First Bra Experience

One of the things I wanted to dip my feet into this year was bra making. The most popular bra patterns differ from the kinds of bra that I’m used to wearing, but I wanted to approach this like I did with shirt making: just an exercise to learn new techniques. Just to make it clear, I like foam cup bras with as less seams as possible, I’m not too keen on lace, and I usually go for basic colors like black or beige.

I bought in the past two kits and several patterns from Merckwaerdigh, but I never got to making them because I had problems with the measurements (mine didn’t seem to match any given measurements) and I needed some hand-holding at least during the first time.

The Watson Bra has become very popular nowadays, but it’s not underwired, and I figured it was just too basic, and since I don’t own any non-underwired bra since I was 16, this was not for me. I went then for the Marlborough Bra, since it looks so beautiful and everybody seems to be very happy about it. The instructions were very clear, but I’m a visual learner and I was not sure about what to make with all those laces, trims, and elastics, so I purchased the bra making class on Craftsy just to see how things should be done.

The class is mainly about a different pattern (Pin up Girls Classic Bra pattern, not included) but the concepts can be transferred to any other bra pattern. It really helped a lot in losing my fear of sewing bras, since I had these bra kits for several months and I was not able to bring myself to do anything with them. Finally, thanks to this class, I completed a bra in three days just sewing during spare moments.

The teacher insists several times on not trying to do our best job with this first bra. And fear not, this is not my best sewing job by far. Sadly I have to report that I spent more time fighting with my machine than really learning or enjoying the process. Since the outer fabric of the kits is a flimsy knit, I decided to use my walking foot. I don’t know if this was the issue or if I just need to upgrade sewing machine, but I had issues with non even stitches almost all the time. My fabric tended to bunch up just behind my walking foot and I got tiny stitches too often. I switched to a regular foot and even a zipper foot to attach the rings to the bra front and for the hook and eye, but the results were not much better. I have used a brand new stretch needle, for your information, because the outer fabric was a knit.

If you look at it from afar, it doesn’t look bad, and I have to report that it fits almost perfectly. I feels a little bit loose on the band but there could be two reasons for that. First, I have used stretch lace for the back band since it’s what the kit included. With power mesh or even folded lace I guess it would hold better. And second, my elastics got terribly stretched out during sewing, especially the top right. I’m not sure though if I should shorten the back bands, since the aforementioned points could explain this fitting issue.

The cups feel fine but I have something to say, and sadly it’s not a surprise. When I was a teenager and started shopping for bras and find out what I liked, I discovered that I was usually annoyed by seams running against my nipples (sorry for TMI). I switched then to bras without seams on that area and never went back, so I was not sure how I felt about it nowadays. I have to report that I still feel the same, and although making this bra was a wonderful exercise, I don’t feel like making another one to improve it since I won’t wear it due to those seams.

Most bra patterns I’ve seen have seams crossing the cups, and therefore are not suitable for my needs. I found though the following options that could be just what I’m looking for:

And while searching the internet, I found some other interesting stuff:

Corset making and boning:

All above links are from shops in Europe. If you are in a different part of the world, you may need to buy somewhere else.

I had some underwires that I purchased many months ago, so I don’t remember if they came from MakeBra or a local shop, but I had to shorten them a bit since they were too long for this pattern. I then applied several coatings of nail polish on the severed ends. I used blue just for fun to make it match my bra. Another thing that I should say is that this is the most colored bra that I own, and I’m not sure I would feel comfortable with all that lace and color.

And as it’s starting to become common, I leave you here another floating bra to show how it really fits (the things we do for our blogs), since even though my mannequin and me have the same measurements, our proportions are quite different (she has smaller boobs and broader shoulders and ribcage). I made size 34B and it’s the size I usually have for RTW.

Completed: Margot Pajama Bottoms

I bought this cotton flannel sheet in Retales Lidia by the kilo. I don’t remember the price, but it was ridiculously cheap and I still have tons left. First I wanted to make the Tofino pants, but I was not 100% convinced about the leg width and I wanted a quick project. If we’re going to fret about pajamas, then what are we going to do about trousers or a fitted dress. No, I’ve learn just to put my energy where it’s required, and pajama bottoms is not the task for that. Am I right?

