Thursday, May 30, 2013

Shout Out to the Experts: Using Clear Elastic (to Stabilize a Neckline) with a Cover Stitch Machine

Hey y'all: I hope to make V1027 this weekend:

And to use my new coverstitch machine to its best advantage, in the process!

Here's my situation (and I haven't been able to find much out there on the topic):

I'd like to stabilize the neckline - which is sewn by simply turning the raw edge under and stitching (according to the directions).

My choice method would be to use 1/4 inch clear elastic (I love this stuff). Before I got the CoverPro, I'd have attached it with my serger, turned the hem under and top stitched with my regular machine. Now that I have the coverstitch machine, I'd like to use it to neatly coverstitch the neckline down.

As far as I can tell, using the serger to apply the elastic before coverstitching will result in a messy, bulky wrong-side with tons of looper thread (first the serger thread followed by the coverstitch thread). However, given how the coverstitch machine works (which I barely understand, admittedly), it seems like the coverstitch might not adequately catch the elastic as I'm stitching, if I don't first have it adhered to the wrong-side, raw-edge of the fabric (which is what the serging would do).

I've read that you can use iron-on adhesive (like Heat n Bond) to hold the elastic down between the layers of the turned up hem prior to coverstitching but, having never used this product, I don't know how I'd go about it.

I suppose I could also simply use knit stay tape, instead of clear elastic, to give the edge a bit of ballast before coverstitching, but I sense that will leave the neckline vulnerable to stretching in the long run.

And, natch, I could just forgo the coverstitch on the neckline, in favour of my serger method (though my new Husqvarna doesn't seem to love top-stitching stretch fabric - at least not yet).

So, here are the questions:
  • Is there a tutorial to show how to attach 1/4 inch elastic to a turned under hem using a coverstitch machine? OR Is there no way to do this reliably?
  • Can you use the clear elastic with the coverstitch machine by applying iron-on adhesive first and, if yes, how exactly?
  • Do you think that knit stay tape (like fusible interfacing in a strip) will do the trick?
  • Is the serger method the best way to go? (I really want a stunning double top stitch on the neckline and that's a crap shoot with my regular machine.)
Oh, and while I'm at it:
  • I understand that V1027 is designed for a 2-way knit (only). My intention is to use modal with 4 way stretch (having very good recovery). If anyone else has made it using 4-way stretch fabric, can you confirm that the pattern works? If it doesn't, pls. do tell me now!
Thanks all for any feedback you might be able to provide. I'm a bit in the dark here...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In Which I Advise You To Engage in the Occasional Act of Protest

You never know where it will lead. 

To wit, my new baby:
Photo of the Janome CoverPro 1000 CPX from here
I guess the universe heard my bratty cry and encouraged my husband to buy me the coverstitch machine for my birthday.

You would be right in remembering that he has already bought me my birthday present - another sewing machine (which I love). In fact, with the exception of my serger, he's bought me all of my machines. Let's call him an enabler :-) Truly, though, if I am ever lucky enough to be remembered as a couturier (I'm working up to it slowly...), I'll have Scott to thank.

I haven't had a chance to try the CoverPro yet. It arrived yesterday and I've been working / occupied by after-work activities. However, I did take it out of the box, set it up on my table and admire it. 
Ooooh, such a pretty machine! I've bought one non-standard attachment (it comes only with the standard heming foot): the clear foot (which I understand is pretty necessary cuz the regular version doesn't allow you to see when you hit the end of your hem "in the round"). See, I got this machine, primarily, to hem. That doesn't mean I won't learn all of its other features over time (binding, felling etc.) but I'm not going to invest another 500 bucks in accessories simply to have them. I'm one of those organic, immersive learners. If I don't feel the need to know how to do something specific, chances are I'm not going to waste my time figuring it out. Which is why, 3 years later, I'm only now starting to learn the secret things about my serger. Mind you, I'm really hopeful about - and looking forward to - some awesome, professional-grade hems on all of my garments as I figure out how that function works. And I hope I figure it out quickly!

Please stay tuned for more info on this wonderful gift as I begin to understand it.

One other thing, Lord help me: I think I have to confess that I really have taken to this top: 

The shoulders are too wide, fyi, so it's not perfect. But I'm half-inclined to make it again (after removing an inch of width from the shoulder seam, grading to nothing at the underarm). I'm still not recommending it and I don't know that I can bear to bring myself to re-undertake the slog. Point is, I really should avoid those categorical pronouncements I enjoy so much.

Today's questions: Don't you think I'm SO lucky!? What's your top piece of advice about using a coverstitch machine? Tips and tricks are so welcome! Let's talk!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Bra Adventures: Cleo by Panache - Bella

Well, my lovelies, it appears I have a new brand.

Cleo (the deep cup offerings) is perfection but do note: I've had to size up in the band (32 not 30) and in the cup. The likelihood is that you'll want to do the same.

To wit:

(See this post for deets on where to get these...)

What I find amazing (from a personal restraint perspective) is that I haven't tried the Marcie or Lucy - this brand's iconic offerings. Why? Well I sense they're not the optimal shape for me - particularly the Lucy. The wires look too wide and the bras, it seems, cater to a fuller on bottom shape. I feel these styles would not lift and project like the styles that really work for me - Meg (well, if I could get the right size), Melissa, Bella. I suspect the Natasha would also work extremely well but I cannot stand the pattern. Each of these is deep through the centre, reasonably narrow (though not excessively so) in the wires and very firm in the band. They are also full balconettes that plunge, ever so slightly, at the centre, which is to say they have a plunge that's restrained enough to provide support for soft breasts. The deep Cleos have more oomph than the Panache Jasmine, interestingly, not because the gore is lower (it's exactly the same height) but because the upper cup (which is quite narrow) starts quite high. Also, the widest piece of this bra is the lower side cup. It makes up fully half of the cup.

Let me tell you about this set:
  • The pattern is awesome - bright, cheerful, eclectic, youthful. While bugs on bras is not my thing, these yellow, embroidered butterflies (and birds) are just the thing. And the colour is much more vibrant in real life than in any photo.
  • The shape is fantastic. It's high and front-and-centre. It fits a full through the middle, deep breast shape very well, with no pillowing - but don't forget to size up. I suspect if one is considerably full on top or on bottom this bra might not work, but a little in either direction will be well-accommodated.
  • The support is excellent. It doesn't merely lift, this bra also holds everything in shape. It's got that patented "no-stretch" three piece cup happening.
  • The undies, like the bra, are very well made and in the cutest shape. In truth, I haven't had a chance to try them on yet but I sense that they will be flattering.
  • One thing that I have noted about this bra - and it is more observable in the Bella than in the Melissa (though the dimensions appear to be almost identical in this respect) - is that the under-band is pronounced. If you have "girth" (hideous word) that begins just under your band, you may want to give this a miss because, as you can see from the pics, this bra has a broad under band. It's one of the things that contributes to it's good support. 
  • Overall, the Melissa provides less coverage (though quite enough) and the lovely Bella provides a bit more (perhaps hovering on the cusp of too much, depending on one's shape).
So, today's questions: Has anyone else out there actually tried this bra?? What do you think of it? The reviews sure are far and few between. I suppose it's possible I got this version right out of the gate but I'd love to know what others think.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Summer Series: Five in Five, Take 3 (Again) and How I Sound Like I'm From 1932

So here it is, V8790, on the second try:

I can't tell you how precisely never it's going to be before I make this thing again.

