Tuesday, December 11, 2018

And The Winning Nursing Bra Is...

Back in September, I did a comparison of all the bra patterns I've made and I wanted to update my analysis now that I've gotten a chance to regularly wear them all. I should note that I'm doing this comparison for the nursing bras I made and not the regular bras, which dramatically impacts fit.

Currently, my two favorite handmade nursing bras to wear are the pink Romy and the white Harriet. I'm not happy about the fit of my two nursing-bra Watsons (the sizing is not forgiving to bust fluctuations, especially in the short version) or my Barrett (it's not designed for a large bust, which I now have). I'll probably get some wear out of these less-favored bras, but in the meantime I'm using this all as an excuse to make more bras in the pattern I like best: Harriet.

Meet my "winter" nursing bra in mauve velvet. This is another Harriet bra that I made from a soft bra kit from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics (I supplied wire casing and wires from my stash to round out the kit). I simply adore it.

I learned a few things about velvet during this project: 1) it sheds like crazy while cutting and working with; 2) triple check the pile direction and I should probably cut everything as a single layer in the future instead of on the fold; and 3) it's not fun to unpick seams done in velvet -- it's a bit cleaner to do on the velvet side, though pile direction matters for seeing the stitches well. I had a slight mishap related to #3 which required recutting the pieces for one of the cups but did better when it came to unpicking the topstitching on the casing. Oof.

Stay tuned for this bra's "summer" sister, because why make one bra at a time when you can make two?

Monday, December 03, 2018

Tacara & Patternsy

Back when baby was sleeping most of the day, I was able to get some sewing time in to expand my post-partum wardrobe. Specifically, I made a Seamwork Tacara with the member-exclusive bonus variation. It's a relaxed-fit, split-back shirt which is great for maternity leave. Since I used my serger, the construction was straightforward (apart from me finding the neckline confusing to construct, though I love how it turned out).

The more interesting thing to note about this project is that I tried out a new resource which I heard about via Seamwork: Patternsy. Patternsy prints digital sewing patterns on lightweight tissue; you simply upload the copyshop version of the pattern .pdf file to their website and they send you the print outs in the mail. Upload to deliver time is 1-2 weeks, mostly because they are based in the UK and international shipping takes time.

I've found reassembling digital patterns from 8.5x11" print outs to be the worst part about using digital patterns -- it often takes the same amount of time to assemble the pattern as to sew the item -- so skipping that step is amazing. So to me, it's worth the delay and the price (it was less than $20 USD to print and ship 3 patterns, though costs vary by size of content printed) to get patterns on tissue. This is definitely a service that I will be using again.

Thursday, November 22, 2018


Just over a month ago, I gave birth to a little girl.

It's been kind of a crazy month of adjusting to having a newborn while also dealing with a hyper toddler. The extra challenge is finding clothing to wear -- a lot of my maternity clothing is now too big while my regular clothing is too small. I admit to buying 2 pairs of pants at Old Navy that I wear constantly, but I also have the clothing I made this fall in preparation of this eventuality:

I showed off my two Seamwork Astoria sweaters last month and also finished a Seamwork Jenna skirt not long after the baby was born. I made all three one size larger than normal and I'm happy to say that they all fit well (thanks to knit fabric in the Astorias and an elastic waistband in the Jenna). For not being able to try everything on when I made them, I'm very relieved it all fits.

Now that baby is awake a lot more, I'm not sure if I'll have any time to craft, but I at least have some nice handmade things to wear in the meantime!

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.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


I've mentioned in a few of my recent posts that I'm making a Harriet bra. It's finally done! This project totally got stalled in the spring and again due to a notions issue, but I'll get to that in a minute. First, I need to discuss sizing.

Even though they have the same designer, the Harriet bra uses different sizing than Watson (UK v US). While I'm a 36C in Watson, the measuring guide for Harriet suggested I make a 32E. And to make things even more confusing, Harriet's UK/US size conversion chart says I'm still a 36C. I read a number of mixed reviews online - some saying to follow the measurement guide, others saying not to, and even a couple saying they were in between. So I hedged my bets, compared pattern pieces between Harriet and Watson, and went with an intermediate 34D.

