Momentary Discouragment

Discouragement 

Last week I had a moment; a melt down. I was discouraged. I felt I couldn’t make bras, especially bras I’d drafted. I was giving up!

My size recently changed somewhat and the only bra I had left that fit was my navy Shelley. All my other bras didn’t fit. And both of my drafting attempts just weren’t perfect. I was discouraged.

That momentary discouragement lasted the better part of a day. All it took for me to get back on track was a trip to the local bra store.

Beauty

While there I saw such beauties as this Cassiopee Bra by Empreinte.

Isn’t this pretty? There are no cup seams to this lace bra. It’s molded lace! It was a marvel to behold.

No Turning Back

However, I  know too much now. After trying on ill-fitting uncomfortable bras, I knew I had to keep going. As well, two wonderful bra-making friends encouraged me and told me I was so close I couldn’t give up.

The bra store did hold one surprise for me. The Felina bra.

I tried on this bra and was so surprised. The bridge sits just a bit lower – the same as the bras I make. The wire was hitting in the right place too. It was so comfortable, I bought it and wore it out of the store!

I wore it all that day and could hardly believe how comfortable it was. How could this be? I knew my wire size had changed recently – don’t ask me how that happens! I’m the same cup size, same band, no change in my weight, but my wire size changed. My wire is closer to my cup size now. I’m still an Omega, just not so pronounced. But finding a RTW bra that would fit? How could this possibly be?

Wires

My husband and I were out at a function all that afternoon, but as soon as I got home, I had to find out what was going on with this bra’s wires. I just couldn’t believe a RTW bra could be comfortable. All of the other bras I tried on were not, and they weren’t comfortable because of the wires. The wires were too high under the arm, or too high at the front, or just too big. So how were these wires comfortable?

Imagine my surprise when I put a 40 long wire over the channeling of the bra… And. It. Fit! Perfectly!

Well, you have to see this too!

I’m still wondering how a cup that should take a 44 wire clearly has a 40 wire in it.

Perseverance

So, am I going to give up making bras? No! After trying on a whack of them, and only finding one that fit most of my wants for a bra, I will still be making my own, and going back to the drafting table too to fix that cradle issue too.

Did you catch that little comment above? “… one that fit most of my wants…” This bra is great, closer than any other bra I’ve ever bought, but it does have a couple of things that keep it from being perfection. The cup material has stretch. That makes it very comfortable, and it will fit more women because of that stretch, but it’s not as great for support. The other imperfection is the straps are elastic. They are a firm elastic, but still. Elastic isn’t the best to support a larger cup either.

In the meantime, I need a couple of pair of panties to go with my new bra, and I just happen to have some lovely indigo cotton spandex from Bra-Makers Supply.

Happy creating!

P.S. You might want to read A Spy in the Changeroom.

Plans for Another Bra

I have to say, I really do love sewing bras. There is something very addicting about that little bit of lace, material, and elastic. I also have to say, I really loved making a bra from a pattern I drafted. When I made my first bra five years ago, I never thought I’d do this!

I was thinking now I have a pattern I love completely, and that fits so well, it’s time to get on with my Spring Wardrobe. However, I decided one more test bra first. I can always use another black bra.

Materials 

For this bra, I chose some lovely black lace with red details. Along with that lace, I chose black duoplex and power net, but red elastics to make the red in the lace really pop.

This is one of the gorgeous laces I bought at Fabricland last year for $2.50/meter. Oh, I had fun stocking up on those laces.

Alterations

For this bra, I made the underarm smaller. I add 1/8-inch back to the bottom of the cradle as the thinned band under the cradle was a really tight sew last time. As well, I added 1/4-inch to the top of the cradle where the wire ends as it was just a touch short there.

You might be wondering how all these alterations worked out? Let’s take a look.

Here’s my newest bra from the front:

I really love the red elastics on the top and bottom of the band.

Here’s the side:

I’m asking the famous Mrs. Weaver for a bit of help again. The side of my bra is doing what this very pretty Empreinte Maya bra is doing. (Photo from Amazon.ca)

See how the bra pulls in at the wire line at the side? Mine is doing that, and I need to figure out what I need to adjust to make it not do that. Thank goodness for all the professional bra-makers out there!