I could tell you why but do we really want to bother? I know lots of peeps on Pattern Review liked this thing but you can't trust them let's agree to disagree. Look, I may even wear this top despite 5 miserable hours of construction (wherein all of the same problems recurred along with some new ones). But I'm not going to pretend it's worth your time. Hell, I didn't even hem it cuz, um, who cares?! It's not gonna ravel.

Actually, that point leads me to my next topic - how not hemming knits is heretofore an act of protest - until I get a cover stitch machine. I even found one yesterday, in my own town, new from a reputable shop: the Janome Coverpro 1000CPX (apparently an extremely good machine) for $599.00 which would have been delivered to me same day for and extra10 bucks?!?!?! Honestly, this was a gift.

Alas, I ended up spending that money, the very same hour, on a new dryer, mine haven given up the ghost after 16 years, a week before. Yesterday is when the Sears guy came, dug around for a minute, and said: I could open up the machine but that'll cost you 100 bucks. The motor is shot. It'll cost $400 to fix or you can get a new dryer for approximately the same price.

If you're not prepared to shop around, and you tend to buy appliances in 30 minutes by looking a specs online and then calling a store to set up delivery and installation, it actually ends up costing the same amount as a new cover stitch machine. $730 bucks all in. As you can see, I'm no appliance-whore (I went Kenmore all the way. I mean, the last one lasted 16 years.)

Gotta say, sometimes home-ownership sucks the fun out of things. (I know, I know, such a very bourgeois sentiment...)

Let's take another look at the new top with my new skirt - which is awesome by the way and from a pattern which I in no way begrudge...

Sweet outfit, no? One can almost pretend the top was a success. And, as I made it for free (you know, if you think of stash fabric like that), I saved approximately 200 bucks on a new outfit. I guess I might apply that to my savings fund for the new Janome Coverpro - if it weren't already spent 3 ways.

On a final note, last evening, we went for dinner with a friend who told me (much to my surprise) that I speak in the perfect twenty-first century incarnation of the mid-Atlantic accent (youngsters - simply imagine every Cary Grant film you've ever seen the first 5 minutes of). I find this hilarious! I mean, I've often been told that I enunciate exceedingly. And that I am dramatic. But no one's ever said this before! And lest you think I sound like Katharine Hepburn, my voice has none of that fab gravel and is much more in the timbre of a high-note bell. Still super fun. I feel so black-and white!

Today's questions: What do you think of the top? Or the skirt? Or the dryer-debacle? And do you sound vaguely anachronistic? I wanna know!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Summer Summer Series (Knitting): Stressed Much?

WTF is going on? I appear to be knitting with CRAZY tension on the fitted boucle jacket. My original stockinette gauge was 7.5 stitches per inch. I did lots of swatching. I blocked the swatch (it softened but didn't much grow).  I started the back piece. Again and again, I got 7.5 stitches per inch for a number of inches.

Lately, it seems things have been looking a bit, um, tight. I re-tested gauge below the ribbed waist (the first phase of knitting). It was 7.5 stitches. I tested gauge above the ribbed waist. It was 8.5 stitches an inch. If you don't knit, that won't mean much. If you do, you'll know this makes masses of difference to a finished garment. Which is particularly problematic when you're trying to achieve 0 ease (aka perfect fit). 8.5 stitches per inch will make my garment inches smaller than I've planned on. It's even smaller than the pattern's original gauge which I couldn't get, despite all of my efforts, and on the basis of which I drastically altered the pattern.

I've debated what to do. I'm not much of a ripper-outer (obvious mistakes excepted). And, aside from the waist (which I was concerned about enough to knit in the same needle size as the rest of the garment, though the instructions advise you to size down), I'm fairly sure I can sort this out between blocking and going up a needle size. Fortunately, I've made this decision prior to reaching the back-piece underarm section (the under-arm / chest area is the place where I need the most room). As of now, I've switched from the 2.25mm (US1 needle) to the 2.5mm needle (a needle that doesn't seem to correlate in US sizing. I think it's a US1.5?) and this is how I intend to continue. Unless my gauge changes again.

Depending on what comes next, I may opt to increase the dimensions of the front pieces. More likely, I'll keep changing needle size, if necessary, so that I'm sure I've obtained the gauge according to how I rescaled the original pattern. It seems like the wisest approach at this point - though I can't go up or down more than one needle size without risking a weird-looking end result. And of course, as vertical gauge changes with new needle sizes, I continue to make adjustments on that account.

Gotta say, this isn't the mindless knitting experience I was hoping for (after the major, week-long math project that was the original pattern alteration). But it is what it is:

We're getting somewhere - though not at a great pace...
Today's questions: How do you handle knitting projects of varying gauge? (While I certainly have my share of unexpected challenges, this isn't one I've experience before.) Do you leave them for a while? Do you rip back? Do you use a variation of my methodology? I generally knit with lots of negative ease - which means I've got lots of latitude on gauge. This time I'm putting my sense of balance to the test. Sure, I practically always wish I'd made things smaller. But you never know when that's gonna change.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

It's So Random

I have a sense this week is going to be rather busy, judging by how it's begun. So I've decided to just throw it all out there and unburden myself in an unstructured fashion. Lucky you!
  • For starters, I have such PMS that I'm actually concerned for the safety of those around me. There is nothing that isn't bothering me right now. I mean, I went out after an unsuccessful shopping excursion (more to come on that and, really, what was I thinking?) and bought 3 large bars of chocolate. With salt. Seriously - if only this stuff came with booze and Advil it would be nature's perfect food.
  • In an irony, Sunni has tossed me over to the dark-side with this post on her new cover stitch machine. I must have one but they appear to be all back-ordered in TO and I can't order from a US vendor - which is to say they can't ship to Canada. I've got some tricks up my sleeve. Let's see how it goes on not sewing hems that look like drunken mice at work. Truth is, I sewed without a serger and all was well. Then I got a serger and it was life-changing (in a sewing context). Now I've had a serger for almost 3-years and I feel it's time to make my hems look as professional as the rest of my seams. I always say, you can't do your best work without the right tools.
  • Do you have a online-purchase of vintage buttons habit? I do.  It's a very inexpensive way to enrich your crafting, support small-business and get packages in the mail. Really, you should spend hours a night on Etsy...
  • ...Or on eBay, researching bras. Here's my latest bra adventure experiment, Cleo by Panache Bella bra and undies (more to come, of course, when the products arrive):

