Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Fall Capsule Collection: A Bit About My Pants Sloper

A couple of years ago I made a pants sloper. I learned, during that process - which, while painful, was in NO way even half as challenging as making a standard woven top (for me, given my body type) - that I don't need to shorten the legs of pants (my legs are proportionately long) but the rise of pants.

You see, my lower torso is very short and, between my navel and base of my crotch, I am a couple of inches shorter than the length of your average commercial pattern. So, these days, when I cut out a new pants pattern, I always compare the crotch length to that of my sloper. Inevitably I remove the same 2 inches at the lengthen-shorten line. Not a prob.

My crotch curve is also not standard - odds are that yours isn't either. I need to add a bit of fabric onto the front and back crotch seams to give a small amount of extra room given that a) I need to accommodate the bump of my lower abdomen and b) I have a relatively round derriere. Having said this, my legs and hips are proportionately slender.

Given all this, I usually cut a size to suit my legs and hips and then I add a bit of fabric to the crotch curve while shortening the crotch length substantially. Depending on whether my fabric has some stretch to it, I may also add an inch to the waistband measurement. I do this on a case-by-case basis.

For Kwik Sew 3115 (yoga pants), for which I cut a medium, I made my usual alterations to the crotch curve and length. Interestingly, I didn't need to shorten the pants legs even 1 cm. Thing is, during the version that I made last weekend, I shortened things about half an inch too much, so the crotch of the pants is going up my butt slightly, and there's also some camel-toe action happening. It's not extreme, but for my next go-round, I've added back 0.5 inch of length to the crotch and shortened the hem by the same half an inch.

Even with a firm knit, these pants are not tight in my upper leg or hip, in the way some yoga pants are deliberately designed to fit. They skim. But since I'm sleeping in them - as well as doing everything else chez moi - I don't feel the urge to narrow the hip or leg.

Point is, I've opted for a medium, rather than a small, to better suit my waist measurement and to give me a flow-y fit.

One other thing I've done - to accommodate that lower ab bump (I will disclose that my whole abdominal area has been a ball of mushness for the last while - I sense it's hormonal and I am working to strengthen my core) is to cut a slightly longer piece of elastic (1 inch longer than the pattern calls for) and - this is key - I use 2"-wide elastic, not the 3/8" width that the Kwik Sew pattern calls for.

Why? Well, I don't know about you, but I think it's a bit weird and wussy to have a skinny piece of elastic sewn into the top of a 2.25 inch wide waistband. It also does nothing to support one's waist and below. The thicker elastic gives a nice, smooth waistline.


It's harder to insert, for sure.

What I do (and keep in mind that all elastic has different stretch properties which depend partly on width and partly on the material used to produce the elastic) is to sew a zig zag stitch (as the pattern instructs) not through the middle of the elastic but on the top and on the bottom of the elastic width. The trick is to affix the initial row of zig zag without rippling the fabric or accidentally catching it in a bump. It's trickier than it seems. Sewing the second layer of stitching is much easier, as you already have a fixed point. But you still have to be careful not to catch the fabric.

At any rate, this is how I've adjusted my yoga pants, for my unique shape. How do you alter stretch pants to do the same? Do you use a wider elastic to support the waist? Are you still working on that elusive sloper? What's the hardest part of getting pants to fit for you? Let's talk.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Bit of Autumn Shopping...

If I have one RTW weakness it's Club Monaco. I come by it honestly. I was there at the CM opening in the early 80s. I had the T shirt (my kid wears it now). And, over the years, things have only improved, in my opinion.

Well, allow me to clarify: I believe the brand is more fashion-forward than ever, if slightly out of my age demographic at this point. The garment quality is excellent. I did prefer it just before it was sold to Ralph Lauren in 1999. Mind you, that transaction was fairly seamless and it brought CM to a broader market than before. If only Ralph Lauren hadn't killed Caban, I wouldn't have to hate it.

But back to the topic at hand...

There's a point to be made that CM caters to a slender, straight frame. It's true that many of the more sophisticated designs, dresses especially, fall into that category. But there are terrific t-shirts and the knits are fantastic. They do great denim and awesome accessories. IMO, the best high-street cashmere anywhere is at Club Monaco. (BTW: You pay for that quality.)

If ever I were to start a brand, I imagine it would design and stock many of the clean, luxe items the likes of which one finds in the windows of CM (of course on a smaller scale, if only to be exclusive :-)). Everything feels beautiful. It's a tactile dream. And I do LOVE the interior, architecture and ambience of the flagship at Bloor St. and Avenue Rd. Yeah, peeps'll try to tell you that the flagship is in NYC but that's bullshit. This is a Canadian company, created by two sportswear pioneers (Joe Mimran and Alfred Sung), and it feels that way. To Wit: You can open TopShop wherever you like, but it's always gonna be English.

Anyway, for a couple of reasons - namely that I make my own clothes and I'm not as architectural in shape as certain of the more exciting, recent offerings - I don't shop there much these days. Time was, I had a problem walking by without spending half a paycheck. In truth, during the Xmas sales it's practically impossible to stay away. The guy stuff is as nice as that for women and the accessories work for everyone.

However, while lulled into shop-mode vis a vis the child's back-to-school needs, I found myself checking out the latest collection and, ahem, making a couple of purchases:

Mia Printed Sweater
I should mention that this top couldn't fit more differently on me. I bought a medium and it's closely fitted. Furthermore, my sweater has much less white to it; the background is heather grey. Plus, mine looks like an actual slim-knit sweater - not like a sweatshirt (as the photo makes it seem). Sorry, Adorable Model, it looks better on me.

I also bought these awesome leggings (a continuity garment, though they routinely update the look with new fabrics and colourways) - which couldn't look more real leather and HOT if they tried:

Tasha Leggings
Apparently, you can hand wash them?! (Don't quote me on this, I have to do some research.) The 4-inch wide, high-waisted waistband is SO my scene. And, unsurprisingly, they feel like leggings! Note - they look like tight leather pants. I'll be happy to wear them with a long-ish, fitted top (see above). But I've got to sort out footwear. They'll seem weird with boots and I'm not gonna wear them with pointy heels - just not practical!

While writing this post, I checked out the website - for photos - and discovered that there is a pretty sweet sale that started today (with an extra 50 per cent off off the sale-priced items). A lot of the good stuff is already gone, but you might get lucky. Oh, and check out the new, high-end CM line: Collection. It's a bit Stella McCartney and the prices seem to be about 30 per cent higher than those of the regular line. Mind you, it includes beautiful cashmere and fur.

Today's questions: What's your go-to RTW brand? What do you think of Club Monaco? Is it a notably "Canadian brand", in your opinion? What do you think of my new purchases? Let's talk.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Updated: KS 3115 Exercise Top (See Yesterday's Post)

This is one of the many reasons that I love you blogger friends: You read my insanely long posts about reasonably trivial sewing projects and provide feedback.

