Fries Before Guys {Sewing Swimwear + Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes}

webDSCF1193Look, I’m a bit of a fraud because my body tends to reject chips (fries, chips to us here in Australia), even though I love their crispy, carby, salty goodness. Most of the time my skin is like ‘nah, we aren’t about those anymore. Have some acne for your attempt, though’. Who could resist this print though? It’s a bloody winner.

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I know you want to know where the fabric is from and what the pattern is, but you’re going to hate me for it. The fabric (which is swim) was a pre order from Indie Skye fabrics and I don’t tend to go for pre orders because I’m damn impatient and hate waiting longer for my fabric than is entirely necessary. But I decided this fabric was worth waiting for. The lining is lightweight swim spandex from The Remnant Warehouse because it has a bit more body than regular old swim lining. And it’s nicer to sew.

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What else? Well there’s some foam (complete with my markings still, please ignore. But it is good to mark all the points on your cups so you don’t sew them around the wrong way, they look very similar) from Sew Squirrel, underwire casing, underwires, swim elastic (all from The Remnant Warehouse also, from memory) and some sheer cup lining for the upper cups and bridge (pretty much because I wanted those pieces to stay stable and maintain their shape). Also there’s some boning in the side seams of the bra portion, which is just cable ties cut down.

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Pattern, well bear with me for that one. The lower portion is Megan Nielsen’s Rowan bodysuit. If you’ve read posts on my one pieces before, you’ll know I’ve used this many, many times. I like the fit. Obviously I line it, eliminate the crotch snap part of it and bind or band the legs, but you could use swim elastic and fold over too. I have big legs, I don’t really need the elastic to pull everything in. I just use good old zig zag because I don’t have a coverstitch machine, I hate twin needling and even though it’s very Becky Home Ecky, if someone on the beach is judging my zig zag, that’s their problem. Because they’d have to be in my lap to see it and that would be weird. You know they aren’t though, just as they aren’t judging my body. But more on that later.

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So, the bra part. I know, it’s a bit of sorcery and I wasn’t even sure that it would work. In fact, I was almost positive that it wouldn’t and I’d try it on and have cups folding over and boobs heading towards their old friend, my belly button. I figured I could add straps at the end if I wanted to, but I also wanted to just see if it would work. FOR SCIENCE. You know I love bra sewing though. I love the challenge of it, I love the precision, I’ve even grown to love the little 1/4″ seams. I love watching cups go from flat to boob shaped with foam and wire, I love making the finish really lovely and enclosing the seams. It’s just my happy place. You know?

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If you’ve been following along lately, you’ll recall my strapless bra journey. The new guy is the same pattern, shortened, with a bit taken off the upper cup (because it was too high and also to compensate for not folding over with the picot) and boning left out of everywhere except the side seams. On that note, I think the boning is part of the engineering magic. It stops it from wanting to roll down with the weight of my bust. Also, those extra long wires help for the same reason. The keep it tacked to my chest and in place under the arms.

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Here are some technical construction and fit notes you can scroll past if you want:

– Stabilising the bridge with bra lining (which is strong but super light) stops it from stretching out and distorting the cups shape. But it also makes the whole thing a bit harder to get into. Next time it might be wiser to add some sort of closure – either a zipper down the front or some kind of clip at the back. I do like the comfort of not having any closures though.

– To make sure the bra part would fit on the body part, I just lined up the pattern pieces. They were super close and I didn’t need to change a thing. I cut the back band piece of the fold and there’s no hook and eye like on the bra versions. This made it a bit smaller across the back, but the fabric has a bit more stretch than the traditional power mesh band of the bra version, so they sort of cancelled each other out.

– I was very close to cutting the upper cup pieces out of swim lining, but realised my bra versions have no stretch there, which is really important – it needs to hug in close. If it stretched out, there might be some gaping and more risk of a wardrobe malfunction. So I used the very stable bra lining there too.

