Me-Made May 2016, part four: food clothes

I’m a little behind in documenting what I am wearing. I’m sure all four of my faithful followers have been feverishly refreshing their browsers for the last week in anticipation of an update, so let’s get to it.

Tuesday, May 17

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A nice chilly day, perfect for getting all cozy in a long-sleeved top & a sweater. I even had my act together enough to actually wear one of my matching bra/undies sets. Now that I have six such sets (a couple are still unblogged) in my regular rotation, you’d think I’d be doing it everyday, but it’s astonishing how often that ends up not being the case. I wear this sweater less often than I expected to when I made it, & I realized it’s because I had this idea that the knit was too loose & a little bit fragile. It definitely snags easily, especially when you have an asshole cat who spends at least two hours a day attacking you for no reason, but it’s a lot cozier & more stable than I remembered. I bought six yards of this stuff (at $2 a yard! I will miss you, Hancock Fabrics Spot-the-Bolt sales), so I instantly cut out a cardigan from what was left. I did end up going for a walk in the rain with Ramona, flower-peeping on the Kansas prairie (really–how is this my life?), but this outfit handled the elements pretty well.

Wednesday, May 18

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Jared & I took Ramona to her first baseball game this afternoon, the Red Sox versus the Royals at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City. Jared had always maintained that baseball is wasted on children, but she has been watching games with him on TV since she was tiny, & she is a really sports-oriented child. Taking her to an actual major league baseball game was an experiment (they can be a little dull sometimes), but in this case, it paid off. She was really into it. I wore this dress over old RTW leggings left over from a short-lived period in my life when I thought I was going to take up running (note: it was August 2010, & basically making any resolution to move in any way in August in Kansas is going to result in a total fail) because I wanted something really comfortable & easy, since I expected to be in & out of my seat a lot, attending to the whims of a three-year-old at a major league baseball stadium. I paired it with a railroad stripe engineer hat, because we only have two Red Sox hats & both had been claimed by Jared & Ramona. We weren’t even inside the stadium yet when someone made fun of my hat.

I just want to add: I had a jumbo stadium hot dog & a platter of nachos for lunch. Oh God, I fucking love baseball lunch. The only thing that would have made it perfect was if we had been staying for the second half of the doubleheader & I could have had a beer or two. But drinking when you still have to contend with a preschooler is a recipe for disaster.

Ramona handled the game like a total champ.

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Here she is, taking in the action.

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This is the closest I have ever been to the field. (Though, granted, I have only been to like eight games.)

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Unfortunately, the end of the game coincided with her usual nap/quiet time, & by the top of the ninth, she was really feeling it.

Thursday, May 19

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I busted this dress out after a long hibernation in my dresser. Um, why do I not wear it every single day? I love it! I think I semi-retired it two years ago because I put it on one morning & busted the zipper. I replaced it right away with a harder-wearing metal zipper, but I think I assumed it was too small. But it’s not. It’s just right. Obviously it bears the marks of my sewing inexperience (I made it not too long after I started sewing), but it’s perfectly serviceable, cute, & comfortable. I paired it with my Blanc tee, with which I am currently having a torrid love affair. & also, those undies have not been blogged yet. They are the partner to a bra I sewed up & will be blogging about next month. The real excitement of these undies is on the back, but we’ll have to wait for the big reveal (uh, not on my butt, just for the record).

Friday, May 20

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I was exhausted all day today (which always makes me panic & think I’m pregnant–don’t worry, I’m not) & I discovered the next morning that it was because I only drank half my coffee! I always make a big six-cupper brew of espresso & drink it in two cups, but I only drank half of it today & didn’t realize. Anyway, Jared roused me out of my slumber so we could go out to eat & I suggested barbecue so we could go to this place that serves a pulled pork sandwich slathered in BACON JAM. It’s jam made out of bacon! It is so delicious. The restaurant is called Mr. Bacon & has a semi-confusing pigs-&-Bruce Springsteen decor situation happening, so I wore my bacon dress in homage.

