October

I went to an island off Naples for my fall break a few weeks ago, stayed at what used to be a convent, and took some not so great pictures of black clothes with my cell phone. But hey, they are pictures, and it’s time to share stuff I sewed this summer!


This place was pretty ridiculously gorgeous. After last winter’s complete shitness in the weather department I booked this trip in February to load up on vitamin D for this upcoming winter. I got sun and warmth, and good food, and knitting, and hiking and bathing in thermal baths. I mean… it was lovely. And, I even took pictures of some stuff I’ve sewed!

Black pants

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Pattern: An out of print Stoff&Stil jersey pants pattern, also used for these pants. The Named Alexandria pants would be similar.
Fabric: A little less than 1 m of a  herringbone cotton/linen (I think?).
How much fabric is left: About a metre
How will I use the leftovers: I’d like to make shorts. I’m not sure whether to do a super high-waisted wide legged 1947 Simplicity pattern I have, or perhaps the Fern shorts from Afternoon patterns. Technically they are quite similar.

These are very comfortable pants, especially for warm weather. I wore them in London this summer as well, and they worked nicely. They do feel a little baggy, and I think they end up sitting a bit lower on my waist than they are drafted – which might be from me not having stretched out the elastic before sewing (a tip I recently read!). So, the pattern I used is for jersey fabric. I ignored that while cutting out the pieces, and lo and behold – I couldn’t get the pants over my hips when I pinned the side seams and tested the fit! Shocker. I had plenty of fabric, so I cut another strip and now there is a subtle tuxedo reference. Haha!

I do really like the elastic waist, the tuck by the pocket (there was supposed to be two, but I undid one to gain more width across), the pockets themselves, and the length. I wonder if I should make them just a hair shorter – especially since they tend to ride down a little, but I haven’t been bothered to yet.

Black dress

The dress is made from the same black fabric as the pants. I really thought it was linen, but after washing and drying several times, I wasn’t quite convinced. It’s doesn’t quite have the sheen that linen often has, and it certainly doesn’t wrinkle as much. It attracts lint like nobody’s business, but has a different hand than I’d expect from cotton. Even looking at the fibre length and doing a burn test was inconclusive! I’m calling it a cotton-linen blend. It’s a fabric that was left over after a theatre production I worked on, many years ago, and I know it was a 4 metre length from Stoff&Stil. This dress took up maybe 1,5 metres, or there about.

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With everyone living their best linen lives this summer, I wanted to take part, and figured my linen(-ish) fabric was a good way to go. I’ve been especially inspired by the Elizabeth Suzanne dresses of effortless cool and impeccable proportions, and the Georgia dress in particular really struck me (to be honest, the pants above are probably a little Clyde inspired – among other recent rtw pants and pants patterns).

I used my now trusty self-drafted kimono-sleeve top as a starting point, and then estimated lengths and widths. Guys – simple silhouettes like this one is so hard to nail. It took me so many rounds of alterations to get to what you see above. The width was too much. The waist not curved enough. The neck was too high. The sleeve bands sat too low. The sleeve bands were too wide. Even now I think the neck is a bit too wide, and easily slides off to one side. My admiration of designers such as Elizabeth Suzanne and the work they put into getting the proportions just right has increased tenfold! Good design is worth paying for, because there is a lot of skill and work that goes into them.

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IN THE WORKS

I have a lot of projects underway, started and half-finished. My Fåvang-kofte is getting close to done though, and I made some progress during this vacation. You can even see it lying on the chair outside my room in the pants pictures above. I parked myself there and enjoyed the sounds and smells and views as I knitted along.

I have an almost finished Ready-to-sew Jeanne t-shirt, and a black and white striped fabric I want to use for another, a finished Deer and doe Nenuphar jacket, and fabric for a Melilot shirt all picked out and ready to go. Also, a wool miniskirt still in need of assembling, a dress to be refashioned to a Beignet-like skirt, a half cut Pussy Bow blouse from Pattern Runway, and M7261 running tights to be assembled (the top has been in use since the beginning of the summer). I have actually completed some kids clothes for friends, and a set of undies for me. Fun new projects are jumping the queue all the time, but it seems like I just need to decide on one or two to focus on, and be a bit systematic!

