Completed: The Sway Dress

3 Sep

Y’all, this heat is making me do crazy things this year. As in, I made a tent dress. Out of LINEN. I’ll just let that one soak in for a minute.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - front

I doubt it’s the most flattering thing I could be putting on my body, but you know what? Fuck it. This shit is BEYOND COMFY.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - front

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - front

Katie sent me this pattern, the Sway dress, right after the launch of her most recent collection, Chameleon. While I loooove the way it’s styled on the envelope (especially that winter version with the turtleneck! Ahhh it looks so chic and cozy!), I was pretty sure there was no way in hell I’d be putting this kind of tent shape over my body. My waist, the world has to know that I have a waist!!!1!

Then I turned 30, then it got really hot, and then Katie is basically like my mom because she knew better before I even realized it for myself.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - side

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - side

If this dress looks like it took 2 hours to put together, that’s because it did. It was super fast, super easy, and a really satisfying project to work on. The pattern is extremely simple – front, back, facings, and then pockets. That’s it! No darts, no tricky seamlines, no closures. I cut the size XXS with no alterations, and made this up in an afternoon. The directions are clear and straightforward, and I really like that the facings are all-in-one, so that the arm holes and neckline are all encased at the same time and everything stays in place really well. it’s a nice, clean finish, and it looks really good from both the outside and the inside. Letting the dress hang for 24 hours to stretch out the bias was the most time-consuming part of the whole sewing process, but even leveling the hem wasn’t that bad.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - front

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - back

AND, because the dress only really fits at the shoulders and falls loose everywhere else – it’s totally reversible! You can wear the front to the back, or vice versa. Say what now?! I was originally Team V-neck, but after wearing the dress around a bit, I actually like the v in the back.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - pockets

Since the dress is already totes appropriate for hot weather, I went the extra mile and made it out of some dark blue heavyweight linen to keep things extra cool and breezy. I really did not know what to expect with this linen – I’ve bitched and moaned before about how much I don’t like linen for it’s shifty nature and constant wrinkles – but this particular linen is a lot more tame than most of the ones I’ve sewn with. Because it’s so heavy, it’s not as prone to shifting around or wrinkling (while I did take these photos before wearing it around, I have since worn it for a full day and even with a couple hours of driving involved, it barely wrinkled at all). It does still fray like mad, so I made sure to finish all my seams with the serger and that solved that problem. This is the kind of linen that would get me sewing with the fiber on the regular – and now that I’m looking at the Mood Fabrics website, it looks like they added more colors! Yay!

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - neckline

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - necklineThe only part where I deviated from the pattern was to cut the pockets out of a lightweight china silk, instead of the heavy linen. I’m sure the linen would have been fine, but I like how light and not-bulky the silk pockets are. Plus, they feel gooood on my hands!

One thing I will change for future makes of this pattern is to raise the arm holes, because they are pretty low on me! It might just be because I’m petite, but I was showing a little bit of bra when I first tried on the dress. I took in the underarm seam just a bit, which helped a lot, but I do need to be careful of which bra I wear with this dress because it definitely can and will still show at my underarms. I think raising the underarm about 1/2″ will take care of that. Also, if you plan on making this pattern – watch the length! I did not adjust the length whatsoever and it’s preeeeeeetty short on me (I’m 5’2″). Like, if I raise my arms too high… y’all are gonna see some cheeks. No, seriously, I tested that shit in front of a mirror. The struggle is real.

That being said, I love the micro-mini length combined with the exaggerated tent shape. I especially want to put this into action in a cozy black wool, and wear it with black tights.

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - detail

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - detail

Inside guts. It’s a simple dress, so really not much to see here!

Papercut Patterns Sway dress - twirl

I’m still not 100% that this is the best look for my body (I’m sure there is someone out there who thinks I’m trying to hide a pregnancy), but I am 100% in that this dress is SUPER comfortable and perfect for the summer heat!

As a side note – I’m off to Cancun, Mexico this weekend! Gonna lay poolside with my bae and drink something with an umbrella sticking out of it (wearing my new Made Up bikini, naturally! Yay for finishing by my self-imposed deadline!). Cannot even wait. Suffice to say, this blog will be pretty quiet for the next few days. This girl needs a vacation!

Note: The fabric for this dress was purchased with my allowance for the Mood Sewing Network. Pattern was given to me as a gift. All comments on this blog post are just, like, my opinion, man.

Completed: Basic Ribbed Socks

1 Sep

I finished these socks a while back – at the end of May, to be specific – and I just realized that I never got around to posting them. Whoops! Better late than never!

Handknit red socksEver since I finished my first pair of socks, I knew I wanted to try again and improve on what I had learned. The biggest issue I had with the first pair was my yarn selection. Since I used an alpaca blend (and before you tell I should have asked the yarn store for yarn suggestions- I did! That was what they said was best for sock-making, for some ungodly reason), the socks tend to slouch and stretch out of shape, and I never liked the little fuzzy halo of fibers that is typical with alpaca. I wanted to try with an easier pattern – one without lace – and a better sock yarn. And here is the result! I think they turned out pretty nice :) Handknit red socksOh, about that random pig in these photos. Ha! That is our pet piggy and her name is Kevin Pancho. Yes, Kevin is a girl (we were under the assumption that we had a boy pig, and then she ended up being a girl whoops hahaha). She’s a potbelly and still just a baby, but she will eventually get pretty big. Before you ask – we have no plans on eating her, she’s just a pet (I mean, unless doomsday comes around and we all start starving to death or some shit. Then, Kevin will be a Food.).