I revisited the top pattern today, all set to do what I suggested in my last post. FYI, doesn't matter how short one's dart is, closing a 2.5 inch wide dart, of various lengths, yields a 6 inch span at the hem. Ridiculous. Plus, it makes the armsyce look weird and truncated - like a right angle sort of -  which, when I trued for correction yields - guess what? - the same armscye curve as the modified one used the first time. My proposed fix seems destined to fail. I can see it, even if I can't articulate my reasoning well.

Three of you suggested that I probably need to go down a size. That seems crazy to me, but it's sometimes the way. I just redrew the size small armscye (recreating it with a french curve cuz, natch, I cut into the actual pattern first time around, stupid girl) as it appears that what I need is a higher armhole - not a longer one. (My own armscye is pretty high, and that's probably why I can wear all of those high-winged bras without issue, despite my shortness and short-waistedness.)

It occurs to me today that I graded from a small shoulder to a medium bust in the weirdest way. I didn't draw the armhole in size small and move to a medium side seam. I cut a small at the shoulder and graded to a medium along the front armscye curve. Effectively I lowered the armhole while neglecting to remove fabric as assertively as I should have, where I should have.

There you go. Can't say that my new size small - which if I recreated it correctly is exactly the same as the unmodified original - will solve the problem of 2 plus inches of extra fabric. But I did take off a reasonable amount of side seam at the underarm (like, 2 inches per side over front and back pieces) and raised the curve by about 1/2 an inch. Furthermore, I reverted the front and back armholes to a true size small, rather than something half way between a small and medium.

Hilarious, that I've managed to turn a simple shell into a complicated thing. But not surprising.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In Which I Liken Making A Top to Extreme Skiing

I was going to tell you about the yoga pants I made over the weekend but then last night I went off-road...

Note: For those of you who have any interest in KS3115 yoga pants: Don't worry, you'll have lots of opportunity, very soon, to hear all about them - how I slightly modified the pattern (yet again), how they turned out (well, but they'll be better next go around, on the weekend, one hopes, since I've made more changes still). Fear not.

Anyway, my version of off-road is not exactly extreme skiing (a propos of which: watch this doc. It's fascinating and I could give a shit about extreme skiing). My version involves looking at a pattern envelope next to an extra half-yard of fabric and thinking: hmmmm, I could totally make that exercise top to match those yoga pants which would totally spice up my fall capsule collection. And by that exercise top, I mean the one in View B, with the v-neck:

So out came the scissors.

Remember, my goal is fun and not complicated and I suppose, for the most part I succeeded. I mean, I made a top on a Monday night. Note: That's largely because my headache took a vacation and my kid banished me from the room with the TV as she had a friend over. (On that topic, my child feels that I am a terrible embarrassment and will not bring friends to the house. So, the fact that she had a sleep-over here for a change, even if it means I had to put 20 dollars on the table for pizza and stay off the main floor, seems like a step in the right direction. Yes, I have become this bedraggled shell of a parent.) But back to the story...

I opted to cut the shoulders in a small, grading to a medium at the underarm. I never do this kind of alteration but everyone else does, and it seems to work for them. On the plus side, the shoulders fit perfectly.

Other pluses include:
  • The top is totally wearable for exercise, or for real life (when made in work-appropriate fabric). 
  • The instructions are excellent, as are those for the pants. 
  • You can actually make a top on a Monday night, even if you don't sew quickly.
Weirdly, when I made this top - and thank goodness I did things like pin together the side seams to check the fit before serging - there was a huge excess of fabric from the front armscye leading towards the bust apex. Like, enough that I had to take out a dart, on each side, that was 2.5 inches wide.

Did I mention that, when you create darts of that width (it wasn't a long dart, happily, or I can imagine what kind of a disaster that might have been) ON THE FLY, some pretty scary things can occur. Like one dart can end slightly higher than the other. Or, both darts can be, say, an inch too high. Then there's the fact that, unless you want to cut the darts - which is something I avoid unless there's a lining to protect the cut fabric from the wrong side - you have to deal with a freakin' 2.5 inch armscye dart - the armscye you will shortly thereafter have to bias bind around. But wait - there's more: How many stretchy exercise shells have you seen with armscye darts, pointing to the boob??

Let's leave all that for a moment. Let's wonder how it is that I managed, while making a size medium (the bust measurement for which is 38 inches sewn, mine is 37.5 inches), to have 2.5 inches of extra fabric to remove from the side of the armhole. Does it have something to do with the fact that I graded from a smaller to a larger size? I really don't think so. Does it have something to do with the fact that I should have made the small? I mean, with negative ease, that theory is a possibility. But I assume the finished sizing accounts for that.  I should say, this extra armscye fabric thing does happen to me when I make woven garments, but never with stretchy knits that aren't particularly tight anywhere. This top fits, not loosely, but certainly not super closely.

I do love the fact that I made a top that fits (albeit with weird bust darts) and that I averted near disaster, as said disaster emerged, with nary a moment of fear. I kept my wits and actually drew the dart onto the paper pattern (to the best of my ability given that I was working with a half-constructed garment). See, even at that point, I knew I'd want to try to make this top again, on the weekend, when I make the next pair of yoga pants. (Oooh, more coordinated outfits!)

Then I realized that I can't rotate a dart at the best of times - this theory defies the laws of physics, people! - so, this morning, I called S, my fitting friend (whom I haven't spoken of recently, but with whom I have many meaningful sewing and other conversations).

In five seconds, she was able to explain that, to remove the dart from the armscye area, aka correct the fit by rotating the dart, I need to:

a) draw a vertical line from the hem to the bust apex, then
b) close the armscye dart, then
c) cut the vertical line from hem to the bust, to re-flatten the pattern, and create a dart there (to the extent that it's necessary. I sense it might not require a lot of spread from the hem as my armscye dart is quite short in as much as it's wide...)
d) In as much as I will not close the new, vertical dart (cuz darts on exercise wear are weird), I will have to remove any excess fabric, which will have collected at the bodice front as a result of not closing that the vertical dart, from the side seams.

FWIW, I'll also have to cut about an inch of length from the armhole binding next time, because I cut the binding in size medium and my armscye is actually a morph of small and medium. The extra binding length, plus the dart, has made that section of the bodice a bit less firm and fitted than I'd like.

This actually seems straight-forward from where I sit now. In front of my computer with a snack. Can't wait to see what the weekend brings!

Today's questions: Have you made this top and, if yes, what do you think? Have you encountered the extra armscye fabric dilemma when working with knits? How did you fix it? To what do you attribute it? Let's talk!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fall Capsule Collection: How I've Been Planning

So, you know what I'm planning to finish and make anew, this autumn. At the risk of fancying things up, I decided I had to give it a name. I mean, how will I title things, categorically, without a name?

