Sewing For Samoa {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

webDSC_6875It occurred to me recently as I was lovingly admiring this dress in my cupboard, that I had actually never blogged it. It’s a really special dress for me and holds a little memory in every one of those sequins, I think.

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Created from one of my favourite patterns in the world, Sew House Seven’s Tea House Dress and sewn in a luxurious sequined silk chiffon from the Remnant Warehouse for my husband’s brother’s wedding in Samoa last November.

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Samoa in November (and really most of the year) is hot and humid. As Queenslanders, we are used to a bit of heat and humidity, but this is next level stuff. I knew I wanted a dress from a natural fibre, with beautiful drape and fabric that just offered something a tiny bit extra. Enter The Remnant Warehouse. They stock a huge variety of designer remnants so it’s the place I stalk online when I want something extra special.

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I cut my pieces very carefully and following some info I’d read online, started painstakingly removing sequins from the seam allowances. THIS. WAS. THE. WORST. It would have taken a year of unpicking in front of the tv each night. Further research online showed a few rebels that just sewed over the suckers. I held my breath and gave that a go and… nothing. Totally fine. No causalities (eyes or needles). These sequins were quite small and soft, as well as not too close together, so sewing over them was completely fine. Phew. Life saver. The cut ones are scratchy though, so I did french seams wherever possible and trimmed any rogue sequins out of the way.

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I stitched the hem of the dress and sleeves by hand because I didn’t want any stitching showing from the outside. It was totally worth taking the extra time and care. I did the same with the front and back facing pieces, after removing all the sequins from those so they weren’t rubbing against my skin. After initially thinking all those sequins were individually knotted, with trial and error I found the magic unraveling thread in each bunch. It was heaps of fun to pull it and watch gold sparkles fly around my lounge room (side note: what they say is true, 8 months on I’m still vacuuming those buggers up).

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I didn’t want to line the dress so I made a slip out of cream silk voile which worked really well. The sequins make the dress heavy though and you can see it’s a fair bit longer than my others in the sleeves and the actual length. I don’t mind at all though.

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I photographed the wedding, so it was important I was comfortable and could move around easily – hence the sandals too. But let’s be clear – if you ever see me wearing heels, chase me down and tackle me because I can guarantee it’s an imposter. I never put myself through that kind of torture.

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One of my husband’s lovely cousins grabbed the camera off me a few times through the day to make sure I was photographed too. It was very sweet and I’m so grateful to have these images. Note to self: phone does not belong in the pocket of this dress!

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In other news, my sister in law (to be, at that stage) asked if I’d make her a dress to wear to her reception. She pretty much had the same pre requisites as me, but wanted a sleeveless dress and something with a lot of skirt.

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She came over and we sat together in my sewing room, digging through my patterns. We settled on Simplicity 8013, which is a reissue of a 70s faux wrap dress. There is a massive 8 metres of rayon in this dress, it’s a huge fabric hog. The skirt is made up of big panels all gathered together and it’s so delightfully swishy and full. I fully lined the bodice to eliminate the facings and provide a bit more coverage because the fabric is so light.

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It was very nerve wracking sewing for someone else, especially someone with a body shape so different to mine, but it all worked out ok in the end. She looked so beautiful moving around the reception.

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PS I made the flower girl dresses too.

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And if you’ve made it this far, well done. Here’s a gratuitous selection of images from our stay. Yes, I made the boys’ shirts too. Ok, enough words.

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We Are Helping, We’re Helping Hands {MBJM Hot Coffee Top in Spoonflower Fleece}

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Recently, the lovely Allie from Spoonflower got in contact to ask if I’d like to take part in another blog hop featuring Australian makers – they kindly provided the fabric of my choice but my words and opinions are my own (as always). They’ve also provided 10% off their fabrics with the code katie10 (valid for a month).

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Since winter is on its way, I chose this awesome print by Amy Blackwell on Spoonflower’s fleece and used the MBJM Hot Coffee pattern. Even though I’ve blogged makes from this pattern before, this version was my very first jumper from it.

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Let me tell you a bit about winter where I live. It’s mild. Google tells me the average winter temperature is 22 degrees celsius (that’s 71.6 F). It’s a nice winter, some people even swim all year round because the water is still quite warm (Google also tells me the average is 21.4C/70.5F, so pretty much on par with the air temperature). So the southern states do smirk when we complain about the cold. Let me tell you something else though, our houses are built to keep the heat out. We have homes equipped for summer, but not really for winter. For that reason, it can be a balmy 22C outside and a chilly 15C inside the house. I have been known to go outside and lay on the lawn in the sun, trying to warm up like some kind of pale, blonde reptile.