Handknit red socksAnyway, back to my socks (with some random piggy butt)! I used this Basic Ribbed Socks pattern, which is one of those free patterns on Ravelry that apparently everyone has tried (ok, not everyone, but 6k+ people can’t be wrong amirite). It’s a basic, easy sock pattern, knit with fingering weight yarn and constructed from the cuff down. The majority of the knitting is done with a 3×1 ribbing, which keeps the sock from slouching as much, and is a little more interesting than your standard 1×1 ribbing. Because the socks aren’t ridiculously tall, I was able to knit them out of a single ball of yarn. Which means they were quite economical to make! Handknit red socksI knit these for the size 6, which is pretty close to my shoe size (I generally wear a women’s 6.5). The socks fit perfectly, and they are super comfortable! They stay up pretty well, as promised, and the lightweight yarn means that they aren’t too thick to wear with shoes (which isn’t something I’m doing right now, but I’m sure I will be happy for that option come winter!).

For yarn, I used Cascade 220 Fingering. Again, I only had to buy one ball to knit both socks – and I still have a little yarn butt left over. I bought the yarn while I was in Philly for Maddie’s Bramaking class, ‘way back in January, on my evening ladydate with the wonderful Andrea. Andrea took me to her favorite yarn store, Loop Yarn, and this was my yarn souvenir for the trip. I chose this yarn based on the suggestion of the woman working there, and I am extremely happy with how it worked up. I use Cascade 220 worsted weight for a lot of my knitting projects, and while this was my first try with the fingering weight, it’s just as nice as the worsted. Easy to knit and looks good when finished. As you can see in these pictures, it does pill a little with frequent wear (I wear these socks a lot! I even brought them to Peru with me :) ), but, they are socks. Whateverrrr.

I also bought metal DPNs to knit these socks; I was using bamboo before because I like how it grips, but those tiny little needles snapped like crazy on me. The metal ones don’t break (or, I guess, they haven’t broken yet haha), but I have bent them a little bit. As with my first pair of fingering weight socks, I used a size 0. So yeah, teeny little needles!

Handknit red socksHandknit red socksI really enjoyed working with this pattern. It is simple and relatively mindless (so, good for bringing to knitting night, or watching tv, or whatever), and the socks knit up pretty quickly. Turning the heel was fun and magical, and I didn’t feel like I was doing too much endless repetition with all that circular ribbing. I think it’s too soon to say that this will be my TNT sock pattern, however, it’s definitely a contender! I will totally knit this pattern again.

Handknit red socksHandknit red socksHandknit red socksI’m already working on my next pair of socks. Socks are great little portable projects that pack up small and are easy to bust out for a couple of rows at a time. They are especially awesome for traveling, since you aren’t lugging around a bunch of pieces or a big sack of yarn (and if you finish one sock, you can wear it! Yay!). That being said, I also love knitting sweaters, so don’t expect that to go away anytime soon. I haven’t knit as much as I used to in years past – not having a dedicated hour-long lunch break to commit to knitting will do that – but I’m making an effort to get at least a few rows done a couple times a week. Not even because I want to make progress (well, I do, but that’s not the #1 reason), but mostly because it’s an awesome stress-reliever. And it keeps me from falling asleep on the couch hahaha. Handknit red socksI’m including this last picture because Landon and I were arguing about which ~scenic~ spot to take photos. He said the cinderblock was stupid and ugly, I said the deck was even stupider and uglier (sorry, deck.). So you tell me – who was right? Personally, I think Kevin really made the pictures worth looking at :)

Bramaking: Tips & Tricks I’ve Learned Along the Way

28 Aug

bra making

Since I started my bra making adventure nearly a year ago (woah, has it really been that long??), I’ve picked up a few tips along the way, as well as figured out a handful of shortcuts myself. This post has been a long time coming, and I’m not really sure why it’s taken me ages to get it all written out – but better late than never, yeah? :) I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on lingerie making (I’ll leave that title to people like Norma, Maddie, and Amy), but I’ve made enough to figure out a general idea of what does and doesn’t work, as well as navigate the really confusing parts that can confuse a beginner (like me!). Anyway, I hope some of y’all novice and afraid-to-dive-in-just-yet bra makers find this useful!

The first thing I want to address in this post is all those weird little notions and bits that you need to collect in order to make a proper bra. There are tons of places where you can basically pay someone to source all that stuff for you (kits I’ve used and loved: Bra Makers Supply, Grey’s Fabrics, Blackbird Fabrics. Obviously there are TONS more out there, those are just the ones I’ve personally tried!), which is pretty awesome and definitely what I recommend for at least your first couple of bras. The only thing I found confusing with the kits (at first, anyway) was that they don’t really tell you which elastic is for what. Further, while the pattern will tell you what materials to buy – it can be hard to visualize how everything goes together if you haven’t actually sewn up a bra before. I know I had a hard time wrapping my head around all that info at first! So I’ve made a couple ~findings guides~ of some of the more popular bra patterns, pointing to each notion so you can get an idea of where they go on the finished bra. I know some of these labels are a bit “No shit, Sherlock” (such as where the hook & eye go – haha!), but, whatever. No finding left behind blah blah blah.

bramaking - boylston findings guide

Boylston bra pattern // my polkadot Boylston bra

bramaking - marlborough findings guide

Marlborough bra pattern // my floral/lace Marlborough bra

bramaking - watson findings guide

Watson soft bra & bikini pattern // my #starwatch Watson bra

Some additional notes on elastics:

  • Kit sizes: You may have noticed that some kits come in sizes Small and Large. This took me a while to completely understand – but the difference in kit sizes have nothing to do with the amount of fabric included (or, maybe they do, but it’s not something I’ve noticed). It’s more so whether you need the wider elastics and 3 row hook & eye, or narrower elastics and 2 row hook & eye. *Generally* speaking, sizes D and above require the large kit, and sizes C and below use a small kit. That being said, it’s up to your personal preferences – I wear a DD, but I’m perfectly comfortable in a small kit (keep in mind that I’m a small DD, so a small kit won’t really work for the super blessed/endowed. My ~ideal kit~ has the narrower elastics, 1/2″-5/8″ strapping, and 3 row hook & eye). Some people prefer the look of the narrower elastics, and some people like the security of the wider findings. Your bra, your choice :) But anyway, point being – when in doubt of kit size, choose based on your cup size!
  • Elastic width: Most patterns will include this information with the fabric/elastic requirements. Generally speaking, you want the wider elastic for the bottom band (so, depending on cup size – this is usually 1/2″ to 3/4″) and the narrower elastic for the underarm and/or top of the cup (that’s the 3/8″ to 1/2″, sometimes 1/4″). Like I said, I like the narrower elastics personally for me, but feel free to play around with widths if you aren’t feeling the pattern suggestion. The pattern you sew will be drafted for that width of elastic and hook & eye, so if you change the width too much, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • Type of elastic: Ideally, you want to use plush-back elastic for all your lingerie sewing. This type of elastic has a wrong side that is slightly fuzzy (hence the name) and is intended to be soft against the skin. Of course, you can use any pretty lace edged elastic and/or stretch lace, but bear in mind that anything without the plush back may not be super comfortable to wear.
  • Bra strapping / rings & sliders : This is going to sound really fucking obvious, but make sure you buy the right rings & sliders to correspond with your strapping! I did not even think of this when I was going crazy buying bra notions, but those suckers need to match in width or they’ll look stupid (or be too tight to slide). Same as with the elastics, strap width is determined by cup size. Wider straps will give you more support, so if you’re rockin’ the DD and up, you probably don’t want to use 3/8″ strapping.

And while we’re talking about kits, the fabric can also be a little confusing! What pattern piece gets cut out of which fabric?

  • Main fabric: Totally dependent on bra pattern, of course, but generally you’ll cut the cups, bridge and frame out of the main fabric. The grainline on the pattern indicates the direction of greatest stretch on the fabric. Give the fabric a pull to figure out what that is. It might not be the same as what we consider to be the grainline when sewing normal clothes.
  • Lining fabric (tricot): For most patterns, this is used the stabilize the bridge. You can also use lining fabric to line the cups, if you so desire.
  • Powernet: Use this to cut your back band. You can also line with powernet, if your main fabric is a little bit too stretchy for the pattern. You can *also* use powernet to line the bridge, if you don’t have lining fabric on hand. Powernet is awesome!
  • Lace: Usually just the upper cup of the pattern. If you want to cut the entire cup, you may need to line or stabilize it (with the lining or powernet) if it’s too stretchy. For any flatlining, I like to temporarily baste the pieces together with a spray adhesive and then handle them as one (a tip I learned from Maddie).

Now I’m going to share with you my favorite PROTIPS for actually assembling the whole thing together. bramaking - pinning curvesPROTIP #1: Pinning

I know, the urge to pin the everloving shit out of every single piece runs strong and true. But bramaking is a little different, and you gotta fight those urges. Especially when you are sewing a convex curve to a concave curve, it’s actually easier to do if you don’t have to navigate an army of pins along the way. I pin the beginning and end of the seam, and any notches/seamlines that need to match. Also, try sewing with the bigger piece (the convex curve) on the bottom layer. The feed dogs of your sewing machine will help ease it in to the smaller curve.

bramaking - securing stitchPROTIP #2: Starting & stopping, part 1

One of the things I find the most difficult about sewing lingerie is beginning and ending those teeny little pieces with their itty bitty seam allowances. It’s hard enough trying to cram everything under the foot and get it going without having the machine eat it, but then you have to worry about backtacking each end as well. And this really isn’t a step you can’t skip, because you don’t want your seams to unravel when you start handling them. My solution is to use the “securing stitch.” This might have a different name, depending on your machine (and those of y’all who are using mechanical machines – sorry! You can’t sit with us). Essentially, it automatically backtacks a few stitches at both the beginning and end of each seam. Every machine is different, so you may want to pull our your user manual for this one – but on my Bernina, to backtack the end, you just hit the reverse button and it does it automatically (the beginning starts the seam with a backtack). It’s been a total lifesaver for me and my seams are always secure as a result. bramaking - needle downPROTIP #3: Starting & stopping, part 2

Another thing to use if your machine has the capabilities (again, those of y’all with the mechanical machines – YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US) (just kidding ilu use the handwheel for this) – the needle down button! OMG this is forreal the #1 reason why I own a computerized machine. I just hit this button before I start sewing, and every time I take my foot off the pedal, the needle automatically goes down and stays there. It’s brilliant for readjusting layers or turning corners, and you stitch line won’t go wonky from stopping in the middle. I actually use this button for most of my sewing, not just exclusively to bramaking.

bramaking - starting the seamPROTIP #4: Starting & stopping, part 3

Back on the subject of tiny seam allowances and hungry feed dogs. The easiest way to keep your fabric from getting sucked down into the machine at the beginning of a seam is to grab both thread tails and *gently* pull as you start sewing the first couple of stitches. This is especially important if you’re using the securing stitch – once it’s done securing, you can let the tails go and sew on with your life. Don’t pull the tails too hard, just gently guide them to prevent the fabric from getting jammed down into the machine, and make sure you catch the tails for both the bobbin and the needle (for some reason, it looks like I’m only holding one in the above picture, wtf). This is a good tip for working with slinky fabrics, too, even if you’re not making a bra.

bramaking - 1/4PROTIP #5: Keeping 1/4″ seam allowances

Most lingerie patterns have teeny little 1/4″ seam allowances, which can be kind of hard to keep consistent. Unfortunately, you REALLY can’t fudge this one because it can drastically alter the size of the finished bra if you’re not careful. My solution to this was to buy a special foot with a 1/4″ guide. It is the best thing ever. It’s also useful for topstitching (especially jeans!) and making the most adorable and perfect little 1/4″ French seams.