I feel like I am writing a lot about food lately. Which also always makes me panic & think I’m pregnant. Basically, if I am ever hungry, tired, or overly warm, I freak out & think I’m pregnant. Even though the last time I was pregnant, I chugged along for two & a half months without even realizing it. Which is probably why I am so ridiculously hyper-vigilant about it now.

Saturday, May 21

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I didn’t mean to spend all day in my jammies, but that’s what happened. Luckily, I made them myself. I was wrapping up some commissioned sewing & just never got around to getting dressed today. But here’s what I made:

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It’s a pretty simple elastic waist skirt, but I made the waistband a separate piece, enclosed on the inside, & the sides are French seamed. The whole thing only took about 45 minutes, start to finish, but it’s a pretty tidy little bit of sewing.

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See?

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& a little clutch. The woman who commissioned the projects chose the fabric. It’s not my particular jam, but I still think this came out really cute.

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This godforsaken zipper pocket gave me no end of trouble. Maybe it was my experiment in accidental caffeine withdrawal, but I sewed the lining in & ripped it out literally like five times before I got it in the right way. Of course, now that I know how to do it, I kind of want to make one for myself, even though a clutch is not really appropriate for my lifestyle.

& one more thrilling bit of news: I got a new sewing machine!

It’s a Pfaff Ambition Essential. I bought it off Ebay for a pretty nice price. I had to take a coping saw to my sewing table to get it to fit, but it’s all tucked in now & I have been playing with it. The stitch quality is absolutely to die for. It’s such an amazing change of pace to trust that the stitches will look as good on the back as they do on the front. I cannot wait to sew jeans on this thing & see how they come together. A new machine was really not in the budget, what with our impending move to Old West Lawrence, Ramona starting preschool in August, the fact that I personally boosted Canada’s economy by about 5% with all the bramaking supplies I’ve been buying, etc. My savings account is on life support. But I love my new machine!

 

 

Me-Made May, part three: graduation weekend

Thursday, May 12

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All I did today was sew & snuggle with Ramona, so I just wore jammies all day. This owl print Renfrew featured prominently. It was a lazy day as far as cleaning the house, getting dressed, combing my hair, etc, but on the plus side, I finished my garment for the first Indie Pattern Month challenge (theme: new to me) by dinnertime. You will have to wait until next month to see it!

Friday, May 13

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It’s astonishing that I got almost halfway through the month before busting out these jeans. I wear them all the time. I really need to make more. I have denim on hand to make three more pairs, including some denim printed with huge blue flowers. It was deeply discounted in the Hancock going out of business sales, & I just couldn’t resist, even though Jared was PISSED that I was taking so long shopping when he wanted to go home & work on job applications. Sorry, Jared.

Saturday, May 14

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Jared’s PhD hooding ceremony was tonight. That’s right, now he is DOCTOR Jared, thank you very much. He got all dressed up in a suit. He even polished his best dress shoes. I didn’t have to get dressed up because I was just in the audience with Ramona & Jared’s parents, but I wore this dress anyway because I told Jared I would. (Not that it’s a dressy dress. I wear it plenty just to take Ramona to gymnastics class or whatever.) I will say, this was not the best outfit I could have worn for wrangling a squirmy three-year-old & trying to stop her from kicking other audience members in the head while she tried to turn herself upside down. The ceremony started right at her usual bedtime & lasted for TWO HOURS. She was a trooper, but she had a complete meltdown when we finally got home. She was screaming like she was possessed by demons & clawing at my throat. It was a little bit scary, to be honest. She was just insanely over-tired. She fell asleep the instant she hit the crib.

Sunday, May 15

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It was a bit chilly (yay!) so I got to wear a long-sleeved top. Jared, Ramona, & I went out for brunch with Jared’s parents & then I took a nap because I apparently forgot to drink all of my coffee (???) & developed a caffeine withdrawal headache. I also wore something else today that will make its blog debut next month as part of Indie Pattern Month. I absolutely love it & am excited to write about it!

