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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She Wants To Move {that mesh dress with all the other stuff}

Warning: This is a very long post with lots of sewing talk. Which, you know, you’d kind of expect from a sewing blog. But consider yourself warned.

webDSCF8905My little brother was getting married. Obviously I was making a dress. Obviously it had to be awesome. Obviously I was also shooting the wedding (I do this for all my siblings and my husband’s siblings), so I had to be able to move around also.

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I found these Alice McCall embroidered mesh panels at The Remnant Warehouse months and months ago. Oh yes, they were going to be awesome. The toughest decision was picking which colour to go with. At the same time, I ordered some nude coloured peach skin fabric to make the layers underneath.

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As soon as I saw the panels, I knew that I didn’t want a standard lining, I wanted some skin to show through. But I also knew that straps wouldn’t be quite right either, so had visions of making a strapless dress to go underneath. Now, October in QLD can be quite warm, so I wasn’t too keen on wearing a heap of layers underneath (nor do I have a strapless bra that fits). In a confident leap, I decided to make my own strapless bra/skirt combo to go under the dress.

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Construction of the actual dress wasn’t difficult. I used my own self drafted pattern because I knew it fitted me well, I’ve sewn it a lot and the mesh needed a relatively simple silhouette. Sorted. I used French seams where possible and then bound the seams at the waist and armholes with scraps of the mesh. I attached that by hand to keep it as invisible as possible.

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It worked well and was quite pain free. I moved the zip placement from the back of the dress to the side seam, so I wouldn’t be cutting through the beautiful embroidery. I added strips of the mesh either side of the seam with the zip to give it a bit of extra strength. I didn’t hem the sleeves or skirt, but cut the mesh back close to the embroidery.

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Honestly, the hardest part of the dress construction was the neckline. Originally I wanted to fold it over twice and hand sew it down invisibly, but I just couldn’t get it to sit flat, so ended up doing a rolled hem on my overlocker. Disaster struck when I lightly pressed that with the iron (the iron I’d been using on the same setting THE WHOLE TIME) and the neckline melted. I wanted to cry. So I had to cut the neckline down a bit more, which meant that the rolled hem now sits on the embroidery instead of just above. Not a big deal, but it annoys me. Turns out the thermostat (or whatever controls the temperature) in the iron had died and I had to bin the iron and buy a new one.

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In an additional dick move, I didn’t think and hung the dress on a hanger between sewing sessions. Of course, the weight of the skirt stretched out the neckline and it no longer sat on my shoulders properly. I (CAREFULLY) tried to steam it back into place, which worked a little bit but didn’t fix it entirely. Google wasn’t much help either, so in the end I very carefully ran a thread through the back of the rolled hem at the front and back necklines, ever so slightly gathering them and tied them off at the shoulders. It worked and you can’t see it at all! Probably a very unconventional fix, but it worked.

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Dress complete. Skirt and top to go. One of the things that gave me a bit of a shock about the nude mesh of the dress is exactly how nude it looks. Which I realise is a completely ridiculous statement, but I felt so exposed! Too exposed to go with the original nude fabric I had planned to go underneath. In the end I decided on silver instead, which is a sateen with a slight stretch I also bought from The Remnant Warehouse. Skirt was easy, so I started there. I went with a half circle because I didn’t want anymore bulk at the waist and used horsehair braid in the hem for a bit of kick (again, didn’t want to add anymore layers in the form of a petticoat).

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Which left the bra. OMG. Now, I’m no stranger to bra sewing, but strapless bras are an entirely different beast. They defy gravity. The experts will tell you that the support of a bra doesn’t come from the straps, it actually comes from the band, but holy hell, they help. I’ve never had a RTW strapless bra fit me or stay put. And I think a lot of people are in the same boat. The cup and wire shape on a strapless bra is much more of a U than a C. Boning and a longer band helps a lot. Right. How hard could it be?

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LOL. I started with Orange Lingerie’s Esplanade because I already owned it, I’d already sewn it (although not entirely successfully managed to fit it) and there aren’t many strapless patterns out there! I looked over my old blog post on the Esplanade (hooray for good record keeping) and made a few changes (sized down, took some volume out of the upper cup) and it was… fine. It pretty much fit, it tacked to my chest but if I moved, it would slide. It felt like the whole thing had to come up about 2 inches, while I needed to lose about the same from the bottom. It was pretty much decoration – it fit me, but gave me absolutely no support. Which is a shame, because the Marlborough bra from OL is my absolute favourite. Ah well, not to worry, there’s still options, right?

