Boylston Bra in Liberty Print

I made another Boylston Bra; this time in a very special Liberty tana lawn that was gifted to me by a close friend.

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There isn’t much to say about this one since I just finished my previous version. Though, I will say that somehow, the top of the upper cup is almost a teeny tiny bit too snug on this one.  This could normally be attributed to simply using a different fabric, but given that there is foam underneath, that shouldn’t be the case here.  My best guess is that I did not accurately document the changes I’d made to the cup the first time around and the pattern for this version is just a tad different.  C’est la vie.

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In addition to the gorgeous Liberty fabric, I used black lining and power net that were left over from my bra-making class at Camp Workroom Social, plus hooks, eyes, sliders, rings, and elastics from a “Small Findings Kit” and foam from Bra Makers Supply.

My one peeve with the two Boylstons I’ve made so far, is that they are not invisible under clothing.  The seam lines across the cups and top edge are not smooth. I know this should not bother me – everybody knows I am wearing a bra under my tops – but I do not like visible seam lines from underpinnings.  My next bras will have lace along the top of the cups to try to minimize this.

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The strap elastic in the Bra Maker’s Supply Small Finding Kits is wider than I was expecting. I don’t love the way it looks, but by golly it is stable.

I haven’t attempted to cover the seam lines between the three pieces of the foam cup with tricot strips yet (despite the fact that Amy from Cloth Habit has a superb video all about it).  It seems (ha!) to me like that would just add bulk, potentially making them even more visible from the outside. But I have not ruled out trying it on a future version.

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That wraps up my Boylstons for now.  But don’t fret, I finished a new-to-me bra pattern over the weekend that I’ll be sharing soon.

PatternOrange Lingerie Boylston Bra
Fabrics: Liberty of London tana lawn, plus leftovers from Camp Workroom Social and additional supplies from Bra Maker’s Supply
Modifications: I took the changes I made on my first version and attempted to make them to my pattern pieces with moderate success.
Photo Location: Visual Arts Center of Richmond Fibre Studio

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Boylston Bra in crepe

Whenever I tell people I make my clothes they seem surprised at first, then nod their head, and say something about how their grandmother or mother used to sew.  But there are a few items, that non-sewing people almost always struggle to believe I made myself – bathing suits, jeans and bras.  Do they think they are traditionally made by machines?  They’re also three things that many women hate shopping for, myself included, largely because finding the right fit is incredibly difficult due to the wide variety of lovely shapes women’s bodies come in.

I tackled bathing suits back in 2013 and have a Sophie Bikini on my short list for this year; jeans were the scariest of the lot to me, but now, six months and three pairs later, I almost take for granted that I can make a new pair anytime I want; but bras, well, those took me a little extra nudging.

I made my first bra at Camp Workroom Social last October:

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Two Harriet bras, designed by Cloth Habit. The top one is a muslin used to test the fit.

I came back from camp excited and determined to replace every single ready-to-wear bra in my drawer.  I ordered fabrics and supplies. And then the doubt crept in.  You see, at camp, I had the bra’s designer and two ridiculously capable seamstresses helping me every step of the way, explaining which fabric to use where, what stitch length and width was best, reminding me to sew the elastic with the plush side up on the good side of the fabric first… Now I was on my own (well, as on my own as one can be with Google).  Every time I glanced in the direction of my box of supplies I got overwhelmed.  Plus, there was the added issue of the fact that my camp bras did not fit me in a way that I was completely comfortable.  Not only was the band far too tight, IMHO, causing back and under arm fat rolls that I simply could not tolerate, but the shape just didn’t do my girls any justice.  So this time around, I wanted to use a thin foam lining.  That was just another hurdle my brain struggled to get over.

Then, Closet Case Files posted a link to this post on Instagram. What a beautiful bra.  And it was very similar to what I wanted to make – an Orange Lingerie Boylston bra in woven fabric.  A fellow camper and I both commented that we hadn’t made a bra since camp and Heather nudged us on, reminding us that we had done it once and could do it again.  So I did.  I’m telling you, that woman could tell me to sew all my clothing inside out and I’d probably do it.

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Just look at that beauty!

I printed my pattern, cut out my fabric, and got started on assembly on Sunday afternoon.  I then worked on it for about an hour on Monday, and by the end of my class Tuesday night it was complete.  And it is pretty much perfect. Even the fit.

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You can almost see the crepe texture of the fabric in this shot

The fabric is a crepe that has been languishing in my stash for years (another piece from the estate of two deceased seamstresses that I purchased for <$2/yard).  The pattern on it reminds me of the 80’s and I always assumed I’d use it for a small inside pocket or facing  or a lining.  But then when it came time to make my first Boylston, which is designed for light woven fabrics, it seemed like a good choice since I had no idea if the size I chose would fit and I wouldn’t be too distressed if it went into the donation bin.

