Sewing Plans

I always have a long list of things I want to sew, and since my sewjo has taken a late-summer vacation, I’m organizing some of my plans. At least I still feel I’m doing something and making some progress this way.

Another Watson

Em has told me so many times that she loves the Watson I made her. She’s hinted she wants another one. She’s told me her favorite colors. She’s mentioned she wears the one she has all the time. So, I have one cut out for her in this adorable polka dot material. I think she’ll like this. 

You might recognize this material from a previous Watson I made.

I love this polka dot material. I still have a little bit left too, so we may see it again.

A Camisole for Me

  I found this gorgeous cotton-silk blend. Oh, it’s sumptuous. That’s really the only way to describe it. To make this even better, I found it in the clearance section at my local fabric store. That was just a bonus!

I also found some lovely lace material. Together, it will make a very pretty camisole.

This being such lovely material, I may look at some actual lace I have too and decide then. I just need some sewjo again. 

A Handbag for a Friend

   A dear friend of mine has been living in the US for the past year. She saw my Canada 150 bag, and said she’d love one too. I don’t have any of the original fabric left, so found some that was perfect for her. Her hubby used to be a Mountie. I think she will really love this! 

Aren’t those Mounties adorable?

Drafting Ups and Downs

You know, sometimes, I fuss too much.

My fourth draft (second with Karin) only needed small adjustments. I don’t know why I simply didn’t make those small adjustments to the pattern. Instead I went back and re-drew everything. I didn’t get the same results.

As well, I ran out of duoplex from my stash. I still have a couple of kits, but I wasn’t going to cut into those. I had to take a break from my drafting.

On that day, with no bits of duoplex left, and a draft that wasn’t what I wanted, I was ready to throw in the towel. For the better part of the day, I was defeated. I was giving up. I couldn’t sew. I couldn’t draft. I might as well delete my blog. I’m sorry I wasted all our money. Blah. Blah. Blah.

That’s when my hubby came to my rescue – he calmly told me I was doing well. Look how far I’d come. Then he told me to go ahead and order some more duoplex to keep going. He is my hero.

Future Plans

 Well, I do plan to finish all of these projects, including sewing up that fourth drafted pattern with a few adjustments. As well, I have a Spring/Fall jacket I want to make, and a Agnes top with sleeves. I have the material for both of these as well.

All of these projects are just waiting for me to get my sewjo back. I hope my sewjo doesn’t take too long a vacation.

Happy creating!

The Fifth and Final Draft

This bra is my fifth and hopefully my final draft at this time. I hope it’s… well, I hope it’s perfect!

My Fifth Draft

  I really went back and forth before I sewed this bra – Should I sew it with the water-soluble (WS) thread, or just sew up a bra. If I use the WS thread, even if this bra is perfect, I will be re-sewing it. I really didn’t want to do that. I just want to sew a bra. However, I finally decided to just sew up it as another tester with the WS thread.

This looks better than the other two, but you can see it’s still not finished as nicely as a bra I want to keep.

A wonderful little tip I heard after I’d sewn my first bra with WS thread is to use the thread in the needle only, and regular thread in the bobbin. Water will still dissolve the upper thread, and the seam will come apart just fine. I’ve also heard to just dab the seam with water, which would save a lot of the drying time, and ironing.

Changes

 My band was a bit too big. Well, an inch too big to be exact. I’d recently lost a little bit of weight, and of course my ribs being one of the smallest parts of my body, that was where it showed first.

So before I sewed up another bra, I re-drafted the pattern for my cradle and band with my new measurements. I didn’t mind re-doing it all either. I really want to get drafting down pat, so a little extra practice isn’t a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.

 More

I re-drafted the pattern for my cups, again too – just for more practice. In fact, I spent the better part of a day drafting over and over. I made three drafts of both the cups, and the cradle and band by time the day was done. 

One other change I made while I was re-drafting my cup pattern was to lower my strap placement.

In addition to the changes I’ve mentioned above, I made my usual adjustments: a custom bridge, lowering the upper cup to meet the bridge, and adjusting for a flat spot.

One thing I’m not having to adjust is the difference between my cup and cradle caused by being an Omega shape. Let me tell you what I’m doing differently.

A Different Change

I’d heard before that you can go up or down one size in the cradle from the wire size you’re using. So if you’re using a 40 wire, you can use a cradle made for a 38, 40, or 42 wire.

It’s the same if you’re using a 40 cradle – you can use a 38, 40, or 42 wire. You can go up or down one size.