Monday, May 16

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It’s even colder today than it was yesterday. On the one hand, yay! On the other hand, today was the day that Jared’s parents were going to do something fun with Ramona, like go to the zoo. But it’s raining & like 50 degrees, so…Jared’s parents taking Ramona for the day also means Jared & I have the chance to do something fun, just the two of us. Like go see the Red Sox play the Royals in Kansas City. We haven’t been to a baseball game since before Ramona was born. But if it’s raining all day…

In any case, it gives me a chance to wear my Jasper sweater, which I absolutely love, even though I made it using two different black sweatshirt fleeces, with two different fiber contents, so they photograph differently, & the fleece with a higher cotton content is already starting to pill like crazy. Thanks for nothing, insanely expensive cotton sweatshirt fleece.

I’m not really sure I’m learning much from Me-Made May yet this year. I guess I’m learning that I really need more jeans, & more warm weather separates. But generally speaking, my me-made wardrobe is pretty robust & full of items I wear all the time.

I am sewing a ton right now for Indie Pattern Month. We are moving in July (signed the lease on Friday), so I expect June is going to be a crazy whirlwind of packing. I’m not necessarily thrilled with the new house, but it does have central air (crucial for someone like me, who suffers from heat-induced psychosis), a washer & dryer right in the kitchen (which will make pre-washing fabric a lot easier–no more braving a spider-infested basement), & it’s only three blocks away from the preschool that Ramona is starting at in August. That means my commute to & from the school is very short, giving me six child-free hours per week in which to sew to my heart’s content! Plus we’re paying $150 less in rent every month. Honestly, even if it ends up being kind of a craphole…we’re already in a craphole in our current place. How much worse could it be? (Don’t answer that.)

 

Me-Made May 2016, part two: summer is my enemy

Saturday, May 7

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I knew it was going to be an unpleasantly warm day (by which I mean a high of like 85, which is twenty degrees cooler than it usually is when summer really gets going in Kansas, which begs the question, why the hell do I live here?), so I wore my sleeveless gingham seersucker shirtdress. This really is a great hot weather dress. Heat causes me suffering no matter what I wear, but it was slightly more bearable while I wore this. I wore turquoise tap shorts underneath because the fabric is a bit on the sheer side.

Sunday, May 8

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Mother’s Day! Honestly, I wore pajamas for most of the day. Jared let me sleep in until 10am. When I finally got up, he was on his way to the playground with Ramona, so I got to put on some podcasts & do some sewing alone in the house. I whipped up a wearable muslin for the first Indie Pattern Month contest. The theme is “new to me” so I tried a Blank Patterns dress. The result is technically wearable, but definitely needs a lot of fitting tweaks. Anyway, after that was done, I made their new freebie t-shirt, the Blanc tee. Love it! It’s only two pattern pieces & the expansive size range means I didn’t have to do any grading. From cutting to wearing, it took less than an hour. I teamed it with this skirt that I still kind of hate, but wear surprisingly often. It’s just easy to wear, probably because it’s too damn big.

Monday, May 9

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I didn’t realize until it was too late that the wrist strap on my camera is photobombing me here. So, this was my first short-sleeved Lady Skater, to which I added contrasting neck- & armbands, a faux-side slant pocket, & lace along the hem. The sewing quality on this dress is pretty eh. I rushed the hem & it’s a little wobbly, & the pocket is really the product of not knowing how to make a real side-slant pocket. (I did eventually figure it out.) I bought some new storage stuff for my sewing area at IKEA a few weeks ago & wore this dress while I painted it, so…now there’s paint on it too. Whatever. It’s comfortable, & the fabric was like $3 a yard.

Tuesday, May 10

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It was tooooooooo hotttttttttt. Why is it so hot? It makes me so cranky. I got upset because I was looking for a pair of shoes & I couldn’t find them & it was too hot to live, let alone move around looking for shoes, so I picked up the entire bin where we keep our shoes & whipped it across the room. Shoes everywhere. I did not care. Anyway, I spent most of the day wearing these shorts & an old RTW tank top from like six years ago because we have a big picture window in the living room & the police officers working in the station across the street may have frowned on me strutting around nude. We really need to put in the air conditioners. I cannot be held responsible for my actions when it’s over 75 degrees out.

