well as the muslin did when I made it last summer though, but that’s down to me rather than the pattern – I’ve got a big track race next weekend in Sheffield for the British Transplant Games and my trainer has put me on a training diet to shed as much excess weight as possible before the race, as this translate directly into seconds on the track.
She and I were both taken aback by how successful this has been – I’ve lost 4cm (1.5 inches) off my waist and hips and 4.5kg (10lb) in four weeks! If it wasn’t for the hours of running up hills I’d suggest she sell it as a diet plan (the running would reduce its popularity somewhat!). And really, don’t be concerned, as I’ve been stuffing my face with fruit and veggies and lean meats pretty much continuously all month, so I’m not on some idiotic juice cleanse starvation diet or something.
The downside of this is that all my trousers and skirts are hanging off me (my poor Beignet skirt has a cinched paper bag waist now!) and I’m in desperate need of new bottoms. I was planning on sewing up a few pieces for our upcoming Mexico trip next month(!!) but now it’s clear I need to sew as many bottoms as possibly and just pack tops I’ve got already.
I’m still mentally putting together a nice travel wardrobe plan (which I shall reveal in good time), but my immediate sewing plans are thus:
- Hem my swirl sheath dress
- Sew up the Jalie sports bra & running shorts in orange wicking fabric & tribal lycra offcuts
- Sew a Cake Hummingbird skirt in the swapped terracotta sateen
Also very high on my sewing list is the Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three skirt in the blue neopreney fabric I bought at the weekend, but it was drying after a pre-wash and wasn’t to hand for my photo this morning!
But it’s all traced and ready to go (as are the Jalie and Cake patterns), and I remembered what an awful time I had tracing out the tops from this pattern a few years ago, because the pattern sheets are tissue (ugh) and abso-freaking-lutely enormous! They’re literally bigger than the floorspace I have, and Nishi took this as a sign to attack the invader!
Luckily she just stayed in her tissue paper den for a few minutes and didn’t rip anything!
Anyway, the upside to having several projects in my immediate queue before those Burda jeans is that they may not need any enlarging if I hang on for another week or two!tags: cake-patterns, christine-jonson, dress, jalie, nishi
I had an uncharacteristic free weekend – no races and not much planned, so I ended up getting lots of sewing bits done!
Sewing room clear-out
I’ve only got a small (temporary) sewing cave, and I’m a very tidy, organised person, but I’d let it get a little messy and it was feeling crowded, so after my two hour hill run on Saturday morning, I came back and had a bit of a clear out. I filled a full black bag with rubbish, but here’s what I pulled aside to swap at the Goldhawk Road meetup on Saturday!
Yes, you could be a good home to some pattern, pattern magazines, books, craft kits, or fabric that once lived on board! Now, if I can manage to be good and not fill up the space with things I pick up in the swap or fabric stores…
Remember the last time I made a skylight cover (strangely, I see last time I was sewing jeans alongside it, too!)? I’d only ever made them for the back cabin, where the skylights are peaked, with windows that open like wings, but on the front deck, the skylights are flat and require grills that fit overtop for safety and security.
We had a joiner make a gorgeous new cover for the skylight over our bedroom, but it’s been shamefully covered in tarpaulins for the last few months while I procrastinated swearing my way through sewing another.
Even with a walking foot, the clear plastic is a total P-I-T-A to sew because it sticks to the machine bed, the foot, is stiff and rams into everything, and is generally just awful.
This time around, I got so sick of the stickiness that I grabbed a “newspaper” (tabloid left from our joiner) and ripped off pieces to go underneath and also under the presser foot.
This surprisingly worked rather well, and the newspaper just rips out easily afterwards. Worth remembering if a) you don’t mind newsprint on your fabrics, and b) like me, you never have tissue paper lying around
It’s not my best work, but it’s done and will allow more light into our new bedroom!
If you recall, I decided on a Burda pattern for my non-stretch denim so I sewed up a quick muslin of that on Saturday after my skylight triumph.
The triumph was short-lived.
These were way too tight in hips (though the waist is okay), and also had trouble getting them off over my bigger calves. Rather than scrap yet another pattern, I brought out an old favourite book, “Making Your Clothes Fit” by Patricia Burkhart Smith (long OOP but there are plentiful cheap copies on abebooks or Amazon!)