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There is a point and I’m getting to it. On the days when I’m stuck inside, either at the sewing machine or computer or maybe even just on a Netflix binge, I like to wear an oversized, cosy hoodie to keep me warm. In the past, I’ve pinched my husband’s hoodies, but sometimes he needs them, so it’s nice to have my own.

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I was excited to get my cool handsy printed fleece and sew it up into a big snuggly hoodie. When the fleece arrived, I was a bit surprised. I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe something like what we get here called polar fleece – but it was definitely different to that. It was quite dense, almost like a felt and it really had very minimal stretch. I figured I’d wash it, tumble dry it and then reassess. Turns out the washing and drying process fluffed it up quite a bit and it came out softer than it had gone in. It was still very different to what we call ‘fleece’ here, but it didn’t feel bad – just different.

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My measurements put me in an XL for this pattern, but I erred on the side of caution and made a 3XL to account for the minimal stretch (the pattern asks for 50% stretch) and because I wanted it to be quite big. I don’t usually like ribbing on the bottom of my jumpers, so I left that off and lengthened the pattern slightly to compensate. The kanga pouch sits on the bottom of the jumper between the main fabric and the ribbing, so I had to change my construction process slightly too, but it worked out fine.

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I wasn’t keen on the ribbing I had for the cuffs, so went a bit fancy and used stretch velvet instead. It’s not as stretchy as ribbing, so I did cut them a bit longer. I also needed to take about 2 inches off the sleeve length. The inside of the hood can be self lined or you can use a contrast. I used the wrong side of a grey printed fleece scrap I’ve had  in my stash for ages.

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Most of it was constructed on my overlocker and I used my new bestie, lightning bolt stitch for the hems and pocket. It is quite a quick sew (I think about an hour from cutting to finishing) and the fleece was really nice to use too – it didn’t slip or slide or stretch out of shape like polar fleece can.

Awesome prints in sweater knits are really hard to find (especially here), so it’s great to have the custom print option in fleece. I know this one will get a lot of wear, so I’m already planning another. Bring on winter.

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Phoning Home {Joan Dress}

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There really isn’t much of a reason to blog this, other than for documentation purposes because it’s such rare and amazing fabric.

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Recently my lovely friend Phoebe (Flaxen Vintage) messaged me to let me know she’d found ET sheets still in their original packaging and asked if I wanted her to grab them for me. Whoever had them obviously knew their value because they weren’t cheap, but c’mon, how could I pass up this opportunity? I answered in the affirmative in under 0.07 of a second.

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Upon further contemplation, the price wasn’t too bad when you consider:

  • they were brand new in their 1982 packaging
  • 100% cotton
  • 60″ wide and however long a single sheet is
  • two flat sheets (no fitted)

In fact, it’s probably on par or better than what I pay for designer quilting cotton. Ok, slight shoppers guilt averted.

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Jks. I didn’t feel guilty at all.

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Since my Joan pattern is my current favourite dress pattern (it’s comfortable, it fits well, it has sleeves and a neckline that I love and it’s something I’m damn proud of), I knew that’s what I wanted these rad sheets to be turned into. But I wanted to take it a bit next level, maybe mezzanine, I don’t know. So I drafted a Peter Pan collar. To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would even look right with a boat neck, but it’s grown on me.

Full disclosure: I drafted matching navy sleeve cuffs too but felt they were too much so left them off. Maybe another time.

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And this is what might make this post vaguely useful to you, although there’s about a million collar drafting tutorials out there anyway. To draft the collar pieces, I taped the front and back bodice pieces at the shoulder, then taped it to much kitchen bench (to stop it moving) and traced the curve of the neckline. I made sure the front of the collar ended at the centre front and finished about 3cms before the centre back, leaving space for the zipper plus a bit extra. I just free handed the curve, but if I could find my french ruler I would have used that. Or you could maybe use a dinner plate or similar. I decided to make the back collar end at a point, just because. Then I added seam allowances (everywhere but the top) and hey presto – a collar!

