Tuesday, May 16, 2017

another euler bralette


Yep, I made a second one! I liked the look of my first Euler bralette, but I made it about a size too big, and instead of fixing it I decided to plow forward onto v2. This time I left off the second band and mostly used supplies I already had from a previous bra-making shopping spree. I also tweaked the sizing just a little, and I'm really happy with how it turned out!


Materials


Back in January I bought a ton of bra-making stuff from Tailor Made Shop, so I had almost everything I needed on hand - hooray! The power net cup lining, strap elastic, side cup elastic, hook + eye, and strap rings/sliders are all from there. The cup fabrics are both cheap knits that I had in my stash from a discount fabric store in SF. I love that you can use small scraps up on bras, but it's not going to help resolve my scrap hoarding tendencies.

The one tricky part to source was the band elastic. All of my hooks & eyes are 1 1/2" wide, and you need plush-back elastic to match that width. I finally found some on Sweet Cups Bra Supply, an online shop I'd heard of but hadn't bought from because shipping costs seemed high. Their wide elastic only comes in black, but I do love to wear black so I bought a ton. (Side note - it's currently out of stock and I may have bought them out?? SORRY!) Since I was ordering anyway, I also stocked up on duoplex, underwires + casing, sheer cup lining, and some elastics I didn't have on hand - basically everything I may need for the next several underwire or soft cup bras. Exciting!! And as a bonus, they refunded a chunk of my shipping after it ended up costing less than estimated. Score!

My materials differed a fair amount from the previous kit that I used: the straps and cup lining are both much firmer on this one, which means more support in both areas. The band elastic on this one is 1 1/2" instead of 1", with a corresponding wider hook & eye. I used plush picot elastic instead of foldover on the cup sides, which gives a little more support there too. My outer cup fabrics are pretty similar to my first attempt—lightweight jerseys with a good amount of stretch in both bras—but they get more support from the firmer lining in this iteration.

Sizing + Fit


The band was definitely longer than it needed to be on my first Euler, but I didn't want to decrease the cup volume at all. I decided to make the medium cups (as before) but shorten the band to the size small. I was nervous about spacing everything on the band without having it seem crowded, but it all worked out fine. The fit is much better than the first one! The band feels nice and firm without being uncomfortable, and the less elastic straps hold everything up better. It's way more comfortable (and unsurprisingly, less supportive) than a good underwire bra - exactly what I want to wear on casual days running errands or working at home. My boobs are less "up and center" than in a more structured bra, and there is sometimes some nipple show-through since the cups aren't padded or very structured. I do think I prefer a bridge, which has more shape and structure than the elastic used here. That said, this is basically what I was looking for in a comfy weekend bralet, and it was a super quick sew the second time around, so no complaints!

Photos


Unlike the previous Euler, I think this one actually fits me better than it does the dress form. Yay! The band is a little too tight on her, and there is some slight bagginess under the bust that is filled out on me.







Black makes it hard to see, but I'm really pleased with my neat zig zag stitches attaching the strap and the hook/eye to the band! I'm borrowing a fancy Bernina machine from a friend (thanks, Liz!), and while it doesn't have the 3-step zig zag I need for most of this bra, it does the normal zig zag like a champ. I'm sold.

The insides:





Pretty matte black hardware from Tailor Made Shop.

And a few shots of it on my actual body. (Sorry about the background toilet—my mirrors were both destroyed in the move so all I have at the moment is bathrooms.)




That's it for the Euler for now! I may come back to this pattern someday, but for now I have a Watson to try, and then I have big plans to try drafting my own bras and bralets. I'll keep you updated!

Friday, May 12, 2017

longline euler bralette



I'm still very new to the world of bra-making, but I want to learn as much as I can. I honestly never thought I would be that interested in making bras, and then I made my first (and second) at sewing camp last October, and I was amazed by how quick and FUN I found it compared to other clothing. I've now made three Harriet bras, but I hadn't ever made (or even worn!) a soft braie. one without underwireswith the exception some sports bras that look too intense for everyday wear. I don't really mind my underwire bras that much, but when I'm at home all day sewing, doing things around the house, or walking Tumbles, I would love something with a little support and coverage without going full underwire bra.

