11.23.2014

A Bra! (Otherwise Known As "Things I Make When I Should Be Studying")


Since starting to sew there have been many things that I told myself that I would never make either because I had no interest in making them or because they looked too hard.  Quilts.  Too boring.  Bathing suits.  Too complicated.  Shorts.  Too many fitting issues.  And yet time and time again, I've found myself making the things that I was sure that I would never make.

What can I say?  I'm a fickle human being.

So surprise, surprise, I made yet another thing that I told myself I would never make - a bra!  Now I should point out that it ain't perfect and I still have some fitting issues to work out, but look - it actually looks like a bra!  I've never been so proud of something that doesn't really fit.


Okay, now on the details.  After much internet surfing research I settled on making the Marlborough pattern which is a recently released pattern by Orange Lingerie.  I had read many great things about the Pinup Girls patterns but in the end I decided against it for two reasons, one being that the design is a much fuller cup than I'm used to wearing and I was worried that it would look too matronly on me.  The second reason is that after spending too much time reading about bras and breast shapes I became convinced that I may have a shallow bust which basically means that I don't have enough breast tissue to fill out a full cup.  Is this more information that you ever wanted to know about my breasts?  Yeah, I figured as much.

Anyway, that's how I decided to go with this pattern (plus, I like the little lace detail).  As for the supplies, I ordered a kit from Sweet Cups Bra Supply which is a US affiliate of the Canadian store, Bra Makers Supply.  They sell a fairly limited amount of items, but they do sell underwires and kits and you don't have to pay international shipping, so yay!  (Also, just a FYI that they're planning on having a 20% off black Friday sale).  The lace was purchased from this etsy shop

Once the kit arrived it was on to making big decisions like what size to make. I ended up not following the sizing directions on the pattern because I was coming up with weird size recommendations.  In the end I went with what Nordstroms measured me to be a couple months ago - a 32C.  I also made sure that the underwires that correspond to this size fit my breasts well, which they did.  I cut out this size without making any modifications and went to work.


All things considered, the actual construction of the bra wasn't so difficult, although sewing the channeling on was a pain in the butt and I ended up having to rip it out once.  Also, ripping out stitches on this fabric is a major pain in the butt.  I also ran into problems with the supplies because the kit is designed to be used with the Pin Up Girls Classic bra pattern where the front fabric goes halfway up the straps so you need less strap fabric.  As a result, the kit included half as much strap fabric as I needed so I fudged it with some leftover elastic.  Not a great solution, but it worked okay in a bind.  Also, the kit rings and slides are for 3/8 elastic, but the pattern calls for 1/2 rings and slides.  Not a huge deal, but just something to be aware of.

As for fitting issues, I think the first thing that I need to do is widen the bridge a bit.  I think that making that modification will make the cups fit better.  The band is fairly tight right now and adding to the bridge will probably help with that issue as well.  I should also probably pinch out a tiny bit of space in the top of the cup to prevent gapage.  Hopefully those modifications solve all the fitting issues.  The hard part for me was that I really couldn't assess the fit until the bra was entirely done and by that point you can't really fix anything.  Oh well.

I'm definitely intrigued by the whole bra making process and I'd love to have at least one bra pattern that fits me well.  I'm guessing that it'll probably take me another bra attempt or two to get there so watch out for some more bras in the future.

PS - Oh, and did you see Cloth Habit's new bra pattern.  I may just have to try my hand at this pattern too!

11.17.2014

Simple Clothes For A Simple Gal

 

I realize that it's been incredibly quiet around here, but I can assure you that it's not from a lack of sewing.  Mostly it's from a lack of picture-taking, because if there's one aspect of blogging that I loathe, it's taking pictures - especially when I have to be in them.  For all you gals who lug your tripod around to find fantastic spots to take photos, I applaud you because I can barely get it up to take a picture in my living room (which is what you get today).


Most of the things that I've been sewing lately have been extremely practical and these shirts fall firmly into that group.  I mean, can you get more practical than a plain white tee?  I think not.

Both of the tees are made from the Plantain T-Shirt pattern by Deer & Doe and the pattern is every bit as lovely as you've heard it is.  Like most knit tees, it's super simple to whip up and I love that it flares out towards the bottom.  I sewed up my recommended size and didn't make any modifications to the pattern.   Because each knit fabric has a different amount of stretch the white tee neckline came out a bit lower than I would have preferred, but it's still very wearable.


