Sunday, September 22, 2013

Moving forward in small increments

Trying to do the Stitchers Guild 20 minutes a day at least. Some days are a lot more and some days are nothing. But it is keeping it at the top of my mind. I do know I function better in my entire life if I take "me time" as sewing time, even if just for a few minutes.

All last week I was working on the fitting of the bra and redrafting the parts to get it to work correctly for my current body. I finally got everything worked out and Friday night and yesterday I cut out the next bras. Yes. That is a plural. I figured that I have two that will be done with black thread so I may as well go ahead and do them at the same time in assembly line fashion. Although as I'm short on black elastic one may be black and white by the time the elastic gets added.

Got everything all ready to go, machine set with the black thread and bobbin, just sat down to start, and BAM! Our power went out. We've had lovely sunny and hot weather up until yesterday. Then all of a sudden we got a really great rain storm through. Something hit the power lines, and we were out of electricity for a while.

I had promised hubby that if he'd grate carrots and apples, I'd make him a new muffin recipe I found for gluten free bran muffins. He was almost through with the grating, and the oven was pre-heating also. So the almost ready muffin parts got set aside. The oven was off, the machines were off, the iron was off, and the lights were out.

What to do? It was just around lunch time so we both got cleaned up and went out to lunch across town where they weren't having power problems! Then went to the grocery store too while we were out.

A few hours later, the power was back on. I got the muffins into the oven... quite good by the way... and got back to the sewing room.

I promised to take pictures, but of course I forgot part of it. At the same time, I decided to type up my own version of the instructions that I could print out with pictures. Dini is doing a translation from Dutch and doesn't do all the pictures that most of us are used to using in the US to puzzle things out. I realized I need to have the instruction printed out in a way that will remind me of things I forget, and it is easier with the pictures included since I don't do these every week and will forget between sessions. I will see if I can figure out how to post them in a separate area on the blog for anyone interested.

So. A few comments that have got me thinking about bra making that I would like to respond to.

Bra making isn't really scary and IMO is much easier than a lot of items that you all sew every day. It is a little time consuming for such a small garment. The really good news is that your topstitching doesn't have to be perfect as no one will see it unless you allow them to do so. If your sewing isn't perfect, no one will know so long as you haven't messed up the fit. If you can go with a custom pattern from Dini, it will fit out of the envelope and you don't have to worry at all about fit.

I never liked wearing a bra, but as I aged and got a little larger, it was a necessary evil. I would remove it at the first possible opportunity when I got home and did without whenever possible. Then I had my first custom made bra. If you have the fit correct, it's no more uncomfortable than wearing a tee shirt. No more squeezing in the wrong places, sticking out in the wrong places, and underwires digging into sensitive areas. So it's worth it IMO to have a custom bra. That said, I did buy a complete set of underwires from Bra Makers Supply in order to find the right ones for me. The have a set you can get for what I considered a reasonable price, and so you can try them on to see which size is right for you.  You have to get them the same size as the base of your breasts in width and hopefully you can find the right height also. If not, they are easily altered in height.

Now... a sneak peak of progress. This picture is of my ironing board with my two that are under construction sitting on top of my laptop where I'm typing instructions at the same time.

I'm hoping to have these moving forward rapidly at this point. The bridge piece has been attached at the top, turned, and basted at the bottom, then attached to the bra back piece. The front cups have been sewn at the top with a piece of clear elastic in the seam line, turned, and the balance basted together. The lower cups have been basted wrong sides together. The upper and lower cups are currently pinned together waiting for stitching. I'll try to document better the rest of the day!

Have a fabulous day.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Great News! Custom bra patterns available.

Dini is still doing custom bra patterns. If you're interested, please email her. She'll let you know costs and give you a very involved measuring sheet in order to get it right.
My experience with her is the custom patterns are super well drafted and fit perfectly out of the envelope. You will need to copy and add seam allowances based on your elastic width and the number of hooks and eyes you intend to use. They are done in metric, so for my US friends, it looks like very odd numbers, but it works!