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The foam, elastics, hardware, underwires, bow, and secondary fabrics came from Bra Maker’s Supply plus a couple leftovers from camp.

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Nice and neat on the inside

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Close up of the front of strap where it meets the cup

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Close up of the back of the strap

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I found this bra went together very smoothly, but I will say I found the directions a bit sparse, at least as a newbie.  And the instructions include no information on adjustments you ought to make when using foam.  So, if you decide you want to try this pattern out, I found Lauren’s two posts on foam cup Boylston bra assembly indispensable and basically just followed along with those (here and here). Lauren references a trio of posts from Cloth Habit on making a foam bra that I highly recommend following as well, especially Part II.

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I had hoped to start my second Boylston bra this afternoon – I do have a drawer of ready to wears that clearly need replacing! – but got a bit sidetracked by life today. But I already have a special Liberty fabric, plus all the other materials I need, set aside and hope to have it done by the end of the weekend.

If you’ve been thinking about making a bra I highly recommend the Boylston.  If you are feeling intimidated, give it a go with the help of the links above.  And if I can be of any assistance, please let me know.

Pattern: Orange Lingerie Boylston Bra
Fabrics: Vintage crepe plus bra making supplies from Bra Maker’s Supply
Modifications: I slimmed the back band to fit into the two-hook closure and adjusted the foam cup seam allowances before butting them together under a zigzag stitch – that’s it!
Photo Location: Visual Arts Center of Richmond Fibre Studio

 

Asaka Kimono

I don’t wear a robe often, but when I do it’s with heels on a windy day in downtown Richmond in broad daylight.

As soon as I realized I was going to need a robe for Camp Workroom Social this weekend, I knew the Asaka Kimono was the pattern for me. Just. Look. At. Those. Sleeves.

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The sleeve design – two piece and wide cut, with a deep vent from wrist to elbow – is somehow both glamorous (look at them!) and functional (they won’t hang into my cup of tea or ever need to be rolled up).

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Several seamstresses have made this garment to be worn as a dress. You can see my very favorite example here. However, I made mine out of a rather boring but soft and breathable cotton/linen blend, specifically to be worn as a robe. So the thought of going out in public to have my pictures taken was a bit awkward. (And Brian rightfully pointed out the irony when I commented on a passerby wearing his pajamas outside. Touché.) But as soon as the wind hit those sleeves, making them flutter every which way, the awkward feeling passed and I felt a bit like a super hero who happened to also be a movie star. And that led to some twirling. In the empty parking lot. With people walking by and watching.

It is unlikely that I will make this pattern again – how many robes does a girl need? – which is sort of too bad. It was a quick and easy make that really stands out between the sleeves and the nice neat collar finish.

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Pattern: Named Asaka Kimono, size 6
Fabric: Fire engine red linen/cotton blend with red velvet ribbon trim inside the sleeves
Modifications: Shortened the sleeves by 3″ but left the robe length long
Mural: By Gaia, for the 2012 G40 Art Summit in conjunction with the Richmond Mural Project presented by Art Whino. Located at 11 West Grace Street, Richmond, VA.

Ginger Jeans: Mind blown

I dislike trying on clothing in stores. Nine times out of ten, I leave the changing room disappointed. Not in the clothing, but in my body, and the fact that it doesn’t fit into industry standard clothes. I know this is silly. I know that industry standards probably fit less than half of the population, but nevertheless, I usually leave the store vowing to not eat again that day and to workout as soon as I get home. When people ask me why I sew, I’ve normally responded with a quick and easy answer like: (a) I will never show up somewhere wearing the same outfit as somebody else, or (b) that I can make an item *exactly* as I want it (more on this below). Those are two very valid reasons. But the reason I will likely never stop sewing is that it gives me the power to never judge my body against industry standards again.  Nobody (and no body)  deserves that.

This is my second pair of Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files, a brand that in my opinion, sets itself apart by showing home seamstresses that we can, in fact, make anything we set our mind on.  (Heather is pretty much my hero.) Before I cut into my precious denim for this pair, I altered the pattern so that they would fit my body (no easy task given the 12″ difference between my was it and “full hip”): I took a wedge out of the back yoke and contoured the waistband to hug that lower back curve; since I used the high-rise version of the pattern (view B) this time, I lowered the waistline in front just a bit more than in the back to avoid peek-a-booty; and I straightened the skinny leg and then took it a bit further adding a mild flare to accommodate oxford shoes and fall boots.  And once that was done – and that took maybe an hour or two thanks to loads of useful tips from Heather – I cut and sewed my denim and slid these beauties on. And guess what. They fit like a glove. And more importantly, I even like the way they look on my body. Mind blown.