– Contrary to popular opinion (I see this all the time in sewing groups!), the foam is for support, not to enhance bust size. If the foam wasn’t there, the whole cup portion would drop. Same for sports bras, especially if there’s no wire. I often see people request sports bra patterns without wire OR foam, stating that they are already big and don’t need extra padding. But foam is great for support and is often necessary for bigger bust especially. Don’t fear the foam. I’ve used straight stitch to top stitch the cups (instead of zig zag) because they don’t really stretch and I don’t want them to. The foam has a tiny bit of give, but not much else. But you can totally use zig zag if you prefer the look.

– The only other part that made me stop and think was how to finish the top of the cups. In my bra versions, I’ve used picot because I like the look and the finish. It’s a bit too ‘I’m a bra’ for swimmers for me though and using binding in matching fabric is usually the way I finish raw edges. Obviously in strapless swimmers, the top part really needs to stay put, so rather than just using strips of fabric as binding (which doesn’t need to be cut on the bias like woven, FYI), I used swim elastic in there too. Same method as usual, which is putting a bit of tension on it all the way around so it hugs towards the body. There’s a little mention of that method in my video here, but in relation to finishing the leg openings.

– I decided to run the binding all the way around the top edge, as opposed to finishing the bridge first without binding (ie sewing lining and outer fabric right sides together and flipping, which is how I generally do my bras) and finishing the upper cups before adding them into the frame for a couple of reasons. Firstly to minimise bulk. The binding plus elastic adds a fair bit of bulk, which in turn makes it harder to sew down the underwire casing at the underarm and bridge. Much easier to sew over everything at the end. Plus, I would have had to fiddle around with seam allowances at the upper cup – cut them down to counteract the fabric lost when folding over picot to make sure it lines up with the finished bridge. God I hope that makes sense. It’s really hard to explain. Anyway, much easier to cut the upper cups down as needed to line up with the bridge once they’re already sewn into the frame. Then bind the whole thing in one hit.

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As usual, I’ve used far more words than I had planned. If you have any technical questions, just comment and I’ll try to answer. I’ve never had any proper bra training, but have learned so much from trial and error. And what is that sensible black skirt I’m wearing? Is it a skirt?

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No! It’s the Tania culottes in linen from Potter and Co! Trickery! This is the updated version, which Megan so kindly sent me. Its now got pockets and extended sizes. Truly one of the most wearable things I own, especially for work. Photography work, that is. I’m often getting down on the floor and these make it much easier. The only change here is that I’ve used my own curved waistband, because as I’ve mentioned many times in the past – rectangle waistbands don’t work on this short waisted, curvy body. There’s too much of a difference between my hip and waist measurement and I get gaping in the front and back. Imagine pinching a dart out of the top of the front and back waistband pieces – that’s the shape I need.

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So, back to the swimmers. I’ve tested these babies in the pool and they passed with flying colours. The real test will be in the surf. But I can still add straps if required, probably removable ones so I have options. I really like how these have turned out.

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If you’re anything like me, you might have some of those pesky voices in your head – you know the ones, they like to say mean things and make you feel crappy about putting on your swimmers and enjoying yourself at the beach or the pool. Mostly I can shut them up, but there were a couple of persistent ones when making these. The first being that strapless things are for smaller bodies, particularly slender arms and backs. The other one was the fabric. Weirdly, I have had issues about wearing food prints before. I know it’s ridiculous, but I felt like I was saying ‘hey! look at me wearing food that contributes to this fat body!’. So with this fabric screaming its fries-positive message, all I could think of was people would look at me and think, ‘well, obviously true for her’. I know how crazy that sounds. And I’m wearing them anyway, because I made them and I’m proud and I love how fun the print is. So there, voices. You can shut up now.

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Crocodile Rock {Simplicity 8342 hack}

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The way I see it, there are two types of sewists (I’m not typing sewers, that’s where the ninja turtles live – damn English language), those who carefully plan each sew, keep lists, make sure they have everything they need, make a toile or two, hand baste zips, hand sew hems, follow instructions and generally just win at life through being patient and organised. Then there’s me. I would really like to be the former, but I fall into the ‘just do it’ category. Or as my mother likes to say, ‘you’re like a bull at a gate!’. It’s true. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it bites me on the butt.