Wednesday, May 11

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  • Blank Slate Marigold dress
  • turquoise & pink Shelley bra

This is my wearable muslin. I wore it today to Show-Off Day at Ramona’s gymnastics class to get a sense of the fit & determine what changes need to be made for my real version. All I will say for now is that this fabric is black chambray woven with glittery silver Lurex threads. I got it with a gift certificate that Jared’s brother & his girlfriend gave me for my birthday a few years ago, to Gather Here, a fabric store in Cambridge, MA. I was there on vacation, visiting Jared while he was on a research trip. I fell in love with the fabric & hoarded it to make something really exciting, but I’m glad I wound up blowing it on a muslin because it SUCKS to wear. Those Lurex threads are so itchy. I don’t think it would bother me so much in cooler weather, but 80 degrees plus 95% humidity plus Lurex rubbing on my skin plus the fit issues intrinsic to the muslin process = me literally ripping this dress off my body the second I got home.

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Bonus photo of Ramona & her teacher at gymnastics. Show-Off Day is the last day of the session, so this was Ramona receiving her certificate of completion & not understand how photo ops work. She was so hilariously the worst one in the class as far as gymnastics skills go. She had me & all the other parents in stitches, but props to the teacher for really trying to work with her & give her the specialized attention she needed to achieve the basics. One of the other moms said, “She may be last in gymnastics, but she was first in cuteness.” Not that it’s a competition. I mean, they’re three years old.

& in other non-sewing news, we’ve been offered a house. It’s less than we pay now & only three blocks away from Ramona’s preschool, in a nice, quiet, very family-friendly neighborhood. It’s just kind of overwhelming to think that we are going to be moving in less than three months, on top of everything else we have going on: Jared’s parents are coming to town tomorrow, & he’s graduating on Saturday. I have a million things in my sewing queue. The heat is oppressing me. We have an ant infestation in the kitchen (one of a million reasons we’re moving–there’s a hole between the kitchen window & the wall, so there’s not much we can do to stop bugs from getting in). Ramona is finally starting to get her pronouns straight, but she will END YOU if you call her anything other than Ladonna. Even if it’s a pet name.

Me-Made May 2016, part one: a lot of stuff I maybe don’t love

Let’s talk about what I have been wearing this month!

Sunday, May 1

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A nice comfy outfit to start things out. These pants were originally sewn as a wearable muslin. I wear them literally twenty times more often than I wear the “finished product” pants sewn from the same pattern, probably because the “real” pants are ponte de roma & the “muslin” is denim. Both have elastic waists (not my fave in pants I may wear outside of the house), but the denim makes me feel more like I am wearing “real” pants. The Plantain is rarely worn because it is a little too small & I did an insanely shitty job sewing the neckline. It looks like I sewed it with my feet. But my stated Me-Made May goal was to both wear something different everyday & go deep into my me-made wardrobe, so I decided to start with a tee that is serviceable but rarely sees the light of day.

Monday, May 2

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We had a house to look at first thing in the morning, while it was still brisk outside, so that gave me an excuse to wear this dress. It gets a lot of wear during the transitional months. When it’s truly cold out, I usually turn to jeans, & obviously I don’t want anything fleecy coming within twenty feet of me when the weather is over 70 degrees. But cool spring & fall days? Gimme gimme this dress! Shitty hem & one cross-grain sleeve cuff & all. This was also my first time out in this bra & undies set. My one disappointment: rather than cutting the straps from two layers of Duoplex, I used one layer of Duoplex & one layer of sheer nylon. The result is a strap that really digs into my shoulder. The nylon just wasn’t a good idea. I guess now I know?

PS–The house was pretty okay, but it got rented to someone else. I’m pretty sure we’re going to be living in a van down by the river come August. We just can’t find anything!

Tuesday, May 3

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I did put on real clothes at some point on this day, but my friend Rebecca came over in the morning, so I didn’t bother changing out of jammies right away. Surely I am not the only person who prefers to receive guests while wearing my pajamas?

