Monday, April 27, 2009


Review here.

A couple of comments on the dye job. I am NOT a dye whiz. The dyes I used I purchased a long time ago from Elan when they still had a website. They are powder "jacquard" dyes which seem similar to the Acid dyes Dharma sells. You only have to add vinegar to the hot water/dye bath. I did this in a stainless steel pot. Most bra fabrics are nylon, which dye very well (and very fast). Polyester won't dye at all at home. If you don't know what color you want when you're done, sew with nylon thread (YLI makes some) so the thread will dye too. That's about the extent of my dye knowledge.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Progress Report - Update

Since first typing this blog entry a couple of hours ago, I finished sewing the bra. It fits great. The fit on Zillie is not as great, but good enough for a pic. No cup alterations were necessary.

Hopefully I'll have time tomorrow to dig out the dye and be able to call this one done. I'm very impressed with this pattern and will be writing up a proper review on soon.

I still have a little more left to do to finish this bra. I've been in and out of the sewing room all day, splitting my time between sewing, cleaning, shopping, web surfing, etc. I do plan to finish it tonight.

I have a concern about the areas highlighted in green. It seems "poofier" than any of my other bras but I won't be able to know for sure until I try this on. I'll be able to sew out the excess if needed. The inside won't be as nicely finished, but it's not like I'm lifting my shirts and letting people look at the inside or outside of my bras. ;-)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Looking for a 30-hour day

There just aren't enough hours in the day. I had to stop on the bra for today and do some household things, like setting up the new bed that was delivered today for DS#2. He's been away since Tuesday at a State Drama "thing" in Tampa with his high school and many more high school drama departments from all over Florida. Dramatic Teenagers all over downtown Tampa, as if they weren't already dramatic enough. LOL! Anyway, he'll be surprised when he gets home tomorrow. He's going from a twin to a queen.

So, back to the bra … this pic is just a little before where I left off. This is the next one cut, with construction started. Right now, it's white with copper stretch lace. But I'm sewing with nylon thread and plan to dip the whole thing in dye when I'm done (and if it fits, of course).

I took this pic to emphasize that when you are sewing a bra, you should be very careful with your pieces. Keep them laid out on the table as they will be sewn. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to mix up a left and right piece. I learned this the hard way a few years ago.

That's my helpful hint for this evening. LOL!

I plan to get up tomorrow morning and work on this some more. I'll post again when I have progress to show.

We Knew There'd Be Alterations

But that's why I'm sewing my own bra, right? To get one that fits *me* (and the girls). Really, though, this one is pretty darn good for a first go. I'm thrilled.

Here's the ugly muslin. Yes, those are fish. No, I have no idea what I was thinking. I hope I was thinking to use this for a muslin but it's been so long since I bought it, I can't swear to that.

I sewed this tester just as you see here – simple straight stitching, no seam or edge finishing. I did not use channeling, wires, edge elastic, or even powernet. This muslin was just to test the fit of the cups and to get a starting point. I did use some strap elastic and real hooks, though. Safety pinned bras are just too hard to get in and out of. Trust me, I know.

Because there's absolutely no support in this muslin, I tried it on over an existing bra to see if:

1. Do the cups contain all they need to contain? Yes. The bottom of the cup is perfect. The top edge goes high enough.

2. Are the seams hitting in the correct spots? Yes. The diagonal intersects the apex.

3. Does the band go all around me? Yes. It's a bit big right now, but powernet instead of Lycra fish will fix that.

4. Does the center panel lay against the breastbone? Yes. It's hard to tell over the RTW bra because the RTW is not as good in this area anymore since its wires are misshapen from age and wear.

5. Are the straps in a good place. No.

As you can see, there's only one area that needs adjustment. At least at this stage. I may change my mind after sewing the next bra, which will be a "real" bra with all the support-y things I left off of this muslin.

Here's what it looks like on me. That white stripe down the center is just the odd fabric.

And with the seams drawn in:

Using the bra I was wearing underneath as a guide, I used a narrow strip of yellow duct tape to "draw" a line where these pieces should end on me. I actually just happened to have this duct tape in my sewing room. Serendipity!

