For the love of underwear

25 Sep img_5160

I love underwear. When I was younger, my sister would sometimes take me underwear shopping went I went to town to visit her. It was always an extra amazing visit when we went underwear shopping. When she’d go someplace new she’d send me a pair she bought in whatever city she was in.  And as I grew up and started travelling, I’d send her a pair.  From Ethiopia to  Sri Lanka, she’d get whatever underwear I could find. Paris was the best – she got a pair of red, PVC hotpants.

Its amazing how expensive underwear can be however. I mean it sometimes seems that the smaller the bits of fabric are, the more they can charge. So I was really excited to find that it is actually cheaper to make my own. Suffice to say, that last year when I made my first pair of underwear, using the Rosy Ladyshorts pattern from Cloth Habit – I made my sister (and BFF) an identical pair.

I still had quite a bit of the two way stretch jersey I used, so I decided I’d make a few new pairs  each with a different lace trims. While shopping for lace trim over at Gypsy Lace, I got  a little carried away and ended up buying some lovely lace to make a few  all over stretch lace too. Which I think looks pretty damn cute.

The Rosy Ladyshorts are really quick to sew – about 50 minutes from start to finish. The instructions are simple and easy to follow. Most of that is spent on attaching the trim to the leg holes and waist. I really love this pattern – they’re super comfortable and I love how they look on. I’ve made these in size 6.

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I also decided to be adventurous and bought myself the Kingston thong pattern from Orange Lingerie. My supplies came from all over the place: I got the power mesh from Tia Knight, the lace from Gypsy Lace, and the lingerie elastic from Macculloch and Wallis.This was a bit more of a  challenging pattern  than the Rosy Ladyshorts and on my first pair (the one with white lace) I really struggled to sew with the power mesh as it didn’t like to feed through my machine nicely. As a result it feels like where I added the lingerie elastic is a bit stretched out of shape. Giving it a good steam helped but obviously didn’t make it 100% perfect.But practice makes perfect and my 2nd pair came out much easier  (and quicker – in the end it took about 75 minutes to sew them up start to finish. I’ve got the mesh and lace to made a few other pairs in black and green etc. But I’m itching to start my next project.

I made the Kingston thong in size medium as that perfectly matched my measurements  – fit wise its perfect. It’s really comfortable and quite flattering.

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The Boylston Bra

18 Sep img_5455-2

Eeek my first bra! Choosing the pattern and materials felt a bit like buying my first bra – not know the terminology nor really needing it. Yet possessing the desperate desire to enter the clique of bra wearing (now making) lasses. In the end I chose the Boylston Bra pattern from Orange Lingerie. And bought a kit from thebrashop on etsy. I’d really like to say here how helpful Alison from thebrashop was, answering my questions and adapting the kit to ensure it had everything I needed for the Boylston.

First step: establishing measurements. I was really careful taking my measurements, standing in front of mirror so I could make sure I was standing up straight and that the measuring take was parallel to the floor.  My body circumference directly under bust is 30″, plus 4″ as per the directions and I have my band size: 34″. So far so good. Measurements at fullest part of bust 36″. Hmm not that can’t be right. Check again. Come back a week later and check again. Still 36″. Have I been measuring my full bust wrong all these years? Upper bust 34″, difference between full and upper bust – 2″ therefore I’m a B cup. 34B – exactly what I would buy in the shop (and to be fair fits just fine).

While the instructions are clear and straightforward, they require diligence and attention. I would have appreciated more details in the instructions and perhaps some more notches in the pattern pieces, which would indicate exactly what went where. And I was certainly challenged:

For example once I joined the lower cup pieces together, there is nothing to indicate which is the top and bottom – you have to rely on the pictures in the instructions (which I didn’t realize). As a result I proceeded to get myself quite muddled and having proceeded to attach and topstich the lower cup to the upper cup,  I had to unpick it all because my lower cup was upside down.  Ooops. Also although the pattern is designed to be used with soft foam, there aren’t any instructions for inserting these so this time I decided to skip the foam (although I did later find a useful tutorial on this over on Lladybird’s blog). In the end my cups looked pretty nice – both inside and out.

Sewing the bridge, frame and band together was straightforward and even attaching these to the cups was quite clear and straightforward. But I stumbled when I had to attach the casing for the underwire to the bra. To be honest I found the instructions for this and the accompanying image mind boggling confusing. In the end I refereed back to Lladybirds blog and from her pictures I thought I might know what they meant so just winged it. I think did it correctly. I also got quite confused and had to do alot of googling to learn what the hell a ‘pin stitch’ was, and in the end skipped that step and just top stitching around the casing on the bridge and frame.