In terms of #2018makenine I don’t think I’ll be close to completing my nine items. The running set I’ll manage, and the Fåvang kofte will be done in a few weeks I’d say. I’m pretty sure I’ll have time to make the Melilot shirt, and I will certainly start the Kalvågjakka. I’m not sure I mind too much though – pretty much all the remaining items are things I still want to make! I might just roll them over to 2019.

Final note: Shortly before my trip I listened to the Love to sew podcast episode featuring Karen Templer of Fringe supply / Fringe Association, and I loved it – for sure one of my favorite episodes of the podcast. I proceeded to binge read the entire last years worth of her posts, and I am feeling so inspired! I was especially intrigued by her queue check posts, and if I feel like it I might do something similar. Especially since I did go to Bergen Strikkefestival and bought a couple of skeins that I have plans for! Ahh, knitting. And sewing. And crafting. Making all the things!

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April

With the world not quite making up its mind if it is winter still or summer already, I have both wool and linen stuff to show you today. And lots of words!

The final alpacca shawl

Starting with winter and alpacca wool, this is a scarf with well over a decade worth of history. I could probably write a whole separate blog post on this scarf alone, but here is the short version:
– Bought different colored alpacca yarn in 2004 while at “folk high school“, where everyone knits all the time. I made several long and skinny scarves.
– Started a pair of colorwork mittens, which I didn’t finish until many years later.
– Moved to Bergen in 2005 to study at the University, and freehanded a crochet wrap cardigan with this brown color, which was my neutral at the time. I am still impressed that I just decided to crochet a cardigan with no pattern and little experience. Raglan, and seamed, no less!
– Never wore the cardigan, since the crochet fabric was very open. Frogged it the same year and made a crochet triangular scarf instead that I wore near daily for the next decade.
– Still in 2005, found the exact color brown on clearance since it was being discontinued, and bought the rest.
– Fast forward to 2013. Had lots of yarn left, decided to knit myself a sweater. Thought I would run out of yarn, but I had plenty left.
– Frogged the crochet scarf during Christmas two or three years ago since the yarn was breaking in places. Idea of giant scarf to end All the Brown Alpacca Wool was born.

– Frogged the silly faux colorwork mittens that never fit, and were never used.
– Early 2016 I started a (real!) pair of colorwork mittens with the rest of my Barcelona souvenir yarn. I ended up knitting three mittens as I somehow lost the first somewhere in my apartment. Yeah, no idea how I managed that feat.
– Early 2017 I started the Final Alpacca Scarf (pattern is Close to you). I couldn’t finish the scarf though, as long as the colorwork mittens were underways, and they were taking kind of forever.
– March 2018: Finished the mittens, and subsequently knit the final three rows of the scarf with the very last of the alpacca yarn. Phew! 14 years and three iterations later, I do believe I will keep this one!

Irish Vine Colorwork mittens
Ok, that was not so short after all, but let me make it up by saying the following about the mittens. They are pretty, they took a long time to knit, and I am happy with them. The end. Ravelry notes and more pictures here.

Linen crop top and shorts
Moving deftly into summer, as our weather did – for a day at least. Sustainable sewing is a hot topic right now, and the Love to Sew episodes on this and intentional making were particularly inspiring to me, especially the round-up of ways to use scraps. I was delighted to realize I do a lot of those things already! Refashioning has also been a focus for a number of years, through projects like The Refashioners run by Portia Lawrie. I am mentioning these things as I had a stroke of inspiration one day, eyeing a full length linen sleeveless dress hanging in my wardrobe. It was given to me by a friend who though the color was typical me. Here is a terrible phone camera picture that I snapped at night before starting to unpick everything.

I did love the dusty olive green linen, but the fitted and lined dress was not a style I felt comfortable in. Suddenly I had the idea of using the bottom of the skirt as a crop top, placing the existing vent on the back for a breezy, boxy summer top. Using my trusty self-drafted kimono sleeve top as a template, I traced the shoulder slope and neckline, and added rectangles for sleeves. The neckline facings are pieced from the armhole pieces of the dress, which happened to have the perfect curves.

This was a case of squeezing as much as possible out of the available fabric. For the shorts I used the OOP 3850 Simplicity Built By Wendy Slim-fit pants. I have made shorts (still unblogged, save for a mention of the plans) from this pattern, and they fit alright. I extended the lines as much as I could to get a high waist, and was able to eek out a waistband that is faced with a different fabric on the inside. The front pieces were cut with the dress side seam running down the middle, and the back was pieced. I used the original invisible zipper, just shortened. For comfort and allowing for fluctuations in weight the waist isn’t fitted, but rather has a 1″ elastic, held ever so slightly taut, that keeps the waist in place but doesn’t pinch.

