3.25.2016

Pretty Little Things


I know what you're thinking?  Another bra?  Really, Carolyn?

I know, I know.  I have a sickness, although I'd like to justify this obsession by saying that I'm  going to be spending many days a week in scrubs this next quarter and I figured that a couple nice, comfy soft bras would be perfect for those long days.  But comfy bras don't have to be ugly, right?  In fact, they can be covered with lace and just as lovely as can be.

Like this one.

The bra is the longline version of the Watson bra pattern.  This is my second attempt at this version because me first one ended up huuuge, because I printed out the PDF pattern wrong and didn't realize it until it was all sewn up.  Not one of my finest moments.  This bra fortunately has a happier ending.


The lace is from the Arte Craft etsy store and the entire bra is lined in nude stretch mesh from JoAnn Fabrics.  On a side note, I've also purchased white stretch mesh from JoAnn Fabrics and it dyes beautifully, making me really excited about all the future color possibilities.  The trims and bra straps are dyed with ecru Jacquard Acid dye and while beige may not be the most exciting color to dye things, I'm happy with how they came out.  I used a 3/8" plush back picot elastic for the underarms and 3/4" plush back elastic for the band.  I didn't realize how huge it would be when I ordered it and I was pretty hesitant to use it, but it actually feels really nice on the band.  Also, I added some clear elastic to help support the lace front of the cup.  It was a bit of a pain to sew on, but lining it with Wonder Tape first made sewing it on, well, wonderful.  All the lace and mesh pieces were basted together with a basting spray before being sewn together and the sewing process was easy peasy.


As for the undies, I finally got around to trying out the Watson undies pattern and I'm really glad that I did.  The pattern makes it really easy to incorporate lace into the pattern which I think makes the final product extra pretty.  The rest of the undies are made with the same stretch mesh as the bra and the crotch is lined with a scrap of pink cotton which I think looks really lovely behind the nude mesh.  I used the same 3/8" plus back picot elastic for the waist and this picot elastic for the legs.  On a side note, I'm in love with this picot elastic.  It's held up great on every project that I've used it on and it takes dye fabulously.   It is definitely my picot elastic of choice!

3.10.2016

Quilted Vest


Sometimes it takes me a ridiculously long time to start a project.

Intertia, man.  It's a real thing.

But once I finally get going, I'm usually so happy that I did.


Take this project for example.  I had it in my mind for weeks - ever since making my first Women's Hero Vest and seeing this gorgeous quilted version.  I knew that I had a significant amount of fabric left over from these shorts, but I didn't know if it was enough and I couldn't muster up the effort to actually go downstairs and find out.  Eventually I forced myself to lay out the pattern and I found out that with some creative pattern placement (and lining the hood in a different fabric), I would have juuuust enough to make it.  Did you know that I get extra pleasure when I finish a project and there's nothing but teeny-tiny scraps of fabric left?

In any case, I made a size extra-small graded out to a small at the hips once again, although as I was quilting up each piece I worried that I should have made one size larger in case the quilting made the pieces shrink a bit.  I think it ended up being okay, although I took the vest out of the dryer when it was still damp in case it was prone to shrinking up.  Speaking of the quilting, I quilted each piece with a diagonal pattern, 2 inches apart.  Quilting garments, by the way, is the perfect way to use up odds and ends of batting leftover from quilting projects.


The only modification that I made was to raise the armholes about 1/2-3/4 of an inch (I can't remember the exact amount).  The armholes were pretty deep on the first vest, most likely to accommodate whatever you wear under the vest, but I tend to wear pretty thin shirts and didn't feel that I needed that much room.  I also bound all the edges with the woven fabric rather than knit fabric and I love the way it looks.  I cut out all the bias binding the same length as was recommended for knit fabric under the crazy assumption that it would work just fine.  Turns out that bias binding does not stretch as much as ribbed jersey.  Duh!  So I had to add length to all my bias pieces.  No big deal.  I also now realize that I should have backed the pocket part of the front because as it is right now, the batting is left exposed on part of the inside of the pocket.  It's not visible and doesn't cause any problems, but I wish I had the forethought to address the issue.

Once again, I used the instructions on the Make It Perfect website to enclose the zipper in order to have a nice clean finish on the vest.  And I used a metal zipper this time rather than a plastic one.  All I have to say is "metal zipper for the win!"