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How about cloning my What Katie Did Merry Widow

? Just the top part. Even though it’s not a perfect fit on me, I could adjust it.Β  I’d seen it done by bloggers before and it really was much simpler that I expected. Basically you use pins to mark all the seam lines and then join the dots. Then add seam allowance of course. There’s a few tutorials getting around for it, like this one.

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The result was ok, better than the Esplanade, but room for improvement. It’s not the black one pictured above, BTW. I didn’t take proper photos of the first one. Just phone ones so I could get some feedback from the ladies a FB bra making group (yes, they exist. Shut up). Anyway, the bra ladies suggested I straighten out the upper cup piece, rather than have it curved as I’d traced. Which makes so much sense, because all the upper cup pattern pieces in my bra patterns have a straight upper cup. OK. YES. Let’s go again.

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Which brings me to the black beauty. Holy heck. I did it. I DID IT. A strapless bra that fits. I ran downstairs to show my husband, who is pretty good at making all the right noises when I succeed (or fail) with sewing stuff. I could jump and that sucker won’t move. All is right with the world. I decided I wanted it a wee bit narrower in the bridge plus a touch higher in the upper cup, just for a smidge more coverage.Β  A wardrobe malfunction after leaning down in a mesh dress wouldn’t be ideal.

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Onto the final version! With bra sewing, a tiny adjustment really does make a bit difference, as does a change in fabric and definitely in power mesh. So, my final version ended up a bit different to the black version. But the wedding was looming and I was ready to put this thing to bed. It had been going on for a very long time.

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It ended up a bit too high in the cups and bigger in general all over, with some wrinkling due to the pretty unforgivable nature of the fabric. Not ideal, but I could live with it. In my head, I’d dreamed of matching my power mesh to the fabric, but finding it in silver proved very difficult. And the black mesh I’d used for the earlier version was much firmer than the nude, so I probably should have used two layer of the nude for extra strength. We live and learn.

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The wedding was awesome, everything I was wearing stayed put, was comfortable and I didn’t think about it all day. I took these images a few days before, because I knew there wouldn’t be many of me on the day (part of being the photographer). I was right too, these are the only ones that exist and that’s only because my brother (the groom!) offered to take them, bless him.

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The newlyweds ❀ I love them very much.

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You’re So Last Summer {Ohhh Lulu Cindy Bra}

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There’s a little fabric shop about half an hour from here called Johno’s. Now Johno’s has been around for quite some time, but I’d never manged to get to it until recently. I mean, I could have – but to be honest it’s not that appealing from the street. I know. I really should know better than to judge a book by its cover. I’ve since been there twice in the last month. It’s only a small shop, but packed to the ceiling with bolts of fabric in that organised chaos kind of way that old school fabric shops are. Plus the staff are lovely.

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Anyway, the second time I was there, this spandex jumped out at me from its spot (LOL) on the bottom shelf. Something about it pinged in my lizard brain, but I couldn’t quite place it. I loved the colour and those uneven splotches, so I grabbed a metre for future swimwear plans. As I was scrolling through instagram later that week, I spotted (LOL) my fabric. A local swimwear company had been using it for their previous season. Oh well, now I was going to use it too.

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I decided to revisit Ohhh Lulu’s Cindy bra, which I hadn’t made in ages. It was actually the first wired bra I ever sewn, but the cup shape wasn’t quite right on me, so it was pushed aside in favour of other patterns as my bra making skills improved. My body has changed a bit since my first Cindy attempts (as they do, those non static little vessels), so I checked my measurements against the pattern and cut another size. I am so used to making bras now with stable bridges and cups, that making one from stretch threw me a little. Would it be stable enough? Would I wiggle and jiggle like jelly on a plate? Would the cups stretch out beyond all repair and leave me with belly button boobs?

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Not really, as it turns out. I mean, I wouldn’t go jogging in it but if you ever see me jogging, there’s something terribly wrong and you should probably run too. I lined the cups and side band in lightish white swim spandex (could have used lining also, but this provides a bit more support), with powernet for the back band and stable bra lining for the bridge. The pattern calls for powernet at the bridge, but past bra making experience made me decide that I wanted a more stable bridge. Well, as always, I probably should have followed directions, because now I’ve got a bit of excess spandex at the bridge forming a bit of wrinkling. Not a big deal, but I know for next time.

