Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sewing Bras - My First Merckwaerdigh Bra and Panty set!

After much anticipation,  it arrived!  The Highly rated Mix30 Sewing pattern from Dutch designer Merckwaerdigh.

How excited was I that stayed up all night to sew this baby? 

After copying the pattern and adding the seam allowance (European pattern companies don't include them),  I got right to work on the  muslin in a 32E after  sister sizing from 34D. Turns out that we too small - fit was much better is in usual 32F (sister size 36D). I also noticed after my first muslin that this bra provides a more pointy bustline.  So for round 2, I went ahead and rounded it out a bit.

In my excitement to sew up my first Merchwaerdigh, I neglected to notice I didn't have enough channeling for the underwire. Thankfully, that's one of the  lasts steps so I went ahead and ordered the part and continued sewing.

One thing I did to save time was to use the full band from the Maya pattern that already had all my changes (narrow set, wider band, ballet back, etc).

Things to note for next round:
- Move the straps in the back in a bit. The straps in the bra is bit more wide set typical of a balconette. Visually appealing but not so great on my sloped shoulders. Alternatively,  move the straps in 2 cm at the cups or just do away with the  fabric strap section entirely.
- Google when in doubt! (see below)
- Try 4 hook eye closure
- Try wider elastic for band

Alas, the bra didn't fit.  Cups were slightly too small as I was quadding at the top.  I'm not sure if that was partially due to the fact I used foam instead of the lace as indicated on the pattern (although the Merckwaerdigh blog specified that you can use foam for just about all underwire bra patterns).  More likely though, it due to the fact I tried to "round" out the apex a bit and possibly reduced the projection too much.  Otherwise, the center gore was flat, and the wires were comfortable.  I may try this again in a larger cup size later.

While I was waiting for the shipment to arrive, I decided to start on the matching panty. Cutting went well but when it came to assembling, I couldn't wrap my head around Step One of the instructions. It might have been due to me sewing so late at night or lack of sleep (4am!!) from the night before. I got it stuck in my head that the lace piece needs to lay on top of the back piece and was not comprehending plain English it seems. A graphic of some sort would  have been extremely helpful! They apparently meant for you to lay the lace piece above the back piece - overlapping 1 cm - essentially extending the height of the back. (Thank you Google!) The rest of the  assembly was pretty smooth once that was figured out. Incidentally,  I wasn't the only one who made this same mistake! Tasia from Sewaholic did the exact same thing and her post saved me from pulling my hair out!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Bra Sewing - My Very First Me-Made Bra! MAYA by AFI Atelier

After MUCH anticipation, my shipment of bra making supplies finally arrived!  Unfortunately, the bra pattern I ordered did not.  What is one to do?  Why search online for a free pattern of course!

Thus, the MAYA Bra Pattern from AFI Atelier

This free bra pattern has an amazing size range - 28AA to 44H (UK)!!

Prior to diving into my precious bra making supplies, I decided to make a muslin or bra toile to check the fit.  There is an excellent trial run bra tutorial at Cloth Habit.  I highly recommend it as I made not one but TWO trial run bras.

As a lingerie sewing novice, I found the instructions that accompanied the Maya bra to be sufficient.  I did some more "research" while I was waiting for the supplies to arrive and felt fairly confident to just dive in.  Mostly the tutorials from Make Bra to supplement the **almost** complete instructions from AFI.

Why 2 bra muslins?  The first one (32F) turned out to be too big in the cups - so I went back to the AFI site and downloaded the 32E.  Since I already had a teeny bit of experience sewing bra cups from the first muslin, I went ahead and made a few changes for round two.  I'm fairly narrow set so I took in the center gore - at lot, lowered center gore and graded the cups to match, and widened the back band to better mirror my favorite bras.

A few key take aways:
- Double up on the lightweight powermesh (likely unnecessary if using regular powermesh)
- shorten band further as it fits like a 34
- slightly too much immediate projection at the wire 
- Shorten underwire as the shortening the center gore also shortened the wire channeling.