Vendor: Just Bras

Vendor: Whisper Lingerie (I've used this vendor before with success...)
  • I'm hoping for a similar fit to the Melissa - also Cleo by Panache. Frankly, I'm obsessed with this brand and it's deeper-cup offerings. And it's one of those weird patterns I can get with.
  • Something that can't get with me, apparently, is a basic "nude" bra to wear under all of the things one wants to wear with inconspicuous - but still hot - lingerie. Ever since I fell out with the Fantasie Smoothing Balconette - that one that seems not to work on me anymore, sigh - I haven't been able to find a replacement. As recently as today I tried a local boutique for the Empreinte Melody Full Cup Seamed bra - different than the Melody in that it isn't molded, it has a seam and it has a ribbon at the upper cup:
This photo - of the black version, natch - from Here
  •  The caramel colour aka the "nude" version is just lovely - not granny-like - and it looks fantastic on Veronica (which is what inspired me to try it). Alas, it only starts in a 32 band, which is just too big. Why do they assume that ladies with "smaller" back sizes don't want serious coverage on occasion? This bra is gorgeous, btw, just not right for me. So here's the shout out: I'm looking for a new neutral basic that's highly wearable under all kinds of tops (not lacy or having too much fabric profile). I prefer a front and centre, highly-lifted, "natural"-to-pointy shape. Side-support is welcome. Please provide your feedback!
  • To switch gears entirely, the knitting continues apace. I'm about half way through the back piece and I've knit one of the pockets - largely to confirm gauge in K1P1. I appear to be knitting a bit tightly this time around so I opted not to go down a needle size in rib. As a result, the waist and pockets look slightly more prominent than they otherwise would - though in no way badly. I just don't want to have a problem with tight-fit at the end. Of course, I don't want loose fit either.
  • And indeed, the bottom layer of the surplice top V8790, does affix at the underarm - as I suggested yesterday. But I must have given up on the instructions at this point because the top layer is affixed at the waist, per the envelope drawing. That potentially explains why I had to shorten the length of the facing on one side - but not really, cuz I had to do it on both sides and I LOWERED both sides (equivalently to 2 inches below the armsyce). I mean, this pattern can't have it all ways. Mind you, this liberates me mentally to fool around with the positioning of the surplice side seams. I'm going to be a bit freer on my next go-around, with the recognition that no one's come forward with much on the positive front for this pattern.
Not sure how much time I'll have to blog this week - though I always seem to be prolific as soon as I say this. In fact, worrying about not having time to write has compelled me to mega-post. I. must. express. myself.

Thoughts or feelings about any of the above?

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Summer Series: Five in Five, Take 3 (aka the knit top that warrants a muslin)

Ooh la la. Let's talk about V8790, shall we?

Get a coffee. It's gonna take a while but I promise to make this the most thorough and exposé-like of all the reviews of this top that you might ever read.

It's hard to know where to start. I kind of love this top (at least on others!), despite how badly my muslin turned out. I kind of think it might not be for me (or those having large breasts - despite how the surplice design leads one to think the opposite). I kind of think the pattern may be flawed. I kind of adjusted the crap out of the pattern so, I suppose, that's what could be flawed. (Note to reader: I don't think so. I was very careful and considered while altering. And the knits are my spiritual people. When it comes to stretch-fabric, I have intuition on my side.) I definitely think the instructions are mediocre.

But let's go back to the second sentence of the last paragraph, the one wherein I tell you that I deliberately made a muslin of this top. Um, in what world is that "quick summer knits-ish"? Do I just like making things difficult?

Actually, I think it was the best idea I've had in a long time. And this is why:
  • The instructions are crap. I mean, the written portion is ok, but the photos are SO cryptic that you oughtn't bother.
  • I didn't know how the gathers were going to work - or the sizing (I cut a size 10 and it was definitely on the snug side) - or the facing (I freakin' hate facing) and, really, I spent a lot of time learning about them in the course of the muslin construction.
  • It's nice not to care about ruining something as you're trying to figure it out. Furthermore, I had this yellow tencel that was never gonna be used for anything else - it's 100 per cent see-through - but it's the same fabric I have in my stash in two other colours (that, I really hope, are less see-through). This was a chance to know I'd be able to a) get rid of unwearable stash while b) making something that I'll be able to remake in a fabric having the same properties. Sweet.
  • I altered this pattern quite a bit (the topic of another section of this post, below) so I wanted to see if I'd maintained its integrity. I believe I have.
First let me tell you some neutral observations about V8790:
  • This is not a pattern for a beginner! Or even for an experienced sewist who really doesn't dig working with knits. I can't believe the Vogue people have put it in the very easy category. That's high on drugs, IMO.
  • It's cut for an Amazon princess with a waist that's 4-feet long.  OK, I'm exaggerating slightly, but if you're short of waist, you should know you'll need to alter it or you're gonna have a tunic on your hands. I removed 3.5 inches and I stand by it.
  • This top is all about the fabric. The instructions advise a 2-way stretch knit only (I've seen other reviews that say it requires 4-way but it's not the case.) I think that Vogue peeps are worried about excessive vertical drape stretching the surplice neckline all to hell. In truth, unless you're working with a very stretchy fabric (like rayon jersey) and you make a size that's on the large end of your normal size (i.e. the exact opposite of how I like to wear my knits), excessive drag is unlikely to occur.
  • That's because this thing is constructed such that the surplice attaches under the arm at the top of the side seam (where your underarm starts). The net result is that this thing is apt to strangle you with its insanely high cut. I say, go crazy with the stretch-factor. Note: On me this was unwearable - as well as tremendously uncomfortable. I had to alter it. (See below) Egad: I just had another look at the technical drawing and, either I totally misinterpreted the instructions (possible) or the photo is inaccurate?! It shows the front surplice panel attaching at the waist, not under the arm. I've so got to go back and see whether they suck or I'm an idiot! Yet another reason why making a muslin was a good idea.
  • It won't work with a thick fabric. The front is two layers thick (as both sides of the surplice attach under each underarm). If you have a thick fabric, not only will it get bulky fast, but it will be ridiculously hot. Even the sleeveless version. The thinner the jersey, the better.
What I Changed:
  • I cut 3.5 inches of length from the lengthen/shorten line at the waist. Given the complexity of the front piece, this made it quite difficult to true at the neckline-side of the front (the part with the facing). It took a long time and, in the end, I compared the curve against the original and just did my best to recreate it. Let's call this a workable change.
  • I interfaced the facing. I thought it would be too baggy, particularly at the back neck. As it happens, my instinct at the neck-edge is probably sound (as it was in applying interfacing where the neck unit of this top is sewn to the shoulder unit - it's a bit weird, but you'd know what I mean if you were making this). It was not a good idea to interface the facing because that part really needs optimal opportunity to drape. Let's call this a mistake.
  • How the surplice attaches to the side seams at the underarm (See above for the part where I might have read the instructions wrong.) Is it shocking that I can't even be bothered to go look at them right now so that I might clear this all up before I press Publish on this post? Hmmm...
  • The length of the facing. I found it too long at the side seam (even as the neck was too high). I know - whack. This is possibly because the interfacing altered the drape of the fabric and altered the way it eases over the bust. As I fit and sewed, I ended up removing 2 inches of its length, where it meets the side-seams. I suspect the need to do this will depend on the fabric used so I won't alter the facing length out of the pattern.
What's flat out dubious about this pattern:
  • The way the back piece attaches to the neck unit is totally weird and it's as if the pieces aren't meant to go together. Instead of being curves that attach, the attachment is with a series of right angles. Hard to explain. And just as hard to sew.
  • I was gonna say, the way the surplice piece attaches at the underarm seam but that could backfire on me. :-) What I do know is that at least one side of the surplice (the one that goes underneath) is supposed to attach at the underarm - that much I'm sure of. I didn't like this. It was very bulky over the thickest part of my chest. So I lowered it - as I did the surplice panel at the other side seam. 
  • The facing?! Did I say I hate facing? The only reason why I'll let it go here is that, presumably - were I to have left off the fusible interfacing on the facing, it would have draped better and looked less like a facing and more like an extension of the front side of the neckline.
Why I utterly love my serger and would suggest you give this pattern a miss if you don't have one:
  • I finally decided to figure out some of the more fancy features of my serger. In this instance, ruching/gathering. Seriously, it is SO not hard. Essentially, using 4-spools of thread and a longish stitch length, you crank up the differential feed to the highest number (2) and the thing takes care of itself. It took me about half an hour of experimenting with my fabric to determine how I wanted to proceed (with clear elastic to hold the gather, rather than without). Without clear elastic, potentially, one must pull on threads to redistribute the gather - like one does with a regular machine. Note: should you decide to avoid clear elastic, the serger still makes it easier to use the thread-pull gathering method, than a regular machine, and and it maintains the initial gathers better, those created without thread pulling and by the differential feed action). I now realize that, with the serger, I could have done all of my gathering at the last stage of the project, when sewing up the three-layers of side seam fabric, by switching from regular serging to gather-setting serging (at which point I'd feed my clear elastic into the little groove), and then back to regular serging all on the same seam. It's a bit finicky and it takes courage, but it's totally possible. Keep in mind, I serged the side seams after basting them together! Don't just start hacking away at your fabric with a serger before establishing that the seams align.
  • If you intend to work with clear elastic (which, admittedly, is not what the pattern calls for but which is the best material to a) gather the sides and b) stabilize the armholes, especially if you're doing the sleeveless version, then doing it with a regular machine is a nightmare.
  • This is one of those patterns that really is bound to look homemade on the wrong side, without a serger. There are lots of layers atop one another. There are facings. There are strings for gathering (or else clear elastic). I mean, it'll look nice from the front, but the inside runs the risk of being untidy. And, without a serger, the likelihood is that your straight stitches might skip or inadequately hold the fabric. There's a lot of stress on a lot of seams and I think a serger will contain everything much more securely.
Is anyone still reading??

