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10 Mar 2016

Drafting a sports bra pattern

Sports bra!

yes, I am currently trying to get some muscles into that body, and guess what, it's a great opportunity to sew! Because apparently now when I see something I like in a shop, the first thing that comes to my mind is :" I could so make that", not:"I am going to buy that". It seems I really don't want to make my life easy. 
So there you go, I made a sports bra, and you know what? It was super fun!

Obviously I went a little crazy with my fabric, but I will say that every time I put it on, it makes me smile. So, yes, I am saying it: "I love leopard prints!!".

I searched for a polyester fabric with approximately 10% elasthanne. I just checked on a sports gear catalogue, and this is the percentage used in all bra sports, so there you go.
The white fabric was in my stash. I use it for underwear or swimwear, it's quite sturdy and firm with a good recovery.

At first, I thought using just an elastic for the straps would be enough, but ah no. I was soo wrong. There was no support at all. So I had to design something strong enough to keep everything in place. And this is what I came up with.

  Blurry picture anyone?
 My pattern was designed for a small elastic strap. I was so lucky that I got to correct my mistake.
I have used the bra a few time now, and it's good, it's really good.  It makes me happy because when I had the idea to make a sports bra, of course I wanted to wear it immediately, but it took me a few hours to make the block pattern, then to create the pattern for my project, and then to create the straps.
Haaaaa, I was frustrated.
But then sewing it was quite quick, and easy. And finally when I got to try it and it fitted good and it looked nice, I was so pleased. Now I can make as much as I need!

Here is how I drafted my pattern:
I used ESMOD's method for underwear pattern drafting. I can't say that I love their method for drafting panties, but the bra part is good.

As usual with the flat pattern technique you take your basic pattern. In these case the basic bra.
I have put all my pieces on one sheet of paper and put it under plastic for frequent use.

Then I use tracing paper to copy the base in order to modify it.

The book explains how to make a real sports bra. By this I mean a bra with two cups, similar to a "normal" bra, but without underwires.

This is not really what I wanted to make. But I still traced the pieces, and then assembled them in a manner I thought would be suitable for what in French we call a "brassière". I think in English it could be translated in: bralette. For inspiration I took a look at the selection at Forever 21 and they call them sports bra, so, OK, there is maybe no special word for it.

This is what my basic pattern looks like. I really followed the instructions of the book, the only thing I changed is the width of the band. I enlarged it to accommodate a 3 cm (1,18") elastic.

Then I took this basic sports bra pattern and modified it. Above is my final pattern. two pieces for the breast, and a band for the elastic. My problem was then do draft the back.

I hope you can see clearly on this pictures. I used my Esmod bust block pattern. And tried to place my bra pieces as best I could, so that I could draw any shape of back, straps, front neckline, and  still have a good fit in relation to a sports bra. It has been really helpful.

Preparation takes time, and it got me frustrated, but I shouldn't have been. It's really useful, and now I can use it again to draft very rapidly any sports bra I dream of.

In this picture you can see that my pattern piece on top has little folds.
This is a crucial step when you design with stretch fabrics that will be stretched during use. You have to shrink them by the percentage of stretch in you fabric.
It's a bit of a pain, but héhé, no pain no gain.

Here you can see the three pieces of the back.
The fabric don't have the same "hand", so the shrinkage is different.

I really enjoy making my own patterns, and if this is something you would like to do then go for it!
It's fun, it makes you think, your clothes are really made to your measures and it fits perfectly.
Of course it's quite a time investment, What I try to do is to build a stock of basic patterns, that can be modified easily and quickly. I am getting there. And I feel so proud to be able to wear clothes entirely made by me, and it's really fun sometimes to copy designers clothes for a tenth of what they cost in stores!

Finally here are some inside pics, because we all love that! Sewing porn right?
I lined everything with mesh. I thought it would give more support. The raw edges were finished with a simple binding. There are lots of methods to do this. You can check out Megan's way. Then I simply top stitched with a zigzag. I can't believe a few years back, I would have never used a zigzag because I wanted a clean look with no visible stitches. What was I thinking? Top stitching is fun, I don't know why but it is, and top stitching with a zigzag is double fun!

That's it. I hope I am beginning to tempt you to try to make your own patterns. If I can do it, anybody can!
Buy pattern making books and join me! I really wish to share my experience and maybe help or inspire some of you into making beautiful, made to measure clothes. Any kind of clothes you can think of!

This sports bra was just a first attempt. Next time I will change the pattern a little, I already have ideas.
Soon I will explain how to make your own panties. It's really easy. And this time no need to buy any book.


25 Feb 2016

A Downton Abbey inspired blouse

As you know, I am a fervent watcher of Downton Abbey. Of course the beautiful fashion is one of the things that attracts me most. And Quite often I found myself thinking: "oh, what a beautiful coat, or dress? How could I make something quite similar but, who would not appear too dated or costumy?"