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You’ll just need to trust me that there is no gaping in the back waist. I completely forgot to get that shot while standing on a rather busy street corner:

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As I mentioned above, a bonus to sewing your own clothes is being able to make them however you’d like. As you may have spotted, for this pair, in addition to the sizing alterations, I skipped the classic gold topstitching and opted for two shades of blue.  I was tentative about this at first but decided if I hated it I could always rip it out and re-do it.  Once I got started – I loved it.  And then I remembered Heather’s flare version here, and this happened…

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And, speaking of customizing, how often do your jeans literally match your top?!?

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I still have enough Cone Mills denim to make two, maybe even three, more pairs of jeans.  Now I just need to decide what each of those pairs will look like and how I’d like them to fit my body.  Imagine, make, wear – repeat. Sew forever.

Pattern: Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans, View B with mods for mid-rise and mild flare legs
Fabric: Cone Mills indigo S-Gene 12oz denim (88% cotton, 10% polyester, 2% lycra)
Worn withSimplicity 1462 in Anna Maria Horner Field Raindrops & Poppies cotton
Mural: “Overthink” by Onur for the Richmond Mural Project 2015 presented  by Art Whino Gallery

Kielo wrap dress: The hippie chick

I had to – er, I mean, got to – give this beauty away today.  The hem needed to be shortened just a bit, but otherwise, it looked like a perfect fit.

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There is not much left to say about this dress – I mean, it is the *sixth* one I’ve made. Here are the first, second, third and fifth (the fourth, done in a deep navy cotton/linen blend, was a gift and un-blogged).

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If I did not love the recipient of this dress as much as I do, I would have considered shortening the hem and moving it into my closet. The colors are even perfect as we move closer to autumn.

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Unfortunately, I did not have enough fabric to match the pattern down the back center seam, but I was able to make sure the edges of the medallion lined up in the back.

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All I have left are the tiniest of scraps – just maybe enough to make pockets for my next pair of Ginger jeans…

Pattern: Named Kielo Wrap Dress, size 4
Modifications: Facing for the neckline only, rather than the combination facing I had drafted for earlier versions, and shortened the hem to knee length
Fabric: 100% Indian cotton tapestry in navy with orange, turquoise, green and red

Kielo wrap dress: In the sun

This beauty isn’t for me; it’s for a friend – my very first friend who I met when I was about 4 years old – who kindly asked me to make it for her.

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Sewing for others is incredibly stressful for me.  When sewing for myself, I know what sort of “imperfections”, i.e., visible hand stitches, under stitching that is not perfectly straight, etc…, can be expected and can decide if I am okay with how something turned out or go back and try to fix it.  When sewing for others, I do not allow myself any wiggle room,  and often find myself dreading that I agreed to make something for somebody else.  That said, I know very well, that when somebody makes something for me, I never think it is anything but a generous gift made with kindness.  I suppose the best thing I can do is to keep sewing for others and hope I get over it, eventually.

Pattern: Named Kielo wrap dress, size 10
Modifications: Self-drafted combination facing, shortened length, narrowed “wings” for better fit at the waist, lengthened ties for wrapping
Fabric: Nicole Miller “In the sun – multi” twill, 97% poly 3% spandex

 

 

Simplicity 1462: Copy cat

I’ve wanted to make this exact top since a seamstress blogger I follow, Amanda from Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing, posted hers almost a year ago. I’d find myself thinking about it every time I was looking through my closet for a top to wear with jeans.  I bought the pattern earlier this year, but it took me a bit to buy the fabric (I’m in a constant battle with myself over my gargantuan fabric stash).

Well, I finally made it.  I found both the neckline (which Amanda was right – the neck binding piece is drafted at least two sizes too large) and underarm seams a bit fiddly.  This led to my initial thought that this pattern seemed like a bit more trouble than any top is worth. However, the more I think about it, it is the day-to-day wears, that deserve time.  They get worn far more often than the fancy vintage Vogue cocktail dresses, that’s for sure.  I also realized I may be biased after making several versions of the easiest dress ever.

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The twinning on the bottom left side of the top is making my brain hurt. I wish I had caught that earlier.

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Pattern: Simplicity 1462 View B
Fabric: Anna Maria Horner Raindrops & Poppies 100% cotton with grosgrain ribbon trim

And a rare “in the wild” photo, taken at Nota Bene:

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Despite the finicky bits of this pattern and the fact that I have some additional changes I’d like to make (my armholes are too large), I really like this top and have already started to consider another version in a more subdued color palette.

Pattern: Simplicity 1462, size 12
Modifications: Removed 2″ in length and hemmed 2″, shortened the neck binding, extended the slit facing down to the hemline
Fabric: Anna Maria Horner Field Study1 Raindrops & Poppies cotton