Friday, April 24, 2015

Guess Who's Bizack!

Sorry about the sparse postings. After the last garment I posted, I got a bit ill, but it's finally under control, and I'm ready to sew.

First, I have my bra pattern together, but I've not sewn it. I also have the tutorial written on what I did, but it needs a LOT of work to be useful. Here is a preview of what I've got. There is one more page but I will upload the whole pattern once those posts are ready. 

Second, my little sewing group has gotten so big!  We're almost to 40,000 members. It looks like we may have a little giveaway when we get there. We shall see. Feel free to join us:

Third, I led my first real sew along for my group. Usually, I do themed challenges. We pick a theme, and you do anything you want with that theme. This was my first time doing a real sew along where we all completed the same project. I have been busy helping people get that proper fit. We are in the last bits. Hopefully, we will get that finished up soon and they will let me share their pics here on the blog. Mine is cut! Here's a pic of me getting ready to cut. 

Aside from that, I've got some projects planned. I want to sew the Clean Slate Pants for my son with a real fly. I've done a faux fly. Time to step things up. They are printed and taped!

I also want to sew a blazer. I have Simplicity 2446 adjusted and ready to cut. This week, Lord willin'. Going for a perfect fit with bound buttonholes and vented sleeves. Always have to try something new. Here it is adjusted and ready. (Took me an hour because my tape had an attitude problem.)

Simplicity 1427 and 1183 are also on the list, and I've bought my fabric for a mock up. It will be my first corset and first tutu skirt, but when I first saw this picture on Simplicity 1427 envelope, I decided loved it! So here is my fabric next to the view I fell in love with. Both patterns are by Andrea Schiew, and she has tips for the corset on her blog!

I also hope to make a couple quick and dirty sundresses for me, a pair of jeans for me, and some ribbon tutus for my nieces birthdays in August. 

These are my plans. Will it get done? Some of it.  Will I get distracted and probably switch out some stuff? More likely than I'm willing to admit. (I really need another question here for the Rocky and Bullwinkle cliff hanger effect I was going for, but I don't have another good question. If you've got one, leave it in the comments.). Such is the nature of the true scatterbrain!  But since the fabric is picked, it increases my chances of sticking to the plan. My sew along dress and a blazer will be done this week (unless something else strikes me). Look out for it. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Finding a Bra Pattern for a Large Bust

Before you buy a bra pattern there are a few things to know.  First of all, it is necessary to know that all bra patterns do not measure the size the same.  So to select a size, you will want three measurements: overbust, full bust, and underbust.  You will want to measure in a well fitting bra as well. (I know, I know.). I suggest finding a specialty bra shop to be fitted and try on bras.  When you find one that fits, measure yourself in that in the dressing room.  (If you are like me, you may just leave with it.) once you have your measurements, use the directions by the bra pattern designer to select the best size for you.

The second important fact to know is your breast shape because this is an indicator as to which type of seaming is best for you.  To find your breast shape, remove your bra, place your hand under your breast, and lift a little.  If when you lift, the top of your breast is hollow, you have oval shaped breasts; if your whole breast pushes upward, you have round shaped breasts. Oval breasts do well with horizontal seaming, while vertical or diagonal seaming works best for more round breasts.  Divided lower cups offer a but more room as well as a bit more support.  The side power band pushes breast tissue forward.

I am more full figured so my posts will focus there because it is what I plan to know. Besides, there are enough blog posts on straight sized bra sewing.  I will be focusing on sewing my first bra and challenges that are unique to larger bust sizes.  One such issue is finding a suitable pattern.  Below is a list of patterns I have considered and the attributes of each.  As an FYI, I wear somewhere between a 40H and a 40J depending on the day and the cut of the bra.  Sometimes I even wear up to a 42J. For that reason, if a bra doesn't go above a DD or DDD, I haven't listed it here.

Pin Up Girls Classic Bra--Designed by Beverly Johnson, this is the bra sewn in the Craftsy bra making course.  This full band bra features diagonal seaming and a simple two part cup.  This pattern comes in a wide range of sizes.  Bands range from 30-48 and cups range from AAA-H. All of the sizes are not available in one envelope.  There are four envelopes, each with a size range.  None overlap.  The website says that underwires are optional for this style of bra. $20 US

Pin Up Girls Shelley--Designed by Beverly Johnson, this full band bra has diagonal seaming, a divided lower cup, and a power band at the side.  This pattern comes in a wide range of sizes.  Bands range from 30-48 and cups range from AAA-H. All of the sizes are not available in one envelope.  There are four envelopes, each with a size range.  None overlap.  The website says that underwires are optional for this style of bra.  $20 US