Interestingly, despite my proud Pacific Northwest residence, before sewing up these vests for myself I had never actually bought myself a vest and really didn't think of myself as a vest person.  But now I find myself reaching to wear this vest all the time.  It's funny how things work out sometimes.

Also, thanks to the Pacific Northwest for starting to rain on me after I finally mustered up the energy to take pictures.  The slightly blurry photos will just have to suffice.

2.27.2016

Marlborough Bra - Round Three - The Knock Out Round


Sometimes things don't work out so well in sewing-land.  I have more than one project to demonstrate that outcome..

But sometimes the stars align and things work out pretty darn well.  This project falls firmly into the latter category because despite being pretty new to sewing underwire bras and despite having made several untested modifications to the pattern before sewing this version up, this bra is a hit.


Once again, the bra is the Marlborough bra, but I built upon the modifications that I made last time around.  For one, I increased the total length of the band by another 1/2 inch (it's now increased 1 inch total) because I came to realize that not only was my second version too tight, it was actually way too tight.  The added length is much appreciated by my ribcage and my breastbone.  

Thanks to this tutorial I also took some time to lower the bridge by 1/2" and lower the upper cup by the same amount.  All things considered, it's a pretty small change, but I'm a big fan of the difference that it makes.  

And while this is not a modification, I also changed up the pattern by lining all pattern pieces (except the band) with lace (purchased from this shop).  I used a basting spray to baste the lace to the fabric pattern pieces and it worked...okay.  In general,  it held the pieces together but every once in a while they would come apart which was a bit of a pain.  The rest of the fabric is from a kit purchased from Sweet Cups Bra Supply.  I got two kits for Christmas back in 2014 (!) and I can now officially say that I've used both of them (I used the other kit to make this bra).  Once again, though, I used bra strapping from my stash since the amount that they supply isn't sufficient for this pattern (why, oh why, don't they increase it?).  


But you know who gives this bra the official seal of approval?  O.

She saw it hanging in the bathroom and asked, "did you make this bra?"  I told her "yes" and with stars in her eyes she replied, "It's beautiful.  It looks like a wedding bra."

Which, when you're a six year old girl, is apparently a really big compliment.  

1.26.2016

The Marlborough Bra - Round Two


In 2014 I attempted to make my first underwire bra - the Marlborough bra.

Fast forward over a year later and I've attempted to make my second one.  I think I needed all that time to build up my patience and courage to attempt a project that can call for such finicky fitting alterations.  I'm not sure that it was such a great idea to wait that long though, because this time around pretty much felt like I was sewing it for the very first time again.

I can barely remember what I did yesterday.  Don't ask me to remember what I did over a year ago.

Fortunately, my blog post had some notes about what I wanted to do differently this time around.  I sewed a 32C once again, but I made a couple of modifications.  First I widened the bridge by about 1/8th of an inch and lengthened the band by about a 1/4 of an inch on each side because it was too tight last time.  It turns out that I didn't lengthen the band enough because it's still a bit tighter than I would like.  I also followed Kathy's tutorial on changing the shaping of the cups for a shallow bust.  This resulted in a perfect fitting cup...on my left breast.  It turns out that my right breast is smaller so I'm still getting a bit of puckering on that side.  Ah, the things that sewing teaches you about your body.

I've been wearing this bra around for the past week and have figured out some additional changes that will need to be made in future bras.

1) The underwire ends a little too low on my armpit side so I think I'll raise that side of the bra a bit to allow for a slightly taller underwire (as it was, I had to snip off part of my underwire to make it fit this pattern).  Just a side note about snipping off parts of your underwire.  I just cut it using wire cutters and then dipped the edges in Plasti-Dip, as recommended by Amy.  Just a word of caution - Plasti-Dip is addictive and you'll leave the process wanted to dip everything in your house in this mixture.  We may or may not have dipped a Strawberry Shortcake doll in Plasti-Dip.  Consider yourself warned.

2) I'll add some additional length to the band so that it fits better around my ribcage.

3) I'm debating reconfiguring the cups and bridge to allow for more of a plunge style  Part of me feels that I should wait until I have the basic bra perfected before I start messing with bigger elements and part of me says "just go for it."  We'll see which part wins.

As for the sewing, I used the Marlborough instructions, but I also relied heavily on Cloth Habit's bra sew-a-long.  I can not say enough good things about all the work that she put into putting that sew-a-long together.  Thank you!

