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 upΒ  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,Β  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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It’s Not You, It’s Me {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress/Top}

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It was a post on Cotton and Steel’s instagram that started it all for me. They’d shared a post by Sarah who’d made the most stunning version of this dress from C&S rayon (her design). I bought the pattern less than five minutes later. I so rarely do that. I’m allergic to PDFs so bought the paper version and had to have it shipped from the US. But I just had to have it. And usually I’d sit there an imagine what fabric I’d use and how I’d make it mine, but I really just want an exact copy of Sarah’s dress. To be fair, I think she’s a legend and I love pretty much everything she does.

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The pattern arrived yesterday after about a week or so of winging its way across the seas and I basically ignored my to do list, shoved everything off my desk (not really), traced it out and decided I needed to sew this RIGHT AWAY. Problem was, I didn’t have any suitable fabric. Which seems hilarious if you’ve seen my stash, but most of it is quilting cotton and this dress really needs something with more drape. I dug around and pulled out a few options before actually reading the back of the pattern. I knew the dress was fabric hungry (4.3m) and though, no worries – I’ll make the top first. HOW SENSIBLE OF ME. It would be a toile of sorts and I never make them. But heck, if there’s fitting issues it saves wasting 4.3m of fabric (how on earth do people think sewing your own clothes cheap? Quick calculation: 4m x $20/m = $80 vs about $30 for the Target equivalent. Anyway, I digress).

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Turns out the top likes a bit of fabric too (3.3m) and the only suitable amount I had was some outlandish faux silk that I grabbed from Spotlight over a year ago. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this crazy fabric. But it’s pretty bright, even for me. Still, I love those Ken Done/Gorman vibes it gives me. What I don’t love? It behaves about as well as a three year old getting dragged through Woolies right on nap time. After a birthday party. And after you took their party bag away. A ticking time bomb of antagonism. Dramatic, no?

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I had been saving it for a skirt, but nup – I had to make this top right now. She’ll be right, mate. No she won’t. The pattern is amazing, truly. Yes, there are a number of pieces but the instructions are very clear and detailed and it is finished beautifully. That was part of the problem. My darling faux silk doesn’t want to be pressed. You can’t have the iron too hot or the fabric will melt but even if pressed under another cloth, she just wanted to spring back up like nothing had ever happened. She could not be steamed into submission. Which was a big problem for that front yoke. Ugh. It’s making me cringe to show you, but I have to.

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Really I should unpick that whole front yoke and hand sew it into place. I might. But I probably won’t. About halfway through I realised I wasn’t going to love it as much as I wanted to, but continued because I’m stubborn like that. Look at the cool yoke and box pleat at the back though. I love the whole Japanese vibe. No closures and the obi style belt ties make it super cool.

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I thought maybe wearing it with ripped skinny jeans would make me feel less high school art teacher and it actually does. But I’m still on the fence a bit. I will definitely make the dress version, but I just need the right fabric. I know it will redeem itself.

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I probably just need to give it a week or so and I will change my mind. To be honest, it’s been a rough week or so. I wasn’t going to talk about it, but a few people have commented, so here’s the overshare. Yes, I have lost some weight. I have been plagued with weird skin problems since I was 14 and at the age of 36, I am done with it. So done. My doctor’s final step was to try some heavy medication that I wasn’t comfortable with so I took matters into my own hands and overhauled what I eat. And guess what? It worked. For the first three months my skin was the clearest it’s been in my adult life. With that change came some weight loss and that’s the reason I’ve been sewing so much for myself recently – half my wardrobe no longer fits. Then about two weeks ago I started getting a new skin problem, not cystic acne this time, but red itchy patches of psoriasis. I’ve been told it’s most likely a reaction to dairy (which I’ve been eating a lot more of recently). So now I’m trialing dropping dairy. It’s harder than dropping sugar and grains because damn, I love dairy. Those cows, they know how to make some delicious stuff.

