The Mystery Marlborough

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I don’t know what it is about putting the word mystery in front of a product, but suddenly I want it so badly! I get so excited at the end of every month in anticipation for my mystery box from Bodils Wear to arrive. It costs me about £25 every month (you pay monthly no obligation) and you will receive a surprise box of lingerie making goodies that have been selected together . I have be a customer for 4 months now, and have been delighted every time. In fact May’s has just arrived and I am super excited- watch this space. (No I’m not being sponsored by her!)

Anyway I don’t like to post too early about them as I might ruin someone’s surprise but here was last months contents which was spring themed.

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Everything I needed to make an underwired bra. The lace is non stretch and the two white fabrics are a lining and a power mesh. When you subscribe you can choose to have wide notions or thin, I choose wide as I need some hard core elastics to keep the girls in check. Everything  is always beautiful quality.

I chose to make a modified version of the Marlborough bra by Orange Lingerie. It has gone through several generations of modifications to get a good fit and shape and now it is really comfortable to wear. I considered making another Angie bra but the lace was so lovely and delicate looking I wanted a continuous run of the lace edge.

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It sewed up pretty quickly as these days I know what I am doing. I’ve used lilac thread to top stitch the front, with white bobbin thread.

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The lining is very soft and I’ve used the stitch and flip method to hide all the raw edges on the inside.

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As I wanted to match the lace placement both sides, and as a larger cup size does use more of the lace, I don’t have huge pieces of lace left; but I intend to make some matching undies with pieces of lace, some knicker elastic included in the kit and some white power mesh I already own, which is less firm and therefore more suited to knickers.

One of the things I love about this bra and the mystery box is I probably wouldn’t have chosen this lace myself, but I absolutely love the bra and how fresh and bright the colours are. I love wearing it, it’s super comfortable and perfect for spring and for garments I have that need something a little more subtle under them.

A cut and sew foam Angie

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This is my latest version of the Angie bra, designed by Bodils Wear.  This is my third version, this time I wanted to try some cut and sew foam cups.

For the foam I removed the seam allowance from between the cup segments and from across their top and butted the segments close together, zigzagging across the join. I then bound the top with fold over elastic with a 3 step zigzag to give them a nice finish.  I sewed the lace cup onto the top of it so I could use the pretty lace edge, Because of this I have not been able to apply the elastic to the cups as per the original instructions.

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I have also changed the bridge this time around, it was so narrow that sewing the bridge in two pieces was extremely fiddly. I’ve removed the seam allowance for the centre seam and cut it on the fold.

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I also have altered the bottom edge of the frame, to use a Gothic arch and thin frame as I find it more comfortable as it stops the band from twisting upwards. This is a change I always make and I have shared details of the tutorials used on my previous post.

The lace I have used is from Etsy from a shop called VintageToLiveBy, which has the most beautiful laces. It is not a symmetrical pattern so I have balanced the lace on my cups so that the pattern lies in the same place on both sides. I’ve been hoarding it for probably around a year waiting for the right project. You can see the beautiful colours better in this shot from their website.

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The knickers are an edited version of the Montgomery Brief from Orange Lingerie, which I have chosen in this case as it combines the non stretch lace and stretch powernet fabrics I have used for the bra together.

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Angie II

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Having sewn up a trial version of the Angie bra from Bodils Wear, and fallen in love I made another version but this time in black with laminated lace cups. The laminated lace is from the Sewing Chest. it looks gorgeous, it’s very sturdy and gives fantastic support, I think it would have made a great corset. I personally prefer my bras to feel a little bit softer though so I actually prefer my tester in that regard.

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It’s fully lined, and I’m happy with the sewing.

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I forgot to change the bridge to one piece! Doh, by the time I realised I wasn’t going to unpick everything – Next time! I have kept all the pattern adjustments from last time, including a gothic arch, thinner band, and taking in the upper cup.

I wanted to have thin straps with these gorgeous heart sliders but the straps just weren’t cutting the mustard, so I unpicked those and put wider straps on, they were much more comfortable and the bra felt more supportive. Moral of the story – I need bigger hearts!

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It’s a great bra, it’s a very good fit, very structured feeling so it provides great support! I feel some matching knickers coming.

Angie I – a tester

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It’s official all, I am in love. From the moment I saw some of the Angie Bra from Bodil’s wear I just knew it was one for me. The cup shape is very round, as are my boobs, so I felt sure it would be a good match. I’ve made a tester bra in the UK size 34G, from some scraps and bits of elastic I had at home, so excuse any slight hodgepodge effect. When I say tester, I mean completely wearable and the best bra I’ve made, and the best bra I own in terms of fit. Boom!