I used fabric from a kit from Sweet Cups Bra Supply, although I used bra strapping from my stash since the bra strapping in the kit was too short.  Plus, I wanted my strapping to match my lace.  Speaking of which, both were dyed using Jacquard acid dye in the chartreuse color way.  The lace is from Tailor Made, which also seems to sell beautiful bra making kits.

Alright, folks, that's a wrap.  Now excuse me while I go put my shirt back on.

1.22.2016

A Nettie Tee


You know how half the sewing community is out sewing jeans right now?  Well, I chose the lazy man's route and just bought myself some new ones (thank you, awesome after-Christmas sales).

They're one size larger (thank you, awesome Christmas food).

High-waisted (thank you, two pregnancies).

And flared (thank you, 1990's).


Of course, these jeans needed a new t-shirt because while long, flowy tees may work great with skinny jeans, they don't work all that great with these.  In an attempt to use what I had on hand, I turned to the Nettie Bodysuit pattern.  Bet you didn't know that I had that pattern?  That's probably because I never blogged about the one bodysuit that I ended up making because

1) bodysuits look pretty terrible on me and

2) I opted for the high front neck, medium back version and that also was not a good look for me.


I didn't want to totally scrap the pattern though, because I figured that the regular scoop neck version would work better on my silhouette and I saw that some other talented folks had good results in turning the bodysuit into a regular fitted tee.  That said, I knew that I wanted a fitted tee but not a skin-tight tee so I went up 2 sizes from my recommended size (I traced the top to the bust at a size 8 and then graded out to a size 10).  The result, thanks to the use of a cotton-lycra fabric, is more body-hugging than I intended, but it works seems to work well when I bunch it up slightly as it's worn (I like to refer to it as natural ruching).

As for making the bodysuit into a tee, I followed the footsteps of others and traced the body suit to around the hip level.  I then added 2.75 inches to the length at the lengthen/shorten line.  In sewing it all together, I started to worry that the neckline would be a little low so I sewed the neckband on with a smaller seam allowance (1/4 inch) resulting in a  thicker neckband.  In the end, it probably wasn't necessary but I really like the look of the thicker band and will probably opt to do it this way again.


And if the fabric looks familiar, it's left over from this little dress that I made for C.  I've kept it all this time with the intention of making myself a t-shirt (because someone my age totally needs a t-shirt covered with little cat heads).  I figured that I would end up making a Plantain Tee since I've had good luck with it in the past, but something about it just didn't seem right in my mind.  Personally, I think the universe was just telling me to hold on to it to make a Nettie Tee.

Meow.

1.18.2016

A Brief History of My Relationship with Knits


We met for the first time circa 2011,  when I first attempted to sew a t-shirt for teeny-tiny O (no seriously, look how little she is in these pictures).  It was a quasi-successful attempt.  The actual sewing was fairly easy, but man, did I have to struggle to get that sucker over her big toddler head.


At that time I was really only familiar with jersey knits, but I was soon introduced to interlock and cotton-lycra blends thanks to my first attempt at making undies for O (okay, this picture is actually from my second attempt).  At that time, good quality, cute knits were few and far between and the best options were usually only available on interlock fabric.  Unfortunately, I really didn't like working with interlock because of its tendency to get stretched out.  I was a much bigger fan of cotton-lycra blends and thankfully cute cotton-lycra options have become more available over the past couple of years thanks to companies like Art Gallery.  It's definitely been my knit fabric of choice.   I've used cotton-lycra blends to make tees, and dresses, and pjs, and everything in between.

But now I've branched out once again - only this time to ponte knits.  To be honest, I've avoided ponte knits in the past, thinking that the polyester fiber content would make them feel, well, kind of yucky.  It turns out that I was wrong because not only does this polyester/lycra blend ponte feel lovely, but ponte is the perfect fabric for certain projects.


Example number one would be this little Cocoon Dress that calls for a nice stable knit fabric (like ponte!).


The pattern is simple, but sweet.  It sews together incredibly easily and is right up O's alley when it comes to what she likes to wear nowadays.  I cut out a size five based on her chest measurement but added some length since she's about average size for a six year old.  Because of the high-low hem, it's a tad bit shorter than I would like in the front for a dress, but she'll probably be wearing it with tights or leggings for the time being so I'm not too concerned.


Also noteworthy - we took O to get her first ever professional haircut.  Up until now she's been suffering through my feeble attempts at cutting her hair.  It's been looking pretty ragged lately and she's been talking about wanting it shorter, so I figured that it was time to bring in some folks who actually know what they're doing.  Based on the smile on her face, I'd say that it was a pretty good decision.

