Today we’re going to try out a summer dress hack with a tried and true pattern – the Deer and Doe Plantain Shirt which we are sewing up for the Sewalicious blog! If you haven’t sewn up this shirt before you can access it for free on the Deer and Doe website.
Plantain one of my favorite everyday shirts – the cut is really flattering and I love the neckline so why not hack it into a dress?
Well I did just that with this drapey Carnival Viscose Jersey from Sewalicious! This is a bold print but I think is perfect for summertime – it’s fun, festive and bright!
Here’s what you need to do:
Get your free copy of the Deer and Doe Plantain Shirt. Measure yourself based on their directions to find the right fit. Once you have cut out your pattern take out your tracing paper (I used medical paper), your drafting rulers, pencil/marker and your measuring tape.
Lay the finished front side of the pattern against you in the same position it would be worn. Take note of where the hem lies on the centerfront of your body. Set the pattern aside and using your measuring tape, measure from the hemline point on the centerfront of your body to the length you would like the dress to be – keep the hem allowance in mind as well (you can add 1” to 2” for this depending on your preference). Record this measurement.
Next, cut two pieces of tracing paper a little longer than the skirt portion of your dress. Tape the paper to the back of the pattern. Starting with the front piece- from the centerfront hemline of the front pattern measure down in a straight line the measurement you just recorded then measure across at the hem past the side seam of the original pattern. Use your curve form ruler to match the original hip line with the new hemline at the side seam. You can make this as wide as you would like. Repeat for the back pattern then cut out your new pattern.
The end result should look like this:
All that is left is to cut out your fabric, sew, and wear!!
For more on the Deer and Doe Plantain Shirt click HERE!
***Valentine & Stitch patterns are sadly no longer available in the marketplace***
I have been looking forward to sewing up Valentine and Stitch’s Cassandra Pattern for quite some time now but I couldn’t decide on what fabric to go with. Did I want to do a solid as I usually do, maybe stripes or maybe a print? Well the decision became much easier when Helen of Valentine and Stitch announced that their patterns were going to be carried by Girl Charlee. Super exciting right?! I knew of Girl Charlee but I had never ordered from them before and living in Los Angeles, I can find so many deals in our very own fabric district that I don’t typically order fabric online. Well this case was different- so I thought in celebration of the lovely Helen and Rich being carried by Girl Charlee I will order a printed knit fabric from their shop!
I don’t usually do prints or florals. Not that I don’t like them. I actually love them! I just feel like I might get tired of the look as I have in the past when I have purchased RTW with bold prints or florals. Due to this I scoured through the Girl Charlee site looking for something, beautiful yet modern that still felt like me and I think I found it:
I went with the Plum Blue Feather Palm on Blush Double Brushed Jersey Spandex Blend Knit and I absolutely love it! The colors in this print are so amazing – pinks, blues, reds, purples mixed in these gigantic palm leaves and feathers! It’s feminine but not too sweet so I don’t feel like a child. This blush color is one of my favorites as well – see my Valentine and Stitch Angelina dress. I feel really good in this color and it has become one of my favorite colors to seek out when buying fabric. I think this is going to be my go-to spring dress and I’m so glad I’m ready (not that I really need to wait for spring in LA).
Sewing up Cassandra was a breeze. Just like the Valentine and Stitch web site says “Easy to sew, easy to wear”. This is absolutely true. One thing I love about their patterns are the neckbands. If you have sewn a few of their patterns you will see how much effort the put into making sure you have a clean neckline. This pattern is no different. It calls for interfacing which is a technique I had not done on knit before so I was pleased to find that it works great and stabilized the neckline of this dress well for a more formal finish.
Cassandra offers two necklines (round and scoop), two hemlines (standard and asymmetrical), and two sleeve lengths (elbow and long). You can also purchase the Cassandra extension pack which allows you to sew up a cute cardigan or top with the same neckline, hemline and sleeve options as the dress. I have both and I intend on sewing the top to add some great staples to my wardrobe. I’m still tinkering around with what type of fabric I would like to use for the cardigan as I would love to add this to my closet as well.
