Don’t Say It {Jalie 3242 + Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra + Megan Nielsen Rowan Bodysuit}

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I hate the term ‘mummy and me’. It makes me shudder. There, I said it. I don’t hate the idea, just the cutesy term. Blergh. I prefer to call this ‘being economical with fabric’. I managed to get these two out of less than a yard, which was a surprise. I was sure it would have taken more.

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Yes, I made the same pair of swimmers as yesterday (this time sans zip and with the addition of foam cups). So I’m not going to talk about them again. You can check here if you missed yesterday’s post.

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Apparently he’s not embarrassed by me or handmade clothes. Yet.

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It’s still raining. Our feet are webbed and check out what it’s doing to my hair. At least everyone has water again and the garden is happy.

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Mashing It Up {Jalie 3242, Megan Nielsen Rowan and Ohhh Lulu Romy}.

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I’ve mentioned before how I’m happiest when submerged, like some kind of sunglasses-wearing dugong. As a family we spend a lot of time in the water. Kids have a habit of growing too, so I knew I needed to replace last year’s swimmers. Locally, there wasn’t a lot of lycra available that the boys would like, so I was browsing Spoonflower and pretty soon I had a cartful of their sport lycra. Ahem. Including those amazing Andrea Lauren moths for myself. You might have noticed I have a thing for moths. I have one tattooed on my arm and there’s a moth in my KMAD logo. It stems from a love of Silence of the Lambs, which I realise is creepy. I read the book when I was about 12 years old and have just loved that moth image ever since. I really like the old biology illustrations too, which is what the print reminded me of.

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The two little guys and the big guy got theirs made from Jalie 3242. Yes, it’s an underwear pattern, no I don’t care. They generally just wear them underneath boardies anyway, so it’s not like they are flashing them all over the beach. Though they could if they wanted to really. Look how cool those prints are! I must add, that when my husband tried his on, he pretended to announce his swim race for the olympics over a megaphone and ran around the house shaking his arms and legs about for a bit. Warming up for his pretend swim.

For theirs I replaced the underwear elastic band with a fabric band. Easy.

Bits for mine:
Sport Lycra from Spoonflower
Lining from The Remnant Warehouse
Chunky zip from East Coast Fabric
Elastic from Pitt Trading
Yellow rings and sliders harvested from an old pair of swimmers.

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I was keen to make a one piece for myself. My old favourite is getting a bit saggy and the Ohhh Lulu Cindy I made for myself a while back is too big now. I’m joining to local pool so will be doing a bit of lap swimming and figured a well fitting one piece is a good idea. I wanted to see if I could create a slightly different style using two of my faves – Megan Nielsen’s Rowan bodysuit and Ohhh Lulu’s Romy bra. Here’s a refresher on what they look like:

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I love how the bottom half of the bodysuit fits and Romy provides decent shaping and coverage without wire. I pulled out my pattern pieces, marked off where I wanted the bodysuit to end (by comparing it to my favourite black one piece) and lined up the Romy on top to see how they’d fit together. It was pretty much perfect. I took some width out of the Romy back piece and straightened it out, but that was it.

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I added the zip because I assumed I would need it to get the swimmers on and off (turns out I don’t, but nevermind). It was by far the most painful part of the whole process, but not as difficult as last time. I had to shorten it and add a tab to the end again, then I basted that sucker in by hand first and that definitely helped. Actually, I basted heaps with these (leg holes, bodice top edge, bra pieces, raw edges where the zip goes) – it really helps when you have to sew the binding etc on and you’re not struggling to keep multiple layers together.

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For the first time ever, I made my own straps using this tutorial and my own binding using this one. I prefer wider straps than RTW offers on most of their swimmers, so turning these wasn’t hard at all. Making my own straps and finishing with binding always seemed so scary in the past, I have no idea why. I’d always just finish necklines with elastic and legs with bands (or elastic). Probably because I started sewing lingerie before swimmers and that’s just what I knew. Anyway, the binding finish isn’t as neat as RTW and I know zig zag looks super ‘homemade’ but it’s not really obvious unless you’re too close.