I’m doing that with my drafting. I’m using a 42 extra-long wire to draft my cradle – that’s one size bigger than the wire I normally use. It just happens to be the same length as the wire my cup size normally uses. Does that all make sense?Do you see how the 42 Extra Long wire is the same length as the 44 Long wire? My cup size matches a 44 Long wire. I normally wear a 40 Long wire. Using a 42 Extra Long wire to draft my cradle size, I’m able to make my cradle match my cup size perfectly.

The Conclusion?

 Somehow the band is still a bit too big! I’m having to fasten it on the middle eyes, but that’s a small adjustment. As well, when I lowered my strap placement, I achieved a bit more Va-va-voom than I want. A few tweaks to my pattern and I’m sewing up a real bra next!

Happy creating!

A Fourth Draft

This is my fourth draft in all, and my second draft with some help from the amazing Karin, of Braphoria & Mrs. Weaver’s Finest Unmentionables renown.

 For this draft, I re-used the band, cradle and straps. I only had to cut the cups out again. I really recommend using the water-soluble thread for something like sewing a draft or muslin. Here are all my ‘bits’ after soaking them and letting them dry – just a quick low-temp press and they were ready to go again.The Fourth Draft

 Here’s my draft: 

This is pretty much spot on. The band is still a touch too big, but when I pull it in tighter, everything looks good.

You might notice this bra looks a little more finished than the last one. I just couldn’t stand what a mess that bra was. I had to do this one a little better; finish a few more bits to make it look neater rather than it all looking like it was falling apart.

Here’s a side-by-side of this one and the last one:You can see the cups are a little more rounded over the apex, and the bridge is a little lower.

Even though this draft isn’t as messy as that third one, it still has its messy parts. Just take a look:

 

The channeling isn’t finished, the elastic isn’t finished under the cups, threads aren’t cut, and bits of elastic are peeking out here and there.

Adjustments

So if it’s pretty good as it is, then what adjustments do I still want to make? Well, I feel the bridge could be a smidge lower. Not a lot, but maybe another 1/4″.

As I mentioned above, I need to take the band in a little more. That’s it.

Frankenbra

With the bridge being pushed out at the top, I was wondering if I needed more room in the cups or if it was just my bridge too high for me. So, to see better what was going on, I cut open the seams to see if it was more room in the cups that I needed. It turns out, I didn’t need to do that. The band not being tight enough wasn’t giving me enough pull or splay on my wires. When I pulled on my band, everything settled where it needs to go… except the very top of the bridge.

So, I’m making one more muslin or draft. I’m really wanting to make a nice bra I can wear. I’m trying to decide if I will or if I’ll just make another muslin. I’m really going back and forth as to whether I’ll make another draft, or seeing as it’s so close and these are just little details, I’ll just make a bra I can wear. I’m leaning towards making one I can wear.

Thoughtful Gift

 My hubby is very supportive of my bra-making journey. He was there when I would come home crying after trying on every bra in a store, and still not find one that fit. Then I found specialty stores, and how could a bra cost $150 or more? He has been there through it all. Although he couldn’t understand all the whys or hows, he witnessed it.

The first year I started making bras, my DH bought me the first Bra-Makers Manual for Christmas. The following Spring, he bought me the 2nd Manual. With my drafting underway, he just bought me a wonderful third resource:

 Such a thoughtful gift.

Happy creating!

A Few Alterations

My third bra draft was pretty good. In fact, it would have been wearable except I used water-soluble thread. That little fact alone would make it good for one wearing only. Well, the water-soluble thread and the fact that it was slapped together…

It fit pretty well. That’s what I’m really trying to say here.

There were only a couple of changes I still wanted to make to this. I wanted to add a bit to the underarm area for more coverage there – just a half-inch. I wanted to round the cups a touch at the apex. And I wanted to lower the bridge a half-inch as well.

Changes

While I was making those couple of changes I listed above, I decided to change the style of the bra too. I added a power bar. So  now it’s the same style as the Pin-up Girls Shelley pattern with a split lower cup and a power bar. Shelley has been my favorite pattern, so it only makes sense I make something like that. 

Making these changes were such much easier than the actual drafting of the cups. That was much more of a challenge.

 Leftovers

After soaking my bra, all the threads dissolved, and I was left with bits again. This is great as I can re-use most of these bits. It’s just the cups I need to cut fresh. I found the band too big as well, so have adjusted that. It’s all ready to go for a second sew. 

Stay tuned for my bra-drafting. I’m hoping only one more draft and I’m cutting into some gorgeous lace again.

Seize the Day

Remember how I couldn’t put a bow on Em’s Watson because she didn’t want to take it off once she’d tried it on? Well, I had my chance. The circumstances surrounding this? Well, I don’t want to know. I do know the bralette was on the floor and got stepped on… That was already more than I wanted to know.