And here’s the back of the bra:

It’s such a pretty bra! I love the lace and the red elastics. Looking at this photo of the back, I can see I need to trim those red elastics just a smidge more.

Lastly, here’s the bridge – I widened the bottom of it. You can see here with my navy bra beside it that it’s wider.

I need a little more room there, so this is much better.

I’m especially pleased with my sewing this week as I’d hurt my knee and all my sewing was left-footed sewing.

Happy creating!

P.S. You may want to read Just One More Stop at the Fabric Store.

Did you see Orange Lingerie has just published a new bra pattern? It’s lovely!

You can find the Fenway bra on Etsy.

Testing my Drafted Pattern

I’ve made my drafted pattern, but I want to check how it will fit before I sew up a bra.

Testing

There are a couple of ways I can test the fit before I start sewing up a whole bra. In Beverly’s Craftsy class, Foam, Lace & Beyond, she shows how to convert your Classic pattern from a diagonal seam to a horizontal seam. I did this to compare the two patterns because the original pattern I made from the draft was a horizontal seam.

It’s looking pretty good on paper and I’m feeling encouraged.

Alterations

Even though I’m encouraged by my pattern, I still want to make a tester cup. There are no alterations done to this basic pattern, and I have a list I usually need: make the underarm smaller, a flat spot adjustment, check the bridge height and bottom width. Then there are the Omega considerations. Making a test cup is simply one more confirmation for me.

This tester cup is looking good too.

Here’s the dart I pinched out. I’ll adjust the pattern and then it’s time to cut out a new bra! I’m going to adjust the strap and upper cup at the side too. You can see both in the photo below.

A Trial Bra

My sewing was going along nice and smoothly, and then a tiny snag. I pulled the elastic out of the finding kit and it was the ‘old’ elastic. There’s been a change in elastics and the newer one is 20% less stretchy. It’s a good thing the Fairy Bra Mother blogs. I went over to Beverly’s blog and used her information to take out that extra width I’d added to my band. You can read her post here.

I not only looked that up, but also her post on sewing a Gothic Arch because it’s such a comfortable alteration.

New Bra

Here’s my new bra. It fits so well, and I’m so excited about it! I think I’m more excited about this bra than any bra I’ve made in the past.

Here’s the side view. You can see there are a couple of little alterations I want to make.

The pin there? I want to take a little more out from the underarm there. As well, I’ll want to raise the side there 1/4-inch. The wire is coming to the top of the elastic, that’s why I didn’t finish it there.

The back is fine. Taking out that 20% makes it fit perfectly.

Here’s the Gothic arch I added. It is such a comfortable pattern alteration.

All in all, I’m thrilled with my new bra, and the drafting experience.

Happy creating!

P.S. You may want to look at A Review of Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace & Beyond.

Patterns

After working on drafting a bra from measurements, my work wasn’t done with the draft. The next step is to use that draft and make a pattern. Let me show you a little of the progression so far.

Drafting

Here’s the draft. It doesn’t look anything like the pieces I’ve seen in bra patterns.

Horizontal Seam

Then, a few more steps and things start to look more familiar. Beverly takes you through it all in her manual. Take a look at these pieces. These actually look like bra pattern pieces.

I’m not the biggest fan of a horizontal seams. I used one when I made my Heather bra.

Common Bra Seams

Here are some different seams shown in bras (photos are from Bra-Makers Supply and Sewy):

Vertical Seam

I’ve also tried the vertical seam when I made KS 3300. Once I started making my own patterns from the draft, I had to try each pattern. This part of the process was definitely fun for me. The photo of the vertical seam is from the Sewy website. It’s their Linda bra pattern.

Diagonal Seam

My favorite seam in bra-making so far has been the diagonal seam. That’s the bottom left in the photo collage above. A diagonal seam is what we find in the Classic pattern or the Shelley pattern from Pin-Up Girls patterns.

