Friday, February 20, 2015

Pin-Up Girls Linda Bra #3 and Undies

I finally got to making another bra. The first two bras I made weren't perfect. But, they are still so comfortable, that I don't wear any of my other bras any more. Which means that they will quickly wear out if I don't  move along with more bra production.


Pin-Up Girls Linda Partial Bra Band

I made a size 38B with alterations. I may actually be a 40A, but the pattern stops at 38A, which uses a size down underwire.


The main alterations I made with this bra were to use a narrower bridge and to take about 1/2" out of the top of the lower cup. I also added 1/2" length to the bra bands.

The fit is almost perfect. It's now a little snug, but that may be because I figured out these changes by pinning out my second Linda bra. I've worn that bra quite a bit and the fabric may now be relaxing out a bit. I'm going to wear my new bra a bit to see if the fit improves after a few wears. If not, I may have to add back some depth on the lower cup.

I re-read the Bra Makers Manual and finally noticed the importance it placed on finding the right size bridge before you sew. It suggests to cut little templates and try it them. My previous bras had bridges that are too wide, which means that the bridge gapes and doesn't lay flat against my chest.

If you are about to sew a bra, I would suggest:
  1. Find the right underwire size by placing test ones (or make a template out of cardboard)
  2. Find the right bridge size by making little templates out of thin cardboard
  3. Measure your breast or a bra that fits to find the right lower cup depth
Just those three steps will probably save lots of time in fitting.

For Christmas, I got a few fabric sets from Bra Makers Supplies to make more bras (yay!). This one is the Black Cherry with Rose/Black Lace. A black findings kit had to be purchased separately.

wrong side
The black findings worked really well with the red-ish 'black cherry' fabric. The band fabric was a double knit instead of the power net I used with the earlier bras. It is much thicker, so I did have some trouble sewing near some of the seams. I think I prefer the power net.

The lace placement was probably the hardest thing! I spent about an hour trying to figure it out. Overall, I'm really happy with my placement. And, although I usually don't use the little bows, the bra looked like it wanted it. The bra is almost too pretty!

Once again, I'm really impressed with the pattern and resulting bra.

But wait! There's more! I had leftover fabric and lace, as well as some extra picot elastic that I had bought, so I decided to make matching panties.

The pattern is the Free Lacey Thong by Fehr Trade.

wrong side
The pattern was super simple and it was a quick sew. I had some scrap jersey left over to use for the crotch lining.

I made a size large, since that is the size that is supposed to fit someone who fits a Burda size 40 (which I do). The fit is perfect and I can't believe how comfortable they are. I'm not sure how often I'll wear them, but they will come in handy when I'm wearing a dress or skirt that I don't want weird underwear lines with.

Who new making underwear and lingerie could be so fun and easy?!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Fixing and Mending: Liberty Alma Revisited

I finally went back and fixed my Liberty Alma. The sleeves were too tight and I ended up not wearing the top as a result.

This is what the top originally looked like:

I cut the sleeves at a much shorter length. The sleeves now sit above my biceps where it was definitely too tight.

I finished the sleeve hems with bias tape, which is on the inside of the sleeve.


I feel like I have a whole new top now. It was such a simple fix, I don't know why I didn't do it sooner. I guess it was hard to cut into my pretty Liberty fabric and not know if I was actually going to make things better or not.
The adjustment worked and the shirt is much more comfortable. I work it to work yesterday and my arms didn't feel like they were in horrible pain. Yay!
Do you ever go back and fix your sewing projects? How do you find the motivation to do it?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pajama Party! Simplicity 8088 and 7071

I've been meaning to make pajamas for myself for a very long time. My existing pajamas are in shreds and I really need new ones. To be fair, I was also waiting for a walking foot. I finally have one that fits my machine, so I'm back to sewing knits with ease!

I made a top using Simplicity 8088 and some pants with Simplicity 7071.