I also love how their patterns hug my body in all the right places and Cassandra is no different. I’m a petite tittering on average height gal but I’m not very broad either so it’s nice to be able to sew up a pattern and not have to make any adjustments especially for the armscye which pops out on me for other patterns but not this one.
Back to the sewing, I was able to sew this up over a weekend. It would have been completed more quickly had my sewing machines – yes I said machines… not gone on strike. They refused to work properly until I cleaned them so I finally did. If you look closely on the neckline of my dress, there are a couple skipped stitches that I didn’t notice until after I finished. I debated on ripping out the seam but it already looked so nice that I decided against it. I may later on though.
As for recommendations, this dress looks so cute with a belt!! I didn’t have an intention of adding a belt when I first sewed it up but as I was swinging around in it I thought “Let’s try a belt with it!” and I loved the outcome. I also love this dress with my mauve Hi Sk8 Vans. The color matches perfectly and I adore those shoes… can’t help myself.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and while some of you are thinking about the big date night or maybe dreaming about chocolates or flowers, we are thinking about sewing over here! Specifically hacking the Just Patterns Bias Top pattern into a night gown. 😉
Well for today’s guest post on the Sewalicious blog, I will be hacking the Just Patterns Bias Top aka a camisole pattern into a delicate and romantic nightie/nightgown. I will be using Burgundy Peachskin fabric from Sewalicious– rich color, soft texture and beautiful drape! Absolutely perfect for this project.
The Just Patterns Bias Top calls for a lining but I opted out and cut the pattern without it leaving one front piece and one back piece.I then decided how much length I wanted to add to the camisole to make it into a nightie. I added a little extra just in case things go wrong.(As we all know in sewing we can’t always be certain when hacking!). I decided on adding 14 1/2 inches to the hem of the camisole.This would give me option of have a short sexy nightie or a longer romantic gown.Moving forward, I took out my trusty medical paper and taped my pattern down then measured out 14 1/2 inches down for the new hemline.I used my curved pattern ruler to give some subtle shape to the skirt.
Sewing Up Your Night Gown
Once cut out, I overlocked the edges then sewed up the side seams with a straight stitch.I wanted a slit on both sides of the gown so I left 6 inches of the side seam open at the bottom.I pressed the seams open making sure to press the slits open as if I had sewn them.
Add Some Lace
I measured around the circumference of the top of the night gown to determine how much lace I would need. Then, I repeated this for the bottom including the slit areas.
Using a wide zigzag stitch I carefully attached the lace to the outside edges of the night gown being mindful of covering the overlocked edges.I repeated this for the hem and slits as well.
I tried on my night gown to determine how long I would need to make the straps and what position I would like them to be in the back.(I advise having someone help you with this if possible).Once determined, I cut out my straps, lined them up where they needed to go and zigzag stitched them in place.
Easy as that! 🙂 I think I’m ready for Valentine’s Day now… are you?
It’s pinning time! Got a Pinterest account and maybe a sewing board? Pin this!
Happy Sewing! 🙂
If you want to try this hack you can find the Just Patterns Bias Top Pattern HERE.
2017 was the year of the blog for me. I stepped out of my comfort zone and dove right into social media, my sewing and my fitness. There were a lot of growing pains and times were I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep going. As I began to learn more and more and really hone in on what works for me I found my groove in this unknown virtual space. However, it wasn’t possible without the support of a wonderful sewing community that got me there! Now that it has been a few weeks past my blogiversary, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all who have followed me and supported my year of blogging!
Saying thank you isn’t enough so I’m going to host my very first giveaway! A couple weeks ago I shared a pair of vintage inspired polymer clay earrings that my dear friend Jessica made for me as a Christmas gift on Instagram. I love them so much and there was such a great response to them that I asked her if she could make a pair in honor of you! She said yes, of course! So one lucky individual will be getting these earrings! (Allergy alert – they are silver plated earrings hooks and the spool is made out of polymer clay with regular all-purpose sewing thread)
That’s not all though! I have one more announcement to make. I’ve been working away for the past several months putting something very special together. It has been a labor of love and I’m so happy to finally have it ready for all to enjoy.
