Posts Tagged ‘lengerie

06
Nov
08

The return of Aunt Bonnie!

This post is long, long overdue. I started the draft weeks ago and much has transpired since then, but since I haven’t yet taken photos of my progress I’ll start at the beginning.

Aunt Bonnie asked me to make her another dress. You all remember Aunt Bonnie, right? My stunning, talented, and delightful aunt who sings for Tampa Bay’s Horn Band, Late Night Brass? She asked me to make her a gown for their performance at the Christmas party of one of the large law firms here in Tampa. It’s one of the most formal gigs they’ll perform this year. The men will all wear tuxes with gold bow ties. And Bonnie as the lone gal on stage thought a gold gown was in order.

We started talking about her gold dress back in May, contemplating what pattern might workand what detail work would make the gown really POP. We settled on Vogue 3830, and, with the great advance planning, Bonnie was able to snag the pattern on sale back in June(?). We bought our fabric in July. And now it’s November and things are nearing completion (though I haven’t spent all of the past 3 1/2 months working on this dress; much of that time was spent sewing bras and other fun stuff).

Here’s the pattern envelope for Vogue 3830. For a change, we’re actually making the dress as the pattern intended (for the most part anyway), in View B. The empire waist is a great look for Bonnie, and the cut of this dress over all is very much her style. The back (below) cuts away except for a narrow band, so it’s a bit showier than the other dresses we’ve made, which is very much in keeping with the formal nature of this event.

Now the big busted seamstress in me looks at a stunning but narrow-strapped gown like this and thinks “we need to add some support.” And since I was merrily sewing up bra after bra while we were planning this, and since that band across the back even looks reminiscent of a bra, I suggested we sew a bra right into the dress, custom sized to fit the dress dimensions, custom dyed to match, and far more supportive than the dress on its own would be.

Bonnie agreed, and I got to put my bra-cloning skills to work again, making a draft bra (the stunning purple shown below) cloned from one of her well-fitting favorites. I wanted to be sure I had the fit of the bra right before making the gold bra, because, unlike several bras I’ve posted here before with contrasting black elastics and trims, the gold bra would have custom dyed-to-match gold elastics. And I didn’t want to dye twice. So here’s the original and test bras:

And that brings you up to speed with my progress as of about a month ago.

In the time since then, Bonnie has learned that Late Night Brass will play two formal charity balls this November, which pushed our time frame up from the first week of December to this coming Saturday. And also in that time, I have learned how very, very, very time consuming beadwork is. The endless sewing has kept me busy and I blame my enthusiasm as a seamstress for my slacking as a blogger. But photos, descriptions of my process, and many more posts will follow soon!

I hope. 🙂

22
Sep
08

Bras, bras, and more bras

In case that all so clever title didn’t clue you in, I’ve been sewing more bras. And even though it’s been WEEKS since I came here to post about it, I have been very productive.

I received my copy of The Bra Maker’s Manual not long after I posted the purple bra, and it has been EXTREMELY helpful! (Though, if I’d known ahead of time how unsatisfactory the online ordering process would be, I would have paid a few dollars more to order the book from one of the domestic bra supply stores that carry it). The chapter on fittings alone brought me so very much closer to my goals! And, in addition to working towards a perfect fit, I have continued to experiment a bit w/ different styles and materials.

This, is my fifth bra. The band fits snugly but not too tightly, the bridge is actually a perfect size and shape to fit between my breasts, and my breasts fill the cups without gushing over at all. However, since it is no longer 1950, I think it’s a tad pointy for my comfort.

Bra number 6, shown below, is just about perfect. It lifts my breasts as high as they could reasonably be lifted, and creates a very flattering shape. The straps are wide and *padded* and the band sits right where it should. Plus LOOK how pretty! Pink satin. 🙂 How delightful.

With my own bosom in a good place now, I’m starting to work on some bras for other women, but I do believe I’ll post that separately. More soon!

03
Sep
08

Modelling a bra for you

That title is for Carrie. A bra on a model, rather than the floor… but NO not on me. 🙂

Sewing this bra was an experience, I have to tell you. I’ll back up a moment and explain. I decided to purchase some stretch satin to make a few bras, both for myself and for some others. JoAnn’s didn’t have any in store (at least not that I could find) but I found it on a couple of the websites I regularly shop for fabrics. Denver Fabrics had stretch satin for $4.75/yd and Fabric.com had it for $10.98/yd. Now I KNEW by the price tags alone that there was going to be a difference in quality… what I didn’t know was whether one of them would really be worth more than double the cost of the other! I could have ordered swatches, examined them, and then picked what I wanted. But I’m not that patient. I ordered a yard each of gold (for a specific project) and pink from Fabric.com, and a single yard of deep purple (which is coming out far bluer in my photos than in real life) from Denver Fabrics.