  • Knit fabrics from my stash
  • Thread

I had a lot of knit fabrics sitting around in my stash. None of them were quite right for everyday wear. The pants fabric was too thick to be a top. The top fabric is so thin, it's practically see-through. So, not great for a "wear out of the house" top either. But, the fabrics are perfect for pjs!


Simplicity 8088 and Simplicity 7071

Not only was the fabric from my stash, but so were the patterns. I wanted some quick and easy sews after working so hard on my Sewaholic Granville.

Simplicity 7071

This pattern has a nice simple pj pant pattern. I like the top patterns that come with it, too. But, they didn't look like they would work as well in knit fabric.

I was working with a very limited amount of fabric, so I made size Small and made the pant legs narrower (they are still wide enough for pjs). I also shortened the legs about 2" and took another 2" off of the top. If I didn't take off that top 2", either the elastic would have been up around my boobs or the crotch would have been around my knees. So, I'm really glad I didn't waste the fabric there.

Simplicity 8088

This is a simple kimono sleeve top pattern. I usually don't like boat neck tops (bra straps like to peek out and it bugs me), but since I won't be wearing a bra with pjs, it works fine on a pj top.

I added cuffs to the sleeves (copied from my Sewaholic Renfrew view C). I'm glad I did, because I really like how it turned out.

The fabric is so light, it was really hard to turn over for the neckline. Plus, the opening seemed too small.

So, I cut off my original neckline and sewed a large rectangle of my dark grey knit fabric to right side of the opening - kind of like doing a welt. I then slashed the rectangle open, pressed it to the inside and topstitched it in place. Then, I trimmed the excess close to where I topstitched. Here is what the inside of the neckline looks like now:

I'm really happy I took the time to make some pajamas. It was fun to use up my stash and try some vintage patterns.

I'm so comfortable, I feel like watching a movie and eating popcorn in my new outfit.

What do you think? Do you know of any other fun and interesting pajama patterns?

Also, how do you motivate yourself to do those projects you never get to?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sewaholic Granville

I'm finally finished my Granville buttondown shirt! I was sick and so it ended up taking me a little longer to finish than I wanted to. I'm done now, so I'm excited to share it with you.

  • 100% Cotton Oxford Shirting
  • Muslin Interfacing
  • Thread
  • Buttons

The oxford shirting is nice. It is smooth and has some body. It doesn't drape as much as a lighter shirting fabric.


Sewaholic Granville


My last post went over in detail all of the fitting alterations I made.

I also made one alteration for styling. I added pintucks along the front button band. There are four 1/8" tucks per side.

Before I made the tucks, I cut out the front pieces while leaving a few inches of excess on the top, bottom, and centre of the piece. I then marked them out where I them to be in chalk.

I don't have a special pintuck foot. What worked for me was to use my blindstitch hem guide and put my needle in the left position. This made the tucks an even 1/8". After I made the tucks, I went back and cut out the shirt fronts.

My swayback alteration and waist and hip alterations worked very well. I love how well this shirt fits back there. This is usually one of my biggest problem spots. I might have to narrow the back shoulders a bit more, but it looks pretty darn good.

I had a lot of fun sewing the collar, cuffs, and placket. They took time, but were a fun challenge. Well, except that my machine was having trouble over the parts with many layers and the bobbin thread was not being pulled up properly all of the time. When I got to the second cuff (after I did everything else, of course), I found that the right combination was using a walking foot and a size 90/14 needle.

I have the same shirtmaking book that Tasia mentioned and was using it for tips.

The book is Shirtmaking by David Page Coffin and I recommend it to anyone who wants to make fancy dress shirts.

I definitely feel spiffy in my new shirt. I think I'm finally learning how to make shirts fit. Time to go back to some of my other Sewaholic patterns and make them even better!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sewaholic Fitting Issues

After making my Belcarra blouse, I almost gave up on Sewaholic patterns. I felt defeated and thought I could never get a Sewaholic pattern to fit. However, making the Ginger jeans taught me some valuable fitting lessons. I decided to pick myself up and tackle top fitting issues head on.