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The width of these cups is spot on for me, although they do flatten me out so I need a tiny bit more projection. Next time I might narrow the bridge slightly too. If you are a bra sewer, try and forget your sizing in other patterns. I’m mostly a 40D in bra patterns, but this one is a 36DD and I could even go down another band size (I ended up taking a bit out of this one). That’s unusual for me because I am pretty broad across the back.

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As always, I made a few changes to take this from bra to bikini:

  • I eliminated the back clasp by cutting the back piece on the fold. I like a firm band and am much more comfortable without a closure digging into my back. You could change it for a strappy back with hooks or a couple of those swimwear clasps. the width makes it a bit more challenging though.
  • The bottom of the band has regular swim elastic instead of picot.
  • The top edges have binding (instead of fold over elastic) created from the spandex, as well as narrow swim elastic enclosed within the binding. I think it creates a nice clean finish, while also keeping everything hugged against my chest and back. I’ve used zig zag because I don’t mind it, but if you want a more professional looking finish, you could use a twin needle.
  • I made fabric straps, again with elastic in them for extra support, instead of using normal bra straps.

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A couple of people have asked why I didn’t add foam. I have used it in swimmers before, but I don’t mind either way. I was keen to see how this would look without and also, I was being lazy and didn’t want to have to cut down pattern pieces for foam (otherwise, I’d have foam in seam allowances, which would be quite bulky). We all have nipples, so I’m not really concerned about concealing mine with foam, but I know some people prefer to. I also don’t mind boob shaped boobs, even though the modern trend is toward foam domes. Foam has the added advantage of providing a bit of extra support too, but honestly – it’s really not a problem for me with this one.

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I forgot to mention the bottoms are my same old self drafted ones I wear constantly. I just sized down for these so they don’t fall off in the surf. I might have sized down a touch too much, but at least they aren’t going anywhere.

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Gotta admit, the whole time I was taking these photos, I was slightly concerned about being joined by this not so little friend who has been hanging around recently. The shrub behind me is its hideout.

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Lucky for me it remained tucked away wherever it is. I definitely would have ended up in the pool if it decided to make itself known. And that water is still really cold.

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Bra Restock {Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra}

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There is really very little reason to blog these bras. I’ve made them and talked about them many, many times before. The Marlborough pattern is my favourite. It fit me almost straight out of the envelope (or off the PDF) and gives me the most lift and projection than any other bra I’ve ever worn. Including RTW.

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I automatically sift through my drawer for the Marlboroughs before anything else. It feels kind of like cheating to make the same pattern over and over, but hey – I love them, so why not?

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Actually the nude coloured one was sewn out of necessity. I have so many black and bright prints, but was seriously lacking anything to wear under semi sheer clothes. I found the peachy coloured lace in Spotlight and the matte spandex was from The Remnant Warehouse.

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The other two were sewn because I like sewing in threes.

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Matching knickers, because of course. All my supplies are from all over the place, so if you want to know something specific, just ask. As always, pretty much all of it comes from The Remnant Warehouse, Pitt Trading and Booby Traps.

webDSC_2740 You know what though? I still learn little tips and tricks every time I sew. This time I learned that you can put two wires in one casing. I know. Why? I bought some wires on sale and when they arrived, they were a bit flimsy for me. But I bought a pile of them because they were such a bargain. So two in each cup for extra support.

webDSC_2776 Look at those enclosed seams. They fill me with a ridiculous amount of satisfaction. All of my bras are lined with sheer cup lining. It’s light, but strong.

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I can’t decide which one is my new favourite child. That peacock lace or the printed silk gifted to me by a friend. The nude one is nanna-functional, but the other two are a bit more special.

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Welcome to the lingerie drawer, new friends….

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Hibernation Preparation {Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra}

Pattern:

Ohhh Lulu Romy Bra.

Fabric and other stuff:

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

Muppet Babies and Astro Boy swim knit from Rubyjam Fabric.

Scale print spandex from fabric.com.

Mesh (red and pink) from The Remnant Warehouse.

Stretch lace and hot pink picot elastic from Pitt Trading.

Strapping, rings, sliders and bows from Booby Traps.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Close set

– Side boob that wants to head, well, sideways

– Underarm flab

– Broad back

– Very little upper cup fullness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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?

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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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