And then I waited. When the second of my two orders arrived four days later I eagerly ripped open the box to compare! The satin from Fabric.com is relatively lightweight and perhaps a tad stretchier than I *truly* want for a good supportive bra, but it’s soft, fine, and I think it will work great if it’s reinforced a bit. The considerably cheaper fabric was, let’s face it, cheaper. The purple satin was a heavier weight which is actually good for a bra to hold a gal like me, but it was also rubbery and almost plasticy. Still I wanted to give it a try!

Since the fabric was a gorgeous rich purple, I’d planned to dye white elastic, hooks, eyes, rings and slides to match. I went out and bought dye, got home, and realized I hadn’t ever ordered white bra elastic and only had black on hand (rats!) And again, I wasn’t patient enough to wait. Black goes with everything, right?

Moving right along I started sewing up this bra and the fabric was extremely annoying to work with. I had a brand new, lightweight needle in my machine, but really should have been using a stretch needle. And since I wasn’t (because, AGAIN, I wasn’t patient enough to wait for the needles I’d ordered to arrive), the fabric snagged multiple times, and looks pretty crappy now.

The whole time I was sewing, I was narrating this blog rant in my head and thinking about exactly which words I would use to complain about the experience. And then I put the bra on. Suddenly, I didn’t CARE one eensy little bit about the snaggles all over the place. I didn’t CARE that the texture of the fabric annoyed me and felt a bit being wrapped in plastic wrap. I didn’t even entirely care that I’d foolishly neglected to add some extra room to my bra cups to accomodate the less-stretchy fabric (impatience = foolish sometimes, and I’m really still learning what I’m doing here). ALL I cared about was how PREEEEEEEEETTTTTTY it was! Pretty, pretty, pretty. Purple. Shiny. Satiny. Ah yes! I have never before in my entire life owned a purple bra. What a delightful, gorgeous thing.

So in the end I have a poorly executed snaggly bra that doesn’t fit right, but renewed motivation. My stretch needles have arrived, my white elastic should get here tomorrow, and I’ll modify my cup pattern and give it another try. I WILL have my lovely purple bra. Rubbery though it may be.

29
Aug
08

Third time’s a charm!

At last a bra that fits! This one does almost everything it should. The band is snug but not too tight, and sits in place. I used a wide 3/4″ elastic for the bottom edge of the band and it lies flat without curling under and pinching. The cups are large enough. The straps are wide and don’t dig into my shoulders. It is very, very comfortable.

I am going to make a few final tweeks to the shape though. The apex isn’t in quite the right place, and the cups need a bit of reinforcing (probably padding in the lower half of the cups) for the shape and support I want. I’m confident I’ll be able to make these final alterations though, and in the meantime this is absolutely good enough to wear out in public.

28
Aug
08

Strike Two

Well my second bra making attempt clearly needed further revisions. You can’t tell in the photo here, but I definitely over compensated a bit. The band was a bit too tight and the cups a bit too low cut. Still the overall fit was considerably better than the first and closer to the goal.

Bra 3 is finished too and I’ll try to post it tomorrow.

18
Aug
08

Trial and Error

My first bra is finished! But completely unwearable, at least for me. I’m not discouraged in the slightest though. I fully expected a couple of trial runs before I had the result I wanted.

Because I’ve never sewn bras before, I figured it would be best to work from a pattern. I chose Kwik Sew 2374 because it features a full band (which is more supportive than partial band designs) and large cup sizes. It also has larger band sizes than I wear (starting from a 42) but I thought it would be simple enough to adjust the relatively flat band down to a smaller size; certainly easier than it would be to adjust the cup size up from a too-small pattern.

Since it was my first attempt, I pretty much followed the pattern to a T. I used the cutting lines for the 42DD size (since, going by the math alone, my 38G should be the same cup volume) and I did remove 2 inches from the band on each side, to bring that 42 down to a 38. Made sense in my head. I also checked the underwire I’d purchased -again, the right size for a 38G – to see how it fit me and it was perfect.

Now I’m curious to hear if anyone else has used this pattern, and what their experience was. Because I found that it runs HUGE. The underwire stops inches before the cups do, and the cups themselves press up into my underarms, and nearly to my neck. Just far, far too high. On the pictures below, my thumb and my finger are pointing to exactly where the underwire stops. All that bra above is excess.

Despite the fact that I won’t be wearing this particular bra, I was able to see exactly where I need to make alterations and I’m confident that my second attempt will be a far better fit! I’ve already started work on bra number two and just waiting for my order of supplies to come in the mail (I ran out of elastic! No way to finish without that!).

Full list of alterations needed: Remove 1.5″ from the top of the upper cups so they stop where they should. Remove a small bit of fabric right at the apex so there’s no funny pucker at the cup center seam. Use a wider strip of hook and eye tape (I’d mistakenly bought a 2 hook bra closure) so the band can stay a bit wider at the back. Remove excess fabric from band under cups, because as it is it just folds under itself awkwardly. Slight modification to the bridge so the cups sit about a 1/2″ inch closer to each other, which is just a better fit for my body. Took about another inch out of the band as it was still too loose and I’ll need to remember to cut the elastic proportionately shorter as well.