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You’ll need to cut four collar pieces from your fabric and two of interfacing. Sew the collar pieces together precisely and carefully, trimming your seam allowances and clipping your curves so that every sits as nicely as it can. Use a chopstick to push out your corners so they’re nice and sharp. Then baste your collar pieces to your neckline (your centre front pieces will overlap slightly here but they need to) before sewing your facing (or lining) over the top. Flip your facing up and check that the centre front collar pieces meet, fix them if they need it. Clip and trim those new seam allowances carefully and understitch them to the facing pieces. When I first started sewing, I hated understitching and would ignore it because it seemed so pointless, but now I do it all the time – it makes such a difference! Do it. Then give everything a good press. This collar sits so nice and flat and I know it’s because I put in the extra effort to make it happen.

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I cut the front and back bodice pieces pretty carefully so I could get the most out of the large print. The front waist darts are hidden quite well in the tree trunks of the print and I managed to avoid full moon boob, so that’s a bonus. I aslo wanted a really full skirt on this one, so used the full width of the fabric front and back. That’s 120″ of fabric on my 32″ waist. For the first time ever I used three rows of gathering stitch and it was so worth it. I might even do that for all my gathered skirts from now on, it made such nice even gathers.

I feel so lucky to have scored this amazing fabric. It’s one of my favourite things ever.

 

 

 

 

Knocking Off Ready To Wear Again {Patterns For Pirates Peg Legs}

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I apologise in advance, because this is one of the most boring blog posts you’ll ever get from me. It’s about black leggings. I’m not really selling it, am I?

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(From left to right: Cotton On leggings, Clio plush leggings, cheapy ebay Pegs made by me and wool blend Pegs made by me).

I read something recently where someone described sewing basics as ‘less icing, more cake’. That really resonated. When I started, all I wanted to sew were all the pretty dresses (and I still do), but there’s a lot to be said for owning damn comfortable basics.

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Winter in my part of the world is pretty mild, so I can get away with wearing dresses and skirts as long as I wear tights, boots and a cardi. Fleece lined leggings are my favourites and get a lot of wear (look at that pair second from the left!). I’ve noticed them start appearing in shops in the form of active wear too and what can I say? It’s love. And since my resolution this year was to avoid buying things I can sew, I went on a mission to find fleece back spandex. Which means I asked a sewing FB group. And they delivered.

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(Spenno wool blend).

The first recommended was an insanely cheap ($5/m!) nylon blend from ebay. I must admit, I had my doubts. When it arrived, it looked much the same as the fabric the Clio leggings are made from. Plush back with a definite nylon looking outer, with a bit of a sheen. Not bad though, especially for the price. I was pleasantly surprised.

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(Cheapy fabric).

I figured this pair would be worn mostly under dresses and skirts, so I used the plain Peg Legs pattern with the low rise waist and contour waistband. They are comfy as hell, but that’s exactly what I expected, I love the Pegs pattern. These poop all over the RTW versions I own.

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(And cheapy fabric).

High waisted, forever ❤

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(Spenno wool blend).

The second fabric recommended was a pricier wool blend for $40/m from Homecraft Textiles in WA. It wasn’t on their website, so I emailed and arranged to purchase. They were very helpful. When it arrived, I was underwhelmed. The outside has a slight rib through it and the fleece is more of a reddy brown than black (not that it matters to me at all), but other than that, it looks and feels a lot like the ebay fabric. I thought it would have more of a matte outer. I guess time will tell with how they wash and wear. This fabric got sewn into a pair of Pegs with the add ons – side panel and pockets, with the same old low rise waist and contour waistband, because we already know how I feel about that combo. I figured this pair could be more for dog walking on chilly mornings. Or just hanging at home doing nothing, whatever.

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Same high waist that does not require constant pulling up.

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And there ends the boring black leggings chatter. I also made my t shirt. It was a bit of a Jalie men’s t shirt hack experiment out of lightweight cotton jersey. A bit too lightweight judging my my hems. But again, comfort is king.

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Hibernation Preparation {Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra}

Pattern:

Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra.

Fabric and other stuff:

Floral spandex from The Remnant Warehouse a really long time ago, sorry.

Muppet Babies and Astro Boy swim knit from Rubyjam Fabric.

Scale print spandex from fabric.com.

Mesh (red and pink) from The Remnant Warehouse.

Stretch lace and hot pink picot elastic from Pitt Trading.