bramaking - using 1/4Here it is in action. The dull blade runs against the raw edge of the fabric, keeping the needle exactly 1/4″ from the edge. bramaking - 1/4And here is my finished seam. Ah! Perfectly 1/4″ from the edge, every time. Ooh, see my backtacking, too? Thanks, securing stitch!

bramaking- edgestitching footPROTIP #6: Perfect topstitching This is my secret weapon for topstitching, lingerie or not. It’s a special foot and it’s called the edgestitching foot. Besides the 1/4″ foot, it’s the best thing ever. You can also use it to understitch and stitch in the ditch, with little to no tears of frustration and/or wonky stitch lines.bramaking - edgestitching/topstitchingHere it is in action. The dull blade goes right in the center, and you can move the needle either right or left as needed. If you keep the blade against your seamline and move the needle all the way to one side, you’ll end up with a perfect 1/8″ topstitching line. I find this easier than trying to line up part of my foot with the seamline; for whatever reason, shit always goes wonky when I try to do that.

bramaking - topstitched seamHere is the finished topstitching. One thing to note – I don’t backtack my topstitching if it’s going to intersect with another piece. I only backtack construction seams (otherwise they’ll pull apart at the ends). Since I use a different stitch for each of these steps, that means I can keep my settings saved for each step and just flip between stitches. Which is super handy, because that means I don’t need to re-enter all my preferences each time I move from constructing to topstitching. I use stitch #1 for topstitching (with a slightly longer stitch length and the needle moved all the way to one side), and stitch #5 for constructing. bramaking - duckbill/applique shearsPROTIP #7: Trimming
Always trim seam allowances before flipping down elastic for the final topstitching. Some patterns tell you to do this, some don’t. I find it looks a lot cleaner (and it easier to handle in general) if the seam allowances aren’t flapping around while you’re trying to finagle a good zigzag topstitch. I also like to trim my seam allowances under the wire casing as well. You can use any ol’ scissors to do this, but I like using duckbill applique scissors. The way they are constructed makes trimming down seam allowances almost foolproof and you’re less likely to cut a hole in the seam allowance that you’re trying to avoid. These scissors are awesome for non-bra things, too (I bought them looong before I got into sewing lingerie) – coat making, grading seam allowances, applique. They also look kind of crazy and I like that a lot.

Ok, I think that’s enough for one post! I hope y’all find these tips useful and that it encourages you to start that bra making journey if you were considering it! To me, it’s one of those learning experiences that seems really intimidating until you actually start doing it – kind of like learning how to drive a standard transmission (and just like driving a standard, once you learn – it’s REALLY hard to stop doing it! Well, for me, anyway. I think it’s fun!).

I know I only just grazed the surface with these tips here, so – what are your best tips for sewing lingerie?

Completed: Striped Linen Hawthorn Dress

24 Aug

Same as with Simplicity 6266 (which, by the way – when I first published that post – I had the pattern # all kinds of wrong and have since been corrected and updated the blog post – if you were trying to find the pattern and couldn’t, maybe try again with the correct number! Just FYI!), the Colette Patterns Hawthorn is one of those patterns that I LOVE to wear and swore I’d make a million more of… then never actually did. It’s the sweetest little pattern – a very feminine shirt dress with an interesting collar and a beautiful, swirly skirt – and I get loads of compliments whenever I wear any of my other versions (especially the Chambray version – which I wear at least once a week in the summer because it’s soooo good). Alas, it’s been over a year since I did anything with the pattern, despite it being in my pile of “patterns to make next” for, well, over a year. Whoops.

This year, I have been all about settling down, sewing-wise, and making repeats of things I know I love (instead of constantly being distracted by the new and shiny). So I made a Hawthorn.

Striped Linen/Cotton HawthornI think it turned out pretty good! We had a few harrowing moments there for a bit, but it all worked out in the end. Yay for the TNT and knowing what works! Striped Linen/Cotton Hawthorn

I’ve already talked quite a bit about this pattern, considering that I’ve made it three times (see: Sweet Cherry Hawthorn, Organic Cotton Sateen Hawthorn, and the aforementioned Chambray Hawthorn WHICH IS THE BEST ONE BTW). I cut my usual/adjusted size, and mostly followed the instructions as they are written. All harrowing moments were due to fabric, not pattern.

Striped Linen/Cotton HawthornStriped Linen/Cotton Hawthorn

The fabric is another piece that I bought from Elizabeth; the striped cotton/linen blend (at least, I think there is cotton in there – it doesn’t wrinkle as much as 100% linen tends to do) was from her SS15 collection, which is currently no longer available (but, btw, FW15 LAUNCHES TODAY EEEE). I’ve seen some makes using this fabric – in the same brown/black/white colors (Kelly’s Southport dress!) and in a blue/white/black colorway (Sewaholic’s Cambie dress!) – so if this stuff looks familiar, well, it’s making the rounds!

As a side note – not that this really matters, but I know I’ve mentioned before that I’ve gotten some pieces gratis as part of an ES destash, but this particular piece was one that I paid for. Granted, I got it for wholesale price – but it wasn’t free :). Elizabeth isn’t in the fabric business at all (I only get to buy as part of an employee perk, basically), so I don’t think it matters, but I thought I’d mention it anyway!