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A while back, I was lucky enough to be asked to write a guest post for The Curvy Sewing Collective and that was published over the weekend. It was really exciting for me but one tiny FB comment was made about me not being ‘curvy’. And really, why should I let that bother me? But you know, it did. For my whole life, I’ve felt like the fat girl and then, when I felt like I finally fit in somewhere, I’m not curvy enough either? It annoyed me far more than it should have. That’s the thing with blogging and sewing blogging in particular, I think. Body comments will be made. For the most part though, it’s all very positive and rewarding and I don’t do it for anyone but me. I’m selfish like that. So you’re stuck with me, internet.

Ack, too many words. The pattern is tops, my fabric was not. But I’ll be back with another version when I get some kick ass fabric. The end.

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Shorts Denial {Megan Nielsen Flint Shorts}

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Here’s the thing about shorts. I don’t wear them. At least since I’ve had kids anyway. My thighs are something I’ve always felt compelled to disguise, so shorts have been off the menu. However, when I saw Megan’s Flint pattern for the first time, I knew I had to have it. The shorts didn’t blip on my radar, but those pants, holy hell – I needed those pants on my body STAT.

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So when my pattern arrived yesterday from the lovely Stitch 56, I opened it to have a look and decided that I’d trace it out then and there, but buy some fabric for the pants when I had a chance. Except then I got a bit nervous. I’d not really made pants before (only Megan’s Tania culottes) and even though I rarely make toiles, I figured it was probably a good idea for these – especially since the pants require about 3 metres of fabric and I didn’t want to waste that. So off I toddled to my sewing room and went over my stash, looking for enough fabric suitable for a toile. I remembered I had this big denim off cut picked up from our local op shop last week. Weird for me, since I don’t really sew with denim, but it was cheap and heavy duty and I figured it would come in handy for something. Not enough for pants, but hey – I could make shorts right? This was just for fitting purposes, I don’t actually have to wear them, do I?

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Except yes I do have to wear them because they’re bloody awesome! Waaaaaaahhhhhh! They fit my fat thighs, with room! They have fun pocket lining! They have cute buttons! They wrap in the coolest way! The fit is pretty great too. I don’t need to change anything. Although a bonus of my measurements (42/34/44) is that I fit exactly into a lot of patterns without any changes. In MN patterns I’m an XL.

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(I took my pics in my sewing room because there’s the remnants of a tropical cyclone raging outside. School has been cancelled, husband is supposed to be home from work. It’s quite a day. Sewing room was the only place that had a sliver of light. Sorry that they’re a bit crap. And yeah, I could have waited for pics but I’m wearing them today, sooooo….).

I used a scrap of anchor chambray for the pocket lining, because of course nautical. I even used little silver anchor buttons that I’d been hoarding forever on the waistband. Because nautical. But then, they didn’t look quite right. Maybe a bit toooo yacht club. So I changed them for little bunny and moon fabric covered ones instead. Also from an op shop. Fabric is Luna Sol.

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Which brings the total cost of these shorts to approximately $6.50. That’s without my labor costs, obviously – but let’s conveniently ignore that. Jokes aside, they only took me just over an hour and a half to sew, which isn’t bad.

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So besides going together really well, feeling somewhat high end and generally just being really cool, you know what else I love about Megan’s patterns? (and I know this is a soppy love fest, but I swear I’m not being paid and I paid for my own patterns, I just really like her stuff) – there’s always suggestions in the instructions for tweaks to make them your own. One of the suggestions was to add buttons to the other side of the waistband too. So I did. Now I have cool shorts. Pant to come when I find something suitably swishy and drapey and delightful.

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Sewing Bras Again {Orange Lingerie Esplanade Bra}

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The Esplanade bra – is it on your radar yet? I haven’t seen many out in the wild, so I think maybe for the first time ever, I’m sewing something pretty damn new. As opposed to checking out everyone elses versions before I commit, which is my usual MO.

