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!

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Round Two {Sew House Seven Tea House Dress}

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You might remember my first version of the Tea House Top wasn’t all that successful due to my fabric choice. I vowed that I would make it again and here we are! I’m actually auditioning patterns for a wedding we have later this year in Samoa. An island wedding means the dress code isn’t very formal and because I’m also shooting said wedding, I need to be able to move around easily without worrying about what I’m wearing.

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On its own this dress actually looks quite casual, but I think with the right fabric, jewellery, shoes and hair it would be suitable. I still have another couple of patterns to try though. I’ve still got a few months to decide but I’m trying to be more organised for the first time in my life.

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So, fabric is Telio Crepe De Chine from fabric.com and the pattern is Sew House Seven’s Tea House Dress. I put in a sizeable fabric.com order last weekend and bought 4 yard lots of a few different fabrics specifically to see what would work best for this style of dress. Yes I bought some of the awesome Cotton and Steel tulip print rayon. I might even save that for the wedding version. Not sure yet.

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If you read about my last version, you’ll recall I chose a really rubbish fabric and the front yoke facing nearly ended me. Truth is, the crepe de chine I chose this time wasn’t that much better for pressing and behaving, but I was more prepared. I decided to avoid the whole press and stitch down thing and just finished the raw edges with bias tape before stitching down. It’s still rough looking but not as bad as last time. Definitely less swearing involved.

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I think the only other change I made was not tacking those sleeve cuffs up. I like the longer length. My V neck was more successful this time around too.

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I love that there’s no centre back seam and the box pleat looks really neat. I cut the pockets on the bias so those little bees are flying in a different direction and don’t get lost in the rest of the dress.

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I’m so glad I made this one again. I love it like I wanted to love it the first time around.

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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,ย  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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Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice! {George and Ginger Sincerely Rylee Dress}

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Sometimes it’s nice to step out of your comfort zone, right? My comfort zone generally involves sleeves and not self made, narrow binding out of slippy slidey rayon. But you know, horizons need to be broadened occasionally.

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I can’t remember where I first saw the George and Ginger Sincerely Rylee dress, probably in one of the many FB sewing groups I’m part of. It’s not my usual style, but I really liked the look of it as it’s not something that looks particularly home sewn (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I knew it would be great as a beach dress. And I know I say that a lot, but considering we spend about 10/12 months of the year submerged in water here, beach dresses are something I wear a lot.

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It’s another mullet dress (party in the back) and yeah, I hear you on the no bra thing. But again, swimmers or even a strappy bralette would look cool with it. Or just let the girls be free. I ain’t judging.

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So even though the boho vibe piqued my interest, I couldn’t imagine myself going head to toe floral. I needed something drapey but a wee bit more me. So skull rayon from Spotlight it was. I’ll admit, I feel a bit Lydia Deetz in it, but I’m ok with the whole summer emo-goth vibe.

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Did I mention that if you’re resourceful you can grab this pattern totally freeeeeee? Yeah you can. I did. You just have to get your searching fingers ready and find both the George and Ginger pattern group and Sincerely Rylee fabric group on FB. Both have half a code in their pinned posts, grab those and away you go to the G+G website.

Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that PDF patterns aren’t my favourite thing (I failed cutting and pasting at preschool, I realise how ridiculous that sounds because yes, I sew), but you can get this baby printed as an A0 at your local Officeworks (or print shop, I assume). It cost me the grand sum of $4.10. Not bad for a free pattern. For that price I didn’t even trace it, just cut out the size 14 like some kind of rebel.

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Shall we talk about all the ways I struggled with this dress? Lets.

Firstly, I sewed it yesterday afternoon, coming off the back of a huge, emotionally charged weekend away. I was tired. I should have known better. The pattern has two different skirt pieces. One is the top tier and one is for the bottom two tiers (which you cut 6 of, two joined together for the middle tier and four for the bottom tier. Yes, it’s very full and swishy). In my haze, I didn’t read the instructions properly and thought the top tier was for the top version of the pattern and the others were for the dress versions. Derp. Upon actually reading, that was more clear but I’d already cut everything else and didn’t have quite enough fabric left for that first tier. It was just long enough but not quite wide enough. So it’s not as full as it should be. I think it’s still wearable though.