I've done my best to make the name, such as it is, entirely unprepossessing. (Now that's a word you don't hear every day!)

Brief recap: I'm going to make:
  • 2 pairs of yoga pants (KS 3115)
  • 2 t shirts (My own pattern, based on a sloper by Built By Wendy)
  • A mock wrap top (V8323 - the surplice style, with 3/4 sleeves)
  • Culottes (B5681) in denim
  • I'm also going to finish 2 outstanding - and let's hope that's how they turn out! - knitting projects - a triangle wrap and a pretty complicated, fitted jacket cardigan
For starters, my darling is back from the spa! (Scott told me, as the machine arrived, that it was the first time he'd seen me smile in days. In my defense, I've been managing a hideous headache for more than a week - at the "wrong" time of the month, just to fuck with all of my methodology - and I have no idea of what's what. Only that everything is miserable when you're in pain.)

Here's an inventory of work done:

It stands to reason, though I was unaware till I went on this journey, that vintage Vikings are amongst the most expensive to service (a few independent quotes bears this out). Apparently they take longer to look over, not all mechanics are schooled in their ways, and the parts are hard to come by, should you need them (in the scheme of things). For your info, including courier, both ways, taxes and all the things shown on the receipt, the final bill was $180.00. That's not negligible given that the machine itself, including delivery from America, cost $350.00. Mind you, if I don't have to worry about it for a couple of years, and it works beautifully, it will be money well-spent.

I have only just briefly tried the machine and I have to say it feels different - much smoother - and the stitches (with barely any tension adjustment) are lovely and even. Now, I'm not getting excited till have a chance to see things in action on a variety of fabrics. Just sayin', it's starting off well. Note: The machine is under full warranty for 3 months.

What I intend to do next, in aid of getting used to it (to return to the topic of the Fall Capsule Collection), is to practice stitches on my capsule-chosen fabric swatches, to ensure I use the best needle and settings on each.

Here are those swatches:

For the yoga pants:
Black ponte - very nice weight and gifted to me by Susan which formerly I used to make this Tiramisu...
Mystery exercise fabric in indigo, which recently resurfaced. I know it looks black but it's not.
For the wrap top, either of these fabrics may work (though they will fit completely differently given the difference in fabric properties) - in addition to the black ponte above:

This is the fabric I used to make that crazy tricky, Grecian beauty: Vogue 1287
I used this fabric, long ago, to make V8413, a really lovely and practical garment I somehow manage never to wear.
For the T shirts:
This fabric made V1027, that dress I really didn't enjoy making, but which I've worn rather a lot (even though I could have made the bodice longer and the stitching stronger where the belt-tie meets the waist.

And this fabric, which looks like nothing in the swatch, is the GORGEOUS Modal I used to make the Coppelia...
If you think you've seen them all before, that's cuz you have. Well all of them except for the dark navy exercise fabric (mystery textile). I don't even think I can tell you were that came from - and it's the only one I can say that about. I think it might have been the Spandex House, years ago. Well, it sure is gonna come in handy now!

My point: When I use these fabrics in the context of new patterns, I don't think anyone's going to be able to identify them with pre-existing garments, made in the same fabrics. I suppose we're about to find out.

I don't really care, though. These are basics. They're not there to dazzle, but to blend elegantly with other pieces. The fabrics are good so I'm not concerned. As long as they suit the pieces I make - and as long as those pieces fit properly - they will serve me very well.

Today's questions: What do you think of my machine service bill? Does it seem reasonable? And how do you feel about my chosen shipping to and fro option? What are your thoughts about my fabric choices? I know the swatch photos aren't gorgeous, but I'm curious to know which is your fave. Let's talk!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Plain Beige Bra Chronicles: Bravissimo Alana

Update: Thanks so much to Jill and Amanda and Elizabeth and Gillian and Julianne and Somisawhel for finding this lost post in her reader and saving me from having throw my computer out the window.


I haven't even started to write this post but I can feel it's going to be involved.

The Brief Back Story: Y'all know I'm desperate to find a replacement plain, beige bra that will fit smoothly under clothing and that isn't lined or padded. Easier said than done.

The Latest Attempt: Bravissimo Alana

The Findings (to be followed by an in depth analysis of bra shape and the universe):
  • This bra is terrific, IMO. It's a lovely pink beige. The fabric is very firm and not scratchy (as some others have suggested in reviews). It's not luxe, but it in no way feels cheap.
  • The shape is round, but with a slight point at the apex. This is how I like my bras because, to me, it highlights a genuine form. Some people say it's pointy. It's not. It might be pointier than they prefer but, I can assure you, I know from pointy. There is a slight down-slope from the upper cup to the apex. It's not intense. I suspect that this, coupled with the firmness of the upper cup lace is what makes the bra tricky for full on top breasts. 
  • It's very supportive AND very lifted. Tough times finding both of these features in the same bra, much less a plain, beige version. I am thrilled to say that these features coexist in this style. Furthermore, it brings the breasts forward on the frame, without any side sling or vertical seaming. To some extent, this is because the fabric is strong.

  • It's ridiculously comfortable. Honestly, I wore it all day and it was as pleasant as could be. The band is awesome, frankly. It's thick, firm but also quite malleable. The straps are on the wide side, but not unattractive, especially given that they're nicely set on the bra. I got the 3 hooks-wide version because I sized up - and it's the widest 3 hooks I've ever worn. In smaller sizes, the band is only 2 hooks wide, but I suspect they'd be about as wide as that of your average 3-hook bra. The wings (side band where it meets the cup) are high, as is the upper outer cup. Mind you, the wires aren't overly tall, IMO, nor are they particularly narrow nor wide. It's not one of those bras that cuts under your arm, is what I mean, though some have suggested that it does for them.

Now Let's Dig Into The Fit Details (which includes info about how it fits me, specifically):

There is but one challenge for me with this bra and for me it's cosmetic. Note: This challenge - which I'm about to discuss in detail - is generally a fit deal-breaker in that it denotes bad fit most of the time. In this particular scenario, one of the few I can think of, it does not. But pls. read the deets, to understand why. 

  •  Given the cut of this bra, on me, the gore does not tack. This is to say that I can fit a finger between the midline of the gore and my breastbone. This does not extend to the base of the gore. The base of the bra is firm against my body everywhere, as it should be.

You might be thinking, Kristin, a gore that floats means the cups are too small. Trust me, I've tried many a bra wherein the gore doesn't tack and it was because the cups were too small. In this case, it's because the inner upper cup/inner lower cup unit are cut slightly too shallow for my breast shape.