Strapping, rings, sliders and bows from Booby Traps.

 

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There is a definite chill in the air. Our days are still warm but right around school pick up, the temperature starts to drop and by the time I get home, I’m ready for a warm shower and some slouchy clothes.

(Please excuse the lines all over my belly. The horizontal ones, not the vertical ones. The former are from wearing tights all morning, the latter are permanent and from carrying my children).

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Clothes that aren’t pjs, just in case the neighbourhood kids decide to pop over, but you know – I’m done for the day by then and am ready for all the comfort. And that comfort extends to underwear too.

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The Romy Bra by Ohhh Lulu is something that I have made a lot before, but I just can’t go past it. For a bralette, it has a great shape (thank you princess seams!) and while not on par with a wired bra for lift (for me anyway), it provides enough that I feel well supported.

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My earlier versions were looking a bit tired so I decided to use up some of my scraps to make some more. One of the wonderful things about underwear sewing is that you do only need minimal amounts of fabric, even if you are a fan of giant knickers like me. Knickers, by the way, are the same old self drafted pair I make all the time, just with variations on height and elastic. All have scrap jersey for the gusset.

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One of my favourite things about this pattern is the enclosed seams. Swoooooooon. There’s something so polished about it. I tend to line mine in mesh for additional support, although if you’re smaller busted you might not find it necessary or could use something lighter weight like cotton lycra. Whatever you use though, it needs to have stretch. As a rule, wired bras need non or minimal stretch fabrics and bralettes need stretch.

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As always, I’ve eliminated the back clasp, shortened the back band and cut it on the fold. It does mean I have to pull it on and off over my head, but that’s no biggy. It’s very comfortable without the clasp and makes it a quicker sew. I also move the straps more towards the centre back as I find them too wide set for me.

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The pattern includes a three piece cup (front, side front and upper cup). The upper cup can be from the same fabric as the rest of the pieces, or from something contrasting like lace or mesh. In fact, you could Frankenstein the entire thing out of different scrap pieces if you really wanted to. For the mermaid scale version I’ve used all the same fabric, same for the floral but I finished the upper cup in stretch lace, the Astro Boy one has a mesh upper cup and for the Muppet Baby version, I experimented and left the upper cup off all together and just finished the front cup in stretch lace. That’s why it sits a lot lower. It’s not as supportive but still very wearable and probably suited to someone with a smaller bust (for reference I’m roughly a 38D).

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I think I’m all set for underwear for a while now. The problem is they are just so fun and quick to make. There is a gap in my underwear drawer for a very basic nude set though. I have all these fun prints and black, but nothing to wear under lighter dresses. So that’s next on my list.

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Sweater Weather {Made By Jacks Mum Hot Coffee Top}

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Pattern: MBJM Hot Coffee Top

Fabric: Mostly from Spotlight, although it doesn’t seem to be on their website.

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Except we say jumper, not sweater. Although more accurately, these would be hoodies. And I know this is mostly kid sewing, so sorry. Here’s the thing though, finding patterns for older boys is hard. Much like shopping for clothes for them. Seriously, look at the boys sizes 10-16 in a shop some time, they have about three racks worth and the girls equivalent is at least triple that.

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Luckily, these two still want me to sew for them. And when I saw this french terry in Spotlight, I couldn’t resist it. It ticked all the boxes – print not too young, suitably modern and really lovely quality. The right side is almost like a heavy cotton lycra, with a lovely soft brushed fleece underside. The grey ribbing is also from Spotlight, the grey fleece is the wrong side of another sweater knit off cut and the olive and white striped fabric is cotton lycra picked up from The Remnant Warehouse.

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As for the pattern itself, there is an adult version (used here) and a kids version (Hot Chocolate). I bought the adult sized one for myself and was pretty happy to see the boys would fit into the XXS from the adult version, which is about a size 12 in the kids. I even broke my ‘no PDFs if there’s no A0’ rule and bought it. The sticky tape fest wasn’t too harrowing for this one.

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The pattern has the option of a hood, a round neck or a cowl neck and can be made with or without the kanga pocket. I chose to leave the bottom band off these as I don’t love the look. Both boys could do with a little bit more length to combat that next time.

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I even made a basic round neck version for myself, which happens to be my second version but the first is a special collaboration and is under wraps for a while yet.