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I’m really happy with the fit and I don’t think there’s anything I would change. I might try adding foam cups next time for a bit of extra lift, but it’s honestly fine without them. And adding the cups means I’d lose the enclosed seams of the bra lining because of the way the cup is split into two. I’d have to stitch them to the lining so they don’t move around and drive me nuts.

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We’ve just had about 6 months of rain over 4 days, so I’m not really sure why I’ve been sewing swimmers, but I’m glad they are all done. Bring on the beach! Bring on the pool! Bring on our trip to Samoa!

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More Weird Tan Lines {Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra}

Yeah it’s another Romy. In the fabric leftover from my one piece. Nothing you haven’t seen before and mostly uneventful. The bottoms are from the Megan Nielsen Rowan bodysuit because I loved the fit so much.

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Never one to leave things alone though, I changed the front of the Romy so it ties up.

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It’s a really simple hack because there is a seam down the centre front anyway. I just added some casing and boning for support, along with three loops each side. I’m going to add a fourth to the top because it looks a bit weird not lacing all the way to the top.

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I attached picot for the bottom band (upside down so the picots aren’t showing). I know picot isn’t traditionally swimsuit elastic, but I’ve found it on the inside of my RTW swimmers in the past and it’s always held up really well. As usual, I lined with power mesh and all the seams are enclosed – I do love how clean that finish is.

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I cheated and didn’t make the straps, they were harvested from an old pair of swimmers. I always pinch what I can from bras and swimmers before I turf them, as long as they’re still in good nick. It’s so worth it. I hate making straps, it’s a chore.

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It just occurred to me that I could try lacing the top so the bow is at the bottom instead of how I have it here. Shall give that one a try!

Reinventing Ready To Wear {Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra}

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I do love me some creative strapping on bras and swimmers and have quite a few examples in my wardrobe. My most worn is probably this one piece by Disturbia. I lurrrrrve it. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to try and recreate it when sewing though because it all looks a bit complex and maths have never been my strong point.

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I have some unsuccessful RTW examples. You know the ones that you purchase online, hoping for the best but that just never work? This is one of those:

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I wanted to love it but the shape is all wrong for me. It holds absolutely nothing where it should, the front is too wide, the boning at the sides bends out and the bottom band (or lack of) is useless. It gapes at the back where that strapping sits. Ugh. Then earlier this week I stumbled across this Iron Fist Sports Bra and neeeeeeeded it. My inner nerd loves how the straps look like a spine and ribs. But of course, it’s out of stock. Which got me thinking, could I recreate it myself so I know that it works for me?

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Yeah, worth a try. I already have Ohhh Lulu’s Romy and know that it fits me because I’ve made a couple of versions (here and here). This sort of fancy back would also be ideal for the strappy back of the Sincerely Rylee dress that I made. A bra that’s less ‘ooops you can see my bra’ and more ‘OH YEAH THIS IS MY BRA AND IT’S FANCY AS HELL’.

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And look how pretty it is! The fabric is by Dear Stella. I’ve noticed lately that a lot of my favourite fabric companies (Cotton and Steel and Timeless Treasures also) are coming out with knits. It’s brilliant. I love the prints and the quality is very high too.

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The sparkly strapping is from Booby Traps. As a rule, you’re not really supposed to use strapping as the upper and lower bands on a bra because it’s generally pretty firm – but this strapping is pretty soft and stretchy (more like elastic). I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

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An inside out photo if you’re interested to see how it all fits together. I was a bit haphazard with the whole thing but it worked just fine. I decided to shorten the back band pattern piece where it starts to curve down and narrow for the strapping and back closure. So that whole part has been omitted and the straps start there. The inside isn’t as pretty as the outside but I can deal with that. I’ve lined the whole thing in power mesh for support, as I always do with wire free bras.

I figured out the length of the back straps using the very complex method of comparing it to one of my existing Romys.

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I wasn’t going to bother taking pics of me wearing it because I wanted to wear it right away, but I grabbed a couple when I first put it on this morning anyway. So I do apologise for them being a bit unplanned and rubbish. You can see that it still provides decent support and shaping. The power mesh lining and princess seams help that. I’ve used pale pink hardware cannibalised from an old bra and matching pink bows.

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Ooops – out of focus. Best of a bad bunch. It’s hard to take a pic of your own back. Haven’t even brushed my hair. Cool though, right? Nothing buckling (even though I’m mid adjustment, sorry).