I've seen the Watson bra on instagram and sewing blogs time and time again, and I trust that it's a great soft bra pattern given my experience with its underwire sister, the Harriet. However, the full coverage, vertical cups just never appealed to me aesthetically speaking so I held out. And then I saw the Euler bralette! I love the clean style and the curved lines on the cups, and the elastic band simplifies the construction compared to my previous me-made bras or even the Watson. I bought the pattern right before getting caught up in finishing my classes and moving. Before I got around to sourcing all of the materials, the creator also started selling kits, and this was the push I needed to get started.

Materials & Instructions


I bought the gray Euler kit at a local fabric store, but you can get them online here, too. I found the pattern and the kit to be straightforward with a few exceptions. There are a couple of places in the instructions where a suggestion is made after it's too late to change something (eg. cut out all pattern pieces, then many many steps later it suggests an alternative which requires you to add seam allowance before cutting). I'd suggest reading more thoroughly than I did before starting and/or cutting out pieces just before you use them.

The kit was an easy way to jump into this pattern, but unfortunately I was about 4" too short on foldover elastic to make the long line bra. Since I'd already cut the lower band piece and planned to use both included hooks + eyes, I decided to go to a local fabric store to get more elastic to finish that part, and it turned out fine. It was frustrating that the kit didn't have quite enough materials to finish the bra, though! Otherwise the kit was alright, although I don't love the use of foldover elastic as straps. It is very elastic and doesn't provide much support, even when tightened almost all the way. The lining fabric is also stretchier than I prefer. I fixed both of these things in my second attempt, using supplies I already had at home. I really do love bra kits as a jumping off point for a new pattern, and then it's a lot easier to make informed changes on the second try.

Construction


I sewed up view two (with two bands) with view one straps (straight, not crossed). The whole thing came together in about a day, with some distractions and a dinner out with friends breaking it up. This pattern will get you very familiar with the three-step zigzag stitch and with ripping basting stitches out of your elastic, but I found it kind of cathartic. (I'm telling you, I really enjoy making bras for some reason!)

Sizing & Fit


I made a size medium, after a lot of back and forth about which size to make. I have a 29" underbust and 34" bust, and I think my correct bra size is around a 30DD, but this is pretty dependent on the bra. My measurements put me at a small, but I worried the small cups would be far too little, and I didn't want to overthink it for my first attempt. As predicted, the band is definitely too loose, and the bralet is not nearly as supportive as I would like. I took about an inch off of each band before these photos. I could modify it more, but this is much more of a pain with the lower band already finished and sewn on. Instead I'm hoping to send it to my mom if it's close enough to her measurements. The sizing is pretty forgiving, but I prefer to err on being too snug, especially in a pattern like this that won't be uncomfortable.

Photo Overload


omg - I now have a dress form, rooms with natural light, and a clean white table to photograph on. It's AMAZING. I'm still taking photos on my phone, but baby steps, ok?

Meet my new dress form! This bralet fits her a little better than it fits me - her ribcage is just a bit wider than mine so the bands are snugger, and her paper mache boobs are extremely perky.









Some more details + inside:




Those three ^ show the insides. The pattern instructs you on enclosing all raw edges, and it's a nice, clean finish. I did have to pick out and resew a few spots when I cut my seam allowances too close to the basting stitches and the lining started to pull free after the zigzag step, but in the end it turned out okay.


The elastic in the bottom third of this pic is the one I had to buy locally to supplement the kit. The match is pretty spot on, fortunately. (It's actually the same width as the elastic at the top, but the upper elastic isn't folded over the edge and this one is.) If I'd known earlier I was going to run out of elastic, I could have cut the bottom band with seam allowance and enclosed some elastic from my stash in the seam. The pattern mentions this, just too late for me to make that change without cutting a whole new bottom band.


Double bands. There's a little pleat in the lower one because i took some length off of the band and the new end was too wide for the hook and eye. I don't think it's a huge issue, but in the future I would determine the right band length before cutting that piece in order to get the alignment right.