I also love the power bar and split lower cup on the Shelley. Here are a few of my favorites from that pattern.

I love this pattern, and know I will make it using my drafted pattern!

Curved Seam

The one I really wanted to try was the curved seam. All the gorgeous Cloth Habit Harriet bras I’m seeing were making me want to buy that pattern too. I had to be very strict with myself not to buy yet another pattern I have. The photo in the first collage is from Sewy again. It’s their Isabell pattern, which I have. I also have a clone of a Fantasie bra that is a curved seam too. I didn’t need one more pattern, but I was tempted! However, I did want to make one when I was making the patterns.

Patterns I Made 

Here are all my new patterns. I just need to add seam allowances to some of them, and make little changes like adjusting for a flat spot, thinning the band under the cradle, and lowering the bridge.

I also drafted my a new cradle and band.

Happy Creating!

P.S. You may also be interested in Sewing Bras: Foam Lace & Beyond.

Here’s some exciting news.

Merckwaerdigh

The news is from Merckwaerdigh’s Etsy shop. Here’s what Margreet said in her post on Facebook: “SPRING … a perfect time for a major change! As of today all listings in the Merckwaerdigh shop at Etsy are FREE SHIPPING!!!

She is raising her cost a bit, but what she is adding to the costs will still be lower than shipping costs! Yay!

Attempting a Draft

If you were trying to reach my blog yesterday, I’m very sorry. It was down for the better part of day. Thankfully, I’m back.

I was going to make a Valentine’s bra for myself. I had everything set out and was getting ready to cut it out. I even knew the one alteration I wanted to make.

Still using my Pin-Up Girls Shelley pattern, I was going to add a little bit of width to the bottom of the bridge.

Right there. I want it just a touch wider, but everything else fits really well. In fact, it’s my current favorite.

However, much like making my Personal Croquis (which I’m still really enjoying), I’ve had another project on my list of things to do for a while now – draft my own bra pattern.

Resources

I have Bra Design & Draft from Beverly Johnson’s Bra-making Manuals.

In fact, I’ve drafted part of my pattern already. The only part of the drafting process that is new to me is the cup. Because of the alterations I’ve needed for my cradle and bridge, I’ve been drafting my own cradle/bridge for a few years now using information from the Manuals.

Even though only part of this process is new, it still felt daunting. I figured the worst case scenario was it wouldn’t turn out, and I’d go back and use my Shelley pattern making that one little adjustment. The best case scenario would be I’d have a self-drafted pattern. I took a deep breath, and started.

Beginnings

 I was geared up to start. I had my paper, pencil and eraser and thought I was all ready. I drew two lines, and then searched the house for a compass. Even my hubby got in on the search. Nope. We didn’t have a compass anymore. Our kiddos are done school, and we didn’t keep any of those school goodies. (I love to declutter!) So, it’s a quick trip to Staples, and now I’m ready again.

 From here, I did what I usually do. I decided it wasn’t just right, so I crumpled it up and started again. I did this when making my bodice sloper too. My sloper was fine, and so was this. But I like things just so, and I don’t mind making sure.

The next step felt like going back to the beginning. I hadn’t drawn out the cradle and band this time. But I needed those before I could say the cup fit. So, re-drew my cradle.

Third Time’s a Charm

 I was happily getting started on my band and cradle, and realized I didn’t have all my measurements! I was drafting away thinking I was doing better than I anticipated, and everything came to a stop. I needed measurements which I couldn’t do on my own. I’d never drafted the band part, so didn’t have those back measurements. My hubby to the rescue.

Sigh

There was one more bump in the road. I got to a point with the drafting and mine didn’t look like what Beverly had in the Manual. It really didn’t look the same, but I knew all my measurements were correct. I was stuck. You can see how I was feeling even. No sparkly stars shining perfection on my draft!

I am so fortunate to have worked on a blog tour with The Fairy Bra Mother and Mrs. Weaver. In fact, I’ve worked on a few projects with Mrs. Weaver. I’d mentioned to Mrs. Weaver that I was attempting a draft. She very kindly offered to help if I got stuck. I took her up on that.

