Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sewing Bras - Watson Bra Pattern by Cloth Habit

I took the plunge!  Tried out the VERY popular Watson Bra Pattern by Cloth Habit.  And boy and I glad I did!

Easy to sew and SOOO comfy.  You better believe I'll be making more of these babies.  I forsee nursing bra conversion, maybe a cami overlay version, lace... so many possibilities!

No alternations needed. Zero! Fabric was a knit terry from my knit stash I picked up for cheap ($2/pound!) in downtown LA last year. I used lightweight powernet in the cups and medium weight powernet in the band. Elastics from Sew Sassy. To keep things a little neater (and comfort),  I did use wire channeling to cover up the cup seams though no wires were used.  The bows were necessary to cover up the mess at the top of the cups due to not following instructions. 😑

Money well spent. I'll definitely be making more! 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sewing Bras - Pinup Girls Classic Bra Pattern

Yay! My order from Bra Makers Supply came in! In addition to their very popular Classic Bra Pattern, I also picked up the Bra-makers Manual volume 1 and 2.

Feeling brave after reading the thorough instructions and hearing about all the great reviews about this pattern, I decided to sew it up without making a toile first! It's SOO nice to read sewing instructions that are not only well written, but geared toward beginners. Although I've sewed a half dozen bras already, the methods I used were gathered haphazardly - a few sew-alongs, an online video, random  Google searches on specific techniques. I can definitely see why so many people recommend this pattern as their first foray into sewing underwire bras - makes wonder why I didn't choose it myself.  There is something to be said about paying for a well made sewing pattern and the accompanying instructions. Nevertheless, the tidbits helped improve my sewing - creating neater stitches and more refined workflow.

I did a bit of research to see how others chose their size as the size recommended using the instructions yielded 32A... It gave me chuckle as I haven't been a true A cup since high school. After stalking her (Beverly Johnson's) blog, I found this link. She discusses the 4 common ways to measure for bra size, as well as their pro/cons. While she uses the underbust/overbust method most frequently, she freely admits it doesn't work well for petite women. She did mention that the  Bottom Cup Depth method is the most accurate and I agree with this. Luckily, the BCD measurement yielded the same bra size as the ABTF calculator in my case - now a 32E (post weaning).

The bra sewed up pretty quickly - no  linings or lace to fiddle with -  and true to unlined bras, easily showed you where adjustments needed to be made. Initially, it looked like there was too much projection the cups as the apex wrinkled but seemed to fit everywhere else. I had started pinning to reduce the projection when I remembered something from Beverly's Manual about taking in just the bottom cup depth.  A few pins later, the cups fit!  I think this particular method only works with my particular body type though. The only other alternation I had to make was taking a wedge out of the bridge under the arms. I found this change to harder to transfer to my  pattern than the others but thankfully the Manual had instructions for that too.

Picture of my super quick ALL BASTE STITCH tester in Simplex

It fits pretty well! The center gore is a hair too narrow - my fault as I just eyeballed the amount I needed to take in since it's pretty much need to take it in for all bras. Cups are pretty spot on after taking in the the lower cups only.  Still scratching my head on that one a bit - I've been TOO projected for many RTW unlined bras so this is a change. The dart I inserted in the  bridge could stand to be taken in a smidge more as well. Band is stretchier than I would like - the 32 fit more like a 34 as I have them on the tightest hooks. But that's an easy fix. I may double up on the medium powernet or just shorten the band next time.  Straps are pretty comfy and STAY on despite my sloped shoulders.

The Pin-up Girls Classic Bra Pattern is an excellent first (or second, third or sixth) underwire bra pattern.  Instructions are thorough with pictures and the patterns themselves are organized in a way that is easy to find.  While the full coverage style itself isn't earth shattering, it does make fitting easier and a well-fitting bra will beat a cute ill-fitting one any day. I forsee this pattern translating well into a nursing bra, demi cup and foam cup versions and for the intrepid, a sport bra (with the help of the Bra Makers Manual).

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bra Sewing - Finebrand Lingerie Supply (Brick and Mortar Store!)

Woo hoo!  A brick and mortar store that sells, gasp, bra making supplies in the Los Angeles, CA area.

Finebrand is a wholesaler just south of Downtown LA that specializes in bra and bra related supplies for RTW.  Luckily for us home sewers in the LA area, they are also open to the public.  I assume this is due to their proximity to several Fashion Schools and Art Schools as well as the Fashion District (there were a few students there during my visit).  The only requirement is a $25 minimum.

3720 South Santa Fe Ave
Vernon, CA 90058

My experience there was quite pleasant (understatement - I was practically dancing) from the service to the pricing.  Make no mistake - they are a WHOLESALER, I walked into a warehouse.  Do not expect a fancy facade, bright lights, price tags or registers.  While they do have a website, it does not currently support online shopping.

As they are geared toward the RTW market, there are a few things I want to note for us home sewers and/or fashion students.  