Pin Up Girls Sharon--Designed by Beverly Johnson, this partial band bra has diagonal seaming and a simple two part cup.  It is also front closing!  This pattern comes in a much more limited range of sizes.  Bands range from 30-38 and cups range from AAA-H. All of the sizes are not available in one envelope.  There are two envelopes, each with a size range.  None overlap. The website says that underwires are essential for this style of bra.  While the band size is not a wide range and thus cup sizes are more limited, I did feel it necessary to give this a mention because it still has a wide range of cup sizes for the band sizes served--and it's front closing! (although it gets no where near mine). $16 US

Pin Up Girls Linda--Designed by Beverly Johnson, this partial band bra has diagonal seaming and a simple two part cup.  This pattern comes in a wide range of sizes.  Bands range from 30-48 and cups range from AAA-H. All of the sizes are not available in one envelope.  There are four envelopes, each with a size range.  None overlap. The website says that underwires are necessary for this style of bra.  $20 US

Elan B520--This full band bra pattern includes a two part, diagonal seamed cup.  It comes in a fairly limited number of sizes. Bands range from 42-48, and cups range from C-FF.  The size range here is horrible, but it is a very inexpensive pattern, costing only $10.50.  

Bravo Bella Bras Bravo Bra 2--Designed by Monica Bravo, this full band bra has horizontal seaming, a divided lower cup, and a power band at the side.  This pattern comes in a wide range of sizes.  Bands range from 32-48 and cups range from D-I. The most wonderful thing about this pattern is--well, there are 2 wonderful things.  First, all sizes are included in one pattern.  Second, it's available as a digital download--buy today, play today!  $20

Queen Bra Elite--Designed by Anne St. Claire of Needle Nook Fabrics, this full band bra has horizontal seaming and a simple two part cup.  This pattern comes in a wide range of sizes.  Bands range from 34-48 and cups range from D-H. All sizes are included in one pattern envelope. $15

As you can see from above, there are as many limitations to finding a bra pattern that fits as there are finding bras that fit.  First, there is NO pattern that I have been able to find that goes beyond a 48 band and and I cup.  Bras are sold (albeit expensive) to an M cup in ready to wear, but patterns have some catching up to do.  Second, aside from the patterns my mother and daughter, Anne St. Claire and Monica Bravo, there are extremely limited sizes in the bra pattern envelopes.  This isn't really suited to my liking. As a person with a 40 band who is planning to lose some weight, I don't want to need two of the same bra pattern. (There is a work around though that I will get to eventually.) Further, I wish Monica Bravo would come up with a diagonal seamed bra because I LOVE the size range that she has in one envelope and the fact that she offers the only digital download.  Some people need the vertical or diagonal seaming, and she has the widest range of large bust sizes.  

So, these are the patterns I have been able to find. Most don't go beyond an H cup, none go beyond I.  Come on bra pattern designers!  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Getting Started with Bra-Making

For quite some time, I have wanted to make a bra.  (I know I am quite scatterbrained.) So.... I joined the bra-making group on Facebook.  I have watched the bra-making class on Craftsy.  After much struggle(more on that in the next post), I found a pattern that goes near to my size: the Bravo Bra 2. This pattern closely resembles my absolute favorite bra--the Elomi Energise. I'm hoping to buy the bra and a kit to start working on a fitting bra after Christmas.

Looking at the Elomi Energise and the Bravo Bra 2 side by side, you will notice horizontal seaming with a divided lower cup and a power bar at the side.  The major difference in the design is that the Elomi bra is raised higher in the center front, which I must admit that I like.

I also want a bra-making book.  The problem is, I can only buy one so I am stuck on which one to buy:
Anne St. Claire's Intimately Yours: Bras That Fit and Jennifer Lynn Matthews-Fairbanks's Bare Essentials: Construction and Pattern Drafting for Lingerie Design. I'm am also considering purchasing Monica Bravo's videos: Bras 101 and Bras 102, which are available as DVDs or instant downloads. I hear that they are much better than the Craftsy class, and they were recently half off.  My main concerns at this point are fitting the bra and perhaps making a sports bra.  Also available is Beverly Johnson's Bramaker's Manual, but it is ridiculously expensive, and it's my opinion (from viewing the table of contents) that Anne St. Claire's and Jennifer Lynne Matthews-Fairbanks books cover much of the same material and together they cost less than the Bramaker's  Manual and are sometimes available at your local library. In addition to that, the Matthews-Fairbanks book includes a pattern which is also downloadable.  

I want to make just five kinds of bras: a comfortable one that looks nice, a sports bra, a strapless bra, a longline bra and a nursing bra. I hope to make variations such as balconette, Demi, and plunge bras as well.  I may even try my hand at drafting the bras! We shall see.

I fully plan to post everything I learn as I make this first bra!

As I find new materials on bra-making, I will add them here.