I wanted to make the shorts as high waisted as possible, so I could wear them with the crop top with just the right amount of skin flashing. As you can see, I have to raise my hand quite a bit to show midriff! The vent means the back is more on display, especially when I move, but it is all in balance I think.

I had so much fun turning this unworn dress into something I look forward to using! Having the tiniest of fragments of fabric left afterwards was also fun – I so enjoy the creative problemsolving in projects like these.

Ogden Cami

This post is getting so long – I think I can sum this sewing project up quite quickly. Fast sew, good patterndrafting, I need an FBA (judging by the straps splaying and the wedge popping out near my armpit), viscose wrinkles, I’d like to shorten the straps 1/2-1″, and the strap placement doesn’t cover the top my my bra. I prefer to be able to wear a bra (with straps), so I am not sure that this top will become a staple in my wardrobe. Solid pattern!

IN THE WORKS
Stashing
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Alessa of Farbenfreude is moving house soon (congrats!), and was doing a destash on her instagram. This fits right into sustainable sewing, so I am excited to get some new pieces of fabric and exercise creativity in deciding how I can best use these pieces. This gorgeous tweedy wool with multicolored flecks feels maybe like a Belladone dress, I think. And look how sweetly packaged – thank you Alessa!

Christmas brioche scarf
Yes, very late… I am knitting a brioche scarf that was a Christmas gift. In all fairness, I did request color input on a knitting giftcard, so I didn’t start until February. It is grey, will be very long, squishy and warm.

Fåvang kofte
Finally I found yarn to suit the frogged Bayview sweater! The pattern is looking beautiful, and I have made it to the point of dividing for sleeves and bodice. This is one of my #2018makenine items.

M7261
Also a #2018makenine item, a set of running tights and top. The sizing has thrown me off, since many reviews mentions going down a size or even two. In addition, I won’t be using 5/8″ seam allowance (1/4″ is more like it, using an overlocker!). I have cut out the top going down three sizes, hoping for a wearable muslin. I want to order wooly nylon (www.bwear.se is a source for us Scandinavians!), but I need to…  actually order the stuff.

A selfless Sydney jacket
I am making a Sydney jacket in a dark grey felted wool. I have made two for myself, this is the first, and the only one that has been blogged about. The jacket has been waiting for months, all cut up, and shouldn’t be hard or lengthy to sew, which leads me to the next item on my list.

Me-Made-May
I have been thinking of how to participate in MMM in a way that makes sense to me. Using me-made garments each day is something I can easily do, but what is not happening at the moment is sewing time. Almost every project feels too overwhelming and time consuming in this hectic season I am having. I’ve decided in May to spend 15 minutes each day on this sewing hobby of mine. That can mean taping and cutting patterns, gathering supplies, basting a seam, or actual sewing (!). I am hoping this will lower the threshold to just do *something*, even if I can’t set aside longer chunks of time. So – that is how I am participating this year!

January

Phew, we’re finally at the end of this long, long month. I haven’t felt like writing up separate posts about things I have made lately, so here is a round-up of sorts. While taking these pictures I actually kept finding garments I forgot I had made but not shared, so things are looking good for a similar February-post! :D So, from the last couple of months:

FINISHED

Fern-print maxi dress

Yes, my tendency to make seasonally inappropriate garments is still at large. Last spring I bought this slubby cotton-linen jersey, thinking I might make a jump suit (I have not forgotten the sewing dare I got from Gillian, several years ago!). After a bodice/shorts muslin (free-handed frankenpatterning) I deemed the idea and fabric as not a good fit. A maxi dress, however! Shows off the print nicely with few distractions, and a type of garment I’ve been reaching for more and more. The top is from Tilly and the buttons Bettine dress, with a raised neckline in addition to my earlier alterations. The skirt is a simple slightly flared A-line, as flared as I could make it with the roughly 2m of fabric I had. The back bodice and skirt are both pieced with a seam down the center. Excellent utilization of the fabric, as I had absolutely nothing left! In fact, the neckline binding and waist elastic casing are both from other thin jerseys from my stash.