Striped Linen/Cotton HawthornI originally bought my little piece to make a woven tshirt – like, maybe a Scout or something – so I only bought about 1.5 yards. I decided it would be better as a dress, but it took me a long time to decide on which pattern to use. The Hawthorn was a good choice, except that I didn’t have quite enough fabric and had to do some creative piecing to get all the pieces to fit and to get the stripes to mostly match (all I can say is, I did my best). Check out that photo of the back – see the center back seam that I added? Yes. I also pieced the top of the back bodice, right along the black stripes. You can’t see that shit at all because I matched it up pretty well, and the stripes make the seam lines disappear. But it is there! Striped Linen/Cotton Hawthorn

I had NO IDEA how to cut the collar with the stripes, so I just kind of winged it. Surprisingly, the stripes match up kind of cool with the bodice stripes. I didn’t plan that whatsoever, and I was somewhat concerned I’d have a hot mess of a bodice on my hands once I added the collar and the stripes started going every which way, but I really like how it turned out. It actually looks intentional.

Striped Linen/Cotton HawthornHere’s the back again. Can you see my piecing? On the right hand side (the side where my tattoo is), the very first batch of stripes – the bottom black stripe is where the seamline is. On the left side (opposite of tattoo), the second batch of stripes – the seamline is in the top black stripe. Can you see it now? Can you UNSEE it now? (sorry about that) I honestly thought this dress was a goner about halfway through cutting it and realizing that I didn’t have enough fabric, but thank god for stripes making seamlines invisible. Yay! The stripe-matching worked out pretty well, but I did have one big snafu that kind of sucked… Striped Linen/Cotton Hawthorn

Whatever the hell is going on with the waistline here, that’s what. I’m not really sure how I managed to cut those stripes so they’d suck THAT bad, but it looks like I’m wearing a bow right over some part of my intestine. How dainty! Except it actually looks pretty stupid. Thankfully, as you’ve probably (not)noticed from the pictures – a belt covers it quite well, so that’s my solution. It does mean that I can’t really wear the dress without a belt, but I am pro-belt at this point in my life, so I’m not terribly concerned about that.

Some more photos:
Striped Linen/Cotton HawthornStriped Linen/Cotton Hawthorn

The linen is SO soft, with a slight little drape that’s just lovely. It’s really comfortable to wear in the heat. Because of the drape, the bodice is a little softer and less structured than my other Hawthorns, which is a nice change. This also meant that I needed to let the skirt hang for something like 48 hours to get all the bias settle before hemming (and it was crazy uneven before I evened it out).

Striped Linen/Cotton HawthornThe inside is very simple – stitched and serged (this fabric sheds like a mofo, so finishing the edges with a serge was very necessary). I serged the facing edges so they’d have less bulk, and finished the arm holes with polka dot bias binding because it’s a little thinner and less bulky (and easier to work with, since it sheds less) than the linen. Stripe-matching the facings was probably a little bit of overkill on my end. Whatever :) Striped Linen/Cotton Hawthorn
The buttons are just black shirting buttons I had in my stash. I originally wanted to use wooden buttons, but black ended up looking best with the fabric. Instead of putting a button at the waistline, I used a hook and eye. This makes the area nice and smooth so it’s more comfortable to wear a belt.

Striped Linen/Cotton Hawthorn

Making this up definitely reminded me of why I love this pattern so much! It’s really beautiful and feels good to wear. A similar look would be the new Sewaholic Nicola dress, which has that same V-neck with collar, but it’s designed for a drapier fabric, thanks to all the soft gathers, and looks quite a bit more 70s. I’d love to try this pattern (talking about Hawthorn now, but I want to try Nicola too!) with long sleeves, sewn up in a plaid, for a cozy winter version. That, too, has been on my list for waaaay too long. Maybe this winter I’ll actually get around to making it :)

Completed: Boylston Bras; Take 2 & 3

21 Aug

More bras this week! Yay!

Boylston Bra Starting with the prettier one, even though I actually made it second. For both of these bras, I used the Boylston Bra pattern. Guys, I really really love this pattern. I love how it comes together, I love the pretty details (like the fabric strap!), I love that the fabric requirements are so easy to work with (very little fabric, very stable fabric, foam cups, etc), and I just love the shape it gives! It’s a very pretty bra and the pattern is so good. This polka dot bra was the result of a pretty good stash-bust, apart from the foam. Since this pattern is designed for firm woven fabrics – especially with the addition of the foam cups – that means you can make it out of pretty much anything. Sooo I’ve been going kind of crazy with my fabric scraps! I especially thought that this sweet polka dot rayon (the same fabric I used to make my Simplicity mock-wrap dress that I posted last week) would be extra adorable as a bra.

All I had to do was order foam – I had nude and black in stash (from Bra Maker’s Supply, because their stuff is the best). Unfortunately, the Sweet Cups store (the US version of Bra Maker’s Supply) didn’t have any white (see what I mean about limited selection? Wah!), and I wanted white. I bought it from this Etsy shop, which is apparently in the process of closing now :( I’m not really sure what “spacer foam” is, but it works pretty well for a bra. It’s a little stretchier than the stuff at Bra Maker’s Supply, and slightly thinner as well (it’s not as cushiony). I read somewhere that you can buy this by the yard at places like Spandex House in the Garment District, so I will probably stock up when I’m there in November. But even 1/4 yard is TONS of foam, especially if you are making teeny little bra cups like what I require hahaha. Heyo, silver lining! Boylston Bra

Other than the foam, this whole project was a de-stash. All the elastics and underwire channeling are from the Garment District, I think, and the strapping is leftover from my red bra kit (there wasn’t enough elastic included to make full straps when I was using it to make a red bra, so I had to buy red strapping. But that’s fine because the amount they gave me is perfect for fabric straps! Yay!). I know the pattern doesn’t call for a bow in the center, but I like the bows! This particular bow was ripped off of a retired RTW bra. Ha!

Boylston Bra Here’s the back. I used a firm white powermesh (also from the stash) for the back band. I like the mix of white and red elastics and trims. I’m getting better about mixing and matching my lingerie trims, I think.