I totally love that this book has pages of wrinkle-drawings to show you what various fit wrinkles mean – tons of wrinkles on skirts, on sleeves, bodices, and trousers. Unfortunately mine is this:
You then refer to the page, where you’re given a sewing fix (ie: if you’ve already made the garment and you need to fix it by unripping stitches or taking seams in), and a pattern fix, which I love. Seriously, it’s a great book for figuring out what fit wrinkles mean and how to fix them, and I refer to mine fairly often.
I couldn’t face a bunch of pattern alterations there and then, though, so I worked on something else instead…
Long-delayed swirl sheath dress
Last summer, when I was working my way through a year of Burda magazine patterns (aka “The Burda challenge”), I did something different for June’s. I started with Burda 06-2012 #129 then drew design lines and made a new pattern as per instructions in Pattern Magic 2.
The finished dress was delayed first to find a hefty stretch satin (eventually fulfilled by an import order from Gorgeous Fabrics), then again delayed as I didn’t have a cutting table wide enough to cut out the asymmetric pieces…
Thriftystitcher to the rescue! We’d been talking on Twitter for a while, but she invited me up to her studio in Stoke Newington after work on Friday to come use her big cutting table and have a chat (we could’ve talked all night!!). So by the time my stomach was calling me home, I not only had all my fabric cut for this dress, but also plans for me to teach a class on my Lacey Thong pattern and a running-specific one later in the year (more details will be announced as they’re ironed out!).
Because the plan was always to alternate the shiny and matte sides of the satin in the different panels, I really had to pay attention when I was laying out the pieces as some had to be placed face-down. It was also a bit tricky because it had been over a year since I took the muslin apart and in some places I had to think back to whether I’d included seam allowances on the neckline and armhole edges. All this while carrying on a conversation!
I came away from the studio on Friday night really buzzing with excitement and a desire to not let this poor sheath dress stall again, so after the skylight and jeans muslin got me down, I knew this would be the perfect antidote.
As you can tell by my crude tech drawing and the muslin photo, this dress is entirely curves (okay, one dart!) so there’s a lot of easing to be had. My technique is always what I call “pin the crap out of it”, and the semi-circular seams near the hem required the most – 36 pins for the front, but a whopping 68 pins for just that one seam in the back (as there’s more shaping in it for the bum space)!
It may take longer to pin, but it means I can sew it absolutely perfectly the first time, without frustration, puckers, tucks, or the seam ripper! Coincidentally, this is always how I set in sleeves, too. Death to ease stitching!
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though – I did have a little “wtf” moment when I saw the left upper back piece was way too long at the side seam!
After some careful comparison with the front and the other side of the back, plus attaching the next piece down, I realised it was just a mistake on that piece and could safely chop off the excess, hurrah! (I amended my muslin/pattern, too)
By the end of Sunday afternoon, I had constructed both the front and back in their entirely, with lots of curved sections going together without a single unpicked stitch! YAY!
I also had a chance to draft a front and back neckline/armhole facing from the finished pieces, and merge these into the lower portion of the original Burda pattern for my lining (so the lining will have the regular darts instead of swirls, but my modified neckline). I don’t think I have any suitable stretch linings in my stash, though, so I may attach the facings and the shell, then add the lower lining in next week.
Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, I was a castaway on Friday over at Scruffy Badger Time, so head over there to read through my Desert Island Sewing picks!tags: bwof, drafting, dress, fw12, home-dec, muslin, pattern-magic, satin
Even though I finally finished my pink trousers and lace teeshirt I mentioned last week, it’s been so hot and sweaty that I haven’t quite managed to do a photoshoot for them yet. Everything’s written so as soon as I do, you’ll get to see how great they are, honest!
I also managed to cut out a Kwik Sew exercise top, but not start sewing it yet, but what I really wanted to talk about today is the ongoing process in deciding which jeans pattern to use as a match for some heavyweight, non-stretch denim in my stash. So when I say that I’m “always thinking two projects ahead”, you now know it’s the truth!
If you remember back to my Spring Sewing Ideas, I had two different KnipMode jeans patterns that I thought I might use:
However, I found out soon after that the 2012 KnipMode one was for stretch wovens, which dis-counted it for this particular bout of jeans sewing.
The 2005 one looked very promising, but when I made a muslin of it the look was not good – ill-fitting in the waist and hips and way too wide in the legs. I’m sure I could fix it with plenty of time and patience, but with such an enormous pattern stash it just wasn’t worth pursuing further!
