…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.read more >>
Some (rather racy) panties
Remember how I had flu for 3 weeks earlier this month? Well lucky freakin me, because I got ill again on the first day of my holidays. I’ve essentially felt like crap since two days before Thanksgiving, arrrrgh. So on Christmas Day, I did a little bit of comfort sewing, in the form of some crazy, racy, leopard print and black lace panties.
Avert your eyes now if you’re of a gentle disposition!
I’d never buy leopard print of my own free will, but I’d bought a lingerie grab bag for a pound a while back, and this came from there, and I added some scrap black stretch lace to the sides. Nobody need know what my tastefully dressed exterior conceals…
Burda December cover dress muslin
The big project I wanted to tackle over the holidays is the Burda December cover dress (Burda Dec 2012 #112). read more >>
Thanks very much for all your feedback on my post regarding the design lines for my upcoming sheath dress – I decided to go with the top design, and save the bottom one for some later colour blocking (maybe in ponte jersey?).
Once that was decided, I sewed up that basic Burda sheath dress (which fit me very well, as expected), then while it was on my dressform I drew rough design lines on to match. After the rough lines were on, I cleaned these up with French curves while the dress was lying flat (these photoshopped ones are just free-handed on top since my black lines on navy blue fabric were hard to see in the photo!)
I then cut apart the Burda muslin along my new lines, and cut into the curves a few times to release any bumps. I then transferred these altered pieces onto a second muslin to test that all my new curves matched up well:read more >>
I love it when different areas of my life start overlapping! I’ve been a runner for about 7-8 years but I’ve only really sewn running gear a few times (mostly because my mom knows what I like and gets good stuff on sale for me!). But I’ve got the itch to sew the lycra again, and so I made the first steps towards making my own running gear designs a reality.
First step was to make quick and dirty muslins to check the fit and mark style lines. The Jalie 3135 skinsuit pattern was my basis for my running leggings (minus the top half and the front zipper opening!). I used the “silk touch” lycra jersey from Tia Knight as my muslin fabric here since it was the cheapest 4-way stretch she had, but it’s surprisingly really nice! It’s got a hand like a silk jersey, but seems a bit too drapey to be ideal in exercise gear, though it should be fine for the occasional accents or panels if I want to.
So I made my muslin, tried it on, and while I was wearing it, drew lot of placement and design lines straight on the fabric with a Sharpie:
- I drew in my waistline just under the pattern’s torso double line
- I marked the knees on front & back, and also where the curve of my bum lies (helpful for placing design lines later!)
- I took out some excess in the ankle (no cankles here!) and about 4 inches off the length (the legs are reeeeeeeeally long – maybe to cover skates?)
- And then, finally, I drew in some curved design lines where I thought they might look nice around my thighs and calves
The end result looks a bit like a liposuction patient (which is why I’m not modelling it!!), but it definitely served its purpose! read more >>
Sometimes the drudgery of sewing a muslin really gets me down. I like to sew fast, so I don’t sew muslins for every single project, but if I have expensive fashion fabric, or if I’m working with an untrusted pattern brand (or both), I always think it’s wise to do the extra step, no matter how boring it may be.
But part of me always just wants to get on with the good stuff (and the pretty fabric!), so I was thrilled and inspired to see feature called “Give Us a Toile” in the Sunday Times “Luxe” magazine recently. My inlaws subscribe to the Times and they always thoughtfully save their Style magazines for me along with other one-offs like this that they think I’ll enjoy. I love it because they give me something fluffy to read over breakfast and they keep me from needing to buy too many glossy magazines! This particular supplement was published in May 2011, but only recently came to me in a big, collected stack.
The feature took a few couture dresses and displayed them alongside the designer’s original muslin for the garment, which I found utterly fascinating and totally inspiring, especially to see them scribbled over with marker pen just like I do!read more >>
Remember back in November when I made a muslin for the Burda Armani knockoff coat and found it to be absolutely, unforgivably awful? Well, even at the time, I could see that my main problems with the coat weren’t necessarily likely to be problems with the shorter, jacket version of the same pattern (Burda 09/2010 #117).
So while I’ve been contemplating my Fall sewing options, going through my stash, and tidying up my tiny sewing room, I decided it was time to alter it to evaluate the jacket.
The main differences from the coat are:
- It has no collar
- It has extended sleeve bands instead of the awful dropped sleeves
- It’s cropped at the hips
Believe it or not, I still had the muslin tucked away from last year’s coat FAIL and I came across it again when I was tidying up my sewing room. In about 15 minutes I had adapted the earlier muslin to be the jacket – and most of that time was spent pressing 10 months of wrinkles out of it!read more >>
…but not the time to sew!