Not much else to say about this one. Here are some detail shots: Boylston Bra

Boylston Bra Boylston Bra

Boylston Bra UGH at those black dots in the cups! Those are my notch markings for assembling the cups – I used a ballpoint pin (I think I got that tip from Cloth Habit) to mark the notches, since you can’t really clip the notches and my usual fabric markers and chalk don’t really write well on foam. Except, I forgot that ballpoint pin is FOREVER and I somehow managed to mark both sides. So that’s pretty lame, but, whatever. Can’t do anything about it now except acknowledge the lesson and move on with my bra making! Boylston Bra

Boylston Bra If you’d like to see a photo of what the bra looks like on an actual person, click this link. I’m not embedding it into the post (or uploading it to Flickr for that matter, yeesh) to cut down on the number of people who see me in a bra, as well as spare any eyes that don’t want to see that sort of thing (um, hi mom! :)). But I acknowledge that it’s really hard to see how a bra fits if it’s not actually on a person – and my dressform doesn’t really fill it out correctly. And those floating ghost bra pics just don’t cut it (plus they are a pain to make haha!). So pleeease do me a solid and don’t post that photo around the internet or pin it on Pinterest or anything like that :) Posting only for science purposes :) Love y’all! OK, MOVING ON. Boylston Bra

Here’s the other bra I made, using the same Boylston pattern. Nude bras are a SERIOUS hole in my summer wardrobe – er, lingerie drawer. I have a couple, but I always need more. I wear a lot of light/sheer colors in the hot weather! So I really need to make more flesh-colored bras to wear under my clothes, so I can rotate them and let them rest from time to time. This particular make is pretty boring and looks downright sickly on my dressform (don’t hold your breath about me modeling a shot of this one because, eeew), but let’s rejoice that I made it nonetheless! I know it doesn’t look very filled out on this dressform, but I promise it fits me just fine and the cups don’t wrinkle like that.

Boylston Bra Another stash-busting bra, I used silk crepe scraps to make up the outside, and my beloved nude bra cup foam + nude power mesh for the innards. The silk crepe is the same stuff I used for the neck binding of this SJ sweater – which was given to me as a scrap bust, so it’s like, extra extra free. And as sickly as the color looks, it’s pretty close to my skin (did you not click that picture link? I mean. No one is complimenting my ~rosy glow~ over here hahaha). So it works quite well for what I need it to do! Boylston Bra

I had someone ask me about the strap assembly – the fabric straps are made with a piece of fabric folded in half and then picot elastic attached to the outside edge to finish it. There is a little bit of elastic at the back, with rings and sliders. The fabric straps are pretty stable in their own right and work quite well, although these particular straps (and not any other Boylston bra I made, for some odd reason) are a tiny bit too long for me. I shortened the elastic as much as possible and they’re still a little more than what I need, so I really need to just dissemble the strap where the ring is attached and shorten the fabric strap by an inch or so. You know, at some point in my life. Maybe tomorrow.

Boylston Bra Again, all the little bits and pieces that make up this bra were from my stash. The sliders and bow were taken off another retired RTW bra. The sliders don’t exactly match, but they “go” well enough. Boylston Bra

Again with the perma-ballpoint marks! Argh! I made this bra before I made the dotted one – and cut them both at the same time. This was the bra I realized the error of my ways on, unfortunately. I also dyed that channeling, all by myself. I used coffee this time, which gives a much less yellow beige than tea does. It doesn’t quite match the rest of the beige of the bra, but it’s close enough for me.

Boylston Bra I tried using the 3 point zigzag stitch for the bottom elastic of this bra. I don’t like the way it looks at all – it’s too busy, especially where it intersects with the underwire channeling. I much prefer a standard zigzag set a little wider (like what you see on the polka dot bra). Also, I know that the elastic is super wrinkled and bunchy looking when it’s flat, but it smooths out really nicely when I’m wearing it. That being said, I definitely pulled the elastic too taut when I was applying it – something I was able to fix with my next bra, the polka dot one. You really only need to stretch the elastic ever so slightly under the cups and at the bridge when applying it – mostly so it’ll turn to the wrong side more easily and look smooth. Not look like the hot mess I have going on here. Boylston Bra

One of my favorite parts about this pattern is being able to add a cute little picot edge at the sides. I love the way it looks!

Boylston Bra

Ok, I think that’s it! I’ve got a few more ideas for this pattern, so I hope you’re not sick of seeing a million renditions of it just yet! Up next, I want to try making some lace versions – I have a couple of gorgeous pieces from the Tailor Made shop that I’ve been waaay too scared to use, but i think it’s time to bite the bullet and woman up a bit! I also want to experiment with changing the straps – maybe leaving off the fabric strap and using elastic (either removeable or sewn on) in it’s place. I wonder if this pattern would work as a strapless? Would it be as simple as smoothing down the top of the cup, adding some boning to the side seams and possibly rubber elastic at the top of the cup? What do you think?

As a side note, I wanted to share an update with my Made Up pledge. My first rendition of a swimsuit was a HOT MESS (not so much the pattern or the construction – more like, I wanted a string bikini and I absolutely hateeeee the way I look in them! Definitely should have done some sneaky try-before-you-DIY shopping for that one, it would have saved me a bit of headache), and I was all set to try pattern #2 when I realized that I don’t have enough fabric :( I made an emergency order for a piece of really cool swimsuit fabric, but it doesn’t appear to have shipped out yet. We leave 2 weeks from today, so hopefully it’ll get here soon!

Completed: The Summer DVF Wrap Dress

17 Aug

What? Did you think I was going to make it an entire year without busting out this pattern? Ha ha! Forget about it!

Vogue 1610 // DVF(No idea why I’m standing pigeon-toed in this photo, eh.)

