Thursday, 20 April 2017

Harriet 2.0 & Ohh Lulu Grace Hipsters

Another day another bra! Today we bring you my second version of Clothhabit's Harriet bra, with some bonus Ohh Lulu Grace knickers to match!
I'm really happy with the way my second ever bra turned out. I made limited adjustments but the tiniest thing really makes a big difference on a bra.  
In my first Harriet I dutifully cut the measurement yielded from the instructions to "Measure around the fullest part of your bust without pulling the tape too tightly. Subtract your band measurement from your full bust measurement and use the Cup Size Chart to find your cup size." 
This put me around a 38DD which is what I made my first blue version in.
I decided that I'd cut closer to my RTW measurements this time, there was a lot of room in the cup and the band gave me little support. It was comfortable but not holding much up if you know what I mean.
 With that in mind I cut a 36D for my second version.
The fit on this one is fabulous! It is the most comfortable bra i've ever owned! I used rigid mesh and black powermesh for the back, lining the bridge and bottom of the cups with sheer cup lining. I'm not sure if I like the effect or if I should have lined the whole cup. Overall it turned out a lot more modern sexy than I was anticipating, but I quite like that about it. 
I thought i'd be clever and make my thread match my purple/pink mesh. That was a bad idea on my second ever bra. I like the effect from far away, but I don't think it looks as professional as the blue where I matched my threads as you can see every tiny detail, including a couple of popped stitches from when the underwire was inserted, also working with mesh and sheer cup lining was tricky, the little suckers loved slipping around even when pinned in place.
 Ah well, we live and learn!
I think on my next version of Harriet, (and there will be a next one) I need to scoop out just a small wedge from the top of the cup where it gapes a smidge, no more than half an inch and shorten the straps, where the sliders sit now is pretty much where they sit on me on the front side of my shoulders rather than the back. Other than that its pretty great on the fit, I feel supported but nothing pulls 
This was one of the few kits I purchased from Elise Patterns. I'm really happy with the quality of the supplies and I love how different bras can turn our just by your choices of which pieces you put with different materials. For example I did debate cutting the bridge in powermesh but I felt that only having cups in mesh broke up the effect too much. 
I did end up giving myself a lesson in appropriate fabrics for my knickers though!
 I picked the Ohh Lulu Grace Hipsters to go with this set. I had purchased some extra rigid mesh and so I had enough for them. Be advised if you buy a bra kit its sometimes tricky to squeeze a pair of underwear from your fabric too, unless the seller states that you can. I tried to be clever on these and cut my purple/pink mesh from spare fabric and the panels from powermesh. I used a fold over elastic for the edges and a scrap of jersey left over for the crotch lining. 
Here is my advice to you... Don't use powermesh for panties unless you love wearing spanx!
 I'm going to replace the side panels with regular black jersey on these as at present I can get them on but they are not comfortable! The pattern calls for some stretch and some non stretch fabrics, with the stretch around the side panels for comfort. I'd say you need at least a 20% stretch to be comfortable in these. They look great as a set, but to be honest i've just been wearing the bra with any black knickers I had already. 
 Thats the beauty of making your own underwear though! Its up to you to make it work. Now i'm starting to gain confidence in my lingerie sewing abilities, i'm going to start stashing more useful fabrics to have on hand such as stretch mesh in white and black, plain jerseys as well as foam cup lining and straps and sliders. I already have quite a large stash of fold over elastic in various colours which I found surprisingly in my local fabric shop, topped up with some from Evie La Luve.
 I'm really loving making my own lingerie, i'm finding that, like when I started sewing the endless possibilities of colour, fabric and design excites me. I like that using the same fabrics in a different combination, I could come up with countless different designs. I think its always been there. 
When I did fashion design and pattern cutting at college I did an underwear project for the CEO of Triumph and it was one of my favourite projects, didn't make a bra though. 
Have you started stitching your own lingerie? How did you find it? As you can tell I love talking about this, Let's talk in the comments!