- They have a good variety of underwires (demi, regular, vertical, plunge etc) but limited in size.  There was nothing above a 44 underwire size. It seems they have wires starting at 32 - 42 range? They also have plastic underwires for those with allergies.

- Full range of sizes for Strapping Plush Elastic but larger widths (5/8") are limited to the usual: black, white or nude.

- Lots of molded cups, rolls of poly laminate foam for those who want to make their own foam cups, thicker padding for inserts.  Again, only basic colors: black, white or nude

- Channeling seems a bit thinner than the one I've been using (acetate tricot cover with cotton bias) but seems on par with most other channeling purchased online and in RTW bras

- No tricot or any other bra lining material (despite what it says on their website).  I did ask to verify.

- No lace, lycra, tulle, mesh/netting that I saw. This makes sense as they cater to the RTW market

Additional Info
- Full range of Sliders and Rings in metal, nylon covered metal and plastic.  The gunmetal looked quite nice as does the currently popular gold colored.

- They have plastic boning for the side wings in MANY different styles.  Continuous roll, covered, undcovered, covered precut lengths ready for insertion. LOVE! One notable difference of the covered variety is the cover itself is velvet and the plastic boning thin enough to sew through.  Unlike the infamous Ridgeline, the plastic boning is all one piece instead of many tiny strands held together with nylon.  The covered boning - continuous roll or precut are available in black, white or nude only.

- They have the BEST Power Net.  Its thicker than anything I've seen for bra making.  [It should be noted, I've only purchased Power Net/Power Mesh from 2 other suppliers so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.  If my other 2 are rated as lighweight and medium, then THIS one is definitely heavyweight] Similar to the type on shapewear.

- They have a decent selection of CORSET making supplies as well!  Coutil, busks and metal stays (spiral and regular) in a full range of prefinished lengths as well as continuous roll. Metal boning seems a bit thinner than my german ones but for non-tightlacing purposes, it should be fine.

- To get the best bang for the buck, buy in bulk.  Especially for basics that you KNOW you'll use: powernet, sliders/rings, elastic.  The price break can be up to 50% depending on the item ($0.20 ea for one or $0.10 ea for 100+)

- Have a list ready.  Things move faster and more efficiently if you know what you want.  Feel free to check out what their carry as well as their terminology on their (limited) website.

Check out my haul!

Final Thoughts
This should come as no surprise but I WILL be back.  They have a solid selection of basic bra making supplies for MOST women at very good prices.  Everything I purchased today was cheaper than any source I could find online - with the exception of one.  Factoring in not having to pay of shipping and being able to satisfy my need for instant gratification, its a win-win.  Oh, and they have their own private lot so no parking fee. When purchasing supplies for bra making, I will be heading to Finebrand first for basics, then head online for specialty items (underwires outside the RTW range, all fabrics related to unlined bra making, and other specialty notions etc) for the forseeable future.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Beauty Review - Foot Peeling Mask by THE FACE SHOP

Okay, its a bit late for summer but I finally got my hands on one of those foot peels that give you baby feet!

Foot Peeling Mask from The Face Shop

A number of different Japanese/Korean companies make similar products at different price points but they all seem to have the same active ingredients.  Lactic Acid and/or Salicylic Acid.  You place your foot in the plastic boot, pour the magical liquid in and seal it.  Wait a few hours and wash it off.  The actual peeling takes a few days.  In my case, exactly one week.

Depending on the brand, the directions may or may NOT state to soak your feet for 20-30 minutes first.  I HIGHLY recommend that you do - especially if your feet are particularly dry/cracked.  My first try with these type of foot peeling masks (diff company) yielded ZERO results - I assume thats because I didn't soak my feet. This attempt was quite successful.

The effects of peeling mid-process can be kinda gross feeling.  I, uh, helped things along by gently scrubbing with a pumic stone.  Although not quite finished, I can see the difference already.  Scroll down to the end if you want to see a "in-progress" photo!

Conclusion: Try it out!  I liked the peeling mask from The Face Shop as it smelled wonderful as well but I also saw different no-named brands in the Japanese Market for half the price!

Stop here if you don't want to see peeling feet!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Sewing Bras - Another crack at the Merckwaerdigh Mix 30 bra!

Its done!  The (heavily modified) Merckewaerdigh Mix 30 bra in gorgeous black lace and blue lycra.

Pulled out my old dress form to model my new creation - with the help of some, ahem, enhancements to fill out the bra.

My first attempt using this pattern out of the package didn't go to well and that bra has since been elevated to tester band status. Subsequent attempts to correct said issues yielded much headache due to lack of drafting experience.  See in action below:

Not wanting to just toss it aside, I decided to try to salvage it by redrafting the cups.  It took 5 attempts in muslin before the cups remotely looked like they fit properly. Unfortunately, something was lost in translation when I moved from the muslin to the stretchy cup lining fabric and it became too big. Of course, I didn't discover this until the bra was 90% complete.  After dragging my feet on it for a week or two (and trying a few other small adjustments in hope I didn't have to take the cups apart completely) I finally gave in and redid the cups.