ANYWAY. If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll know that I loveeeee me some knit wrap dress action. Specifically, some Diane Von Fürstenberg knit wrap dress action. I just think she makes the prettiest dresses and I can’t get enough of them (and by “them,” I mean “knock-offs”) in my closet! I have a few that I made last year – The Wearable Muslin, The Silk Jersey and The Chic Black Wool. And now, here’s #4: The Bold Graphic Print. Just in time for the last few weeks of summer! Vogue 1610 // DVF

I have an original copy of Vogue 1610, which is a (vintage) Vogue American Designer pattern (this one featuring Diane Von Fürstenberg, obviously). I found it – in my size, no less – at an estate sale for around $1 a few years ago. It’s a beautiful pattern that really lends itself well to all the hacking and modifying I’ve put it through. It’s certainly a bummer that Vogue won’t re-release this pattern for the modern sewist – and before you start pointing fingers, this has nothing to do with Vogue and everything to do with DVF not renewing the license. I’m pretty sure the McCall Pattern Company wants to re-release some DVF love just as much as you want to buy it (I mean, can you imagine how much $$ they’d make? Who can say no to that?), but it’s not really up to them to decide. Seems like the designer just doesn’t want her name on sewing patterns anymore :( DIANE, WHYYYY.

Anyway, back to my dress!

Vogue 1610 // DVFVogue 1610 // DVF

Taking a cue from the black wool version, I kept the original bodice from the pattern and changed out the skirt for a simple wrap skirt (specifically, I used Tilly’s Miette skirt and just made it so the wrap is in the front). I added 1″ to the overlap, so I’d have a little bit of fabric to fold back and topstitch. I like the gathered skirt that the pattern is drafted for, but I wanted this version to be a little more sleek. I originally planned this dress to include small cap sleeves – I was going to take them off my Lady Skater dress pattern – but when I tried the dress on sans sleeves, I really liked the way it looked so I kept it as-is.

Vogue 1610 // DVFI also kept a slightly longer skirt length (I know, I know… nothing about “practically knee-length” qualifies as “long,” but considering I’ve basically been exposing ass cheeks all summer, this is long for me), again, something I liked when I tried it on during construction. Vogue 1610 // DVF

Vogue 1610 // DVFI also tried something different with the front band. Normally, I sew it on like how you finish the neckline of a tshirt – stretching the band so that it fits snugly against the bust when worn. However, I lurked in on some actual DVF wrap dresses while I was in Harrod’s last year in London, and noticed that they finish their necklines a little differently. No knit bands to be found anywhere – most of them use a binding or a facing. I was keen to try this myself, so that’s what I did. I cut the band as usual and interfaced it with a lightweight knit fusible (so it has a little bit of structure, but it’s still quite stretchy). I finished one edge, sewed the facing to the outside of the garment, flipped it to the inside and understitched, and then topstitched 1″ away from the edge on the outside. I was 100% certain that I’d fucked up the dress beyond repair at that point – the back had some puckers and everything just looked kind of strange – but it all sorted itself out once I put it on and my body stretched it into shape. The addition of the interfacing gives the neckline a little bit of height, almost – especially around the neck itself. The facing is much smoother and sleeker than any band. And I can pull the dress apart a little and show some 1970s ~natural cleavage~ if I feel so inclined. Yeehaw! Vogue 1610 // DVF

Vogue 1610 // DVFNot really much else to report on construction – much of the same old, same old. I used my serger to construct, my Bernina (+ walking foot // ballpoint needle) to topstitch. For the arm holes, I just serged them and turned the hem under and topstitched with a straight stitch. So easy! I think I finished this whole thing in less than 3 hours. Vogue 1610 // DVF

Isn’t the fabric so good? When I saw it on Mood Fabrics recently, it immediately screamed WRAP DRESS and it knew it had to be mine. Sometimes, I find buying knit fabric online to be a bit of a gamble – you can’t really tell weight/hand/stretch recovery (not to mention color) from a photo and description, and occasionally I end up with stuff that wasn’t at all what I was expecting. This fabric definitely exceeded my expectations – it’s so beautiful! Very dense with a good stretch (and an awesome recovery; I wore this all day last week and it didn’t bag out at all), and the color is super saturated. It’s a little on the heavy side – but not bulky. It feels very fluid and luxurious. I wish all knits were like this. This stuff is awesome! Also, the color is “poppy” which I kept seeing as “poppy,” so, like, there’s that.

Vogue 1610 // DVFHere’s a shot of the inside. Super clean finish, yay! Vogue 1610 // DVFI think the color and style of this dress will be good for transitioning into the fall months here – where we want to pretend like it’s tall boot and wool hat weather, but it’s actually still 90+ degrees. Which means I can wear this and look cool, but still be cool. Also, I am not ready for summer to end just yet – I have a few more projects left to finish!

Note: The fabric for this dress was purchased with my allowance for the Mood Sewing Network. All comments on this blog post are just, like, my opinion, man.

Completed: Simplicity 6266

14 Aug

How often do we fall in love with a pattern and swear that we’re going to make a million versions, and then end up with just the original one? Yeah. I definitely made this pattern like 3 years ago, and I definitely have been saying ever since then that I need to make it again. Whoops. Better late than never, anyway!

Simplicity 6280

The pattern in question is Simplicity 6266, which, 3+ years later, I STILL can’t find anywhere on the internet. EDIT: Definitely had the pattern number wrong. Dunno what that was all about hahah! This post has been corrected :) I made this forever and ever ago in a slinky poly cheetah print, with adorable little tulip sleeves. It’s the best dress. I still wear it all the time – it is kind of awful in the summer (polyester not being breathable and all), but I do it for the ~fashion~. Truth me told, the OG cheetah version is one of the few dresses that I actually altered to fit my new size after I lost weight, rather than get rid of it (which happened to most of my closet, if you were around for the Great Closet Etsy Purge a couple years ago). Now you know that’s true love!