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress + freehanded a-line skirt
Fabric: 2 m of cotton/linen jersey blend from Stoff & Stil, looks to be sold out now.
How much fabric is left: None.
How will I use the leftovers: The tiny scraps went into my plastic bag of fabric scraps, destined for H&M’s textile recycling program.

Oversized art teacher sweater

One thing I noticed looking through my pattern stash the other day is that my collection is mostly made up of pretty “safe” garments and silhouettes. None of the exaggerated sleeve shapes, or dramatic coats, or flared pants that have been making the rounds lately. I haven’t decided if I feel like that is boring, or an accurate representation of my style.

Regardless, I had this RTW sweater that felt a little dramatic, in how wide the bodice was. Lots of fabric to fan around in and playing (or being) an art teacher! At the same time, the clean lines and slim sleeves (and for me, typically paired with slim jeans) balanced out the volume and made it a pleasant amount of quirky. I gave the sweater to a dear, dear friend because she loved it, and now I have made a copy. The sleeves are like super-deep cuffs – just folded double. It gives them stability and heft that works really well. I was so pleased with this I wore it to school before even hemming it!

Pattern: Copied from a beloved gifted RTW sweater
Fabric: 1,5 m of  polyester/viscose knit, from Stoff & Stil.
How much fabric is left: From the 2 meters I bought I have an odd L-shape, with 50 cm full width, plus maybe 60×70 cm on one side.
How will I use the leftovers: I’m not sure! There could be enough for a short sleeve top-like thing in my size, but this feels like sweater fabric. So… maybe a sweater for a kid.

Kimono sleeve/print top

This is the third time I use this particular self-drafted pattern. The first was in a grey printed viscose, matching my Named patterns Alexandria pants, and combined to a faux jumpsuit. I’ve also made it up in a knit fabric, but that wasn’t as successful. The casual shape + casual fabric = sloppy looking, in my mind. Much better in this viscose with drape, but still a tiny bit of structure! I love the large-scale and dramatic print of the fabric, well suited to a garment with few seam lines. Still, there is some interest in the cuffs, and a slightly curved hem (front to back). I had just enough for this and an Ogden cami (with some creative cutting, of course), but the cami was very wrinkled so I didn’t photograph it this time. Come back in February!

Pattern: Self-drafted, but the add-on sleeve angle is similar to the Bettine dress
Fabric: I had about 1,5 m of this beautiful woven viscose from Stoff & Stil, and could probably squeeze one of these out of 0,7 m (for a size S-ish). I’m wondering if it is the same kind of fabric as the rayon challis I keep seeing mentioned everywhere?
How much fabric is left: Nothing!
How will I use the leftovers: Well, I’m won’t. Happy camper. :)

Carlilse mittens
I’ve already shown these on instagram, but here they are one month in, felting and pilling like crazy. That’s ok – I think a trim will have them looking nice again, and maybe it is just an initial round before they settle in. The yarn is about the loveliest I have ever knit with. Soft, sort of smooth, lofty, and luscious. The stitches melt into each other to form a fabric in a really nice way too. I am not crazy about the thumb sticking out on the side since it twists the rest of the mitten. All future mittens will have gusset thumbs (is that what they are called?).
Pattern: Brooklyn tweed Carlisle mittens (my ravelry notes)
Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool Fine in Pewter and Granite
How much yarn is left: About 25 grams in each color.
How will I use the leftovers: Probably another pair of mittens!

IN THE WORKS
Colorwork mittens (ravelry) – long time in the making, and slow progress from the fingering weight yarn. Also, when you loose one of the almost-finished mittens (sans thumb) inside your house, it sets you back a bit.

Alpacca scarf (ravelry) – at least 90% finished, and just waiting for whatever is leftover of the brown alpacca yarn from the colorwork mittens. It is the ultimate stashbusting scarf that can just grow until there is no yarn left. I’m so excited! This yarn and I have an over decade long history, and I am thrilled to have it almost all knit up.

Chambray sleeveless shirt – I bought a remnant at my local fabric store that I think should comfortable be enough for a sleeveless M7084, but as a shirt instead of a shirt dress. This is also one of the projects I have listed for my #2018makenine. Since I bought this pattern thinking it can easily turn into a repeat offender, I want to put in the effort of tweaking the fit and make a muslin. I also want to skip making a muslin, but the desire for a good fit wins out. Sensible sewing.