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My measurements put me into the XL, but I sized up to the 3XL because I wanted something quite oversized and the fleece didn’t have as much stretch as the pattern asked for. The ribbing however, had too much stretch. I ended up cutting off the cuffs and making them smaller. I really should have done it for the neckline too but I didn’t have quite enough ribbing left. It’s still very wearable and one of the softest jumpers I own.

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Sorry for the photo overload, it was just such a magic afternoon down at the beach. I should really shoot down there more often.

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Call Me Cruella {Simplicity 8292}

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Pattern: Simplicity 8292

Fabric: Cruella-inspired poly crepe (I think) scored from an op shop with a bunch of other stuff a few days ago, reeking of mothballs. Was washed and hung out on the line for 3 days to get rid of the stench.

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Look at me! Sewing from a currently available pattern! I’m jumping on the S8292 bandwagon. The pattern envelope images never would have sold me (do they ever?) but I’ve seen a few dresses pop up online and decided I needed it in my life. It was the sleeves I think, but also that raised waistline offers something a bit different to most other patterns I have. Actually I think this entire silhouette stands out from the current Big 4 pattern crowd.

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I made view B, which has the flutter sleeves and gored short skirt. SHORT skirt. Very short. Would have hit me mid-thigh without adjustments and I’m only 165cms tall. As I was tracing the pattern off I noticed how short the skirt pattern pieces looked, so I did the very sciency thing of holding them up against myself (remembering how high the waist seam sits on this dress) and decided I definitely needed to add length to feel comfortable. Which is weird, because generally Big 4 patterns are created for 6ft tall women. Or so it seems.

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In the end I added 6cms to the skirt pieces but after I’d sewn it up, it still looked too short so I decided to do a rolled hem with my overlocker to keep as much length as I could. I don’t love rolled hems as a rule, I think they look a bit unfinished, but they don’t bug me too much on fabric like this. Plus, they are so much easier than trying to press all those curved edges on something poly that I feared would melt under the iron (turns out it was fine actually). The sleeves are basically circle skirts for your arms so you bet your arse I rolled those hems too. Quick and satisfying. I may be a rolled hem convert.

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I did add side seam pockets to the skirt but it’s not quite full enough to pull them off, so I got rid of them. The skirt sits much better without them, which is a bummer.

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A few sewing bloggers have said this runs small, so I made sure I double checked the finished measurements. Generally the Big 4 patterns put me at a size 20 but I usually make a size 16. This time the 18 is absolutely spot on for me, so I would make sure you check those finished measurements. The only changes I made were to add length and I also ended up bring the side seams in about 1.5cms, but that’s pretty standard for me, my waist runs a bit smaller than the rest of me. I think the princess seams give it a bit of extra room through the bust, so I didn’t do a FBA on this one.

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All in all, a bloody decent pattern! 10/10 will make again. The pattern also includes a pretty basic dress with normal sleeves and a straight skirt. Not my usual silhouette, but if I worked in an office I’d definitely make it. It’s quite a versatile pattern.

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Look at my other Kirbee Lawler purchase, the adorable moon-butted bunny brooch ❤ I love it.

Getting There {Joan Dress}

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Oh goodness, this has been a process. As my little business grows, it has become more and more important to me to tweak patterns within an inch of their lives so they fit the image in my head.

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This dress, who has been named Joan after my Dad’s mum, has taken months of work from vision to actual wearable dress. I’m not a pattern designer, so I generally take bits and pieces of vintage patterns I like and blend them all together to come up with a complete dress.

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I’ve made six versions to test on myself and really, most of them have been ok. The first was too small in the bust, the second gaped at the neck, the third needed a touch more room in the armscye and the versions after that had slight changes to bodice and skirt length.

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Even looking at these images now is making me want to go and change a couple more tiny things. But at some point I have to let it go and realise that not everything will fit everyone without a wrinkle here and there.

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Now it’s time to grade this sucker into sizes 8-18, sew up some more samples and test them for fit across the sizes. So it will still be a while before they appear in the shop. But we’re getting there.

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Fabric kindly provided by Sewing Gem in exchange for some images of it sewn up. Thanks Gem!

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My new favourite earrings by Kirbee Lawler. They were very limited release and I am so glad I managed to snap them up. Also, look at those majestic unicorns up close. MAJESTIC.