So…what am I talking about?! Well…
I would like to introduce the At First Blush Pattern Company. A pattern company that will focus on lingerie patterns with a mix of fitness patterns (hopefully in the future). I’m a one woman show so I won’t be able to pump out a ton but they will slowly trickle out into the marketplace.
As a thank you to all who have supported me, my first pattern will be free! I call them the “Be Bashful Bikini” – a pair of panties that feature a low-rise waistline with semi bottom coverage. They are a comfortable everyday pair of underwear that offer the right amount of ease and support throughout your day.
Be Bashful will be available in time for you to sew them up before Valentine’s Day! Once this pattern is available you will see a buy button for them on the sidebar of this blog or you can head to my Facebook Shop (not open yet)! The checkout process is super simple and Be Bashful will be yours!
I truly hope you enjoy this pattern. Thank you again to all who have supported me! I can’t wait for the wonderful things 2018 has in store. 🙂
Stay tuned for the launch of At First Blush Pattern Co. and the Be Bashful Bikini!
Back to the giveaway! Head over to my Sewing Unaffiliated Instagram page (@sewingunaffiliated) where you will see the earring photo above. In order to enter for a chance to win you will need to go to my At First Blush Patterns Instagram page (@atfirstblushpatterns). Just like the earring photo there and follow the At First Blush Patterns page for your chance to win these cute spool earrings! (Shipping only to US and UK)
Do you like sewing pants? I’m not the biggest fan. It’s not even the pants, it’s the hemming – ugh I hate hemming pants. I can never get it polished enough like a real tailor would. Since I’m picky when it comes to sewing details this is one thing that stops me from sewing pants. But guess what?! I sewed up some pants! Haha
I’ve been on the hunt for a good pair of pants that I can wear to work all the time. My requirements include but are not limited to – stylish, comfortable and a comfortable waistband as to not irritate my stomach incisions. I would love more functional pockets so I don’t have to think about where to put my phone when I’m walking around. I also would love to find a great pair of pants that can fit into or over my Chelsea Boots – this is an ongoing life struggle. 😉
I tried the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers but the fit wasn’t quite right although I do love the look of them when they are not on me or when they are on me and I am not moving. Lol. They have no pockets though, which I thought I would be okay with but let’s be honest… I need pockets. I avoid carrying a purse if I can and I’m a fast walker so pockets are key for keeping me on the go.
In comes the Eleonore Pattern by Jalie Patterns – a pair of easy to wear pull-on jeans for everyday or in my case the office. My dear friend, Helen of Valentine & Stitch happen to write a blog post about these pants at the same time I was on the lookout for a comfortable, functional and stylish pair of work pants. Serendipitous? I think so! Plus don’t they look great styled with my Valentine and Stitch Dune top?
Here’s the rundown of my Eleonore sewing adventure:
I will not lie I was a bit overwhelmed by all the sizes available. It was a little hard to see where my size was but little did I know I could print this pattern by size. When printing, I was in a bit of a rush so paying attention to those details went out the window! Once I cut out Size “S” I followed their instructions on how to make your Eleonore pants into skinny jeans.
I was very concerned about this as I thought this opened up the opportunity to ruin a pair of pants. Even so, I decided to take them in about ½ inch on each side. I wasn’t sure if that was enough but I rather too much room than having to squeeze my calves through a tiny hole.
I chose a black ponte roma fabric from Stylish Fabrics. Except for struggling to tell what the wrong side and right side are the sewing of these pants was pretty uneventful. I read the instructions through before I even began and re-read them several times during the process. At first glance, it seems like there will be a ton of steps but really it’s just that they have the instructions in English on the left side of the page and in French on the right side. What a relief! Furthermore, I love how they match each step with a figure number making it extremely clear. No room for ambiguity which is perfect in sewing!
