bra making

Adventures in Bra making: Part 2

April 17, 2019

Hello makers,

I thought it was about time I'd show my face here again. I hadn't planned to stay away for 3 months. I had a couple blog post in the works when I wrote my last blog posts, some of which were largely written and I had concise ideas for others. I will briefly relate to you what I've been up to and why I haven't been around here before I move on to talk bras with you (you can scroll on if you are only here for the crafts bit!).

So, after I published my previous post a couple of things happened. On a personal level: I semi unexpectedly moved house. I got the callback and go ahead for the new place in January and then had to prepare for a impending move on short notice. In addition to packing up my life at the old place and prepare for the move in general, the new place was just the bare bones and needed a lot of work like installing the floor and painting all the walls. I got a lot of help from my family but it was still an intense period with lots of work and I was basically a tired dust ball for about 2 months. I'm mostly on the other side of all of that now though and super pleased with the new place. But moving is intense and tiring y'all.

Another thing that has kept me occupied and away from this place is the movement that the craft world has been seeing around racism, privilege and inclusiveness.  It started at the beginning of this year and is still going on. There have of course been call outs and talks such as these before, but I've never seen it on this level in any community I've been part of. Most of it happened on instagram, but there was also a Ravelry thread. If you have missed it, you can read a good article relating the events here, as well as this blog which was started by some of the BIPoC crafters who have been leading the push back against racism.  I participated in the discussion as well, and you can see some of that in my saved stories on my instagram profile and on some grid posts if you want to. This is an important subject and at the beginning of this year I wanted to focus my attention there, which in turn affected the time and effort I spent on here. I've also been reflecting on my own part in this, what I've been projecting, what and who I've been lifting up and where I want to go with my online spaces and my making. That's still an ongoing process. So, that's where I'm at.

The Crafts Bit

Now I thought it would be nice to get back into blogging by talking bras with you.  I finished making my second bra just a bit before my move and it has been waiting to grace the blog since that time. I already told you about the first bra I made here. I started making this bra with working on the fitting issues I encountered there, so you can read my thought on my first bra fit there if you like. 

My idea for my second bra, or sewing strategy if you will, was to start with one pattern and get that one to a perfect fit, or as close to a perfect fit as I could get before I'd start faffing about with other patterns. So for my second attempt at a wearable bra I kept the ingredients the same: I used the same pattern - Harriet by Cloth Habit-, made the same view -view C-, used the same  type of fabric -lace for the outer fabric, and sheer nylon lining-, and the same notions kit for the rest of the bra.

I read that when tackling fit, it's best to make one change at the time. With bras the thing is if you go up a cup size, all the other pattern pieces are altered as well to accommodate for that, so you the fit will be different. The fit issues with my first bra were particularity evident in the cups so I decided to focus on that. So, I went up two cup sizes, but kept the band the same as with the yellow bra.

This lace was a bit trickier to sew, I assume because the lace holes are a bit larger, so the fabric overall was a bit less substantial. I used a stitch starter (just a similar piece of scrap fabric) at times to make the sewing a bit easier. The overall process of sewing the bra was already a ton easier than my first one, because I was more familiar with the steps, material and techniques.

Bra fit

I said before that picking a different bust size has an effect on the sizing of all the other pieces. For this size, this meant that the bridge was a lot more narrow than on the first bra. Not just relatively, but actually in absolute measurements. Likewise, the outer cradle was more narrow. I presumed this was to accommodate for the larger cups, which needed more space.

Overall this bra fits so much better than my first bra, and this one is actually wearable. My second bra is still not a perfect fit but definitely gotten a lot closer. Going up two cup sizes definitely was the right call and the bust fit is close to perfect. I think that with this bra, I figured out my correct wire size, which is a huge win for me and hopefully something that will help me when I go and try out different bra patterns.

I'm really pleased with the fit of the cups and figuring out the wires is a huge deal, however there are some things that I want to change on my next bra. The bridge specifically is too narrow for my taste. One of the positives about the first attempt is that it showed me what a difference a well fitted bridge makes, and I lost that fit in this attempt. Along with the narrower cradle, the band is a bit too tight for my liking.  I can wear it, but if I wear it for a longer period it definitely reaches the limits of comfortable wear.

About the photo's

As a -on the whole not very important, but I'm going to talk about it anyway- side note, this bra was terrible to photograph. I tried on three different occasions to get some nice and clear shots, but don't feel I succeeded. I still lack both the confidence levels and trust in the internet to model the bra myself and I don't own a sewing dummy, so I'm reliant on flat lays or hanging ghost bra photos. The latter was my go to method, because my flat lays never looked like anything (try getting a 3D garment to lay flat) but with this one the cups kept sagging while hanging, dragging down the entire front of the bra, which apart from making it look all weird also blocks you from actually seeing any of the details. I'm guessing I had these problems because the cups are bigger than the yellow bra's, too big to stand up by themselves apparently. I'm not entirely sure what to do about it, for this one I just kept adjusting the bra and took a ton of photos, which sort of works but doesn't make for an entirely relaxed shoot.