Pattern: Esplanade Bra by Orange Lingerie

Main Fabric: Some poly goodness that I assume is vintage. John Kaldor on the selvedge. A little bit of stretch against the grain, none in the other direction. Got it from the op shop for the princely sum of $1.

Power Mesh: The Remnant Warehouse.

Wires, elastic, foam etc: Booby Traps.

This is the first time I’ve sewn with foam and to be honest, my machine didn’t love it. I used a new size 70 universal needle as per the instructions, but it was skipped stitch city and involved a few swears on my part. We got there in the end though.

I was a bit of a crap blogger and didn’t take any construction photos, mainly because I was sewing most of it last night and no one wants ugly night time images. However whenΒ  I make my next one, I’ll share more of that stuff.

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So as you’ve probably noticed by now, the Esplanade bra is a long line, strapless bra with foam cups and boning. It’s quite rad and pretty different to most of the bra patterns out there right now. I love sewing bras, I love the process and I love how it all comes together in the end.

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I’m probably more proud of the guts of the bra than the outside. So pretty.

Every time I sew a bra, I get asked really similar questions – so I’m going to do a bit of a FAQ here, followed by some fitting images and info.

 

– Is it hard to sew a bra?

This is tough to answer because it depends on what you’re used to sewing. I think the biggest difference to sewing clothing is the seam allowance. In bra sewing it’s generally 1/4 inch, which feels tiny at first, but you get used to it quite quickly. You’re also sewing with some fabric that behaves quite differently to the usual wovens.

– You included wires?!

Of all the parts of bra sewing, people seem to balk the most at the wire part. It’s not that hard. In fact, even if you want a wireless bra, a lot of patterns will still add the casing as it covers raw edges and provides a bit of structure. Wires aren’t the devil, they’re actually pretty cool.

– How did you learn?

From Beverley Johnson’s Craftsy Class (affiliate link). I wouldn’t be sewing bras if I hadn’t watched that class. It is bloody excellent. My first ever bra was a Pin Up Girl Classic, which is demonstrated in that class. It’s my tried and true bra pattern and I love it like a child.

– Where do you get your supplies from?

I always blog where everything is from, but in Australia try:

Booby Traps (fabric, elastic, hardware and pretty much anything else bra related)

The Remnant Warehouse (fabric)

Pitt Trading (fabric)

Sew Squirrel (kits and patterns)

Measure Twice Cut Once (kits and patterns)

Kits are a really good idea for your first bra, then you’ll learn your strap elastic from your underwire casing.

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Let’s talk fit. I don’t think sewing a bra is hard, but I do think fitting can be. Bras have far less room for error when compared to something like a dress. They have to be just right. And because we’re all individual little snowflakes with all sorts of boob sizes and shapes, this can be a bit tough. I honestly don’t know how RTW bras fit most of the population. I suspect they don’t and we settle for ‘good enough’. I’ve been pretty lucky with fitting, my bras have all been pretty spot on the first time, although I’ve always made slight tweaks to them all on the next round. Nothing has been so far off that it’s unwearable. I’ve watched some poor ladies in bra groups on Facebook make 6, 7 and 8 toiles. And the tough part about it is that you can’t try it on as you go, you have to make the WHOLE DAMN THING and out of the same fabric you intend to sew the final version in. Not for the faint hearted. But when you get it, angels descend from the heavens and you no longer find bras a torture device to be ripped off as soon as you get home. It’s worth it, I swear.

So this bra is probably my worst fit right off the bat. There’s gaping in the upper cups and the whole shebang is too long. The length is easily fixed next go, but the upper cup part will need a bit of extra tweaking. On the plus side, see how the bridge is flat against my chest wall? That’s sometimes a tough one to get right, so I scored there. Nevermind, it’s still wearable and I might even add straps to this version to eliminate a bit of that gape action.