Will I make this again? Yes, next weekend, likely. If it works, great. If not, I gave it a good try and learned a lot about my serger, sewing with knits, surplice tops and clear elastic.

So, today's questions: Have you made V8790? Did you find the instructions challenging? Did the top fit you nicely? Did you alter it in any way? Let's talk!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Summer Series: Five in Five, Take 2

Do you ever feel (rightly or wrongly) that you can't catch a break?

I spent today, and yesterday, making the New Look 1-hour skirt. About 8 hours, it took me. And just about everything that could have gone wrong went in that direction.

OK, I'm being dramatic. Here's what went wonky:
  • The fucking zipper insertion. I can see that my new machine doesn't like that double-sided tape I'm so attached to when it comes to putting in zips. I went through 3 needles on this task and I think the end result looks vaguely "made by drunk mice".
  • The waistband. Oh Lord. I've finally come to terms with something (which I've mentioned before but I'm going to clearly admit to it right now): I have "issues" with waistbands. The problem is, I can't figure out the difference between a waistband and a facing. I know! It's ridiculous. Of course, I know the difference. It just doesn't make any difference when I'm trying to make one. Or the other. And good luck following the directions. It's like my brain stops thinking as soon as start looking at the waist section. This waistband was supposed to have a button but, um, that didn't happen. (More on this below...)
  • The topstitched hem.  See "made by drunk mice". I should have lengthened the stitch but, in my sew-blood sugar state, I forgot. I've also got this whack need to make the hem look as consistent on the wrong side as on the right side and, really, short of a cover stitch machine or serious talent, that just doesn't happen. I've got to get a cover stitch machine.
Now, given that this is a 4-piece, 1-hour skirt, I don't even know how I managed to find so many challenges. And it's always when you have the exact amount of fabric and not an inch more, that the gremlins turn up.

On the plus side, I've discovered a little waist trick that's genius (and stupidly easy): Make every waistband 5 inches longer than it needs to be. Then you will NEVER have to worry that it doesn't ease in properly. I did this, this time, and it's the only thing that saved my ass.

Some pluses of this project:
  • I don't know where I found it, or what it's called?!?!, but I used the best fucking interfacing ever. It's fusible, white and it doesn't have a bit of stretch. I was skeptical (locating it at the bottom of my stash), but I'm a convert. If only I knew how to find it again...
  • The fabric (stash stretch denim) is awesome. I'm so sad not to have anymore. I've made a few things with it, having bought it a number of times, and it has perfect stretch and drape.
  • It's a really great skirt and it fits perfectly. It's simple but it does the trick and I can see myself making it a zillion more times. The last time I made it - that being the first time I'd ever sewn anything - it didn't look so hot on completion. OMG, when I look at that first skirt now, I'm part proud, part amused and part horrified. Just the perfect reaction, I suspect. On the nascent-sewist, first go-round, I cut the pattern tissue in the size 12 - not really understanding size when first I started sewing - and it means that this time, with my current dimensions, I need to use scant 1/2 inch seams on a fabric with little give. That's fine, since I have a serger. This skirt reminds me that I should consider making 12s with smaller seams, rather than making 14s that are just nominally too big everywhere.
The major-est plus:
  • I kept my cool when this could have failed quite a few times and, as a result, I have a wearable garment: I had some pretty serious waist issues and no extra fabric and I'd ripped out seams twice (about the limit before fabric starts to stretch and get yucky) when I figured out some things... I couldn't reinsert the zipper, which would have been best given how I'd positioned it with the metal zip top at the exact top of the back pieces (how you want it when you're inserting a facing but not a waistband!). That was just bound to end in disaster, I could tell. So I finagled the seams such that the band actually rises as you move towards the zip (it's impossible to explain this, but you'd know what I mean if I showed you) in a very gradual, which is to say unobservable, way. Then I decided that the worst part of a waistband is that it gets bulky where all of those seam allowances meet, so I opted not to press up the wrong-side seam. The fabric was serged and neat so I just stitched in the ditch from the front so that the seam caught the single-layer (vs regular-style double-layer) serged edge on the wrong side. Not only did it give me a slightly wider waistband, but it cut down on bulk considerably. This technique is like a cross between facing (slim but potentially floppy) and a waistband (secure, but bulky and hard to sew down from the right side so that the wrong side still looks neat). And I finally realized that stitching in the ditch is actually under stitching - it's simply done from the right side of the fabric.
It seems I'm gonna have to stop looking at directions when it comes to making waists of simple skirts. I'm just going do what I want to, in the way that makes sense to me.