Norma Loehr's Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction is another resource. At $15, this eBook has been recommended in the bra making Facebook group and all over the blogosphere. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grace Shirt, Tunic, Dress, Maxi, etc

I recently tested the Grace Pattern by Rose and Lee Designs. It offers 6 length options: shirt, tunic, knee length dress, maxi, average, and petite. There are also 4 sleeve options: sleeveless, short, three quarter length, and long. 

I cannot express how much I love this pattern!! I may be biased because it is the first thing I have made for myself. I may be biased because my mom told me I looked pretty in it (and she NEVER does that)! I may be biased because I was able to sew it with my beginner skills! Who cares why I am biased! I LOVE this pattern! 

When I cut my pattern, I cut the yoke and rest of the pattern based on my overbust/chest measurement. I cut a 4x for the front panel to be sure it would go over my full bust! I planned to fit out any excess if necessary, but it fit like a dream!

I am adding my picture for fit only, but if you really want to see how gorgeous this pattern is, look at the other tester photos.  You can find their blog posts below. 

I plan on making myself several of this pattern: dresses, shirts, tunics, maxis!! Yes! Score! I love it!  Check out the maxi version with long sleeves!

If you think this pattern is lovely and gorgeous, you can buy it in the Rose and Lee Designs Shops on Etsy and Craftsy

But I also will be offering a giveaway in my Facebook sewing group, Sewing Inspiration and Tutorials. To enter, join the group and comment on this post:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Open Letter to the Designer on Pattern Testing

In case you can't tell from my posts here on the blog, I have been doing quite a bit of pattern testing. It's not because I don't have patterns. I assure you, I do. Like any other blue-blooded American girl who sews, I have more patterns than I can sew in a lifetime. I stock up on Big 4 commercial patterns whenever they are on sale. I also have a small collection of indie children's patterns because Melissa Mora of Blank Slate Patterns makes super cute boys patterns, and her directions are crystal clear. (Will be sewing up some of those soon.)

So here is an open letter to designers from me as a pattern tester. 

Dear Designer,

I really like testing patterns. Having this encouragement is the only way I seem to sew. I also enjoy the small group and camaraderie of the small sewalong. I enjoy having something to put on my blog. All in all, I generally enjoy pattern testing. 

But Designer, here is why I needed to write this letter though. There are a few things that must be made clear. 

First of all, Designer, getting a copy of your pattern is nice. In our arrangement, it is your end of the bargain, but it is in no way compensation commensurate with the time, effort, and materials that I have put into sewing the garment. Let's be clear. Your pattern, at most costs $20 (and that's at the high end. I have yet to test one that expensive). 

Any pattern I sew will eat that $20 "compensation" in labor alone! Who can tell me what minimum wage is? How many hours work can be paid with a $20 pattern?

Then we must factor in the materials, Designer. There is the paper and ink for printing pdf patterns. I was afforded the experience recently to print a 20 page pattern (and assemble it and trace it onto tissue paper to adjust it) only to find that the designer posted an updated draft the next morning. I was LIVID!

Materials also include fabric and notions. Designer, if you are conducting a pretest and will need more than one garment sewn, it needs to be stated in the beginning. I recently signed up to sew a bodice only. I was given the bodice pattern, sewed the bodice pattern, and was then given a skirt pattern to test. I tested the skirt pattern. I was then told that I needed to participate in another round of testing in order to get my copy of the final pattern when released. I more than fulfilled my commitment, as initially requested. Furthermore, because of the way the pattern was distributed (bit by bit), I ran out of fabric so I am stuck with a completely unwearable dress and have wasted a lot of fabric.  I am not a happy camper!

Finally, I would encourage you, Designer, to know the complexity of the task at hand. If you want a garment properly tested, it takes time. Each of the simple garments on this blog has been tested within the week allotted. I am very up front with designers about the fact that I am a beginner at sewing. I also am clear that I wear well above a B cup and that I will need to adjust the bodice for a proper fit. Adjustments take time. Other aspects of proper sewing take time as well. If there are bias pieces, they need to hang before being cut and hemmed. Knit fabric also needs resting time. More complex designs will require more time as well. Be mindful of these things as you set timelines and deadlines.  If you have strict deadlines that cannot be changed and you are having to roll call half of your testers because they have not met your deadline, I assume that you have waited until the last minute and that you did not allot appropriate time for the testing. To me, that indicates poor planning. And as the saying goes...

Original Image Source
Again, pattern testers do it for FREE! In no way does a "gifted" pattern cover the time or materials for the project, but Designer, you need us. So make the experience enjoyable. Don't make it stressful. Be respectful of our time and materials by being organized. Understand that while this is exciting and top priority for you, we are in essence doing you a favor and not the other way around. You gain far more from the process than we do, but we do it because we enjoy it, because we think it's fun.  I always do my best to honor commitments, but real life can get in the way. Guess what? I have a real life that extends beyond your test!