To wit: the wires sit perfectly beyond, even, where the gore begins its vertical rise. The upper cup is not tight - in fact, it's a bit loose on my smaller side - with a notable absence of the "quad boob" so many have experienced with the Alana. The outer cup fits perfectly against my breasts. Neither outer cup nor upper cup fullness conspire to pull the gore away from my breastbone. The gore is not wider than the span between my breasts. The straps could not be better situated for my shoulders. Honestly, this bra is FREAKIN' perfect on me in every other way.

In no small irony, this is the very thing I can't figure out when making my own bras. The minute I've got a tacked gore, the upper cup is a disaster of looseness.

I'm so taxed to understand... Whatever I struggle with in bra fit (and in fitting hand-made bras that much more), has to do with very fast projection at the inner breast, from the breastbone.

What I mean is this: My breasts are an average, over both sides, of 11.75 inches deep (measured from inner breast, where the gore would tack centrally, to the outer breast). Although my nipples are centred on this sphere (aka, my breasts do not splay to the sides), the projection from my breastbone is immediate. This isn't because my breastbone protrudes. I sense, it's because my breast root is proportionately wider than it is long. My breasts don't start high up on my chest, nor do they extend (at the root base) particularly low. This means that they don't cover much body length and yet they still manage to achieve a significant amount of depth. They go straight out, fast. In fact, were gravity not playing a role (at this point) they'd be rather in your face, so to speak.

The cut of the Alana, at the inner cup, is not conducive to this. In terms of my breast volume, the cups are more than adequate and the wire width is great. But this bra is putting that extra volume I need into some other spot. Upper cup or outer cup, I can't quite tell. Which is probably why I can't make a bra that fits. Needless to say, I've got to consider this shape carefully against my Cleos and Empreintes (which work amazingly for narrow frames and large breasts having short roots).

The Alana does not widen my shape because it's not fighting my shape. It's simply not perfectly conforming to it in one specific spot.

In my considered estimation, I could wear this without any problems - no damage to breast tissue, no potential "migration" (not that I necessarily buy into this concept), no smushing, no pulling.

But here's the thing...

I am an order-driven individual who associates non-tacking gores with problematic fit. Though you probably wouldn't even notice the gore, if I didn't point it out to you, I am all too aware of it. To me it spells imperfection. For me, a tacking gore - which, btw, mitigates cleavage substantively - is the bellwether of fit. I'm one of those people who, wearing a bra one-size too small (note: the Alana does NOT fall into this category), sports cleavage resembling a teenager's derriere. I don't like that. I think it looks cheap.


I'm probably not going to buy another of these - though I sure as hell am going to wear it till I find a better alternative. A propos of this, I've ordered 3 more styles of plain, beige bra (more info to come) and I'm going to order the Bravissimo Melrose - another plain bra, this one with vertical seaming. I wonder if it will provide more inner cup depth. Of course, I have no idea whether to size up or not. Depending on (relatively few) reviews, it's anyone's guess.

Today's questions: What do you think? Will you try this bra on the basis of my review? Do you share my breast shape (size notwithstanding)? Do you think I'm an insane control freak who has stupid views on butt-crack cleavage? Let's talk!

Fucking Horror of Horrors - Pls. Help to Retrieve a Post!

Just spent an hour and a half writing the best bra review ever (ed. note. Now that the post is up, I guess this is open to interpretation. Damn!) and my fucking account ate it - in the most horrible way (due to my user error).

If - by some miracle - you happen to get an archive of the long post (which was up for 5 minutes) in your reader, would you PLEASE copy it into an email and send it to me at

I would SO appreciate it.

Now off to bang my head against a wall.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Autumn Crafting: What's Next?

Remember sewing and knitting, those things I used to do? I don't want you to think I've forgotten them. As it happens, my machine has been in the shop since the beginning of last week. I ended up sending it far away (to the other end of the city) by special courier, to the place where I bought my cover stitch machine earlier this summer. The store has a good reputation and an on-site mechanic. FYI, I don't know what the final bill will be, but the shipping (all in), will have cost me 60 bucks. That's going to save me upwards of 3 hours in transport time (2 trips, and back, to the other end of the city). Money well-spent, I say. IMO, it shouldn't take a week and a half for a tune-up. Alas, a  once-yearly, travelling amusement park - the CNE - is in town for the last 2 weeks of August and the shop owner runs an exhibit booth at the craft show. Quite a going concern, apparently. My call coincided exactly with the annual occasion that the sewing shop runs on skeleton staff. Figures.

In truth, I've been happy enough to stay the hell away from the sewga room, though last night my thoughts did start to wonder about what to do next.

I've decided my next thing has to be a) fun b) not complicated and c) practical. It's probably best to follow some kind of capsule formula, like the Five in Five. Not that I really need five of anything for the autumn. Autumn's a time I've got SO covered.

Some ideas I briefly considered:
  • Jeans - either Jalie or Vogue ones, which I somehow bought the pattern for (and then I realized that I have so many pairs of RTW jeans that I enjoy so much. Why make them just to make them?... Oh, and you may remember this.)
  • An elegant work dress (V1252):

(and then I realized that this pattern has but 5 reviews - from only advanced sewists - and they all say variations on: This dress is really hard and you should stay the hell away from it. Advice taken.)
  • A pair of pants (and then I realized that I don't think I like pants right now, only jeans).
Then, in a (presumably) useful turn, while looking through my pattern archive binder, I found a tiny little bug larva stuck to one of the pages which FREAKED ME THE FUCK OUT whereupon I scoured my entire sewing stash (and yarn stash and book stash) to ensure there was nothing eating my textiles. That took an hour. Did I mention I had a vile headache throughout this process - which was not brought on by fear of moths. Amazingly, and to my huge gratitude, it appears to have been the only one of these evil things. Nonetheless, I shook out everything and sprayed it all down with cedar water. And my guard is highly elevated.

This did give me a very useful opportunity to review what things I've got at my disposal.

On top of the zillions of (stupid) lingerie supplies I've amassed, I've got a variety of shirt-weight, drapey wovens aka georgette and silk charmeuse. You'll be pleased to know I could make 20 t-shirts with all the knits I've got stashed. Not that it's in the cards. Furthermore, I've got enough heavy ponte to make at least 2 pairs of yoga pants (aka the things I wear the minute I get into my house and don't take off until I leave). I've been loath to buy more yoga pants because a) they cost a lot and b) the rise is always wrong and the length is ridiculous. Mind you, the idea of making black yoga pants seems so drab. I mean practical.