Wednesday, May 4

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Ramona woke up pretty sick this morning, so I knew we weren’t going to be leaving the house. I threw this on as something easy to wear while I took care of her. I don’t wear this dress that much. It was one of my first experiments in making a knit dress, & I cut the bodice way too short & had to add a panel to make it fit right, but the panel is on a slightly different grain than the rest of the dress so it always shows weird draglines. Now that I have the Lady Skater pattern & have made several dresses from it, I tend to forget this dress exists. But wearing it today reminded me of how much I love the skirt. It’s a little fuller & swishier than the Lady Skater skirt.

Thursday, May 5

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This is another tee that doesn’t get as much wear as one might expect. It’s just a touch smaller than I would prefer, & the neckline is just wide enough to show my bra straps, which is kind of annoying. I also don’t wear this skirt very often (even though Jared said it’s his favorite) because I have gained a little weight since I made it, so it feels a little tighter & shorter than it did when it was first sewn. I also made it before I totally knew what I was doing, sewing-wise, & I used white thread. Especially now that I’m straining the seams a bit, you can see the thread & it annoys me. (You can even kind of see it in this photo.) Oh well. I have lived & learned, I guess. The undies are pretty all right. I just need to remember to cut the back piece a little larger through the legs if I’m going to use fold-over elastic.

Friday, May 6

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This is my trusty black Renfrew. I swear, I wear this shirt almost everyday. I have been meaning to make another because it’s not like it won’t get worn! I learned during Me-Made May last year that black t-shirts are a wardrobe staple for me, & I have made it a point to make myself several in the last year. I wear a lot of crazy prints on my skirts & black t-shirts keep me from going full Mrs. Frizzle. Black isn’t the most fun to sew with, & it’s certainly not super-fun to blog, because it’s hard to photograph. But if the goal is to make things that will actually get worn, black t-shirts are the way to go. I did a 2″ FBA o  the Renfrew to get it to actually fit me. It’s the perfect not-too-tight not-too-baggy size now, & I love the banded finishes.

The shorts, of course, are another story. I made them on Mother’s Day of last year & the proportions are so odd. The legs were looking really wide, so I took them in & took them in & took them in, & the result is a pair of shorts that SEEMS to fit well, but in fact there is some weird gaping around the pocket area, where the button closure attaches, so…that’s not super-great. Trust that I DO NOT wear these with shirts tucked in (not that I ever tuck my shirts in anyway). The super-high waist is also not my favorite thing to wear in hot weather.

All right, stay tuned for more! Especially because a lot of the sewing I’m likely to be doing in the next few weeks is going to be for Indie Pattern Month, so I can’t blog about it until next month.

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achievement unlocked: self-drafted swimsuit

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I made a swimsuit! This is another in the long line of projects that I wanted to tackle last summer, that got put aside when I found out I was pregnant again. No sense sinking a bunch of time & energy into fitting things like jeans & bras & shirtdresses & swimsuits when I’m about to gain sixty baby pounds (if my pregnancy with Ramona was any indication). & then I miscarried & going back to those projects was too hard a reminder of what I had lost.

The due date with that pregnancy was in February, & since then, I have been gradually getting back into tackling those projects. Before I learned I was pregnant last spring, I made a pair of swim bottoms that fit really well, but the coordinating top was a hilarrible fail of epic proportions. It was downright unwearable. My original plan was to eventually make a wearable top to go with those bottoms, but then I took Beverly Johnson’s Craftsy class on “constructing the supportive one-piece” & it inspired me to try a one-piece suit instead.

I poked around looking for patterns for a while but nothing really caught my eye. I liked the ruching & high-coverage bottoms of the Closet Case Files Bombshell suit, but I didn’t care for the top or the halter neck. I thought about trying a Pin-Up Girls suit since I am loving my Shelley bra pattern so much, but I didn’t want to deal with shipping from Canada.

Then I remembered some website I came across last year on drafting your own swimsuit, based on your measurements. Last year, I was like, “Ha! No.” But this year, I was like, “Why not?”

To get the basic proportions of the suit, I followed the instructions on the site. But I knew I wanted something different in the back, & I really wanted cut-on straps instead of having them be separate bits. So once I had the gist of the basic draft, I got a little creative with the style lines.

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Good God, look at all that preschooler chaos. Well, no one can say this blog doesn’t reflect reality, right?