(This whole paragraph is particularly relevant to me this morning, as I’ve just asked for fitting advice in a FB group for something unrelated to this post and received the old ‘you must make a toile from unbleached muslin and make one change at a time!’. So sorry, Karen. I’d like to try harder but I won’t. Pretend this cool print is my unbleached muslin, just use your imagination).

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But I digress. Have you seen Simplicity 8342 i n your travels? Same. I actually bought it as soon as it came out because I loved the top so much and then ignored it for a while because even though I love the style, I don’t usually show so much arm and chest. I know. It’s a bit weird, but I’m working on it. But when does one show more arm and chest? At the beach! And you know I do love making swimmers. Could that top portion be used on my regular swimmers pattern? I think so!

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Here is a reminder of the swimmers I have made many times. The top portion was traced from a RTW bikini top, the bottom portion is Megan Nielsen’s Rowan bodysuit because the fit is ideal for me. I love them. I wore this style a lot last summer.

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So what happened next? OMG you guys, I made a toile (cop it, Brenda). Although not from unbleached muslin, but from some crappy old green jersey I’ve had stashed away for ages. My measurements put me into the 18, but knowing the Big 4s approach to ease (even with knits), I cut the 14. It’s a really quick sew and because of the way it’s pieced, you can use larger scrap pieces. Surprise, surprise, it was too big. Definitely too big for swimmers anyway, those things need to stay close to the body. I ended up comparing my Rowan pattern pieces to the S8342 upper bodice pieces and they lined up at the size 10 line. So that’s what I cut.

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I used this spandex panel from Pitt Trading, which I love – but I’ve ended up with that line down the centre front because of the way it’s printed. Not a big deal. I went with fabric I liked (in case it worked out) but wasn’t too attached to (in case it didn’t). That is my approach to muslins in a nutshell.

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The top part is self lined because the wrong side of the ties show when it’s worn, but I also added a layer of power mesh in between for extra support and tie strength. The construction method was a bit different to enclose everything, but the way it’s done on S8342 is a bit home ecky for me. There’s elastic in the seam allowance under the arms, as well as in the straps. I figured two layers of spandex plus power mesh would be enough for the neckline, but I think next time I’ll add the elastic so I’m not stretching the fabric out so much. The rest of the body is lined with white swim lining and I finished the legs with bands.

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Easy.

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I didn’t use rings and sliders on these straps because I didn’t have any wide enough. I found when taking these photos that they felt kind of long, so I’ve taken them up since.

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The ties ended up quite bulky, so I think I’ll make them a bit narrower next time.

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All in all, not a bad wearable toile though! Now I’m wondering if I can add a band to the bottom and wear it as a bikini top too. So many options…

 

 

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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Bra-Bra-Bra, Bra-Bra-Bra-Anne {Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra}

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Over the weekend I had a craving for some rock solid bra sewing. Can you have sewing cravings? I do. I love bra sewing for the same reason I love swimwear sewing. It’s very different to sewing a dress, it’s a bit challenging and it’s one of those things that really throws people when you tell them you made it. I always feel very accomplished when I have a bra that fits.

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Of course, the extra level in bras is the fit. Especially wired bras. I always say that sewing them isn’t the hard part – it’s the fit that can drive you nuts. Once you have that down though, you’re golden.

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Even though these aren’t my first Marlborough bras, I went the extra fitting mile this time and compared wire sizes to my breast root. This basically involves standing topless in front of a mirror and holding up a variety of wire sizes along the underside of your breast to check which size fits best. Then you make the bra to fit the wire, rather than buying wire to fit the bra you made. The theory is the fit is more accurate and I totally agree.

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So, turns out I had been making the correct Marlborough size all along (a 40D, although my measurements put me in a 40B according to the pattern), but using a slightly different wire size has really elevated the fit. They are so comfortable. I used to scoff when people would say that you don’t feel the wires in a correctly fitting bra, but it’s definitely true in this case.