I’ve had an incredibly busy week and weekend, between my whirlwind social life, an influx of new work at the office, hardcore boat DIY, moorings duties, and keeping up with my running, so I’ve hardly had any time to step foot in my sewing room, let alone sew! It doesn’t help that pattern drafting moves at a glacial pace as compared to just tracing off a pattern and sewing it up!
If you remember, I’m using Pattern Magic and the Bunka draft to revisit pattern drafting. So far I’ve made my bodice sloper and drafted up this variation from the first Pattern Magic book, “Tying a Bow D”.
This is one of about five designs across the books that I’d really like to make, but it’s also by far the simplest draft so I thought it’d be a good place to start. The only difference is that I want to a dress from this instead of a blouse, so I’ve also drafted up a skirt sloper and am just now starting to match up the darts to the bodice and insert some flare to make it usable for a nice shirtdress.read more >>
Remember the vintage dress pattern I graded down to my size a few weeks ago?
Well, I made up a muslin with my grading changes in place, and though I didn’t get any photos of it on me, I did get some on Susan. I realise that diagnosing fit issues on a dressmaker’s dummy is particularly futile, though, so you’ll just need to take my word for it!
On first glance, the worst issue is that there is way too much fabric in the upper back, but also I think I may need to raise the waist seam by an inch, and narrow the shoulders by an inch or so, too.
The skirt length is d-o-w-d-y so I’ll need to shorten all those panels, too (happily I’ve got a “lengthen or shorten here” line on both the bodice and skirt pieces).
While the sleeves themselves fit nicely, there is an unholy amount of excess ease in those sleeve caps, omg. So I’ll need to shave down those caps to take a good few inches out of there.
It wasn’t necessarily the list above that made me lose enthusiasm for this dress, but I can’t really put my finger on what it was. But it turned out that doing all the boring grading reawakened in me a desire to conquer pattern drafting, which I dabbled in when I received “Metric Pattern Cutting” by Winifred Aldrich last year, but didn’t get far.read more >>
I’ve made three bras so far, and despite winning the PR Lingerie contest last year, I’ve never been that happy with the fit of any of those bras. I mean, they were okay, but the style is different to the kind of bras I buy, and the underwires dug in, and well, the girls just didn’t look their best. So they’ve kinda worked their way to the bottom of my lingerie drawer, which makes me sad. I sew to wear, not to shove in a drawer!
As I mentioned last week, I got very excited about the notion of sewing a bra made with foam cups, which are the sort I always buy, and speaking to Kellie at The Sewing Chest, she got me all set up with the right bits to have my first go. I made a toile using her purple hearts foam cups over the weekend and the fit is so good I wore it all day Sunday and now again Monday!
I started the process by making a rigorous comparison of the Kwik Sew 3300 pattern vs two RTW bra backs and ended up drafting a back similar to a Ted Baker one that fits me well.
Here you can see the difference between the KwikSew back (in brown) and my newly drafted-from-RTW back (in white) –read more >>
You’ll get to see my Manequim silk blouse tomorrow, but in the meantime I thought I’d give you a progress update on the fourth item in my March Mini Wardrobe, the leather skirt (Burda magazine 08-2010 #128 – though #127 is nearly identical).
I’m making this skirt in some utterly luscious grey leather I bought while on honeymoon in New York, and despite having sewn with leather loads of times before, this is my first real leather garment. So knowing what I know, I knew I had to make a muslin first because once you sew leather, it’s done – the needles holes are permanent so you can’t rip out stitches!
I made up a quick muslin at the end of February, and, unusually for Burda, the size 42 was too tight over my hips. Rather than trace a bigger size (boring!) I drew two long lines up the front of the skirt on either side of the centre front. On the waistband and yoke pieces, I added 2cm width to each line, and for the lower skirt piece, I made a triangular wedge which tapers to nothing at my marked hem.read more >>
While I wait for the weekend to photoshoot the Lekala ribbed top (either you all are too smart or I’m too predictable!), I’ve started work on creating the cover dress from the September Burda magazine. It’s a really cool, curved seam design with no side seams and designed for knits, but it’s one of Burda’s Petite patterns.
I am in NO way petite – at 5’8” (172cm), I am closer to Burda’s Tall height (180cm) than I am to the petite height( (160cm). I have a sneaking suspicion that my torso is quite compact and my height is mostly in my legs, but in any case… I’ve made a few of Burda’s petite patterns before with good results, namely, my 30th birthday dress and the blue silk cocktail dress, so I wasn’t totally scared off because it’s for petites.
