Harriet, Watson, & Madelynne Oh My: Bra Update

I have recently fallen down the bra-making rabbit hole. It all started with the Madelynne by Simplicity 8228

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I have actually had this pattern for quite some time but a quick perusal of the back showed that it needed all these things I had never used before. Picot? Powder Mesh? Stretch Lace? I never knew where to buy them so the pattern sat in the back of my closet unused. I was planning a trip down to Colorado Fabrics in May  and I figured they might have what I needed. Well they did have stretch lace but it was $10 a yard and since I needed 4ish yards  I wasn’t willing to spend that much on a bralette.  So I bit the bullet and ordered from Debs Lace and Trims  I bought Black, Purple, Cadet Blue, Teal, and Pink Lace. Everything came in 5 yd cuts and most were in the $1/yd range. I also picked up some picot and skinny elastic. From Fabric.com I was able to find the power mesh for considerably cheaper then the bra sites were selling it for so I picked up Nude and Grey. With all the accoutrements in hand I got to work. You will have seen the first bra on hear a few weeks ago. It was the racerback style in cadet blue with nude power mesh underlining.

While I was pseudo-happy with the results I wanted to make some changes. You’ll notice that the seam line falls about an inch to the outside of the apex of the breast. I have scoured the internet and I find this is true of every example I have seen made. I’m not sure if this was a stylistic choice by Madelynne but (to me) it gives a splayed shape to the chest which I find unflattering. For my next attempt I redrafted the cups so that the seam line is more center (along the princess seams of the dress form). I also left out the racerback because this detail looks nice but its quite high. While I am a millennial I’m not into the “look my bra is showing” trend.  It was fairly easy to just leave out the racerback pieces and add some straps instead.

I also want to note that I paid extra close attention this time to make sure my insides were much cleaner. I still didn’t use the spray adhesive, but I have bought it now so I can use it in the future.

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I was happy with how this turned out but lurking on all the bra-making blogs had me pining for something that looks a little more bra-like. The patterns by Cloth Habit seem to be fan favorites so I picked up the Watson (a soft cup)  and Harriet (Underwire) Bra Patterns.

I started with the Watson thinking that the soft cup would be easier to tackle first. Now having made both I don’t think there is a huge difference in difficulty between the two patterns and Underwires aren’t nearly as tricky as they look.  My first Watson was intended as a tester to narrow in on sizing. I sewed up  a 38A in a black 4-way stretch jersey with some miss matched notions from my stash. I stabilized the bridge with the black tricot fusible interfacing that I had purchased for my pencil skirts.

The verdict is still out on this one.  I don’t love the shape this gives me, that is to say I don’t love my natural shape and this bra doesn’t do anything to alter it.  The way I see it I have two options either a) use a smaller cup size so the cup shapes (squishes) the flesh in a more rounder shape or b)  perhaps the jersey recovery isn’t enough. I think this could be easily remedied by underlining the cups with power mesh.  I want to fix it but i’m too anxious to get a bra that works so I decided to set this pattern aside and work on Harriet.

The Watson bra calls for all stretch fabric whereas the Harriet uses a stable fabric  for the cups, cradle, and bridge. One blogger mentioned using silk charmeuse for bras as the ultimate in luxury…well I happen to have 8 yards of silk charmeuse wasting away in my stash. It came as part of a mystery fabric bundle purchased with my winnings from the Pattern Review contest. I don’t see me wearing a dress in this colorway but for some reason I think it works for bras.

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I used a pastel findings kit purchased from Tailor Made. These kits are an excellent deal. I find them much more economical than the full bra kits and the only extra things you need to get are the fashion fabrics and mesh. The kit is also pretty generous.  I actually sewed this up 3 times trying to get the right fit. I reused the strapping, underwire channeling, and hook & eye from bra to bra but the kit came with enough picot that I still have some left over after the third bra.

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As for sizing, first I made a 38A just like Watson. The band was way too big and the cups where fine on my larger size but a little generous on my smaller side.   I went back and actually  read the sizing directions and found out I should have made a 34C. If you are familiar with bra sizing you know that  these are sister sizes so the cups are the same between 38A and 34C. Since the first bra was a bit generous I sewed up the next as a 34B instead. This time around the band was way too tight.   I feel a little like goldilocks at this point, too loose, too, tight….the only thing left is “just about right”.  The cups felt right but I was getting a bit of “quad-boob” at the top which is normally an indication that the cup is too small. However I thought this might be happening because I stretched the picot too tight over the top edge of the cup. For the third bra I decided to sew a 36A. Which is a larger band but the same size cup. I didn’t stretch the elastic at all over the top of the cup. I am very pleased with the results.