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Battle of the Bras {Orange Lingerie Marlborough, Pin Up Girls Classic and Pin Up Girls Shelley}

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Is the world of bra sewing confusing and daunting? Yes. Does it require a bit of engineering, guesswork and prayer? Yes. Is it worth doing anyway? Hell yes.

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I’ve been sewing bras for a couple of years now and I’m at the point where there are no longer any store bought bras in my drawer and there hasn’t been for a while. Why sew bras? Well, considering you can grab one at Kmart for the princely sum of $10, it’s not cost.  Why then? Fit, baby. And if you can get store bought bras to fit you like a glove, then you’re probably scoffing at me right now. That’s ok, I can take it. I didn’t really realise how badly my bras were fitting until I starting making my own and actually researching what a well fitting bra looks like. I no longer want to burn them by the end of the day. Plus they can be sewn in a rainbow of colours and prints.

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Wanna know? Here’s some general fit guidelines (for wired bras):

– The bridge (that bit in the middle) should sit flush against your chest

– The straps shouldn’t dig in or slide off your shoulders

– The back band should sit parallel to the floor and not ride up

– The wire should encase all of the breast tissue, not cut through it or dig under your arms

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Now, we are all different and unique individuals with different and unique boobs. Different shapes require different bra designs, who knew?! Here are my quirks:

– Close set

– Side boob that wants to head, well, sideways

– Underarm flab

– Broad back

– Very little upper cup fullness

Being close set means I need a narrow bridge, my wires need to kiss in the centre to fit flat to my chest. The broad back and underarm flab means that I have a preference for nice wide bands, at least 3 hooks in the back but 4 is better. My lack of upper cup fullness (this could be pregnancy/breastfeeding, age or even genetics-related) means I gravitate towards full cups – I basically ‘fall out’ of demi cups. A power bar is ideal to direct that side boob back to front and centre. Isn’t it funny that it’s taken me about a year to realise all this stuff?

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Let’s talk wire because omg, that confused the hell out of me for a long time. When I first started sewing bras I would just shove any old wires (from old rtw bras) that would fit into my new bras. Wires that probably never fit me in the first place. When I decided to refine my fit a bit more, I did a lot of reading and found out you can find out your wire size first and then basically reverse engineer a bra to fit. Order a few different wire sizes, stand topless in front of a mirror and measure those babies against your breast root to find the Cinderella wire. Turns out mine is a 44, which corresponded with the bra sizes I was already making, but good to know, right? Here’s a helpful post about wires.

Of course, within those wire sizes are variations on length and style. But cross that bridge when you come to it.

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The two bras I make the most are the Pin Up Girls Classic (shown above in the gold lace and leopard satin) and Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough Bra (the blue lace). The Classic has a full band and full two piece cup, while the Marlborough has a full band and 3 piece cup (with a power bar). Here’s how they fit:

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The Marlborough is my favourite, but only by a tiny bit. The combination of slight plunge in the front with the power bar pushing everything front and centre makes it a winner. I still get a good amount of lift from the Classic too.

There’s another Pin Up Girls pattern which I’ve only ever made once, the Shelley bra. It’s similar to the Marlborough in that it has a power bar and a full band, but has four pieces in the cup. The one I made was a bit small in the cup (going by the designers directions for measuring, bras always end up too small in the cup for me). So I decided today was the day for a bit of a scientific comparison, because I am nerdy like that. I traced off my new upsized Shelley and sewed it up to see if I liked it as much as the Marlborough, after all – how different could they be?

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That’s the Shelley in the red satin and lace on top and the Marlborough on the bottom in the red and black. I did raise the underarm on the power bar and band of the Marlborough so the wire sizes could be exactly the same in both. I mean, for proper science they would both have to be created from the same fabric, but I was hoping to get two wearable bras out of this and who wants two exactly the same? Variety for me, please.

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As you can see, they ended up quite different! While the Shelley feels supportive, it gives me no where near the same amount of lift (look at that bottom cup in the side on view) and it feels like it actually flattens out my upper bust. Plus there is a heap of breast tissue bulging out at the sides, which has all been pushed forward in the Marlborough.

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I’ll just keep sewing all the Marlboroughs then, ok? Ok.

PS Most of my supplies for bras come from Booby Traps and Sew Squirrel. All of the bras pictured are lined with bra lining to keep everything from stretching out. That’s really important.

