Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Two Sweaters

This year on the blog has really proved to be all bras all of the time. But I'm happy to report that I'm working on/finished several non-bra projects. I can't guarantee that I won't ever sew another bra again (I do still have 3 bra kits and a bunch of other supplies laying around, after all) but it's time to work on something else.

If you've been picking up hints I've been putting down, you'll know that I'm expecting at the moment. With plans to nurse the new little one, the clothing theme for the coming year is separates. The first step was churning out a pair of knit tops.

The pattern here is Seamwork Astoria and I made one from a sweater knit and the second from a lighter-weight synthetic black "cashmere" knit. These don't exactly fit over the belly at the moment, hence the dress form. Honestly, sizing was an issue overall. Normally, I'd sew a Medium, but [after a lot of waffling and a phone consult with Mom] I cut a Large for these and then still had to take in most of the seams. They'll fit my post-pregnancy body okay but I suspect that I'll want to take them in even more once my body returns to normal.

I'm pretty happy with the pattern and they serged up well, but we'll see in a few months how they actually wear. Until then, I'm happy to be breathing some new life into my post-pregnancy wardrobe.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bra Pattern Comparison

Now that I’ve sewn four different bra patterns and have had a chance to wear them, I thought it would be valuable to do a comparison. The four patterns include: Cloth Habit Watson, Cloth Habit Harriet, Madalynn Barrett, and Ohhh Lulu Romy.

It’s also worth noting that the first two patterns come in traditional bra sizes (band + cup) while the latter two come in S/M/L/etc. This affects both the design and fit of the final bra.

Watson is an awesome starter bra pattern. The instructions are easy to follow — including walking you through unfamiliar techniques and giving guidance on stitch width and length — and you end up with a nice bra. In terms of wear, it’s comfortable, though not the most comfortable on my list. I’ve also had some “muffin top” in the cups which are related to fit issues/being pregnant, but are still more of an issue here due to Watson’s cup shape.

Harriet is the bra to be proud of making. It’s more complicated to sew, but still has Cloth Habit’s accessibility in the style of directions. Sizing on Harriet is key. Once I made the bra in the correct size, it was comfortable (though a different comfortable than wearing a non-underwire bra). If you’re looking for an underwire bra pattern, this is a good one to check out.

Barrett is the bra I both love and hate. I hate putting it on (it’s a pull-over with no back fastener) but, once it’s on, it’s the bra I’d rate as most comfortable. I also wasn’t a big fan of the directions, which were very text heavy and didn’t have clearly enumerated steps; I definitely wouldn’t make this as your first bra. That said, this is a free pattern and could easily be modified to include a back fastener.

Romy is an all around solid pattern. Good directions (though lacking some of the extra details of Watson) and a comfortable wear. I also like the finishing detail in the enclosed seams. I think Romy is more forgiving of fit issues, likely due to the cup shape. I really like my Romy bras, with the exception that the back straps need to be closer together.

All told, if you’ve never sewn a bra before, sew a Watson. Otherwise, try a Romy or, if you don’t mind a pull-over, a Barrett. For a good but accessible challenge, tackle a Harriet. I hope this comparison helps!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Romy and Romy

I seem to be finding the bottom of this bra rabbit hole, or at least loosing some steam. It might have had something to do with the chaos of moving my sewing room and then sewing 3 bras in 2 weeks. I won’t say I’m done with sewing bras, only that other types of patterns and my WIP pile are looking pretty appealing right now.

Before I hit this point, I tried a new pattern: the Romy Bra by Ohhh Lulu. I like the simplicity of this pattern — bonus points for having straightforward directions with pictures — and a construction which leaves the seams enclosed between the main fabric and the lining (see last photo).

And because I’m obsessed, I actually made two of these bras: one standard version (hello pink!) and one with the strappy modification included in the pattern. Both were easy to construct, though the strappy version did not easily convert to a nursing bra.

The problem was that I thought I could anchor the maternity clasp on the added front strap. However, this resulted in the front strap pulling in and the cup pulling out, meaning the clasps popped open much too readily for my peace of mind (the twisted area in photo above). The solution was to add another strap on the outside to balance the pull of the front strap. It took a little jiggering, and an added O-ring, but I made it work.

Two more things about this bra pattern. First, pink version is actually the only bra I’ve assembled using my serger; I’ve been surprised by how readily you can make a bra on a regular sewing machine. Second, I don’t like how far apart the straps are at the back of the bra. It’s only a problem with the white version because I used tighter elastic, but it’s something I’d modify if I made this pattern a third time.

So there you are, bras #10 and #11. The current total include 6 Watson’s, 2 Harriet’s, 2 Romy’s, and 1 Barrett (6 of which are nursing bras). I’ll have to do a comparison of each bra pattern in a future post.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

A Small Hat

It's rather shocking to be blogging about something other than a bra, but I do occasionally sew things other than lingerie. These things are often hats, but at least it's a change from the last eight (!) items I've made.

This particular hat is another bucket hat from the book Sewn Hats. I made one for the toddler last summer in size XS and he's already outgrown it! So this time I sewed a size Small. As in, an adult-small hat. For my 2.5-year-old. I guess he just has a lot of brains.