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There’s that pesky gap. Not enough fullness at the top of my boobs. That’s age, gravity, babies and probably genetics. You’ll note at this stage I hadn’t closed off the casing. The wires are the last thing that goes in so you can test the fit before committing to wire size. You do not want to ever have to unpick bar tacks from underwire casing. NO. Different bras require different wire lengths. I tend to trial and error from my stash until I find the best fit.

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What about support? Strapless bras aren’t really known for it, are they? I think the support in this one is decent, would be better if that upper cup was the right size. Still, I’m not going jogging in this bad boy and I think expecting to is just unrealistic, because gravity, cup size and physics.

I’m very happy with this pattern though. It goes together really well, all my notches lined up and besides the foam troubles, there were minimal melt downs. Will make again and will also make a beach version from swim spandex. With straps though, because my sort of swimming involves waves.

Knickers With A Twist: Reworked in Woven

First things first – awesome fabric giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pop over to see what clever Jess and clever Brooke have come up with too.

Challenge number four – this one ended up being my favourite! Even though I had to use my brain parts a little bit because here’s the thing – knickers are generally made with a negative ease. Meaning, they are smaller than our bodies because they have to stretch a bit to fit. Items made of wovens (like a dress made from quilting cotton) have ease so we can move our bodies once they are on. The amount of ease you like is a purely personal thing and some items need more than others. So using a woven for knickers, means you either have to make them bigger than your body or do as I did, and just use a small panel of woven and the rest in stretch. I hope that makes sense.

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In this case, I hacked my pattern once again, as you can see below. Hot tip: Beverly tells you in the Craftsy class not to cut into your original, but to trace it off every time you want to make changes. Do as the smart lady says. I did not and ended up having to rewatch the entire class and redraft my pattern. Idiot.

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Back and side front from stretch lace, centre front panel and gusset outer from satin (cut on the bias for a least a wee bit of mechanical give) and gusset lining from black jersey. Navy would have been better, but alas, none to be found.

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I bought the stretch lace and satin from fabric.com about a year ago when I first started bra making. Then when I actually received it, I realised the lace has too much stretch for a bra and would need to be lined, which seemed a bit scary back then so I never actually got around to making it. When I saw it in my stash though, I knew it would be perfect for this challenge.

Cool pom pom elastic is from The Remnant Warehouse.

All done and another super comfortable pair. I ended up turning the seam allowance of that front panel back towards the centre and stitching it down so it couldn’t be seen through the lace and to provide extra strength. I was a bit worried about them being a bit smaller because of the woven panel, but they are perfect. Sewing that lace felt a bit like how I’d imagine sewing spider webs feels, but all up it was pretty painless.

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So inspired by these cool knicks, I finally sewed the bra to match, using the Pin Up Girl Classic pattern, with all the bits and bobs from Booby Traps. Cups and bridge are lined with nude tricot, band is lined with nude power mesh.

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webdsc_3537webdsc_3539And because they look so rubbish when I photograph them flat, all curling over themselves – I got brave and took photos of them on.

So scroll down if you dare.

Are you sure about this?

Really sure?

Last chance!

I take no responsibility now….

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How good is that fit though? Pretty pleased with myself. This is why I sew.

Hope your eyes haven’t melted.

Just Keep Swimming {Ohhh Lulu Cindy Bodysuit}

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Being ok with the body you have is hard. I go through phases, but at the moment I’m struggling with it. Surely then making yourself swimmers, having photos in them and then putting them online is the worst idea, right? Maybe. For me it sort of helps though. No change rooms, no obnoxious size tags, no comparing myself to shop assistants with a completely different body shape to me. NONE OF THAT. Plus you get the style and print that is absolutely you. I put the images out there because all bodies are good bodies and I firmly believe we need to see a broad range of them so it becomes normal – especially for our children.