Simplicity 6280

I knew I eventually wanted to make it again – it stayed in my pattern queue piles for years, and I waffled back and forth on fabric choices. I finally decided to bite the bullet and just fucking make it – and I used a special/hoardy fabric to do it. Might as well kill two birds with one stone! Get’er done and all that!

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

Remember when I said that I had to alter the original dress after I lost weight? Well. I knew the pattern was going to need some adjustments, since it was completely unaltered and thus the original size (which was for a 33.5″ bust, sadly larger than what I’m rocking these days), but I threw all fucks to the wind and just charged ahead with making this before I changed my mind. So, there were a lot of last-minute fitting alterations to get this thing even remotely sized like I am. I took quite a bit out of the side seams, as well as raising the shoulders a bit (not much, less than 1/2″. Maybe more like 1/4″. I don’t remember! Sorry!). The resulting fit is pretty good, I think, but it definitely added quite a bit of unnecessary unpicking and re-adjusting that I could have avoided had I bothered to make a muslin and do some flat pattern adjustments. With that being said… did I make those adjustments to the pattern after these alterations? Hell no! Do I look like I operate on common sense?? :P

Simplicity 6280

All that aside, once I got the fitting sorted out – the rest of the dress came together beautifully. This is the kind of project that I just love doing – working with a pattern that I know I love to wear, made up in a beautiful and special fabric, and spending the extra time on parts of the construction, such as blind-stitching the hem by hand (I can’t even remember the last time I did that! What is wrong with me?)

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

I kept most of the construction true to the pattern, but I did change out a few things. For one, I left off the arm hole facing and used bias facing instead. Since there’s a lot of topstitching going on with this dress, the topstitching for the bias facing doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. I also traded out the lapped zipper for an invisible zipper, because it looks a bit more polished. I did not make the waist tie for this dress (on my cheetah dress, I made it, just didn’t attach it to the dress), instead I added some thread loops to hold my belt in place.

Simplicity 6280

The fabric was another gift from the fabric goddess herself, Sunni. This, too, was part of the awesome care package she sent me last year. I’ve been waiting so long to figure out what to use with it, but I’m happy that I decided to match it up with this pattern! This fabric is rayon challis that has the most gorgeous, fluid drape. Really really lovely stuff. It shed like a hairy little monster, but otherwise sewed and pressed well. It is slightly translucent, so you can see the facings shining through the front in some lights, but that doesn’t bother me. I just wear skin-colored undergarments and get on with my life.

Simplicity 6280Similar to the cheetah version of this dress, I tacked the front surplice together to prevent it from gaping when I bend over. Unlike the cheetah version, I literally just sewed the two pieces together (see the stitching line? It’s aligned with the topstitching so it doesn’t show from the outside), instead of using a snap. A snap seems kind of silly with a mock-wrap dress – I mean, when am I going to unsnap it? Never, that’s when!

Simplicity 6280

Because the fabric is so drapey and shifty, I added a strip of stay tape to the waist seam to prevent it from stretching over time. Just sewed it to the seam allowance at the waist, and then topstitched it down on the outside. Not shown but also there – I interfaced the zipper seam allowance with a strip of fusible interfacing, before I added the zipper. This not only adds strength, but also keeps the fabric from wrinkling by the zipper. I know there are still a few puckers – alas, the nature of the beast – but it’s not nearly the horrifyingly wavy thing that it was threatening to be pre-interfacing.

Simplicity 6280

I love making belt thread loops! Ha!

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

Simplicity 6280

One of my favorite parts of this dress is this section right here – the dart + the lines of the surplice neckline. I just think it’s so pretty!

Simplicity 6280

Really glad to finally get a good idea for that fabric so I could give it the love it deserved! I actually almost made a Hawthorn with it – but decided at the last minute that it might look a little too cutesy with the polka dots. This sleek 70s mock-wrap is a good alternative because it’s a classic style in it’s own right, and I know I love wearing it. Ideally, I’d like to make this again for winter with the long sleeves – but I also know I’d have to do a lot of pattern adjustments to the tissue before that happens. We’ll see!

In the meantime – I used some of the remaining fabric to make a really adorable bra, so stay tuned for that!


As a side note – have y’all heard about the Made Up Initiative that was just launched yesterday? Karen and Love Sewing Magazine have dreamed up a great fundraiser, where you pledge a donation and set your own challenge to make something before September 10 (it doesn’t have to be sewing related! It can be anything!). There will be prizes for those who complete their personal challenge on or before the deadline. All the money raised goes to the National Literacy Trust.

I love the idea of pulling the sewing community together to accomplish something like this, and bonus if it’s for literacy! Reading was a huge part of my childhood and I fell in love with it at a very early age. I come from a family of voracious readers and it saddens me that not every child (or adult, for that matter) has those same opportunities that I did. So I’m definitely on board with this, and have contributed and made my pledge – I will be making a swimsuit before we go on vacation next month. It’s a pretty simple pledge – I really wanted to make something show-stopping, like a coat or some shit – but I realized that time is pretty short right now and I need something low-key if I actually want it to be finished by the deadline. Plus, I want an excuse to use this 70s-fabulous string bikini pattern that I bought at the flea market a couple of months ago. We are going to Cancun, Mexico, the first weekend of September, so time is short!

I encourage all of you to consider joining the Made Up Initiative and set your own challenge! Again, it doesn’t have to be a big fancy project – it can be as small as making a couple of napkins – or even sewing related. You just need to make something by the deadline. And even if you don’t think you can manage anything by the deadline, maybe consider donating anyway. Even $5 makes a difference!

For all the info on the Made Up Initiative, check out Karen’s blog post. You can also donated directly to the Just Giving page – as of this publish, it’s at 91%, which is awesome. Think we can double that? C’mon, y’all! Do it for the books! ♥


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