29 januari 2019

It Has Come To This

A few years ago I said that making my own underwear was not on the horizon. I have a pretty standard size, and finding bras that fit me was never a problem. But recently I started thinking that it could save me some money (bras are maybe the only thing that are cheaper to make than to buy) and allow me to make things that look the way I want them to (I'm very picky about prints, lace and the way things feel!). And if it didn't work out I could always get something from Hanne.

The downside is that Belgium might be one of the worst places to look for lingerie supplies, so while I was waiting for my underwires to arrive in the mail I decided to get started with something easy and try the Watson bra. I liked the longline band and thought it could be supportive enough to wear under looser tees and sweaters, and the end result is even better than expected!

It took me two versions and some pattern adjustments to get to this version, made from a very thin (and stretchy) black and gold mesh. I was between band sizes and went for the smaller size first (32D), which was a mistake: it was uncomfortably tight in the band, but the cup size seemed ok. I tried again with a 34D and while the fit of the band was spot on this time the cups were gaping at the center and at the side. I took a wedge out of the bottom of the cup at both sides and out of the side of the cradle, making the bottom curve of the cup more exaggerated and the cradle a bit wider. This glitter version was the third one, and it fit really well!

I had been using plush back elastic for the bottom of the two first versions, but found this golden elastic in my stash and thought it matched the mesh too well to pass up. All I did was align the elastic with the bottom of the bra (with the wrong side of the elastic on the right side of the bra) and stitch it down at the top with a triple zig zag stitch. After that I trimmed the mesh underneath away, since this elastic has a very soft back and I wanted that on my skin.

I like the way the straps are attached and noticed my favourite bras have them sewn on the same way. Not entirely sure about having the sliders in front, I'm a little worried it might show through/look weird under some shirts.

After that little victory (and wearing it for an entire day) I steamed ahead and used the last scraps of my precious glitter scale fabric to make a second version. I had to throw print matching out the window, but feel like this looks pretty cool!

I pretty much constructed all these as per the instructions, with one major change: I lined the entire bra with powernet for support (especially in this stretchy mesh). At first I was a bit worried that this would be too firm for a pattern designed for pretty stretchy material, but as it turns out this resulted in something super comfortable that still looks good enough to wear as a proper bra (and not just for inside the house). 

Using a lining also makes the insides look very neat and tidy, except for that cup seam of course. I was a little worried that could get irritating, but it hasn't so far. I could probably figure out a way to cover that seam up but... who is going to inspect the insides of my underwear?

Now let's see what happens once those underwires get there...

25 januari 2019

My Inner Grandfather Is Wide Awake

I seem to have a subconscious goal in life to be able to dress myself head to toe in my hair colour. That would explain why I keep making things in different shades of dark green/teal. Or maybe I dye my hair that way because I like the colour?

We had this yarn in the shop for a while, and while I loved the colour (obviously) I never really paid it much attention. Until I realised how well the slighly fluffy mohair mix would work for a textured sweater, like the Brooklyn Tweed Cascades. And then we had a sale on yarn, with my employee discount added to that, so I caved and got it.

Now, I seem to still have a fear of knitting fitted things. I'll check the measurements, knit a swatch, measure it and then conclude that the size I should be making will be impossibly small, so then I'll size up. And then it usually turns out on the large size. I fought this instinct with my Stonecutter (with great results) but gave in on this one. The result is pretty baggy, but it's so nice and warm I don't even care anymore!

The sweater is knit in the round from the bottom, which gives a nice seamless finish, but makes checking the fit a bit tricky. I might also have been a bit enthusiastic while I was knitting the body and a bit tired during the sleeves, because this thing is quite long (and the sleeves are a bit short). It's a very nice stitch pattern though, after a few repeats I knew it by heart and didn't need the chart anymore, which made it a bit more relaxing to knit than the Stonecutter.

I like the combination of tiny cables and moss stitch, even if I did mess up the moss stitch in two places (and these rounds are LONG so going back 400 (cabled) stitches in this fluffy yarn to fix it was too much to bother with). The rows of cables give some interesting lines to a plain raglan sleeves sweater. There are a lot of twisted stitches in here, which give a subtle but interesting extra bit of texture.

I lovingly call this my grandpa sweater because, um, it kind of reminds me of a grandpa sweater. Which can be a great thing. It's cold and miserable in Belgium right now, and I'm happy to have a few handknit sweaters to wear on days like this!

11 januari 2019

Camouflage For The Urban Jungle

About a year and a half ago, I tried drafting a bodice block for the first time. It worked out all right, got a lot of use and still fit me reasonably well, but I had drafted it without sleeves, adapting the armscyes for a sleeveless body from the start. Recently I thought it would be a good idea to at least have the option of sleeves (and I wanted to know if I could draft them) so it was back to the drawing board!

I started from scratch instead of trying to reverse engineer the armscye, and a few days of scribbling and sewing muslins followed. The main problem was trying to find the perfect balance between the sleevecap height and the size of the armhole, but after a few tries (and some advice from sewing friends, thanks guys) I landed on something I was happy with (it looks like it fits AND I can lift my arms!).

So what does one do after going through all that? Why, make a sleeveless dress of course!

Look at this great picture from really far away so you don't see any details.
I bought this cotton lawn along with the fabric for my black jeans because it was pretty, and fully intended to make a floofy dress out of it. All I had to do was make my brand new block into a sleeveless bodice, scoop out the neckline and add two giant gathered rectangles for a skirt!

I'm quite pleased with how the fit on this bodice turned out! The instructions in the book I used were a bit... random at times. They don't tell you to go by measurements to place the bust point, but just say something like 'this much down and this much to the left'. I did it their way first and corrected this after the first muslin. I also changed the dart placement a bit and rotated the shoulder dart into the side seam.

The shoulder darts on the back were tiny so I just rotated them out entirely. I'd rather put that shoulder dart action into a back seam, especially on a print! I went with a v-neck in the back for this one, since that's nice when it's warmer. One thing I did make sure to do is mark the 'lowest' points on my block pattern, meaning te lowest a neckline can go before my bra shows/things get indecent. Same for how wide a neckline can get before I need extra action to keep bra straps in check.

I lined the bodice in cotton voile and used some leftover Venezia for the skirt lining. I did make sure to make the lining about half the size of the outer skirt since that was already poofy as hell and I didn't want to go too crazy! It gives a nice amount of volume now, and makes sure the cotton skirt doesn't stick to my tights.

I tried SO HARD to make the print match across the back, but the repeat was too big and I didn't have enough fabric. Boo! Thankfully it's not too obvious in this busy print, but it was still frustrating (because I know I can do it!). I do like how my poppy tattoo kind of looks like an extension of the dress. In black and white then.

All in all it's a pretty good first result from this new block. It fits well and I still have room for food. Maybe the next thing I use this for will have (gasp!) sleeves!