Contact her at: Danglez
info at danglez dot nl

Mention my name so she'll know you were referred. Can't wait to see a bunch of beautiful bras!


Just a minute to update!

Wanted to keep you in the loop on the bra construction. I made the second bra out of another kit I had and the entire time kept wondering "what was I thinking?" I do know someone would love this fabric, but it is not I.

The band was right, but I still needed to adjust the cups so the upper edge was correct and the straps wound up in the right place for my body. So that one was a wash also.

Bras seem to be much more difficult than even fitting a bodice. There are so many variations on breast size, configuration, more in the top, more in the bottom, hanging out the side, round or conical, that it becomes a big trial and error process. I did timely enough see a book listed on Canada College website that I purchased as a download for my kindle and also my desktop. It's called "Demystifying bra fitting and construction." It did give me some insight into alterations that might work on this particular model. I may try that later. I do have a bit of a lingerie sewing stash to put it mildly! LOL

It was extremely frustrating to have to complete an entire bra to find out it didn't fit. A LOT of thinking and puzzling and visualizing over the next 12 hours finally gave me the proverbial light bulb moment. Finally, I realized that since I had the band correct, I could take my old paper pattern from my custom bra, pin the cups together, and hold it up to my body to see how to adjust the cups to fit. Voila! I did so, measured the distance that needed to be altered to make them fit now, and cut a "muslin" for the cups. I cut the cups out of a scrap I had from a cotton interlock I used for a tank, and sewed them together, then basted them into the band so I could see if they were going to work. Both my husband and I think I have it nailed.

So, next thing you see will hopefully be a completed bra in my size that fits me well. Can't wait. It will be another one of the kits I bought with a patterned cup. Just can't get away from those quite yet. But soon I hope. Want to be sure before I cut into my beautiful dyed to match fabrics that I have it right, and even though it worked well in the cotton interlock, the lycra may be a little different fit. But it should definitely be a wearable muslin at the least. I'm feeling very positive at this point! I'll take some pictures of the process for those that find bra making scary. :P}}

And, BTW, I did send a message to Dini at Danglez to see if she's still making custom bra patterns. I'll let you know if I get a response. It still says they are shutting down on the website, and I noted many of her patterns are no longer listed. So, we'll see and I'll keep you updated.

More later!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Quick update ~ Am I doing BeaJay's Scary September Sewing Challenge?

I didn't think about joining BeaJay's Scary September Sewing Challenge as I don't think of sewing as scary. If you're interested check out That said, I think all sewing is a matter of following direction. But fitting, now that's scary! So I may have joined without knowing it. :P}}

I am working on bras. I've made my own bras before, but at a few different sizes. When I got where I thought I was staying, I had a custom drafted bra pattern made so I didn't have to deal with that bugaboo... FIT. But the custom draft doesn't fit this body, darn it. So I am reinventing the wheel.

I am frustrated that my body is not cooperating in fitting the things I make. :P}} It should be that I make things and my body cooperates in fitting into them instead of vice versa.

One more task to figure out. Is someone trying to tell me to be more flexible in my thinking?

Got my first bra done. Wild kit, not my style at all, but a good trial garment. Band slightly too small.

Upper cups need to be completely redrafted to bring the outside edge where the straps attach inside by 2 1/2"! As I was scratching my head trying to figure out where I went wrong, I pulled my custom drafted bra pattern out to look at it versus the newer OTC by the same designer.

Danglez by the way.  LOVE HER and her patterns. I don't think she's doing custom patterns any more darn it! But she does have OTC patterns still among other things. 
The OTC band is straight. My custom band curves. A LOT. The curves on the band and cups bring the strap area in towards the center of the body. With my narrow sloping shoulders that's what is needed. These are the only bras I have ever owned that the straps, particularly the left one, don't fall off my shoulders continuously all day.