I also love the story behind Eleonore – it’s about a very picky daughter of 4 ½ years who needed the perfect pant to fit her needs which really ended up being the needs of all of us! 🙂 You should give it a glance if you’re thinking about sewing up this pattern.
So what’s the verdict – did they hit my criteria? Yes! Surprisingly I made a pair of pants that I love! Stylish, comfortable, they don’t bother my stomach incisions, they have sizable back pockets that fit my phone and they fit over my Chelsea boots. Woohoo! I wish you could see the details a bit better but this black color is so rich that it’s too hard to tell. They turned out well nonetheless. 🙂
The verdict on the hem:
Last but not least, the hem looks great. They don’t give away that they are handmade which means I will be wearing them again and again. I gotta say these are the pants of my life! 🙂
Happy sewing! 🙂
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Happy New Year!! Wishing everyone all the BEST in 2018! 🙂
Have you ever used the hashtag – seamworkmag on Instagram? Well, if you do you could potentially be chosen as a Seamwork favorite for the month and win a prize!
Surprisingly, I was chosen as one of the three finalists for the month of November for my Aires Leggings. I posted about my leggings for #bpsewvember and although I didn’t win the big prize, I won my choice of 2 yards for jersey knit fabric from their new fabric shop.
They had three colors available Dusty White, Pale Blue, and Terracotta. I never sew anything up in white so I thought to myself this is a great time to step out of my comfort zone and go for the Dusty White fabric shown in the Seamwork image below:
What did I sew up with my Seamwork prize? A Seamwork pattern of course! I looked through the Seamwork pattern selection and at their suggestions on the fabric’s description page and decided to go with their knit tent dress aka Piedra.
Seemed to me to be a nice classic dress that I could add to my work wardrobe. Although wearing a white dress to work isn’t always ideal it is a nice change of pace from my normal dark colors.
The Low Down
Piedra is knit tent style dress that was designed with the changing seasons in mind. It is a perfect mild winter dress especially for warmer climates where our winters are not terribly cold but there is still a chill in the air. It pairs perfectly on its own or with tights. I paired my Piedra dress with a long necklace and my wearable toile of the Seamwork Jill Coatigan.
I started sewing up my Piedra dress about a week before Christmas. I was really hoping to wear it for the holidays but it didn’t work out that way. I decided to use a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine but found that the feed dogs were stretching out the fabric. At first I thought maybe a good press could take care of it but I was completely wrong.
So… no Christmas dress for me! Oh well… the other issue was that although I cut Piedra out in an XS it was much too big and I needed to refine the size. But what was going to be the point of cutting this fabric to fit me properly if I didn’t have a machine to sew it up with properly??
There is always room for a Christmas miracle right? Well, Christmas morning I received a Brother Lock 1034D from my very sweet husband. Problem solved! 🙂
In order to fix the stretched seams which at the time was the back seam, the sleeve caps and one side seam I just cut the seams away. I evened out the side that I never sewed by cutting to match the other side then I sewed this dress using my new overlock machine! I adjusted the feed dogs as I felt this fabric was a bit on the stretchy side and by the end of Christmas I had my new dress!
(Side Note: I wish I had some “process” photos but unfortunately I haven’t been able to sew with natural light with the time change unless I do all my sewing on the weekends so no “process” photos for this post!)
Besides stretching my seams, I messed up on the neckband a bit. The directions tell you to sew the neckband seam to match with the right shoulder seam. I didn’t like how this laid on my shoulder so I ended up cutting the neckband out with a rotary cutter and moving the neckband seam to match with the center back seam. I think it looks a lot cleaner this way but that is just my preference.
Another thing that didn’t work out so well is the back of the sleeve cap pops out a bit too far. I needed to narrow this area on the pattern before I cut into the fabric as it is just too big for my frame. Luckily, it isn’t noticeably in the front and if I pair this with a cute cardigan or jacket it covers it up just fine.