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The floral print in the first bra is Cotton and Steel cotton spandex jersey. Not recommended for this particular pattern because it stretches, but I’ve lined it with bra lining to counteract that. The fabric for the second is a rigid lace from The Remnant Warehouse and the fabric for the third is some sort of mesh with velvety stripes (also from The Remnant Warehouse). I wasn’t even sure that fabric would work for a bra because it’s quite heavy, but it turned out really well. All are lined with bra lining and the seams are enclosed.

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All the side panels in the knickers are non stretch, which meant I compensated by cutting the front and back panels a bit bigger. The top pair use that lovely cotton lycra for the main part and I’ve used nice stretchy black spandex for the other two pairs. Bra hardware, strapping and elastic is all from Booby Traps.

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Is there anything that boosts your self esteem like well-fitting, comfortable lingerie?

 

 

How To Sew A Rashie and Matching Bikini Bottoms {Megan Nielsen Rowan and Acacia}

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What I’m using:

Megan Nielsen’s Rowan and Acacia patterns.

A stretch needle  in my sewing machine, but not in my overlocker.

Swim fabric (spandex/nylon blend) from Pitt Trading.

Swim lining (bottoms only) from The Remnant Warehouse.

A chunky plastic open ended zipper (51cm) from Spotlight.

A couple of strips of light to medium weight iron-on interfacing.

 

I’ve used the turtle neck t shirt pattern pieces from Rowan, but instead of cutting the front pieces on the fold, they’ve been cut into two pieces with a bit of seam allowance added for the zipper. I’ve added the same allowance to the neckband piece. The first video covers the basic construction of the rashie – sewing the front pieces to the back and sewing in the sleeves.

The second video shows how I add sleeve bands instead of hemming the sleeves and also adding the neck band.

The third and final video shows how to interface the front edges to stabilise them before adding the zip. Then I finish off the neck band and hem.

 

Super awesome bonus round:

Making matching, fully lined bikini bottoms from the free Acacia pattern!

I make swimmers from underwear patterns quite often and this is something I get asked about all the time. What takes something from knickers to swimwear? Let me show you. Spoilers: Fabric choice, lack of gusset, including a lining and leg and waistbands instead of picot.

I also added some height to these are they are quite low.

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A Month of Sundays {Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra}

I had to google that title. I thought it was an Australian saying and that it might not translate. Turns out it isn’t, but it was one of my mum’s favourite to yell at us when we were kids. ‘Hurry up, you’re taking a month of Sundays!’. Good times.

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Anyway, we haven’t quite had a month of Sundays, we’ve had two weeks of them. Or what feels like them. And it hasn’t dragged, it’s flown. So so fast. My husband went back to work today, so some form of reality is setting back in, but between Christmas day and yesterday, we did very little. We went to the beach, we slothed into the pool and back again. I don’t love sitting around in wet swimmers but I also didn’t feel like getting properly dressed on those days, so bralettes it was. And which ones did I keep wearing? My Romy bras. I only have two that fit me now and one fits me better than the other. I would get annoyed when they were in the wash, so knew I should make more.

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This is the same pattern, three times (the red/print knickers are slightly different to the other two pairs, but they’re all self drafted so I’m just concentrating on the bras in this post). I’ve rated them in a Goldilocks-like fashion.

This set? Too stretchy.

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Fabric: Tactel Strata (? I know. Says suitable for activewear, but I have thoughts on that) from The Remnant Warehouse.

Printed swim spandex from Pitt Trading (now sold out as far as I can tell).

Strapping, picot and fold over elastic all from Booby Traps.

This set, while I am a pretty big fan of the look, is the least supportive of the three. Totally fine for days at home or under big jumpers in winter, but the red fabric is super stretchy so it’s giving me a gentle pat rather than a tight hug. Such is life when buying fabric online. Generally I’m pretty lucky and I do get some great stuff from The Remnant Warehouse.