In any case, these photo's were taken at my old apartment, where I had these wooden ceiling beams, where I could just hang a ton of stuff on whenever I fancied (such as handmade bras on occasion). My new place doesn't have these, so I'm going to have to figure out something else anyway. I better find out fast, because I've got another attempt at bra making to show you soon.....!


Wrapping up 2018: Knitting

January 05, 2019

It's the first few days of 2019, I posted my year in sewing a couple of days ago, so what better time to talk about and round off the knitting I did in 2018?  My knitting output -as in the actual volume of projects I made- was on the low side and it has been like that for the last couple of years. Nevertheless, I don't think I've ever been happier with the things I've knitted! I've knit some long longed-for projects, I've knit complicated and time consuming projects and I've made time to knit some things for my favourite people. All in all, I'm really pleased and wouldn't be mad if next year showed a similar picture as this one. So let's get into my year in knitting:

Year of finally finishing my oldest wip  

I finished my Kokkeluri Mittens knitted in Buchaille this year. This was my work in progress that had been languishing the longest of all my WIPs. After finishing the first mitten when the pattern came out in 2015, I  shoved said mitten in a corner, and forgot about it for a couple of years. I finally came back to it at the start of this year to make and finish the second mitten.

Looking back, I can hardly understand why I just let it sit there for years. The actual knitting was done in a couple of days and it's been my most worn hand armour since I've finished the second mitten. What can I say, second mitten syndrome is a thing. A terrifying, mystifying thing made of some dark, dark stuff. To other knitters with hibernating WIPs hiding in the cupboard: do not despair, for there is hope!

So nice I knit it twice

I knitted the Brackett hat, from Laine issue 3, twice this year. First I knitted the blue version for myself and shortly afterwards the green version as a gift. I love this hat pattern and it reminds me a bit of an updated fisherman style hat. I love the squishy cables and how it uses so little yarn to great effect. It is a great stash buster and a cost effective hat so if you were looking for one look no further. These colder days the green one is used all the time by it's recipient so I definitely feel my knitting effort were appreciated there as well which is always nice.

Looking back I like seeing that I did branch out a bit designer wise: I have quite an established style and I know what I like now better than ever, but I'd never knitted a pattern by Whitney Hayward. I have some firm favourite designers and know that whenever they will put out something new, I'm probably going to like it. It can be hard to keep my eye out for new designers through that wall of faves, especially when my queue list is the length of the Nile. But it is nice to see it still happens, even without me making a point of it.

The year of forgetting accessories exist 

I have always been more of a sweater and big project knitter but this year I basically forgot accessories exist after the first two months. Not entirely sure where this was coming from. I don't dislike knitting them and the hats and gloves I made at the start from the year are some of my favourites ever. I guess I just really like knitting sweaters and throwing myself at big projects. This year I threw myself into some really big and complicated projects, more than any other year, and I guess they just took and kept all my attention this year. I wonder what my mood will be next year.

Returning to an old favourite

I rarely knit the same sweater twice. It happened once in my early knitting days when I knit the
"Fair Isle Yoke" from a Stitch in Time vol 1 twice. However, since I designed an entirely different yoke for the second version I'm not sure if it entirely counts. I knit my first Puffin a few years back in the original puffin colours. It is a firm favourite in my wardrobe, but I had visions of a spectacularly more colourful sweater inspired by another bird when I was knitting that first sweater. This year I decided to make my Puffin-but-make-it-parrot visions come true and knit up this pattern a second time. I've worn this cheery jumper quite often this autumn and winter even though it is a slight deviation from my normal colour palette. I guess can put any doubts about whether I would wear such a bright colour decidedly to rest now. 

The year of more gift knitting than I give myself credit for

This year I knit a hat, a Pippi doll and an adult sized sweater as gifts for loved ones. As someone who considers herself predominantly a selfish knitter that is quite a tally. I knit the Pippi doll as a Christmas present for my nephew, and this was the last project I made and blogged in 2018. 

The biggest gift project I did this year was the lopapeysa I made for my partner. The sweater still needs to grace the blog in a post of its own - and that will happen in the new year- but since you've seen it in project posts and flatlays on instagram I figured I would include it here anyway. I do feel proud of this achievement and it does makes me happy seeing someone else wearing a sweater I made, which I wasn't expecting. Now, I'm not unsubscribing from the 'selfish knitters' group just yet, most of the things I make will always be for myself, but I can see myself knitting a garment gift again... somewhere in the far future.... after I've recovered and put in enough selfish knitting mileage.