Overall, pretty comfy!  Cups fit pretty well - center gore tacks and doesn't jab me in the chest.  This creates more of a "natural" silhouette.  I may make another one - but wireless to use as a sleep bra!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Almond Tea Bread Recipe

We were fortunate to receive a bag of cherries from the grandparents, but needed some assistance to finish them before they get gross.  After a minutes randomly Googling recipes on the internet, I came across this:

Almond Tea Bread by Taste of Home

Doesn't it look beautiful?

What I love about the recipe is the use of fresh cherries and almond paste instead of the usual almond extract.  Give it a bit of an extra oomph, I think.  My own attempt didn't photograph as well but was delicious nonetheless.

According to my 4 year old, it was the "best dessert ever"!  Nuff said!

I adapted the recipe as follows:


  • 1 can (7 ounces) almond paste
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh pitted cherries 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk


  1. In a large bowl, combine almond paste and butter; beat until well blended. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, gently toss cherries and 1 tablespoon flour. Set aside.
  2. Combine the baking powder, salt, remaining flour; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
  3. Spoon a sixth of the batter into each of two greased and floured 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans; sprinkle layers with half of the fruit. Cover with another layer of batter and sprinkle with remaining fruit. Top with remaining batter; smooth with spatula.
  4. Bake at 350° for 1-1/4 hours or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

I only had 2 cups all purpose flour avail (but would have subbed 1 cup of wheat anyway) and with the addition of the wheat flour, more milk was required.

Just a note about pitting the cherries without a tool.  You can use a chopstick or a piping tip to push out the seed.  I found the number 5 piping tip to be perfect as you can just set it on the cutting board and push the cherry down on top.  Be-warned that if your cherries are on the juicier side, you may want to put on an apron and possibly some goggles.  Not that I had cherry juice spray on my face or anything. =)

Friday, June 2, 2017

Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads

It has become clear to me that my current skincare regimen is a bit lacking as I approach my, gulp,  40's.  While relatively wrinkle free, I am now plagued with pregnancy induced sun/age spots that has increased in number with each birth.  As such, it was time to reexamine my repertoire.

1. Oil based cleanser - Hado Labo Cleansing Oil
2. Exfoliant (whenever I remember) - Dermatologica Daily Microfoliant or Olay Pro X brush
3. Moisturizing Toner - Hado Labo Gokujyun Clear Lotion
4. Face Mask (as necessary which is usually when it starts to feel dry) - any brand with Hyaluronaic Acid on sale
4. Moisturizer - Hado Labo Gokujyun Milk

This particular combo was great for summer - moisturizing and lightweight.  I don't particularly like the feeling of "wearing" something on my face and tend to gravitate towards Asian Beauty Products for that reason.  It certainly doesn't hurt that this particular Japanese drugstore brand is significantly cheaper than the department store stuff while being highly effective!

In addition the age spots, I also noticed the skin on my cheeks was drier than my pre-pregnancy days and the skin overall looks a bit lackluster.  My usual go-to's: Exfoliants and Face Masks weren't doing the same magic as they once were.  Hence, its time to dive into the world of Serums and Ampules. 

After a lot of late night researching, I decided to try a Serum with high concentration of Vitamin C (at least 15% for efficacy) and a chemical exfoliant with AHA, and BHA.  Vitamin C is suppose to brighten and the AHA/BHA to remove more dead skin. Also, given the nature of chemical exfoliants,  it also stimulates collagen production, reduce wrinkles, firm skin and brighten! 

Enter Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads.

It meets the criteria of having both AHA and BHA with Vitamin C to boot!  The pads are convenient when shower times are the length of an episode of a kids show.  

Use: Wash face with cleanser. Wipe pad on face and decollage. Wait 30 seconds - 3 minutes. Rinse off. Continue with rest of skincare regimen.

I kept it on for closer to 3 minutes before gently rinsing off.  Have to say - my skin looks brighter and smoother.  May be my imagination (as I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the difference ONE application will make) but my cheeks are a lighter shade.  There was a slight tingle but I am VERY pleased with the results!

I also started using a Vitamin C serum today - will report on that in a few days.

Sewing Bras - Lace Shelley Bra - aka Bra Seam Manipulation

Its been a while since I've sewn up a regular underwire bra (2+ months!) while I've been focusing on the Strapless d...