Seeing the new Granville shirt also made me want to do this even more. I have been looking for a shirt pattern like this for a long time (almost two years!). The fact that this particular pattern has back princess seams sold me (much easier to adjust fit). So, I am going to take you on a fitting journey that might help you with a Sewaholic pattern (or even another pattern you are not sure how to approach).

Picking a Size

It's a good idea to take detailed measurements of your body before you start.

These are my measurements:

  • High Bust: 34.5"
  • Bust: 35.5"
  • Waist: 30.5"
  • Hips: 39"

So, according to the size chart below, I'm around a size 10 in the bust and waist and a size 6 in the hips. Through trial and error with the other Sewaholic tops I have made, I have often settled on a size 6, because the other sizes seemed too big. But that is not the right size for me.

What I should do, is pick the pattern according to my high bust, which is a size 8. This ensures the best fit in that area (alas, my Liberty Alma in size 6 almost never gets worn because it is too tight in that area).

Then, I should compare my measurements plus ease to the finished measurements. It's also a good idea to measure a shirt that fits you for and idea of what you like.

The amount of ease you want to aim for is as follows: 2-3" in the bust, 1-1.5" in the waist, and 2-4" in the hips.

Here are my results:

Even though my bust-to-waist ratio matches the size chart, the waist is too big. The waist of a Sewaholic pattern has too much ease (unless you like really flowy tops). There is at least 2.5" too much fabric in the pattern waist for a good fit.

Comparing measurements is something that I did not do well before making a muslin of the Granville shirt. My eyes kept jumping to the finished size 6 waist (33"), which is what I wanted to see. It became really apparent when I tried on the muslin and I had too much ease in the back of the shirt by my waist.

Unfortunately, this is not something that can be easily fixed by grading between sizes. The Sewaholic silhouette is already very angled at the waist. So, if you are not truly pair shaped (like me), it is probably better to take out the excess at the back. I will address how to fix this below.

Measure Length

Sewaholic patterns don't have the waist location marked on the pattern pieces. This can making assessing fitting issues before sewing tricky. Try to find the narrowest part and mark a horizontal line across all the body pieces (make sure they match and that they are perpendicular to the grainline markings).

These are the body measurements you need next:
  • Shoulder to Waist
  • Bust to Waist
  • Waist to Hip
  • Back Top (at base of neck) to Waist
  • Shoulder to Shoulder 
Most of my measurements in these areas are ok. Where I have issues is in the back and I need a swayback adjustment. I also need work in the shoulders, which I will discuss below.

If you need a SBA or FBA, it would probably show up in the Bust to Waist measurement. I don't have this issue, so you will have to research this if you do.

Swayback Adjustment

If you are like me, and carry more mass in the back (ie. the derriere) than at the sides, you might find the same issue. When I made Sewaholic tops in the past, I often needed to do a swayback adjustment, because fabric was pooling in the small of my back.

My measurements confirm I need this adjustment. My back to waist ratio is 15", while I measured 15.5" on the pattern. So, even before I make a muslin, I know I need to lose 0.5".

I used the yoke of the Granville to make this adjustment. I traced the piece and then marked a spot 0.5" down from the centre back near the neckline. I then pivoted the piece at the shoulder seam / armhole seam intersection until the bottom of the neckline matched the mark. I did the same for the other side of the piece, since goes across both sides of the body (you only have to pivot once for a piece cut on the fold).

Here is the new pattern piece on top of the old.

The adjustment worked and my muslin had no pooling in the back. Yay!

You might also see that the new piece is 0.25" narrower on each side. This is because I did a slight narrow should adjustment.

Narrow Shoulder Adjustment

If I was smart, I would have measured the yoke piece and compared it to my actual shoulder measurements (something I will do in the future). Instead, I went ahead and made my muslin.

Of course, I ended up with the same issues I always do with Sewholic patterns. The shoulders and sleeves look like they are falling off my body (eg. my Cordova, which I never wear because of this issue).

