Monday, 25 September 2017

pin-up harriett bra

I have had an idea for so long to make this bra (or something along these lines). In fact this vision has probably been the driving force behind wanting to learn how to make bras in the first place! Maybe not for this exact article, but for the pure reason to be able to make lingerie in the fabrics and colours I love with the detailing I find most appealing whilst knowing the shape is going to fit. My biggest gripe about shopping for such items is that feeling when you see all the pretty things and realise that only the one you liked the least actually suits your shape. Jeans and bras. They are the garments that never fail to disappoint!

I have long been influenced by vintage/retro lingerie and have been storing up ideas of how I can incorporate it into my own wardrobe. The styles I'm talking about are not "me" per se, but elements of them really are (if that makes any sense). I am a bit of a romantic I guess and I love the shiny salmon pink fabric and the topstitching that is synonymous with these styles, but wouldn't have a clue about how to wear or indeed feel confident enough to wear the quite accentuated bullet shapes. Of course, as well as actual vintage examples I also refer back to modern representations or re-issues.

Here are some of the pieces that have guided me.

A very crumpled original longline bra definitely steered my fabric choice. Being up close and personal I realised this is made of a much sturdier fabric than you'd imagine. I got a spot on match with some cotton backed corsetry satin. I believe this is the one I ordered!

You can see how the inside is finished with loads of twill tape. I love the inside as much as the outside!

The Jean Paul Gaultier corset/bodysuit famously worn by Madonna. This piece was actually my introduction to lingerie making. Whilst at university over 10 years ago I set about drafting a pattern and making a toile to match the original as closely as possible. It is obviously not an exact replica, but I look at it now and am pretty proud of it having had no previous experience of this type of construction. It has stood me in good stead and the research I did to get to that point has been something I have referred back to in my more recent lingerie endeavours.

This next one is a modern repro of a vintage style by Playtex. I just keep it for reference as, although pretty, is not me. I love all the details and the construction, but I find it too strappy and actually uncomfortable for a soft style.

So back to my make. I see this as a kind of graduation in a way. I have done a lot of work over the past year (starting here) getting to know my way around bra construction and pattern drafting as well as trying out different bought patterns. It has been rewarding in many ways and now I am in a place where I can pick and choose my construction method as well as pattern adaptions. I feel very at ease with the process. This bra definitely represents that. I just confidently cut into my fabric and set about constructing the whole thing carefully and considerately knowing that the end product would be fit for purpose. Of course there are elements I would like to refine (isn't there always?), but I wasn't rushing through it, desperate to find out if it had worked or not which can be the case when you are new to bra sewing. I am feeling very Zen... ;-)

I used a silk strip to encase the seams of the lower cups and lined the upper cup. I really wish I had covered the wire casing with silk or something (just being picky).

The prettiest bra straps and findings. I think the shop I got these from is now closed. Sorry!

Sorry if I've been a bit gushy, but I'm really pleased with this one! Learning the skills to make a good bra is not actually that hard and fitting is not as painful as you'd think. You can push yourself further if you want to, but you don't have to and it means you no longer have to endure the drudgery of bra shopping! FYI, this was made using the fabulous Harriet bra pattern by Cloth Habit. I suggest you read her blog from start to finish for her inspiring bra making journey! xxx

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Denim landers

Hi hi!

Following on from my last post about these Lander pants I dove straight in and made pair number 2. This time in a lovely, lovely denim from Merchant and Mills. I ordered a sample in this slightly washed blue and the darker colour and was surprised how much it feels like some non-stretch cone mills denim I bought. Sold!!!

I did take some of the length out of the length along the top of the trousers which was bunching around my waist in my wool pair and I think I'm done tweaking. Well, I am anyway because with two new pairs of trousers for winter I'm sort of done. Goal achieved! 

Not much to say. They are full length, but I'm pretty sure I will always wear them rolled up like this.

One thing to say about how I fitted these and my previous pair is that they are not over fitted. You can see more with the denim that there is a fair amount of room under my tummy, but I find this to be the most flattering and comfortable to wear on my figure. I think to aim for the picture on the envelope would be a mistake for me as I want the fabric to skim rather than pull and also want to create a nice shape rather than outline that particular area. Just something to mention about fitting considerations and preference.

I wonder if I should raise the pockets a little in future. Hmmm!