On more careful consideration I'm leaning towards the following capsule collection - though I don't know if I have it in me to give this a fancy name. Fancy names make things so serious:
  • Kwik Sew 3115 yoga pants x2 - yeah, in black (cuz that's what I've got).
  • My bespoke T shirt pattern using one of my numerous shirt-weight knits - like the end of that great Modal I used to make the Coppelia wrap. While I'm at it, I might as well make two of these... (Note: the tops and yoga pants are terrific opportunities to get to know my cover stitch machine better.)
  • Another go-round of culottes - made in denim, perhaps. I mean, it's the only bottom-weight fabric I have lying around at the moment, so it's that or go buy stuff:
  • And, finally, I'd like to revisit this terrific top, V8323, of which I've made the green style (and to which I've added 3/4 sleeves). I've worn my current version many times but it really doesn't fit me in the shoulders as well as I'd like (just a bit too wide):

It would be really nice to make this in a fabric having soft properties (the wool jersey I used to make the first one is a bit stiff).

So, you can see, with this capsule "collection" I'm not reinventing the wheel. I'm in a phase where comfort and mobility are rather important to me. Chic comfort, natch. I'd like a couple of slim t shirts (in slightly dressy weight), some yoga pants (because truly my other pairs are dead), some culottes - cuz I didn't really nail those last time but I think I might do better on a second try - and a dress-up/dress-down princess-seamed top.

And lest you think I've forgotten about the triangle shawl or the knit jacket, they're on the agenda too. The triangle's almost done and I need a good weekend with the jacket, to sort out some fit issues in the shoulders and to seam/insert buttonholes/attach petersham binding.

Each of these projects will happen as it happens. I can't give time frames cuz my head-happiness must dictate the schedule. 

Today's questions: So what do you think of all of this? Do you have any of these garments on your sewing agenda for the fall? Any advice? Thoughts or feelings? Let's talk!

PS: Just realized that this may well be the second round of garments I'll make (not including the latest lingerie attempt) using stash fabric. That means I'll have made 12 garments out of stash fabric (and still have a reasonable amount left to spare). And my stash fits into one cupboard. Amazing how these yards add up.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Is This The One?

I'm so grateful for all of your recent suggestions about which models of beige bras may fit. Though my latest online purchase hasn't arrived yet, let me tell you how it's going on the hunt to find a new "plain" bra.

Thanks to an anonymous tip, I have purchased the Bravissimo Alana:

It's a bra I've read about many times, on many blogs, and somehow, it just missed my purchase radar.

Mainly that's cuz Bravissimo has always seemed to me to be like an unnecessary, expensive version of Figleaves. Of course, the one way in which they meaningfully diverge is that Figleaves doesn't sell Bravissimo-brand bras (of which the Alana is one) and Bravissimo doesn't sell Figleaves-brand bras (aka Midnight Grace, Just Peachy). To clarify: I know that, if you live in England, you can visit bricks and mortar locations of either store and get good deals on all kinds of things. I'm speaking here as a colonial.

While the Alana is a fairly inexpensive bra (£26.00 regular price - and hilariously it just went on sale today for £20, though not in beige), the £7.95 shipping seems excessive. I mean, they're just going to pop an unlined aka flat bra into an envelope which, undoubtedly, they send at a high-volume discount. When one pays overage of @30 per cent of the garment-price on shipping from a major online vendor, something is wrong. 

OK, rant over.

If the bra fits beautifully and does the (very necessary) trick, I will happily buy 3 of them at once - thereby reducing the relative shipping price considerably. 

What I determined, in the course of my research, is that the bra is apt to fit my shape well. I've also read, like everywhere, is that it fits very small in both cup and back. (Women with full on top shapes often find that the fixed-edge, upper cup trim cuts into breast tissue.) To be on the safe size, I ordered up a size in each.

I can't tell you more at this point. Will it fit? Will it be unobtrusive under clothing? Will it be comfortable? Will it give good shape under slender fabrics? Will I have to return it?! (Oh, please no!)

I will keep you posted though.

Meanwhile, any of y'all who've tried this bra - what do you think??

Saturday, August 17, 2013

All Wrapped Up

While I have no interest in English royalty - nor the dresses certain ladies wear on announcing their engagements - I have to say I'm in the grip of this top:

Banana Republic Issa Collection
In fact, I only bought it by accident - ok, I did understand that I was buying it - having popped into BR to return a recent (and poorly-thought-out) cardigan purchase.

What can I say? It was the day they were putting this collection out onto the floor. The top, might I add, was a wrinkly mess from having shipped flat in a plastic bag. I have no need of a new jersey top that mimics a wrap. It looked a bit long on the hanger. I didn't see it in the petites section and the only size out was a regular medium (almost always too big).

I was walking out. I was not going to stop. I did not have time to try on a shirt. And yet the colour compelled me. Oh Lord, it is gorgeous. Futhermore, it makes my eyes look like big ol' emeralds. And the fit is delightfully small in that the shoulders, in the medium, are perfect - and the top is most definitely cut for a woman with a rack. Finally, with a pencil skirt, it almost looks as if I am wearing a fancy dress (though with jeans, I am a chic urbanite).

I can see why the Duchess likes this brand.

It's taking all of my will not to go back and buy the whole freakin' collection.

Moreover, when I purchased (having been convinced I would not purchase), I did not bring one of the 8000 coupons BR had already sent me that day, offering me 25% off the new collection. Amazingly, I called when I returned to the office, the SA took all the receipt info (and the voucher code) and refunded 20 bucks to my Visa card on the spot?!

This top cost the exact same price (to the penny) as the cardigan I'd just returned.

Look, I can go years without buying something at Banana Republic. It's the Ikea of clothes stores, IMO. But sometimes, they do things very well - at a super-fine pricepoint. This collection is one of them. I highly recommend you check it out. (And make sure to bring your coupon.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Weird Test Thing I'm Doing

I'm so pissed off about how new blog readers are making it seem like, in the absence of Google Reader, no one's gonna be able to find your blog unless you advertise on their behalf. I joined Bloglovin' years ago, decided it was meh, removed the link to it on my blog, and didn't think about it again till this June. (I'll remind you of my early adopter status :-))

Then, in the interests of science - or giving people an easy-click way to follow, I decided to upload the Bloglovin' link on my blog again. I didn't talk about it. I am confident that, if you like to read my blog - what with it living on the internet - there are ways for you to find it.

However, I cannot claim my own blog on Bloglovin'. Now, that seems weird - and probably not important - except that I'm intrigued to know if posting this:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

...will allow me to do so.

If yes, that kind of seems like extortion, no?

Updated: Thanks for feedback, everyone. For your info, this action enabled me to "claim my blog" (like I don't do that every time I write something!).

Shout Out To Everyone: Wanted - A Plain Beige Bra (and the Prospects are Dire)

Lord help me, I'm half considering trying to make a rub off of another bra - just to see if my recent issues are with the Lola clone specifically or with bra-clones in general. Please stop me. I don't think it would be good for my blood pressure. This scenario is made all the more challenging on the basis that, this week, I picked up SIX lingerie sewing books from the library that I put on hold a while ago - all came available at once. These stupid books are staring at me with their beady, paper eyes. I suppose there's no harm in reading them.