Right. I’ve professed my love of this pattern many times. I’ve made lingerie from it (as originally intended) but also a bikini. I’ve put off making the one piece/bodysuit version because it requires a bit of pattern manipulation and I’m generally pretty lazy. Turns out it wasn’t hard at all. There are a lot of pieces, more depending on how much lining you want. I used power mesh to line everything except the top and bottom side panels. I am a big fan of power mesh. A massive fan. The heavy stuff too. I feel like it’s changed my sewing life. Some people find it feels too restrictive, but I love that snug feeling – probably the same reason I love the feeling of wearing a waspie (although I don’t wear it a lot because it’s too hot most of the year here). It feels supportive and like a big hug.

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Pattern is Ohhh Lulu’s Cindy.

All the fabric for this one came from The Remnant Warehouse.

Underwire casing, wires and hardware from Booby Traps.

The little buttons were salvaged from an old bikini.

Also I sewed this mostly on my vintage Janome, with a little bit of over locking on my Bernina. I’m not even sure power mesh and spandex existed when the Janome was made.

So, problems. The power mesh is the really heavy stuff. I love it. I love sewing with it too, because my machines seem to like sewing knits more when there’s power mesh included in the mix. It stretches pretty well in one direction, but not a whole lot in the other. Not really thinking this through, I made sure the biggest amount of stretchΒ  runs across my body, as I have done in my bras in the past. Fine in bras, less fine in the bottom half of the swimsuit which needs a bit of stretch vertically. It’s not restrictive enough to prevent me wearing them, but next time I might just use lining in that bottom from panel, or at least use a mesh that stretches well in both directions.

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A couple of other really minor issues were:

  • not taking the underwire casing high enough under the arms. I’m so used to using picot that folds over to cover it that I didn’t really think. I made binding out of the swim fabric for the first time ever and it actually worked pretty well! It’s something I’ve always been pretty scared to try in the past. There’s a couple of bits that are slightly twisted, but it’s not noticeable when I’m wearing it.
  • Next time I’ll trim down the highest point of the upper cups (where it folds over to attach a ring and the straps) as it was a bit wide for my rings. Well, rectangles in this case.

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I made my own straps for the first time too! Yay! Another process I’d been putting off. It was actually super easy. I cut two strips of fabric, 20 inches x 2 inches, folded them lengthwise (right sides together) and then used my over locker to attach swim elastic down the length. Then just turned them right side out and magic, straps!

These ones show the guts and where I put the mesh for support. I tend to use bands for the legs because it’s really easy and I like the bit of extra coverage.

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This pattern has the option to line the cups (which I always take advantage of because I need the extra support) and gives you really straight forward instructions on how to enclose all the seams. Looks nice and polished, doesn’t it?

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I know I end up blathering on when I blog this stuff, but when I was trying to talk myself into learning how to make lingerie and swimwear, I would madly google to find sewing blogs on the topic. It made everything seem so much more achievable and this way I hope to repay the favour of the bloggers that helped me (even though they probably don’t realise).

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Pretty decent fit, I think. The only issue is the mesh not having enough stretch vertically, so the wires aren’t sitting right up under my bust. But to be fair, I have that issue in just about every one piece in this style that I’ve ever tried on. So maybe it’s just me. Oh, another thing on fit – I kept the cups and top half my usual size but sized down two sizes on the bottom half, as the bikinis I’ve made before end up feeling too big once wet. And that’s not a feeling I enjoy in the surf. Ahem. Fine for comfy knickers, not so fine for swimmers.

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Yes, for someone who lives on the coast I am very pale. We’re all about being sun smart here and to shatter the illusion, these swimmers will be covered by a long sleeved rashie most of the time. Being sun burnt sucks.

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Extra bonus images of what we’ve been getting up to – it’s been really hot. Standard QLD summer stuff, but it still seems to surprise us every year. The kids and even the dog have very fair skin too πŸ˜‰

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The Tale of Two Somas {Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit}

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Ohhhh Soma. I’ve loved you ever since I spied bikini version 2 on blogs all over the internet. All those pieces fitting so perfectly together. I could clash all the prints! I could run stripes in different directions! I could be all understated and cool in all black. The possibilities. Further investigation showed that Papercut Patterns are a NZ company and they ship their paper patterns for free. SOLD.

