Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra: Third Times The Charm!

I think I got it!  I think I got the fit spot on!! It's my latest Marlborough Bra from Orange Lingerie.  I sewed my first version (the cream colored one) a couple weeks ago, thought it was too big in the cup, went on to sew Version 2 (photos immediately below)  which ended up a disgustingly small fit in the cup ), went back to Version 1 (that cream one), then sent photos and asked Norma (designer of the pattern) via Twitter for advice on how to adjust the cup.  Of course she was right, check out Version 3, the pink one above!  But first, I must mourn the loss of a the gorgeous, too small bra.  I took photos for posterity, then ripped it apart to keep the findings.  I hand dyed all the fabric and lace that lovely shade of purple and lined it with silk organza.  It was about 95% done.  No way I was tossing out those elastics from a pricey Merckwaerdigh kit.

  I used size 38B for this pink Marlborough Bra.  I found that my original one version (the cream one) was much too large in the upper area of the cup.  This is a very common occurrence in nearly every RTW bra I try on since I have a shallow bust as well as a wide root.  This means most of the bust tissue is lower on the bust and each bewb takes up a pretty wide area.  So I need a wide cup... but the top half of the cup has a hollow, open space creating wrinkling and a "hammock" effect.  Funny fact, a 38B cup is equivalent to a cup in a 32DD.

I could pinch out a decent amount on the upper cup (LEFT).  After removing a
sliver from the pattern pieces, the pink bra is the result (RIGHT).
Yes, I took some generic, vague pics of the cups while it was being worn.  It was the best way to demonstrate the problem.  I asked Norma, the designer of the bra, what would be the best way to remove that excess material.  I used her advice.  I pinched out the extra fabric along the vertical seam, I wanted to only remove material from the upper and lower cup and NOT the power bar. I pinned it.  I then transferred the markings to my pattern.  You can see this below in the photos.

First I lined up and taped the upper and lower cup where their seams meet on their right.  I marked and drew in a new seam line and cutting line.  You can see it's a wedge.  I cut the extra pattern edge off. I then re-drew my seam lines as dotted line to match  the rest of the pattern pieces.  For my ease of reference, I wrote on all the seam lines to let me know which seam line it will be sewn to... i.e. "attach to lower cup", etc.

I laid my first bra against my latest bra for comparison's sake.  All's the same except for the height of the top of the cup, plus there is a little space removed in the volume on top.

Crazy how the fabric pieces and lacey bits are all just a tiny mess of a pile that turns into something so pretty and quite supportive.  This bra pattern is great for everyday support.  I am not jogging in it or hiking in it.  But I'm doing normal stuff in it.

I used the same laces and elastics in this pink bra as I did in my first bra (the cream one) just so I could compare apples to apples.  A different material can drastically change the fit of a bra.  I hand dyed this lace a while back.  I wish I thought to toss some findings, underwire tubing and the bra clasp for the back.  And that bridge... it's making me so happy.  I altered it to fit using Norma's book Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction.  Check out my review of the book here.

If you look real close, I did use a different lace for the bridge... it has the same qualities, hand and stretch as the other so there would be no noticeable difference in fitting.

I always want to see what a finished garment looks like on the body.  And when it's a bra I like to understand the shape the cups produce.  So I took a few photos and tweaked them for modesty's sake.

And to get a better idea of how it works under just a regular top, I took a shot while I wore it under a plain tank top here.  Bewbies!!!!

Here's a fun little trick I've seen in a variety of places (I can't recall the original source, possibly Sigrid?)  To get the lace to line up ever so perfectly, line up the seam line with a low dip in the lace's scalloped edge.  Perfection!

ANYONE sew up this pattern yet besides me?!  I want to hear what you've experienced and see what you think, too.  Do share!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Vogue 8950: A T-Shirt

I made a t-shirt. 100% cotton jersey.  The easiest thing ever.  So I am obsessing over the fit instead.  This is View A of Vogue 8950.  It's a tunic style, meaning the pattern's bodice is mega long and will cover ones rear (I shortened it some.)  View B and C are long sleeved if you that that.  It's a super roomy fit.  I looked at some other reviews of this but no one really compares their normal Vogue size to what they made, or it's not being modeled on a body.  I normally cut a 16 bodice and grade up two sizes for the widest part of my hip.  For this top I cut a half size down overall.  Worst yet, there are NO finished measurements on the envelope OR the tissue. Grrrrr!

Best picture I took this windy morning. Or ever?

I actually did NOT lengthen the pattern for once (I usually have to by 1"/2 cm since I'm 5'8"/1.73m)-- I lopped of about 2" (5 cm) off the finished hem instead.   Here, check out what it looked like before (below) I cut off that length and hemmed it while in my sewing basement... I felt like this short was screaming an early-maternity-look.  It was an odd length on my figure. The hem needed to go up.. or lengthen it for a cutesy a-line spring dress.

