Friday, 17 June 2016

The Little Black Bra

I guess I'm very late to the Watson bra party - I saw so many versions last summer, but I was far too busy with other sewing to have time to make a bra. I was also more interested in making a classic underwired bra, and working up to making foam-cup bras. Now, though, constantly changing bra sizes and being fed up with uncomfortable wired bras has made me crave comfy yet cute bras like the Watson.

I've always had trouble finding bras that fit, and although I finally had some in high school, I lost some weight in first year, and I've been slowly gaining it back over the course of the year. After losing all the weight, I bought a couple new bras, only to have them not fit anymore after gaining the weight back! For a while, I wore my old bras from high school, but they're old enough that the bands are super stretched out of shape.

So, some better-fitting, comfortable bras were definitely in order! Enter the Watson bra. 

This one was intended as a wearable muslin, because the fabric was a remnant that I bought on St. Hubert for $2, and I didn't have all the notions that I needed. I had the elastics for the top and bottom, but I couldn't find black strapping, or a 3-row hook and eye. 

Because of this, I modified the pattern to just pull over my head, and I made non-adjustable fabric straps. This worked pretty well, although for my next one, I'm going to try to find the proper notions!

I wasn't sure what size to make (like my last bra), since the directions are for measuring your underbust and full bust to choosing your size. I wear a 28E in my RTW bras, but measuring this way gives me a completely different size. In the end I just went with a 30D, which is the smallest band size the pattern offers, but an equivalent cup size to what I've been wearing. I'd say the fit it pretty much spot on!

To make it pullover, I cut the back pattern piece on the fold about 1" away to compensate for not having a hook and eye there.

For the straps, I made a strip 1 1/2" wide and serged the edges together with a 1/4" seam allowance to give a 1/2" strap. I made it about 30" long, but cut a good 10" off. When I attached it, I attached it to the back first, then pinned them at a good place in the front. They seem pretty solid, so I don't think they'll stretch out too much, but I think for my next one, I'll definitely get some proper strapping. These are a little bulky, especially where they attach to the cups.

Amy suggests using powernet for the band and either lining or interfacing the cradle, but I could only find beige powernet. Instead, I used a double layer of the main fabric and for the cradle, I sandwiched a single layer of powernet in between. I think this gave it the perfect stability, although it's maybe a little bulkier than ideal, and the beige powernet shows a little at the seams. I may have to get out my sharpie...

As for the rest of the construction, I followed the instructions and used a stretch stitch on my machine (a new stitch for me!) for both the seams and the topstitching. I love that there are exact widths and lengths included in the instructions for attaching the elastic, because a "medium width zigzag" means something different to everyone!

Overall, I had this bra put together in an afternoon, from cutting to finishing. It's definitely not my best sewing - you may have noticed the wonky stitching along the bottom elastic where my bobbin thread ran out and I started again. I found that the double layer of ponte folded over, plus elastic, was too bulky to nicely fit under my walking foot so I accidentally started it on a bit of an angle. I didn't really want to rip out a triple-step zigzag (backstitched) in a knit, and this was a wearable muslin anyways, so I left it. If I had known how well this would turn out I might have tried to fix it!

All in all, I LOVE this bra! It's so comfortable, and still really supportive and cute. Unfortunately the elastics that I used weren't the best quality and the edges have already started to stretch out a bit... I also could have probably stretched them more as I sewed them. For next time, though, I've ordered a ridiculous amount of elastic and lingerie elastics from Bra-Makers Supply to stock up. I should be set for another 10 or so bras...

And yes, there will definitely be more! Don't say I didn't warn you...

Friday, 10 June 2016

Me-Made-May 2016: The End?

Am I the only one who went to take yet another mirror selfie on June 1st, before realizing that is wasn't Me-Made-May anymore??

Despite easing up on my Me-Made-May goals a little this year, I actually did manage to wear something I made every day, and documented it on Instagram rather than doing a weekly blog post. I missed a couple days, but all those days I was wearing an repeat outfit anyways!

These are some of my favourites - but you can see them all on Instagram!

My main (vague) goal was to find more ways to work my me-mades into my wardrobe, especially my wardrobe for working in the lab. I thought about this a lot, and I did find some new ways to wear things!