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I’ve worn both the bra and knickers in public all day and am pleased to report that I was super comfortable and everything stayed in place. So that’s a win. I really want to try a swimmy version next, but the thought of having to make all the strapping is daunting!

The Mysteries of Bra Sewing {Pin Up Girls Shelley}

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Have I told you before how much I love bra sewing? I do believe I have. And you might think I’m nuts, but it’s seriously some of the most rewarding sewing I’ve ever done. Plus it pays off. I haven’t bought a bra for at least a year and I very rarely wear my RTW anymore. In fact, most of them have been sacrificed for their wires and hardware. I wore a RTW bra earlier this week and it only last until lunch time before it was off and turfed into the corner. NO. They are so uncomfortable.

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Why are they uncomfortable? Quite simply, they don’t fit. I mean, I’ve been fitted and they probably fit as well as they can for RTW. But we are all unique snowflakes and our bodies have their own quirks which just can’t all magically fit into a mass produced item like a bra. And for the record, I used to think my bras fit – until I made my own.

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As I’ve also mentioned before, I had my first bra pattern (Pin Up Girls Classic) languishing in my sewing room for nearly twelve months before I plucked up the courage to sew it. It was the most intimidating thing I’d ever seen. So tiny, only a few pieces and yet scary as hell. It was Beverly Johnson’s Craftsy class that finally gave me the shove I needed to make my first bra. I do thoroughly recommend it if you need the encouragement. It’s amazingly helpful and seeing it all done step by step makes it seem just like any other sewing – put those pieces together in the right order and you’re golden. Of course with bra sewing you’ve got the complex fit challenges. That’s the hardest part – not the sewing at all. Something like a dress is much more forgiving fit-wise than a bra. But when you get it right, the light shines down and those angles start singing. I swear.

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The lovely Georgina from Sew Squirrel drop me a message last week and asked if I’d like to try one of her new bra kits. Would I?! Don’t need to ask me twice. She mentioned that they were velvet and I pretty much purred. I already have a few velvet bras but will always make more. It’s a bit of a temperamental fabric to work with, but worth it. She gave me a choice of colours and I chose grey, which is pretty much my personal version of nude. I have a few grey bras now, which sounds so blah but I love it. She even sent me the wiiiiide strapping and hardware. I love my wide straps.

Kits are perfect if you’re just starting out in bras because you get the perfect amount of all the right pieces. This isn’t the kind of stuff you can buy at generic sewing shops. It’s pretty specialised. Knowing the difference between your picot and strapping can be really confusing when you’re new to bra sewing, so I’ve done some handy labeling for you.

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This is the Shelley bra pattern, which you can also purchase via Sew Squirrel with the bra kits. So handy. The kit didn’t have the lace, so that’s from my stash, but these images show what goes where. I used the neckline trim for the under arms because using lace meant I didn’t need it at the neckline (though the lace is stabilised with yet another type of elastic, sometimes it’s clear but in this kit it’s black, which is way nicer to work with). Then I had enough leftover fabric to make matching knickers! Hooray! I used the narrow picot from the kit for the leg elastic. The waistband elastic was from my stash.

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Here’s some tips I found really helpful when I started sewing bras:

  • Do I use stretch or non stretch fabric?

    Generally wired bras require non stretch and bralettes require stretch. Hence me lining this one – the velvet is stretch and without the lining, there would be very little support and everything would stretch out. Even if you don’t line the whole thing, you’ll generally need to line the bridge for extra strength. The band always needs stretch, but you can get varying types of power mesh, some firmer than others. I prefer the firm, but I like my bras to feel like they’re giving me a hug. When I sew bralettes I usually line with power net, for that extra support. I need it. You might not. But do follow the stretch/non stretch requirements of your bra pattern. It’s really important.

  • How do I know my size?

    Much like any sewing pattern, your size won’t correspond to your RTW size. AT ALL. You have to let go of all that and roll with it. Promise. Each bra company has a different method of measuring – follow it. For example, I’m somewhere between a 14DD or 16D in RTW (they are sister sizes). The Shelley above is a 38C (my size has changed lately). In Ohhh Lulu I’m more like a 36D, in my favourite Kwik Sew bra pattern I’m a 38C and in Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough I’m a 40DD.