My inspiration was this very simple, yet elegant top. I wanted a similar collar and shape.
And I really don't know why, but I really wanted it to be in that fabric. Two metres of viscose for 12 euros, I really love Toto soldes!

Here is what I came up with:

 Ok, so I don't why I look soooo weird in all the pictures, but that's all I got, so sorry, not sorry, my camera guy is the one to blame, not my poor face...

Back to the sewing part. I made a princess seam pattern. You can see it in the front photos: the lace follows the seam.

 I also used princess seams at the back, but it is completely lost in the pattern of the fabric. No lace at the back because the blouse is for winter, it is worn with a cardigan, so no one would see it, and I was not sure it would be comfortable against a chair.

I am still in the process of finding the perfect shape of sleeve. It's getting there. This top actually feels quite comfy. The arm reach is good, no restriction there. But the cap of the sleeve too high. There are a few puckers at the shoulder seam. But you can't see it because of all the beautiful flowers hehe.

 Ha, a close up. I am so proud of my pretty collar, it's exactly the same as Cora's. 
I like to have standing collars in my winter blouses. I think it's nice with a cardigan. But sometimes it bothers me, because there are not so many shapes of standing collars. Maybe I should try to experiment with colours.


The lace is attached only on one side at the front, it's easier to contour the shape of the bust.

 At the wrist and at the bottom of the blouse, I created a seam, so that you can see through the lace. In all honesty, I find that my blouse is not as chic as Cora's. If it was in the show, I am pretty sure, that Daisy would wear it! But don't get me wrong, I really like it.

I did a very simple opening at the back. The middle back seam stops at approximately 13 centimetres from the the neckline. The fabric is just folded, pressed and then stitched. And it is closed with a covered button and a small loop of fabric.  The inside is really neat, all the other seams are French seams.

 And guess who would really like my blouse?

Oh yeah! Haha! See what she was wearing just last week?

And  now, because I know you really love those, a blurry picture!

 That's it for today. I am actually still sewing a few different shirts. I am trying to have a bunch of patterns that fit perfectly with an attractive design.  So that I can use them again and again. And also try to get rid of a few UFOS and resizing a few dresses and skirts. There are not enough hours in one day!


12 Feb 2016

Fred models the polar vest

There, I have done it, I said that this year I would sew for someone else than myself, and look:


I am amazed at two things: that he agreed to be photographed, and that he is really good at modelling, don't you think?
Back to sewing. Polar is really fun to sew with, and quick! When you don't have to finish you seams, construction is REALLY fast. I even ended by enlarging my stitches because the normal length (2.5) was completely despairing in the fabric, and I wanted to sew even faster.

I used Burda young 7734 view B but changed it a little: instead of making the kangaroo pockets I sewed two large pockets inside that he can access trough an opening in the side seam. I thought that as the fabric itself was double layered, adding a visible pocket on top, would make his stomach seam bulky. I might have been wrong. And I also drafted a larger collar. Anyway, it's fine, he's happy, so I am too.

Of course without the pockets the pattern seamed a bit plain. So I added topstitching to imitate princess seams at the front and the back. I think it turn out to be a good idea, it gives a little bit of interest an definition.

 Next I think I will try to make him a shirt, but I will make him a made to measure one. He is not a standard size (he doesn't like when I say that hehe) and I think it's time I spend some of my knowledge, building a few block patterns for him, than buying commercial ones that never ever fit him right. Plus I like designing patterns.
That's it for today. I am currently making shirts for myself because you know : shirts are awesome !! 

14 Jan 2016

New year's resolutions and a little shopping.

Well, during the past weeks I unpacked (again) and came to the unbelievable conclusion that : I HAVE TOO MANY CLOTHES !!!!!

It is with tears in my eyes that  I have decided for other people. I know, it's awful.

I have begun with a very simple polar jacket for the husband. I bought the fabric for him, 3 years ago . Yes, three years. And the worst part is, that he really needed a warm jacket while we were living in Germany, hehe, and now we live in the south of France. Oups!

I chose burda young 7734. Not a really good fit for him, I've had to trace between three sizes. We'll see soon enough if it turns out ugly or not. I think anyway, that I will have to stop using commercial patterns for him. The sizing is really wrong for his stature. Lucky man, he will get made to measure clothes.

 The fabric is a double sided polar, in two shades of blue, to go with his eyes. I am so thoughtful. Sometimes.

Meanwhile, it's the sales, and I couldn't avoid going to the fabric shop to have a look. I have found three interesting things half price :

 A very classic and quite soft blue and white cotton. Will make a shirt for my man with it. Yes I will! I hope.
 A viscose flowery piece of fabric. I am currently transforming it into a Downton Abbey, inspired shirt.
And another piece of viscose with a border. Again for a shirt for me. I know I said I would sew for other people, but I can honestly say that I can use a few other shirts, plus I don't have a job, have pity. I need to buy fabric!!