I made up a muslin of the top half of the dress (the half I’m most concerned with) on Wednesday night and I’m happy with my alterations so I thought I should share what I did.
First of all, lay out pieces 1 and 2 so that their folded edges are aligned, taping the pieces together loosely. Then lay out pieces 8 and 9 so that their folded edges are aligned, and that these meet the front pieces at intersections 7 and 8. Don’t worry that the shoulders are far apart or that some of the curved seams don’t meet up whilst flat.
My alterations are the white pieces shown below:read more >>
I absolutely LOVE the Burda magazine September 2010 issue. Loved it from the first second I saw the technical drawings, and now, several issues later, I’m still not seeing much that tops it. I literally have 11 or 12 must-sew patterns from it, and one of them is the Tall coat, #118.
As you recall, when I was in New York, I saw an eerily similar coat in the window of the Armani 5th Avenue store, and this sealed the deal – I must make this coat using my super thick, ex-Burberry dusty teal coating that’s been in my stash since last winter!
I don’t make muslins for a lot of things, but when the fabric is expensive, or can’t easily be resized (like leather), or if there’s a lot of work involved before a fitting can be made, then I’ll grumble and moan and make a muslin first rather than waste my nice fabric (and time!) and get any fitting issues out of the way first.
Let’s get down to the instructions first – Burda’s instructions aren’t too bad on this one EXCEPT for the zippered inseam pockets – they are absolutely nuts, and account for a good third of the instructions for the entire coat. But the instructions are besides the point, because if you jam your hands into your winter coat pockets when you walk like I do, you really don’t want metal zipper teeth digging in to the backs of your hands! So leaving off the zippers not only saves you time, but makes for a much more usable coat.read more >>
True confessions – I took a brief break from the wedding gown. I don’t deal well with long projects and I was getting really itchy to complete something (I didn’t have any completed projects in July because of the gown, aaaaagghh!).
This is a brand-new Burda envelope pattern, but I just went and bought the pdf version instead because a) I’m impatient, b) the pdf patterns are way cheaper than the paper versions (we have a laser printer and printer paper is cheap!), c) piecing together pdf patterns takes only 5 minutes longer than tracing a paper pattern and I can do it sitting down, and d) no seam allowances, woooooooop!
This was my first downloadable pattern from the German Burda site, and I was pleased to find that the instructions were in nine languages, with fully illustrated instructions. I was expecting it to just be in German! But do pay attention to the print preview, though, because you may not need to print the last ten pages or so (the English instructions only take up a few pages). The only weird thing is that they decided to waste some paper giving us two side panel pattern pieces (one to be cut in lace and the other in self-fabric) and the two pieces are absolutely identical. Weird.read more >>
I finally got the muslin fixed and finished! Thanks for all your advice, though I haven’t had a chance to reply to hardly any of you, for which I do apologise…
Muslin #3 changes –
- Unpinned the shoulder change, took off the waist stay, and since it seemed to be pulling everything upwards before, I reasoned that it must be too low. I repinned it a little higher and everything seemed to sit nicely and correct those weird problems it threw up before.
- I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I detest Rigilene boning! Only someone who hates women could’ve come up with those tiny, needle-like implements of torture. My spiral steel boning for the finished dress arrived and it just feels wonderful.
- No one actually came up with the fix I needed for piece #3’s weird bubble. As it turns out I just needed to flatten the curve a bit below the inset corner. (Before and After are below)
- There’s no way I’m muslining the skirt. It’d literally take a whole week of sewing time to even approximate the panels on the existing skirt, plus the drape and weight of the muslin fabric is totally different, and it won’t achieve much of anything I won’t learn in the actual skirt attachment anyway. End of story.
- Yes, I know about wearing proper undergarments. I’ve been wearing the bra I intend to wear on the day all along (though I got sharpie on it during my muslin marking process so I need to buy another copy of it, boo.). I was not being serious about the push up bra.
So with the muslin done, on with the dress itself!! Hurrah!
First step was to lay the pattern pieces onto the wrong side of my flannel underlining, fuzzy side down (I’d been transferring all my changes onto them and I prefer paper with no seam allowances over muslin with allowances). Once pinned in place, I then chalked the seam lines, waist, centre back and fronts, and the two notches onto it. Then I cut out the pieces with eyeballed seam allowances (when you’re dealing with seamlines, the size of the allowances are largely unimportant).
