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.

T-shirts!

I always wanted to learn to sew with knits. I love dresses and blouses, but as I’ve mention before, what I wear almost everyday are pants and t-shirts. Thirty-something and still dressing like a teenager. I guess some people of our generation never grow up. Because this and because I don’t have a serger, I decided to join the Craftsy class Sewing with Knits by Meg McElwee. The class was clear and Meg explained the key concepts (and beyond) to sew with knits, and after a slow start, the rhythm improves. If you also decide to take it, bear in mind that not all the material is necessary, but the walking foot and the twin needle are a must.

What I wanted to make from this course was the v-neck t-shirt. I’m sure the dress will follow soon, but I always wanted to make that kind of t-shirt because it’s very flattering. I have an old t-shirt like that that is almost falling to pieces and this was the chance to replicate it.

I had a knit fabric that bought I don’t remember when in a sale in Vigo and I decide to use it for this project. The fabric is not super cool and it is on the thin side, but it has nice drape and a beautiful color.

After assembling the pieces of the pattern I cut an XS size, since my bust is 33 inches. Those pieces seemed large and very long to me, but I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions before finishing the garment. This was my first time sewing with knits and I didn’t want to make mistakes by hurrying into modifications.

I found that following the instructions of using a walking foot and lowering the foot pressure worked for me without adjustments. I didn’t have any issue and it went perfectly smooth. Many people had problems with the neck band in this version of the t-shirt, but I got it right the first time. What looks less nice is the back of the neck and the topstitching. That triple stretch stitch doesn’t look perfect and I think the fabric stretched out a bit. Next time I’ll just do a zig-zag or I’ll use the twin needle approach (I think it can look nice if you stitch in the ditch with the right needle).

Overall I’m pleased with the result, but it looks a little bit too loose for my liking, so I think next time I’ll make a size XXS. Something I did modify this time was that I cut 10 cm (4 inches) from the bottom, because it was long long long. I don’t have an especially short torso, so I guess either this is by design or Megan has a longer torso.

Just look at the t-shirt. The rest is awful. I didn’t have enough sleep last night and I look like a zombie. The hay fever is here again and my asthma inhalers keep me awake at night. And you don’t see it there, but I got a new rash on one of my arms. I love Spring!

A-line skirt

I started a class about pattern drafting almost 1 year ago. My first project was a skirt of which I’m not especially proud. It’s an ok skirt, but it’s not exactly what it was meant to be, and now I feel some basic concepts were not explained during the class (or at least I was not aware of them). Because of that and because of my great behind I haven’t made any more skirts until very recently (dresses with circle skirts don’t count).

After a lot of thinking I decided to join this Craftsy class. It’s about designing and sewing your own A-line skirt. I was a bit afraid that I was going to pay for something that I already knew and that it was going to be worthless, but I couldn’t be more wrong. There were three concepts that were pretty basic but that also were eye-openers for me:

  • How to sew on a blind zipper without having puckers.
  • How to sew the facing to the zipper with the machine.
  • The importance of square angles at the sides (waist and hem) when designing the skirt.

After a couple of muslins this is the result:

I think the fit is quite good and those muffing pockets are adorable. I’m definitely making more of this for this summer.

Following the instructions of the class was very straight forward, simple and clear. Deborah Moebes makes everything look so easy, you just want to jump to your sewing machine and start sewing.

I confess that I had a bit of trouble designing my skirt due to my pear shaped body, but taking into account the square angles concept, I could draft a quite good pattern.

When I started this blog, it was almost exclusively about knitting. I always wanted to learn sewing and I’ve been doing some since last year, but getting my own sewing machine was the real starting point. The only problem is the invest of money a new hobby requires: acquiring the tools and knowledge. Between that and all the ideas flying in my head about future designs I’m getting a bit stressed. I think it could be due to the different nature of sewing compared to knitting. Knitting is a very slow process, so slow that you sometimes forget what you’re doing while you keep knitting stitch after stitch, it becoming an almost mindlessly process while you’re watching TV. With sewing it’s very different, because it can be very immediate; a skirt can finished in one or two days. And some of the process can’t be done in front of the TV. You need to get up from your chair, measure here and there; and the sewing machine is a lot more noisy than your knitting needles, even if they are metallic. I have the impression that it just takes more of my attention and it can become a bit obsessive. I’ve already had some insomnia nights just thinking how I’m going to make this or that, how I’m going to cut that fabric, how the final garment is going to look like.

I guess I just have to take it easy and try to switch between sewing and knitting to try to avoid becoming obsessed by any of the two. But you know, I’m queuing up so many projects in my mind that I could have a complete wardrobe. And I also would like to learn embroidery!

Note: I want to make clear that I’m not getting paid for writing this post. These are just my honest thoughts about the class.