A wool mini-skirt – and another absolute perfect fit, in terms of using *all* the fabric! Only tiny triangles left from cutting out the main fabric. It does mean using a different fabric for waist and hem facings, but my stash has proved up to the task. As a detail on this self-drafted skirt I am thinking a pair of slanted single-welt pockets on the front, in addition to the exposed back metal zipper. I am currently auditioning a number of lining fabric candidates from my stash (this is a moment where I am happy to have quite a selection! I keep realizing just how many things I can make using only what is already on my shelves. It is quite exiting!).

How has January been for you guys? Slow going, or sewing up a storm? Feeling inspired by the #makenine? So far it is keeping my sewing plans a little bit more focused, and a little less… overwhelmed by inspiration!

stash, sustainability, and little dresses

To me, an outstandingly successful make is a trifecta of: using materials suitable for the design, both of which suited to the recipient (which honestly, is most often me). In addition, I get really excited when I can use a piece of material to the utmost of its capacity. Sewing a skirt with barely any scraps left over? Love it! Knitting a little hat with colorwork using up the last little bits of four different skeins of yarn? Makes my heart patter! There is something thrilling about getting the most out of a skein of yarn, or a piece of fabric (or honestly – the contents of my fridge even!) which often is a driving force in my making.

This all ties in to sustainable living as well. Zoe of “So, Zo…” actually had a recent post about unsustainable sewing that touched on some of what I have been feeling lately. For me I guess it started with the Kondo-ing of my belongings prior to my move a year and a half ago. I purged some, I kept the things that gave me joy, and I had a pretty intense feeling of having enough. I have enough clothes. I have enough craft supplies. I have enough books. I have enough yarn, and I have enough fabric. I have no need for any more.

Now, this doesn’t mean I haven’t bought more fabric in the last year and a half – I definitely have. But there has been a slight shift, where I am quite selective and buy only cuts of fabric that I truly can picture making into a garment I love. Up until that point I have definitely bought fabric without a plan, because – you know, it might come in handy some day! Not every piece of fabric I come home with nowadays has a plan, but I am much more sure of my abilities to turn it into a successful garment.

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And here comes the intersection of the fabric and the pattern, or design – and the recipient. I think part of maturing as a creater is to understand what materials are suited for which purposes. A slubby and thin t-shirt knit is not going to make a good knit blazer. I have mentioned several times before about having “conversations” with my fabric, figuring out what to do with them. What I am trying to do, is to figure out the window of suitability – to call it that. What garments will be a successful match with this fabric? Will the seamlines and structure work with the pattern of the fabric – and with the sewing pattern? I am approaching pretty much my entire stash with this mindset now. Not only looking at how I can best pair a fabric with a type of garment, but how I can get the absolute most out of the cut of fabric that I have a available. It is like a creative challenge on top of the creative challenge of sewing!

At the moment I am finishing up a maxi dress with a large scale palm print that I first thought I would make a t-shirt of out. I fell in love with the fabric in the store, rolled out a few yards and draped myself in it in front of the store mirror, and realized the print was too large to make sense in a short garment. I bought the fabric thinking I might make a jump suit was born, before realizing some months and a muslin later that the fabric doesn’t quite have the heft needed for something pants-like. A maxi-dress however lets the jersey float, as well as showing off the print. Cutting out the dress I had to piece both the back bodice and skirt, and the skirt is every inch of length I could manage, but I *loved* making that pattern puzzle piece and cutting it all out, and you know why? Because I believe in the matching of fabric and pattern, and also because the scraps left over were tiny. I used ALL of that fabric!

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All of this is to explain why I am so damned pleased with this little toddler sleeveless dress. I picked up a little remnant pack at my regular fabric store, and was really pleased with the colors and prints of the cuts – one piece has already been turned into cloth napkins, while others are perfect for little lined zippered pouches. Then there was this piece of soft cotton measuring about 100 by 60 cm. Not large enough to make anything useful for myself, and big enough to have potential for something more exciting than… lined zippered pouches. The daughter of a good friend came to mind, as I thought the print and colors would be up her alley. Looking through my one magazine with kids’ patterns (Ottobre 6/2012) I found a cute sleeveless top. The front bodice is pieced, the gathered piece lengthened as much as possible, and the fullness of the skirt is a little less than planned. But I managed to be left with just tiny scraps again, and I think the shape, and color, and print of the dress will suit my favorite little 3 year old so well. Trifecta. Sewing bliss.