Custom Draft Curved bottom band 

OTC Draft Straight bottom band
Going to try to figure this out.
Next band may be of muslin until I get the curves figured out.
You may be seeing multiple tries on this blog until I get it right.

Onward and upward!


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's been a long, long, time!

Haven't been writing much, but the SG 20 minutes a day group has me inspired! I've been trying to get things done for my Autumn 6 Pac before we go to Oregon for our Sure Fit Retreat the first week in October. And before that happens I need to make several new bras, so I wanted to  have everything else as close to finished as I can. I have promised myself September is Undies Month! LOL

I did get the tan cardigan done with a sleeveless shell to wear underneath. It is very light weight, and will be comfortable through at least October with our typical "Indian summer" weather. Overall it checks the boxes, but I'm not sure how well I really like it. The pattern is a combination of my Self Draft and the Petite Plus cardigan. Fabric is a rayon-linen jersey purchased on sale at Fabric Mart. I love those sales. Cardigan and shell total cost $7.00. Just makes me so happy to be able to have clothes I want in my fabric and color for those kind of prices!

Tan tank & flutter sleeve cardigan

Since I liked that style so well, went ahead with another cardigan for my Autumn 6 Pac. I absolutely love this one and have already worn it for work a few times! I'm not sure when I did the chocolate brown Margarita top for this one, but it really looks like they are perfect together. The pants were made for my 2013 SWAP, and they're a bittersweet chocolate pinstripe twill. The fabric for the cardigan was the absolutely opposite of the last one. It's a Christine Jonson rayon/lycra knit and was NOT on sale. Much more than I usually will pay for a piece, but I fell in love with the look on line and knew it would be a perfect bridge piece for my collection.

Since in the US, September 2 was a Holiday, I had a three day weekend. I made an executive decision to allow the work sitting on my desk, to wait until Tuesday to be completed. I want, need, and deserve a little time for myself. The Butterick top I've been promising myself for over a year now (maybe two or three?) finally was started. It's #5616 and looks like it's still in print. Here's the line drawing:

Mine is a sort of combo of several of these views. I started with view B, then decided on a  much longer length, definitely no band around my hips, don't need attention drawn there, and there are no pockets. I went with the 3/4 sleeves. I found what I think may be Microsuede in my stash. It's so old I don't even remember when I bought it. But it's a color I wear a lot, kind of a tanish-beigeish and will do well for either a light weight jacket or a shirt as we go into Fall. Since the color is very similar to the first Cardi and shell, it should fit in.
This shirt jacket made me question my skills and my sanity. I evidently got a bad spool of Gutterman thread. Used a micropoint needle as I had read the sharper the better for Ultra Suede, and this has the same texture. I went through absolute hell trying to finish this one. The sleeves were installed three times, the back armscye was altered after stitching and topstitching to get it to work correctly. Another good reason to be sure my muslin includes sleeves. About half way through the spool of thread, the thread started shredding and breaking. Doing the buttonholes it broke three different times. Can I tell you how much I hate having to tear out buttonholes and redo them?
But it's finally done and I like it quite well. It's a nice addition to my Autumn 6 PAC and I'm sure will be worn a lot as the weather cools. Until this week we were into the high 80s and 90s, but yesterday it did cool down a bit. Thank goodness. It will help with the wildfires hopefully. In my mind, it kind of looks like a painter's smock all buttoned up. It looks less yellow and more taupe in real life than it does in the picture.
The bras have been started. I think I have the pattern altered to fit my current size, and while looking for the fabrics, realized that I am a bra kit hoarder! I have about 30 or more bra kits with enough fabric to make matching panties. I expect to have lots of new undies by the end of the month! And it always makes me feel rich, wanted, and loved to having matching bra and panties, or knickers for all of my international friends!
Hope you're getting a lot of sewing done too! More later...