The year of the  fair isle allovers

Knitting wise if I had to stick a theme to this year it would be the allover. I knitted three allovers this year, one minimalistic take and two more involved colourwork garments. My love for stranded colourwork and fair isle is no secret and for years it's been what I knit the most of each year. It has been evolving every year though. I love a good yoke sweater and have knitted my fair share of them. Since knitting my first allover last year, I've developed a taste for those. I always greatly admired them, but I also had been intimidated by them and put them on a pedestal as some sort of unreachable goal. When I made Windermere I felt like I broke through that mental block. This year I've proven to myself well beyond doubt that it no longer is an issue for me. Huzzah! More colourwork possibilities is more fun! 

The first part of the year Marie Wallin's Unst cardigan was my big project. This was the first multi coloured allover that I attempted. I significantly changed the colour scheme and added an additional colour. I relished the planning stage for this one and greatly enjoyed putting together a palette that suited my taste. It helps that the yarn I picked (Jamieson's spindrift) has a vast array of colourways to pick from and I was truly spoiled for choice. Even with careful planning though, there is an element of uncertainty when you come up with your own scheme but I am super pleased with the outcome of this cardigan. As with any fair isle project it was great fun seeing each band of colours emerge. 

I well took my time for this one, and it took longer than I expected it would take. At the same time I couldn't be more pleased with the result and I never lost my enjoyment in this project at the knitting stage.


 My next sweater was a much simpler and minimalist take on the colourwork allover. I've worn this one quite a bit since the colder weather set in. I especially wore it all through the holidays after I realised I accidentally made a low-key festive sweater. I got some questions about the festive nature of the sweater while wearing it over the holiday period, so I guess the red really speaks to our collective Christmas mood? In any case I hadn't intended it like one, I made it over the summer because I just like wearing red, but it was a nice coincidence.  

I wore this to the Christmas celebration with my family at my brothers place and when I came home I noticed a small hole in one of my armpits where the seam broke. This could say something about the yarn strength, but because it's plied, it should be sturdier than most tweeds. The break started at the end of the seam, so the yarn I used there had to suffer the most to get there so to speak. It was an easy fix the next day, but if it happens again I'll keep that in mind the next time I use this yarn and I'll find another yarn for seaming.


Orkney was the final multi colour allover cardigan that I did this year. She still needs to grace the blog with her presence (and she'll do that soon) but since you've seen progress shots on instagram I don't think I'm giving away anything by including her here. Orkney is another fair isle design by Marie Wallin, and like Puffin I have longed to knit project for a long time. It had been in my queue since it was first published in a Rowan Magazine in 2012. I think making Unst liberated me of my feelings of inadequacy, and liberated me to start this project.

One of the interesting things about this pattern is that sleeves and body have different patterning and use different colour combinations. Instead of mirroring each other, they echo each other, which made playing around with colours even more interesting. You'll see more of Orkney on here soon so I'll share more of my thoughts then.

The Verdict

It's hard to pick faves and fails from this lot. I mentioned at the start of this post how I love all of the projects I made this year and consider them all roaring successes. I can't really ask for more than that. My favourites are probably the two allover cardigans Unst and Orkney. However, Riddari has a special place in my heart as the first lopapeysa I made for someone else and Parrot Puffin because it was a long held idea and vision that I realised this year. So while my knitting felt a bit slow at times and progress tedious, if that was the trade off for such a successful end-of-the-year knit pile then I'll take it!

As with my sewing I don't have any grand year goals or year challenges that I'm setting for myself or am participating in. These days it is less about the amount of stuff I make and more about the time and consideration put into that project. This certainly wasn't always the case for me, but it's been like that for me for a while now. Especially with sewing I deliberately take things a bit slower: knitting is always slower than sewing, but I always used to aspire to be one of those bloggers who has output every week (lol, never got close). I still admire these bloggers and makers, but it is no longer something I aspire to be and I'm way less focussed on the number of makes(Is this what getting older does to you? What would I do with all that stuff anyway?). I have some loose goals and things I want to make but I have these year round and they are fluid and adaptable. I find I work best that way, and enjoy things more if I don't put myself under extra self imposed pressures. Everyone is different though, so tell me if you have any fun challenges or goals planned for yourself for 2019!

I have one more post about 2018, in which I will talk about some of my favourite things that came out of 2018 (expect a listicle!) and some personal bits. See you then!