I haven't given it much thought yet, but I believe I'm just going to lay my pattern tracings over this edge, mark the adjustments, and trace two new pieces. I suppose this would be a "narrow shoulder adjustment" in a bra. ;-)

As I mentioned, I did sew on strapping elastic and hooks. But I used a zigzag and contrast thread so it would be easy to rip and use over. That's a little tip in case you didn't recognize it. ;-) I'll leave this test assembled for now, at least until the next one is sewn.

Next, I'm going to hop in the shower, take the dogs for a walk and then get back at this while the Mojo is still strong.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Weekend Sewing

OK, the panties are done so now it's time to get busy on the upper half. I've sewn my own bras before but for the last couple of years, I've been doing OK with finding RTW that fits. Until it was discontinued. And my supply of every last one in my size that I could find finally gave out.

An old thread on plus-size bramaking was recently revived and Heather posted some photos of a Danglez bra she's working on. Together with seeing that and Sigrid's beautiful Sewy bras over the last year or so, I was duly enabled. Off to to buy some European bra patterns, all of which are different enough from the few American patterns available that I just had to try them.

The ElingeriA website is both German/English (look for the little flags in the upper right corner) and Michaela, the owner, is very helpful if you need assistance choosing sizes, etc. Note that Paypal doesn't always work when checking out so if you run into that problem, choose bank draft and leave a note for Michaela to send a Paypal invoice and she will take care of you within 24 hours.

I ordered my patterns last Saturday the 18th and they were in my mailbox today — from Germany! Here's what I bought:

After dinner, I traced the Danglez DB4 (first one above) and added the seam allowances. The instructions for these patterns are in German only and have no illustrations so if you don't know how to sew a bra (or read German), you'll need a reference. Correction: The Sewy is well-illustrated. The Danglez are not. But Michaela does have an English instruction PDF for the Sewy bra on her website and those instructions transfer pretty well to the Danglez patterns too. However, specific basic techniques applicable to all bra sewing are not fully covered so bramaking beginners may still need a reference. The cheapest instructions would probably be a Kwik Sew pattern. More expensive references include Making Beautiful Bras and The Bramakers Manual. I have the former and the latter is on my wishlist. But because I don't really *need* it, it's still on the wishlist and not on my bookshelf. Although I did just get my first tax refund in about 15 years direct-deposited into my checking account today ... hmmmm .... ;-)

After the pattern work, I went ahead and cut out a "muslin" using some very bright fabric I bought years ago for bras. I'll sew it "down and dirty" and will not expect a wearable bra out of this. I just want to know how it fits and for that, I need to sew the whole thing.

I'll start sewing in the morning. It's been a long week and I may pass out over the sewing machine if I try to do any more on it tonight.

A note for Marie-Claude: While you're correct that this is a Dutch pattern company, this is the German version of that pattern (I bought it from a German site). I believe the Danglez patterns do also have English instructions and, of course, Dutch, if you buy directly from their website.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saved from Wadderville

I'd been staring at it sleeveless and hopeless on Zillie for weeks. I couldn't toss it because I really like the fabric. I couldn't (wouldn't) cut a new back piece because I didn't want to mess with that binding again.

And I'll digress for a minute …

This is the fabric. The binding was cut from the border. But it was a Royal Pain going through my coverstitch machine.

So I fused black knit interfacing to the back of the strip and it immediately behaved.

So, back to wrestling with the top.

Can you see what I did?

How about now?

It's not the most elegant of fixes but it's really hard to see unless you're looking for it. And, most importantly, it worked. Which means now I can wear it and after I do the hems tomorrow, I can also move on to something else. This top had been like a big boat anchor around my neck.

(In case you still missed it, I inserted a 1-inch strip all the way down the side, including through the sleeve too.)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Done for another year

Whew! That was a marathon, but I'm done. And apparently I can't count. I ended up with 11, not 10, new pairs of panties.

My panty drawer runneth over. ;-) Between new and existing, I now have enough to go at least 2 weeks without running out of clean pairs. I even tossed about 8 pairs that had seen better days. (Why is a single panty called a pair anyway??)