I didn't have enough of the fox fabric (only a fat quarter), so I decided to make this hat completely reversible with a different lining. You might recognize the lining as leftover fabric from one of my Scout Tees. It's a bit of a departure from the pattern specifications (which don't call for lining the crown), but it wasn't a difficult modification and I actually prefer the full lining + reversibility.

We told him to smile for this picture and the results could not be more adorable. But at least he likes his new hat (and it actually fits him)!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Modifying a Bra Pattern for Nursing

I've been making a pile of nursing bras recently, which is a great excuse to give into my bra-making obsession. I'm not actually using a specific nursing bra pattern but rather modifying bra patterns I already have (both wired and soft). This is not actually a difficult modification and I thought it would be worth walking through the steps in case someone else wants to sew their own nursing bras.

The main thing you need to sew a nursing bra is a pair of special maternity bra clasps (I got mine from Sew Sassy, where they are available in white, black, and beige). I matched up the width of the clasp to the width of my strapping, which works fairly well though is a little wide on top. The clasps replace the rings that usually connect the cups to the straps at the front of the bra (shown below).

Clasp in place of a ring connecting cup to strap

There are three spots to connect the bra to the maternity clasp: 1) at the top of the clasp base, 2) at the bottom of the clasp base, and 3) on the piece that snaps onto the front of the clasp. The straps connect to #1 and the bra cup to #3 (allowing you to freely drop the cup for nursing), but you'll need to do something extra about #2. If you don't do anything with spot #2, the strap will fly away free when you unclasp to nurse and it will be a royal pain to get everything connected again.

Bra inside, showing both ends of the anchoring elastic

The key is to connect spot #2 to the cradle, which won't interfere with nursing and will anchor the strap for when the cup is released. I do this using a short piece of edging elastic, connecting one end of the elastic to spot #2 on the clasp and the other end to the top edge of the cradle, just outside of the cup-cradle seam. It's very little extra sewing (a straight stitch to attach the elastic to the clasp piece and a zigzag to anchor the new elastic to the underarm elastic) and makes for a working nursing bra.

The one thing I don't like about this modification is that the new elastic often peeks out from under the side of the cup. But this is a small issue compared to having a working nursing bra.

One last thing to take into account is that you'll want to make your nursing bra in a larger size than you usually wear. I've been going up one cup size while leaving the band size the same, which fits me at the moment (but may be too small for when I'm producing a lot of milk). I don't have a perfect answer for what size to make, other than it at least needs to be larger in the cup than your usual size.

I've used this modification successfully on the following patterns: Cloth Habit Harriet (shown here), Cloth Habit Watson (demonstrated in this post), and Madalynne's Barrett Bralette (demonstrated in this post). I'm also happy to say that this Harriet bra was much more successful than my first Harriet, which had sizing issues. The first was a 34D and too tight around the band, so I went up to a 36C and then added a cup size for nursing, leading me to make 36D. The 36D fits great and the pattern was much smoother to assemble the second time around.

So there you go, some notes on how to modify a regular bra pattern to allow for nursing. I hope that they help other people experience the joy of sewing your own nursing bras!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Doubling Up

It's time to admit that my Watson obsession is so bad that I'm now making them two at a time. I'm going to say that it's because it gives me some assembly line efficiency, but really I just want to make All The Watsons.

I do have a good reason for needing so many new bras, as these are also nursing bras. They differ from the standard in that I went up one cup size and am using nursing bra clips instead of rings on the straps. This also requires adding a length of elastic to connect the base of the clip to the bra's cradle, which is thankfully a pretty easy modification.

I'm particularly excited about the black and white bra. The fabric is leftover from my Women in Science dress. I wasn't too keen on the fabric for a dress (it's Spoonflower's performance pique), as it only stretches in one direction, but it's absolutely perfect for a bra. And I now have an awesome lady bra!

The one thing I’m not happy with is with the hook and eye. Instead of using kit notions for these bras, I bought hook-and-eye tape and just cut off the length I need. I’m not used to this hook-and-eye form yet and definitely shouldn’t be sewing it with a contrasting color. Also, I wish I bought a 3-row tape instead of the 2-row, as it makes for a tight bra. Well, something to improve on for next time!

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Barrett Bralette

I branched out from my Cloth Habit pattern wheelhouse and tried a free bralette pattern from Madalynne, the Barrett Bralette. It's a simpler pattern (fewer pieces than Watson) but I couldn't resist the cute cut-out in the front.

The bralette came together pretty easily, though the pattern itself is a little wordy to follow, and the final bra is really comfortable. That said, I don't think that I'll make another pull-over/no-hook bra because it's a pain to put this bra on. Comfortable once it's on, but annoying to get there.

There is also one special, non-standard feature I added to this bra: nursing clips. I'm going to need nursing bras again starting this winter and I thought making new ones was infinitely preferable to digging out my old grubby ones. This is the reason that I have so many bras on my to-make list (and also why I'm confused about sizing at the moment).

So overall, a winning bra even though I doubt I'll make another. But it's comfortable and will do the job that I need it to do.