Finished Sewing Projects

Wrapping up 2018: Sewing

January 02, 2019

Hello 2019, and happy new year blog friends! Well, I don't know about you but to me it feels both wildly overdue and impossible at the same time to have arrived at a brand new year. Instead of trying to make sense of it all just imagine me making some wild gestures and muttering incoherent while I attempt to say something funny or smart about it. Anyway as the title suggest, I am not here to make any grand speeches about 2019 (yet). Instead I want to look back at 2018 for a bit more. Of course I had planned to type and post about all a recap of the year last week when everyone else was posting them but the last days of the year, with all the holiday stuff going on, can be so full and even though I had gotten quite far with my wrap up post and might have been able to finish before the new year if I had made a point about it, I decided not to stress it and just take the task into the new year. First week of the new year is the last week to do your wrap up posts amiright?

So here is my annual looking back on the year post. My main take away of 2018 is that it's impossible that this year was just 12 months long. I feel 2018 was at least ten years. Not because it dragged on and on, on the contrary I feel so much has happened and changed (and changed and changed again) in my life that it cannot just have been one year. To be honest I felt like December alone should have lasted a year given the amount of stuff that was going on. Most of that happened behind the scenes though, so hasn't made it to any of my tiny screen accounts. What has made it to all my various screen outlets is the making that I did this year.

I always like reading people's year reviews and looking forward to the year. I also enjoy writing them myself and I always come away with the feeling that I accomplished more than I thought when I started writing the post. This year is no different. I thought the start of the year was extremely slow for my making, and while that was not entirely untrue, I had also just forgotten quite a few things of what I did or misdated when I made them.

So let's have a look at my year in sewing: 

The year of focusing on basics

I started the year with sewing some basics. This started a sewing basics-kick that lasted almost the entire year. I don't know, but if I had to stick one theme to my sewing this year "the year of sewing basics" would have been a good candidate. Anyway it started with this t-shirt I made at the start of the year. I made some more truly basic stuff this year but none of them made it onto the blog. It's  hard to motivate myself to post about them cause I have way less to say about them. Maybe I should make a bumper post with a couple of similar items in them? We'll see. I didn't actually wear this Jane t-shirt a lot this year and I'm still trying to find out whether it is because something is bothering me with the shirt itself or whether it's because I just don't wear T-shirts a lot in general. 

Continuing on the sewing basics theme I signed up for the Summer of Basics for the first time. The goal was to give my woefully lacking summer wardrobe a boost. I'm so happy that I joined this challenge, looking back I think I succeeded in my goal, over the summer I regularly wore the items that I made. In general I think these three items are among my favourite sewn things ever. 

The Ninni's were an unexpected make for me. I don't often wear trousers and wasn't at all sure about the reappearance of culottes on the forefront of fashion when they first started to appear everywhere. Haha, joke's on me as this has been my most worn summer piece. It's super easy to wear and and a real heat battler especially made in such a lightweight flowy fabric. 

I worn this so much that I'm thinking of making another one next summer. It's also a real good reminder that it's not always the most involved and time consuming projects that turn out to be the real wardrobe winners.

The year of pushing skills 

 The Yari jumpsuit was another unexpected but satisfying make. It hasn't been worn as much as the culottes, but that is also in part of the type of clothing that a jumpsuit is. I feel jumpsuits are a bit of a statement piece, but this summery linen piece is toned down enough for everyday wear. I was really feeling linen in this summer's blistering heat and the Yari filled that linen jumpsuit shaped hole in my life perfectly. I really pushed my construction and topstitching skills for this project. I still think this is one of my technically best sewn things to date.

After finishing this jumpsuit and the Ninni culottes I really started to feel a lot more confident both in my sewing and in my summer wardrobe. I always had huge difficulty in dressing for warm weather in a style that still felt like "me". I think these pieces might be a step in the right direction in developing my summer wardrobe further and that is a huge (HUGE) win for me.

My final summer of basics sew was the Kalle shirtdress and this was perhaps the pattern I would have been most confident of it becoming an wardrobe winner if you'd ask me at the beginning. It is true, it has become a wardrobe winner. It was also, unexpectedly, the most tedious to sew and took the longest, not just of my summer of basics makes, but of all the things I sewed this year. I guess it is a testament to how much I like this dress that I actually still want to make more of these. It was my first proper shirt dress, or any shirt kind of clothing that I made and I learned a lot of new things with this dress (burrito method! Collar construction!) as well as pushed my skills in other areas, such as topstitching and neat finishes with delicate fabric. The latter of these also explains errr... why this project took so long.

The year of pushing comfort zone 

This year saw me pushing my comfort zone in various ways. I tried a bunch of new styles in term of clothing like culottes and jumpsuits. I broke through a mental block on taking modelled photos that I expertly put there myself in the first place at the start of the year. I properly got into sewing and posting about summer clothing, which as lame as it sounds was spectacularly out of my comfort zone.