At any rate, it's time to return to my ever-more pressing sartorial issue:  
Wanted: A plain, beige bra that fits the following description:
  • No thick seams (though seams are ok) 
  • No lining or padding or (though molded fabric is ok - just not the kind that holds its own shape in any way)
  • Preferably no lace - but if there's lace it has to be the kind with very little topography
  • Although I love a pointy shape, this bra would be good in a round shape since it will be worn under slim jersey items (like wrap dresses or T shirts) which tend to match best with spherical silhouette.
  • It's gotta be beige - light beige is fine, dark beige (but NOT brown) is fine. Even super light beige is fine. But white is a no go. White bras are the worst things evah, IMO.
  • It must have a narrow centre gore that tops out at 3 inches max and narrow(ish) wires with deep cups. Three-piece seamed is best for this but I'm willing to experiment.
Since it's very possible I'm not going to be able to make my own, basic balconette in time to replace the one I'm currently wearing (which is no longer available anywhere on the planet - the Freya Phoebe), I have to put it out there, serious-style. Please, my internet friends, help me to fill this wardrobe need.

So that you understand, it's not that I'm lazy:
  • I used to wear the Fantasie Smoothing Balconette. It was awesome till they changed the material slightly - and my boobs became a bit less full on top (ahem) - and now it's a wrinkly mess.
  • I've tried the Fantasie Helena balconette but gives wide-boob and there's no lift. Mind you, it's a lovely bra. Just not for me. Fantasie bras, in general, fit this description on my frame, fyi.  Note: the Helena in full cup is horrendous. The smoothing bra in full cup is the stuff of horror. If you're going to do Fantasie, I highly recommend you stick with the non-full cup styles.
  • I've tried the Wacoal Retro Chic Full Cup and, seriously, since it's mega-ugly in the larger cup sizes, it's gotta meet every other target. As it is, this may be the most uncomfortable bra I've ever owned and I don't think I've ever complained about another bra being uncomfortable. Really, I'm kind of impervious to discomfort of this variety...  Although it is extremely well-made - and it fits many other women (with different shapes than mine, and in different sizes) with more success - on me the gore is too high (and digs in), the wires are too wide (and coupled with the extremely firm band, they wrap around in such a way to cause pain). It also provides NO lift. Mind you, the support is incomparable. Too bad I'm looking for a lifted, attractive, pain-free experience. Oh, I should mention that unless you're wearing the most modest of crew-necks, the cups come up too high on the sternum to actually wear underneath anything without being visible in the most "no can do" way.
  • I've tried on, in store, every plain Empreinte beige bra in existence and they all look totally drab (except for this one which is made with a slightly napped fabric, aka something with a bit of tug which may cause some slim jerseys to drag over it). All of the Empreinte seamless styles have gores that are too wide for me (and which don't tack) and the one seamless bra in cup size that fits (almost) is too large in the back. Remember, there's no "sister sizing" with Empreinte. Every bra size has a different wire size.
  • I've well and truly had it with Freya so, unless someone can convince me that they've come out with something beige, that doesn't have a band 6 inches longer than it should be (and ill-fitting, not-so-great material), I'm not into it.
  • Sadly, there's nothing on offer in Cleo, in beige, as far as I can tell. Really though, if I'm wrong - please advise! I love this brand.
  • I won't be giving Ewa Michalak my money again any time soon. Nor can I justify ordering bras sight-unseen from any other Polish vendor - I got burned once. The language-barrier, coupled with unfamiliar customer service standards and tricky returns, is too risky for me.
  • Curvy Kate, Change and Elle Macpherson are too shallow in the cups for me.
  • Gossard Glossies has piqued my curiosity but I've heard that it has a shallow cup (do advise if this is not true). I also wonder if it will have enough support.
  • I already own the Triumph Doreen in beige and, while it has its jolie-laide appeal, it's not an every day T shirt bra. For one thing, it's too high cut. For another, it's very thick material that can be bulky under thin fabrics - and too hot for the summer.
  • If I'm not mistaken, this leaves Panache. And I've looked at everything Panache. The Tango has too much texture - I own it in other colourways. The Melody is too flattening and shallow and, with the exception of the Idina (which in no way flips my switch), I sense that brand may be out too. BTW, I loathe the Andorra.
So, there you have it. Doncha just love it when people tell you about all the things that don't work. Makes it so pleasant.

Really, though. If you have any suggestions, with the exception of 8000 provisos, I'm open.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Naturopath

On Saturday I went to see my naturopath, she who has facilitated many of my healthy lifestyle decisions. I was there (with allopathic test results) to discuss my current heath predicament - that thing I like to call hormonally-induced migraine misery. I know. It rolls off the tongue.

I should begin by suggesting that, if you are not yet in your mid-thirties, or if talk of hormones bores you beyond belief, then maybe this post isn't for you. Mind you, I don't know how it could possibly be any more boring than bra-making. So give it a go, I say.

Here's the fun thing - admittedly, I have had a couple of years to consider emerging symptoms and their sources, and I have ruled out many potential issues - but it was a kick to discover that my naturopath agrees completely with my assessment of the challenges I'm currently experiencing. What's terrific about naturopathy is that it works within a different test paradigm. One of the things I will do this month (which regular medical care does not offer or cover, alas) is a three-point hormone panel. At 3 different times over the coming month, I will take saliva tests (which I'll then freeze) until all are ready, whereupon they'll be packaged into a cute little box - with a mini ice pack, no less! - and sent to the lab for results.

Gotta tell you, this system has completely improved since last I undertook it (well, I did a different panel but same basic process). Then, there was no courier service provided. Postage on the cute little package was not already paid (as it is in this case) and there was no freezing/ice pack action going on. You had 48 hrs to get that test to the lab or it was toast. Guess whose courier lost the package last time?

Of course, the lab fee - which was never negligible - has risen. But what price health, people?

This testing will form the baseline assessment, indicating my hormone levels at various points in my cycle. She, like I, assumes the headaches are being caused by a post-ovulatory and precipitous drop in hormones. These tests will tell us if we're right and how to proceed.

Not to get ahead of the game - because there are a variety of approaches to be considered - but if the the panel yields a certain result, my best option to avoid headache may be bio-identical progesterone supplementation. Note that there are widely disparate views about saliva-testing and hormone therapy (including the bioidentical form), though progesterone supplementation is largely considered to be safe. 

My views, as you know, skew to the holistic and I'm comfortable pursuing this path. Even my GP has advised me to see my naturopath, as she can't do anything for me at this point. (Based on a recent and rather compassionate discussion, I suspect my GP may have experienced perimenopausal migraines too). I figure, I've gone the allopathic route to confirm that my vitamin and thyroid levels are normal (according to that system), my brain is healthy and my future treatment will have no predictable adverse affects on my heart arrhythmia. They've told me what I can't do to fix this life-affecting, if time-specific, challenge. Now I've got to figure out what will actually help.

