A bold, bright Brazi

20190623_154701I recently finished another maternity garment, with an eye towards postpartum and nursing. This is the dress version of the Brazi pattern, by Stitch Upon A Time. And it was definitely not without its challenges! You know, besides the current story of my life that is dealing with pregnancy symptoms that leave me feeling too unwell to sew too often. I actually wrote a pattern review for this one, for the first time in awhile. (I actually had to make myself a new account on there this year, because I could NOT get back onto the site with my old email address!) So this is mostly going to be from that, with a little elaboration.

20190623_154720Pattern Description: A sports bra with options for either a flat front or a crossover front (the latter is a separate add-on pattern), and two length options for a skirt. I made the add-on crossover front, for nursing friendliness, with the maxi skirt. Here’s a better shot of the front. It looks a little collapsed on the side, but the band underneath is pretty much being swallowed by my belly right now. So I think once I’m wearing this postpartum, that should even up. 

Pattern Sizing: Bust size XXS-XXXL (25″-53″), skirt size 1-8 (underbust 23″-47″). I forgot to add this to the review, but I made the size L for the bra and the size 3 skirt.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, aside from the baby bump! (Side note, these photos were taken at about 29 weeks pregnant.) Only 10 weeks and 2 days to go until my due date. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

Were the instructions easy to follow? I didn’t have any trouble with that.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? What I liked: The instructions were very well laid-out for options like adding bra cups, and what pages to use for finishing the band as a bra vs a dress. What I wish was different: a wider range of cup sizing. I cut the larger pieces that were meant for a D-cup, and it was not enough for me as a DD who’s probably even bigger at the moment due to pregnancy.

Fabric Used: The skirt is an ITY. The top is a 4-way stretch jersey that I’m not entirely sure if it’s not supposed to be swimsuit fabric, but it was all I could find. (I actually ended up using the wrong side on the outside to tone down the shininess.) 

img_20190519_215625.jpgPattern alterations or any design changes you made: I had to make some major changes to the front bodice, because there was not enough coverage on either the crossover or the lower part of the bodice the first time I attempted to make the top. I had to add a curved piece with about 1.5″ to the bottom, and nearly the same along the neckline. (This is pretty much what it ended up looking like, with the washi tape being the divider line between the pattern and what I needed to add. I did end up curving that lower straight line from both corners after I took this picture, though, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the side seams not matching up.  Also, I added pockets in the side seams. (Because POCKETS.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t think I’d sew it as a dress again, but now that I have the fit worked out, I might make it as a nighttime support bra. I’m not convinced it would have enough support to use as a sports bra for myself, for anything higher impact than yoga. As a dress that can work for maternity and beyond, so you get more for your sewing time, I would recommend it.

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So now that the review part is over, here’s the test version of the top.  This was actually supposed to be the dress top, but I had to relegate it to (somewhat) wearable muslin status after discovering that my chest was falling out of all sides of the front as drafted! No pictures, because that was definitely in the category of Not Safe For Work. Or church. Or parenting. Or anything involving going out in public, really! I’d recycled some cups from an old bra where the underwires had fallen out, so I had to unpick those, and then buy new black fabric to start over because I just didn’t have enough. (Side note, 4 way stretch plain black fabric is surprisingly difficult to find! All Joann’s had was some fancy athletic stuff that was something like $28 a yard, yikes, and my usual online fabric haunts didn’t have many options either. But the options they had were still about half the price!) But I did finish the original top off as a nighttime nursing bra, because I’ve had to get through the last 2 babies with just one and I could genuinely use that.

img_20190625_135234Speaking of babies, she got something out of this, too! Though I didn’t have much of the original black fabric left, I got surprised with a little extra on the second piece due to the shop reaching the end of the bolt. So even though we’re getting most of her clothes secondhand from generous friends (plus some new things from excited grandparents), I couldn’t resist whipping out a little 0-3 month skirt to go with some of the more gender-neutral onesies that she’s inheriting from her big brothers. I found this free tutorial from Delia Creates, and made it with the foldover waistband so she can hopefully get some extra use out of it lengthwise. I still have some largish scraps left of this black, too, so we’ll see if I manage to come up with anything else to make for the kids out of it! But for now, I’m going to move on and see what else I can get done, since I’m running out of time where I can comfortably sit at the machine.

Sewing top 5: Goals!

My favorite of the top 5! As is tradition, I’ll begin with reviewing the goals I made for this year.