Next I laid the flannel pieces onto the wrong side of the satin, pinning only in the seam allowances because all the pin holes show on this fabric.read more >>
I’m no big fan of muslins and fitting tweaks, so the title is really reflecting my impatience at still being in the fitting stage. I want to get on with the fun stuff! But I also really want to get the fit and design perfect here as I can’t really go unpicking the vintage satin (the needle holes remain), so here I am, still soldiering on, though hopefully not for much longer…
Yesterday was my day off so I devoted pretty much the entire day to this dress. Right after breakfast I made up Muslin #2 (not shown because no one was around to photograph me), which incorporated the neckline changes and better-drafted add-on straps. There’s no photos, but essentially, I just needed to pinch some fabric out in three places, which you can see here shaded in orange on my pattern pieces:
So I made those changes to my paper pattern, unpicked pieces 1 and 3 from the muslin, cut new ones out, and reattached them, bringing us to Muslin #3. And I was pretty happy with the fit, apart from a bulge above my right breast which I immediately knew the cause of and fixed it on the paper pattern.read more >>
I am very happy to report that my dress for the BurdaStyle book is completely, 100% finished, packed up in an airtight bag and ready to be FedExed this week. HOO-RAY!
I’m afraid that’s all you get to see until next year, to. Boo.
But it means I can now devote ALL of my sewing time to my wedding gown. So the first step is to attack the muslin. I’ve marked my waistline in green, and the possible boning positions in blue. Once I marked my waistline I realised exactly how short the bodice is so I’m elongating it all by an inch so the back and sides aren’t ending exactly at my waist. My waist is an inch higher than the standard measurements anyway so I think this alteration will help (note: I’m not short-waisted. My bust-hip measurement is standard, my waist is just shifted up a tad).
But I really, really need your help choosing the right neckline for this gown!!read more >>
When you last heard about my wedding gown, it was two years ago(!!) and I was leaning towards turning my Granny’s gown from 1949 into something with a cowl neck, deep back, and sleek lines, using Vogue 2965 as my starting point.
But recently I’ve been looking more closely at the fabric I’ve got to work with in my grandmother’s gown, and my recent cowl sewing adventure has reminded me that cowl necks need pretty huge amounts of fabric, can’t easily be pieced together, and on top of that, the silk satin in her gown is more of the heavyweight duchesse variety than something very drapey that would cowl nicely. And while I love a low back, it does make things awkward for bras and any sort of shapewear, too.
So I had a bit of a wake up call and told one of my bridesmaids to keep reminding me that “This is just one dress. It is not all dresses.” (thanks, Stacy!). Yes, I like cowls. But I also like other things, too. And I do not need to put everything I like into one dress!read more >>
I bought this ASOS ruched tunic back in April and I love the design of it – the ruched panels are really flattering, it’s a viscose knit and it’s entirely lined in lingerie mesh. But when it arrived, I realised it was way too short to wear as a dress, but too long to wear as a shirt and looks just plain lumpy when worn over regular trousers or jeans. And with the panels going at weird angles creating an intentionally uneven hem, there wasn’t a natural point to cut it off and shorten it, either.
So I filled the wardrobe hole by creating some leggings specifically to wear with this top!read more >>
Ok, so to take a brief break from reading material, I thought I should update you with what I’ve been up to in the sewing room…
I had the first fitting of P’s muslin, and there are surprisingly little changes to be made – raising the neckline and armscye, pulling up the waistband by a centimetre, and that’s about it.
So I’m doing a second version of the bodice for her to try on this weekend, and then I unpick the skirt off that muslin and attach it to G’s bodice (the skirt is enormous and I didn’t have enough knit muslin for two!) and have her first fitting while I get down and dirty with the waistband pleating. I’m anticipating the pleating to be the most time-consuming part of both the dresses… (Earlier post about the dresses and colours here)
A spring dress
I finished a nice Springy version of BurdaStyle’s Heidi dress yesterday (finally!).
It was just waiting for a hem for nearly a week, which is a long time for me. It’s nice timing as Spring (or maybe even Summer!) arrived this weekend and it was gorgeous outside on deck with the barbecue going and everyone hopping from boat to boat. I’m hoping to do a photoshoot tonight now that we’ve got daylight for longer in the evenings…read more >>
As good as my word, I sewed up a muslin for my birthday dress (next week, birthday fans!), which will be the draped jersey dress from the Feb 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine, #6:
I sewed up the muslin in a viscose jersey, chosen for its very similar draping to silk jersey (with the bridesmaids’ dresses also in silk jersey, I bought TONS of this!), but it is pretty thin and see-through so it’s really only ever going to be good for muslins. After sewing a size 44 in the turtleneck and finding it quite roomy, I decided to go with a 44 here, too, even though I should be a 46 according to their size charts. This is sewn up exactly as per their paper pattern, with no alterations.read more >>
In light of NancyK’s conclusion that KnipMode designer knockoffs aren’t as thoroughly tested as the rest of their patterns, I decided to make a muslin of the KnipMode August 09 Marni catwalk blouse before cutting into my nice teal silk satin (charmeuse).