1.07.2016

The Sewing of Seasonably Inappropriate Clothes


I don't know what it is about the winter, but for some reason it always inspires me to sew swimsuits.  Although, in my defense the kids have been in swim lessons all fall and winter so they're actually in need of new swimsuits.  Well, at least the little one is.  The big one is the lucky recipient of many, many hand-me-down swimsuits from her older cousins.  Plus, the little one is growing like a crazy and it was about time that we stopped trying to stuff our 3 1/2 year old into bathing suits for a 2 year old (hangs head in shame).


Once again I broke out the Peekaboo Patterns Waikiki swimsuit to make a new one for C.  Having made this same swimsuit five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) other times, there's really nothing new to say about it.  It a great simple swimsuit with a little bit of fun added in the ruffle and the ability to add contrast fabric for the binding and straps.  For this go around, I used some swimsuit fabric that I bought on sale at Mill End Store outside Portland at the end of summer.  I wasn't necessarily looking for swimsuit fabric but I couldn't pass this fabric up when I saw it.  You understand, right?  I knew you would.


I cut out a size three for C, knowing that the sizing has been pretty right on in the past but I'd forgotten that C is a much bigger kid than her older sister and now I'm concerned that she might outgrow this swimsuit before summer gets here.

Oh well.  Maybe that'll inspire me to sew a swimsuit when it's actually warm outside.

12.31.2015

2015 Superlatives

It's that time of the year again.  Time to look through all that I've made and decide which were winners and which were, well, not winners.  First up:

MOST WORN


For me, definitely the culotte jumpsuit.  There are no words to tell you how much I love this outfit.  It's a little bit different without being totally out there.  It's fun to wear.  It's easy to dress up or dress down.  It's really just fantastic.  And all of its awesomeness makes up for the fact that it's a tad bit of a pain to go to the bathroom in.


And for the little ones, I'd say that this little dress was a hit.  Knit dresses with long sleeves are few and far between at times, so having this one around is fantastic.

LEAST WORN

Well, I'm sure that I have some failed items for me somewhere around my house from this year, but I never got around to blogging about them, so we'll just pretend that they  don't exist.


As for the kids, this little sweatshirt is sadly neglected since I miscalculated some measurements when turning the Joey Dress into a sweatshirt.  I've tried to make C wear it but she's a stubborn little thing, so in the mean time it just sits in her drawer waiting for a little love.

FAVORITE PATTERN


The Alder Dress!  I made two this year and I love each of them, although this one is definitely my favorite because it's longer and, therefore, easier to wear.  Plus, it's made out of some really awesome fabric.


And for the little ones, I'm going to stick with my pick from last year - the Hanami - since I made it 4 more times this year!   I still think it's a fantastic pattern and I now love it even more since adopting the modification to shorten the bodice ever so slightly.  What can I say, when I find something I like, I stick with it.  My husband should be very happy to hear that.

OVERALL FAVORITE PROJECT



Remember way back in the day when I said that I wanted to make a bed?  Well, I made one (with the assistance of my dad)!  When he asked me what I wanted for my birthday last year I told him that all I wanted was to have him help me build a bed and being the kind man that he is, he agreed.  We built it all in one exhausting day but it took me about 9 months to get around to finishing it.  It is solid and ridiculously heavy and I love everything about it.  Oh, and it's the Farmhouse Bed from Ana White's book.


And for the itty bitty kids, I choose the itty bitty kitty dress.  It's so ridiculous, yet so fabulous.  And it suits her perfectly (even if she is doing some major mean-mugging in these pictures).

RESOLUTION FOR THE COMING YEAR

And as for the coming year, my only resolution is to honor where I am.  I've had a bit of a difficult time transitioning from a competent professional to a complete newbie and more than once (okay, many, many times) I've found myself frustrated at my performance, my lack of progress, and where I'm at in the learning process.  But when I look at it objectively, I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be - at the beginning of a life-long process of learning a new profession.  And so in the coming year I hope to stop fighting the process and instead, honor where I am.

AND FOR OLD TIME'S SAKE...

Superlatives from years past.

2012

2013

2014

12.29.2015

Watson Bras Galore


I've been a bit of a lingerie making machine around here lately, thanks to a series of fortunate events.