    1. Figure out a workable new sewing setup. Check, as already discussed in the reflections post.
    2. My first actual sewing goal for the year is to try making bras. Also check. See hits and misses.
    3. I really, really need some pants this year. And I desperately need some shorts. Technically, I did meet this goal, even though I’m struggling to style the one pair of pants and my shorts were a flop.
    4. Another definite hole I’ve noticed is nursing-friendly tops. So I’d like to make at least one more Archer, which I do have supplies and fabric for, and another Bruyere, which I need fabric for. I’d also like to come up with a knit top pattern…. I didn’t get to the Archer, though I do have a better idea of what adjustments I’ll need to make to the pattern now. My knit top was a flop. I don’t think I’ll bother with another nursing hack for now, since I’m looking at a maximum of 4 more months this round and wearing the nursing camisoles with regular knit tops is working fine. At least my Bruyere worked out!
    5. The last definite wardrobe hole is a new coat. I need something that’s between my unlined Sewaholic trench and my as heavy as I could make without wool winter coat, because our crazy weather this fall meant that I had to guess at which one to grab a lot, and I usually ended up either too hot or too cold. This was still a problem later in the fall. Even though I started this project pretty much as soon as I was done with Halloween costumes, I just couldn’t finish it quickly enough. But the coat is getting close to being finished–I only have the closures to go–so I should be prepared for any oddly warm winter days. (Like the beautiful warm days we had in February that stopped just in time for my birthday to be cold again. Such a tease.)

Moving on to my goals for next year…

  1. I’d like to work towards developing a nice stash of TNT patterns. My sewing time is so limited these days, and I’ve had so many misses over the last couple of years, that I think it’ll help me quite a bit to have some go-tos that I can be sure of. I was thinking about this quite a bit during November, thanks to the TNT theme on the Sewcialists blog. And I do think I have a couple that I’m fairly confident about– the Sewaholic Rae skirt for sure, but I’ve also had mostly good results with the Cake Espresso leggings, and the Deer & Doe Plantain top has worked well during and after both pregnancies without alterations. (I also realized during the month that I could combine those three patterns into one cohesive outfit, so that may have to happen sometime.) I think the Cashmerette Appleton dress has some strong potential, after the changes I made with my second dress, and also the Deer & Doe Bruyere once I make the tweaks mentioned in my last post. But I definitely also have some basic garment types that I need to figure out. Another skirt silhouette or two, some alternates for knit tops (I still want to get the Renfrew working again!), definitely some layering pieces, etc.
  2. This may be the year I finally have to tackle one of the few garment types I haven’t tried: a swimsuit. I’ve hated shopping for those for years, and I did run into a few situations this year where I needed a swimsuit and just hated the way I looked and felt in it– my only option was an unsupportive hand me down one piece, thanks to the baby weight, and I still can’t help cringing when seeing pictures of me walking on the beach with Hobbit over this past summer. My coverup options weren’t great, either– just a pair of postpartum athletic shorts that clashed horribly with the swimsuit, or one of my husband’s gigantic t-shirts. I don’t want to be so self-conscious about my thighs or chest or anything that I can’t just enjoy being with my family, you know? I don’t have a pattern or fabric yet, but I think that if I combine three different Jalie patterns, I can make my absolute perfect swimsuit. Including sun protection!
  3. I need to restock my pajamas. Badly. All of my old ones just either don’t fit anymore, or they’re horribly stretched and worn out. I know I have fabric for three pairs of pajama pants on hand, though I’ll need to see if I have anything appropriate for summer. I got the Carolyn pajamas pattern for Christmas this year, and I do also have the Grainline Lakeside pajamas to try out.
  4. Even though I know that a complete minimalist approach to my wardrobe is not for me, thanks to my maternity months, I have gotten interested in capsule wardrobes. I saw some really neat ones over this past year, namely the sudoku style wardrobe that Elizabeth made, and the 4×4 capsule concept introduced to me through a series on the Curvy Sewing Collective. I don’t have time to sew a full wardrobe from scratch, and I’m not sure the Sudoku one would work for me and my size-limited shoe options. But one thing I really liked about the 4×4 in particular is that I can build on pieces I already have, and allow for prints! So even though I doubt I’ll finish one next year, I’d like to start building towards some smaller capsules within my wardrobe. I did start sketching and brainstorming patterns and color schemes for at least two, so I’ll likely get back to that in a future post.
  5. In general, I want to be more creative in using what I have. I want to continue my Refashion Redemption Project, to solve some problems with things I’ve made since all of these body changes started happening. I want to play with dyeing fabrics in my stash to make them better fit my favorite colors. I have a list of 20+ projects that I can make from stash alone. Honestly, aside from Halloween costumes and the aforementioned swimsuit, I can probably go most of the year without buying fabric, unless I need linings or something, and easily not run out of things to sew! Not that I necessarily will, but if I can use more of my existing resources than I consume, that’s a win.