Only now that I’ve got my bedsheet muslin done, I’m unsure about whether I like it or not. Now, you do have to use a bit of imagination here to block out the busy bedsheet prints (in reality, it’ll all be one solid teal colour, plus collar and cuffs):read more >>
Since I’m not entirely confident of how Patrones patterns fit me, and I’m equally not confident that I am a size 44 anymore (well, I was when I traced it 18 months ago, argh), I decided to play it safe and make a bedsheet muslin for my Patrones spring coat before cutting into the basketweave wool. If you remember, this is the coat:
And this is how the muslin looks straight off the pattern sheets:read more >>
My 30th birthday is fast approaching, and even though I make myself something special every year to wear on the day, this year I wanted to sew a fabulous dress using some emerald green silk charmeuse (satin) I’d bought years ago and stashed away in the hopes that someday I’d recreate that Atonement dress. I was really excited to see in the Burda WOF March online previews that there was a dress that suited me perfectly – gorgeous gathered, yoked shoulders with floaty sleeves, falling down into a deep V neck with a swooshy gored skirt and plenty of back detail, and shown in my chosen fabric – Burda WOF 03/09 #116.
The timing would be tight, though, since I usually only receive my subscription copy on the 15th or so of the month, but I thought I could pull it off. But then Burda updated the website with the full information, showing it was a *&£@^% petite pattern! Argh! It’s always the way that the designs you like the most aren’t in your size, and with the timeline, I really didn’t think this was meant to be…read more >>
I’ve been wanting to try my hand at bra-making for over a year now, but I just kept putting it off because it seemed so complicated and easy to mess up and I didn’t want to ruin the really pretty fabrics I’d bought for it. So my bra-making ambitions sat in a box, waiting… Until I saw that thesewingchest.co.uk was giving away free toile kits with any bra pattern purchase and knowing that I’d have all the fabric and bits I’d need to make a bra, but without the worry of ruining one finally gave me the courage to try!
Even though I have two bra patterns I bought last year, I picked up KwikSew 3300 plunge bra – and made View B with both lower and upper cups in lined cloth as my muslin. View A has the upper cup in lace, which I’ll try next…read more >>
Looking at this week’s London weather forecast, it seems for once, rather than being really late to the summer swimsuit party, I’ve actually timed this all rather well. We may actually get some nice summer temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s F (upper 20s C), which will actually feel really hot after the summer we’ve had again!
So I’ve finally been given some impetus from the weather on top of my recent confidence-boosting forway into sports gear to finally tackle one of sewing’s ultimate challenges – swimwear! I’ve been wearing two piece suits since I lost so much weight a few years ago, but I was so smitten with the one piece suit in KnipMode 06/2008 that I just had to try this as my first bathing suit:read more >>
Phew! It’s been a very busy week, both in my sewing room and elsewhere on the boat. Parties, film nights, more deck grinding, music selection for a friend’s wedding, gardening, broken water pumps, gifts, muslins, and BIG shopping, but to name a few!
The deadline for the finished instructions and my bio for the “Pillowcase Challenge” book were also due this week, so I devoted a big chunk of Sunday to getting that perfect, and then the rest of the weekend was spent making a twin blue KnipMode shirt for my mom:read more >>
I finished the muslin for the Go Patterns Little Black Dress last night. It was rather fetching in its recycled-Hendrik-duvet-cover material, orange basted seams, sharpied notches, unfinished hems and zipperless back!read more >>
After seeing celeb after celeb wearing Roland Mouret’s fantastic Galaxy dress and spouting the true wonders of its inner spandex core, I was very excited to see that Vogue produced its own version of the Galaxy dress, Vogue 8280, and I bought it immediately.
Fast forward several months and I finally had the time (and the small waist!) to make this dress using the gorgeous grey tartan wool I’d bought especially for it alongside the pattern. It took me two days of sewing after quite a bit of prep work, but I thoroughly enjoyed making this dress and I absolutely love the end result! It may not have the magical spandex core, but it does have a fully lined bodice and a neat skinny belt I made to further acentuate the nipped-in waist.read more >>