If you want professional patten testers who work 100 percent on your time and don't act like volunteers, pay them.  Don't use volunteer hobby sewists, employ professionals.

But understand that, ultimately, part of the burden in testing is on me. I become invested as I spend time and money on this project. So respect me when I want to do it well. Designer, respect that!!  Recently, Bunny from La Sewista was torn apart in the comments to her blog for criticizing the work of several bloggers and designers. One of the comments from a different designer says that photos are from testers (another freebie you get) who may be less experienced with sewing. It is my firm belief that anyone can do good sewing if they take their time.  Perhaps the shoddy work is due to rushed testing. Not planning an appropriate timeline and rushing testers does not make for a good process. Testers will be unhappy with their garment, and you won't have usable promotional photos. 

In closing, be a professional, but be appreciative because you aren't compensating pattern testers. Designer, these are just kind people who do it because they enjoy helping. Please, make testing an enjoyable and rewarding experience. 

Yours truly,

Now, after that, you may think that I may be unprofessional and may not need to test.  Actually, quite the opposite is true. I always do my best when sewing. I always try to keep my word. I give honest and critical feedback, but I am always tactful and respectful. That is why the experience that prompted this post was so upsetting. I have enjoyed testing all of the patterns so far, but this was the most stressful testing experience ever! 

So this will likely be the last pattern test for a while. I am annoyed and frustrated beyond belief!  I will not be worked this way when I am not being compensated. Even if I were being compensated, I wouldn't allow anyone to treat me with such disregard.  I am really quite over it. Unless it's for my son, I am not sewing it, and there are really only so many designs that little boys wear.  

And now to deal with the guilt of basically neglecting my child while stressing over trying to fulfill a constantly evolving commitment to Designer, and all for nothing!

End rant!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Boot Cut Heaven Pants for Dolls

I tested another doll pattern, and I am officially in love!

This time I used a red and pink abstract designed fat quarter to sew the Boot Cut Heaven by Amy Sue Adams of Made for Dolls. 

This pattern is a doll pants pattern with real inset pockets! OMG! You can put stuff in the pockets!!

The thing I love about Made for Dolls patterns is that the pieces fit together like a dream!

I have a strange story to go with these pants. I had cut the pants, and I was sitting down to sew by sunlight. I pinned my pocket facing and began to sew. I was wondering why the piece didn't fit perfectly together. Well, guess what? I had sewn the pocket facing to the crotch of the pants! Lol. 

Well as I was picking the seam, the the light bulb on my sewing machine flickered and went out. I thought, Well I had better learn to change the bulb. At least, I can keep sewing! Well my son went to turn on the light and NO POWER AT ALL! It was out until after midnight. 

Saturday, I got up and got ready to finish the pants. Got almost done and realized I needed the right sized elastic. Well, someone had stolen my tire and lug nuts off my car!! No shopping today!

Anyhow, here is the pattern as much as I have completed. I will be adding elastic after I get my tire fixed so I can get to the store. 

Anyhow, here are the pants! 

And I love doing pockets. Look! My topstitching is getting better!!

When I posted in the sewing group, I was told how cute it would be to make a triangle scarf and fringe bag for the doll! I could totally dress the doll like the girls in the Disney Channel Original Movie The Color of Friendship. (I absolutely LOVE that movie! If you haven't seen it, check it out next February! I insist!)

If you love this pattern, you can buy it from her Craftsy shop:

I will update this post when I get elastic!

I thought I should mention that I tested this pattern and so it was free for me, but my opinions are still my own. I really do think these pants are cute!!

Stars and Stripes Dress and Tunic for Dolls

I think I have found a new love in sewing doll clothes! I had the opportunity to test the Stars and Stripes pattern from Amy Sue Adams of Made for Dolls. 

This pattern offers two dress options and a peplum tunic option, all of which include a fully lined bodice and a Velcro closure in the back. 

I made the tea length version which I made from a fat quarter that I got for a dollar at Joann's. The cotton pressed beautifully and the dress came out just so cute!  

Check out my chocolate paisley Stars and Stripes Tea Length Dress for 18 inch dolls! I am so proud of it!

I can't find any of my American Girl dolls, but the photos with the listing are just so darling! You should check them out!

I can see doing doll dresses to match the little girl dresses using the Cottage Mama Party Dress! It would be so cute!

If you think this pattern is cute and see all the possibility that it offers, you can purchase it from the Made for Dolls Craftsy shop:

Below are some links you may find helpful. 

I thought I should mention that I tested this pattern and so it was free for me, but my opinions are still my own. I really do think this dress is cute!!