I also tried some new dress, pants and short lengths this year. Or, returned to some depending on your outlook: I wore miniskirts in high school, but that long ago enough to make this feel like new territory to me. Like with this this dungaree dress: I distinctly remember taking these pictures on an icy cold day in March just after voting in the elections over here. I was and still am very pleased with this make. It's possibly one of the coolest things I made and one of the more successful projects. I like that I re-purposed fabric from a failed make and turned it into something I did like.

The year of acquiring new skills and crossing off big goals

Finally I sewed and posted about my first bra. This had become a personal sewing holy grail after having it as a loose goal on the back of my mind for years. I can hardly believe that I finally broke through it! The bra is this year's show-piece price, my masterpiece, the pièce de résistance, the crown jewel of my sewing this year. I made my first bra after wanting to do so for a looooong time and it is a big deal for me.

I felt a lot of pride and joy from this one, but I have to admit that I hesitated about posting it and  just felt a bit weird and awkward about it in general. At the same time I hated that feeling and I recognize the social systems in place that make me feel that nervous and I wanted to push through that (and also just want to show you guys what I make and help others but you get the idea). I haven't completely rid myself of those feelings but I'm glad I pushed through enough to post them anyway.

 I'm so happy, proud and somewhat relieved to finally have this goal crossed off of the long list. Bra fitting and making is a steep learning curve but I feel like I learned a ton already and I really enjoy throwing myself deeper into the craft that is sewing so I definitely consider this a success. I can't wait to develop my bra making skills further in the new year. 

The year of figuring stuff out

I feel like I made strides this year into finding out what I like in the clothing I wear. Particularly with sewing I feel I made a big step this year. I've been a dedicated knitter for a lot longer than I've been sewing garments and always felt that my sense of what I like and don't like with knitting was always light years ahead of my style and preference development in sewing. This year I've thought more about the overall picture and style I want to communicate and in turn have made progress in figuring out my non-knit style better. A  repurposing the fabric from a previous make to make Eloisa made me think more actively about what components go into making me enjoy a wearing a piece of clothing.

I did  part of Colette's wardrobe architect and Fringe Association's slow fashion October prompts this year. (I did this offline for myself and -shock horror- didn't record this online anywhere) but found them helpful in figuring some things out about myself. I've now got a much better idea of my fabric, print,colour and shape preferences. I still have more ground to make up in this area, and of course taste and style are ever changing but I'm really pleased with my progress and the work I did in this area.

Finally, the verdict 

My favourite sewn make of this year is surprisingly, ahum, the bra. However, given that I can't (comfortably) wear it I feel that doesn't entirely count. So of the other items my favourites are the Kalle shirt dress and the Ninni culottes...closely followed by the Yari jumpsuit and the Eloisa Dungaree dress. Given the difficulty I had to pick a favourite I can safely say that this year's sewing has been a success!

I'm excited to see what next year has in store for me. I have some ideas as to sewing goals and things I want to develop but nothing is set in stone yet. So that was my wrap up of my sewing. Stay tuned because I got two more wrap up posts to go before I sink my teeth into 2019 including all my knitwear. -I feel I can be as extra as I want on my own blog-

Take care friends and see you soon!

Finished Knits

Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking

December 28, 2018

Hej friends!

Hope you had a nice/fantastic/lovely/relaxing holiday whether you celebrated or not. I celebrated with my family at my brother's place but was at home for most days with my cat who is recovering from an emergency surgery and can't be left alone for longer periods yet (If you don't follow me on instagram you will have missed this but you can read up on it here).

Thought I'd quickly pop in here to talk about my gift knitting this Christmas. I say gift knitting as if I'm going to roll out an magnificent number of knitting projects here but like last year the grand total of Christmas knitting I did is one thing. The recipient for said gift knitting is also the same as last year: my nephew Luca. This year he is not a charming toothless smiling baby any more though! Now, he´s an energetic 1,5 year old toddler - whose hysterical laughing is still charming! It is safe to say that in the year since I last wrote about him a lot has changed. He has just learned how to walk by himself and fully utilises this newly opened up world to bounce around all the rooms. He really enjoys his soft toys at the moment, hugging them, carrying them while running around, feeding them etc. Other things he enjoys at the moment are pointing at things, shouting at things, sitting on his tricycle, playing peek-a-boo, watching (and pointing at) trains, ALL THE FOOD, Bumba, playing with wrapping paper and saying no and shaking his head when you ask him if he wants to sleep.