The upside to buying a bra kit is also a downsize: I didn’t now what each of the notions required where and therefore struggled to identify everything in the kit. While I could refer back to the etsy listing and deduce what things were, it did mean that I used the leftover grey scallop edge underarm elastic for the bottom of the bra, while the kit actually contained some very pretty pink loopy bottom band elastic. But I wasn’t about to unpick all the zigzag stitch and risk wrecking my fabric for the sake of some pink trim. But the kit did come with a pretty little bow/flower.

Also the back of my bra wouldn’t nearly fit into the end of the eye attachment, so I put a dart in the ends of the back of the bra as that seemed to be the neatest way to make it fit.

I had a few issues with the straps. It wasn’t until I got to adding the elastic to the underarm and strap that I realised that I think I didn’t place the straps correctly. But I couldn’t think of a way to unstitch the top part of the cup to fix the placement. And later I found that the front strap was a tiny bit too wide for the ring on the back strap. So it’s a bit messy plus first time round, I got the strap turned around and twisted so had to unpick and do it again.

Fit wise its quite tight under the bust, I do bulge a bit under the arm, and I have to wear it on the last clasp. It’s much tighter than my RTW bras but that could be partially that all my RTW are old and probably quite stretch. Also I do POP out the top of the bra, that might partially be part down to design (it would look great with a plunging neckline) or it may be partly my poor construction or that I simply need to go a cup size up. Its hard to tell at this point.

All of that being said, I am immensely proud of having completed a wearable bra in a weekend. And I’m already planning my next one, having learned from all the above issues.



The real deal – Biscayne blouse

17 Sep biscayne-blouse-4

As soon as I saw the Yucca – Manu Forest fabric I knew I had to have it. I’ve never used voile and as I was lusting after the fabric online, I couldn’t be sure what it actually felt like. So I looked for patterns that specifically referenced using it. Then I came across the Biscayne blouse from hey June, which I figured would be perfect with a cardigan in autumn/winter. I loved the simplicity of the design plus I’d learn a few new techniques as I’ve never made a hidden button placket or a welt pocket. I decided to be diligent and make a wearable muslin of the small to check fit and practice the new techniques before using my precious new fabric.  I’m glad I did – while the small is a perfect fit for most of the blouse, I really need to grade out to a medium at the hips. Plus its always good to practice new things before using your favorite new fabric.

I really took my time cutting out my pieces  and was surprised to discover that with creative placement of pattern pieces, I needed much less that the required 2 metres. While my fabric is 44″ wide I only used  1.5 metres. I considered the layout for quite a while –  to ensure optimal flower placement, and cutting out the placket piece so that it wouldn’t jar too much with the centre front.

I was exceptionally careful in marking my plackets but it was hard to transfer precise markings onto the black fabric, as my white marker doesnt have a fine tip. In the end I had to rely on measuring the distances between each fold line. It wasn’t perfect, and I had to adjust it a few times to get it to overlap nicely. My welt pocket however came together much better than last time, and I’m quite pleased with it this time.

I put in three rows of gathering stitches, in hot pink so I could pick them out easily later on. And this time I managed to get the gathering right – no snags! Do you sometimes find that by sewing very slowly and carefully, your project actually comes together much quicker? That’s how it felt with this top.  I’m really pleased with the overall fit – I used size small for most of the top, grading out to medium at the hips.

I  love the fabric and I love the design – its turned out exactly as I pictured it in my mind.



A wearable muslin of Biscayne blouse

13 Sep img_5331-3

I started this project to just test the size of my new Biscayne blouse  pattern from hey June and practice a few new features (invisible button placket and welt pocket), before cutting into some really gorgeous new fabric. But it turned out well enough that I decided to finish it up and stick it in the closet!

Its a cotton lawn fabric  I got on ebay years ago to make a dress for my BFF and the bountiful leftovers have been sitting on the shelf ever since. Biscayne came as a PDF pattern which normally I avoid like the plague, but it was really easy to tape together. Plus I had some lovely Swedish tracing paper which the Village Haberdashery sent me for free with another order.

Luckily there is an online sew-along which I could check out – especially useful when trying new things! I was exceptionally careful in marking my plackets and the very detailed instructions and corresponding illustrations really did make all the difference. As the fabric is such a light color and my interfacing is white, it was quite  easier to transfer the markings .  Finishing the placket gave me a real sense of achievement, its been a while since I challenged myself and tried something new. I’m quite pleased with it, though I had a little trouble tucking the tail of the placket in nicely. And although I struggled to get the folds of the welt pocket to meet perfectly in the middle,  it’s not so noticeable thanks to the design of the fabric.

There are only two niggling things I’m not pleased about with this wearable muslin. The first is my gathering on the front it a bit bunched , so in places it looks like the fabric has been accidentally tucked, rather than gathered. Second is that when I planned to make a muslin, I hadn’t expected to finish it so didnt have any matching thread to hand. The closest I had was a gray – not too bad, but still I’d prefer a closer match.