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I bought the red fabric with leggings in mind, but it’s so light and stretchy that it’s almost transparent, so that’s a no go. Unless you were to line them or something. But that seems like extra sweat that I don’t really need. You could line and use for swimmers, although I’m pretty sure it’s not rated for swim wear. Underwear is fine, bras need a bit of extra help (for me at least). The entire bra is lined with the red fabric, including the back band – but in hindsight, I should have used some powermesh in the back band too. Even as I was cutting it out these thoughts crossed my mind, but I figured I’d give it a go anyway. You don’t know if you don’t try, right? It’s not a fail by any means and would be fine for someone smaller than me (or with self supporting breasts). SUPER comfortable though.

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Next set? Not stretchy enough. The lace is lovely and stretches quite well across the grain but not as much the other way. Meaning the height is reduced when I’ve got it on. It’s Alice McCall though, so that’s a bit fancy and the quality is lovely.

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Lace and grey lining (swim lining): The Remnant Warehouse

Picot: Booby Traps

Strapping: Leftover from a kit from Measure Twice Cut Once

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More supportive than the first set but I just need the smidge more height that’s I’d get from more stretch vertically. Again, still wearble and I will wear them. Funny how you can get such completely different results even from using different stretch fabrics for the same pattern. Always learning, you guys.

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Iced Vovo set? Just right, baby!

Perfect stretch, perfect coverage. The only problem is I’m really shit with whites and washing. I’m so sorry you’ll end up grey, my beauties.

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Vovo fabric: Spoonflower Sports Lycra scraps (which you might remember from my rashie)

White spotty mesh: Pitt Trading

White powermesh lining: The Remnant Warehouse

Fold over elastic, strapping and picot: Booby Traps

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You might have noticed a bit of my past enemy, fold over elastic, appearing on these bras and you’d be correct. We’ve sorted out our differences and are actually quite friendly now. Who knew that a bit of practice would help? Ha. Some of the white FOE I even sewed on in one pass. OMG. It was quite easy to handle and I’m not sure if that’s because it’s plush on both sides, but I like it.

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And as if this post wasn’t long enough, here’s some other bits I’ve been sewing. Swimmers for my mum (no single pattern, more info about that here). No photos of her in them yet either, because the ding dong went and soberly broke her ankle on New Years Eve.

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Plus, I figured out a great way to use up the little spandex scraps I’ve been hoarding – swimmers for my little niece! Hooray! And she loves them, because she is a tiny legend.

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In other news, 2018 might be the year I start video tutorials. Maybe. Stay tuned to see if I can figure out the scary world of video.

 

 

 

Miaow {Megan Nielsen Flint Shorts + Gertie Sweetheart Top}

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More tigers! It’s a thing for me right now. These Flint shorts were my first make from my brand new Janome 3018W. She’s quite dreamy, but I was weirdly paralysed for over 24 hours when she first arrived. Strange right? You’d think I’d be all over her. But I couldn’t find the brain space to learn a new machine and I think I was still mourning the loss of the old one.

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But I snapped out of that ridiculousness, of course. It took me a couple of minutes to glance through the instructions, figure out how to thread the new girl and then move on from there. But what would I make? Conveniently, a large box of fabric had just arrived. All of it was lovely, but the tigers are just so cool. And I already had black thread in my overlocker. So what pattern? I’ve made a few dresses lately and thought the tiger linen was really keen to be made into shorts.

webDSC_0322Yes, shorts. Even though I don’t wear them often. In fact, it’s only been over the last 12 months that I’ve started wearing them again. I reckon shorts didn’t touch my body for around 8 years at least. But no more. I’ve come to realise cellulite and chunky thighs are normal and shorts are perfect for our climate.

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What are these beauties, then? They are Megan Nielsen’s Flints! Hoorah! I have made both the pants and shorts before and I love the cool way they close via the pocket.