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DSC_7877Other things about this tiny dress that makes me happy: I didn’t have to rethread the serger, the contrast bib is from the softest corduroy remnant in my stash, the sewing looks awesome also from the inside, I had perfectly matching warm grey bias binding on hand, and the three buttons from my stash were the last of their kind.

icelandic cabin sweater

I am really in to colorwork knitting at the moment, as well as stashbusting (always!) – which has resulted in this beautiful sweater! For once I have actually completed something seasonally appropriate as well – I do have a tendency to finish summer dresses in the winter and mittens in the summer.

Telja sweater (8)

Longtime readers might think the yarn or color looks familiar, and they’d be right. This is actually the Modum knit jacket from my final collection at design school. I loved designing and knitting this jacket, and the final result – but I did  not love using it (it totally dwarfed me, and not in a cool Berlin-based artist way that I could pull off). Not that you have to use everything you ever make, but this was such gorgeous yarn in one of my absolute favorite colors, that it seemed such a shame to let it stay unused as a jacket. So I frogged it!

Pattern: Telja from Knit.Love.Wool (my ravelry notes here)
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in color Hayloft, and assorted small quantities of yarn I had laying around.
How much yarn is left: Of the Shelter yarn, almost 50 grams. Of the other yarns I just borrowed a bit from full skeins, so there is plenty left of most of it.
How will I use the leftovers: Shelter yarn will be part of a Baby Sophisticate jacket for a new little dude I get to hang out with every so often, and the wild sheep yarn is going to become a traditional Norwegian “kofte” – I am looking at maybe the Fåvang from a book I own.

Telja sweater (9)

Telja sweater (3)

What more do I want to say about this? I changed some things from the original pattern. I skipped the colorwork sections on the sleeves and hem, and I did a rib neckline instead of the i-cord finish. I thought the neckline looked a little open, so I wanted to close it in a little bit, and to my eyes this finish looks more traditional. I knit the colorwork section twice actually – after I dutifully made a swatch, calculated from that, realized the yoke was too big, and ripped back to knit it again pretty much exactly as patterned. Oh well!

Since deciding to knit an Icelandic style sweater from my past project I have pictured this on a cabin trip in the mountains somewhere, hiking, maybe skiing, playing board games and sitting around a fire. Now I’ve been invited to a cabin weekend in November, and I can’t wait to put this sweater to use in what I picture being its proper element! In the meanwhile, it works *just fine* around the house too. My 120-year old apartment building isn’t exactly draft free.

Telja sweater (4)

Telja sweater (10)

Telja sweater (1)

I really enjoyed the colorwork section, and seeing how the yoke was shaped through clever decreases. And, I like the stranded inside almost as much as the outside! It feels similar to a neatly sewn garment.

So, the yarn! Some thoughts on Shelter. I love, love, love the color and the depth and intensity of it. It was really cool to learn about how they blend the colors, by adding different percentages of base colored roving, then spinning them together. Almost a bit of pointillism, in yarn form! It is quite sticky, which made it actually not the most pleasant (or at least, smooth) yarn to work with, and still on this second pass I was picking out little bits of twigs. On the upside it spit-splices like nobody’s business, and it has a really nice pine-like smell that I remember from last time I knit with this. I was amazed that the smell was still there after 6 years of storage and washes and things!

Telja sweater (5)

It’s a gorgeous sweater, in my opinion, and I really liked knitting it. My favorite part of this project though has to be getting use out of something that was just lying around. I feel a season of stashbusting and mindful making coming on!

unwearable muslin & moving back

DSC_7792edLiving room window sill tableau.

Well, that was a long break, wasn’t it! My previous post (on bra-making – there is a tie-in to this post if you wait for it!) was from November last winter, nearly a year ago. What happened?

Work happened! This past year was my first full year as a teacher (8th grade! All the subjects! Ok… well, English, art, social studies, Norwegian), and it was… intense. And hard. And while it didn’t drain me of creativity or the desire to create, that force was redirected into creating lesson plans – which I’ve actually absolutely loved. I just haven’t really had as much output on the tangible creating, in the form of sewing and knitting and such.