So I went back to the drawing board, otherwise known as my online pattern catalogue, and had a look through all the magazine issues I’d tagged “jeans”. This was a lot! So as I flipped through, I took screenshot segments of the ones I liked the look of, and renamed these files with the brand and pattern number, and shoved them in a special folder.
That’s normally as far as I go for my own use, but since I wanted to share some jeans biodiversity with you all, I plopped them in a single image, too:
There’s quite a wide range here – a few Burdas (top row), some KnipModes (middle row), and also two La Mia Boutique, a Manequim, MyImage, and Patrones, too.
The next step was to go through my actual magazines at home to look at these issues to make sure a) they weren’t for stretch denim and b) I liked the back view, too (I decided a definitely want a yoked back). I had to take a few of the above out of the running for these reasons, and I ultimately think I’ve decided on this one, from April 2010 Burda:
My reasoning is that I’m highly certain it’ll fit me well (moreso than, say, LMB, Manequim, MyImage, or Patrones, with whom my experience with their trousers is slim to none), and it’s a good, classic jeans pattern which may hopefully become my TNT for non-stretch denim like the Jalie pattern is for stretch.
It’s one of the more boring designs I own (I reeeeeeeally want to try those La Mia Boutique ones in the bottom left corner!), but I figure once I’ve got a good standard pattern, I can trace off the waist/hips/crotch area onto a more interesting leg and ensure a good frankenpattern fit.
The other side project I’m working on (in amongst the 50+km I run each week, full time job, and social life!) is an embroidery project for dementia patients called The Napkin Project.
Essentially, it’s a project where volunteers embroider anything they like onto a (provided) blank cloth napkin, and these will be used in a dementia care home in Bristol to help inspire and provoke memories and comfort in patients. As my granny is in a specialist dementia care home, I felt this was one small way I could help others who are in a similar state.
There’s a loose theme of home, so I’ve decided to incorporate a porthole, tower bridge, and greenery into my design, which I started last night and took outside at lunchtime today!
There’s still time to join, so if you’d like to contribute go here, but there is a deadline of 2 September to return them!tags: burda, embroidery, jeans, knipmode
When summer weather comes to England, it’s always something of a surprise. Those in other countries may not be aware, but just because the calendar says June, July, or August, does not mean it’ll be either hot or sunny. Sometimes “summer” comes one weekend in March, or in a few days in September. Or in the case of 2012, not at all.
In any case, summer has arrived, and for the past week, it’s felt hot here. I think the heat may be getting to my brain somewhat, because I’m 99% finished sewing up a summer outfit:
Yes, that would be shocking pink trousers and a cream stretch lace teeshirt, dear readers. I both hope look as good in the photos as they do in my head!
The other development of note is one of a more digital nature – for a while now some of you have been asking if it’s possible to get my new posts delivered my email (instead of RSS or just popping by when you remember to!), and I’ve finally got round to setting this up!
If you pop your email address into the box on your left (or, repeated below), then you’ll get a summary of all the week’s posts emailed to you every Saturday! My test version from last week looked like this:
It’s the full-length posts, too, so if you do fancy email caching, you should be able to read it offline, too. I don’t do anything with your email addresses, and at the moment, I don’t foresee sending out any special emails or newsletters, so you’re pretty safe to just pop your address into the box. One email a week, from me – that’s it! And that way you won’t miss a thing.
tags: lace, reflections, trousers
…is one that finally fits after days and days of muslins and tweaks!
You see, this is the third muslin of my latest attempt to sew a Bra That Actually Fits and I think I’m finally happy with this one.
I started off by tracing a well-fitting RTW bra and I sewed up a muslin of it according to the fabulous instructions in Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. From that, I could see that the bottom of the bra cup was too long for my underwires, and, as I suspected, the straight legged dart was too pointy and I needed some room in front of it, so I made the front leg curved.
Then I ripped out the basting stitching of my muslin, sewed up new cups according to the second cup pattern, and reused all the other pieces from the muslin that were absolutely fine, namely the wings, bridge, straps (gingham ribbon here!), and underwire channels:
The cup shape of the second muslin seemed good (though it’s hard to be subjective in the mirror and selfies), but I had a bit of excess fabric along the top edge of the cup that needed pinching out. I didn’t want to create a dart at the top edge as I eventually want to make this bra from lace, so Norma suggested I take it out from the sides (bridge & underarm), making sure those lengths didn’t change as I did so.
