Monday, August 21, 2017

Sewing Bras - Copying My Favorite RTW bra!

It's finally finished! This gorgeous blue and purple bra got put on the back burner as I excitedly sewed up the Pin-up Girls Classic Bra and awaited the arrival of different underwires.

Look at those fabulous colors!

I'm loving how everything turned out!  Mirroring the fabric was a labor of love as the original fabric included pixilated gradations from green to blue to purple.

At anyrate, a quick run down of how I copied my favorite RTW bra.  After stalking Beverly Johnson's (aka The Fairy Bra Mother) blog, she had mentioned "pin copying" the seams [link here] on your favorite bra to get the basic patterns.  I had attempted to copy this particular bra before and thought I had a pretty good approximation but this is variation yielded MUCH better results.  [Previous attempt here] And with fewer revisions. Actually, I haven't needed to do any alterations yet.

Steps amount to placing paper over foam board/cardboard.  Place bra on top of paper - making sure the paper is large enough to pin copy the pieces on to.  I started with the smallest piece - inner bottom cup.  Use a few pins to "stretch" out the corners and curves.  Then use a pin to "trace" around the seam lines like you're a cheap tattoo artist.  Remove and repeat on an different piece.  For longer pieces you may need to pin out half of the piece, "trace" with pin, remove most of pins leaving the ones near the center of that piece.  Then pin the other half of the piece and finish "tracing" the piece with the pin.  Trace the dots and true the lines.  Your patterns pieces are ready!

Here are my results!

In this particular case, while i did trace the bridge and back band, I used my go-to pieces.  A heavily altered cradle and back band from the Maya bra.

A close up on the pleat detail.  Here's the link for the methods I used from Beverly's blog.

A full coverage, ballet style back band with 4 [four!] rows of hooks/eyes.  The higher sides and back ensure a smooth silhouette.

Here's my version vs the original.  What do you think?

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

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

EDIT 9/1/2017: Add more info on elastics, fabrics and hook/eye after 2ND visit!

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.

- 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

- Found a roll of Black cotton lycra (at least I'm pretty sure thats what it was) and rolls of nylon knit fabric (1 way stretch in black, white and 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.  There seem to be multiple types - the thinner plush type in RTW bras, thicker type with seam line (similar to the acetate tricot cover with cotton bias) and a REALLY thin type that looks like it was made of felt (to be fair, I think this is for the plastic boning on the side wings.)
EDIT 12/31/2017: They have multiple types of channeling.  They have the fuzzy type usually seen in RTW bras, the thicker type similar to the acetate tricot cover, and a thinner fuzzy type that feels like felt (very thin, I wouldn't recommend this for use with underwires - maybe plastic boning).

- No tricot or any other bra lining material (despite what it says on their website).  I did ask to verify. The do have a thin shiny material (maybe 15 denier?) that they use to cover foam cups with.  It has a 60-75% stretch one way and maybe 2% stretch the other.  I can't remember what they called it but it wasn't tricot or acetate.  They had a similar material in black (she said they were different as this one is thicker - maybe 25-30 denier?) that felt a lot like lycra but only had 2 way stretch.

- No lace, lycra, tulle, mesh/netting that I saw. This makes sense as they cater to the RTW market
EDIT 12/31/2017: I found a TINY selection of lace.  Boxes of 1" non-stretch lace on rolls (pink and nude).  A some 1" stretch lace in white, blue and red - only 1 roll each.

- Full range of sizes for Strapping Plush Elastic but larger widths (5/8") are limited to the usual: black, white or nude. Nice range of colors in smaller widths (red, gray, pink, brown, etc). They have 1" Strapping Plush Elastic on rolls and pre-made straps in various colors/sizes.

- Solid variety of elastics for bra making.  Plush Picot Elastics in various sizes on rolls in black, white or nude (3/8" - 2" wide on rolls!!). Plush lingerie elastics (no picot - smallest size was 1/4" in black or white), picot elastic (not plush - smallest was 3/8" in black), regular elastics, rope elastic.
EDIT 12/31/2017: I found their basic Plush Picot Elastic is on the stretchy side.  Their scalloped Plush Elastic was firmer.  The widest plush picot elastic was 1" not 2".  They DO have a 1.5" Lingerie elastic (no plush, no picot) - It works well as a stretchy stay tape for strapless longline/merrywidow/bustiers.

- 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/FIRM] Similar to the type on shapewear.

- They also have an excellent selection of hook and eyes.  Single sets of eyes, two, three, four rows, etc - all pre-finished and professionally looking.  They also have my favorite hook and eye tape on a roll - 3 columns of hooks, I determine the number of rows according to my needs (Black or white only).

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. Still looking for a reason to get the ROSE GOLD.  So gorgeous!

- 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. Ridgeline is also available on continuous roll covered or as is.

- They have a decent selection of CORSET making supplies as well!  Coutil, busks, hook and eye (1" apart) 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 was cheaper than any source I could find online - with the exception of one that maybe due to the better quality.  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!

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...