As for the fabrics, the gray fabric is a soy organic cotton jersey from Drygood Design and it is luscious.  In fact, I went back to buy some more of it recently, but it turned out that they only had about a yard and a half left.  Boooo!  The white fabric is a Kaufman laguna jersey and I was pleasantly surprised with it.  It's actually a nice weight for this tee, it comes in a ton of colors, and all things considered, it's usually fairly inexpensive.  Score!


These may not be the most exciting projects, but I'll tell you that they've gotten a ton of use.  I actually finished them a couple weeks ago and I've worn them regularly since then.  What can I say?  I'm a simple gal at heart.

10.12.2014

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


Let's start with the good.

I rarely work in Seattle but when I do it usually involves me complaining because I hate commuting and being away from home longer than I have to.  But then Drygoods Design moved their store to downtown Seattle and suddenly having to go to Seattle seems more like a gift than a pain in the butt.  No more complaining from me.

My husband - who usually has to listen to all my complaining - thanks you.


So I made my first trip to Drygoods Design a couple of weeks ago and picked up this lovely yarn dyed cotton lawn.  It's soft and light and the most beautiful color, but it's not overly sheer which is always my biggest concern with lawns.  I bought two yards not knowing quite what I was going to do with it, but it only took me a day or two to settle on Pauline Alice's Carme blouse.  I had never heard of this pattern maker until I came across a version of this blouse online, but I'm usually a year behind most things so that's no big surprise.  The pattern is probably more involved than most simple things that I make, but she has a sewalong on her blog so I figured that I would have a little help if I got stuck.  I have to say that when I first saw that the sewalong was made up of videos I kind of thought it would be a pain in the butt to turn to them for help, but they were actually really helpful in explaining some of the steps.  Apparently, I'm a visual learner.  Who knew?

As for the pattern, I cut out my recommended size but I added an inch to the length of the body because I'm perpetually worried about shirts coming out too short.  I also added1/2 of an inch to the length of the sleeves because some people noted that they wished that the sleeves were a bit longer.  Adding the length to the body was most likely overkill because it probably would have been a good length without the added inch, but better safe than sorry I suppose.  As for other fit issues, in looking at my handmade tops lately I'm beginning to think that I should be making some alternation to the back/shoulder area because it's a little tighter than I would prefer it to be when moving around.  One day I need to take the time to really understand fit and alterations.

That day, however, is not today.


I love the little pleats on the shirt and the fact that the pattern has you pleat a square of fabric and then cut the pattern piece out of the pleated fabric.  This way it doesn't matter if your pleats aren't perfect - your pattern piece will still be the right size.  Ingenious!  In putting the shirt together there were two moments that left me scratching my head, but the videos helped a lot with figuring things out.  I will say that I prefer Grainline Studio's explanation for making the sleeve placket, but that may just be a personal preference.


As for the sleeves, I debated about adding the tabs so that they can be rolled up since I'm perpetually cold and will probably always  have my sleeves down but in the end I figured that I'd try them out just for fun and I'm really happy that I did.  I love the little added detail and I love the look with the sleeves rolled up.  Honestly, I'm super-excited that this is such a wearable shirt - both for work and for home.


But now for the ugly - my fabric marking pen has decided to revolt against me and has bleached out little bits of fabric where I marked it for the pleats.  You can barely see it in these photos, but you'll have to trust me that there are little bleached out dots running across the pleats.  The good news is that I feel like the old me would have thrown a total hissy fit about it, but nowadays I'm too tired for such antics.  Mostly I just let out a big groan.


But help me out here, people.  What do you recommend for fabric marking?  Because I have a feeling that me and this pen are on the outs.

10.06.2014

Doing It All. But Not Doing It Very Well.

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Sadly, the return of school for O also means the return of school for me - which mostly just means, the return of the ever-present feeling that I have many things to take care of, none of which I'm taking care of particularly well.  Just the other day a lovely and well-meaning friend told me to cherish the time I have with my little kids because the age that they're at is golden.  Of course, she meant this in only the most positive way as she looked back at the changes that her kids have gone through in the last ten years; but of course, all I could think of was that I was doing exactly the opposite - over-extending myself to an extent that the little joys get lost in the big chaos.


And then I ask myself "what the hell am I doing?"


And then I just keep doing it anyway, hoping that one day I'll have some sense of clarity, although I'm pretty sure that that day is not coming anytime soon.