Version 2 was obviously going to be the first one I sewed up. I was keen on the other bikini version, but my old enemy fold over elastic was involved and it looked like it would be less supportive than V2. I also thought my back fat would ooze through the strapping on the back. YOU’RE WELCOME.

So V2 it was. Here’s what I bought from where:

Papercut Patterns Soma Swimsuit Pattern.

Scaled down version of previously purchased unicorn and mermaid Spoonflower Sports Lycra. It’s fabulous stuff.

Heavy duty power mesh from The Remnant Warehouse.

Strapping and elastic from Booby Traps (I think!).

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First snag, those bloody notches on the upper and lower cups. Mate. I almost didn’t even start because of them. I cut my fabric as per the layout above, SO WHY DID I HAVE TWO NOTCHES AT THE TOP OF THE LOWER CUP WHEN THE NEXT PIC SHOWS TWO AT THE BOTTOM? What the hell?! WHYYYYYYY. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve made bras, man. Lots of bras. This should be easy.

I took to Instagram, feeling ridiculous. A lovely helpful poster told the the second notch on the upper cup was most like for the strap. Upon reading to the end of the instructions, I was able to confirm she was right. Of course! You idiot, Katie. I’m still none the wiser about the down notches on the lower cup in the instructions. Eh. Onward.

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After the notch drama, everything else was cool and went together as it should. I was a rebel and used pom pom elastic to finish the edges. It was not 1cm as directed and I highly doubt it’s chlorine resistant. But hey, my pool is salt, the ocean is salt and this bikini is here for a good time, not a long time. I’ll be interested to see how it holds up, actually. I was surprised to see Papercut recommend regular old bra strapping and FOE for this pattern. Apparently it holds up as well as its swim elastic cousins. Who knew? I was a bit concerned about it looking too bra-like, but hey, what a relief to not have to make my own straps from the swim lycra! Woo!

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Finished!

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Should have changed my overlocker thread. Didn’t.

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Oh hey look – matching the Ohhh Lulu Cindy bottoms I made a while back! Yay! I bought the scaled down version of the print for the top because I knew the other one would be way too big. I think it works. I mean, it’s all a bit ‘look at my mermaid tits!’ with the black pieces under the cups. But eh. I can live with it.

So, fit. After a search of some sewing blogs, I decided to size down in the top. My measurements sort of put me between the L and the XL anyway. So I made the L. Which would have been fine if I’d followed direction and used swim lining, but nooooo – I used the heaviest power mesh in all the land. Because I like how it holds everything in nice and tight and I’ve used it in other swimmers and bras with much success. I love this stuff. Except, it’s not got a lot of give. So now my top is a bit too firm. Like a bit of my best friend back fat (BFBF) spilling over the back. Ooops. Next time, if using the mesh of constriction – size up. Otherwise, the L should have been right. I think. I’ve cut another out of bamboo jersey, with stretch tricot lining, which I’ll wear as a bralette. Am interested to see how the fit is on that one.

So the shape on me is a bit… dunno. There’s side boob spreading out under my arms. It almost needs the sides of the upper cup taken in a bit. Or maybe I’m just really used to wearing wires. Will I make it again? Yes. But it needs a few tweaks. Great pattern for the most part though. But probably more suited to smaller frames.

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With all that done, I had the urge to bash out V1 in Lizzy House jersey I’ve been hoarding for ages. I wanted to see how different the fit was and figured it would be a good can’t-be-arsed-wearing-a-proper-bra-today bra. Hedged my bets, made the L again. Cut it out the wrong way, as you can see. I cut my pattern pieces out so the text on them is the right way up, running from left to right. This has never failed me before and to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve even stopped to consider if pieces are up the right way or not. FAIL. See? I still learn something every time I sew. Still, pattern makers – it would be much appreciated if you could print things so the text is running the way the pattern piece should go. Or maybe I just have to think about what I’m doing more. Anyway, I realised this version wouldn’t be perfect, so I can almost forgive myself for sideways dinosaurs. After all, fold over elastic. Need I say more? Maybe I’m improving though, because I said way less swears than usual when I was doing this one.