Seamwork’s sizes run a little big so if you are on the petite side I would recommend making a toile or doubling checking your measurements against their chart.
If your fabric is on the stretchy side use an overlock machine if you have one. I absolutely LOVE the Brother machine my husband bought me for Christmas! I wish it was in my life sooner! Lol!
Sew the neckband seam to match the center back seam.
Hey All! I had the opportunity to share a post on how to sew underwear by copying a pair of RTW undies and using leftover fabric in your stash for Sewalicious.co.uk. I’m sharing the post here on my blog but don’t hesitate to head over to their site and check it out! 🙂
How to Sew Underwear Using Your Fabric Stash
I’m very excited to share my first guest post for the Sewalicious blog!We are going to do things a little differently and blog about a really fun idea to downsize holiday fabric waste.
As sewist you all know what it’s like to have several pieces of fabric leftover that just aren’t big enough to do anything with.Well this won’t work for every piece of fabric but it might for those stretchy knit fabrics.
Today I’m going to give you a step by step guide on how to sew underwear using your RTW knickers as a copy all while tackling your fabric stash. (You can use one of the many underwear patterns available online as well – many are free!).
Find yourself some stretchy knit fabric and if you have some picot elastic even better!Mine is from Tailor Made Shop.
Dig through your drawers for your favorite pair of undies (of course not just favorite – make sure you still like how they fit!)Try to use fabric that has similar stretch to these for a good fit.
Take out your tracing paper and a pencil.I use a roll of medical paper and sometimes kraft paper but any paper will suffice.Place your knickers down with pattern weights of your liking and trace your underwear.Make sure to trace the front, back and lining.Be sure to trace the front and back piece by separating them at the seam.My seam is in the back so that will be where I draw a horizontal line to match both sides of the back pattern piece. My front pattern and lining pattern are one piece but I will draw a line on the pattern piece to indicate where the lining begins so I can also use the lining area as my guide to cut out a lining piece of fabric.
Once completed remove your undies from the tracing paper and smooth out your traced lines with a marker or pen then add seam allowance. 1/4”-3/8” should suffice on all sides – remember you’re adding elastic to the waistband and leg openings so your seam allowance depends on the width of your elastic.I’m using 3/8” wide picot elastic.
Cut out your new pattern and lay out your fabric.Place your pattern pieces on the fabric following the direction of most stretch (I’m cutting on the bias) then cut.
Measure the length of the waistband and leg openings to determine how much elastic you need for both then cut. You will have three strips of elastic.
Time to sew! Using an overcast stitch sew the raw edge of the narrow side of the lining.Take the front piece, the back piece and the lining and sandwich the front piece between the two with the wrong side of the front piece facing the wrong side of the lining piece.Sew the three pieces together using a zigzag stitch then overcast stitch the edge.Press the seam toward the back piece then using a zigzag stitch, sew the seam allowance to the back piece.
Flip the front piece and lining piece so that the wrong sides are facing each other then baste the lining edge to the front edges.Using a zigzag stitch, with the right sides of the front and back pieces facing each other sew the side seams.
Sew your elastic to the leg openings and waistband.For picot elastic, line up the straight edge of the elastic with the right side edge of the leg opening.Make sure the smooth side of the elastic is facing the fabric and the soft side is facing you.Sew using a zigzag stitch.Flip the elastic inside so just the picot edge is showing and sew in place using a zigzag stitch.Repeat for the other leg opening and the waistband.
Flip your knickers right side out, press and enjoy!
Viola!Now you have a pair of holiday knickers! ☺
If you like this idea head over to my Pinterest page and “Pin It” to your favorite “Sewing” Board!
I have been slowly putting together a work wardrobe but I had yet to add pants to my collection.I saw several cute versions of the Sew Over It Ultimate Trouser on Instagram so I thought I would give it a try.
The Low Down
The Ultimate Trouser is meant to be simple pattern for advanced beginners.There are only four pattern pieces and an invisible zipper.It is a slim-fitting trouser that hits the ankle although you can make it shorter or longer depending on your taste.