On the upside, hanging around with a bunch of twenty years at community college is endlessly entertaining and I always return to work the next day with some hilarious stories and an appreciation for the fact that I'm no longer twenty.  

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A couple of wrinkles and stray gray hairs never felt so good.

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9.25.2014

Like A Phoenix Rising From The Ashes


I'm no master sewer by any stretch of the imagination, but I can look at most basic garments and have a general idea of how they go together.  Not so with this shirt, though.  The construction of it had me scratching my head until I was able to go through the instructions and see how all the parts go together to make that fabulous little front detail.  So simple and so ingenious! As if we would expect anything less from Liesl, right?


The pattern is the Weekend Getaway Blouse from Liesl and Company and it was released quite a while ago but I just got around to buying it from Pink Chalk Fabrics thanks to a birthday gift card from my sister (thanks, Debbie!).  The fabric is a Tina Givens voile from the Pagoda Lullaby line and in making this shirt it was saved from the wreckage of a failed project.  A couple months ago I attempted to make a kimono based off of this tutorial and let's just say that I looked nowhere near as cute as she did in her kimono when all was said and done.  The only redeeming thing about the project was that it called for pretty large fabric pieces so it was easy to reuse the fabric after  making peace with my disappointment.


As for pattern itself, I cut out a straight size 2 based on the size recommendations and I didn't make any modifications to the pattern.  Next time around I'll probably add some length because I prefer shirts on the longer side and I'll probably curve the hem a bit just because I usually wear my shirts untucked and I like the look of a curved hem better.  That's just me being picky though, because as it is right now it's perfectly wearable and perfectly lovely.  The pattern is so simple to put together that I'm imagining it in all sort of other sumptuous fabrics...like silk!  Sewing with silk kind of scares the heck out of me, but I figure that this should be a pretty easy pattern to try out my non-existent silk sewing skills on.  Wish me luck!

And here it is untucked just in case you were wondering about the length

9.22.2014

All Grainline, All The Time

Alternative Title: "The One In Which I Blatantly Copy The Lovely Ms. Beeman"


Perhaps this top looks a little familiar to you?  Probably because it looks exactly like the version that Jen sewed up for her tutorial on how to turn the Scout Tee into a Madewell-inspired top.  What can I say?  I'm a total copy cat.  But imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?  If so, I hope she considers herself truly flattered.


Well, let's start at the beginning and talk about how this top came to be.  I know that I've mentioned it before, but I'm trying my best to work with what I have in making new garments this year.  That certainly doesn't mean that I haven't bought new fabric or new patterns in the last 9 months, but that does mean that I'm trying to be a bit more thoughtful in what I do purchase and that I do my best not to jump on all the latest crazes.  It also means looking at patterns in new ways to see how they can be altered slightly to make garments with different design features.  The fantastic thing about this project though was that all that work was done for me thanks to Jen writing a couple of posts about how to reconfigure the Scout Tee into this lovely garment.  She did a great job writing out a tutorial on how to alter the pattern and all I did was follow her directions (which were lovely - as usual).  I love the curved hem and the cuffed sleeves on this version, not to mention the split neck.  Three little modifications that make for one awesome new garment.



As for sizing, I used the size two in the Scout Tee but with the length of a size 18 garment and I'm sure glad I did because it would have been way too short otherwise - especially since you take some length off of the sides with the curved hem.  The fabric is a Kaufman chambray and is as lovely as everyone says it easy.  Super easy to work with and very affordable - especially since it's such a wide fabric.  I think I bought two yards to make this shirt but only used maybe a yard and a quarter.  Now I need to figure out what to do with the other 3/4 of a yard.  Oh, to have such troublesome problems.



Oh, and why All Grainline, All The Time?  Because I happen to also be wearing my favorite Grainline Maritime Shorts.  A fully handmade outfit?  Yes, please!

9.16.2014

Alabama Chanin - The Sequel


Okay, let's start out by just acknowledging the fact that this dress is super-wrinkled.  I swear it's not because I'm lazy.  Rather, it's just because I'm a poor planner and I ended up taking these pictures after wearing the dress all day at work.  Just squint your eyes until you can't see the wrinkles anymore.  There, problem solved.