The truth is, I am going through a rather fascinating life-stage and, unlike in puberty (when I was clueless and inexperienced), I have a chance to approach this openly and to accord it the respect it deserves. How's that for wise old crone-ness!

Brief Sidebar:

OK, let's take a moment to discuss the crone thing: I'm 43. I like to tell people I look 30. Before I had pertussis, I felt 20. (Since then, I regret to inform you, I do feel 110 on a bad day - but I'm hopeful that I'll revert to my former youthfulness once I've had a few more months of health.) In my mind, I've always been 40 - which seems like the perfect age: old enough that people take you seriously, and young enough to credibly flirt with baristas. 

Furthermore, I'm very Generation X in that I assume that the age I am is the best age to be (and that to which everyone aspires - younger or older). I do not feel that perimenopause has in any way undermined me in mind, body or spirit. It's handed me some pain I have to figure out how to manage. Eventually, it will end my fertility. In case you were in any doubt, I have no current need of my fertility in its technical sense (though I have appreciated its many by-products - and I don't only mean my kid). 

With the end of my fertility, my migraines will likely disappear, my heart arrhythmia will likely improve and I won't get my freakin' period (which let's face it, I am SO done with). Yeah, I'm probably at the mid-point of a process that might get nasty, in some respects. My body is changing, for sure. Right now I don't begrudge it or feel like it's made me less attractive. Time and gravity work their ways. So do experience and sex-appeal. I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't appreciate it if my hormones made me gain unwelcome weight for a few years. (It's an understatement to say that hope I don't experience that.) For some reason, though, I don't begrudge it much when my appetites do. I do know that, eventually, I'm going to get wrinkles and my jaw is going to soften and my hair (never my best feature) may lose its bounce. No doubt, my boobs are going to fall (though they're doing alright thanks to some good genes and some great bras). 

I'm also going to continue to get smarter (God willing) and more creative - more capable in my thoughts and actions. I'll have increasing liberty to pursue my interests and to spend meaningful time with my husband, with whom I experience, ever more, the sweet detente that comes of many married years. Perhaps they'll be additional funds, I hope, to do more of the things that I love to do. My sense of style is sure as hell not going to falter, nor my appreciation of fit and my ability to find things that flatter.

I choose to believe that there is nothing more attractive than knowing oneself, on the basis that I'm a zillion times more attractive than I've ever been, and not because I'm any younger or perkier.

A couple of technical deets:

I'm on month 4 of taking the migraine vitamin cocktail "prescribed" by the neurologist (400 mg B2 and 400 - 600 mg magnesium glycinate) and it does appear to be having a positive impact. I don't want to get all mega-optimistic (I mean, I suppose it could be a placebo) but I've largely staved off headaches of any form this month and those that have hovered I've been able to manage without drugs. The doc did say that it takes 3 months minimum for this cocktail to kick in. When my stomach can't manage the magnesium, I supplement a smaller ingestible dose with the topical version (which also acts as a muscle relaxant). Weirdly, after ovulation, I can take much more magnesium with less impact on my stomach than I can before ovulation. I guess that does point to the clinical evidence that those who experience hormonal migraines metabolize magnesium at a fast rate.

Furthermore, my naturopath told me that she does not believe my headaches are being triggered or exacerbated by food or drink - not that she supports my less healthful choices! I mean, seriously, I totally expected her to get out the stick on gluten (no one has any use for gluten at this point - esp. not where serious headaches are concerned!) but she said it's pretty clear, on the basis of our discussion and the pages of notes I've been keeping (did I mention I've been charting my cycles for 15 years?) that this has everything to do with hormones. She then advised me to stop eating processed food and baked goods cuz those things are poison.

To those of my friends who've been (lovingly) laughing at me for the last 3 years, poking fun at my "imaginary perimenopause", allow me to remind you that I am the earliest of adopters! (Of course, if the test results don't bear this out, well who'll look stupid then? No doubt, I'll find a spin.)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Everything Can Just Fuck Off

Is there some convention for NSFW blog post titles? Not that I care really. I swore in that title because I am hateful in a special, special way.

Optimism is stupid. Bra-making is stupid. My sewing machine is stupid. All sewing machines of the world are stupid as are all bra patterns. Most people are stupid. Even pets and babies are stupid. (I will not retract that inflammatory statement at this juncture.)

In case you're wondering, I made the next bra and it failed and now I kind of want to kill myself. That's bra 16, in case you're counting. I suppose if I were dangerously suicidal, I'd make it about something more relevant than my continual inability to sew a bra that fits. But honestly, I have failed. Yet again. Writ large. In front of the world and, worse still, in my own eyes. And I'm done (potentially for as much as 18 months).

I thought I was getting closer. Maybe I was. In some ways, this latest prototype is closer to fitting than ever. In others, formerly ways in which fit was flawless, now things are worse. Quick word to the wise (though if you are trying to make a bra that fits you are obviously stupid): One cannot decide to affix upper cups behind straps when one's clone pattern doesn't follow that convention and one is 15-ways flummoxed by every change one makes and what one is doing and how it impacts everything else.

To make matters more fun, I can no longer pretend that my machine is going to rally from whatever tension issues it is currently experiencing. Oh, I know, we ALL have tension issues. But my machine needs some extreme bodywork (or maybe drugs). Of course, having never had a machine serviced - and not having a car - I am particularly apprehensive about sorting it all out. I would happily pay a premium to have some special machine-fixer come to my house and take care of it on the spot. Come to think of it, I'd likely pay an absurd amount of money to save myself the time, trouble and stress. I mean, really, I spent 200 bucks this month on bra supplies and that yielded nothing. Imagine if it actually fixed my machine without so much as having to lock the front door. Remind me to tell you, sometime, about how nervous I am to approach new things requiring intra-city travel. It's yet another example of stupidity.

On the plus side, I suppose this will give me a chance to start writing about something with a little bit of curb appeal. I saw my naturopath yesterday and that was vaguely interesting. I also bought a terrific top (more to come). And there are some fabulous RTW bras on the horizon, as evidenced by posts I've read recently about the coming lingerie season, care of Curve Expo (like the fashion shows but for bras). Note: I am in awe of those designers and, if I weren't so grateful for their offerings, I'd fucking hate them too.

Alas, for now, you can imagine me, lying deflated on the floor, neck muscles contracted up the yin yang, everything seeming so futile.

Really, my brain does not like to be thwarted.

Wherein I Begin and End in Different Languages

Zut alors. Still sewing the fucking dog's breakfast of a latest prototype (did I mention I've managed to spend another 200 bucks on bra supplies during the last month?) and, this time, I suspect it's gonna be too small.

Well, at least we're moving in a new direction.