Your choice of woven cotton, corduroy, wool crepe, or denim
9” invisible zipper
The Ultimate Trouser is meant to be sewn up pretty quickly.I was intending on sewing this up over the week before I had major surgery but life had other plans.Instead I sewed this up over several weeks as I wasn’t physically capable of sewing for a good portion of November.
It was a pretty simple pattern and the directions were just adequate. Based on the measurements I sewed this up in a UK size 10 – this ended up being way too small for me to my surprise.I ended up having to undo the center and side seams and use the seam allowance to make the appropriate adjustment.This also threw off my invisible zipper installation which did not turn out so well.I also chose fabric based on the recommendation which means there was no stretch so even though they fit when I sit down my body is very constricted by the fabric.One source of disappointment was the pant hem.I need to work on my technique or something because they truly give away that they are handmade.They also do not taper below the calf to the ankle as nicely as all the images on their website which just makes it feel like a standard men’s trouser to me.
All in all they look nice on the hanger and they look okay on but they are not nice to wear.I made a few style adjustments in my photos so that they are wearable but I’m not really sure when I’ll be able to wear these as I can’t imagine wearing these for hours at work.
I’m not sure if I will give these another try but I think I would like to use fabric that has a little stretch instead.I definitely wish they would list an appropriate stretch fabric in their recommended fabrics. It also really bothers me that they do not taper correctly.
My invisible zipper isn’t invisible enough
Double or even triple check your measurements
Leave enough seam allowance in case you have to make adjustments
Try a fabric with some stretch for a more comfortable fit
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***Valentine & Stitch patterns are sadly no longer available in the marketplace***
Today on the sewing blog I will be sharing my review of the Edie Cardigan pattern by Valentine & Stitch. This past August I had the opportunity to participate in SleeveFest hosted by Helen of Valentine & Stitch and Diane of Dream Cut Sew.I entered a kimono pattern with a flutter sleeve hack.To my surprise I was chosen as one of the finalists for the grand prize!What an honor it was and although I didn’t win the grand prize all the finalist were prize winners of the Valentine & Stitch Edie Cardigan.This was my first time winning something via an Instagram competition so I was pretty excited and with fall just around the corner it was the perfect prize!
Fashion Sewing | Cardigan Pattern Review
Edie is an open-front cardigan with two length options from the pattern designing husband and wife duo Valentine and Stitch.The pattern is meant to be sewn with a variety of fabrics depending on the season or occasion.The two lengths lend itself to a variety of outfit options.This includes the “standard” length which hits around mid-thigh and is perfect for any occasion including the office or the maxi length which adds a bit of dramatic flair and can be belted and worn as a dress.
Sweater knits, stretch jersey such as cotton jersey, viscose or rayon jersey or bamboo jersey.For the “coatigan” version use a more stable fabric such as sweatshirting, scuba or ponte.
Stay Tape, clear elastic, twill tape, or grosgrain ribbon
Twin needle (optional)
Coverstitch machine (optional)
All-purpose polyester sewing thread
Fabric for both projects was purchased in Downtown Los Angeles.I typically purchase my knits from Angel Textiles.I purchased my thread from joann.com – Gutterman 506.
I decided that I would sew up both the standard length and the maxi length but I would start with the maxi length.I love a bit of drama whenever I can get it in my clothing and the maxi option has that “wow factor” which I absolutely love!
Edie comes as a printable PDF as will all Valentine and Stitch patterns.Read the instruction manual carefully so that you only print the pages you need.Helen and Rich are committed to reducing paper waste and have constructed their patterns in a way that minimizes the amount of pages needed to be printed.
If you are cutting out the maxi length pattern keep in mind that this is a large pattern and you will need an adequate amount of space to lay everything out.It will also take a bit longer since it is several more pages.From there you will need to look at the cutting layout to make sure you make the best use of your fabric.Since I was making the maxi length I cut my pieces out on a single layer rather than on the fold.One thing that made this easier was to trace the mirror image of my sleeve onto tracing paper and taping the mirrored side to the original pattern resulting in the whole sleeve as one pattern.