And finally, a few pictures on me! I've always been weirdly afraid of putting pictures of myself in lingerie on the internet. But honestly this is more modest than many (most?) swimsuits I've worn, and I really do feel a lot less nervous about this sort of thing since quitting my job in an industry that's frequently shitty to women. I always really appreciate seeing how things fit on women other than the patternmakers' models, so hopefully this is useful to someone who's thinking about making this!



lol I didn't realize how uneven my strap adjustments were until looking at this picture :|






So much ease!! I could seriously take a few inches out from the bottom band, but since it's at an angle and the edges are already finished, it would be easier to just redo that whole band. meh.


So! That's my first Euler bra. I'm a little on the fence about how I feel about it - I still love the look, but it's just not really doing it for me in terms of support. I actually don't dislike it in these photos, but I want a little more of a "hug" from the bands and straps. I'll share my second one soon (spoiler: it fits much better!), and I'm getting started on my first Watson soon too, so I'll have a better comparison point then. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

the waiting game, continued

So, I posted an impatient update about our house/moving sitch last month. Fortunately time finally feels like it's passing more quickly, and in two (very busy) weeks we'll be up in Portland for good! I am definitely operating at unsustainable levels of stress and sleeplessness at the moment, but I'm so glad the end is in sight. I haven't shared much about my school/work/sewing situation in awhile though, so I thought I'd update everyone on what's going on there.

As you may recall, I quit my job in September to take sewing classes full time. What I didn't mention at the time was that this was prompted by our (at the time still secret) move - it added urgency in the form of a limited timeline to take classes here, but the soon-to-be lower cost of living also made it much more feasible to drop down to a single income for the foreseeable future. (Side note: HUGE thanks to Tim for being so supportive, both emotionally and financially, as I follow my dreams! <3)

It's been about seven months, and I have indeed been taking classes the whole time, with a few much needed weeks off in December. It's been really incredible: I've learned a huge amount about so many aspects of pattern drafting, design, construction, and some of the ins and outs of having a business in the fashion industry. The full program at my school, Apparel Arts, consists of a long patternmaking program (it's estimated at 2.5 years of work, but you can move at your own pace), plus ten elective classes that each run for a couple of months. Each class meets once a week for 3 hours, with varying amounts of homework in between. I won't be able to finish the entire program, but I'm pretty pleased with the dent I've made since starting the patternmaking class while working full time just over a year ago.

While the program has been amazing and so useful, I've been surprised by how much time and energy it takes up. Working at my own pace, and with a hard end date, has made it really hard for me to take weekends off. I end up doing some amount of work every day, sometimes working way longer hours than I ever did at my previous tech job. As we get closer to move date, I've been putting even more pressure on myself to get as much done as I possibly can while I still have my teachers to learn from. When you couple that with buying our first house and then preparing for a cross-state move, it's been exhausting. I'm ready for a change of pace, and even though I'm sad there are some classes I won't have gotten to take, I'm feeling so ready to take it easy for a little bit and then work on starting my own business soon (and of course, to work on getting my work/life balance into a more sustainable place).

Classes


Since September, I've taken seven electives in addition to the patternmaking program. It's been really cool exploring so many different areas of apparel design and creation. Here's a bit about what I've learned:


Patternmaking: This is the class that started it all when I first starting taking it after work in March 2016. I've been taking this once a week since then, and I've made it more than halfway through the curriculum. The class teaches flat patternmaking: going from my body's measurements to a set of slopers that act as base patterns for things like skirts, bodices, or sleeves, and then patterning and sewing rough versions (muslins) of tons of variations on those basic components. I've drafted and sewn muslins of dozens of skirts, bodices, collars, and sleeves, and I designed, drafted, and sewed two skirts and two dresses out of actual fabric, including all the finishing touches of a real garment. Soon I'll have completed seven units of the curriculum, and that only leaves two more (pockets and pants) to do on my own.

 


Fashion Illustration: This was the first elective I started last fall, and it actually started during my last week of work - so much for time off! I learned how to draw the traditional tall, lean fashion illustration model, as well as how to render various types of fabric and garment details. It was really fun and useful, and I feel like I'm in a great place to use what I learned in my own way in the future. Also - I learned that I really like painting with watercolors and would love to take it up as a hobby if I ever find free time again!