The pattern suggests choosing your side based on your bust measurements and if you’re in between the sizes, to  size down. So I went with size small. While this fits perfectly over the shoulders, bust and waist, I found it much to small at the hips. So as I sewed the side seam, I graded from a 5/8″ to a 3/8″ seam allowance. On my next version I’ll grade out the the size medium at the hips.

Final verdict: I love this pattern and cant wait to get going on the next one!


A silky Buchanan

10 Sep the-buchanan-23

buchanan-lineA few years ago I picked up this beautiful habutai silk in India for only Rs 570 a meter (approx £5.50). This week I pulled it off the shelf to make myself a silky Buchanan  dressing gown, from gather. I had planned to make the dressing gown out of some other fabric I recently got from a colleague, but alas I totally screwed up when cutting it out  due to a combination of feather-brain and problematic fabric.

Having made G. a silk robe earlier this year, I knew I had to approach this carefully. I vowed to take my time and proceed with the utmost caution. The pattern directions certainly helped with this, as each and every  step is explained in detail with corresponding drawings.

I finished my seams mostly by zigzagging, although I used French seams for the shoulders, and a blind hem. I realised however that I didn’t have any matching thread, so the top stitching is a slightly off green, but I think it works. It was slow going as every stitch required a lot of pressing. I found using the steam of the iron (rather than actually ironing)  much more effective for removing wrinkles on the body of the robe. But it did come together like a charm, and I absolutely love it!




1 Sep 2016-08-31

Sewing shopI’ve just returned from an amazing holiday to Edinburgh to visit my BFF, which of course required a trip to the fabric shops. There don’t appear to be many options in Edinburgh, however the one and only shop we did go to, I was giddy with excitement in. This is a picture of me when I was simply ready to burst with excitement.

Edinburgh Fabrics has an amazing collection of Harris tweed and Moon tweed. And in the end I came away with four pieces, plus one for my BFF which I’m going to make into cute little winter shorts. So I have four new garments to add to my wardrobe planning.

First up is this amazing Harris tweed.  While £38 a very narrow meter, it practically jumped out, ran over and climbing into my bag the moment we walked in the store. I’m now searching for the perfect A-line skirt to make it up in.

Then this beautiful Moon wool in a heather color on sale for £25 a meter. This is going to Colette’s Phoebe dress.

We’d spent the previous day in Walker Slater, and it was sooo inspiring. So when I saw this subtle tartan (again £25 a meter) from Moon I knew it was going to  be the  Pleated pencil skirt  from Delia Creates.

I love flecked wool so was really excited to find this beautiful charcoal Moon wool with tiny turquoise, red and yellow flecks (£25 a meter). It may be another pleated pencil skirt or it may be a little blazer.

Finally is this lovely Moon wool my BFF got (alas not on sale, so £35), which are going to be for some Maritime shorts.


Sunshine & lollipops

31 Aug Bonnie

blue ginger dollSeveral months ago I picked up this fantastic organic interlock knit from Bizzy and Boos Fabric. I knew right away what I wanted to make with it: version B of Bonnie by Bluegingergirl. The only question was what fabric to use for the neckline and waistband. Having bought fabric a number of times from Bizzy and Boo, and knowing that Natasha was quite good at making recommendations, I asked for her help recommending the right shade of yellow ribbing. She suggested the ‘gold’ ribbing would be a nice, somewhat muted match. And it works perfectly together I think.

Version B has a scoop neck, 3/4 length sleeves and is cropped at the waist. The pattern is supper easy to follow and very quick to sew. I used a ‘jersey’ needle (80/12) on my machine – I would have liked  smaller one but that’s all I had left in my stash. And used the overlock stitch for all the seams, coupled with a twin needle to finish around the neck and sleeve hem..

Based on my measurements I was somewhere in between the 8 and 10. I decided to cut the 8 and, if need be, let out the side seams a touch around the waist. But only once I had cut it all out did I realise that it only had  a 1/4″ seam allowance which doesn’t give any wiggle room.

Cropped waists aren’t really my style as I like my tummy well and truly covered  and I’m not really sure what I was thinking when I chose the cropped option. I mean it looks super duper cute with my low waist ginger jeans but really I’d never wear it. In the back of my head I can hear my ma admonishing me that my kidneys are going to get cold. It does however make me  think of sunshine and lollipops and roller-skates

So I decided to lengthen it. If figured to make it look intentional I’d unpick the ribbing and attach a new band. I  cut out a 6 1/5″ band of the stripes (but on the vertical) for the front and back, and joined these at the side before attaching to the top, and then reattaching the ribbing. However in the process of unpicking it I definitely stretched the top piece and I’m not pleased with how it looks with the panel. Rather irking as I love the fabric. I suspect you’ll be seeing quite a few more in the months to come, through  not the cropped version.

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