It turns out I was on the right track; it’s just much easier to see what the next step was rather than read it. Thank you so much, Karin!

Next Steps (Finally!)

Here’s my newly drafted pattern from my measurements. I won’t sew this up as it is. I’ll change the lines – add a power bar, split the lower cup – add a few of the pretty details I like in a pattern. Once I make it more a style I want, I’ll make a test bra to see how it all fits.

Happy creating!

How I Fit my Dress Form

I was recently asked where I found a dress form that fits my bras. The woman asking has a small back, but larger bust and has been working with a Fabulous Fit dress form for years now and still can’t get the fit right.

This is a challenge for me too.

You can see one of my bras here on my dress form. I’m always saying my dress form, Catherine, and I are not the same size. I’m going to show you just how different we are.

Dress form STUFFED.

I never thought I’d be stuffing a bra, but I do. On a regular basis too.

Dress form naked.

Here is Catherine without one of my bras on her. I put a necklace on her because, well, I just like to do that.

Here’s a side view of her.

Catherine isn’t a sewing dress form. She’s a display form for stores. She’s very basic. You can see she’s is smaller proportioned all around. We’re the same in our shoulders and rib cage. Other than that she needs to be padded out to show how anything fits on me.

Here Catherine is wearing a bra, but no stuffing or padding at all.

Now we know what Catherine has; you can see how much I’m filling in to make the bras fit her.

Tools of the trade.

Here are the tools I use to pad Catherine and make my bras look better on her.

First, and maybe all you’ll need depending on your size, is a pair of foam cups in the same size as your bra cups.

I’ve used both foam cups I’ve purchased and ones I’ve made from Cut & Sew foam. For this use, I’d recommend purchased ones. They’re a little sturdier, and I’m wanting to fill out the cups on my bra while it’s on my dress form. They’re also rounder, so give a nice shape behind the cups.

The second tool I use is a circle of cotton Lycra filled with plastic beads. It can shape itself around the smaller breast shape on the dress form and give a little more backing behind the foam cup.

You can see these little circles can change shape, be fuller in one area, flatter in another. They really help.

The process.

Now let me show you how the process looks and changes with each step.

Here’s the bra with a foam cup only filling in the cup on our left.

That’s better than nothing, but still not as good as I’m wanting.

Next I put the circle in.

You can see both the foam cup and the circle inside that bra cup.

And here’s what it looks like with both tools inside the cup on the dress form.

That’s much better. Not perfect, but much better. Both of these tools can be moved around in the cup as well, so depending on where the wrinkles are, I can move these to fill that area of the cup out a little more.

Here are both cups filled out now.

With both the foam cup and the circle form, I help my dress form be closer in size to me and make my bras look nicer for photos.

I hope this helps!

Happy New Year & happy creating!

A Navy Shelley

Fall/Winter Lingerie Wardrobe.

I’m finally working on my Fall/Winter lingerie Wardrobe. First up is a lovely navy Shelley.

Here’s the lace.

stretch-laces-6-inch-15-cm-six-inch-navy-blue-rose-stretch-lace-ls-60-68-from-bra-makers-supply

I saw this lace and fell in love right away. You can find it at Bra-Makers Supply (BMS) here.

Here’s my Shelley.

front

I really love how the mirrored lace has a bit of a butterfly effect because of  where the roses are.

Adjustments.

I’m so happy with this bra. It fits really well. However, I did have some changes in my size and needed to give my TNT pattern a major overhaul.

To make this fit me, I adjusted the pattern for my shape – a less pronounced Omega shape. As well I made adjustments for a flat spot, I lowered the bridge, used one size smaller cradle and adjusted the cup to fit into it. I also thinned the cradle area under the bust, and for comfort, I added a Gothic arch.

Gothic Arch.

In the past, I have nailed the Gothic arch and I’ve not quite nailed it. On this one, I was so careful, and I was checking and turning things to make sure it all looked perfect as I was going along, and it did! Then I finished the sewing and … it’s not quite perfect. Of course, no one will know but you and me. Do you see how nice and thin it is under the cups?

gothic-arch-nqp

Aesthetics.