Another change is that I’ve wrapped up my sole proprietorship, one that I had for six years. I never really settled into freelancing as my main income, and now I am so focused on and enthusiastic about teaching that I don’t feel the need to keep this as a side venture either. The blog-hosting fees is something I can’t write off as a business expense anymore, which gave me guilt for paying for a blog I was barely using, which somehow turned into feeling like writing here was a chore rather than an outlet for something I wanted to share. So I’m relieving myself of the guilt by quitting the self-hosting, and moving back here, to whence I came from. I am glad you are here. :)

Now for some pictures, since… well, pictures!

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I made another bra! The fabric might look familiar, since it is made using remnants from my floral Bettine dress. A lot of thought went into pattern placement here! The bra pattern is the same as the previous one (which is still going strong and getting regular use!), with one significant change. I have adapted it into a three piece cup, with horizontal piece on top, and the bottom still divided through the apex. The previous attempt felt not as rounded as I wanted, so this was an attempt to remedy that.

Why an unwearable muslin though? The foam for the cup is different from last time, and significantly thinner. The bra feels a little floppy, actually. Also, in lieu of proper channeling I used some lining material and fashioned a channel for the wire. I don’t know if that is the only culprit, but this bra itches! Like… I couldn’t wear it for 10 minutes without wanting to take it off! It is awfully pretty though.

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List to myself of things to further tweak or do differently:
– Use firmer foam. Soft bras are not my thing, as my unused Watson also indicates.
– Move the strap placement in an inch or so. The straps are sitting awfully far out now.
– For the three-piece cup, pinch out 1/4″ or so along the top of the vertical seam. The bottom of the cup has too much volume.
– Perhaps try a three-piece cup with a vertical section on the outside of the cup, and the inner cup divided horizontally? I think that might function to push things in from the side, and towards the center.

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Alright, so there we have it! A bra that turned out not wearable, and a move back to wordpress. Peace out. Or, something. :D

first foray into bra-making

Well, I’ve joined the ranks of bra-sewers! I am so intrigued by the fact that making your own bras is a thing, and that regular people can actually do it! I mean, I’ve known for years it is possible, reading the posts and seeing the enviable results of sewers like Lauren, Novita of verypurpleperson, and Norma of orange-lingerie. It just hasn’t felt like it is achievable – until I have now achieved myself. Behold, one Watson bra, and one knock-off.

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First off, I have had tremendous help from reading Lauren’s posts on bra-making. This one breaks down the materials and notions needed, and the two-part post showing step by step how she sewed a Boylston bra is just gold. My Watson experience plus these posts totally gave me the confidence to attempt sewing a bra using a traced pattern with no instructions.

Watson bra
Materials:
 Miliskin fabric, lining, hooks and eyes, plushback elastic (3/8″ and 5/8″), and strap elastic from a Blackbird fabrics kit. Lace fabric remnant from stash, rings and sliders from old, dead bra.
Pattern: Watson bra from Cloth Habit, and Grace panties from OhLulu (love this pattern! Success every time).

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Starting with a Watson bra and a bra-making kit was a very conscious choice on my part to make it easier on myself. The Watson pattern for being a simpler style with a lot of hand-holding, and the kit from Blackbird fabrics so I could skip making by brain hurt from figuring out what to get and where (I just postponed that brain-hurting, since I later decided to try other bra-styles, which needed other kinds of supplies). I actually made two Watson bras, but I’m only showing the one that is wearable. The other ended up in the trash after I salvaged the hooks, eyes, rings and sliders, because really – it was way too small and just not happening. The measurement chart in the pattern put me at a band size 32 and cup size E. I cut a size 3o E (don’t ask me why… mismeasurement?), which as mentioned, was too small. Next attempt I did a size 34 E, which is actually a full two sizes up both in bandwidth, and in cup-size. The fit was much improved. There is some bagginess in the upper part of the cup, which looks like it has to do with shape, or volume distribution, but the cradle part of the cup is fine size-wise.

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A lot of people have mentioned the comfort and relaxed style of the bra. I can totally see that, and I was really swayed and optimistic about the longline style, but I am getting some migrating throughout the day where I keep having to pull the bra down. Something isn’t quite working for me, and to be honest I don’t think I will try to figure it out. I tend to prefer underwire padded bras, or none at all, so a Watson-style bra honestly will get limited wear from me. It was a great project to get started though, to get familiar with the construction methods, the materials, and fiddly nature of sewing bras. For the second version I tried a few things differently than from the pattern, notably sandwiching the side/back portion between the miliskin outer fabric and the stable lining, to get a clean-looking inside. I also cut a couple of strips of the lining, and used them to finish the seams where the cups attach to the cradle. It worked beautifully and makes the insides look all professional and lovely!