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Lined this guy with Telio bamboo jersey. It’s lovely, it’s delicious and I made some undies from it earlier this week. Like wearing clouds. Or so I’d imagine.

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Ooh, I made the bottoms from the pattern too. As undies, obviously. So no lining and I added a gusset from the bamboo. Very simple.

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Wanna talk about fit again? Ok. THEY ARE MASSIVE. Undies are a size too big, top is at least two sizes too big. I ended up taking a couple of inches off each of the pieces of strapping at the back and it’s just wearable (oh and no back fat ooze, who knew?!). Gahhhhhhh. Cannot win with fit today. Still love the pattern though and will make again. Comfy as heck. Toiles definitely needed for these though, for me at least.

These pics were a bit hard today. I wasn’t feeling particularly body positive after all the fitting stuff. Pulling them off the camera made me feel disheartened and massive. I’m sticking them here though because I will get over it. All bodies are good bodies. Ohhhmmmm.

And look at Ed and I, both in handmade swimmers. Yasss.

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My favourite things.

I thought a nice, sensible way to start my blog would be to list some of my favourite patterns and designers as I’ve trialed many over the years. Let’s just say I can be picky. I have very three very specific prerequisites and I rarely stray from them. I like my upper arms covered, I like my thighs covered and I like pockets. The latter being the most important, obviously. I must stop right here and add the disclaimer that I don’t believe in ‘fashion rules’, I loathe the word ‘flattering’ and I will fight to the death against anyone that tries to convince anyone else that they need to cover up certain parts of themselves. Basically, you wear whatever the hell you want and no one can tell you otherwise. So while I have no issues with whatever anyone else decides to cover or uncover, I am more comfy with sleeves and knee length skirts. With that said, here are my favourite patterns.

  1. Emery Dress by Christine Haynes.I have made so many of these. So many. Sometimes I make them with a fuller gathered skirt, sometimes with a circle skirt, sometimes with the slightly gathered A line version straight from the pattern. You can see below I’ve also made a more scooped neck, maxi version and also a bit of a heart cut out back version. It’s a dress that goes together in the most lovely, simple way and it is suitable for those of us with a curvier shape. Boobs and hips, if you will.

2. Sudley Blouse by Megan Nielsen.

Oh Sudley, how I love thee. A relative new comer to my stash, she became a firm favourite right away. And to be honest, I bought Sudley for the blouse version – but on a whim decided to go with the dress first. I’m yet to make the blouse *cough*. This is my ideal beach dress – no zip, no buttons – just a straight over the head, easy peasey, comfortable as heck dress. A nice change to the structured ones I usually wear. Perfect for a slightly dusty feeling Sunday too. Did I mention it’s reversible? REVERSIBLE. It’s another that goes together really nicely and pretty quickly because there are no darts or closures. The trickiest bit is that lovely bias facing, but there’s an excellent tutorial for that here.

 

3. Simple Gathered Skirt

Ok, so this is kind of cheating because it’s not really a pattern, but it’s something I make all the time and is super easy. I have a curved waistband from a vintage pattern that I know fits me well and I use it for pretty much every skirt I make – I just gather skirt panels the width of the fabric I’m using. That’s it. One on the fold for the front, two panels for the back and a zip up the back. So easy. Gathering is great like that because you can just make it fit. I line up the centre front of the skirt to the centre front of the interfaced waistband and add pockets. Sometimes I maxi them, sometimes I add buttons down the front instead of the zipper – but they’re all basically the same.

 

I have way more to share, but those are definitely the three that I’ve sewn the most.