Sergers & Knits: One of my favs <3 I love wearing knits (ie. stretchy stuff like t-shirts, cardigans, or leggings). This class went over some of the basics of sewing knits, various types of knit fabric, and then some drafting. I love how simple the drafting and fitting process is compared to wovens, and everything just seems so easy to sew and wear! I enjoy the technical challenges of making a well-fitted woven garment, but knits are such an instant gratification palate cleanser in comparison.

 


Textiles: This was one of the more "academic" feeling classes, but the things I learned will be useful for years to come. We worked through a huge swatch book, talking about the properties of hundreds of types of fabric, as well as how they are created, dyed, and used. I definitely need to look back through the book several more times, as it was a bit of information overload, but it's fantastic having real sample fabrics to see and touch as I think about what to use for future garments for myself or to sell.



Construction: I sometimes refer to my current situation as taking "sewing classes", but honestly this was the only class that was specifically about sewing. We covered so many aspects of sewing garments. Some things were review, some were easier/better ways to do things I thought I was okay at, and others were totally new concepts that I'm really glad to know now. Since I'm a self-taught sewer and plan to work on my own for at least awhile, I'm really glad to have this solid foundation to help me construct things in clean, smart ways, even when I'm the one making up the instructions.



Corsetry: I almost didn't sign up for this class, as it's outside of the standard certificate program and I don't really have a personal interest in wearing corsets, but it was a really cool class and i learned an incredible amount. This class took up all of my Saturdays and one Sunday in January, as well as lots of homework time in between. We used a commercial corset pattern (no drafting in this class) and dove right into fitting and construction. I learned how to install a busk, grommets, and boning, how to lace and fit a corset, what fabric choices work well, what the different boning options are and which are better for different parts of the corset, and so much more. I'm still on the fence about whether I'll make another (it was a TON of work for one garment I may never wear!), but I'm so glad I have the skills to do so if I decide to. And at the very least, I learned some things that will come in handy for creating lingerie or boned strapless dresses.

 


Draping: This class is sort of a counterpart to the patternmaking program, and it has seriously been so cool. Basically you take a square of muslin fabric and a dress form, and you create things that might take many hours to draft with flat pattern drafting. It's not a complete replacement for flat patterns, but I've started learning what works best in each medium, and it's just been a lot of fun overall. Since I don't have room for my own dress form, I've had to stay at the school to do all of the homework for this class. Seriously one of the first things I'm going to buy once we move is my own form, so I can play around with draping in the comfort of my own home - I can't wait!

 


Design Principles: This is one of the classes I was simultaneously the most excited about and the most scared of from the start. I feel really comfortable learning technical skills, but pushing myself creatively has been scary since I was a teenager. This class was a combination of fashion history lessons and exercises in building our personal design aesthetics, complete with a brand and 8-piece collection at the end of the course. I stressed hardcore about my final presentation, but in the end I left the class with a company name and aesthetic that I hope to make a reality and an illustrated clothing collection that I'm pretty pleased with!

 


Next


I'm spending the next two weeks finishing up my draping class and getting as far in patternmaking as I can, in addition to dealing with moving logistics, packing up the whole house, and taking a quick trip up to Portland to see the house in person! Our move date was scheduled based on when my last elective ends, and the timing ended up working out perfectly with the house renovations we're having done.

After we get to Portland, I'm going to give myself some time to move in and start furnishing the house. I'm also hoping to build myself a drafting and cutting table; this one looks relatively approachable. Once I get settled at home, I plan to take a few weeks to just relax and sew for fun - it's been so hard to do that when I feel like every minute (and flat surface in my home) should be dedicated to schoolwork while I'm here. I can't wait to have a dedicated room to do it in!! After that little break: business time! I want to try creating and fitting a few things for myself and friends as I work out what direction my business will go in, and I need to find a good small business lawyer to help with the logistics. Ideas around all of this have been solidifying for the past few months, but I'll wait to share more when things are more concrete.