After wearing my wool pair and finding the waistband too susceptible to stretching out I decided to be cautious and reinforce the top line of the inner waistband with a topstitched cotton herringbone tape. It's great actually. It feels so sturdy and allows the bottom of the waistband to mould to my body a bit whilst the top line doesn't budge.

The gorgeous rust effect metal buttons were also from Merchant and Mills. A bit of a splurge, but I love them! They have a very early Hussein Chalayan vibe to them.

I did not line the pockets and finished the opening edge of the front pockets with a bias facing.

Lots of lovely topstitching in a thick cotton thread.

So back to the wool pair! I did go back and mend the stretching out waistband. This did mean abandoning the back waistband tabs, but this is so much better. The overlap on the front acts as a trouser waist stay and although it looks like Fort Knox to get in, it's really not fiddly ;-)

So worth the effort of going back and fixing because I know I will wear these a tonne (I am wearing them again now).

 Anyway, still nothing but love for this pattern x

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

True Bias Lander pant

Hi hi!

I just made a thing and had to blog it immediately because I'm so excited. The Lander pants pattern from True Bias came out over the weekend and I had some sewing time so the timing couldn't have been more perfect! The style is sooooo me and I have been checking out this cut in the shops for so long now. I am totally into the 70's/nautical vibe whatever the year and whatever else is "trending", so these are a worthy investment.

Because I knew I wanted to make this pattern work I was willing to put the hours in to making the appropriate adjustments. This fitted around the top type of trouser is never going to fit me straight out the envelope and certainly doesn't look great when I try RTW pairs on, but I made a toile to see how the original fit was working and straight away added more length into the rise. Once I had toiled with the added length, things were looking a lot better. 3 inches took the top of the trousers to my natural waist (minus the waistband), but my final adjustments were actually 3cm longer than the original pattern.

I wish I'd taken pictures of the toiles along the way, but you know how it goes and I was caught up in how I was going to make it work, but basically I needed a full tummy and thigh adjustment on the front trouser leg which meant adding some width in the front and extending the front crotch curve. The back was fun to do (I'm being serious) and I made a full calf adjustment because the trousers were getting caught on that area and took some length out of the back centre leg length because I had extra fabric under my bottom. Basically scooping out the back crotch sorted this with loads of shifting and pivoting of seam allowances. The below diagram shows the original pattern in pink and my new pattern pieces in black. Basically the crotch curve has an extreme slope from the front to back in order to fit my body. I really enjoyed this process of analysis and because I was on my own I just did one tiny tweak at a time.

The back calf adjustment looked like this...

Here are some scary pictures of me in leggings to show all my bumpy bits. Really sorry you can just see my pants through the fabric, but if you have a similar body to mine then maybe it will help you relate!

Probably some further tweaks could happen for future versions, but I'm pretty stoked! Certainly the waist needs some tweaks, because it is definitely too roomy, but I resolved that with some epaulette things in keeping with the overall look. Also a smidge more length out the centre of the back leg length and top of trouser wouldn't hurt. I don't know, maybe they are good enough. I shall wear these a lot as they are a brilliant match with my overall style.

I forgot to mention that I made these with a wool suiting fabric. I wanted a winter version that would fall nicely and this fabric was already in my stash. So pleased with the wool/pattern combo. Here are some close ups of the details to give you a better feel for the fabric. Can I just say, that I was so nervous about the button front fly. I thought I would feel self conscious drawing attention to my tummy, but it is definitely a new favourite finish. In love with this detail and it's so easy!

I lined the back pockets with some shirting from my husbands old shirt because I was working with wool. I really makes a nice finish and means the pockets won't stretch out.

Beautiful brass anchor buttons from Loop.

A hook and eye inside the waistband to help with any gaping.

The fly shield is faced with the shirting for comfort. I considered facing the waistband too, but I guess I got lazy. I also wish I had bound the seams, but the next wool pair I make will be all bells and whistles.

So that's been a whirlwind sewing romance and I really think this is a great pattern. I probably always say that about a pattern I try, but I mean it! I always expect to have to do adjustments on a trouser pattern, but I'm not always willing to put the time in if I don't feel the love right away. These were worth it for me. I shall wear these a load and see if anything particularly screams out to me as a tweak for future iterations. Love, love, love!!!