I’ll make a bonus knitting goal as well: since I’ve been knitting it for over a year now, I’d like to finish my Gnarled Oak cardigan. Finally.

Also, since my Christmas fabric acquisitions are in, and the stashbusting is an ongoing goal, here’s where I ended up as of the project I just finished tonight: I began the year with around 394 yards of fabric, and I now have approximately 342.5. Between the January fabric purge and actual sewing, I went through 108 yards this year! So a net loss of over 50 yards is good, I think. I’m honestly not expecting as big of a decrease for next year, but I’m hoping I can at least keep the sewing steady, even if it’s slow.

 

Top 5 Hits and Misses

It’s time for my favorite year-end series! Thanks for hosting this yet again, Gillian!

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of 2017! (1).jpg

I have to say, it was a rather mixed bag this year. I wasn’t the most productive in terms of finished projects. And I do have two currently unfinished things that seem to be turning out well, but I don’t want to hold off on this post in case I don’t finish them in time. That, and time to write on the computer instead of my Kindle is rare and must be taken advantage of. Let’s start with the hits, shall we?

nursing bras

1. The award for most worn definitely goes to my nursing bras. I only ever really blogged the ivory one, but I made three. It did get a little better as I went along, and the black one is the best by far. I’m happy to report that they are holding up far better than the RTW ones I used with Hobbit, since those were falling apart by the time he got to the age that Padawan is now (7 months). The fit is decent enough. I’m still thinking through whether bra-making is a field I want to dig further into. On the one hand, I do have a Craftsy class on them that I haven’t gone through yet, and I do get annoyed at continually paying for bras that start falling apart after a month. (Seriously, every non-nursing bra I had for the few months between weaning Hobbit and being too pregnant with Padawan to keep wearing them lost their underwires in that short time, and I’ll have to buy all new ones again when he’s done nursing. Argh.) On the flip side, this was super fiddly, and I really do prefer wearing the smoother foam-cup bras. Either way, this won’t be anything that’s happening next year. Maybe once I finally get my wardrobe in better shape again.

Cake Espresso Leggings

2. The “best wardrobe builder” was my grey Espresso leggings. It’s nice to have a pattern that works equally well for maternity and normal clothes! And since I pretty much exclusively wear leggings as tights instead of pants (except for that one time where I was 9 months pregnant and even my maternity pants weren’t fitting anymore), they’re pretty versatile. I still need to fix the teal ones I made at the same time, since that particular ponte just didn’t have the vertical stretch needed to make it work, but I’m hoping to add to that waistband sometime before the end of the year. We’ll see if I get to it.

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3. The award for “cutest project” definitely goes to the boys’ Halloween costumes. I mean, come on. I’m also gratified that Hobbit still pulls out the scarf sometimes to play with, since that was the most time consuming part of his costume.

Matcha and shorts

4. The “best salvage job” goes to my Wonderland Matcha top. Even though it started out ridiculously huge on me, I’m very happy with the finished result and wore it quite a bit when the weather was warmer. I’m still hoping to get the sizing on this sorted out, because I really do like the style and want this pattern to be a go-to.

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Incidentally, here’s a couple of projects I never got to blogging– I made a quick infinity scarf with the leftovers of this top, and a second one from a fun print I purchased specifically for this purpose. (I mean, tiny horse plaid!) I haven’t gotten to wear these much, since I spend a lot of time with a baby carrier on right now and they would just get soaked in drool, but I’m looking forward to mixing these in more soon.

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5. And the best “just for fun” project goes to my Norwegian Wood Rae skirt. The Sewcialists blog recently did a series on TNT patterns, and while it’s a little embarrassing to admit that my current TNT skirt pattern is an elastic-waist beginner pattern, it’s nice to have one thing that I can just whip out with fun fabric and know it’ll fit.

Now, for the not so good projects…

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1. The “fabric fail” award is a 3 way tie. The first is my nursing-hacked Renfrew. The concept was good. But the rayon jersey just drapes too much for having that kind of opening in the front, and at this point, it’s pretty much unwearable until I sew those nursing openings shut. Which pretty much defeats the entire purpose. I think that the sizing on this was also off– I made the largest size because nursing chest, but it’s just too long and saggy and baggy all over. I would like to do some more work on the Renfrew and figure out my new size, since this used to be one of my TNTs and I miss it.