So, that's my life right now, in this weird limbo period before things change dramatically. I'm really hoping to start taking photos of the things I've sewn again, once we move and have much better lighting and private outdoor spaces for that sort of thing. In the meantime, things will certainly be quiet here for a little while longer, but you can always follow along on instagram. See you on the other side!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

the waiting game



Back in December Tim and I closed on our very first home, up north in Portland, OR. Holy shit, you all - I've been looking forward to owning a house basically since I graduated college, although I knew it would be awhile before I was ready and able to make that leap. Even in nicer rentals, we've still had an overabundance of awful beige walls and annoying issues that we would love to just pay to get fixed if it were up to us. Finally, we're homeowners! But sadly, we're still living in our very cramped SF rental for a few more months.

In the months since we closed, we've been getting some work done to update the house, and I've been taking one more round of patternmaking and design classes here in SF. I know that it makes the most sense to do it this way: the house is going to be so much more our style, with new hardwood floors throughout, a fresh coat of gray-white paint, and a finished attic space for Tim to play guitar; in the meantime I'm learning draping skills, continuing the pattern drafting curriculum, and pushing myself in the design and branding aspects of clothing design.

But even though I know this is the right path for us, it's still excruciating to wait, especially since we don't have a firm move date yet. We've outgrown our place in SF in many ways, and it feels claustrophobic being cooped up here. I have to take over the unified kitchen/dining/living room area to pattern draft, cut, and sew, and often my finished garments end up smelling like whatever I cooked that night (ew). Tim works from home several days a week and is in that same room with me. Poor Tumbles has been cooped up, not getting as much playtime as as she'd like, and we're all so looking forward to having a yard to play in with her. Storage space is practically nonexistent right now, and it's getting harder and harder to keep some semblance of organization as I amass sewing supplies, coursework, and muslins, as well as juggle several WIPs for classes. And we're just ready for a change of scenery - a new city, more pronounced seasons, quality time with our friends who live in Portland, and time and space from this city that has changed so drastically since we moved here 7 years ago.

However, each of those frustrations feels so intense because there are so many amazing things on the horizon. I'll have a huge, bright kitchen with natural light and lots of storage space, with french doors looking back onto our private deck and backyard. This summer we'll be able to sit outside, watch Tumbles run around, grill and drink wine, and have friends over. I'm going to have a dedicated sewing and drafting space in a spare bedroom, with its very own closet and room for a sewing desk and a cutting table, so I'm not always hunched over on the floor. There will be space and light for full-length mirrors and a dress form, so I can more easily iterate on and photograph my projects. We'll have a small office for computer work, and a separate soundproofed space for Tim's music (the "before" is shown at the top of this post). There's a full unfinished basement for extra storage, larger than our entire apartment is right now. I am so ready to get cozy and make that house our home, after years of not really feeling comfortable where we've lived. I've always been a homebody at heart, but it's hard when the place you live doesn't feel like home. I'm so ready to lean into this next stage of life.

For now, I'm trying to live in the moment as well as I can (to varying degrees of success). I'm working through my classes despite the lack of space, enjoying simple things like cooking or eating at our favorite neighborhood spots, taking walks with Tumbles to nearby parks that we love. I keep hoping that before I know it it'll be moving day, and our lives will change so quickly in so many ways, but so far that "blink and it's here" feeling hasn't happened. In the meantime, we have occasional photo updates from our contractor to keep us excited and remind us that time is passing. Here are a few before and "in progress" comparisons showing all the changes that have happened so far!


The second floor landing, with double doors to the linen closet. The photos are at totally different angles, but you can see that we replaced the beige carpet and paint with nice new hardwood and brighter, more neutral colors, and it already looks like a different house! We are painting over all the brown wood in the house, sorry not sorry!

One of the first progress shots we got of the paint colors we picked out. I am so pleased with the bright white and slightly gray paints we chose. Previously every room was a different color, and all of them made the house feel dark and dated. These paint colors are going throughout the house, and I'm hoping to paint a few bolder accent walls over time as I get to know the space a little more.

A major change - we had a wall knocked out between the kitchen and dining room, and it changes the feel of the downstairs so much! It makes the kitchen feel like a part of the living area and will be so nice for having people over or just chatting while one of us is cooking dinner.

One last paint before/progress comparison, because I am so excited to say goodbye to the stained wood/orange/maroon combo going on in the living and dining rooms. Also - We got rid of the built-in bookcases, but only because they were low quality IKEA and felt cheap. I'd love to have real ones reinstalled someday!