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Speaking of professional, I can’t get over how good this next bra looks like on the inside. I mean, look at this!

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Grey balconette bra
Materials:
 Fabric from stash, lining and powernet from Blackbird fabrics kit. Foam from MakeBra in Finland, plush back elastic (5/8″) from B-wear in Sweden, FOE from my stash (originally from SewSassy) hooks, eyes, rings, sliders and strap elastic from an old, dissected bra.
Pattern: Traced from an old Change bra, this one.

My preferred bra style is a padded balconette type bra. Almost all my bras right now are from Change, and I have found two of their styles in particular fit really really well. So – since I’ve read that a lot of people end up tweaking and testing and muslin-ing their bought bra patterns, and even recommend tracing a well-fitting bra, I decided to start at that end. I took apart the most tired of my well-loved bras, and traced and cleaned up the pattern. The underwire came out and got reused, since there wasn’t really anything the matter with it. It is really a lot of fun taking these little pieces of fabric, putting them together, and bam! You’ve engineered underwear!

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The pattern I traced is a fairly classic t-shirt bra, with one vertical seam. It has padded straps, sort of like the Boylston bra, which I really like. Since the straps are set quite wide, it feels like a balconette style, though I think it is a tad more coverage than typical balconette bras. The original had a thin synthetic jersey kind of fabric (I really don’t know my bra fabrics yet) covering the foam cups, and the same fabric for the bridge and cradle. It also has a seam at the narrowest point under the cup, meaning that I would either have grey cups and black bridge and cradle, or grey cup and bridge, and black cradle, or grey everything – layering the thin jersey over the bridge lining and cradle as well as the cups. I thought grey everything would look the least weird, so I went for that! Of course, I didn’t have fold-over elastic (FOE) in grey, so I used the black I had on hand. It made for a pretty sporty look I think.

Construction wise I followed Lauren’s excellent tutorial, as well as checking out my dissected old bra. The Boylston bra doesn’t have FOE, so I had to diverge a little there, in finishing one bra cup seam before attaching the cup, and the other after. The strap elastic is also attached straight down, as opposed to becoming the finishing on the top edge of the cradle, leading to the hooks and eyes. I messed that bit up so it looks less professional in that spot, but the function is still fine.

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I was hoping for a pretty bang-on fit since I copied the pattern from one I knew worked well. At the same time, I’ve seen plenty of people mention that changes in fabric really affects the fit. For a first attempt with a foam cup this bra is pretty damn good, with one area of improvement. While the silhouette from the side is nice and rounded, looking straight down it looks a little pointy. I thought there might be an issue of not enough length from left to right, but I made up a foam muslin after some pattern changes that only seemed to make it worse. My next attempt will be to turn the cup into a three-piece pattern, so volume and curves can be distributed along several seams. Theoretically that should improve things – realistically I am bracing myself for quite some trial and error here! If anyone has experiences they want to share, please do!

For my own sake, I will jot down the changes I’d like to make for the next version. I’m thinking the small remnants I have from this floral Bettine dress would make a fun bra!
– Eliminate the seam directly under the cup, and have one at the side seam instead. That seems more par for the course when I look at other bra patterns.
– Get rid of the tiny dart at center front – I think it’s there to cover the ends of the FOE. I’d rather have a continuous elastic, or a bow to cover up the raw edges.
– Move 3/8″ – 1/2″ from the cup to the band at side seams.
– The slinky jersey has much more stretch than the foam, and since I cut them the same size the jersey is loose. If I cover foam cups with stretchy fabrics I should reduce the pattern for the stretchy fabric with at least 10%.

– Remember to attach the strap elastic to the bottom edge *before* the picot edged elastic. Then do the top edge of the cradle before securing the strap elastic to the top.
– Attach underwire casing before FOE elastic on the front/top edge of cup, to attach casing all the way. Secure ends with zig-zag, cover with FOE.

grey_bra-1A reapeat picture. But I don’t care – I’m proud!