Monday, 10 April 2017

Anatomy of a Bra Kit

When I started to look at bra making it was pretty overwhelming, I mean everything was pretty! Ohh that lace! Oh those straps! Those sliders and rings! (Yes really!) It was so difficult to know what I needed and why I needed it. So I opted for a Bra Kit. These are packs you can buy consisting of everything you need, all the accoutrements required (often without the pattern) to make your bra.
Even with all my enthusiasm and joi de vivre, when the kit came and I laid it out I still felt a little confused. Its all beautiful but where does this bit go?
So I thought i'd do a little run down of a commercial bra kit giving you an idea of what might be in your bra kit and what it is for.
I found when making Harriet, I made myself some sticky notes that I labelled with each items name to remind me during the making process. Think of this as a bit of a guide.
Within this post i've run through a recent bra kit i've purchased. I know not all kits will be 100% the same but they should have some standard items to get you going on your bramaking journey. This kit is from Elise patterns
 
First up is Powernet - This is used as the strength fabric in your bra. Its used for the back bands and often the bridge. The places where stability is an important factor. 
Main Fabric - This is where the magic is! There is many different fabrics you can use for a bra but something with less stretch is best at the start if you want to get the fit right. I've seen some stunners in Liberty Tana Lawn, but my first attempts were with Mesh and Cupro. Of course there is always lace!

Lace: Stretch or Rigid - Stretch and rigid laces are pretty self explanatory, one has some stretch created by some elastane content and the other has none and is more like a conventional fabric. This lace pictured is slightly stretchy. You can choose to put lace on the top piece of a cup or the whole thing. The fabulous thing about bra making is that you can really experiment with this, but don't forget to mirror your pieces! Lace often has one or both edges scalloped so you it doesn't require any further finishing. This looks great at a neckline and you can get lace in different widths and with directional prints. We also have some rigid nylon below that can be used for lining a sheer cup.
 
 Bra Strapping - Does what it says on the tin. It is used for the straps that hold your boobs up in the bra. It often has a "Plush" side (A slightly brushed, softer side,) this is the side that makes contact with the skin. This pink strap elastic has a pretty quilted pattern on the non plush side.
Band elastic- Often fairly wide and sturdy looking. This is sewn to the bottom edge of your bra so that it fits snugly around your ribcage. You sew this the wrong side and then flip it.
Picot elastic - Used to finish the top edge of most bras. This gets sewn along the top edge of the bra and along the top of the underarm. It has a little scalloped edge that peeks above the seam after being stitched. (Sometimes our band elastic also has Picot edges, but it should be easy to tell by the width of the elastic. The wider is used for the band.)
Bra Channelling - You will need this if you are adding an underwire to your beautiful bra, but often its still used to add a bit of structure to the cup. Its often difficult and fiddly to do, but if you squeeze the edges of the channelling towards the middle you will see the middle open up into a tube. When sewing on channelling it pays to be careful that you sew right at the edges otherwise you can have a bit of a battle with the underwire. (Not like I have experience of that or anything! Ahem...)
Bra Hooks, Rings and sliders - Last but certainly not least are the parts that hold everything together! The rings and sliders are used on the straps. The ring for the front or the back attachment of the strap to the main body of the bra and the sliders to make those straps adjustable. There is a fab tutorial from Evie La Luve of how to do this on Youtube.
The bra hooks, well we've all had to battle with these! They are your most common fastening on a traditional bra. Although now you can get some awesome front closures. I would also add underwires to this list if you so choose them. This particular kit doesn't include them but i'm sure there are others that do, finish it with a bow and you are done!
So there you have it! The anatomy of a bra kit! I hope this is helpful during your bra making adventures! Are there any supplies you can't live without?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Grainline Grey Marl Driftless Cardigan

I'm really getting back into the swing of this blogging lark! (ooh look Grainline joke!) Its timely too, because i'm blogging another Grainline success! I know you know i'm obsessed with pretty much every pattern they've created and I was desperate to try Driftless, I loved all the different versions popping up around the blogosphere but i'd seen a cardigan in Mint Velvet, (a really great UK store, they focus on pale tones and high quality fabrics,) sadly the high quality part puts them right out of my price range, with a cardigan setting you back around £70 plus! I'd seen this one in store and immediately thought of Driftless. 
I knew the length would be a bit much for me and I do already own a darker grey cardi from ebay at this length. I went stash diving and found a slightly brushed grey marl jersey, I think it might've been bought at the Minerva meetup.
Excuse the teapot pose, I was trying to show the pocket in action, if you will...
One of the features i'd seen recently on a rtw cardigan was leaving the sleeves raw and letting the jersey roll. So thats what I did with this one. I like it as an effect, but it bugs the sewist in me, i'll live with it and see what happens... 
As you can imagine on a wearability scale, a grey cardigan is off the charts! It goes with everything, I'm particularly loving it with mint and pale pink. I already have two more cut out and ready to go!
What are your wardrobe heroes?