I made my Edie in a size small and cut it out with a center back seam.I ended up having some thread tension issues with my machine that delayed me so I ended up just using a different machine entirely.I think some of the issues could actually be attributed to the original needle I was using and the weight of the jersey knit.Once I got this figured out sewing up Edie was a breeze.I used stay tape at the neckline as directed then sewed the shoulder seams, hemmed the sleeves and attached them to the bodice.Next step was sewing the side seams and then the most complicated part of sewing the hem around the perimeter of the cardigan.I was hoping to do a rolled hem but the presser foot I have was not cooperating with me so I used a regular presser foot and a zigzag stitch.
My only hiccups were due to my machine – tension issues and presser foot issues.If you can get that figured out then Edie will be a very quick and fun sew!
Clear a large space to cut out your PDF pattern
Only print what you need
Edie comes with the sleeve pattern to be cut on the fold.I suggest tracing the mirror image to create one whole sleeve.It will be easier to cut out your fabric this way.
Remember you are sewing with knits so don’t stretch your fabric as you are sewing or it will distort the final garment
Cut off the extra seam allowance after you sew your seams if you find it necessary
Go slow sewing around the curves of the hem so that you have a really nice final drape
Finally, have FUN –Edie is a great pattern that you will want to make again and again!
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Isn’t funny how you can look at something and be totally mystified by and it then try it out and realize you absolutely love it! That is how I felt about bras. They always seemed insurmountable to me (no pun intended haha) until I tried making a few on the simpler side and really fell in love with the process. So much so that I bought books on how to construct my own bras which led me to the Bare Essentials bra pattern.
As a result, I started spending all my free minutes on reading said books, and blogs and tutorials or just admiring everyone’s handmade bras online. I’m passionate about sewing but for some reason bras excite me more than anything.
These got me started on a serious bra-making journey. For my first “serious” bra I used the Bare Essentials bra pattern. I measured myself just as instructed and low and behold I have been wearing the wrong bra size my whole life. Go figure…
No wonder the straps always hurt or the band popped up in the back or didn’t lay correctly against my chest. I’m sure you ladies know exactly what I am talking about. Going to the store and getting measured is awkward and a bit confusing. You have to rely on someone who may not have the proper training to even measure you correctly. Then buy what fits best even if it isn’t great. Let’s not forget to mention the exorbitant prices on a necessary piece of clothing that doesn’t even fit right! More reasons to make your own bras right?
To get the right fit you must be braless for at least one measurement (this is optional of course). Going braless is a bit awkward to do with a stranger so make sure you really understand how to do it properly yourself. Or you ask for the help of someone you are very comfortable with who will do a good job. Both Bare Essentials and the Beverly Johnson course go over in detail how to measure yourself. Bare Essentials even talks about how to measure yourself after having a baby which is really helpful for many women.
As for my measurements, I measured at a US 32 for the band and “C” for the cup. I typically wear a 34C which clearly means my band is too big. I used the Bare Essentials guide as I thought that would be more conducive to sewing up the Bare Essentials bra pattern.
On to my fabric… I had leftover fabrics from other projects but I really wanted to experiment a bit more. Off I went with my dear friend to do a little shopping downtown. I will say that things got a bit overwhelming as I couldn’t find the right sizes and matching colors of straps and elastics. I did pick up this beautiful floral mesh fabric and some deep blue picot elastic and light blue strap elastic. Not to mention, I found the underwire, underwire channeling and hook and eye pieces as well.
Luckily, I realized that I could match these with some leftover viscose fabric from my Araine Slip from Seamwork magazine. I also had some tulle that I could use as a stabilizer for the front band since the viscose has some stretch.
Here is how it went:
I made copies from the back of the book then cut out my Bare Essentials bra pattern and laid out my fabric/patterns as the pattern pieces directed. I used fabric sheers but honestly I needed to use a rotary cutter. After pressing my pieces and allowing them to cool I used a fabric glue stick to attach the stabilizer pieces. I then sewed the two cup pieces together, trimmed the seams (a small detail scissor would have been great for this) and added stay tape for added comfort and stability.