Now on to the details!  This lovely white dress - that I finished on September 2nd, just in time for it to be a fashion faux pas - is yet another Alabama Chanin garment.  The pattern is the short fitted dress pattern from Alabama Studio Sewing and Design and when they say fitted they mean fitted.  I cut out a size small - the same size as the tank top that I had made (although this time I didn't grade out to a larger size at the hips) - but this garment came out much, much smaller.  In fact, after sewing it up (by hand!) I tried it on for size and found the stitches under a lot of pressure in the bust area (and I don't really have a  bust area, so if I have a problem you know it's pretty tight).  In the end, I went back and reinforced those stitches with smaller stitches which ended up helping a bit and then I felled all the seams (by hand!) and that ended up helping a lot.  Who knew?  All that felling actually serves a purpose!


The hand stitching of the dress actually went by pretty quickly and was enjoyable to do.  The felling of all the seams?  Well, that felt like a chore, probably because there was a lot more pressure to make the stitches nice and neat because they're so visible, but I really love the dimension that it gives to the dress and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.  


As for the neckline and armholes, I used the cretin stitch to attach the binding once again.  The only real change that I made was to make the overlap of the binding on the neckline right behind the shoulder rather than in the back of the neckline.  The low back neckline is such a design feature that I didn't want a big old overlap right in the middle of it.


As for the fabric, I bought it from Organic Cotton Plus again and I'm incredibly happy with it.  In fact, it's taking all sorts of self-control not to place another order so that I can make an Alabama Chanin mid-length skirt for winter.  Right now self-control's winning.  We'll see how long that lasts.


Oh, and remember how I said that I wore it all day at work today?  Well, it turns out that this dress goes perfectly with the Ikat blazer that I made several months ago.  It's a handmade match made in heaven!

9.08.2014

The First Day Of School Dress That Almost Wasn't


I'd like you all to know that you shamed me into making this dress.  Until I saw all of your posts on clothes that you made for your kid's first day of school, I had resigned myself to the fact that this dress just wasn't going to happen.  O definitely had an idea of what she wanted - "I need more long sleeved dresses" - but I didn't have any fabric in my stash that would meet her demands and I don't live close to any store that sells apparel fabric.  I had just accepted the fact that it wasn't going to happen this year, but then the guilt set in and I knew that I had to get my butt in gear, so we headed to a fabric store the Saturday before school started to search for some jersey fabric.  Unfortunately I wasn't in love with 99% of the knit fabrics that I saw.   So many were polyester knits and the others weren't particularly kid friendly.  Fortunately, stuck in between a bunch of quilting cottons was this Heather Ross knit fabric that just so happens to be 100% cotton and very kid friendly.  Now if it looks familiar it's because:

1) it's been used all over the internet and
2) I actually made O a shirt out of the red version of this fabric for her first day of school last year.


I swear that I didn't plan to use the same fabric for another first day of school outfit.  I'm a huge nerd, but not that big a nerd.

In an attempt to make O a nice comfy knit dress I started with the Flashback Tee pattern, elongated it, and widened it at the bottom.  My so-called attempts at pattern modification didn't go so well though. I tried to add gathers to the sleeves, but I didn't alter the sleeve enough so you can't really see the tiny, almost nonexistent gathers.


I also attempted to scoop out the neckline but I got a little overzealous and cut out way too much so I had to add gathers to the front to prevent the dress from looking like an off the shoulder Flash Dance tee.  Then I had some trouble getting the binding to lay flat along the neckline, but that's par for the course for me.  Also, the dress fits a bit bigger than I was imagining but that's probably because O is a string bean and I should have gone with a size 4, rather than the size 5.  The good news on that front though is that this dress will probably fit her for longer than a week.  Woo-hoo!


So, the dress is not quite what I imagined and doesn't fit quite like I would have preferred, but I seem to have a happy customer anyway and in the end, isn't that all that matters?


Happy first day of school, O!  You go, girl!



PS - You may have shamed me into making a dress, but you didn't shame me enough to make another backpack!  Store-bought backpack, baby!

PPS - Like the painter's tape on the door?  Keeping it real around here!

9.04.2014

Sewing For Summer At The Beginning Of Fall

I realize that most of you all have moved on to fall sewing, but you should probably know that I live in a state of eternal denial so I'm still firmly in the midst of summer sewing over here.  Hence, the shorts that I just made.  For the record, this is my third pair of Maritime Shorts.  Why another pair?  Well, my waistline seems to be spreading a bit lately (I'm not pregnant - I should probably just make that clear) making all my pants and shorts ride up just a little bit.  The problem is that this pair that I made is already on the short side so any additional shrinkage is causing some real issues in that we're quickly approach butt-cheek exposure area (an area that I generally try to avoid).  So, it was back to the Maritime Shorts again, only this time adding about an inch and a half to the length.