This pattern is from Tilly‘s book Love at First Stitch. The construction of these pajama bottoms was very easy and the only mods were chopping 5 cm from the bottom (exactly like my Thurlows) and adding en elastic to the waist, just exactly like Lauren did. I examined the pair of pajama bottoms I was wearing while sewing this and the construction was different. They have a closed elastic band and a drawstring on top. I thought of mimicking this but I saw Lauren’s idea more convenient. I just took some elastic I had left from the Prefontaine Shorts (ugh, unblogged), and when comfortable stretched it was almost the length of my waist. I sewed then twill tape to both ends. This way is more convenient than my RTW pants because if I need to change the elastic one day, I can just do it through the hole on the front.

This pink giraffe is my proposal for Jungle January. I’m not usually too keen on animal prints, but once I saw this one I had to have it. The socks are the Maria Denmark socks I made last October.

I cut a size 3 but I was really in between size 2 and 3. When I finished them I thought they were too loose, or at least looser than other pajama bottoms I own, but you know, they are all right, very comfortable, and I can even do a martelo of Capoeira while wearing them. I could shorten the front crotch by 3 or 4 cm next time though.

This t-shirt was one of the two t-shirts that I bought during my first Rockabilly Day in Belgium in 2007.

Completed: Another 40s Style Blouse

I promise that this is the last 40s style blouse that I’m making for a while, but I just needed to get it out of my system. I’m going to try a different pattern next time, but even if I don’t, I think I’m ready to attend the next rockabilly festival without fear of not having anything to wear. In fact, it’s nice to dress like this for half an hour on Saturdays just to take the pictures for the blog. I almost feel I’m attending a party!

This time the blouse is made with Japanese cotton, and it’s such an easy fabric and I already know this pattern so well, that I could have the blouse done in two days, but I ran out of interfacing (I had everything except for a front facing) and then I had to wait for new snaps from Snapclic.

After checking red, two shades of green, orange and yellow, I finally went for choral (Koen agreed); and when I was installing the snaps on Saturday morning, I remembered this choral lipstick I barely used. It’s not a color I’m very used to, but it feels very summery.

The tiki bobby pins are from a local shop (Shopper Monster), the necklace from Luxulite, and earrings and brooch from Desperate Beatnik.

Petticoat Resources

One of the things that I would like to make one day is a petticoat. If I haven’t made it before it’s because I don’t think it will get a lot of wear. I spend most of my days at home and I’m not attending a lot of parties right now, but one day it will change and I’ll want my petticoat.


I was searching the Internet and found several free tutorials:

Most instructions call for tulle, but they say that organza, chiffon or special petticoat fabric is better.

And you? Have you made or bought a petticoat? What are your thoughts on the matter?

Slow January

Just twenty days have passed since the month started but it feels to me like a month and a half at least. After the Christmas frenzy and all the doctor appointments before that (including a gastroscopy that never happened), these days it seems that I just work, sew, knit and watch TV shows. Also, if I measure time by finished garments, it also feels longer than two thirds of a month. In my to-do list I tend to aim for four garments a month, but usually finish one or two, sometimes three; and in 20 days I’ve finished four garments, I have another blouse almost finished (but ran out of interfacing), and I’ve cut a pair Margot pajamas. Yes, the calendar is lying to me and these two thirds of January are in fact more than a month.

I guess that playing the game of waiting and patience tends to slow things down. I haven’t had any doctor appointment since 2014 and I’m currently on new medicines that I need to test until the end of next month to see if they work. And in the meantime, nothing else. It’s so cold outside that we didn’t even think of going out, but I guess that when the warmer weather comes, I’ll feel the need to hurry this recovering process.

This month I’ve been watching the Christmas episode of Doctor Who, The Christmas episode of Call the Midwife, the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey, the beginning of Broadchurch series 2, Spaced, Ashes to Ashes series 2 and the occasional episodes of Castle, Modern Family and The Big Band Theory. We finished Scrubs, tried the last season and dropped it because it was not worth it.