I determined that the outer cups can remain (and should remain) unchanged but the inner cups was drafted in a way where the top of the cups were TOO open (complete opposite of the problem I had the first time!).  So after taking apart the seams, I went ahead and reduced the curvature of the inner cup piece from the apex up.  For the most part, it worked.  Just still a tad too projected for me at the moment (post weaning).  Also the back band is tighter than usual - likely because the blue lycra doesn't have quite as much stretch as the powernet.  It will likely just sit in the drawer.  What does one do with {perfectly good, new} me-made bras that don't fit?  Anyone interested in a giveaway? Approximately 30FF - great for someone who's narrow set, with lots of projection.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sewing Bras - Troubleshooting the Merckwaerdigh Mix 30 Bra

So a while back, I tried sewing the Merckwaerdigh Mix 30 bra and while the bra came together relatively easily, it didn't fit.  I have since dismantled that bra and turned it into a fitting band.  Its such a cute design - I really want to make it work.  So I went back to made a bra to
ile of the cups to see if I could find out what the problem was.  The 32F (sister sized down from 36D!) toile cup was obviously too small so I tried the 32FF (sister sized from 38D) and its still not quite right.

Anyone else have this problem with the Mix 30 pattern?  I don't really want to try the next cup size up (and last cup!) as that would require even more redrafting since the base of the cup would be too big for the cradle.  I'm now on toile #4...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sewing Bras - Adjusting Your Custom Bra to Your Liking

 Custom Bra attempt #3 (or bra #5 in the grand scheme of things)!

After my last round of attempting to copy and merge various elements from two RTW bras with some minor adjustments, I (surprise, surprise) discovered I needed more adjustments!  

Adjustment #1 - My bright idea of moving in the straps 2 cm seemed to flatten me out.  I believe it has to do with the combination of the style and possibly the materials. The material I used for the foam lining is notably "softer" than the original thus slightly less structure?  In a different style that is more "natural" and/or unlined, moving the straps 2 cm shouldn't make that much of a difference.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.

Adjustment #2 - In order to better mimic the RTW bra, I decided to try an "external" power bar.  Incidentally, the RTW bra had both padded "internal" (inside the cups) and "external" (outside the cups) power bar!  I had assumed the exterior power bar was for visual appeal only.  How wrong I was! The power bar helps brings the girls up and center better than the bra alone.  Even with higher side wings (more on that below).  I lined up two of the outer cup pattern pieces to draft the power bar pattern as a starting point.  Since the power bar was going to be made of stretchy material, it didn't have to be exact.  I took my lightweight powernet (only type of powernet I had at the time) and folded it over so it was double layered and cut while lining up the fold on the straight edge.  Then I cut a matching set in the last bit of matching lace I had.  Zigzagged the three layers together with a bit of lingerie elastic and it was ready to attach to the main bra.  The main portion of the bra was already complete at the point and I was feeling lazy, sooo... I just sewed it on to the cradle of the bra following the stitches from the wire casing.   Same with the portion of the cups to the straps.  It made it kinda bulky but did the job!

Adjustment #3 - By far the easiest adjustment with minimal issues, I went ahead and raised the height of the side wings a full inch.  Its still not quite as high as the RTW bra I have, but a bit more comfortable while still keeping a smooth silhouette.  [If you're wondering why in the world I would want to raise the side wings, check out my review on Satami bras!]

Adjustment #4 - I decided to try my hand and adding lace detail that didn't have finished edges.  It requires lots of zig zaging in different angles but thankfully, I have some free hand embroidery experience.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the end result!  The bra lifts and "shapes" as I had hoped.  It creates a rounder profile, which I prefer, and brings the girls closer together.  My boobs have never felt better.  No more settling for ill fitting RTW bras where the center gore is too wide [so its sitting on breast tissue], too tall [so its jabbing me in the chest], narrow back bands [causing back rolls, ugh], and my arms rubbing against my boobs when driving [I'm narrow set but they point wide].  I felt good enough about the bra to make a pair of matching panties late into the night.  The pattern is based off the highly rated Merckenwaerdigh Mix 30.

I highly recommend trying to sew your own bra if you tend to have issues with most RTW bras.  You can purchase bra making kits for less than cost of a full price bra at Nordstroms.  Try out the FREE Maya Bra pattern from AFI Atelier (check out my review on them here) and/or take a look at the instructions.  If you have ANY experience sewing, try it out.  If you have zero experience with sewing but NEED pricey bras (cuz small band + large cups = $$$$), it may be worth your time and effort to learn to sew!  With bra making kits at the same price as a new bra, what do you have to lose?

Sewing Bras - Watson Bra Pattern by Cloth Habit

I took the plunge!  Tried out the VERY popular Watson Bra Pattern by Cloth Habit.  And boy and I glad I did! Easy to sew and SOOO com...