  • So I just take my measurements, sew up my size and I’ll be golden?

    Maybe, but probably not. I don’t think there are many lucky women that get their bras to fit straight off the pattern. Sorry. It’s more likely you’ll sew at least two or three before you find your groove. And there are probably standard adjustments that you’ll make to most patterns – I can’t deal with a partial band so always have full bands. I often have to move straps because they sit too far to the outside of my body and I usually have to raise it under my arm (which I totally forgot to do with this one and it shows).

  • Ok fine, what can I use for a toile so I don’t cut into my fancy stuff and waste it?

    This one divides bra sewists. Some will sew their practice runs in a cheapy fabric to test the fit, but you really need to find something very close to your good fabric to have that work successfully. Fabrics will behave differently and stretch and warp and curve all in different ways. I personally use the good stuff as bra sewing doesn’t take a lot of fabric anyway. Yeah it sucks getting to the end and not having a wearable bra, but you will learn heaps in the process. And yeah, you just read right, you have to make THE WHOLE THING – elastics, closures and all. You can’t really test the fit until it’s complete. It just makes victory all the more sweet. You’re allowed to cry and swear though, I certainly have. Lucky my dog is deaf and the kids are at school.

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Yeah she’s not perfect, but she goes alright. The bra too. HA. I hope that was somewhat helpful and not too blabbery. I do like my bra talk. Let me know if you’re going to try some bra sewing or if you already have.

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Bra vs Bralette {Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra + Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra part two}

Once again, this is a post about underwear. I’m wearing some. Probably NSFW.

Part One can be seen here.

Meanwhile, look at all my new beauties! Woo hoo!

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From L-R: Romy bra, Romy bra, copy from RTW bra, Marlborough bra and Marlborough bra. All the knickers are the same pattern and are self drafted from this Craftsy class.

Where do you get stuff?

Romy bra by Ohhh Lulu.

Marlborough bra by Orange Lingerie.

Most of the supplies are from Booby Traps and The Remnant Warehouse.

My wires are from Sew Squirrel. They also have beautiful kits if you’d prefer a one stop shop.

Here’s another Marlborough that I’m not going to say much about because it’s exactly the same as the one in the last post. Both the lace and velvet are stretch, so the bra is lined with nude bra lining. I wanted a bit of the scallop on the knickers, so didn’t take the picot elastic over the lace parts on the legs.

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This next Romy bra I did change a little bit. I moved the point where the back of the straps attach because they were a bit too wide for me (now they are more towards the centre of my back). I also widened the back strap and eliminated the closure, so it just pulls on over my head. It’s super comfortable. This time I didn’t line the side cups so the skin would be visible through the holes (oh how scandalous!). That also makes for a slightly more relaxed fit. I still find it quite a nice shape for a wireless bra, I think it’s the princess seams and the fact that I use mesh for the lining.

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Here’s the inside:

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And on. Sigh. The perfect weekend set.

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Bra vs Bralette {Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra + Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra Part One}

This post may or may not be safe for work, depending on who is looking over your shoulder. No nudity, but I’m wearing underwear.

Ok? ok.

This past weekend started with me digging through my underwear drawer and having a giant cull. Too big, too small, too low, too high, too worn, never worn, too grandma, too uncomfortable etc. You know the drill. Which left me with very little beyond the undies I’d made for myself. A sign, I think. What’s a girl to do? Sew four pairs of knickers on a Friday night. Party animal.

Of course, sewing four pairs of knickers can be done pretty easily in a few hours. But when one decides that she must now have bras to match, well – that takes a bit longer. I get asked about bra sewing more than anything else ever, so I thought I’d share some with you. Yeah I’m being brave and getting my clothes off. Because it’s all well and good to sew my bras, but you’re curious about fit too, right? I get it. I always was when I saw home sewn bras too. Because they are home sewn. How could they possibly compare to store bought?

Let’s talk about the patterns I used:

Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra (bralette).

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra.

Knickers are self drafted using this class.

Materials are from all over the place, but mainly Booby Traps and The Remnant Warehouse.