So of course, this bra doesn't fit. The biggest issue is that the band is too tight. Going up a band size but keeping the same cup size would put me squarely in the realm of a 36C (my regular size). At least I can use the same size underwires?

Speaking of underwires, they're the second reason this project got stalled. I had the bra almost finished when I discovered, after inserting my underwires, that they're too long! I ordered what I thought was the right size but from a different notions supplier than the one recommended. Note to self that underwire maker matters.

So like my first Watson, this one turned out to be too small. I guess I'll have to fix that in my next Harriet!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Down the Rabbit Hole

It's official, I'm obsessed. I can't stop making bras, particularly Watsons. This post shows numbers 3 and 4. This is my first short version; it's super comfortable.

The next one I made as a gift. Is it weird that I am making bras for family members or does that just mean I'm really, really obsessed?

You'll notice something else new in these photos: a dress form. My mom's weavers guild got some dress forms for an exhibit and she snagged one for me when the exhibit ended. It's not fancy and it's definitely not my size, but it makes for lovely bra photos (because I'm not going to blind you with my paleness to model bras).

You might think that 4 Watsons does not yet merit a rating of "obsessed", but I still have 2 more bras to post (a Harriet and a Barrett) and I just cut out fabric for 2 more Watsons. I'm in trouble.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Watson 2

I might be obsessed. After breezing through sewing a Watson bra, I couldn't help but want to make another. So I ordered a new kit, this time with scuba fabric, and churned out a second Watson bra!

The second is a different size and fits much better than the first (turns out, you should measure yourself for these things) but I think some of sewing was better on the first one. In particular, I'm not happy with how the cups meet the center of the cradle on this Watson. Otherwise, it turned out fine and I can't stop wearing it.

While I would love to make more Watsons, I'm ready to tackle a new challenge in Cloth Habit's other bra pattern, Harriet. This one has underwires, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018


I love learning new things. However, I admit that learning new things can be daunting. Case in point: sewing a bra.

The bra in question is the Watson bra. It's a great entry into making your own lingerie because it's a soft bra without anything more complicated than having the right findings (which I bough alongside the proper fabric in a kit). Still, a bit intimidating for a first timer.

It turns out that I didn't have anything to be worried about (though it probably helped that I read through the pattern about 5 times before starting). I was able to start sewing and complete the bra in about 2 hours! The joy of whizzing through a satisfying craft project in a small amount of time has no equal.

For as much as I loved this project (and find the final bra to be very comfortable), I can't wait to dig into my next Watson and make a couple tweaks. Next time, I'll adjust the sizing, be sure to baste my layers by hand, and use non-lace fabric for the cups. That said, I could not be happier with my first bra-making experience.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Surprise Mittens

Every once and a while, I think of a craft project so nerdy that I just have to make it. The impetus for my most recent of these projects was HiKoo's Abracadabra color-changing yarn. And my brain naturally made things more complex by insisting that I use this yarn in a fair isle project.

However, the result is just amazing, as shown in the following video when I expose a "fresh" side of a mitten to sunlight. I just love the way that the zigzags appear from nothing.

Hulda Surprise Mittens - In Action!

What's not being said is that in doing color-changing fair isle, I ended up doing "two"-color, white-on-white knitting. Thankfully, the color change yarn was very shiny against the wool, but it was still much easier to knit these mittens outside on a sunny day. For reference, here is the indoor view:

Oh, and did I mention the pattern was in Swedish and modified? The book I have has since been published in English, but I managed to make my version work by inferring Swedish knitting words and using the provided chart.

So, yes, sometimes I like a good challenge. White-on-white, color changing fair isle modified from a Swedish pattern was a crazy idea, but I think that the awesomeness of the results made it all worth it.