So, I can't say that the Five in Five has been fun, so far (ask me about the pattern alterations I've spent quite a while making on V8790, the next top I'm intending to make). But it has yielded two wearable items.

I'm so hoping that I'm going to start enjoying this soon.

Today's questions: Do you ever get into a phase where all the sewing seems difficult - even the "easy" things? Do you sew some crappy hems and mediocre zippers and still wear the garments they're attached to out of the house? Do waistbands confuse you??? I don't know why they're so complicated but I always have to think 8 times when I encounter one. Kind of takes the easy out of garments that cover one's lower half :-) Make me feel better, please!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ask The Bra Fitter: More Questions Answered!

Hey y'all - I've been super busy on all the fronts this week so I haven't had a proper chance to discuss any of the numerous things I find fascinating. (That's code for "write blog posts".) Happily, Veronica is back with another installment of awesome answers to awesome questions. Please let us know if this info is helpful!
Kay asks what many of us want to know: 
Would Veronica have a recommendation for a non-underwired bra (I don't wear bras with underwire) in a 30 band, having less outer circumference, more depth, less upper bust volume, more lower bust volume, really narrow shoulders... bust cup H-I-J (depending on the day / what I ate the previous week) with plenty of support please? 
Hi Kay: Non-underwire bras are really tricky. Unfortunately there is still not a lot of selection, and many styles have a narrow size range. Having said this:
  • My favourite is the Freya Dotty softcup. They make a 30H, which is on the smaller end of the size range you wear, but this bra is cut rather big in the cup (and unfortunately a bit big in the back). This bra should work for your shape, and it has great lift, separation and support. 
  • My second favourite is the infamous Triumph Doreen. This bra has amazingly firm hold and support and gives great separation. This style starts at a 34 band, but the backs are cut very firm (I wear between a 30 and a 32 band, and the 34 fits well on the second hook). A warning/bonus: the shape is rather 1950s "sweater girl".
  • Next up is Aviana's Jacquard softcup. It's very comfortable and gives decent support and will likely suit your shape. They make your cup size, but start at a 32 back, so this bra would require alteration. 
  • Finally, Royce specializes in wirefree bras and they make two bras (the Charlotte and the Sadie) in 30H-J. I am vaguely familiar with the Charlotte (I've seen it on maybe 3 women) and not familiar with the Sadie. I find Royce bras are tricky. The straps are often too thin (and can be uncomfortable), they don't give much uplift and tend to give a very separate "east-west" look. But perhaps one of their bras could be made to work.
Ed. note: I've tried the Dotty and the shape is front and centre but it really smushes the boobs together (as bras with no wire all seem to do). The only non-underwired bra I've tried that doesn't smush - at least nowhere to the same extent - is the Triumph Doreen. I can second that I've bought the bra in a 34 and I can wear it on the second hook and I, too, wear a 30 or 32 back. BTW - I LOVE this bra and it's crazy pointy shape. It's truly retro. I mean, seriously, they haven't updated this bra since 1958 and they're proud of it! I also go down a cup size in the Doreen cuz it fits roomily, IMO. I've tried the Royce Charlotte. I never wear it, though I bought it as a lounge bra. It gives a bizarre shape - bad pointy - and it's insanely tight in the back. The straps are strangely positioned to provide maximal hurtiness.

And Anonymous writes:

I have been measured by a pretty reputable store as a 32DD. I have a hard time finding a bra because despite that DD I don't think I'm that prominent. Somewhat of course…DD on a small frame…but to me it seems like my breast shape is more wide than tall if that makes any sense. I can feel breast tissue from my center all the way around to my side and most of the bras dig in on the side and leave a gouge mark by the end of the day. A bigger cup doesn't help because then I don't fill it up.

I've been told the wire shape is called the "smile" and so I feel like I should be hunting for a bra with a wide smile rather than a U shape. So:

1) Is there a brand or certain type of bra style that has a wider smile?
2) How do I get fitters to understand this?

Thanks for introducing me to the term "smile". What a great way to describe an underwire! It sounds like you have shallow breasts with a wide root. I find this shape of bust fits best in a broad demi or a shell-shaped plunge (a shallow plunge with more fullness on the bottom and sides rather than one with lots of depth). 
Brands in your size, that tend to have a broad shallow shape, include Marie Jo (the "Tom" is a great shell shape), Prima Donna (many of their lined demis and the "Madison" low full cup) and Curvy Kate's showgirl range. You'll want to avoid Simone Perele and most of Freya. When you are trying on bras, make sure you "swoop and scoop" your breast tissue into the cup to ensure all of the breast tissue is firmly encased in the wire. 
Not sure how to help you to get fitters to better understand your needs, as it seems like you have a pretty clear understanding of your body and your challenges with bras! I suggest that you start by clearly stating your situation, and then view the fitting as a way for the fitter to help you (generally women become fitters because they want to help people).  Ask to try some of the styles I've mentioned here and see how it goes.
Ed. note: Man, I seem to have a lot to add today! What I'll say is that you know you've found a good fitter when she listens to what you say and encourages you to make bra suggestions to her (or at least is very open to bringing you the brands you'd like to try - even if she senses that they might not end up working on your frame). Bra-fitting is part science and part art. If you and the fitter observe that things are working or not working, you can join forces and move towards the brands, sizes and styles that work best for you. If you don't feel immediate chemistry with your fitter, that's not the death-knell of the experience. We all settle in at a different pace. Remember that fitters see a lot of clients who are really off the mark vis a vis what will actually fit so they sometimes have to develop a "firm" (for want of a better way of saying this) approach to help those women come to terms with new sizing. Some fitters (just people, after all) do this very gracefully and perfectly for the client. Some need a bit of latitude to understand the client better. Mind you, if a fitter is not open to collaborating, I suggest you try on a couple of things and politely move on.
Today's questions: Do you wear a non-underwired bra that works for you? Do your breasts have the shallow shape / wide root and, if so, what brands are your faves? My shape is as far from that as could be, so I love learning more about this!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Bra Adventures: Panache Jasmine

In the spirit of adventurism, this is my latest purchase:

Panache Jasmine, photo from
I have a lot to say about the Jasmine - which I've been dithering over, but finally bought (online) on the advice from Veronica (it's no longer available at her shop).

But let me suggest that you watch this video, which discusses it in just about as much depth as I'm going to write about it - only you get to see a real person wearing it. I'd like to point out that Erica, the vlogger, has a 30HH or 30J bust and, I'm sure you'll agree, her breasts are in perfect proportion to her body shape. I mention this because we often have preconceptions about bra size based on letters - and they're just as often unfounded. Let me beat this drum one more time: Cup size is irrelevant in the absence of back size. A 28D is 2 cup sizes smaller than a 36B...