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This time though, I adjusted the pattern to eliminate the tucks and make them flat fronted. Megan has a tutorial for that here. I think the print looks better without the tucks. And if I’m going to make the same pattern again, I do like to change it up a bit.

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A girl obviously needs a black top to go with her tiger shorts, right? But a cooooool top. Something she hasn’t made before. Cue the Sweetheart Top from Gertie’s Vintage Casual book.

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Yes please. I used some lovely rib knit I bought from The Remnant Warehouse recently. It’s Bec and Bridge, beautiful quality and super soft. With heaps of stretch. Which meant I probably should have sized the pattern down, but I went as per my measurements. It was a bit big so I did take it in at the side seams afterwards. I also took off around two inches from the hem as I will wear this tucked into my high waisted skirts and shorts.

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Like so.

I used the less textured side of the rib. I’m not even sure which is the right side and which is the wrong side. Softer side is facing out, anyway.

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Ok so I was a bit paranoid that printed shorts would look like PJs, so I turned the hem up to create cuffs and stitched them in place at the side seam and inseam.

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Linen shorts. Like a grown up. I’m so fashun.

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Holiday Wardrobe Preparation {Megan Nielsen Flint and Rowan}

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Ah, Flint and Rowan. They go together like peas and carrots, don’t they? I’ve made both before – Flint pants here and Flint shorts here. Rowan was more recent and a stretched a bit further than the original pattern into a swimsuit.

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I love my past Flints but unfortunately they’re a bit big now. And an upcoming holiday is the perfect reason to sew another pair right? This time from sweet drapey tencel that I picked up at Spotlight. The Rowan body suit is lovely soft Timeless Treasure cotton jersey from fabric.com.

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I went for the tie version on the Flints and couldn’t help but to brighten the inside a touch with a vintage fabric covered button (I pick these up  from op shops, but they are often just singles, which is perfect for this use) and some rayon off cuts. The rayon is the right weight for lining the tencel. I think quilting cotton would have been too heavy.

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The closure on the Flints is pretty magic. It does your head in a little bit while you’re sewing them, but the instructions are really great and you just have to trust the process. There isn’t a zip, you just get into these bad boys by opening the pocket. Superb.

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The Rowan bodysuit has nice details at the closure too. There’s not a fancy way to say it, but at the crotch. But who doesn’t love a fancy crotch? The facing pieces can be cut from just about anything. I used some soft lawn scraps I had. It’s a nice detail. Oh and I used those old metal snaps because I don’t have a snap press, which would obviously look much more professional. Still, they do the job and I can’t feel them at all when I’m wearing it.

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So size wise the Rowan is perfect (straight large) but the Flints aren’t. To be honest, my body has changed a fair bit over the past few months and I’m still getting used to it. It seems it doesn’t matter if it’s weight loss or gain – it can still feel like your body isn’t quite yours when it changes. I made the straight medium in the Flints because I went by my waist measurement. I thought there would be enough ease in the hips and thighs but I really should have graded out to the large. My waist seems to be about a size different to the rest of me at the moment and I’m not really used to my new proportions yet.

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They’re not as swingy as I’d like, but they’re still wearable. And who knows, my hips could catch up to my waist eventually. One can only hope. But even if they don’t, that’s fine too.

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I know there’s a few sewists who’ve eliminated those front pleats, but I actually quite like them. They bring out my inner 80s mum chic.

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First Swim of the Season {Megan Nielsen Rowan}

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It gets hot here. We spend a lot of time in the water from about September through to May. And even though we wear sunscreen and hats, as well as staying out of the sun between 10am and 3pm, sometimes that’s just not enough.

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So we wear rashies (I think they’re called rash guards in the US). They’re easy enough to buy for the kids but generally they are falling apart after one season. Not a big deal really because they’ve grown out of them anyway. But there’s not a lot of variety available for women. Maybe there’s not a huge market for them. They’re not exactly the height of beach fashion. But still, skin cancer is worse.