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The darts, they’re interesting. I’d already read in the FB group that some women had some gaping under the arms and a bigger dart is a good solution for that. I’m so glad I’d read that because I did make a wider dart and the gaping is very slight. It would have been bigger if I didn’t adjust it. But here’s the thing, I should have done a proper FBA because the darts are really short. I made the dress up as is and had to go back and extend those suckers as best I could with the armholes already finished. I almost doubled the length of them to get them in the general vicinity of my nipples. Not the greatest darts, but at least they aren’t pointing awkwardly to the sides of my boobs anymore. I’d say if you’re anything bigger than a B cup, you’ll need to adjust them. For reference, I’m a D cup.

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The final hurdle was making all that narrow strapping behave itself. Which is all me and just a matter of practice. Easier to do out of something more stable like quilting cotton (not recommended for this dress as it needs more drape) than rayon. Cannot even begin to imagine the words that would come out of my mouth if I’d attempted it in something completely devilish like satin. Oh and the gathering and hemming on that last tier. Mate. My fabric was 135cm wide, which means that the last tier is 540cm. It’s never ending.webDSC_1592

Despite the challenges though, I’m really quite happy with it. I love how flowy it is and the shape of the top. It’s nice to have a different style to wear and I definitely learned new skills. Mainly patience.

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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 ofย  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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Palm Springs {Butterick 6285 + Circle Skirt}

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I like variety. I like change. It’s the reason I change my hair colour all the time, I’ll experiment with a new recipe every week and sew from new patterns quite often.

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Basically I have no loyalty (unless you count coffee and my hairdresser, because I’ll never stray from them).

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I also have no loyalty to a particular era of fashion. I will jump through those decades backwards and forwards all week. Sometimes it’s 70s tops and skinny jeans, sometimes it’s a perfect 60s swing coat and sometimes it’s a boxy 80s dress and Dr Martens. Some days I’m firmly planted in 2017 in leggings and a band t shirt. The silhouettes of the 50s are home to me though. That’s the era my favourite dress pattern in the world comes from – the one that started my business. And I do love me a circle skirt. That shit is timeless.

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I don’t even have a proper pattern for this one. It’s the skirt pieces from one of my dress patterns and a waistband from another. I add pockets and a petti and I’m good to go. I know you want to know the details, but they aren’t all that helpful this time around!

Circle skirt: cobbled together from a couple of different patterns, side seam pockets added.

Top: Butterick 6285 (it’s a knit wrap top and I made it a while back. It pre dates the blog actually).

Skirt fabric: From a tiny local shop that mostly does alterations and sells upholstery fabric. This lucky score is sateen and 150cm wide, making it ideal for big circle skirt pieces.

Petti: Hell Bunny.

Shoes: Swedish Funkis.

Pin: Colette Patterns.

Sunnies: Le Specs.

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Circle skirts are a great project for beginner sewists because they go together pretty quickly and easily. You’ll need to learn how to insert a zip, but after that you’re basically invincible. I added buttons to this version, but you can take the zip all the way through the waistband instead.

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I have two hot tips though:

  • Let that sucker hang, unhemmed for 24 hours. Because the skirt is cut on the bias, it can stretch over time. Hang and then trim if you need to.
  • The hem is never ending and a bastard because you’re trying to tuck a wider piece of fabric into a narrower one. You’ll get puckers and may even cry. I either overlock the raw edge and fold it over twice to create a super narrow hem or I use bias binding. I don’t pin for either method.

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Today I swished into the bank and around the local grocery shop like this. Tomorrow I’ll be slouching around in jeans and a jumper no doubt. But how good is it that we have the choice?

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