The elastic is still warped out from all the stitching and stretching during construction but one run through the laundry and it will shrink back down. Here's a new pair on the left compared to an existing pair on the right. The only difference in pattern sizing is that I added an inch at the top of the waist for the latest batch so they'd sit higher on me and right under my pants/skirts waistbands. The elastic shrinks up quite a bit, doesn't it?

The last step of Project Panty was to roll the big bunches of lingerie elastic onto some cardboard cards so it stays untangled and fits neatly in the drawer.

I took pics of how I attach the elastic and I'll put those up as a little tutorial in a day or so since there were a couple of requests. But right now, I'm kind of tired of looking at lingerie elastic. ;-)

ETA: I just did the math. The only part of this project that I'm counting as an expense is the elastic. All of the fabric is scraps from existing projects that would've hit the trash bin if not for panties, so it was free. 21.39 yds of elastic at 45¢/yd = $9.63, or 88¢ per pair. This is truly the one thing I do save money sewing myself, and the fit is priceless.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Under Where? Under There!

(Angie and Carolyn, the pattern is Kwik Sew 2908. I really like this pattern in general but if you decide to buy this one and make it, please read my review on PR as I have made a few key changes which involve some pattern alterations and construction changes.)

I've had no sewing time this week until this afternoon and tonight so the panties are still in progress. I hope to finish them all tomorrow. Above are 10 pairs with crotch pieces and lining sewn, trimmed and turned. I got a wild hair this afternoon and cut 2 more pairs. My panty drawer will be overflowing! And I still have a lot of big scraps for future pairs.

After I do the burrito thing (see my review link above for a link to the KS Beautiful Lingerie book instructions) to enclose all seams, I quickly zigzag the sides of the crotch to hold the two layers in place. I find this fast extra step really helps when applying the elastic in this area as there are no layers shifting. The extra thread is not even noticeable and most of it usually gets trimmed away anyway. For the natural (breathable) fabrics, I'm using self-fabric for the crotch lining. For the synthetic fabrics, I'm using white cotton interlock.

Tomorrow morning I'll start applying the elastic. That's 10 waists and 20 leg openings, or 30 applications. I'm NOT looking forward to that part, but it goes a lot faster once I get started and am in the groove. The elastic below came from Sew Sassy, which has a great selection, great prices, and fast delivery.

* * * * *

The new car has over 500 more miles on it since I brought it home a week ago and I've only been 4 places. I've had a little help from my sons, who have decided they like what they're calling "our car." DH has yet to even try it out. Angie, your comment is so funny. Maybe it is "your" car.

Kristy, you left a comment asking what about the dog hair from Chili in my fabric closet. I have three dogs. Dog hair is a fact of life around here. That's what vacuums and lint rollers are for, right? Besides, I'm a big softie when it comes to my poochies so they pretty much have run of the house, including bins of fleece in the fabric closet. LOL!

Sunday, April 5, 2009


So, here's a sideways view of the fabric closet. All looks fairly normal, right? (Note the stepstool at the bottom of the pic, for reference.)

I'm sitting at the cutting table and I hear some rustling sounds. I think they're coming from the fabric closet.

Yep! There's a critter in the closet. (See stepstool on the left.)

Not just any critter, though. It's Chili! He found the bin of fleece scraps in the corner and has made himself a nest. He stuck his head out because he thought he might be in Big Trouble, but all I did was laugh and point him back into the corner, where he promptly settled in for a nap.

While Chili was napping, I cut out panties from scraps (with NASCAR vrooming on the tube in the background).

And stared some more at the CJ crossover top still in progress. I like the top. I like the fabric. But there's not enough give in the fabric and so I don't like it on me. Sigh. This will be a sausage casing wadder until I drop 10-20. And at the rate of things around here, that ain't happening anytime soon.

In other news, I bought a new-to-me car this week. It's an orange Chrysler Pacifica. I've never had an orange car before but it's one of my colors, so why not. It matches my hair. LOL! I sure hope Chrysler is still around in 6 months, but my warranty is serviceable anywhere in the country, so I won't worry about that aspect. I just hate seeing all the businesses closing down this year. And a Big Three car maker? Who would've thought.