Relevant to my design decisions is the fact that this month’s challenge over on the Monthly Stitch is “Inspiration Nation”. I have been contributing over there since January, & it’s been pretty fun. It’s pushed me to be more creative with my sewing, for sure. But this challenge had me stumped. The brief was to make a garment inspired by any previous post on the blog. But I have only been following the blog for a few months & couldn’t think of any post off the top of my head that had really sparked major inspiration.

I spent a lot of time scrolling through the archives before I finally hit on this post. I thought the way this woman designed the back of her daughter’s swimsuit was really clever & creative. I love a high back on a suit, & mimicking that triangle cut-out would give me a little platform for a bra band that looks more like a design feature than a bit of utilitarian construction. I knew I didn’t want my suit to tie at the neck, but it wasn’t difficult to just sub in a G-hook.

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There are certainly things I’d do differently in terms of both construction & design if I were to make this suit again. I think a two-piece bodice with some gathering between the cups would be better than the little tie on this suit.

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With such a busy print, you can barely even see the tie.

I’d make the bra band in the back a little wider, & generally just go hog wild with the elastic. The front straps in particular would benefit from some elastic under tension holding them back to the body. I would also shorten the ruched panel on the front just a little bit & hem it differently. The three-step zigzag looks a little Becky Home-Ec-y.

But in general, I am very pleased with the suit. While some elements of my construction have room for improvement, the fit is stellar. Everything is all tucked in & covered. It’s comfortable, I can move in it, & I don’t feel like I’ll be scandalizing anyone at the public pool. Some might say that a woman of my size should maybe re-think such a deep cut-out in the back, & to those people I say, fuck off. I am not a big fan of stripe-y prints, nor of florals, but for whatever reason, I really like this print a lot. I bought it last year, maybe from Spandex House?

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Front of the suit.

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A closer look at the ruched panel. A little goes a long way when it comes to ruching!

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The back.

& of course, this brings me to perhaps the most challenging part of construction: the built-in free-floating bra. This is basically the whole point of Beverly’s swimsuit class, or at least, that’s why I bought it.

Most RTW suits have a basic shelf bra, which might work okay for a small &/or self-supporting chest, but neither of those adjectives describe me. I tried pre-made cups in the failed suit from last year. So this time I went all in & constructed an interior bra. I used my trusty Shelley pattern (even though it’s more pieces to sew together) & made foam cups. (This was my first time sewing foam, by the way!) I covered the seamlines with scraps of the swimsuit fabric–a little tip from Beverly’s class. I could have just left them, since the bra is hidden inside the suit, but…

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Yeah. The naked seams were not really so beautiful. & sewing the strips one was really no challenge.

I used satin ribbon to stabilize the edges because it’s all I had on hand, & I used orange Duoplex for the frame because…I had orange Duoplex. I don’t really care orange. Not sure why I bought it. So I was willing to donate some to this experiment in swimsuit support, especially because it actually coordinates nicely with the colors in the suit. I used red band elastic & channeling for the same reason. & I did add underwires, because why not.

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Getting into the suit & getting everything all tucked away where it’s supposed to go is a bit of an endeavor, but once I’m in, everything is great! I even forgot I was wearing it this morning when I put it on to take photos & was just wandering around the house, checking the mail, petting the cat, etc, while I wore it.

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This is my back pattern piece. Kind of a weird shape, huh? But it was all cut in one piece.

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My sewing table this morning. What a disaster area. & with Indie Pattern Month coming up, & the fact that I recently decided to make myself available for commissions, I wonder if I will ever have a tidy sewing area ever again.

 

achievement unlocked: black & pink Shelley bra & undies

I know! I just can’t stop making bras.

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Yet another Shelley bra from Pin-Up Girls! Of course. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Plus there are so many ways to change up the look of the same basic bra pattern. The one fitting change I made to this one was to raise the neckline a bit. I brought it up 1/2″ at the bridge, grading out to 1/4″ at the strap. I also had to adjust the bridge, power bar, & frame at the underarm to accommodate this change, but the result is that I have better upper breast coverage. To wit:

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I think the fit is pretty much perfect now! I’m toying with the idea of maybe raising the underarm area just a little, but it doesn’t seem necessary.