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So mine is a couple of seasons old and is looking worse for wear. All stretched out and baggy. They don’t seem to be made out of quality fabric anymore. Time for an upgrade. I quite like the all in one situations, like a one piece with sleeves, but I’m yet to find one that’s the right shape for me. They all seem to have what I like to call ‘Baywatch Butt’, you know – that really high cut skimpy back? Which is fine, but not all that practical when I’m in the water photographing clients, because I do that occasionally. I want to make sure I can tackle the surf without getting distracted by a wedgie.

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Enter Megan Nielsen’s Rowan. Oh yes. Yeah, I know it’s not a swimsuit pattern, but since when have I followed the rules? My tropical print spandex and swim elastic is from Pitt Trading and the spandex I used for the lining (which isn’t really lining) as well as the plain black is from The Remnant Warehouse. Both these stores are superb sources of swimmy stuff in Australia.

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My original plan was to make a top from the Rowan pattern first, but that all went out the window when today decided to reach 31 degrees. DEFINITELY TIME TO START ON THE SWIMMERS. Risky really, but it all turned out pretty ok in the end. I’ve taken some work in progress shots this time, because the construction is a bit different to the normal bodysuit as it has to be fully lined, a zipper added and no crotch snaps. As mentioned above, my lining isn’t really lining, but spandex because I didn’t have enough black swim lining left. Both have a really similar amount of stretch so it works quite well and feels more supportive.

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I pretty much made two of the bodysuits and then basted everything wrong sides together, which gives a pretty clean finish on the inside. The front is cut for the zipper (otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get into it, obviously). I attached the neckband while it was still open rather than stitching it into a loop first, so the zipper had somewhere to go. I overlocked the raw edges. Not that they need it – the spandex won’t fray. I just find it easier to work with.

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I could only get open end plastic zips, so I put a tack across it by hand and literally smashed off the end teeth with a hammer. Satisfying and effective. Then I added a bit of spandex across the end for comfort. Not my prettiest effort but no biggy.

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And you know, I knew inserting this zip would be the biggest challenge of the entire thing. I went in all zen, even used interfacing on the edge of the swimmers because I totally knew that spandex would want to pucker and go wavy and be a bastard. It still did anyway. Probably not as much as it would have without stabilising the edges. But it was still a bugger and took longer than the rest of the construction put together. The end of it looked so horrendous that I ended up covering it with a little tab of fabric. Which in the end wasn’t the worst idea because I think it adds a bit of strength to a weak point.

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The sleeves couldn’t go in flat (as per the instructions) because the side seams were already done, so they just went in the normal way. In the round? Set in? You know what I mean. Easy enough. Although make sure your overlocker doesn’t want to inhale everything around the sleeves. Mine does. I won this time though, I was bloody careful. Then elastic for the legs and you’re golden. I don’t love elastic in swimmers done this way. I prefer the look of bands. But that’s just nitpicking and also because I have delightfully thunderous thighs that elastic tends to cut into.

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And she is done! It just occurred to me that I should have framed these better and actually got some water in the shot. So you’ll just have to believe that I am standing on the edge of the pool.

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My absolute favoutire part of this pattern is the butt coverage. It’s perfect for my shape (which is mostly pancake butt). I find that most underwear patterns bag out between the back of my hip and leg and I usually have to take a dart out of the pattern piece. But not these babies! Nice and secure. I love the fit so much I think I might use it to draft some more knickers.

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Fit wise, they are a smidge too small. I’m getting a bit of pulling at the zipper. My measurements put me between the M and the L. I made the M because I didn’t want to risk them being too big. I have converted underwear patterns into swimmers before and while the fit is ok when they’re dry, they get baggy and want to wash away once they hit the surf. This one is snugggggg and not going anywhere. If I wasn’t being lazy, I would have added a bit extra to allow for the zip because it’s seam allowance that the original pattern doesn’t have built in. I’ll definitely do that next time.

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So the thing about using orange lining is that when you actually get wet, it will show through. But you know what? Nothing else shows through, so that’s a win. And there is my first official dip of the season. There will be more – Rowans and swims.