I love this lace. However, I need to add sheer cup lining behind my lace to add support. I looked at it with black behind the lace and it lost a lot of the sheer look it has. I put white behind the lace too. Too white. I’m so thankful I have a little bit of this blush left from when I made my Heather bra. This looks perfect – like there’s nothing behind it, especially when it’s on. In this photo the cup has a black foam cup behind it, which doesn’t show up at all.

cup-lining

A few more images.

Here’s the bra from the side.

side

Here’s the bra from the back.

back

Something I will have to fix on this bra before I can wear it is a sharp spot on the hook and eye closure. When I tried it on, I got a scratch that went all along my side. Nasty. I’ll trim that off and do a satin stitch over the raw edge. No more scratches.

Next time.

The band is a touch loose on this bra. That’s odd though, because I used the band from my TNT pattern. It’s also not a big deal. I’ll just wear it on the second hook and eye setting rather than the first one. That’s something I can look at fixing for my next bra in my Winter Wardrobe.

Other colors I’m thinking about for my wardrobe are Black (a basic), Black Cherry, Brown, Red, and Fuchsia. I have a Brown kit all picked out and saved in my Wish List on BMS, but I’m thinking I should use a few of the kits I have already.

Pretty touches.

The kit I ordered from BMS only came with one bow. I never seem to remember to order more bows when I place an order. However, I love to cover the seams where the straps meet the cup too. I found this lovely navy ribbon and made a few bows for my bra. They turned out so nicely.

strap-bow

One other thing I did on this bra that I haven’t done before is leave the trim off the straps. I usually add neckline trim, but I decided to try the straps the way they’re outlined in the Shelley instructions. I like the change!

I’ve decided to treat myself and use the Jewelry Quality Metal Rings and Sliders – for this pretty navy bra I’m using Silver.

bling

Next up.

To go with my lovely new bra, I’m going to make some matching panties. I have some indigo cotton Lycra and navy lace for the waistband and leg openings. As well, I’ve left things very late, but it’s time to work on some Christmas sewing.

Happy creating!

A Dress Form Cover

One of the many projects I plan to make is a dress form cover. I love Catherine, but we’re not the same size.

This is something I’ve looked into a bit, but haven’t found that perfect solution yet. I think a lot of the dress form tutorials and classes are all great for sewing, but not perfect for bra-making. From what I’ve seen, most dress form covers result in more of a uni-boob look, which would not work at all for bras.

Here is the first one I found, which I still think is so beautiful! Mary uses the sloper she made from Suzy Furrer’s Bodice Sloper class.

completed me

This image is from Cloning Couture‘s blog post. Isn’t this professional looking? I do love this! If I decide to simply to cover my dress form for sewing clothes, I’ll do this too.

I had similar thoughts about the Craftsy class Customize Your Dress Form. This class takes you through exactly what to do, step by step. I watched this class when Craftsy had their October pass in 2015. I thought it was really great, but again, it wasn’t addressing my desire to have the bust defined. That definition is an important part of bra-fitting.

14154439

So, I kept thinking about how I could adjust my sloper so I could have that bust definition I wanted.

Let me take a side road here and show you why I haven’t been 100% happy with any solution I’ve seen yet. This is the bra dress form Beverly uses in her Craftsy classes; Naomi, of Barely Beige also has one. This dress form is called Ashley. There’s no uni-boob happening here.

sewing-bras-designer-techniques-craftsy-taught-by-beverly-johnson-beverly-feature-image

How am I supposed to be satisfied with anything less than bust definition on my dress form after seeing this?

I recently came across a blog post by Sew Chic Pattern Company. They have a three-part post called Copy your Figure: A Dress Form Tutorial.

 Laura does do a dart to give bust definition, but I’m still thinking it won’t give me as much definition as I’m wanting.

bust-dart

Here’s a photo from her blog. This is getting closer.