No likey.

I am quite pleased with the front bodice fit.  But my back side is a zone of major curves and bumps creating a need for better tailoring.

I need to do some swayback adjustment.  I *almost* did one before I even cut the fabric, but laziness prevailed.  The truth is, this is how my RTW tops already fit anyhow. But I'm not here to bust out RTW fitted tops!  I was on the ball and did alter the back neckline.  I added two dart because it was gaping out (this is a normal occurrence with almost all patterns for me.)  You can't even see them.

The side view is not my favorite.  The back has so much extra material floating around back there.  I know, you're like, why is she being so critical.  These are my notes for future reference for this pattern and I feel like I don't have a load to say about the steps and process of sewing a basic tee.

I made a pocket. Why not?  You can also see I top stitched my yoke and added a narrow binding for my neckline.  The pattern tells you to just fold over the edged and stitch?! No thanks.  I ended up cutting of enough length to remove the side vents at them and ten created a softly rounded hemline.  I used Pellon Easy Knit Tape (cut to half width) on my hem before folding it up and using a straight stitch.  This hem will never need to be stretched so a straight stitch is totally fine.  I did just fold my sleeve hems up and do a very slight zig zag stitch. This was 1.0 width and 2.5 length.

Friday, September 19, 2014

McCall's 6844: An Autumn Sweater

It's lightweight sweater season!  At least in the early morning and evening here in Baltimore in late Septermber.  Summer was pretty tame this year anyhow.  So I got on board and sewed up McCall's 6844 .  It's a wildly popular on the internetz with the sewing crowd.  I was REALLY unsure about it once it was done and I was down in my sewing hole in my basement at 11 PM last night, with it big ole fluffy butt ruffle in back.  In the light of day and after a solid morning of wearing it (hence the wrinkles and slight disheveled look of it in the photos here) I am loving it.

Aww geez... I did not look in the mirror before taking this pics, I am so annoyed with that rumply bit above my left boob.  I used a cotton/spandex knit that clings so nicely to the cotton t-shirt I'm wearing, but I sew normal, everyday clothes and this is what I look like if you when you  see me skipping down the street.  It was a MAJOR pain to cut evenly since it's such a very stretchy, crepe-like fabric.  But it's a crazy comfy light sweater.

I made View D in size Medium. The front lapel is not meant to close or touch but mine overlaps due to stretchiness of my material.  I lengthened both the sleeves and bodice by 1" (2.5 cm), this is a standard alteration for me since I'm 2" (5 cm) taller then what McCall's drafts for-- they draft their average height patterns for 5'6" (1.68 m) while I'm 5'8" (1.73 m).

I did not use any interfacing in the "band" piece... the lapel on front.  I did not want the stiffness that it would create.  Plus I am sure the super stretchy, bumpy crepe surface of the fabric wouldn't allow the iron on interfacing properly adhere.

But I did stabilize both the shoulder seams, back neck and lapel/band.  I cut my Pellon Easy-Knit Tape down the center to split it in half and then ironed on the proper length to each section on the seam.  Rather then staystitching (Step 3 in the directions), I used this stuff to stabilize that section of the lapel/band.  I used my serger for this project with the exception of the topstitching.

This lone sunflower is the last of my garden besides a tomato plant that is slowly dying.  Amazing what a matter of 4 weeks did to my crazy, lush garden.

September 19: Nothing but some bundled dry corn stalks
August 13: Jungle
This was a really simple pattern to sew.  It took me about 2.5 hours at the machine and going at a casual speed, too.  I've got a new version of McCall's 7026 cut and ready to sew.  This one will be a half zip with some stupid soft, amazing technical wicking fabric from New Balance. Plus I found a local resource for the quality YKK zippers I was looking for... that last version I used some nasty Coats & Clark one from JoAnn's.  If  you live in the Baltimore area, it is a MUST to go to Stadham Sewing.  These guys have are a local gem for sewing supplies, machine repair or to buy an industrial machine or twelve.  Renee did a great job blogging about them last year with lots of pics.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

McCall's 7026: A Polartec Fleece Jacket (& A Fehr Trade XYT Top)

It's about fall time and I need some lightweight jackets for everyday as well as for running.  I fell fast for McCall's 7026, a pattern with several Lululemon-esque activewear jackets, plus some super basic tights.  I sewed up View B with a few changes.  I've never ever in my life sewed with fleece and I wanted to do it right a quality one.  I got this super soft Polartec Classic 100 for only $3/yard at Mill Yardage.  (FYI: The queen of ugly, cheapy quality fleece, Jo@nn Fabrics, actually carries Polartec fleece now-- I saw several basic colors for $9.99/yard, I am sure it's the Classic 100.)  You can see I tried to take pics in the yard but the sun is shockingly perfect and bright today causing major overexposure and weird shadows!  So I went to the porch next to ye old push lawnmower. 