So this is my third and final(?) muslin for this bra, but frankly, I’ve been here before, thinking I finally have a well-fitting bra pattern and then I go and use up nice laces only to discover my girls look like duck bills. So this time I’m not going to jump right in to my Danglez aqua lace, but instead make it in some bits I’ve got lying around in my lingerie sewing stash to test it out with elastics and stuff first. Not really a wearable muslin, but more of a test drive…
By way of a PSA, posts might be thin here for the next week or so – you’ll probably remember that I’ll be running the Copenhagen marathon this weekend, but I’m also now immediately travelling over several oceans and hemispheres for work next week as well, and will likely be just as exhausted from the travelling as from running 26.2 miles! I’m hoping to get a few magazine posts scheduled to go live while I’m away to keep you all entertained, but if you don’t hear from my about how the marathon went, don’t assume the worst!
If you’d like to cheer me on, however, you can follow me on Twitter or Dailymile and reply to the “Runmeter will speak your replies to me” message on Sunday. My app will then speak your comments into my ear as I run, which is a) really freaking cool and b) incredibly motivating! The race starts at 9:30 CPH time (8:30 BST / 3:30am EDT) but frankly, I’ll really need the help about ~3 hours in, so around 12:30 CPH time / 11:20 BST / 6:30am EDT).tags: drafting, lingerie, muslin
You may have noticed that one of the items on my Spring Sewing Ideas list was a “self-drafted/copied from RTW” bra. I’ve sewn countless bras before, but really only been happy with the fit and look of one (a foam cup muslin, of all things!). I really want to try and get away from moulded foam cups for a number of reasons (which Orange Lingerie discusses here), so my dream bra drawer would be entirely lacey, gorgeous, self-made, frameless, underwired bras, with one nude moulded foam cup bra for when I really need a seamless look.
The problem is, I’d been buying foam cup bras for so long that I didn’t really have any non-padded ones I could clone, and on a whim last year, I bought a few M&S bras and was amazed to find that two (identical, apart from colour) all-lace, single-darted, frameless, underwire bras, fit me perfectly and gave me a great shape.
So in the back of my mind I’ve been wanting to clone these, since my last bra using the Elan pattern ended up fitting well (at first I thought I’d cracked it finally!!), but the cup shape looked B-A-D. Boobs like duck-bills, oh god no!
Anyway, so I started the process of cloning the white version of the M&S bra last night, by using my method of tracing patterns – placing the bra down on top of paper and running my serrated tracing wheel around it. This worked well for the band, but I wasn’t convinced I got an accurate trace for the cup, so I looked up an old Threads article, “Clone Your Favorite Bra” (Issue 99, Feb/March 2002 if you’ve got the archive DVDs), which suggested stabbing lots of pins around the bra edge until you got to a point where it would no longer lie flat. Then you unpin the first pins you put down, and re-shift everything using the latter pins (in my case, along the dart) as an anchor so it lies flat and you get all the edges pinned.
Then, in my case, because the dart stayed in place and everything shifted around it, I had to cut through the dart and open it back up. Because the top edge of mine was the lace edge, I knew this had to be straight, so it made it easy to re-adjust.
In the end, I ended up with really similar bra cups from the two different methods – the dart is exactly the same on both, with only slight differences at the sides.
Though looking at these now, I realise I drew 1/4” seam allowances the whole way round, instead of varying them based on elastic widths and such, so I need to go back and re-read that section of Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction before I make my muslin.
I’m going to try both cup patterns and see how they fit, but the only thing I’m concerned about is the shape of that dart, which I imagine should be curved rather than straight, but that’s something I can adjust after the first muslin.
Funny – you may notice in that last photo that the bridge (the little triangle between the cups) is brown rather than white. That’s because that’s the only piece from the last bra that matched up PERFECTLY to my RTW bra. And that’s because I’d used the Bridge Test in an early draft of Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction and altered it significantly. I said it before, and I’ll say it again – that tip is worth the price of the e-book alone!
Oh, and I have sad lingerie supplier news – eLingeria is now going out of business, too!! First Danglez, now this! With a heavy heart I went through their remaining laces and elastics and chose my final supplies, sniffle. But if you are on the lookout for wide, stretchy laces to make more Lacey Thongs, they’ve got tons of it at great prices right now…
Fingers crossed that Sewing Chest may buy up any excess stock and carry on the lingerie haberdashery torch for a long, long time (omg please don’t close, too!!).tags: drafting, lingerie