Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rebecca Taylor - Vogue 1315

I have another bra in the works but took a quick break to stitch up Vogue 1315.

I wanted to make this a couple of months ago but couldn't find the fabric! It's a very lightweight sweater-type knit for JoAnns. It has wonderful recovery. I only used the directions for the pocket detail, which my photographer was much too impatient to capture and that my print obscures.

On the envelope photo the model isn't wearing a belt but let's just say it's not a good look without one. I wish I had placed my pattern pieces a little differently because I keep focusing on that "splat" pattern on the bodice. Luckily it's not dead center.

As always I made an FBA. The instructions were well written although I didn't follow them exactly. A raw edge is supposed to be exposed at the neckline and I omitted that detail. A word of caution--This dress is SHORT! Even though I added 4" of length, I'd be much more comfortable with 6". I didn't allow for wearing a belt. As it is my hem is only 1/2".

Although the pattern is supposed to be semi-fitted through the bust, I say it's more loose-fitting. Because of it's short length, this dress won't get nearly as much wear as it would if it were longer. Then again, wearing it with tights and boots might be an option. I will make it again with the length changes and possibly short sleeves for the Spring season.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Embroiled in Bra-making

I'm still in the middle of learning everything I can about making bras. Maybe I should rephrase that and say learning everything I can about fitting bras. Sewing a bra is actually very easy but as in most of sewing it's the proper fitting that leaves us scratching our heads. Below is my latest version of Kwik Sew 3300.

Last week I made three bras. Two were keepers and one went the way of bras that just don't the trash. I did salvage the closure and the strapping elastic. I did learn how to successfully change a full band bra (Queen Bra Elite) into a partial band bra. It was very easy once I understood the difference between the two. It was very comfortable even after wearing it all day.

Sewing a bra is relatively easy. Fitting a bra can be a monumental  Unlike our beloved Big 4 pattern companies, there are no uniform  measurements or "blanks" from which they pull information for pattern making. I am by no means an expert but I do know how to do research. After all I did graduate college with a 3.875 GPA and Summa Cum Laude!

I have learned that getting the perfect-fitting bra takes time...lots and lots of it. There is absolutely no way to know whether the bra is going to fit until the entire bra is completed. Always, always, always use the suggested fabric for your bra. Changing the fabric can change the entire fit of the bra. Ask me how I know! There do seem to be some shortcuts for a toile bra, but I prefer making the "real deal."

Can we talk band size? Where in the hell did the notion of adding 4" to your rib cage measurement come from? There is quite a bit of elastic and powernet on a bra. I think there is more than enough ease without adding 4". I recently had a conversation with a high schooler. She wears about a size 4. She had been "professionally measured" at a size 38D. No freakin' way. Sure she had large breasts but she was a tiny little thing and her rib cage could not have measured more than 32"!

In the last two months I have spent about $200 on bra making supplies. Has it been worth it? Of course. The thought of having bras that fit better than anything I can find in the store makes it all worth it. I spend about $40 each for the bras I usually wear and yes, I buy more than five bras a year. Last night I painstakingly figured out how much each component of a bra costs:

    • Fabric for cups and straps     $1.60
    • Power net                                .70
    • Hook and eye closure               .37
    • Wire channeling                       .76
    • Elastic                                     .89
    • Underwires                              .55
    • Rings and adjusters                 .40
    • Total                                  $5.27
Five dollars and twenty-seven cents for a custom-made underwire bra! It's absolutely worth it. I will continue   to try for better fitting bras. So far the Queen Bra Elite is pretty near perfect fit with the Kwik Sew 3300 being a close second because it just pretty! I have to start making matching panties as well. Stay tuned for more bra-making post.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fast and Easy - A misnomer

Do you ever give thought to what "Fast and Easy" really means when you see it as a pattern description? Or how about "One hour?" I've been sewing for 45 years and quite frankly I've yet to encounter the pattern that I can't conquer. Even a potential "wadder" is no match for my skills (said in my best booming cartoon narrative voice). But I wonder how many sewists, especially beginners, are lured into the "Fast and Easy" trap?