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Lets talk about Romy first. I love Ohhh Lulu’s patterns and own several. I really love the mesh insert in the Romy and how you can use lace also. It’s pretty. When I bought it, I figured it would probably work as a bikini top, which it will (replace the picot with fold over elastic, the strapping with fabric straps and eliminate the back closure, or use a bikini closure instead). Not hard.

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Pros of a bralette:

  • It’s a much quicker sew than a wired bra.
  • Generally they use stretch fabric, which means it’s easy to match your bottoms.
  • You can line or not line, depending on the amount of support you like.

Cons ofΒ  bralette:

  • Less support than a wired bra for bigger busts.
  • I don’t feel the silhouette is as nice as a wired bra (on me – more mono boob).

This is the first time I’ve sewn Romy and yeah, I really should have waited and ordered some navy strapping, but I was keen to get it sewn and check the fit. Which is almost spot on, I just need to move the point where the straps attach at the back. They are too close to my shoulder blades, I need to move them towards the centre of my back. Other than that, I love it! It will definitely work as swimmers with a couple of tweaks. I lined the whole thing in powermesh for extra support. Even the back bands, which is different from the pattern. Actually using picot elastic instead of fold over is a bit of a departure too, but I made the knickers first and wanted them to match.

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I love how the Ohhh Lulu patterns teach you how to do enclosed seams. It looks so professional. What doesn’t look professional is that I totally forgot to trim back my seam allowance under the picot elastic at the underarm. Ooops.

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Now onto the Marlborough. This is quite a popular pattern and I can see why. It provides a tonne of lift. The powerbar (that piece of fabric that runs along the outside of the cups) is awesome at pushing everything front and centre. The pros and cons of the wired bras are pretty much the opposite of the bralettes – generally they require fabric with no stretch (I’ve used stretch mesh but lined with nude bra lining), they take much longer to sew but they are a lot more supportive for bigger busts. I prefer the silhouette on me.

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The Marlborough pattern directs you to use lace with clear elastic for those upper cups, but I’m a rule breaker and used the heart mesh (to match my already sewn undies, of course) and picot. I love using wide strapping too. Probably because I used to be an F cup and could never find the wide stuff on RTW bras. Unless they were, you know, beige, massive and boring as hell.

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I’ve already got another Marlborough and another Romy cut out to match the other pairs of knickers I sewed on Friday night. There’s nothing like a big old top up of a tired lingerie drawer to make you feel a million bucks.

Stayed tuned for part two…

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The Great Finishing {Tilly and the Buttons Rosa Dress}

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This weekend was spent finishing off a pile of UFOs I had languishing in a basket, mocking me for too long. Most of it was really boring and involved unpicking and sewing on buttons, but this Rosa was pick of the litter.

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I wasn’t sure why I had ignored it for so long. I cut it out just after making my last one and I adore the fabric, so it’s not that I was feeling particularly uninspired. Then when I was getting towards the end, it hit me. Buttons. Twelve of them. It always feels like a huge task, but when I get into the swing of it, it’s fine. And yeah, my machine has a one step buttonhole function. If I had to do those suckers manually it would be a different story. There’s also a lot of top stitching, which I have done in grey thread because my top stitching isn’t something that I want to draw attention to.

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I would also like to point out that I’ve made everything I’m wearing except my shoes and tights. And I hear you say ‘Yeah? So you made a dress? That’s nothing new, Katie.’ That’s true, but think about what you can’t see. Yep, bra and knickers are made by me also. And since I’m bragging, would you take a look at the projection and shape of that right boob? God I love this bra. It’s Kwik Sew 3594. I have four of them now. A lot of women prefer a rounded shape to the well, boob shape. But I personally do like a boob-shaped boob. Yeah, we went there. I just wanted to highlight it because a lot of people seem to think handmade bras are unsupported-wrestling-puppies-in-a-sack kind of situations, but I assure you they aren’t.

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Onward. You want to know where everything is from:

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Rosa Dress

Fabric: Robert Kaufman Chambray

Buttons: thrifted. Got a bag of about 200 wooden buttons for $2. Do recommend.

Shoes: Vintage Dr Martens scored on ebay. Not sewn obviously, but lots of people ask me about them.

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Ignore the orange ear. Apparently he’s been wandering through the garden, helping the bees pollinate. Still tilted to the left, as you can see. Bloody dog and his bloody ears.