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Triumph Over Sewing Fear: Deer and Doe Safran Jeans!


"Hey, look! Pants!"
 "What about them?"
 "Nothing... Just (I made) Pants!"

Is anybody else in love with the film Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium? I decided Edward Magorium, toy aficionado and avid shoe wearer pretty much summed up how excited I am about actually making a pair of wearable pants! (ok trousers, jeans or whatever you call 'em but still!)
This has been my sewing nemesis for a long ol' while. I've been stalking the blogosphere, cooing over perfect pockets and terrific topstitching! These my friends, are none of those things. Nevertheless I'm proud of myself for throwing down the gauntlet and giving it a go.
My main beef with trousers in general, are my laughably short, hobbitlike legs. Elfen lilithness, I have none. 
I didn't make any attempt to shorten Safran. This means the shaping at the knee and downwards are off... Way off... as in I had to cut them off because I'm so damned short! This is not a mistake I will make again as I have adjusted my pattern and I shortened at the correct place 14cm... 14cm!!! No wonder they look weird! Still excited I made them though!
I'm pretty pleased with the rest of these jeans. I used a remnant piece of denim I still had knocking about from an old Minerva project. (Denim skirt here if your interested, yeesh it needed a press!)
I would've used something with a bit more stretch, but I wanted to invest little in my first go as I anticipated the results to be far worse than they are. The fit is tight, but with the right stretch percentage, these would be comfy enough for daily wear. I also haven't washed these yet, so they have the potential to soften over time. I did wear them to a recent Fabric Godmother Open Day, helping out with the fabric cutting and I managed to bend and stretch without feeling uber restricted.
The fly was a bit of a baptism of fire on this one. I have done them in the past on a Moss skirt. But god knows how I managed to get the result I did. I used the Safran instructions initially, then Katie suggested a Sandra Betzina Threads video which I watched. I just couldn't get the fly flat enough to not gape open. I then invested in Heather of Closet Case Patterns Jeans Class. It all just clicked. I unpicked my threadknotted mess and tried it her way and huzzah it worked! I have to admit, the Sandra Betzina video was great, I just didn't offset the zipper as you would in jeans, but its worth a look to help with the process. Basting the front together was inspired!
This picture really shows my knee issues. I have what I affectionately call, carrot legs. They are wide at the top and narrow pretty quickly. When I make another pair i'm hoping I won't have to do too much adjustment. I pegged these down a little from the knee but I will make sure I adjust the pattern next time. 
A few whiskers, but I'm tilted here and I think the fit through the tummy and even around the back pleasantly surprised me. I may do a full front thigh adjustment, but I think the stretch factor in the next pair may help.
I loved the ingeniousness of the pockets on Safran. I am hesitant to call them jeans in a traditional sense. I think they would look amazing as work trousers in a nice hefty stretch drill. I'm calling these a denim pant. I ommitted topstitching on these. Primarily as they were my first try but secondly because I'd left my second machine at my Mum's. I have now retrieved it as I'm excited to embark properly on the Ginger Jeans Class. 
All in all, i'm calling these a win because hey! I learnt to make a wearable pair of pants and that is a huge personal achievement! 
What in your sewing life has been your nemesis project?

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Merckwaerdigh Pants MIX30


Morning Lovelies! I bring to you yet more underoos! This is the knicker pattern for Merckwaerdigh Mix 30. I have had this pattern forever and to be honest these knickers have been cut and sat in a bag forever! I finally got the courage to whip them up just before I endeavoured onto my Harriet Bra.
Merckwaerdigh are an interesting pattern company. They sell kits, supplies and their own pattern designs. I wasn't enamoured with the 80s styling of the pattern designs when I first found them. But the designs are sound and i've seen some amazingly beautiful versions of their patterns sewn up around the interwebs. Here is the pattern image for MIX30. I've been dying to make the bra but I'm not sure if I hacked into the pattern in my naive days and screwed it up. Fingers crossed I just added seam allowance.

The knickers i've made are the hipster ones pictured in pink and blue. They are deceptively high in those sketches and to be honest they sit much more naturally on me. I'd call them a hipster. The little hip crossover detail is a nice touch and worked really well with plain fabric and my damned crazy lace (also purchased a million years ago from their website.)