Anyway, I thought it be fun to knit him a doll this year because he is so in to them now. I made him a little elephant when he was born but this year I fairly soon decided I wanted to do something else and make him a doll version of my favourite fictional character of all time: Pippi Longstocking. She's not been in all my social profiles for ages without reason!

I adapted Ysolda's Poppy doll pattern to turn her into Pippi. This is an idea that I had for a loooong time. Way before Luca was born. Alas I'm just not that into doll making so it never happened...until now of course.What I like about Ysolda's toy patterns is the seamless construction that they have (or at least, both toy patterns that I made). The poppy doll is one she designed at the start of her knitwear design career and knitting from this pattern was like a nostalgic trip to back in the early days of Ravelry and knitting blogs. It was around this time that I started knitting and it's a period to which I (naturally) look back to with fondness.

Anyway, the Poppy doll is highly adaptable to any look you are going for. A lot of the projects on Ravelry are using the doll pattern to make the wildest doll visions come true. I've seen and admired a couple of Bowie poppy dolls and there are a few Pippi dolls out there. I greatly enjoyed seeing how inventive knitters adapted the pattern to their own liking.

My own mods to the pattern t make the doll more Pippi-like were fairly minimal. But here is what I did:

- I gave her stockings in bright orange and green like the late 60's and 70's Pippi film Pippi played by Inger Nilsson. I just knitted part of the leg in these colours instead of the bare legs she has per pattern. I first did 10 rounds of body colour and then switched to stocking colours. I didn't embroider the shoes as per pattern, because I didn't think that was very 'Pippi', so I just kept them plain brown.

-I went back and forth a couple of times on what dress colour to go with. I narrowed it down to a couple of options, taking into consideration the yarn I had at hand: a yellow striped dress like pippi wears in Inger Nilsson film version, a plain yellow simplified version of that or the blue dress she wears in the books and illustrations in said books that I grew up with. In the end I went with the blue dress, with the plan to add some coloured patches on. In the end I left these off because I was pressed for time.

-The biggest deviation from the pattern was how I added the hair. I added the strands individually using a crochet hook with the rooted method over the two head halves, creating a parted hairline in the middle. This different method allowed for the hair to be braided, which is of course a critical feature of any Pippi resembling doll. The only other thing I added to the face were a couple of freckles. I did this by un-plying the yarn I used for the hair and using that smaller thread to make small french knots on the face.

She was mostly finished the day before our Christmas celebrations, but I added the freckles on early in the morning the next day and took her pictures then. Because is it even Christmas if you are not frantically doing some last minute crafting? Anyway he unwrapped the present himself a handful of hours later and my entire family basically shouted "Pippi!" in unison the moment she came into view, so I was relieved I made her recognizable enough for that as dollmaking isn't my forte. He later ran around with her for a bit and tried to feed her by pushing his pear cookie through her braid so I'm calling it a win.

Project: Pippi Doll
Pattern: Poppy by Ysolda Teague
yarn: Drops Karisma
Raveled here

bra making

First Adventures in Bra Making

December 21, 2018

Makers, I did it! I started my bra making journey! Buckle up, this is going to be a long ride.

If you've been following me for a while you know that learning how to make a bra has been passively on my goals list for a while. Its something I've always wanted to do, especially since bra making really took off in the sewing world and it felt a lot more accessible than it had before. However, I've equally always been slightly intimidated by it. Reading up on bra making posts it always felt a bit like alchemy or magic to me. I have a hard time finding well fitting bras in retail wear, combine this with having low trust in my own abilities and my perfectionist nature I always felt that I had to up my sewing skills massively before I even started to attempt this.

This summer though, I've been changing my approach to things I'm intimidated by. The thing is if I wait until my perfectionist nature thinks I'm good enough for things I'm going to wait a long time. It was hampering my skill development, because while waiting "until I'm better at this" very little was being made and in turn I wasn't developing my skills any further. This summer I've been approaching everything I want to do and make with a different mind: If I'm not going to do or make this now, it will not happen at all, so I better just get on with it. I hope this mindset will stick cause, spoiler alert, so far it has made this summer and autumn the most productive in my sewing and making in general and I've also never been happier with the things I've made and tried to make.

So, why would you even want to make your own bra if it's so intimidating I can hear you ask. Couple of reasons:

Well fitting, nice looking and affordable bras are UNICORNS. Why are they unicorns? Women make up half of the actual population on earth, why are we not catered for and given the awesome bras we deserve? I know most bra wearing people experience trouble with finding well fitting unicorns, because we are dealing with a sort of arbitrary implemented standard... which fits almost nobody perfectly. And some fit less perfect than others. If you are really lucky, nothing really fits and you just end up picking the bra size that irritates the least. Ahem, so, I am one of the lucky ones. I have a non standard/difficult bra size and friends let me tell you the pickings out there are really slim if you fall into this category. More so if you are looking for a unicorn that isn't beige or pale white -sorry beige, it's not you, but I'm really sick of you. Let me just point out here for a moment, that I think women deserve nice looking, happiness bringing underwear for themselves. I think wanting underwear that makes you happy because of the way it looks is just as valid as wanting to make underwear because you can't find anything that fits well.