Moving on, let me tell you my purchase rationale:
  • I've read zillions of positive, glowing, fantastic reviews of this bra from every possible source. I've never read a bad review.
And why I dithered:
  • I don't think the pattern (or the bra) looks like much in the photos.
  • It seems kind of full-cup for a balconette - even by my standards.
  • The wires on Panache bras tend to be wide and, though this bra doesn't follow that mold, I was a bit concerned...
  • Like I need another bra?!
I found the set - though I did need to go to two separate vendors - for about 50 bucks (including shipping). That's pretty good given that I paid for shipping twice. Since then, I've ordered another pair of the undies. This thing is still under 70 bucks for a bra and two matching bottoms.

When it arrived I was in the throes of a migraine, so I didn't try it on for a couple of days. I didn't think I could handle disappointment with a headache (and really, who can be bothered with bras when you feel like you're going to vomit).

I needn't have worried. On Veronica's advice, I "sized up" in the cup and back. Really, I sized up in the back cuz I'm at the point where - with UK sizes - I've determined I'm a cup size larger than I was for many years, at least most of the time.

Let's talk about fit:
  • The band is very firm so choose the larger, if you're between sizes.
  • The bra gives nice forward projection, but not as forward as my Empreintes or the latest Cleos (Meg and Melissa) I've tried.
  • It does provide excellent lift and support, but the upper cup is made from very stretchy lace. This lace is what makes the bra optimal for women with lots of upper-cup fullness, those who vary from size-to-size during their cycles, or those who have two breasts of different sizes.
  • This bra all but obviates "quad-boob" when worn in the correct size. It's one of those miracle bras that can fit two differently sized breasts (of up to a cup size, I suspect) without one side pillowing and the other shrinking away from the cup.
  • The straps are fully extendable and delicate.
Let's talk about fit on me:
  • I find the straps to be a bit slender in my size, for my liking. They are very firm so they can get a bit hurty after a few hours (no big deal, though). It makes the bra that much more attractive, in truth.
  • The cups fit perfectly (I think it's actually a 4-piece construction given the side support) and provide a really nice shape, but I prefer the front-and-centredness of the Empreintes or Cleo Melissa. Having said this, the centre gore is as high as I'd ever choose to wear. My Panache SuperBra is like this too. It looks good but it's a lot of bra - by contrast, for example, to a somewhat fuller-cup bra with a lower gore (like some plunges). It's certainly not too wide in the wires and the lace does restore the illusion of delicacy.
  • The pattern is actually very delicate, unique and sexy in person. I like it much more than I thought I would. Even in that vlog, I don't think the pattern comes across as well as it does IRL.
  • There's too much stretchy lace, for my taste. I prefer a firmer upper cup - or at least I'd prefer a bit less of the lace and a bit more of the firm under-cup. While the lace is great for shape, I think I'd rather a bit more upper-cup support as my breasts are not as firm as they used to be.
  • I've read a number of reviews about how Panache starched the shit out of the firm cup fabric, so one should wash this bra before wearing and it will soften quite a lot. I guess I'm pretty insensitive, cuz I didn't feel that my unwashed bra was starched or scratchy in any way. I found it kind of soft - especially in comparison with every other Panache bra I've tried (SuperBra, I'm looking at you.)
  • The thing I love most about Panache (and Cleo, another Panache brand) is the fit of the band. On my body, the proportions are perfect. The top of the back band fits right under my scapulae (those wing bones) and the firmness is like a gentle grip. There's NO movement (which is my mandate, in truth). But the tightness is in no way excessive.
From my review, you might sense that I like this bra, though it's not true love.

However, the more I wear it, the more I love it - herein lies the mystery of the Jasmine (which Panache had decided to stock as a continuity bra, happily). Is it the sexiest? The liftiest? The most supportive ever? The most luxe? Can't say yes to any of these. But it is a really great bra across a wide spectrum, good for so many shapes and sizes from 30D - 38K (that's about as broad a size-span as you'll ever find and the bra is just lovely). It's also REALLY affordable for a bra with so much functionality and fit-potential. And the undies (which have a lot of give) are super comfortable and look delightful.

A girl cannot live on Empreinte alone.

So, today's questions: Have you tried this bra? If yes, what do you think? If no, does this review make it sound appealing? Let's talk!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Summer Series: Five in Five, Take 1

Lord, I've had an irritating day. Yesterday, I prepped for the first of the five in five - V1179:

This is the one I've made before - once for myself and once with my friend Nicole.

I'd forgotten how much I hate putting it together. Which is just as well...

For such a simple sack of a dress, it sure is a pain in the ass. This time I made such a fuck up of the cowl attachment that I had to pick it out 3 times and then serge the pieces together and top stitch the serged edges down about .25 of an inch from the cowl seam. So much for stitching in the ditch.

If you looked at the guts, you'd probably say it looks fine. That's cuz I wouldn't let you look for long.

It's still not done, if you can believe it (10 hrs later), because I've had to rip out the hem. Finally, I rolled some wooly nylon for the bobbin (you can only wind this by hand but it does tend to help even out hems on stretchy fabric). My new machine is not adapting as quickly to knits as I might have imagined. The tension is challenging, despite much testing. Even at 3mm, the stitch looks much tinier. Tiny stitches on knits tend to get wavy and ugly. I'll have to come back to the hem tomorrow. I've been really struggling with headaches lately and the last few days have been a bitch. There's just no more juice for sewing today.

I've been very critical of my sewing lately. I sense I've got to park the perfectionism. I mean, I'm only as competent as I am. If I don't intend to stop doing this craft (and I don't), then I'm going to have to manage occasional mediocrity. I don't know why I'm so much more forgiving of my knitting than sewing. Is it that I have so much time with the garment before completion that I come to terms with it?

What's interesting about this dress is that it's very flattering, bad sewing technique aside. It drapes beautifully. I made the 10 and it fits well what with that being my size from the vantage of shoulder width. Given that my rayon jersey is mega stretchy and the dress has a lot of wearing ease, it's just the right size.

I did two things differently this time and I think they're going to stand this garment in good stead:
  • Last time I made this, I didn't own a serger. As I do now (and it's got a little spot built into the presser foot wherein one can feed in stabilizing tape like that clear stuff that's almost impossible to maneuver on a regular machine), I stabilized the shoulder seams in a jiffy and with the optimal material. It was so easy! (I do love my serger.) I also used this on the wrong side of the armscye to stabilize it. I folded over the serged-with-stabilizer edge and topstitched it before sewing up the side seams. Looks good and feels firm.
  • Then I stabilized the (very inclined to wave) hem by fusing some interfacing to it. Note: You have to fuse the interfacing from the bottom of the hem to the point at which you'll sew or it won't provide the integrity you'll have spent that extra 30 minutes to achieve. I intend to sew a 1.5 inch hem, so I used 3 inches of interfacing width.
In truth, I've worn the original (badly made) version to death and it's held up really well. The wide hem, uninterfaced, is just lovely and the shoulders are solid enough. But this version's rayon jersey is its own thing and I want to treat it properly.