I made slightly above a 14, graded to above a 16 at the waist and then just above an 18 at the hip.  I added 1" (2 cm) to the arm length as well as for the bodice.  I'd really say I added another 1/2" (1 cm) to the hem as I sewed it up super narrow.  My zipper is the recommended 22".  I could have used the 24"?!  I would like more length on this jacket next time, too.  I for some reason cut a straight size 14 for the arms and sewed it a little snugger then that, the arms are a tad tight. 

The back hemline doesn't dip down low like all the technical drawings indicate.  There is a line on the pattern pieces for the low dipping hem as well as a line for a straight back hem.  The princess seaming is fantastic for easy altering.  I wish the sleeves were two pieces for a more accurate fit.  

I did not do the piping on the seams, I wanted them free so I was able to take in/out anything as I sewed.  I'd do the piping next time.  You can also see I excluded the hand warmer thingies... that is one of the main elements I love about the pattern. Why did I get rid of 'em then?!

Look at the pic right above, it was during sewing while those hand things were on.  They were super awkward with the thick layers of black fleece AND the arm was all bunched up and looked so weird.  They got chopped off.  My next version will have a modified version of the hand cuffs.  And I also hacked out my pockets.  I used a mesh fabric but they added a weird bulk and kept bunching up.  I should have understitched the pocket, this would have helped.  Plus they were in an awkward location in the seams, it just felt weird to put my hands in it. Goodbye pockets.  I'll do pockets in another one.

 The zipper I used is not the best at all.  It's a Coats & Clark separating zipper, it's so crappy. I tried to press it flatter, it's just bumpy and distorts the fabric.  But to be honest, it's not a complete deal breaker, I'll wear this still.  Another modification I will make on Version 2: I will add that little fabric tab that folds over the top of the zipper to stop it from scratching my neck.  You know, that little bit that the lady in purple has on her zipper here on the right.  
The jacket is unlined.  And I totally never got around to blogging about this super cute white Fehr Trade XYT Top (previous version are here, here, and here.)  I used a New Balance spun polyester activewear fabric (from Fabric Mart, but it's no longer available).  It's super soft, lighter weight, but after wearing it for several runs I've decided the fabric may be better for cold weather base layering since it felt like I was retaining more heat the I liked.  The cherries are a nylon/spandex swimwear I got last year from Fabric Fairy (it's not on their site anymore either.)

You can't see it very clearly but the black fleece has these lines running through it.  This material is from the Flawed/Overstock sale and this is actually a "flaw"... but it looks really cool and adds texture.  Plus I was freakishly careful and got every seam and line all lined up ever so perfectly with all that piecing! Happy dance!  No one will ever care besides me though. You can see the lines in the pic below, I had to take it off and hold it up to the light.

This a great little wearable muslin.  I did follow along with directions for maybe 3/4 of the project, and they are solid.  I used my serger for all my seams and took care to switch thread colors when sewing on the pink or the black.  On to the next project!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra Pattern DONE + Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction by Norma Loehr

This summer I got for a birthday present the new print version of Norma Loehr's bra making book Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction.  So of course I had to snag up her very first bra pattern, the Marlborough Bra.  This will blog entry is about both the book and my finished, very wearable muslin.  Update- Sept 24, 2014: Read about Versions 2 & 3 of this pattern here.

First off let's talk about her book Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction.  It originally was only available for Kindle and what not.  I don't do e-books really, so I was thrilled it's now in print.  The print copy appears to be an on-demand printed style book.  The layout looks basically identical to the Kindle version you can look inside on Amazon.  I do wish it were wire-bound to make it easier to lay flat as I use the book while sewing and altering-- but I imagine this would be more expensive to do.

There are NO PATTERNS in the book.  Demystifying is meant to hold your hand through the process of making your bra from the very basics of understanding the anatomy of a bra, what supplies you need, altering an existing pattern, fitting issues with solutions and the actual sewing process.  I have sewn so many bras in the past several years so I blew through the basics and headed to Norma's directions on alterations for the best fit along with using her construction sequence and details on what stitches to use.   The info in the book is very user-friendly and easy to follow along.  The photos make each step easy to understand.  The printing quality is not amazing, so the photos are not 100% crisp and perfect, but that does not change or effect the quality of the info shared.