Anyway those are my reasons, wanting stuff that fits and isn't boring, you might have your own reasons. I thought it might be helpful to go over some of the things I learned while making my first bra. I'm very much at the start of my bra making journey, but I feel like I already learned a bunch of things. I figured that other makers looking to make their own bras might be interested in knowing what I know now. So here we go:

What pattern to pick?

Some people advice that when you start making bras, you ought to start with wireless bras. I dove into the deep for my first bra. When I convinced myself to just jump in with bra making I also instantly decided to go for an underwire bra. Why? I am a firm believer of making stuff you actually wear or use, even when you are just beginning or learning the skills to do it. I think you learn best by doing something you are enthusiastic about, invested in and motivated for. Sure, chances that you will fail are there, but they are there anyway (Don't get me started on knitting, I have opinions about dishcloths as a first project).  I never started my first bra with the idea that it would be instantly perfect or even wearable to be honest. But I did start it with the idea of making something that would learn me the skills to eventually make something that I could wear.

Where am I going with this? I only ever wear underwire bras. Does this come as a shock to anybody? I won't judge because to be honest I felt the same when I found out that there are people of the bra-wearing-kind who hardly ever wear bras if they can avoid it. I suppose it helps (or doesn't, depending on your view) that my bra size runs more towards the middle of the alphabet than the beginning. I need bras with a lot of support, or else my back starts to ache...ACHE. Since it just so happens to be that by far the most of the support comes from the bridge and wires, that's what I needed for my first handmade bra.
I read on some bra making sites that larger busted people can wear soft cup bras but I don't know. I'm just a bit sceptical because of my personal experience and based on what I read on the blogs of those more...uh well-endowed ladies. So far, I've only found one soft cup bra pattern that actually goes to my size, the Watson bra by Cloth habit, which does little to convince me that the type is suitable.

After deciding to go with an underwire bra, I had to make a decision regarding patterns. Sadly most bra patterns adhere to a particular, smaller size range. Most patterns I encountered didn't even include my size (sad trombone). That was a bit of a come down to be honest, but I guess the silver lining is that I wasn't overwhelmed with an avalanche of choices either. Orange Lingerie used to publish their bra patterns in bigger sizes, but with all their recent patterns they haven't. I get get the feeling that they are not planning to return to the more inclusive size range policy for the time being, which is disappointing. They did say that by tinkering a bit with the patterns by using sister sizing you can up scale the sizing. As a beginning bra maker that just isn't that appealing to me when there are more inclusive sized bra patterns on the market. Might keep the brand in mind for later though...if this bra making thing takes of that is.

In the end I narrowed it down to three options: The Marlborough Bra and the Boylston bra, both by Orange Lingerie and the Harriet Bra by Cloth Habit. I narrowed it down to these because they included a large size range, I've seen these about a lot and have seen them succefully made by bloggers and makers that I like and trust. In the end I went with the Harriet bra, on the basis of having seen a really glowing blogpost of someone with similar bra and fitting issues as myself. In absence of any other reason to pull me towards one of the other patterns this was the one I went with.

Things I learned before I even sewed my first bra:

-Kits, kits, kits. Shopping for parts has made me a big fan of bra kits.  There are a lot of sets online with matching fabric and lace, to which you only need to add the hardware. Alternatively you can order the fabric yourself and order a complementing or contrasting findings kit (this is a kit for all the bits and pieces that are not the fabric, lining or wires). The learning curve for bra sewing is pretty steep and even though I did read up (a lot!) on all the stuff that goes into making a bra I was really relieved to have all notions in one package as opposed to having to hunt them down one by one. I found that after actually making my first bra from start to finish I was already so much more familiar with everything, and had already start to form preferences for specific types of notions, but it still helped to have some basis to start from when looking for new materials later. 