Today's questions: If you've made this dress, did you find it fun to sew? Or was it really unpleasant? Do you hate sewing rayon jersey? (I'm starting to feel really pissed off by it. Modal, double-knit, tencel - they all sew very nicely. Even though rayon jersey has a great drape, it's SO tricky to stitch.) What's your fave knit from a sewing perspective? And finally, do you sew with headaches? What are your strategies for managing the pain while doing finicky work?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ask The Bra Fitter: An Intro from Veronica and Some Answers To Questions

Hey Y'all: I'm delighted to share an intro from Veronica, and responses to the first two (of many) bra-related questions posed by readers of this blog:

Veronica's Preamble:

First off, I'd like to say a little about my personal conception of bra-fitting. In my opinion the ideal fitting experience should be educational, collaborative and empowering. A good fitter will explain how a bra should fit and discuss particular features of a client's body shape that may effect her choice of bras. Involving the client in this process encourages education, which speeds along subsequent fittings and gives each woman a guideline for shopping elsewhere (i.e., she'll know if she's being hoodwinked into a bad bra).

Fitting should be collaborative because the right choice of bra is never based entirely on technical fit-points. Aspects such as comfort and aesthetics are rather personal, and a fitter can't provide for them unless she communicates with her client. I've never felt comfortable making decisions for clients, instead I prefer to work with them to find what they need. I can make sure the bra is fitting a client, but I can't tell her how a bra feels on her body, nor can I dictate an ideal shape, style or colour. The most I can do is discuss why she wants a bra to fit a certain way, to ensure that there are no obvious indications of discomfort and to offer my opinion on aesthetics. If a client feels better with a slightly looser band, prefers a round to perky shape, or doesn't want to wear a bra at all, that's her prerogative. 

I'm glad that bra fitting has gained exposure through the media (e.g. Oprah, Double Divas), but I'm always a little annoyed by the fact that these expert fitters often present themselves as infallible and that the women being fit are sometimes characterized as foolish for not wearing the correct size. Most women aren't buying badly fitted bras intentionally, they're buying badly fitted bras because they aren't being offered a full range of sizes and aren't aware that there is a whole other world outside of the conventional "bra matrix" (32-36 A-DD). Bra fitting does require the development of particular skills and knowledge (interpersonal relations, spacial awareness, detail orientation and patience), but the only difference between myself and K-line is my level of experience and product knowledge. (Ed. Note: Way to encourage my fanaticism!) I think fitters will always be necessary as they are able to draw on experience and knowledge which most laypeople don't have. Nonetheless, I believe fit education is key as it empowers women to buy well.

Now onto a couple of questions...

Courtney writes:

Hi!  Thank you so much for doing this feature!  I have a questions that's been plaguing me for years.  Where should my underwire ride?  I realized I was wearing the wrong sized bra when I noticed that my underwire was riding 2 full inches below where my breast tissue stops.  But even now that I've been properly sized and have some great bras that fit my shape well, there are still spots where it seems to be riding low.  Is it a problem with sizing, or my boob shape?  My boobs do seem to have a flat spot on the bottom, towards the middle, and that's where it's the worst :)  If it is my boobs, what do I do about it, or do I even need to do anything?

Hello! Thanks for asking. Ideally the underwires should tuck just under the breasts without any gaps. This placement encourages the maximum amount of lift and support and is usually the most comfortable. Reasons for the wire riding low include:
  • a too-loose band (because the bra can't anchor itself to your body, it is able to float around), and
  • the wrong wire shape (a narrow wire on a woman with a wider breast shape will pinch at the sides and gap at the bottom, an overly broad wire on a women with narrow breasts will usually gap at the sides). 
If the back of your bra is snug enough it will sit straight across your back and stay in place when you move around. So if the problem is the wires, I'd suggest trying some different brands. I'm not sure of your size range or shape, but for a narrower wire try Simone Perele (smaller bust) or Freya (fuller bust) and for a wider wire try Marie Jo (smaller bust) or Prima Donna (fuller bust). While there are many companies out there that cater to different shapes, there are still many many more shapes of women. So if your bra feels supportive and comfortable but there is still a small gap despite trying new styles, don't worry! In bra fitting we strive for perfection, but like all other areas, perfection is rarely achievable!

(Ed note: This table may be useful as a reference for wire-width.)

Marsha wants to know:

Burning question - why is it impossible for me to find a bra that doesn't eventually slide off my shoulders if I move around and actually perform life actions? I've been told that this happens because my bra band is too loose, but it happens with bras whose bands, if they were any tighter, would prevent me from breathing without effort. (We'll talk about uplift, minimizing, etc., some other time.) P.S. The only bra "expert" I ever knew was the somewhat flaky sister of one of my daughter's friends, who worked at an underwear outlet store and had purportedly been trained, but whose opinion I could never see myself respecting. Is there a degree or certification or something that bra experts can get to vouch for their ability.

Do you have narrow or sloping shoulders? If your bra is snug enough to anchor the bra to your body, the problem may be the bra straps themselves. I'd suggest trying a bra with inset straps. This refers to straps that are positioned more at the center of the cup (like with a full cup and some plunges) rather than off to the sides (like with a demi or a balconette). A wider-set strap on narrower or sloped shoulders will almost always fall off (except those of my beloved Empreinte which angles the straps on its balconettes so that they are more centrally positioned at the back of the bras).

As to bra experts, most bra-fitting courses I've seen are tied to a brand. For example, Eveden (they own Freya, Fantasie, Fauve, Huit, Elomi and Goddess) has a fit school, which I think is pretty well-respected. However, if they only work with their own brands, it's cutting out a range of products that might be better suited to certain women. I'm wary of stores that only carry their name brand (i.e. Change Lingerie or Victoria's Secret) or only carry a very small range of sizes (the usual 32-36 A-DD), because those fitters don't have enough sizes and styles to match to the wide variations in women. When I train fitters the process can take up to 3 months and it involves "bra math" (figuring out sizes, working out conversions), extensive product knowledge, identifying which cuts and brands of bras work best with different body shapes and a lot of practice! So rather than looking for certificates or degrees, I'd be more interested to know how extensive their training is and make sure their store carries a good range of companies and sizes. Finally, there are quite a few fitters who want to fit properly and want to help women, but haven't been provided the training they deserve (shout out to the awesome saleswomen at La Senza who send clients my way rather than misfit them)!

So there you go - first in a series of these posts designed to help you with your burning bra questions. Wait. That came out wrong.

Keep asking and pls. do comment if you've found this useful!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Bra Adventures: The Ewa Michalak Experience and Some Other Things

Y'all know I read many lingerie blogs and many of those blogs have some fabulous things to say about Ewa Michalak. Certain others of those blogs have less fabulous things to say, specifically about the customer service.

I've discussed the service in a previous post. It wasn't good, but they did pull through when my package was lost in the mail. (Is it wrong of me to suspect that it was never sent in the first place?)

After a month, I received the set shown below:

E Michalak SM Trefl ("Soft Cup")
To clarify, soft cup refers to the fact that the bra cups aren't molded or padded. It does, as you can see, have an under wire.