Version 5 of the upper cup most definitely did not work. I know cuz I tried it twice before I went back to redrafting the 6th version of the upper cup (which I do have a lot to say about). I think it's the right shape, but I cut it slightly too small. It took me all of last night to envision exactly how I could cut it larger (without recreating the original problem). Now we'll see if I've called that right. I suppose that'll be version 7.

In brief, version 6 does attach the upper cup to the strap - everyone's preferred bust-lifting technique. Here's hoping I can sew through all of those layers when I'm attaching the straps! Don't worry, I've got the hammer out.

I'm going to be honest. I've got one more kick at this can and then it's back to the cupboard for the bra sewing supplies. I spend every waking minute (when I'm not managing my job which is currently through-the-roof busy) thinking about bra making and it's getting old. I know I've made strides, but the only stride I care about at this point is a fucking bra that fits and lifts and supports. This is once again verging on a miserable experience so, one more go and basta.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Summer Series: Uprising of the (Bra) Clones or What I've Learned About Fitting the Upper Cup

OK, my goal in this post is to share some of my recent bra-fitting experience, which is (as they say) generally gained the hard way. Alas, I am no exception to this wearisome rule. But if I can make this information in any way "lively" (ok, I'll settle for useful), I will be so pleased. Language in this post is unwieldy and, for this I apologize. It's ridiculously challenging to describe my observations, as evidenced by the 2 hours it's taken me to construct this. My hat is off to the technical writers of the world.

But first, the provisos:
  1. My freakin' camera has decided to act strange so, of all the pics I took yesterday (of the new black and blue bra) there is sadly not a one that isn't a blur. Amazingly, it took one clear photo of my next proposed (upper cup) alteration. The camera is still acting up so I'm going to have to use pics of the previous bra as a reference within this post. Please don't be confused. It will provide the necessary visual, I think.
  2. I did not go to school for pattern-drafting. I've been sewing for under 4 years. So please read this information critically - which is to say, if you know otherwise, do comment and let us know.

As you may know, during this iteration of bra-making, I've made 4 muslins. None of them has fit but, in each version, I have corrected many of my challenges.

I'm happy to say that, as of muslin 4, the band and lower cups seem to really hit the mark. The gore tacks perfectly at the centre bust. I've much to tell you about the hows and whats of this, but I'll leave that for another post. What I want to write about today is the one element that continues to elude me - the upper cup.

Meet Exhibit A:

I would ask you to note the distance between where the lace upper cup ends (attached to the lower outer cup) and where the lower outer cup attaches to the strap. There's a distance of about .75 of an inch, which is apparent if you biggen up the photo. The point is that the upper cup does not attach to the lower cup AND the strap.

Exhibit B is a pic of the pattern pieces that made up version 4:

The key pattern piece to consider in this photo is the upper cup shown at the top left. The far left part of that piece (the right angled part) is the bit that attaches to the centre gore (bridge). The right part of that piece is analogous to that upper cup attachment zone, referred to in Exhibit A, and that pointy bit is the part that attaches (in fabric terms) closest to the straps. Let's call it Point X.

The Problem:

I have found, in each of my recent muslins, that the upper cup is:
  • too big (gapey along the entire top of the cup) - and getting more big with each muslin
  • kind of floppy and untethered
I have also found (and if I could show you muslin 4 - wherein the upper cup affixes to the lower cup about 1 plus inch away from where the straps start aka farther than in any other muslin - you'd really get this) that the greater the distance between the lower cup to upper cup join-point and the place where the lower cup affixes to the strap, the more gapey and floppy things get.

The Attempted Fix (which has failed increasingly with each muslin):

I have attempted to resolve this 3 times by darting the upper cup (to diminish gape) while maintaining the length of the lower edge of the upper cup (which needs to attach to the lower cups and so cannot really be lengthened or shortened without substantively altering the part of the fit that actually works).  Each time, after truing, the upper cup has got slenderer and longer towards Point X. I really don't know how. The net effect is that the piece has got oddly wider (left to right) and slimmer (top to bottom).

After pinching fabric on muslin 4 and pinning it out, and musing intensely over the pattern piece, a couple of big-time truisms occurred to me - things that may help you as a bra sewist OR as a bra buyer:
  • The support of a bra comes from the (optimal tension of the) band and the underwires. However...
  • The lift of a bra comes from the upper cup.
In case you're wondering what the fuck that means, let me clarify:  It's the relationship between a) the upper cup which attaches at the centre gore (bridge) and b) the upper cup which attaches at the side of the bra (to either the strap directly or the to lower cup near the strap) that dictates degree of lift. That connection is what gathers the breast in the sling of the bra and molds it to the outer lower cup which provides the majority of bra cup support. The upper cup is what shapes your breast and what lifts it from the cradle of the band unit.

Point X is the nexus of lift on a bra.

Some things I've learned from my own fitting experience in the last 2 weeks:
  • The farther the distance of Point X from the strap, the less lift the bra will provide. (This is less relevant to smaller and lighter breasts than to their denser and larger sisters'.)
  • The farther the distance of Point X from the strap, the wider-set the straps will sit on the bra.
If you've got small, wide, shallow breasts - that could be just the ticket. I've you've got projectile breasts having a narrow root, which sit on a small frame, that's just a bad scene.

Let's think about it "engineer-style" for a second (and this is where I remind you of proviso 2, above). If your boobs point straight forward, a far distance, but don't flare "wide" on your frame - or high on your chest - the structural likelihood is that you don't need a wide upper cup. You need a tall upper cup.

Which brings me to exhibit C:

Exhibit C is a shoddy mock up (I refuse to make it pretty till I've got something that works!) which shows:
  • Muslin 4 upper cup in black (same exact shape as that in Exhibit B) and
  • Proposed muslin 5, drawn in green
What I've done in this latest revision is:
  • Make Point X higher (so that it will affix close to the part of the strap that meets the lower cup - like almost touching it). 
  • By altering the outer, lower, upper cup curve, I've also maintained the length of the lower raw edge of the upper cup so that it will attach, theoretically, to the lower cups without issue.
  • The one other thing I've done is to alter the line of the cup where it meets the centre gore (bridge) - on the left side of the pic. In my original version, the line was angled in this way and I thought I had been inaccurate in my cloning process. However, as I continue to have too much volume at the upper inner cup, I'm beginning to believe that that line, which previously I thought was badly drawn, is actually correct. When the cups are sewn together, that line maintains the spherical shape of the lower cup unit. I mean, this alteration is a wild card, but it's not so extreme that I can't work around it in the muslin as necessary.
Is your head hurting as much as mine is?

I realize that this post is unlikely to have appealed to a wide readership. I can barely proof-read it and I wrote LIVED the fucking thing.

If anyone has anything to add to this - either to corroborate my thoughts or to refine them - I would SO appreciate it.

Till next bra, Kxo