"Fast and Easy" usually translates into fewer pieces and minimal details so why shouldn't a beginner be lured by them? If you are able to sew straight from the envelope, "fast and easy" can actually be that. For someone like myself with numerous fit issues, "fast and easy" often translates into "Royal PITA." Fewer seams and details means fewer opportunities for fit.

I should have been able to stitch this pattern up in an hour or less but I had no such luck. I had to first make my usual FBA. I transferred it into a third waistline tuck. When I did finally sew it to the point of trying it on, the real work began. I eventually moved the tucsk to be more in line with my bust. Then I had to remove the third tuck all together but increase the size of the original two. I lowered the neckline but managed to stretch it while stitching. Luckily a self-made infinity scarf will cover it. I was getting some weirdness in the back and  had to release one of the back tucks.  The hemline is a little wonky but I think that is just the nature of the fabric. The chiffon I was used was not a suggested fabric. I do love my finished product but "Fast and Easy", it was not!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Here's my latest video review. I think I forget to mention in the video that I love the shape of the bra cups.

I'm Pregnant...

Or not. I whipped a couple of tunics up Thursday morning and the husband absolutely hates them! He says I look pregnant. Who in their right mind is going to think a 55-year-old woman is knocked up?

The blue plaid is made of 100% cotton Homespun and the animal print is made of Charmeuse. I absolutely LOVE them both but the plaid is my favorite. I feel so creative in it. It's like a "poet-shirt" I once had. It feels very "Boho" and "Artsy Fartsy." They are so comfortable.

I lengthened the pattern three inches adding an additional 1" in the center front so the tunic wouldn't hike up in front. It's my "cheater FBA." Each one took less than an hour to sew. I'm wearing the McCalls 6173 leggings. The brown ones are made of Ponte. I made these New Year's day but hadn't worn them because there wasn't enough stretch to cover my backside and plumber's crack is not a look a diva like me would want to wear in public. I added a wedge of fabric at the back waist and now they are perfect.

I've already started my next project. I've just got the Kwik Sew bra pattern 3300. Of course the first one didn't fit but I realized it wouldn't before it was completed and can salvage everything except the cups. Stay tuned for all the details!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Butterick 5401 Finale - picture heavy

The coat is finally finished and I absolutely love it! It took a little over a week to complete and was well worth the effort.

Below are some additional photos of the construction.

Showing the loftiness of the fabric.

Showing the shaped undercollar.

Fabric lightened up for better viewing.

Fleece sleeve heads.

Triple zig-zag stitched taped roll line.

Sleeve seam matching perfectly back side seam. The pattern only had a one-piece sleeve-I converted it to a two-piece sleeve using Threads December 1991/January 1992 issue.

I added this faux belt for some extra styling.

Lining fabric.

Finished notched collar.

This button is from my stash. It measures 1 3/8."

I rounded the front corners at the hem to match the rounded collar.

Read the entire review at PatternReview.

Monday, March 4, 2013

More Butterick 5401

I should have finished Saturday but a "drive-by visitor" and a bottle of wine severely altered the plan. All that's left to sew is the sleeve lining, hems and button. It's been a while since I've sewn with such a sumptuous fabric and I'd forgotten how easy it is to mold a 100% wool fabric. Too, I'd also forgotten how itchy, and stinky (when steaming) it can be. My entire sewing table and machine look as if my husband shaved in my sewing room instead of in the bathroom! It's all worth it because the coat is absolutely beautiful. Below are a couple of cell phone photos so that you can see the progress I've made.

I'm digging into my sewing skill arsenal to make sure this is a garment that will last for years to come. For the first time, I converted the one piece sleeve into a two piece one and it was well worth the effort. The pattern doesn't have a back vent and if it had I would have omitted it. Every coat that I've ever had that had one wound up having to be repaired. I did add a "faux belt" to give the back some extra styling.

Hopefully I'll put the finishing touches on before the end of the week and have final photos and a thorough review for you.