Another way to tell is if you have a gaping armhole and draglines that go from the bust point towards your lower back (if you look closely, you can see some of these wrinkles in the picture above).

To figure out how much I needed to remove on the muslin, I pinched out from the shoulder towards the bust point until the armhole seam sat were it was supposed to. I also marked on the muslin where the seam should sit (the red marker lines) before I pinned, so I could measure there as well.

The results are amazing. Below you can compare my two shoulders, one with the excess pinned out and one without. Can you see the draglines I was talking about on the side that isn't pinned?

All I needed out of the Granville is 0.25", which I took out of the yoke piece and the front bodice.

Armhole Adjustment

As with other Sewaholic patterns, I found the armhole too low.*

To fix this, I added a piece of paper to the front and back armhole pattern pieces.

To make sure that the armhole seam didn't change size. I traced the pattern armsyce on a piece of paper, pivoted the pattern down the amount I needed (5/8"), and then taped it in place.

Make sure to measure the new armscye and sleeve seam to make sure they still match.

Hopefully, this will be enough of a change. I will find out with my finished Granville.

* The exception to this is the Renfrew, which I had to scoop 3/4" out of the armsyce to get it to fit.

Waist and Hip Adjustments

As I mentioned at the beginning, the Sewaholic silhouette is quite angled at the side seams. This can look a little awkward on people without a true pair shape. For example, you can see the wings of fabric by my hips in my Belcarra.

Taking in the waist (which I found out I needed from my measurements above) at the side seam would result in even larger wings of fabric!

Instead I need to take out fabric near the back, which is easy thanks to the princess seams. I traced the pattern pieces and used the pivot method to make my adjustments.

What I did was pivot my back pattern pieces along the princess seam lines. I kept the pattern fixed at the top corners and pivoted the piece in 0.5" at the waist (this take off 2" total: 0.5" x 2 pieces x 2 princess seams) and traced a new line.

I then fixed the pattern at the new waist point, pivoted the bottom of the piece so it was 0.5" past the old seam line (this adds 2" total). I also took off 1" on each side from the waist to hip (0.5" on each piece). This make more room at the back and makes the shirt not stick out so much at the sides.

Here are my new pieces on top of the old pieces.

Back Side
Back Centre
I made these changes to my muslin and it's looking pretty good.

Sleeve Width

No matter what pattern company I go with, I usually have issues with the sleeves being too tight.

According to what I've read, you need 2" of ease for a woven shirt. I measured my arm as being 12" and measured the Sewaholic size 8 Granville sleeve as being 13.75". Which means I should be fine (12+2" = 14"). But, I know from experience that when I actually wear a shirt, things aren't fine. The sleeves are often the most uncomfortable part. I was thinking to myself, "What is wrong here!?!".

I re-measured my arm and this time decided to do a bicep curl. My measurement was now closer to 13"!

So, if you have muscular arms, you might want to flex them while taking your measurements.

In the end, I went back and added 1" in width to my sleeve. My sleeve pattern is now 14.75" wide, which is closer to what I need (13" + 2" ease = 15").

Sleeve Length

The sleeves on the Granville are super long! I measured my own arm and another shirt I liked and found that I have to remove a whole 3". It's good to make the sleeves the right length to begin with - why waste all that fabric?


That's a lot of adjustments! In a nutshell, the process you want to follow is:

  • Analyse your figure (where do you usually have issues? for me, it's my swayback, sleeves, and shoulders)
  • Measure yourself and a RTW shirt that fits
  • Pick the pattern size that will fit you best in the high bust / upper chest area
  • Figure out how much ease you need
  • Compare your measurements to the pattern
  • Make all your adjustments before you make your muslin or first top
This is almost the same process I explained in making pants.

I spent hours on this top and figuring out what I needed to do in a researched (almost obsessive) way. My adjustments are complete and I've cut out my fabric. So, I hope to finish my actual Granville this weekend.