 

 

Here’s To You, Mrs Robinson {Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress}

Pattern: Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress (designed for knits)

Fabric: Stretch Velvet from Spotlight

(I’ve decided to start putting the pattern and fabric info at the beginning of the posts so they’re easier to find. Let’s see if I remember to do it on future posts…).

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I’m not quite sure why this dress gives me Mrs Robinson vibes, maybe there’s something about the combination of a wrap dress and velvet that’s a bit old Hollywood for me. Who knows? I’m rolling with it anyway.

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I’ve had this pattern for ages. Possibly years. What has stopped me from sewing it? Reviews. Whenever I’m about to sew something, I google the pattern and see if anyone has had issues with it. It’s a generally very helpful process and I do recommend it. This one repeatedly comes up as too short, too wide at the neck, too low cut and with a flippy facing.

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Right. Too many things to consider, until now. Because really, they aren’t things that are too enormous to fix. And you know, we’re all unique snowflakes and what is a problem on one body, might work on another. Plus I’ve seen a bit of this getting around and I wanted in:

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From here.

But I decided that to make it more wearable, I’d prefer it shorter. I mean, I have a tendency to overdress for most occasions anyway, but even I wouldn’t get much wear out of a longer length, deeeeeeep necked velvet wrap dress. Besides that, there’s probably not enough tape in the world to keep my top half contained. It does remind me a bit of the most made and blogged dress ever, Vogue 9253. Or this one, if you like the mullety hemline.

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Into my patterns I launched and came up with the Ultimate Dress pattern that I’d never made. Ooh why? Googling again reminded me. Right. This can be fixed though. I held the pattern pieces up to my body in the most accurate and scientific fashion.

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The back of the neck didn’t look too wide for me, so I left it as is. I added 8cm to the hem to combat the short length (It’s so short. I could have added more length – I’m only 165cm and really used to shortening everything) and took a wedge out of the front neckline at about the midpoint. This is a really standard wrap adjustment for me. I’m short waisted, so they are always too long at the actual wrap part. This increases the coverage too.

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My measurements (40/32/40) put me in a 16 for the bust and 14 for the waist, but I cut the 16 as knits and wraps tend to be pretty forgiving and I wanted to make sure I had enough coverage. As it turns out, I’ve tied it as tight as it allows, so I might grade it down to the 14 at the waist next time.

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So that just left the facing. I knew I didn’t want it, not only because it was said to flip to the wrong side (annoying) but also because I knew you’d be able to see the edge of it through this fabric. Stretch velvet is a bit unforgiving like that. So I decided to band it. I cut a length of the fabric in the direction of the stretch (this only has stretch in one direction, which is good, because otherwise the dress would grow in length), after measuring the length of the neckline all the way around.

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I cut it at 80% of that measurement and stretched it slightly as I went to make sure it sat snugly against my body. As it turns out, it was too long but that’s fine because I could just cut the excess off when I was done. The only problem with this method is there’s not a nice, neat way to add the ties (they’d normally go under the facing for a clean finish. I think that’s the only real issue with banding this dress. I lined the stitching of my ties up with the stitching of the hem so it’s not noticeable from the outside and honestly, they are wrapped over themselves anyway.

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I constructed most of the dress on my overlocker, so it’s a really quick sew. It doesn’t have a waist seam either, making the cutting part quick too. I finished all the raw edges (hems, sleeve hems) with the overlocker too, then used that stitching as a guide to fold it over twice so the hems are narrow but nice and even. Stretch velvet doesn’t really press, so this is an easy way to keep it under control without pulling your hair out and throwing things. I only really used my normal machine to hem, attach the ties and finish the edges of the little gap in the waist for the ties. I just used straight stitch too because those parts don’t need to stretch so there’s no danger of popping stitches.
Hot tip: Don’t cut your ties along the stretch! Cut them so they have as little stretch as possible. I’ve made this mistake in the past and they just keep growing.

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The only other thing I changed was the sleeves and I just stole them from another pattern and adjusted the sleeve cap to fit. And I put them in flat instead of set in, because it’s about 1000 times easier. I think changing the sleeves has brought it dangerously close to dressing gown territory, but with shoes and face I think we’re good.

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All in all, quite a successful sew considering I’ve avoided this pattern for so long! I like the curved hem and how quickly it all came together (bless knits). The fit ended up pretty spot on and I’ll definitely make more because it’s really comfortable. I love a wrap dress but wovens are far less forgiving fit-wise, knits make it easy.