And you, what’ve you been up to?

Completed: A Tiki Blouse in January

And I don’t live in the Southern Hemisphere. It means how much I long for warmer weather, refreshing cocktails (those will not happen, I know) and the much expected tiki party.

It’s Gertie’s 40s style blouse again made with some fabric that I bought this Christmas by the kilo at my hometown. This piece should have been like €4 and there’s still a bit left and another piece just exactly the same (maybe a future tiki dress?). I hope you’re not getting tired of these blouses because I have one more on the works for this month, and then I promise I’ll let the pattern rest for a bit while I make other things.

I think I didn’t talk a lot about sizing. This is size 4 and I made it according to my body measurements. Gertie doesn’t design with a lot of ease, so if you prefer your clothes on the loose side, you may consider going a size up. This fits me perfectly but I would have problems if I had broader shoulders.

Gerry is here busy trying to bite my brooch. I bought it a month ago at the market that happens on the square just across our building every Friday and Saturday. It’s a very small market but I love checking the vintage brooches, movie posters and antiques.

I don’t have a lot more to say about this blouse. It’s hard to believe, but even been this is my third blouse, I managed to sew the collar upside down. I think having too much work takes a toll. I rarely work over time, but when I have stressful days I feel less awake after work and I tend to make this kind of mistakes. Please tell me that I’m not the only one.

Gerry and I are ready for Spring and Summer. Bring them on!

Sewing plans: pants

One of the things I want to do this year is sewing pants again. I love my three Thurlow trousers I made in past years, but I want a different style this time. I’ve mentioned in my Top 5 of 2014 post that I will sew more things that are my style this year. I’ve eyed vintage and rock’n’roll outfits for years and I’ve decided that life is too short to wish to dress in a specific way and not doing it, especially if you have sewing and knitting skills.

I wanted to try high waisted trousers for a while but I’m not sure if I’d like it. Not the aesthetic, but I wonder if I would feel comfortable with it. I remember some old jeans in the 90s that were especially uncomfortable on the waist area. It’s also true that they were not made to measurements but probably cheap RTW. Well, one thing I know: if I don’t try I’ll never know. And they will look so good with my new blouses (more to come).

I’ve been eying a couple of Gertie’s patterns:

These Butterick jeans (made by Tasha of By Gum By Golly, Rochelle of Lucky Lucille, and Stacey from Stacey Stitch) and the pants included in Gertie’s last book “Gertie sews vintage casual”. I own both patterns, but I ignore if they are the same or if they are worthy mods on any of both. I would need to unfold the one that comes with the book and print the one from Butterick to be able to compare them.

Pants from Gertie’s book

Both pants have a back zipper, and that is what I’m not so convinced about. I think it would feel awkward and I would prefer a side zipper, but again, it’s uncharted territory for me.

Other option would be the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers. I’ve seen nice versions online and they have a side zip.

And then we have the Ginger jeans. Everybody has highly praised this pattern but I was not so sure about the leg design. I don’t look too good in skinny jeans (I was planning on widening a bit the ones above), but then this project completely sold me:

They are made in non stretch denim and I absolutely see myself wearing something like this.

I also have this Angela Wolf Bootcut Jean pattern that looks a lot like the jeans I’m wearing nowadays, and has very good opinions on Pattern Review. I like the style but I would mean just making what I’m wearing these days and less experimentation.

Which pants should I make this year? And you? What are your sewing plans?

Completed: Monsters Blouse

One of the things that I’ve missed this year was going to a couple of rockabilly festivals. It’s difficult to attend this kind of events when you have food issues, but as soon as I get better, I’ll definitely go… and wear this blouse.

It’s Gertie’s 40s style blouse again. I purchased the fabric at Plush Addict almost by accident. I was looking for something else but I saw that there were 70 cm left of this Robert Kaufman‘s cotton and I couldn’t let it go. This blouse requires very little fabric, but 70 cm at 110 cm width was cutting it a bit short, so I had to use some black cotton I had in my stash left from my Nemesis Blouse. I used this black cotton for the collar and sleeves. I quite like the result, even though it reminds me of what the waiter at the Lunch Box would wear. No print matching here, since I was lucky to have just enough to make the blouse bodice.