These remind me of my skull pansy blazer, skirt combo. Who knew i'd ever be able to say I could liken that fabric to anything else? Its crazy.
The pink elastic was out of necessity but actually I quite like a red and pink contrast. The back design incorporated the back of the lace, freefloating across the hip. I like this feature, but the stretch of the lace is not the same as the spandexey jersey below and so it pulls a little when wearing. Not uncomfortably so but I notice it.
I didn't really use the instructions for these as they are pretty self explanatory. I may make them again in the future, but right now I have some Evie La Luve and Ohh Lulu pants patterns i'm desperate to try. I'd better start clearing out my underwear drawer to make way!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Ode to Grainline... The Lark Tee

Oh Grainline, how I love thee...
Thats pretty much how my brain works whenever I pick up anything from Grainline ever. 
Everything i've made has been something that is staple in my wardrobe. In fact, I often find myself thinking why didn't I make more of those? 
Heres what I've made by Grainline so far in my sewing career:
Archer Shirt x 3
Tiny Pocket Tank
Moss Skirt
Scout Tee
Hemlock
and now I have another to add to the list! Lark!
Now we all know my love for a jersey tee is beyond all other kinds of love. I can whip them up in a couple of hours and wear them until they fall apart. I have several Renfrews and Plantains are in high rotation, some of which have been going for years! I didn't feel I really needed Lark for that exact reason, but then I decided to purchase it in one of Jen's rare pattern sales 
(Along with the Morris Blazer, Maritime Shorts and Lakeside PJs, watch this space for those soon!)
I love Grainline's drafting. They seem to fit very true to size, their instructions are clear and to the point with excellent diagrams and further clarification on the blog should you need it. Plus they really are wardrobe staples!
I will now admit this Lark is way to big... Why? I went with my old measurements and promptly forgot that i'd lost quite a bit of weight. Ooops.
This is still totally wearable. Truth is, I wanted to be cautious. There is nothing worse than sewing something too small and I treated this as a wearable muslin. I got tons of this fabric in a swap years ago and i've never used it because I wasn't sure it was "me" It seemed sort of overly girly. I'd wear each of these colours individually but I wasn't sure about them all together and floral.
Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised. I do wear this top, although its not the first thing I reach for every morning. The floral is not too overwhelming and I'm hoping it will also look nice with some grey jeans i've bought recently. 
The great thing about this pattern, as with the good old Renfrew, is that it comes with 3 different sleeve lengths, 3 different necklines and all of them are individual pattern pieces so you can mix and match to your hearts content. This is the Scoop neck, Long sleeved variation. 
(I like long sleeves pulled to my elbow when i'm warm,) 
but I can't wait to try the classy boatneck version.
Have you made Lark? Do you have 500 versions in your own wardrobe? 
I can see it going that way for me!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Seamwork Mesa Dress

Hi Lovelies, 
I'm bringing you another make that should have been blogged 100 years ago. So much so that I would argue that its got a bit big with weight loss. Ah well, here is Seamwork Magazine's Mesa.
I made this as a basic for winter. I live in Mabel skirts and simple jersey shift dresses around the colder months of the year. They are my super secret pyjamas especially when teamed with leggings and boots. Being in and out of buildings and different classrooms it helps to layer up!
I found that the Mesa is a bit more sacklike than I would like and so I have belted it here. I normally would style it with a long belted cardigan and a big scarf but you don't get to see a lot of the dress that way so I left that off for photos.
I have a love hate relationship with Seamwork. At first I was loving the two patterns every month but the last 6 months or so I feel that the patterns have felt like more of an afterthought and I haven't spent my credits for a very long time. In the end I was pleased you could redeem 3 for a Colette Pattern. I ended up getting Aster, Laurel and Wren. None of these patterns are ones I would've purchased but I'm happy enough to try them out for a few credits I had extra.
I'd love to know what others feel about Seamwork and Colette at the moment as I'm not sure they are the same quality of company they used to be.
Mr. Piemaker bought me a tripod for Christmas to get me back into blogging but it took some doing getting used to using my remote and everything again. I decided to get a bit silly and try some new poses. (Having some Bruno Mars on in the background helped!)
This pattern was an easy, quick and dirty kind of project. If I was to make this again I would make a size down and I would go for a patterned jersey. I made it in a ponte and it was a nice choice but it felt a bit uncomfortable and a bit dull. This could have been the quality of the ponte but I think it was just a bit too structured for me. This is evident in the sleeve head which could be partly pattern based. I tried to counteract this by trimming the excess in the seam but it made very little difference. 
I have to say I like the last picture I took. I feel like I look like a Hogwarts wizard with my remote wand!
Have you made Mesa? What do you think about sewing Seamwork Patterns?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Harriet Bra and Geneva Knickers

You guys! I've been sewing! To be honest I never left the Blogosphere, i've been lying low you could say. 
So whats new? I'm now Mrs. Piemaker! We got married on the 3rd of September and the run up pretty much left me totally exhaustiflated not much time for anything really. 
(We still haven't received our photos but when we do that is a post for another day.)