I’m still having ever so slightly quad-ness with this size but with some tugging I think that I have identified that it’s a result of the straps being too short. I cut the straps at 18″ because I like the idea of it taking exactly 1 yard of strapping to make a bra but I think moving forward I could benefit from just a couple inches more on each strap. Unlike the Watson I think this was gives a nice shape. Probably because the stable cup fabric forces the tissue to conform to it and not vice versa.

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I noticed on my first two “practice” Harriets that the silk charmuse unraveled  like a beast. Since this pattern is unlined it made for messy insides. For this last bra I serged all the seams with matching thread and I am hoping this will keep it much nicer looking.

Now you might think that this was an awful lot of bra sewing but actualy I made all the bras from this post over the course of a single week. I can do an entire bra including cutting and sewing starting after my morning yoga and be done before our 11am walk. I can reasonable get 2 done a day if I wanted. Thats one reason why I am finding bra sewing very satisfying. Its quick but the result looks like a construction master piece. I have many many many more bras in my queue. Here is just a sneak peak.

 

Simplicity 1590 sans peplum

I was really in love with my “whine” pants from last week but I couldn’t find much in my closet that would work with them. Well that’s a problem that is easily remedied. I had in my mind a classic 40s shirt with collar and short sleeves. Simplicity 1590 had enough of the elements that it would make a good jumping off point.

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I used view B with the collar but I didn’t want the peplum or the ties. I re-drafted the front and back pattern to just extend straight down and tested it out with some junk green fabric. The white bits in the pictures are the parts of the pattern that I added on. I lengthened the back piece by about 6 inches and then extended the front middle to go all the way across.  After doing this green muslin I ended up flareing out the sides of these a bit more  to accommodate my hips.

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The original pattern had normal triangular darts. At first I tried making them into double pointed darts but I wasn’t in love with the way it looked. I ended up doing dart tucks that extend 2″ above the waist and 1″ below the waist. I like how it reduces the bulk of the fabric when it’s tucked in but still has that blousy look

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Since the embroidery was such a success on my girly confection dress  I decided to try it again  in a much subtler way. I bet you didn’t even see it.

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The real question is how does it look with my pants….exactly how I imagined!

 

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Simplicity 3688: the “whine” pants

I have had this pattern for quite some time now and never got around to making anything from it other then stealing the skirt pieces for another dress. I bought a pair of pine green wide leg trousers a few months back and I really loved the way looked on my so I figured this was a good pattern to start with for a me-made version.

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The end result was everything I had hoped. The only thing I would change would be to add some pockets and do a curved waistband.

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So why are they my whine pants?  Well first off they are wine colored but I had such a hard time making them that I was whining the whole time! Don’t get me wrong the pattern is actually pretty easy to make but I was a bit of a perfectionist and redid several parts 2 or 3 times ( Zipper, Cuff, and Waistband)…also when I finished Tony whined that I made another retro pattern.

I made a couple of alterations. I added 2″ to the front and back crotch length ( so 4″ total) it makes it hang a little low but it’s just perfect when I go to sit down so I’ll take it. Also most of the authentic 40s pants seem to do the same thing. I also added 5″ to the length of the pants. Some of that additional length was used to make cuffs. I think the cuffs really help to anchor the wide leg and help it hang better. Finally I widened the waistband to be 2″ though I wish I had curved it so it would have sat close to the body better.

This was my first lapped zipper. I must have watched that tutorial 8 times and it still took me 3 attempts before I sewed it correctly.  I overcame my obstacles in the end!

I took a fellow bloggers advice and put the zipper in first and then adjusted the fit along the darts. Boy did it need adjusting. In the picure you can see how I more then doubled the length of the front dart and widened them. I also took in the center front and back seems as well. After it was all said and done I think I took in almost 3″

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All the effort was worth it because I think they hang beautifully and they make my legs look ten feet long.

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Simplicity 8051 AKA: the girly confection

I was one of the first people to sew up this pattern into my flamingo dress . I was too antsy to try out that unique triangle back cut out that I just couldn’t wait any longer for someone else to iron out the kinks and tell me the pitfalls.

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Well nearly a year later and 4 more people have reviewed it on pattern review but still no one has sewn up the View B. So once again I jumped off into untested waters.  I am mowing through sewing projects at a pretty steady clip so I decided I needed to take some action to slow down.  I selected a cotton broadcloth in buttercup yellow. Since its a solid I figured the dress could stand to have some interest.  Nows as good of time as any to learn hand embroidery!

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It didn’t take nearly as long as I thought it would. I did both straps over the course of 2 days. I used 8 skeins of embroidery floss for this project. 3 Greens and 3 yellows in light medium and dark tones and 2 pinks in light and medium tones. I mixed the threads  so that the embroidery would have more dimension. It looks very good in person but its a little difficult to capture on film.  I used very basic stitches: the Lazy Daisy, Chain Stitch and French Knots; the latter being my favorite. Once finished I was pretty happy with it so I decided to put some flowers onto the skirt as well.