 

 

 

Hey Betty {Butterick 6413}

Betty because I was getting Betty Draper vibes after I finished this dress. Probably a more risque Betty, but Betty nonetheless. So I dragged on some red lippy and brought out the big black shades to channel her even further.

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Isn’t it weird how one teeny tiny detail can mean the difference between strutting out of the house in your latest dress with all the confidence in the world or rocking in the corner of your bedroom with uncertainty?

This is one of those dresses! It’s only a keyhole right? But I still can’t decide. So strange for me. I generally make decisions in a heartbeat. Uncertainty isn’t my thing at all.

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Let’s talk about B6413 anyway. I wrote it off when I first saw it because I assumed the top would be a nightmare to fit and the construction would be too much for my brain. Then I saw it pop up on a few clever women on Instagram and I was a bit more tempted. As it turns out, I couldn’t resist grabbing it when Butterick were having their $2.50 sale recently and I really wanted this one. Buying two makes the horrendous postage from the US worthwhile, right? Of course it does! I don’t know if these ones are even available on our shores yet, it seems to take forever for them to get over here.

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So it turns out I was wrong. It’s fine, I can say it. The fit wasn’t a big deal and neither was the construction. And can I say what a relief it is to have a pattern envelope without eleventy billion different pieces and combinations inside? Very nice. Just the one dress without any variations. Of course I had to go ahead and do a gathered skirt because straight skirts aren’t my jam – which meant I only had to trace the bodice pieces, easy!

But this is another no bra dress. Do those sticky fillet thingies from the early 2000s still exist? Maybe they would work? Not sure. A regular bra definitely does not though.

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When I first made it, the booby part (oh yes, I know all the technical sewing terms) was sitting too low. One false move and those wiiiide shoulders were heading south and the whole bodice was going to end up in a puddle around my waist. It all felt very precarious. After mucking about a bit, I decided the best fix was going to be taking a wedge out where the bodice meets the sleeve. Even though that meant unpicking all my hard work. WOE. I did it though. I took 2.5cm out of each one and it’s much better now. More secure. Less likely to end in a wardrobe malfunction. Actually, when I had it all opened back up I was considering working some bra cups into it, but I couldn’t figure out how to secure them without it being seen from the outside. I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made anyway.

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I haven’t told you about my fabric! I bought it from an op shop but wasn’t sure what it was. It’s very soft, like a lawn or voile. I assumed the squares were for quilting, but the good ladies of Instagram told me that they are handkerchief panels! How clever! Considering I have no use for 4 metres of hankies though, I decided it wouldn’t be a bad choice for this dress. If I hated it or it didn’t fit, no great loss. I still have over a metre of it left. I got a bit creative with my cutting. The fashion police might call the black band around my waist UNFLATTERING, but I think it’s interesting. See that bow tie look? INTENTIONAL. Proud of that effort actually.

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I used the same fabric for the lining, which is mildly confusing but I had so much of the fabric that it seemed sensible. I marked the lining so I knew which was which when I was sewing. I added side seam pockets and laughed in the face of slip stitching. Forgive me. This is it inside out, which barely looks any different to right side out.

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Size wise, I’m 41/32/41, which puts me in a Butterick 18 but previous experience tells me that I have to drop to at least a 16 (where finished measurements put me). My last Gertie Butterick was still too big at a 16 though, so I dropped to a 14 on this one. This isn’t the style of top that you want extra space in. It’s borderline at the waist (could be bigger) but there is still a bit of room in the booby part. I’m a D/DD too, so if you’re smaller in the bust you might find it a bit big in that part.

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Ooh and if you’re wondering (I totally was) if there’s visible boob from side on, there is. Ha. Not a lot though and honestly, if someone is going looking for that, then they deserve to cop an eyeful.

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Hooley dooley I can talk a lot. Sorry. I think I’m done now. And actually,  I’m done with the indecision too. I’m ok with this dress after talking about it so much. Bra be damned, I’ve talked myself around.

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