The above photo is lightened a bit so you can see the construction details. This whole thing was all my idea, & I really lucked out that it worked as well as it did. It occurred to me like 75% of the way through the construction that there was an easier way to achieve a similar effect, but that it was too late to implement it.

So. My vision was an all black bra with a ribbon lacing detail along the upper cup in lieu of lace. Instead, I would drape the lace across the finished bra front to cover the entire frame, with the scalloped edge climbing up the underbust area, but staying below the apex. I wanted to create a gravity-defying kind of illusion with the lace placement. I took a chance on laying my lace over the pattern piece for the half-frame (the frame is cut on the fold), covering the entire frame with the scallops across the empty cup area. I added a 1/4″ seam allowance at the bridge & cut two & sewed them together. As Beverly Johnson taught us in one of her bra classes on Etsy, a straight line placed across a sphere (such as a breast) will appear to curve, while a curved line will appear straight. As flat fabric, my lace piece appeared to dip down to a V at the bridge, but when draped across the bra with breasts in it, it creates this interesting optical illusion where it seems straight, but it clearly also angling down from the underarms to cross the breast under the apex. Pretty neat, huh?

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The sewing was a challenge. The thing I realized when it was too late is that I could have just cut a lace frame & a separate scalloped piece using the cup pattern pieces. It would have been difficult to match the scallops at the bridge, but eh.

It was too late for that kind of sensible construction though. Instead, I basted my lace to the edges of the frame all around after the entire front of the bra was finished, cups & channeling sewn in, etc, leaving the rest of the lace loose. I applied the band & underarm elastics & then I pulled the lace taut against the frame to mimic the stability of the Duoplex. My lace was a very slippery, wiggly stretch lace & it wanted to shift all around. I really wanted to avoid wrinkles from pulling the lace too taut or leaving it too loose in places that were already stable. I hand-basted the lace in place right at the wire line.

Then I took a deep breath & topstitched my channeling. Obviously this was very difficult because I couldn’t really see the seamline through the lace. I just had to feel for the channeling & pull the frame & cup without shifting the lace too much. Once I had my first line of topstitching in place, the second line was easier because I could just follow 1/4″ away from the first pass. If you can believe, I actually managed to get it right on my first try!

Then, pulling both the cup & the lace as taut as I could without creating distortion, to mimic the effect of the cup being filled with a breast, I zigzagged the scalloped edge in place. If you really look, you can see that it’s not 100% symmetrical across both cups, but you know what? There are no wrinkles, no pulls. I am THRILLED with how it turned out. This is the kind of effect that is used on foam cups all the time, because the shape of the foam mimics the shape of a breast, so the fabric manipulation is a lot easier. But there’s no foam in this. It’s just Duoplex. It could have gone so wrong.

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& then there’s the lacing. I’ve seen this effect a lot in RTW & a few times on blogs, but I couldn’t find any explanation of how to do it. Just stitching lengths of ribbon in place made me worry about the ribbon fraying over time. I really wanted to actually lace the ribbon through the cups, but I didn’t want to leave unfinished holes in my Duoplex. So I made buttonholes, seven in each cup. & then I added bows to the bridge & each strap.

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After all that, I left the back pretty understated. You can see I used pink elastics, channeling, sliders, & rings. I’m still not super-great at sewing on the hook & eye (it’s the hook part that gets me), but I’m getting better.

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Yeah, definitely not ready for contrast stitching there!

& of course, I also made matching undies.

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Black jersey Butterick 6031 finished with pink stretch lace. Doesn’t look like much from the front. The real interest is in the back.

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I cut a little triangle out of the center back & covered it with a little lace scrap I made with the scallops facing in opposite directions.

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It’s just a tiny bit sheer. A very subtle effect, but it pulls in the lace on the bra.

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& I ruched the sides, which is super-easy to do. Just zigzag some elastic to the wrong side of whatever you want to ruche, & stretch the elastic as you sew it. When you’re done, it will gather the fabric. You can do this with anything: lingerie, t-shirts, at the hems of leggings, whatever.