1.  After several months of being put off of dying lingerie supplies because I didn't have the "right" dye, I said screw it and decided to give it a go using regular old Dylon dye that's available at just about every big box craft store.  It's probably not the cheapest option for someone trying to dye a lot of fabric, but for a newbie like me, it worked perfectly.  As an aside, from my extensive (read: five minute) internet research, apparently the secret to dying nylon is using acid, so I added a cup of vinegar to my dye bath to make it acidic.  It seemed to work just fine although some elastics did take up the dye more than others - most likely due to their different fabric contents.

2. After fretting about not being able to find any lingerie supplies locally, I found that the Pacific Fabrics in Bellevue offers several fabrics that can be used for bra making.  In fact, they have quite a large supply of miliskin and stretch mesh that works perfectly for bra making.  The stretch mesh has reduced stretch in one direction so I used that direction to support the cradle and I used the other direction to make the bands.  I did, however, have to purchase notions off of the internet (I purchased a bunch of them in bulk about a year ago).  The elastics, bra strapping, and hook and eye fabric are all from Sew Sassy while the metal rings and slides are from Bra Essentials (I bought them all in gold so I wouldn't have to worry about matching them to certain fabrics and I'm really happy with this decision).

3. After spending the last several months in scrubs for school, I realized that I didn't need a structured bra and a soft, comfy one is an awesome choice for everyday wear.


I should note that since my last bra making bonanza, I've had some failed attempts and I've learned a couple things from them.  Like the fact that using a super stretchy spandex (like miliskin) for the entire bra is a bad idea (it ended up huge and with no structure).  I then tried to make an entire bra out of power mesh and that ended up on the opposite end of the spectrum (like a bullet-proof bra).  Trial and error, people.

Okay, now on to the bras (all of them Watson bras)!  I made the same size as last time with no modifications.  Instead, this time I tried to focus on using the right fabrics and improving my lingerie sewing skills.  They're definitely getting better, but to be honest, they leave a lot to be desired.  Oddly enough, the part that I have the hardest time with is sewing the tops of the cups to the rings.  On almost every bra I made it looks like a severely inebriated person completed this step.  And there's no picking those stitches out once you double stitch them in!  I know that because I tried and I ended up ripping a small hole in the fabric.  You can just imagine the sounds that came out of my mouth as I did that.

As for the undies, I used the free So Zo undies pattern that I've used for years.  I altered the pattern to use with lingerie fabric rather than fold over elastic.  I've heard good things about the Watson undies pattern and someday I may get around to trying them out, but for the time being I'm really happy with the So Zo pattern.  The undies are made with either all miliskin (with some cotton for the crotch lining) or miliskin for the front with mesh on the back (you know, for all those times I really want people to be able to see my butt).

12.27.2015

What To Sew When Your Fabric Goes MIA


The other day I woke up in a house with no children and a fabulous idea of what I wanted to sew.  Unfortunately, I also woke up with a killer cold and, despite searching high and low, I couldn't find the fabric that I was looking for (it remains MIA).  In the end, though, the missing fabric ended up being fortuitous because it led me back to this beautiful cotton lawn that my sister brought back from Pakistan a couple years ago.  It was a little over two yards of fabric but it was also on the narrow side so there were some definite limitations as to what I could make with it.  Also, it had a really beautiful border print so I wanted to make sure that it was incorporated in some way.  In the end I decided to go back to the Scout Tee pattern with some minor modifications.  I started by lengthening the sleeves to around 3/4 length and I cut the sleeves against the grain to incorporate the border pattern into the sleeve ends.  I also lengthened the body considerably (maybe four inches?  I'm terrible about keeping track of these things).  I attempted to make more of a shirt tail hem on the sides but I didn't do a drastic enough modification so it's barely noticeable.


Most of the seams are French seamed since the fabric is ever so slightly sheer but my sleeves are just serged in.  A couple  years ago I followed Jen's tutorial on French seaming sleeves, but honestly, I found it to be a major pain in the butt.


And that's it, although I'm debating whether I should have made a size four instead of a size two (like I have in the past).  My body has definitely changed over the last couple years and I feel like I'm still figuring out what sizes to sew and what modifications to make.  I'd like to thank growing older and having two kids for these fitting issues.

On a slightly more humorous note, I had Ben retake a couple of these pictures because my posture was so bad in them.  He told me, "That should be your New Year's resolution.  Better posture."
I told him, "It was.  Last year."
To which he replied, "How's that working for you?"

Not so good, I guess.
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