At the start of 2017 I made the decision to start doing more things that made me happy and one of the biggest things i'd missed recently was blogging and connecting with all the lovely people in this little corner of the interwebs. 
So i'm back. I have a backlog of projects to blog but my output this year is going to be focused on more long term goals in my sewing than sheer magnitude.
In the time since I last popped my head in, I've lost quite a bit of weight. I did it mainly for the wedding but i'm still keeping with it, so a lot of clothes had to go, including some well loved me mades. I'm working on building my skills this year so that I can make more wearable garments that last.
Now on to todays main event!
I made a freaking bra guys!

This has been on my to do list for like ever.
I bought some kits way back in 2013 but never had the confidence to give it a go. I decided this week that it was a totally irrational fear and with the release of the stunning Harriet Bra from Cloth Habit, i dug out this Electric Blue Kit from Sewing Chest (No longer available, well it was years ago!) and got cracking.
Now I'm not clever enough to have just done this by mere instructions alone, no no I had bought the Beverly Johnson's Sewing Bras, Construction and Fit Craftsy Class a while ago and watched it in stages. I made sure before I started, I watched the whole construction portion of the video and I made an order of construction with my own diagram to help me along,
then I tackled the cutting. 
Bra making really does look scary without a kit and when I attempted it all those years ago I bought various bits of cupro and elastic expecting it to all make sense, it totally didn't and I still have some half cut up bras that are wasted because I didn't have the right tools. Trust me lovelies, buy a bra kit first. It made it so much easier having everything to hand!
After watching the class I used some cute post it notes to label each elastic I had so that I wouldn't grab the wrong one whilst sewing. Then I set up my laptop with the instructions, (great to scroll up and down quickly,) put on some soothing, relaxing music from Spotify and set to it. 
This took me about 8 hours from cutting to finish over two days so all in all not too bad timewise. 
Beverly Johnson says at the end of the class if you finish and you've got cup issues there isn't a lot that can be done unless you want to cut up your bra, its more a pattern issue. So I went in to this expecting an unwearable bra. 
I was half right. I used the high bust and bust measurement to determine my bra size and it came out at a 38D. My ready to wear recently has been a 36/34 D so I was a little surprised. I persevered and low and behold my band was too big and my cup could do with going down too.
It is wearable but more as an "in house" bra although I am surprised at the comfort already even when its a little large!
There won't be any photos of me in it as I don't fancy that doing the rounds at the school I work at thank ya very much! But here it is on Evelyn who is a size 16.
Its much more flattering on her! 
I also had some issues with the sides. They seem very high up into my underarm so I might take a little out from the outer cup. I also had some wrinkling at the top of the cup indicating the cup is too large. In my next go I will cut a 36C and see if that corrects it. If not, I think taking out some seam between the upper and inner cup may help.
I felt that after all that effort making a bra it would be silly not to have something to match it.
These are the Geneva panties from Seamwork. These are made from a knicker kit I bought with my bra kit all those years ago from Sewing Chest. I'm one of those people that buys 2 pairs of pants for every bra then forgets to wear them together! 
I think I have to re-evaluate my sizing on things since I lost weight. I wasn't thinking when I cut an XL in these. I could easily have cut a medium, they are huge! Wearable but again more in the house than out on the town. 
(Hah as if we do that anymore!)
These went together like a dream and left me wondering why on earth I haven't attempted underwear before. I wanted to keep the scallops on the lace visible so the waistband elastic is sewn in pieces rather than one band. As it turns out I would've been just as happy without the scallops but by the time I thought about it i'd run out of my blue picot.
I'm chalking this down to a learning experience but i've totally got the undies making bug!
I bought a couple more kits from Elise Patterns to try out and I'm going to focus on getting Harriet fitting just right (oh would you look at that they have an electric blue kit just like mine!)
I can't speak highly enough of the Clothspot Harriet Pattern, her instructions are great with detailed diagrams and the steps don't overwhelm you. I can't wait to make another!
* This post was featured in Social Sew and Emerald Erin's Bra News