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So that’s that! I’m pretty pleased with this set. I’m wearing it right now & it’s pretty comfy. I feel like the color combo is maybe a little bit Frederick’s of Hollywood (not a good thing, in my eyes), but…pink is my favorite color & black is my default neutral, so I guess it is what it is.

I’m already brewing up ideas for my next set, but I also suddenly remembered that it’s May & the outdoor pools open at the end of the month, so I need to make a swimsuit stat.

 

achievement unlocked: Purple Rain bra & undies

I am still sad about Prince’s death. I was listening to “This American Life” the other day & they played a Prince song at the end of the episode & I almost started crying. I decided to channel my feelings into my current obsession: bra-making. “Purple Rain” has been one of my all-time favorite movies for years, so I made this bra inspired by Prince’s stage costumes in that film.

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This is yet another Shelley bra from Pin-Up Girls. Why mess with what’s working? Fit-wise, I added another half-inch (total) to the band, this time in the frame. I think the band is absolutely perfect now. I also lengthened it into a longline style cut straight across the bottom so I could use the scalloped edge of the lace. I sewed the band elastic on the back in the usual way, turning it under on the second pass, but I left it loose on the front & waited to sew it after the back band was finished. If that makes any sense.

I also used sheer, lightweight nylon for the upper cup instead of lace, finished with sparkly fold-over elastic. &…it is VERY sheer.

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It’s two layers, which I basted together by hand before sewing it into the cup because the fabric was so shifty & fiddly. I do have a photo of myself wearing it. Prepare yourself.

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The angle is kind of weird because of the way I was raising my arms to take the photo. Trust me, everything points straight ahead when I am not contorting myself in an attempt to take a non-pornographic selfie.

I’m overall pleased with the fit, but I do want to raise the neckline area a little. I’d like just a little extra height there.

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I also added some lace to the back. I really like the look of lace under the straps & closure.

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& this is a subtle detail, but one I like a lot. The frame is actually constructed from a double layer of sheer nylon with lace over it. I hand-basted the nylon together & then hand-basted the lace on top before I sewed the bra together. The lace I had was just a hair too short to cover the entire frame, so there’s just a bit of scalloped edge & sheer material peeking out at the underarm.

& of course I made matching undies.

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This is my standby Butterick 6031 pattern. I cut the back from lavender jersey & the front from another double layer of sheer nylon. the nylon has a fair amount of stretch one way & no stretch the other way. I cut the front so the stretch was going horizontally across my body, & I altered the pattern to attach the entire gusset area to the back piece so the inside gusset (some people call it “the crotch piece”–I suspect this bramaking journey is going to get me some really weird search engine hits) is hidden from view. I sewed another piece of lace down the front, used foldover elastic on the legs to mimic the finish in the bra, & used 2″ stretch lace for the waistband.

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No photos of me wearing these. It’s just a little too racy. The overall effect was much more successful than I anticipated, though I would cut the fold-over elastic to fit next time & stretch it just a little around the back while I sew. I had a little incident sewing the fold-over elastic the first time (accidentally sewed it sparkly side down) & had to rip it out, which stretched it a little. I need to give it a steam to whip it back into shape.

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I used lilac Duoplex & powernet from Bra-maker’s Supply for the bra. They were part of a fabric trio kit with the white & purple lace. All the findings & elastics used in the bra except the fold-over elastic are also from Bra-Maker’s Supply. The fold-over elastic & sheer nylon are from Sew Sassy, & the wide stretch lace is from Sunshine Shoppe.

I am pretty stoked about this set. It really does remind me so much of Prince’s “Purple Rain” costumes. The fold-over elastic, in particular, has the same glitter as Prince’s famous purple frock coat when the light hits it. I think Prince would approve of this set whole-heartedly!

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& I’m already knee-deep in yet another set! I do have actual garments (jeans, dresses, shirts) I want to sew as well, but bra-making is seriously addictive. Oh, & I think I am also going to participate in Me-Made May. I already wear my me-made clothing almost exclusively, but it’s an excuse to deepen the rotation a little & identify any wardrobe gaps I need to address.