It seems little plastic rings can’t withstand being stepped on. I had to repair the bra. I replaced the rings and sliders with metal ones from a little second-hand bra I bought. I also added the bow! I had no intention of missing that opportunity.

Happy creating!

A Third Bra Draft

My third bra draft really was a success!

A Few Differences

There were a few things I did differently this time. One of the changes I made was to use water-soluble thread – and it came in handy! I realized very quickly I had mis-measured my cradle for the elastics. A quick little soak in some water, and it was all bra bits again rather than a partially-sewn bra meaning I’d have to start over or unpick the whole thing.

 I was not expecting to have a bra when I was done. I was simply seeing how my draft fit and what changes I needed to make. That is a very freeing feeling.

My Pattern

I made a diagonally seamed bra with a split lower cup. Nothing fancy for this bra – I only want to see the fit.

My ‘Kit’

  The same attitude I had for the pattern, I had for the kit. Nothing fancy, just bits of this and bits of that. Not all the bits were even matching, but they worked for their purpose.

In this little pile of a kit, I have beige Duoplex and Power Net, some beige and some white bottom band elastic, white upper band elastic, white strap tape, and blue trim! I’m really not expecting this to look good.

As well there’s the YLI Wash-A-Way thread. If you haven’t tried it, it’s great! It works perfectly for testing a pattern like this.

A Hot Mess

Honestly, the sewing on the bra looks terrible. Well, not the sewing really. It’s more the techniques or lack there of. It’s a mis-match of colors, and I didn’t do a lot of the things I’d normally do to ‘neaten’ things up. Just look at the bottom band elastic.

 Normally, I trim the elastic under the channeling – I like a thinner band running under the cups. Not this time. This time I’ve simply folded the channeling over the elastic and pushed it out of the way.

It’s looks so bad.

 While we’re talking about the bottom band elastic, I used two colors because I didn’t have enough of one color to do the full band. I used a great technique of piecing together bits of elastic. I saw Monica Bravo do on a YouTube video. It’s quick and it really doesn’t show at all from the front. You can view the video here.

You can see I wasn’t trimming anything, not even threads. This was a quick sew to see how things were going to fit. That’s it.

Does It Fit?

I have to say I am so surprised by the outcome of this drafting experience. First off, I never thought I’d be drafting my own bra pattern from measurements!

Secondly, I made a very wearable bra! Well, it would be wearable if I hadn’t used the water-soluble thread! But it fits. There are a few tweaks I want to make, but it fits.

The whole time I was sewing this, I kept thinking how I’d never sewn/thrown a bra together like this. There are bits hanging or sticking out everywhere! The upper band elastic is hanging out of the side of the cup because I didn’t finish the straps; on the other side it’s hanging down the back at the hooks and eyes. The channeling is sticking out. It really is a mess to behold!

There’s not a top-stitch to be found, and barely a back-stitch present. I sewed it just enough to hold it together to try it on… well almost. I did pull on the strap a bit too much and pulled it off! I had a pin handy, so was able to continue in the trying-on/evaluating process. 

Adjustments

  There are only a couple of adjustments I want to make. I plan to add a little more coverage to the underarm area – probably a half-inch will do. I want to lower the bridge by about a half-inch as well. Rounding the apex and adding a power bar will complete this. I’ll also likely do another test run. Then I should have a perfectly fitting self-drafted bra and pattern. What a feeling!

Happy creating!

A Watson for Em

What would you do if your boyfriend’s Mum made bras? Would ask her to make you one? Em did.

First Make

For my first bra-making venture for Em, I thought a bralette would be best. She really wanted a bralette too. So which pattern to try?

I have to be honest here. I have struggled so much with bra-fitting for myself, that I wasn’t looking forward to making a bra for someone else. I found the very thought daunting, and kept putting it off.

Once I started sewing though, well I really love sewing bras. With each step of the process, I admire how it’s coming together and looking more like a bra.

My first make for Em was the Cloth Habit Watson.

I was debating a bit whether I’d make her the Watson or Pin-up Girls Sweet Sixteen Bralette.

I decided to make the Watson because I’ve made it before. She also really liked the long-line version, so that’s what I made.

Hoarding

Remember I mentioned in a previous post how I had to order new wires because I hadn’t kept different sized wires? I had them a few years ago and gave them away? Well, a year ago I gave someone my Watson pattern because it really didn’t fit me and I thought I wasn’t going to make it again. Guess what I had to buy again because I don’t hoard enough? Yes. I had to buy another Watson pattern! I am going to start hoarding all things bra-making.