I love how the length came out but I probably should have taken into account the fact that I used a different type of fabric in making these shorts (oh, when will I learn?).  The fabric is a cotton sateen but there's a bit of stretch to it, making the shorts a bit bigger than they would be in a regular woven fabric.  Because of that, there's a bit more fabric in the front than I would prefer, but what are you going to do?  After all, they're not exposing my butt to the world.   You win some, you lose some.


Speaking of which, this is what happens when you try to take pictures in the backyard.

First you get one photobomber, who looks so sweet and innocent that you can't help but give her a little hug.


And then the other kid hops in.


And pretty soon it's all gone to hell.


The good news is that Ben's a good sport about it all.


Hence, this awesome t-shirt that I still like to wear.  I'm pretty sure that I have at least 2 more years before my kids start to tell me that I embarrass them.

9.01.2014

Undie Making Attempt #753 (Or At Least It Feels That Way)

This week I turned one year older and I celebrated by doing one of my very favorite things - getting stuff done!  Doors painted, papers shredded, random piles of junk done away with, and toys donated.  Oh, and I sewed a bunch of undies.


This isn't actually my first attempt at sewing underwear for myself, but it is my most successful.  After trying my hand at sewing kid's undies, I sewed a pair or two for myself with some interlock cotton and while they worked okay, they were actually kind of ugly and they didn't stick around too long.  About a year ago, I tried again, only this time using the So Zo free undies pattern.  The fit was great but I'm horrible at sewing with foldover elastic so the finishing was pretty hideous.  I tried to make them again using a picot edged elastic but I forgot to add width to the crotch area to make up for the fact that you have to fold the elastic over, and let's just say that they ended up riding up in all sorts of areas because of the missing width.  Not comfortable!  And then about a month ago I made myself a pair of undies using the free Make Bra hipster pattern, but the fabric I used ended up being far too flimsy and having no recovery so the undies are kind of saggy.  Not exactly a good look.  I could consider all those project little failures, but the truth is that I learned something important from each and every one.


I learned a lot about choosing fabrics for undies (lycra is your best friend).  And about how to sew on picot elastic (sew as close to the picot edge as you can when sewing it on the right side of the fabric.  Oh, and trim your fabric after the first step of sewing the picot to the right side.  The undies end up looking much better that way).  I also always hated how the inside of the undies looked when the thread you used matched the outside of the undies but contrasted with the elastic portion.  Then I had an epiphany - just use a different color thread in the bobbin! - and my undies have been looking much better since then.

Which brings us to today and my undie-making extravaganza.  These undies were actually all made using the Ohhh Lulu Grace underwear pattern which was fantastic but is definitely geared more towards an intermediate sewer.  A beginner could definitely try their hand at the pattern, but they would probably just have to search the internet a bit for some tutorials on certain techniques.  They're certainly not difficult to put together - they just require some different skills.


The pattern calls for using a woven cut on the bias for the front and back panels, but for my first pair I used a knit for the entire pair.  The only issue was that this is a pretty flimsy knit without an lycra and when I tried on the undies for size they ended up being too big.  No problem though - I just went back and sewed all the seams with a 5/8" seam allowance rather than a 1/2".  Problem solved!


I did use a woven for my next pair along with a cotton/lycra knit fabric for the sides and the fit was right on!  The woven fabric is a voile leftover from this project and the knit fabric is cut up from a dress that I made and never blogged about because it made me look like a stuffed sausage.  The pattern calls for just turning under the leg seam allowance but I added elastic edging to the legs in addition to the waist just because I prefer that look.  The orange elastic is local from Pacific Fabrics and all the other elastics I purchased from here.


For the third pair I used fabric leftover from this project and O just thinks it's hilarious that I have undies that match her dress.  The side fabric is just a cotton/lycra fabric that is leftover from my children's undie making efforts.

The truth is that I may be addicted to making underwear.  I know this because I spent the last hour searching websites for things like stretch lace and plush back elastic.  Who am I?

Oh, that's right - I'm the gal with some kick-ass undies!
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