I haven’t shared much about the construction of this Rosa as I covered it in my last one. I didn’t make any changes except the placement of the sleeve tabs – I just rolled them to where I wanted and put them in the right spot. Easy. Now excuse me as I swan off to the yacht club in my nautical dress.

Kidding. I’m going to reheat leftover Thai and do some work.

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Girls Girls Girls {Kwik Sew 3594}

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Or bras, bras, bras for my girls, girls, girls.

Yes, this post is all about bra sewing. Yes it’s a long post. No there aren’t any photos of them on. There’s a nipple situation with all of them and even I can’t go that far. But hey, if you’re keen to read about bra sewing, stick with me.

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I picked up Kwik Sew last time Spotlight were having a sale and I needed that third pattern to grab the 3 for $12 bargain they occasionally do. I thought it looked quite vintagey, wasn’t a fan of that centre seam and there was no mention of wires. Hmmm. Tossed in the stash for another time. I found it again when I was going through my sewing room during The Great Clean Up of 2017. Maybe it was time to give it a go. And since I ended up making three of them, you can probably guess I ended up loving it.

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The first version I made was the velvet green number. Because who doesn’t need a ridiculous velvet green bra, right? Nobody, that’s who. Helpfully, the pattern doesn’t have any measurements to help you choose your pattern size. Nah mate, it tells you to use your normal size. OH MY NORMAL SIZE. COOL.

FYI, while I’m being completely open and honest, my RTW size is somewhere around a 14DD/16D. Maybe. It’s been a long time since I’ve bought a bra. In a Pin Up Girl Classic I’m a 40D, in an Ohhh Lulu Cindy I’m a 38D, in an Orange Lingerie Marlborough I’m a 40DD – you get the idea right? I compared the pattern pieces to my PUG Classic and decided to start with the 40D. And it was actually pretty close. The band fit well, there was just a bit extra in the pointy bit of the cups. It’s quite a bullety shape. Oh and you will notice I made some changes right away – straightened the bridge, removed the centre seam, separated the bridge and band pieces and added wires). I also didn’t follow the instructions at all, just went with the method I learned from Beverly Johnson’s Craftsy class. (Affiliate link).

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Still, old greenie is quite wearable (I have her on today actually). Yeah I made matching knicks, they’re self drafted from the Beverly Johnson underwear class (Affiliate link).

Keen to get this fit right, I made another right away. What can I say, it’s a comfy and simple bra and I love the shape. This time (on the advice of my bra sewing group – yes, it’s a thing), I just flattened out the curve of the lower and upper cup pieces. Worked a treat, fit is spot on – but I did lose the bullet shape.

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The lower cups and bridge are from a scrap of silk dupioni, cut on the bias for the cups. Yes I break all the rules. I’m a dangerous woman.

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I thought I’d be cool with rounding out that bullet shape, but I sort of missed it. So I decided to go for a third round. This time just re cutting the cups as a 40C instead of D. PERFECTION. Bullet shape remained, but no puckering in the cups. YASSSSS.

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And yeah, she turned out more grandma than I expected, but I wanted a neutralish bra that wasn’t nude or white.

It’s probably worth noting that the pattern calls for tricot and non stretch fabric for the cups. I used stretch for everything except the silk cups. You’ll notice that I lined it with bra lining though, which has no give at all. This is particularly important to stop your boobs from flopping about uncontrollably in stretch fabric. Trust me. Just baste the pieces together, it will make your life much easier.

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So freaking happy. With all of them really, but I do love that grey one.

So where the hell do I get bra bits, you ask? Well, let me tell you:

Green Bra:

Stretch velvet – op shop (sorry).

Spotty Mesh on upper cups – Pitt Trading

Power Mesh for back band – Remnant Warehouse

Lining, strapping, elastics, wires, rings and sliders – Booby Traps.

Red Bra:

Tartan silk – garage sale (sorry).

Little red buttons – cannibalised from another bra.

Everything else – Booby Traps

Grey Bra:

Everything – Booby Traps

(Yes Booby Traps is awesome. I find bits and pieces at Remnant Warehouse too. They often have super different fabrics and cool power mesh. Pitt Trading has awesome lace and spandex).

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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.