I know from making my own sloper that mine doesn’t give enough bust definition the way it is now.

moulage done

Here’s the one I made. There’s a small dart there on the sloper, but…

So what I’m thinking is do some draping with fabric to see what size of darts I’d need, where I’d need them, how many darts I’d need. I might need to play with it a bit, but I think it can be done.

Has anyone made a dress form cover with more bust definition? What did you do? How did it turn out?

Happy Thanksgiving & happy creating!

Using My Sample Packs

Something I’ve had for a while now are the Sample Packs from Bra-Makers Supply. When I first ordered them, I was more excited about them than the rest of my order. I could see all the colors of Duoplex at one time, in one place. The same for the Power Net. Only a bra-making geek would be excited about this. There’s a link in the photo if you too want your own sample pack. (No affiliation with Bra-Makers Supply – just love.)

swatch-pack-duoplex

That’s the photo from the BMS website. Here’s my own Duoplex Sample Pack.

bms-sample

Here are all my samples:

all-samples

These are the Duoplex, the Regular Power Net, The Cotton Lycra and Tricot Samplers. They really are such fun and very useful. You can find a full listing of all the Sample Packs Bra-Makers Supply carries here.

In the past I’ve show you how I’ve used them. When I purchase a lace or other bra-related material, out come my samples right away to see what I can use to match my purchase.

Here’s a recent one. Merckwaerdigh‘s Etsy shop had a gorgeous Devore Cotton knit bra kit. I’ve learned to not even think about these things. She only ever has one of these treasures, so scoop it up quickly.

devore-cotton-lace

These two photos showing the Devore Cotton are both from Merckwaerdigh’s store.

devore-cotton

Isn’t that pretty? Devore Cotton is also more commonly known as Burnout Knit. Devore Cotton sounds so much more exotic.

However, I know from experience, I need a little more support than this kit will provide. That’s where my Sample Packs come in.

Here are a few of my Duoplex options.

Here’s the Devore Cotton and Light Beige:

dc-and-light-beige

In this photo that looks like a pretty good match, but in person the Duoplex is a little bit lighter than the beige in the cotton.

Here’s the DC with Dark Beige:

dc-and-dark-beige

Hmm. This still isn’t what I’m envisioning. But the beiges are a good match.

Here’s the DC and Platinum:

dc-and-grey

This  was what I was thinking for the kit. I do like this one. The greys are not the same, the BMS one is a little lighter than the one in the DC, but I might be leaning towards this one. I’ve been wanting to make a Platinum bra.

And the DC and Black:

dc-and-black

I think the black makes the DC look washed out, which is definitely not a look I want!

I think I’m going to go with a platinum band and use Sheer Cup lining behind the DC.

Do you have any of the BMS Sample Packs? Do you love them too? Do you have a favorite? What would you use behind the Devore Cotton? Duoplex or Sheer Cup Lining?

Happy Creating!

Great Timing!

No tricks today, but hopefully a treat.

I have both of the Bra-Makers Manuals. I have Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. I have Bare Essentials: Bras – Second Edition: Construction and Pattern Drafting in Lingerie Design. I’ve taken a few books out of the library as well – like Patternmaking for Underwear Design: 1st Edition.

bra-drafting

I’ve been reading about drafting my own pattern for a while and decided it was time to take the jump. I started with the instructions in the 2nd BMM. I’ve used part of this already to draft my own cradle and band to help fit my Omega shape and had no trouble with it. So, I thought it was time I tried drafting my own pattern.

I did run into a bump drafting and sent off an email to Bra-Makers Supply. It turns out, the information from the manual had been updated from 5 years ago, and that new information would take care of my question.

Now, with updated information in hand, I was ready to start again.

Just as I was about to start, there was another very timely post on Facebook. I love the sewing/bra-making forums on Facebook. They are a wealth of information!

untitled

Perfect! Rather than muddling through this mostly on my own, I’d much rather walk through with someone else for a first go.

We’ve just done some measuring so far, so the actual drafting hasn’t started. If you’ve ever wanted to try this out, here’s a great opportunity.

Here’s the blog post if you want to follow along.

Happy creating!