Here is my little stock of fabric for the winter (if you can call that warm weather winter). I think it is not too high.  And it is mostly, for shirts. I need shirts, I want shirts, what's going on with me and shirts ??

But this year is not going to be all fun sewing for other people and shirts. I have some serious taking in to do on quite a lot of clothes, because I lost a few kilos before the summer, and now all my pants are too big, and some dresses, and shirts too!

A happy sewing year everybody. And lots of shirt making, lots of it.

26 Oct 2015

A shirt for me not for him

A few weeks ago I was staying at home, being a bit cold. I had bought a nice crisp cotton to make, believe it or not A SHIRT FOR MY HUSBAND!
But he didn't like the motif : "I don"t want anything that looks like flowers". 

So being cold and all, with 3 meters of fabrics and a lot of free time, I set out to make something I could were as well at home as at work (yes yes, I will work again!).

I have lost a few pounds so I had to adjust my block pattern. I had no real problem doing it, except for the sleeve, as usual. 
I am currently reading Sarah Veblen's the complete photoguide to perfect fitting witch was recommended by Peter and I am really happy I bought it. There are some pages dedicated to sleeve fitting, but  I have not yet reach those pages yet. I will definitively study them and fix that wretched problem once and for all!

I feel fine in my shirt, mainly because the fabric is really crisp, but I have made another top since (based on my block patten), in a more flowy fabric and the problems in the shoulder area really show! I have broad shoulders and small arms. The trick is to balance my pattern to make the shirt comfortable, to make the shoulders appears less large and to fit the bicep well but as the same time to not appear too small in comparison to the bust. That's a lot of work, and I really am begging to be really fed up with that problem.

Of course I forgot to remove my hair from the way :-) I made a yoke at the back, with a pleat, because I don't know, I felt like it.

I feel the length is good, it's meant to be a relaxed look. The pleat at the front is just there to had some interest to a rather classic shirt.

I also made a placket opening with a special collar: in French we call it a "col officier", a collar I suppose given the name, that was used in military uniforms. I couldn't really found the name in English. It is not a mandarin collar, it is narrower and the upper part of the collar is rounded and not at a straight angle. It's basically just the collar base of a classic tailored shirt slightly modified.

I bought the buttons a few months back in la droguerie.This shop doesn't exist in Montpellier, I am planning a strike and a public demonstration to express my  utter sadness and demand that one opens immediately!

The buttons are not white but cream, and I believe they go really well with the fabric. Better than white ones. I can't take credit for this idea though. It is just what I had on hand in my tinny travel stash, and I didn't want to buy new ones. A big thumbs up for chance!

I am currently in a shirt making spurr. I think I need some (hard to tell with almost all of clothes still in Brittany) hihi, life is a bit of a mess right now. Anyway, I like this shirt, my husband was wrong and I was right, it's a great fabric for shirtmaking, I just need something to go on top of it now...


23 Sep 2015

hi I'm back! (again)

Remember when I said I would post more often? Yeah, it definitly did not happen :-)
But hey, I'm back. And with a twist I did not expect: I live in the south of France now. This means less sleeves and more dresses! And maybe less Breton stripes (darn, I love my stripes).

Anyway, I thought maybe it was time to sew a few things for Autumn, although Autumn here seems to be as hot as summer in Brittany, and also I don't have a job yet, sooooo, what to sew, what to sew ?

Of course the first place I went in my new city is the fabric shop. I know, speak of an obsession. I am so pleased they have a toto soldes as well here. The selection is quite the same as in Rennes, so I was not lost, they also have a coupon selection and couldn't help but rewarding myself for being so brave (you know, leaving my dear Brittany and all) so I bought a few coupons.
The first one I am using is a nice crisp cotton.

The print is quite small, I thought I would make a shirt for the husband, but he didn't like the print. What? I present you with a gorgeous fabric AND I OFFER TO TAKE FROM MY PRECIOUS SEWING TIME AND YOU DECLINE?
Good, more for me hehe.

I made a few sketches to find the right idea, I always do that, it helps me figuring out exactly what I want to make, and also it is a preparation before making the pattern, so that I don't spend too much time on it, trying to experiment with the details.

I chose to make the first shirt out of the three. The fit is loose, with a nice detail at the front: a placket opening and a pleat. There is also a pleat at the back. It should go well with the white trousers I have just finished.
My mum told me it is not really the right color for the season, but the weather is much nicer here, it is still more than 20°c (68°f) every afternoon, so white pants I made! And also I'm in a new city, with totally different weather and I am out of a job, so I don't really know what to sew now, I am just going with the flow :-)

The pieces of the shirt are cut. I have begun construction. It looks good so far. I might have finished it by tomorrow. But what will I do next then?

Stay tuned for more random sewing and existential crisis!