-Fabric, fabric, fabric. Take great care what fabric you pick: The first bra I started was with fabric from a bra kit. Bra kits are great (see my previous point) however this fabric was some dark dark stuff. I mean, these days I'm not a newbie any more when it comes to stretch fabric but this was something else. This fabric wast not stretch fabric it was actual LIQUID. I've never seen anything like it, and it was of course a nightmare to sew. It was also a solid colour. Now here comes lesson 3: 

-Don't pick a solid fabric as your first bra fabric. Unless it is meant solely as a muslin. Solid fabric shows EVERYTHING. Bras involve a lot of top stitching. So here I was, top stitching on actual liquid fabric, in a solid colour which showed ANY wonkiness as if under a magnifier. I was sewing view A of the Harriet bra, which is the unlined version. The inside looked spectacularly untidy because - need I repeat - my fabric was liquid. To be honest all of this worked very demotivating and I will admit that I was pretty disappointed with my efforts.  Some doubt in my abilities started to creep in and I was wondering whether it had been a good idea to even start doing this. 

I started this bra over the weekend and at the time actually meant to finish this bra, but was so disheartened by it all and throughout the week it kept bothering me. In the end I decided that I needed a do-over. A re-start.  

So. That's what I did. I kept the same pattern but ordered different fabric and ordered a findings kit with that (as opposed to an entire bra kit). I ordered this super bright stretch lace. It's apparently hard to make yellow findings, or maybe the demand is just really tiny, cause I couldn't find a cohesive offering. So I went with contrasting all white findings.

It sounds a bit counter-intuitive but friends, this lace was so much easier to sew with than the solid fabric I used on my first attempt. I could weep of joy when I finished sewing the first seam.

What I learned when I actually sewed my first bra:

-Sewing a bra is not difficult, per sé. The stitches used are mostly basic straight lines and zigzag variations. There are a lot of steps though and takes a lot of those steps before it starts to look like anything recognizable. Some of the sewing  can be a bit cumbersome, but this is definitely something that will get better with a bit of practise. In fact I've already sewn my second (and working on my third!) bra and it was already a world of difference.

-Lined bras are awesome. This time around I went with view C of the Harriet bra, which is the lined version. It made a world of difference: and made the insides look neat and actually like a bra is supposed to look. If you are thinking about making a bra I would recommend doing a lined version. It looks better, is much more forgiving of small mistakes, feels better and sturdier and compares much more to retail bra finishing.

-The most difficult part of making bras is the fitting. Since I have such a hard time finding well fitting bras in stores this shouldn't have come as a surprise and well...  it didn't really. What makes bra fitting difficult it that you can only truly try the fit when it's done. All the little bits and pieces will have an influence on the fit and you don't know until the last frigging piece how it's going to pan out. 

-There's a lot to play around with! Like I said, I worked with a neon lace fabric and white notions. I decided to switch thread colours for the yellow and white top stitching and am glad with that decision. It was a bit finicky at the time, but I think it looks more professional this way. There's just so many options: different contrasting notions, contrasting lining, heck, even different colours of lace or solids in one bra.

The verdict: How is the fit? doesn't fit (Sad trombone solo #4). I hadn't expected this first bra to fit perfectly and it didn't. But there were also some good things so lets go into some details about the fit:

I measured myself before deciding on a size with the measuring method included on the cloth habit website. The measurements I took matched the size I wear in retail bras, so that was a promising start. I read about other makers getting a spectacularly different size and consequently have huge problems getting it to fit. While making the bra, I did notice the cups seemed small... very small... certainly too small! I powered through because I could do little about it then, and you can't completely assess the fit until it's done.

When finished the cups were indeed too small. Laughably so. The bra is unwearable for me. The bands fit, albeit a bit on the tight side. There were also some good things though: the bridge is the best fitting bridge of my life. I don't think I really knew how bridges were supposed to "fit well" until I'd made this bra. So that is good.

I'm super happy and proud of this bra even though I can't actually wear it. It totally feels like I unlocked a long longed for achievement. Possibly the best and proudest thing I've ever sewn. It looks and feels like an actual bra. I'm proud for smashing through the mental block that making bras had become for me and pushing myself further. I also learned a ton about bra construction and fit and was able to take that knowledge further with the next bras that I made. 

Photographing bras is a bit of an issue. I lack both the confidence levels and trust in humanity (general humanity, not you guys of course) to model them on myself. I also live in a small apartment with two hobbies that already take in a lot of space, and another human who also has hobbies that take up space. As a consequence, I don't own a sewing mannequin and am currently not looking to acquire one. Meaning you'll all have to make do with these floating ghost-bra pictures. Which is not ideal, but better than nothing right? For the same reasons, I am not really comfortable with making my bra size googleable, I know it sucks because it can help other makers out there and I'd be willing to answer some of this via dm or something if you think it can help you.

I did warn this was going to be a long ride. As I said, I really enjoyed making this, and soon after, I already made another one, slowly fine tuning the fit. In all honesty, I had planned to split the content of this post between this bra and the next, but this just had to come out all at once. Thanks to all those bloggers out there preaching the bra making gospel: it's been a very liberating experience so far!

Popular Posts