I just love this pattern. It fits out of the envelope like it was designed for me. No mods again on this. I’m working on a third blouse and I’ve already cut a fourth. And you know, I will probably sew a couple more to be ready to rock them during Me Made May and future rockabilly festivals. And the tiki party I want to throw out since some time ago too. I need to build a proper wardrobe 😉

I’m really longing for warmer weather to be able to wear these blouses. It’s just no fun at all covering these with layers of sweaters and coats. Luckily spring usually comes early here and I’ll be ready for it!

I installed snaps again because I like how they look on this blouse and I don’t really need it to be truly vintage. I tried several colors and went for red again.

Have I told you that Gerry gets very nervous about my lipstick? He even tries to bite it and gets a nice colored beak.

And I leave you a song that was part of what I listened to while sewing this blouse:

Completed: Camas Blouse

You probably know Thread Theory as a independent company designing sewing patterns for men. Well, to celebrate their second anniversary they have released a pattern for us, women: The Camas Blouse. On the original picture it appears as a loose top, so to make it more my style, I’ve made it two sizes smaller than what was intended. According to my measurements I should have done a size 4, but I made a size 0 instead. Luckily the finished garment measurements are included so it’s easy to decide about what size you want to make. It also lists biceps, length, and other measurements, apart from the usual bust, waist and hips. As you know, I tend to dislike loose tops on my body. I have wide hips, so with loose tops I look simply fat and round. Going down two sizes made this top perfect.

I had this white knit donated by my sister years ago, but it was too small to make anything but maybe underwear, so it was perfect to pair with this orange floral that I bought during my visit to my home town this Christmas (fabric by the kilo). I was not sure about the whole, and I thought it thoroughly, even considering other fabrics, but these two paired reminded me a bit of a vintage baseball t-shirt and I liked it.

The original pattern comes with three quarter sleeves, which I find flattering, but it’s a length that I never ever wear. If I’m cold I wear long sleeves and a t-shirt with more chest coverage, and if I’m warm I wear short sleeves. Both long and short are good for layering with sweaters but three quarter sleeves are the worst invention ever. When it’s warm they are annoying, and when it’s cold your wrists freeze and layering it with a sweater is a total nightmare (how do you do in these cases, so that the three quarter sleeves stay in place when putting a sweater on?).

The instructions explain how to construct the yoke to have all seams concealed but, after making a couple of Archer Shirts, I prefer the burrito technique for this. You cover three steps in one and in my opinion the result is neater. The pattern has gathers on front and back. I quite liked the front ones but I was not sure about the back gathers the first time I tried it on. I escape as much as I can from loose tops and I was afraid these gathers would make it too loose. Now that I see the pictures, I think it looks kind of cute.

I constructed almost everything on my serger, machine basting some of the most fiddly parts, like setting in the sleeves. I should have machine basted the button band before attaching it to the top, since my serger made it shift a bit, but knit fabrics are forgiving and it’s not noticeable.

Where I had real problems was topstitching the button band. My sewing machine decided to stop cooperating and I had to clean it and oil it. It improved a bit but there was a part it decided it was not got to sew.

It’s hemmed using a twin needle on my sewing machine and all edges are serged, even the ones enclosed inside the yoke. I loved serged edges, how could I live without a serger for so long?

The first time I tried this on I thought it showed too much cleavage, but it’s probably because during Winter I’m stuffed in clothes and I’m not used to showing a lot of skin. In fact I can say that it looks quite ok on these pictures.

I also had a bit of a nightmare attaching the snaps. Snaps are an easy alternative to buttons, but they give problems when they have to go through several layers of fabric. A couple of them fell in the process but I finally got to convince them to stay put.

Something that I noticed on the original pattern was the button placement on the button band. I don’t know if it was intentional but the buttons were not equally spaced. I measured my button band and I spaced mine equally. I think it looks better this way.

What do you think about this Thread Theory pattern for women? I think we may be onto something new. Let’s see what they have in store for us.