My second attempt should fit extremely well. 🙂

17
Aug
08

Need a Lift?

It was only a matter of time. After several years of sewing and a decade and a half struggling to find ones that suit me, I have finally started sewing bras! I have been thinking about it, reading up on it, and planning to do so for a few months now, and at last this week I got started. But before I share my initial creation, a few thoughts on bras in general:

The more I sew, the more frustrated I become with the limitations of ready to wear clothing. I am increasingly aware of FIT and how a garment should properly sit on the wearer’s body, and therefore increasingly aware of how incredibly POORLY ready to wear does this. I am also increasingly aware of what an impossible task it would be to mass produce clothing that truly did accomodate the millions of truly unique body shapes out there. I know they have to pick standards. I do wish they hadn’t arbitrarily picked a body type smaller than the average American (wouldn’t it make the most sense to pick the *actual* average?). But I digress.

Bras are the worst problem I have personally encountered for fit. I’ve heard over and over again lately that the vast majority of American women are wearing the wrong sized bra. My initial thought every time is “DUH!” How in the world could we all wear the right bra when most stores carry a very small range of sizes?? Personally, I know how to measure myself, and lately I have taken to remeasuring before I buy bras (since weight gain and loss, a pregnancy, 21 months nursing, then weaning, have meant fairly frequent changes in my bust size over the past 3 years or so). Despite this, most stores I’ve tried DON’T carry my size. I am big busted, yes, but I’m not freakishly large. There are many women in this world (several of whom I know personally) who are quite a bit bustier than I am, some of them on smaller frames than mine… and yet most stores, even lengerie shops, just don’t carry my size.

I think in many cases, women wear the wrong bra because it’s the best they can find. If a store doesn’t carry a 36DDD, for example, a women might be inclined to believe the salesgirl who claims “A 38DD is the same thing!” But it’s really not. Truth be told the CUPS should be the same size for those two bras, and hold the same amount of breast tissue, but moving up to a larger band size WILL mean the bra is not supportive. And frankly the bigger breasted you are, the more you need that support. And heaven forbid you are bigger… at this moment in time, I wear a 38G. To accomodate my bosoms with the “down a cup, up a band size” method I’d have to go to a 40F (not in your everyday stores), 42DD (maybe in stores) or 44D before I had cups that fit right. At by that band size, you can pretty much expect the bra to fit like a belt.

(On a lovely side note though, I found some instructions for altering that bra so that it does fit right, by taking in the band, here.)

So, I have alternated between buying slightly too small bras, or shopping at the special bra shop that carries non standard sizes. (If you’re in Tampa, the Pennyrich bra shop has a huge range of sizes, as well as specialty bras such as masectomy and maternity bras).

This brings me to my next rant. If a woman has the know how to size herself (good articles on that here and here) and finds she isn’t a standard size, but takes the initiative to drive an hour from her home to the specialty shop (yep, it took me an hour to get there, with my baby in tow) so she can wear the correct size, guess what she’s greeted with? $80+ bras that come in her choice of beige, beige, or beige. Am I alone in my distate for beige? Personally, I find it to be unsexy, boring, and an absolute magnent for dinge. Is it too much to ask that the bra I paid $80 for at least **attempt* to be pretty?

And in addition to all of these issues there are still challenges finding the right shape (I prefer rounder cups rather than pointier ones) from such a small selection of correctly sized bras, not to mention COMFORT and hopefully a good value. From what my friends tell me, and what I’ve seen now that I’ve looked, it is equally challenging for small breasted women to find their correct size – how many AA bras have you seen lately? And of course maternity bras, masectomy bras, etc. have painfully few options available.

Personally, I think there are many, many women out there who would get in line to buy the right bra if such a thing existed.

My own wish list for my dream bra would be: a properly sized bra with a snug band that has a wide elastic at the bottom of the band for the best support – but not the picot elastic since the little decorative bumpy bits tend to irritate my skin after a while. I want SOFT fabrics and properly finished seams, round cups, relatively full coverage but not so much so that I have to buy a whole new wardrobe of higher-necked shirts (something halfway between a demi and a full coverage bra would be my personal ideal). I want a very thin bit of padding in the lower half of the cup just to reinforce it and add more support, but not so much that I’m noticeably larger; and I want this padding under a layer of something soft like tricot. I do want underwires, and I want them to sit where they were meant to, right under my breasts, without creeping down and pressing into my ribcage. I want broad straps that sit in the right spot on my shoulders where the weight is best carried (but of course with the fabulous band on this bra, there shouldn’t be too much weight held by the straps) and I want the strap adjusters, if any (better still would be straps that were the right length to begin with) in the back because the hard plastic pieces and the seams attaching the adjuster tend to hurt if they lie on the top of my shoulders carrying weight. To finish the wish list off, I want my dream bra to come in a variety of pretty colors, with coordinating panties available in my size, and I want the bra at a reasonable price.

I honestly don’t expect ready-to-wear to have quite exactly this, because it never has. But I can certainly make my own.

And that will be our next post. 🙂




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