A photo posted by Shannon (@youngseamstress) on

This Pendrell blouse that I made from vintage fabric (that belonged to my great-grandma!) has sat unworn for a very long because it just felt too over-the-top cutesy, but with these casual linen shorts that my friend passed on to me (rather than a full skirt), it dresses it down and feels way more wearable!

Another top that I played with some new ways to wear was my recent Sarah Shirt, which I love, but maybe isn't the most flattering on me. I realized that I really like wearing it open, though! The top is buttoned in this photo to stop it blowing open on my bike, but I later unbuttoned it. Worn over a tank top, it's still swingy and fun but not quite as overwhelming on my small frame!

A photo posted by Shannon (@youngseamstress) on

That said, I definitely fell back on a few favourites when I didn't really want to think about putting an outfit together. My most worn piece was definitely my Sutton blouse (on the left below), which didn't surprise me at all! I wore it at least four times (one undocumented), and I may have even worn it on a fifth day that I also forgot to take a picture of. It's the perfect top to just throw on over jeans, or tuck into a skirt, and it can be dressed up or down!

A photo posted by Shannon (@youngseamstress) on

It's funny, because the only reason I made that pattern was because it was chosen for me as part of the Super Online Sewing Match! I never would have picked it out on my own, but I wear it so often and really should make another.

As for my other goals, I wanted to finish my alterations, focus on wearing and making (or planning to make) separates, and learn to copy patterns.

So... I sort of achieved those. I did get through a few alterations, but I still have quite a few to go. I shortened both my floral Moneta dress and my purple Peter Pan collar Moneta dress, which makes them both a little more wearable somehow. I wore both a couple times, and I also realized that I can wear my floral boatneck backwards to make into a scoopneck, which makes it a little less dressy! Here I wore it for a picnic in the park, with my wool Jenna cardi because it was still a little cool that day.

A photo posted by Shannon (@youngseamstress) on

I definitely focused on wearing separates for the lab, because I have to wear pants for safety and practicality. I wore skirts with tights at the beginning of May when it was cool, but I hate wearing tights in hot weather!

A photo posted by Shannon (@youngseamstress) on

(Quick side note: another piece that I never would have imagined that I would wear so much is the denim jacket I'm wearing above! I bought it second-hand from a Facebook group where McGill students buy and sell clothes, and it seems to go with everything I own. It's a perfect spring or summer jacket, and great for dressing down some of my old clothes! Not me-made, but I know that if I ever make a denim jacket, I'll wear it tons.)

Lastly, I wanted to learn to copy patterns and draft some simple ones! I'm still working on this - I have a couple patterns that I've copied, but I haven't made them yet so I still don't know how good a job I did....

Overall, I can't say I actually learned a ton from Me-Made-May this year that I didn't know already. I learned that I'm much more drawn to loose, more casual shapes now, but I knew that already. I also figured out some new ways to wear old pieces that I haven't worn in a long time, which was something I've been trying to do for ages and this gave me a bit of a push to actually do it!

On the other hand, I'm realizing now that there were a lot of pieces I never wore once, like my denim Hollyburn skirt (even after shortening it, I feel like I'm 7 years old when I wear it!), both pairs of Smooth Sailing Trousers (my black pair needs re-hemming after stretching, and my teal pair... I just never really reach for them, I guess), my linen culottes and my green Moneta dress (these I forgot to unpack when the weather got nice - I actually do wear them in the summer!), my Davie dress, and my Natalie dress (both of these were great work dresses last summer, but just don't feel like they're my style anymore!).

Some other pieces that are still in my mending pile are both my Cambie dresses (to shorten), my picnic blanket skirt (also to shorten), the top from my Miz Mozelle set, and some other thrifted pieces.

I thought that I would finish this post and feel like I'd gotten somewhere or had some sort of revelation about my handmade wardrobe, but I'm not sure I learned that much that I hadn't figured out already. My wardrobe is definitely in a bit of a transition state, and that's okay! I'm figuring out what works for me and my lifestyle right now, and filling some gaps both with sewing and thrifting.

The main gaps are practical, comfortable pants; loose, casual tops that I can wear for summer and layer over in the winter; and basically anything that doesn't make me feel like I'm five!

So, this wasn't exactly the insightful post that I thought it would be, but nonetheless, I had fun participating in Me-Made-May, even though I got a little sick of all the selfies by the end!

How about you? if you participated this year, did you find any gaps in your wardrobe, or learn anything new about your style!