Much Better Now

 Sewing the Watson was much a much better experience this time than the two times I made this pattern in the past. The big difference is Em actually fits in the pattern’s range. I was just outside it and had to size up and make adjustments. She’s also young, with all the benefits that go with youth. Need I say more?

Sewing this pattern again, I do have to say I really like it. It’s a lovely pattern, with tips in the instructions that are both thoughtful and helpful. While sewing, I had the impression that this is a charming pattern.

Em’s Watson

 Seeing as I don’t know if this is going to fit Em either, I wasn’t breaking into one of my nice kits. Nope. It was scraps and left overs, little bits from here and there. Despite not using a kit, it came together quite well.

Here’s Em’s Watson from the front: 

I used some lighter-weight coral mesh that had been a gift, peach stretch lace which I think also had been a gift, and white elastics from one of my first purchases from Bra-Makers Supply. I didn’t have any smaller rings and sliders for the straps, but have a few kits from Merckwaerdigh and they have smaller findings. I know I won’t be using the findings from those kits for me so pulled them out. They were perfect.

I found an adorable little butterfly bow in my bow stash that is almost a perfect match for the peach in the cups. It’s not sewn on yet. This has to fit before it’s getting a bow of any kind.

 Here’s the back: 

Here’s a side view: 

I am really happy with how it came together. Now I have to wait.

Does It Fit?

  I have to wait a few days to find out whether this fits or not. Oh, if you think the wait is bad when sewing a bra for yourself and wondering the whole time if it will fit… This is worse. At least when sewing for ourselves, we can try it on right after we snip those last threads!

 Happy creating!

P.S. You might want to look at the first Watsons I made. My First Watson, and Long Line Watson and Some Bling.

Waiting for Wires

I’ve ordered a few more sizes of underwire and am doing my best to patiently wait for them. I need these new sizes for drafting.

The Problem

I’ve said this before, but I am incredibly fortunate to know more than one professional bra-maker. Karin of Mrs. Weaver’s Finest Unmentionable helped me figure out what I was doing wrong in my drafting.

I had followed the instructions both times from the Bra-Makers Manual. And both times I produced a bra that was close.

In fact, there as aspects of how these bras fit that I like better than any bras I’ve made yet. But… they weren’t fitting perfectly and I really didn’t know what I needed to change.

Those Buts

But. I’ve had a lot of those buts in my bra-sewing journey. The problem is the same problem I’ve had all along in making bras – I’m an Omega shape. Yup. The Omega shape was causing problems again, although I didn’t realize it.

So what exactly was the problem? I was using what I thought was the right wire – the one that fits me. I was using that wire to draft my cradle and my cup too. Normally, this is exactly what someone should do too.

But not someone with an Omega shape.

It was one of those smack-hand-to-head moments when I realized why both of the bras I’d drafted didn’t fit perfectly. If I want the cup to fit, I’m going to need to use a wire that fits the cup – not one that fits me.

These wires show the difference between what I need for my cradle and what I need for my cup. The narrower wire is what I need for my cradle, but the wider one is what I need for my cup.

So for my drafting I will need to use two wires. The first wire (the one that fits me) will be for the cradle’s draft. The second wire (the one that correlates to the cup’s size) will be the one I use for the drafting the cup.

Hoarding

 You know, my hubby has some hoarding tendencies. He keeps things. He says he might need them sometime. He could even be right… sometimes.

I’m not like that at all. I think, ‘I’m not going to use this.’ and out it goes. Well, I’m re-thinking that. I had these wire sizes at one time. When I first got into bra-making I had no idea what size I’d need, so I ordered everything around the size I thought I’d need. My cup usually takes a 44 wire, so I had 42s, 44s and 46 wires – in regular and long sizes. I’m going to start hoarding everything bra-making going forward because I just might need it.

Progress

While I’m waiting for my new wires to arrive, I’m still practicing drafting, only this time I won’t sew up a draft. I know my cup won’t fit just right.

Using a larger wire than will fit me to draft will also mean I’ll have to make a few adjustments to the pattern to help it fit into a smaller cradle, but I’ve had lots of experience with that. Almost all the bras I’ve made, I’ve had to make those adjustments.

I’m really looking forward to getting those new wires and making this next draft. I’m hopeful.

Happy creating!

Have you seen Merckwaerdigh has a new Mini Course out? Design your own BRA. Her panty course is great, so I’m trusting this one will be too. I’ll let you know.

Here’s a video Margreet posted on the new mini bra course:

 

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.