There are several ways to measure your body to get your bra size.  There is no standardized way to do so and every RTW bra manufacturer and bra pattern will have different ideas on this.  I've tried all of them.  Norma makes a point saying any measuring is purely a starting point.  Your size may not be precisely what you get initially.  Norma's technique is to measure the underbust then add 4-5" to get your band size.  This does NOT work for me.  I need way more support then a bra band that large.  But she makes a point saying this method is likely better for smaller busts (that would be me... but I have  an unruly, not at all youthful, massive weight loss and recently nursed a baby sorta bewbies that need much of the same support and attention that larger busts traditionally need.)  Her technique to get your cup size: measure you full bust (with a well fitting bra on) and then the upper bust-- the difference in measurements is your cup size: 1"=A, 2"=B, 3"=C, etc.  This again has proven inaccurate for me as well.  Using her technique I could be a 42C.  This is much to large for me indeed.  The most accurate bra size calculator I've personally have used can be found here.  But it's all just a starting point, I still need to alter bra patterns to fit my figure.

PDF sewing pattern for an underwire bra engineered for great shaping and support by Orange Lingerie - Marlborough Bra

I used the book as a companion to sewing up my first Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra.  It comes in sizes 30A-40DD, so not for bigger busts really.  There are a zillion pages in the pattern but you have to print 9 pages of directions and 2 more pages for your bra size.  Each size comes on it's own page, no taping or anything.  Plus you can print it on card stock to make the pattern pieces last and for easier handling as your cut your fabrics.  The bra is so pretty and lovely and it's about 85% perfectly fitted!  I made a size 38B.  My problem: the cup size is too large and I will go down one size in my next go round.  If I bought this bra as a RTW one, the cup would be passable.

The cups of the pattern is meant for little to no stretch tricot and laces, the band is supposed to have powernet.  I used this gorgeous vanilla toned lace exclusively.  It's a very firm, substantial lace and has maybe 10-15% stretch.  I don't have any nylon sheer at the moment, I should have lined the cups with it to make it zero stretch... next time!

I am head over heels excited about my bridge alteration!  I used the book to make this change. It shows exactly how to take your pattern piece and make it fit your shape.  You can see in the picture about how my bridge was changed to fit me.  I had to slash and open it at a slight angle-- this follows the shape of my figure exactly now! Woo hoo!!

Like I said, I've sewn up many a bra already.  One of the popular bras we all seem to be sewing up right now is the Pin Up Girls Classic Full Band Bra (here's one of mine.)  I laid my frame and band pattern  pieces together for both the Marlborough Bra and the Pin Up Girls Bra just for comparison sake (the white paper is the Marlborough, the outlined in red tracing paper pieces are the Pin Up Girls.)  Both have that nice full band and the area on the band where you attach the bra strap is a nice rounded dip... both elements for great support.  I like how the Marlborough is more shaped in the band, the Pin Up one is all straight lines.  The cup itself (not pictured... I don't post pics on me in bras on the internet, no thanks.): the Marlborough bra is a more rounded shape and the Pin Up one is a bit on the pointy side.

I used my regular sewing machine with a walking foot and stretch needle.  Here are all of my stitch sizes... these are stitches all needed for this pattern:
Zig Zag:  2.5 length, 2.0 width
3 step zig zag: 4.0 length, 1.5 width
Satin stitch: 2.0 width, .8 length
Straight stitch: 2.5-2.8 length depending on the thickness of the spot I'm on

It's so easy to get your lace to line up just right where it meets the elastic, pictured above.  Just place your seam line (where you will stitch your seam) directly on the low dip of the lace.  Happy dance when it all works out!

The lower cup does not have any notches to line it up with the upper cup.  This confused me a bit because the upper cup has a notch.  I mentioned this to Norma and she said that upper cup notch is to mark the apex.  I happened initially to mis-sew the lower cups, switching them around because of them not being marked.  I also found myself marking up all the pattern pieces to identify what edge is what.  It would have been nice if each pattern piece was marked with the pattern name... not a huge deal.

I used a white, narrow lacey elastic for the upper cup stabilizer.  The pattern suggests that 1/4" clear plastic elastic.  I am not a fan of that stuff and don't own any.

I love the fun contrasting orange elastics.  I wish I had the matching orange bra closure, but I had to use this white one. Ugh. And what's extra nifty about sewing this pattern?  The designer, Norma, is a real live person who quickly responds to any questions or comments I had... if you're on twitter like I am, just tweet her and get an almost instant response.  This may be the top reason to buy and use indie patterns-- you got the designer ready to address your issues and queries.  

I love the potential for so many fabric options.  The cup is in three pieces, I can really see some sassy prints!  Now on to a second one.