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2 & 3: My black and ivory nursing camisoles. (Ivory only pictured, because the other is the same pattern. Plus bonus Padawan photobomb.) This was another fabric fail. It was the same rayon jersey as the Renfrew, and the weight of the elastic pulls it down past the opening band. I still wear them under other things, but I have to tuck the elastic under my bra band to hold it up. It’s definitely a fabric fail and not the pattern, though, because I made a grey one from a different remnant, and it has much better recovery, and works great.

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4 & 5. The “bad fit” award goes to both pairs of shorts that I made over the summer. I’m only showing the print pair here, since the solid was in the same picture as the Matcha top. At the time, the issue was that the largest size of the shorts were still too small for my postpartum body. By the time the summer ended, I’d lost enough weight that I could wear both pairs. But since the drafting still left the knit and solid meeting halfway down my butt and it always felt like the shorts were falling off, I really don’t think this is salvageable. The print in particular makes me sad, because I like the fabric for this one.

I have one bonus project that I’m not really sure which side it falls on.

IMG_5136 So, my Jalie Vanessa pants. On the one hand, first successful pair of pants I’ve had since I started having babies! On the other hand, I’ve been kind of stuck on how to style them, particularly since the weight of the fabric and the bagginess mean they really only work for warmer weather. Any suggestions on shirt patterns or silhouettes that might make these more versatile? I mean, I’d hate to toss out a pair of pants that actually fit just because I’m not sure what to wear them with at this point.

well, that was…interesting.

So you know how, at the end of every year, it’s pretty much traditional to share your sewing goals for the following year? And I’ve had “try making a bra” on there for several of those in a row now? Well, I finally did it.

And to be honest, I’m a little embarrassed to show the results. But in the interest of honesty and lifelong learning and all that, I’m going to do it anyway.

first bra outsideThe thing is, it was never going to be anything more than frumpy to some extent, since it’s a nursing bra and therefore pure function over form. I got the pattern from Bra-Makers’ Supply, as it was the only one I could find that wasn’t a little bralette for, shall we say, the less endowed. (Especially when nursing. Ugh.) I had to completely guess at the supplies, since the sizing listed on the website was a bit confusing. So, given that I’m a complete newbie at this particular type of sewing project, I decided to just buy 3 of the large bra supply kits, along with the necessary nursing clips, and hope for the best.

first bra inside The good news is, that strategy mostly worked. (“Mostly” being the key word.) I had plenty of the band and trim elastics, and enough of the main fabrics to still have scraps left. Though not enough to line the cups. I wasn’t planning to do it to this one anyway, since I wanted to test the fit before I went to all that trouble, but I was hoping to be able to do it with the other two colors. I cut those out this afternoon, and just could not make that work. Oh well, I’ll be having to stuff these with nursing pads anyway.

This was SO fiddly to sew, moreso than any project I’ve done in some time. I guess it could be partially because of having to add that extra cradle bit to make the cups nursing friendly, and then having to wing it on finishing that seam. (It called for a strip of lightweight tricot, but the kit didn’t have it and the supply list didn’t say anything, so I had to just cut a strip of the leftover powernet and try to just make it work.) But mostly, I think it was all the elastic. That, and the seam finishing that left a lot of raw edges showing. I really feel like the whole thing looks sloppy, and if this is something I’m going to continue playing with past these nursing bras, I’m definitely going to have to clean up my technique.

first bra strap Aside from that inside cup finishing, the place where the bra kit really didn’t quite cover it was the straps. I suspected I’d be in trouble as soon as I pulled it out and saw just how short the strap elastic length was–it looked like barely enough for one, and I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to get two. I just managed to squeak it out, by adding a bit of extra length using the underwire casing that I hadn’t actually needed for this pattern. As you can see, there is virtually zero adjustability to this strap. So for the next two, I think I’ll be lengthening the casing bit.

I’m not about to put pictures of me actually wearing this thing on the internet, so as far as fit goes, I’ll say it’s probably good enough. If this was more of an everyday bra, I’d say that it really should have some more lift to it, but since this is one where my size will be changing multiple times a day and the underwires were problematic with my store-bought nursing bras, it’s fine. I’m actually wearing it right now, and it’s way more comfortable than my non-nursing bras that I’ve been forced to make work, and still more supportive than my saggy baggy older nursing bras. So in that, at least, it’s a win.

As stated, I did cut out two more today, and am hoping to get them knocked out before this baby actually arrives. It’s cutting it close, as I can only sew in short bursts before I just get too uncomfortable now. (But then, the same goes for everything else in my life right now, so…) And I’ve only got about 3 1/2 weeks before my due date, so wish me luck. Also, any of you more experienced lingerie makers have any tips for how I can get this elastic to stitch on a little nicer? Or what to do with the seam finishing to make this look better?