I was not impressed by this bra in any way.
  • The fabric is not particularly supportive. It has a lot of stretch (making it good for a large bust which gravity hasn't touched) which makes the upper cups even more gape-y than they'd otherwise be.
  • The wires are fine but they're nothing to write home about, in the support department.
  • The band on this bra is quite firm. I wouldn't go down a band size, though many have indicated that bra band and cup sizing is all over the map. A good feature of this brand is that it will custom-make a bra for you in any size. The downside is that every bra seems to be (if one believes the reviews) its own particular size. Some are small in the cups, others large in the band or vice versa. Because customized bras are not returnable, it's a risk.
  • This bra wasn't cheap (though not expensive) and I was charged an additional, mystery "Paypal fee" that amounted, if I'm not mistaken, to about 6 per cent of the purchase price. There is no transparency about this fee and it pisses me off.
  • It took too long to arrive and the feedback was sporadic. 
  • The fabric, while not cheap-looking, has no delicateness. It's just not pretty enough to warrant all of the other hassles. By contrast, I have Empreinte bras that are as delicate-seeming as tissue, and they're far more supportive.
To put this into perspective, I paid about the same amount for the Cleo Melissa and it fits like a dream. It's utterly supportive. The band doesn't budge. It's gorgeous and unique. The cup is deeper than the one on the Trefl, but still open enough to accomodate a full-on-top breast.

Look, if you have very full-on-top, difficult-to-size breasts, perhaps this is a good option for you. I've only tried one style, and I do think the support is underwhelming, but I'm no expert on the brand. What I can say is that it's gonna be a long time before I bother with this again so I'm grateful to have other alternatives.

No, I'm not going to return this set. That would be far more trouble than it's worth. It's sitting in my adoption drawer, tags and everything. I'll aim to sell to recoup the money I spent on it, at some point.

But moving on...

An Update about "Ask The Bra Fitter": I want to let you know that Veronica is reviewing your questions and she'll answer a couple at a time. I hope to be able to address the first batch of your fantastic queries early next week, so please stay tuned.

And finally, once again today, I was approached by some lovely women who are requesting my bra-assistance via local shopping excursion. It's amazing to me that people - those who don't even know me as "the crazy lady who has a blog wherein she talks obsessively about bra fit" - have begun to ask me for this sort of help on a regular basis. Scott has a theory that I should put up a page about my bra-fitting services and turn it into a side-line business. (He also has a theory I should charge $1000 a day and become bra-fitter to the stars, so I think you need to take his ideas with a grain of salt.) A while ago, I decided to lengthen my May long-weekend by adding on an extra day. Now, it seems, I'll be spending it with the savvy women who own and run the hair salon I frequent.

On this topic: Every bra-fitter has a bias. Some go in for the tight bands (I get this, on a personal-choice level.) Some use measuring tapes. Others take pride in their ability to suss it out through experience and intuition.

There are suspect systems out there. (You no doubt read about these all the time.) After all, a ridiculously high percentage (TBD) of women are wearing the wrong size bra at any given moment. There are also some very good methodologies. Veronica was taught one of those - and she has a great eye.

I myself, have never been formally trained how to fit a bra (not that there's a degree to be had), but I've learned in many different ways:
  • My own breast shape and size is challenging to fit. I've spent hundreds of hours and tried on hundreds of bras in an effort to understand fit - as it pertains to me.
  • I've read zillions of blog posts written by women of all shapes and sizes to learn more about what works and doesn't work for them.
  • For years, I've been helper-shopper, searching out bras for family and friends.
  • I've always had a strange and reliable ability to determine what will fit whom. I frequently buy clothing of all sorts for and with friends and family and, while I'm not 100% successful, my odds are pretty good. 
  • I take fit fucking seriously. I'm the woman who spends 30 hours working out the math to fit a sweater - aka the addition of volume. I sew, wherein I have to consider carefully, how to strategically remove volume. I think it's fair to say, since I dream about it at night and mull it over every spare minute of the day, that this is an area wherein I am adequately - and ongoingly - self-taught.
So let me share my bias.

I don't care what bra-size you end up wearing. I just want you to find a bra that fits terrifically and makes you look great. Your boobs will be the same size whether that happens in a 32C or a 38H. Your size is meaningless as far as I'm concerned. Your shape is everything.

Secretly, I do love to speculate about the size my "fit subjects" will wear. It's a fun party trick. When I'm right, it's a kick. When I get it wrong (and there are so many variables contributing to this), who cares? We go up or down a cup size / band size - and try a variety of styles - till we find what works.

Every woman knows when she finds the bra for her. She loves the look and the fit. Women are the best arbiters, once they've been given the tools, to choose the right bras for themselves. When the gore tacks at the breastbone and the cups drape over the breasts and lift/support without being too small (pillowing) or too large (gaping), when the band is firm and doesn't budge - but also doesn't hurt, when the wires are high and supportive, but don't dig in - these are the signs of good fit and happy breasts - and a sexy look.

If you're reading this and you've not yet found a bra of this description, do not despair. It's out there. Just keep reading and trying and looking. If there's a good boutique in your area, visit it. Even if the fitters don't work for you, the stock is there. Try that stock from the vantage point of reading you've done. Order online. Get comfortable with returns.

And, of course, avail yourself of Ask the Bra-Fitter! Veronica is ready to answer your questions. And let me assure you, she knows her stuff.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Summer Series: Which Five are the Five in Five?

Fucking hell! Blogger just ate a post I'd spent 30 minutes writing and I'm finding it very hard to bring myself to rewrite it. And it was a good freakin' post, dammit.

Alright, Cole's Notes version: I've chosen the Five in Five (the five easy, namely knit, pieces I will make to tide me through work and play over the summer).

The One That's Not a Knit (but is a skirt): NewLook 6843 mashed up with an RTW skirt I own

I'll make it straight and mini - but not too much of either. Fun fact: This is the pattern I used to make the first thing I ever sewed. It took 15 hours.

Fabric: Denim I used on the skinnies I made recently

The Chic Top: Either Maria Denmark 103:

You can find this in Craftsy Patterns
or a shortened (for my hourglass and short-waisted frame) version of Vogue 8790:

Please use your imagination with these photos. It's hard to see past some of the styling...

Note that all Vogue Patterns photos can be found on the website... Individual linking is a luxury of the woman who hasn't worked all day and then written 3/4 of a post that opted to disappear.

The Fabric: My remaining yard of this fantastic Modal:

The Fancy Dress: V1287 by DKNY

Don't worry, it's not so fancy that it isn't made of jersey with hidden elastic shaping at the waistband.

Fabric: Tencel in slate blue

I sure do hope this fabric isn't too sheer...

What you'll notice is that Vogue and DKNY make some very wearable summer dresses, as evidenced by the fact that I'll be making two others:

Le Sac: I've made V1179 twice before and it's terrific with a belt:

Yeah, everyone and her sister's made this cuz it flatters so many shapes.

The fabric: The remainder of this floral, last used on Jalie 2921

And finalement...

The Dancer Dress: V1027

The Fabric: That peacock shade of Modal that I suspect isn't Modal (no pic available, apparently - I'll photograph my stash when I start working with it...)

I have a couple of other pattern ideas up my sleeve but these top the queue.

Today's questions: Which of these do you like best? Have you made any of them and, if so, how do they wear? What summer projects are in your plan?