Next, I attached the picot elastic then started my work on the band which I call this “band practice” haha. Moving on, I edgestitched the center front, and front side band pieces. I didn’t need to edgestitch the back side bands so I sewed them on and reinforced the seam. Then I sewed the picot elastic to the bottom edge of the band.
Next, I attached the cup to the band but to my dismay the cup was much bigger than the actual band (as you can see in the photo the seam line hits the top of the band when it should be about an inch lower). I thought this was odd and double checked that I cut out the right pattern and I had. I decided I would just alter the pattern a bit so that band would be flush with the top of the cup and went ahead and sewed it on.
This would have worked but once I tried it on the cup was much too big and the bra would not have been the least bit wearable. Maybe the underwire will fix this I thought! LOL so I decided to add it and guess what? It still didn’t work out SO… in comes the seam ripper, wasted thread and wasted time. (Howard looking at the wasted thread with dismay).
My next course of action was to cut out a cup in muslin fabric on the bias just to be sure that I cut out the pattern correctly. Fingers crossed because I highly doubt it is an error with the Bare Essentials bra pattern itself. As it turns out I did, I just screwed up the fabric. Upon further investigation there are two reasons why my cup was too big:
I didn’t use a rotary cutter AND
There were too many wrinkles in my fabric that ended up distorting the final size once re-pressed (is that a word in sewing? Haha).
Moving forward, I used the new muslin cup as a guide to trim off the excess fabric for my big ol’ cups. This worked out quite well and viola the cup actually fit the band the way it was supposed to! More importantly it actually fit me! Check my Bare Essentials bra cup:
Off I went to sew on the underwire, insert the underwire and add on the picot elastic. There was still one more problem though… The band was too long! Ugh… not again.
I thought I cut it out correctly. No, no I did not for the same reasons as above. Out comes a RTW bra for my guide, my rotary cutter, a lot more patience and some problem-solving skills. 😉
Once that was measured and cut I was able to attach the last piece of picot elastic to the back. This piece of elastic is intentionally longer so you can create a loop for the strap ring to attach to the band. I made the straps and attached them (be careful not to twist the strap before you sew the elastic loop to the band). Finally, I attached the hook and eye pieces. My first “serious” bra was now complete and boy did I learn SO MUCH! 🙂
But how did the Bare Essentials bra pattern fit…?
Well the bra actually fits quite nicely but I’m a bit picky and of course I can see all the mistakes as any typical sewist would in my position. My biggest complaint is I am not a fan of the horizontal seam line over the apex of the bust on the cup. It could be that I’m just not used to wearing this style but I don’t feel it suits me. Otherwise, I would like to use a stiffer fabric for the front band next time rather than a fabric with 20% stretch backed with a stabilizer. The stabilizer did its job but the stretch fabric ripples since it can’t stretch. I don’t like how that looks though it lays properly against the body.
Finally, now that I’ve sewn this I will know what to look out for and have a better handle on the precision needed for lingerie sewing. I’m not sure I will sew this exact Bare Essentials bra pattern again but I’d love to experiment with others in the book.
Please whatever you do use a rotary cutter (18mm or 28mm for detail cuts) and a cutting mat and press your fabric before you do!
Also, bra making takes time so be patient with yourself. You won’t regret it. 🙂
For your cup and front band DO NOT use a fabric with more than 20% stretch – this is imperative as the size will be distorted and you will not be happy with your bra
Use a stabilizer fabric if you have any stretch on your front band fabric (of course the stretch should still be no more than 20%)
Your back band should have no more than a 50% stretch – any more will distort your bra
If your machine has the option use a 3-step zigzag stitch – it allows for the best amount of stretch which is perfect for lingerie
Be careful not to twist your straps before sewing them on
Take it slow and have fun most of all! 🙂
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