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The dress is sooooo girly and light and I just want to twirl around in it all day. Perfect for the first fledgling days of spring ahead. The sweetheart neckline with a pseudo pleated shelf bust fits my shape a lot better than the last shelf bust attempt

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One area of difficulty was the construction of the bodice.  Normally you would construct the outside and then the lining as separate pieces and then attach them at the neckline. This allows you to be able to sandwich the zipper in between the outer and inner layer for a very clean look. This pattern was a little different in that  it starts at the top and has you sew each tier of both lining and outside at the same time with one line of stitching. Makes it super stable but it means you can’t do a clean zipper. It took me a bunch of brainpower to figure out how to construct it so that the lining  would be free. I think I way over complicated it but I got there in the end so that’s all that matters.

It’s a shame that this view gets bypassed for the triangle back because I think it’s very flattering. My only alterations were to lengthen the front midriff by 1″ and to add side seam pockets….and of course the embroidery.For my first time out the gate with this artform I am pretty proud with the results and can’t wait to try it again. Perhaps on the collar points of a 40s blouse I have on the docket.

 

Simplicity 2446 Blazer with Contrast

I asked Tony what I should sew next and he picked blazer so that’s what I did! I used the same Simplicity 2446 pattern as I did for my Chocolate Wool Blazer, this time I was inspired by view B and picked up a 1/4 yard of black velvet for the contrast collar and pocket flaps.

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I felt like my last blazer was a bit too long waisted ( I did add 1.5″ to just as standard practice) so this time around I removed the extensions and went back to the original pattern length. I did however keep the arm length adjustment from before. Unfortunately this blazer was not as enjoyable to sew, both the plaid and velvet were a fraying nightmare. Mostly I just wanted to be done with it….now that it is done I love it!

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I remembered to snap a picture of the insides this time before I turned it right side out. In an effort to not make another trip to Joann’s I made my own shoulder-pads this time out of batting and some remnant material. Also in the shot is the fleece that is used as the sleeve heading which gives the shoulder a nice roll.

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Even though the velvet in the collar is interface bottom and top it not as crips as I would like. I did a line of invisible hand stitching in the seams where the collar attaches to the blazer to keep it from looking baggy.

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For the front I sewed button holes in but I don’t think I will be buttoning this so I didn’t cut them open. For the front leather buttons I used small black buttons to secure them on the back side to make it look clean and professional.

 

For as much of a struggle as this was to make i’m still pretty pleased with the results…but I have decided to put off any more jacket/coat sewing for awhile. I just want to make a satisfying girly dress next.

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Trial Run of Simplicity 1070

I have purchased all the fabric to make the complete outfit on Simplicity 1070 ( Skirt, crop top, and jacket) but I thought I would try out the skirt first to see how it goes.

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I cut and sewed up this skirt on one afternoon and then wore it on a business trip the next day. On its first outing I realized that the knit interfacing I used was not going to work so its been sitting in my closet for a few weeks for me to think of what to do. I finally just removed the facing and cut a new facing this time using just a woven interfacing instead.

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Its weird that the pattern very specifically says “Knits Only” but the skirt has a back zip and I think would actually work better in a woven because you wouldn’t have that stretching out on the waistband throughout the day.

The woven interfacing certainly help it fit a little more snugly but I am still having issues with the facing rolling over to the outside despite under stitching. I will have to go back to the drawing board and think of a way to resolve this before I  set out making the complete outfit. One thought I had was to do an encased thick elastic waist band that you fold over to the inside so that you still have that same smooth line on the outside and no zipper. The only issue with that is this is supposed to sit 2″ above the waist and I have a feeling that elastic would slide down and sit at the natural waist.

 

 

Another Simplicity 1544 for Tony

I thought I  would start out the new year with an unselfish sew. Actually I felt a bit guilty, this was part of my x-mas presents to Tony and I wasn’t able to get around to sewing before the holidays. I figured I needed to make it before I did any more dresses for myself.

I picked up this light weight flannel in a blue and grey buffalo check during a jo-ann 50% off plaid sale. The fabric looked like something he would like so I picked it up. I think he’s pleased with the shirt. It fulfills his suburban lumberjack aesthetic that he strives for.

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I used the perlized snaps per his request and they look a lot better then I thought it would.  It took me some time futzing around in his toolbox trying to figure out how to attach them, I ended up using some crimping pliars. He loves snaps so I may breakdown and get the actual tool for snaps…we will see.

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This is the first non-solid colored shirt that I have made Tony so I cut the button plackets, Cuffs, and Yolk on the bias to give it some visual interest.

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I’m still having issues figuring out those darn chimney plackets. I need to just sit down one day and practice doing them on some scrap material.

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But Tony is happy so that is all that matters! ( You can’t tell but I think that’s a smile under all the beard)

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