Cups

This time I spent the time basting it all together to see how it fitted. The bottom of the cups and across the widest part of my breasts the fit was awesome, but nearer the top the cup didn’t grade back in enough and it was a little large. As it was all basted I took in all the seams a little along the top edge of the lace and that worked wonders.

Angie is designed to have elastic along the top edge of the cup, however I wanted to use the edge of the lace and so I took off the elastic allowance of each cup piece and instead ran some elastic along the back of the lace. Excuse the fact that it doesn’t completely go but as I said, it was a tester so I wasn’t overly concerned with how much it matched.

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As you can see I also used two difference colours of wire casing, same thickness but that was what I had.

The frame

So whilst the frame fitted rather well there are a couple of adjustments that I like to make now which provide me with a much more comfortable fit. First I like to make a Gothic arch at the front, I have used this tutorial for this a number of times by the Fairy Bra Mother, Beverly Johnson, and I thoroughly recommend it, especially if like me you have a quite high stomach.

The second adaption is for similar reasons, and that is to narrow down the frame under the cups to stop the band elastic from twisting. Again by the Fairy bra mother this tutorial entitled Thin is in is absolutely fantastic and I thoroughly recommend it.

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I also discovered that this bra had a very narrow bridge, and this was the flattest fit across my chest yet. However, this pattern piece for the bridge is cut in two pieces, which makes it very fiddly, I notice that a number of other people have decided to re-draft it as a single piece and next time I will do the same.

Straps

The straps were placed well, and very comfortable, though I am not 100% keen on this method of attaching them at the front as it tends to pull the shape of the cup a little, some investigation into this is needed I think. I have seen some alternatives that I think I should employ.

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Fabrics

The cups are sewn from a lace I purchased from Etsy from The Bra shop here. It’s only £3.50 per metre, it’s soft feeling and non stretch. It wasn’t wide enough for some pattern pieces, and in the picture above you can see I had to join lace together, you can’t see when it is on. I recommend sewing the two fabrics together and then cutting out the pattern pieces. I got all the lace pieces out of 1 metre and have enough little bits that I’m planning on making matching knickers sometime.

The fabric from the band was off cuts when I made a Marlborough bra. The lining and elastics were all in my stash.

The pattern and instructions

The pattern is fab, it’s a great fit for me. The instructions have been translated from Swedish, and some of the clarity of them has been lost in translation. I would say maybe not the ideal choice of instructions for your first bra. However, Bodils Wear was very happy to answer my questions and help me. The tutorials from Beverley Johnson on Craftsy are amazing, and there is a lot of help out there if you need it, so on that note go for it.

If you have round boobs it’s a fantastic pattern!

Grace

I’ve been eyeing up the Grace pattern from Ohhh Lulu sews for a while. It uses a combination of non stretch and stretch fabrics together – which means it is perfect to pair with either the Marlborough bra or the Maya bra, which are both made with non stretch fabrics for the cups and bridge, and power net wings.

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The pattern (available here) cost me around £8 and was available for digital download, which is great if like me you are impatient. Measuring myself I came up as an XL – a little surprising as I’m a UK 12/14 – maybe I’m being a little vain here. However making  them up I felt that I could have probably sized down, the power net I’ve used at the sides is extremely stretchy. Still they fit nicely, but I think the size below would have done too!

The instructions were clear and good, though personally I would have liked a recommendation on stitch width and length on a regular sewing machine for application of elastics.

I actually made 2 pairs as my mother always taught me to buy two pairs of knickers with my bras.

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The main fabric I have used was an off-cut from a top I made, perfect to use up strange shaped remnants, I also made this matching, albeit heavily altered Maya bra. (I’ll be posting about that soon). I also used some left over weirdly shaped power mesh, and then bought some stretch lace to sew round the legs for 75p.

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Definitely a pattern that I will be using again, they are a good fit, very comfy, and ideal to go with some of my favourite bra patterns.

 

Watson II – Lace and Spots

This is my second version of the Watson Bra from Cloth Habit.

The first one was comfortable and surprisingly supportive for a non-wired bra. This time I decided to go for a slightly more elegant style rather than bright colours. I used a mixture of bits I had from my stash, including this dotty black mesh which I have been waiting to use. I had a little trouble deciding which straps to go for as I was tempted by this decorative cream version – but eventually went all black as I had black hooks and eyes and the right size rings and sliders.

I also decided to try out the Watson bikini brief as opposed to making the lady shorts, and see how they fit.

Having made the Watson before this one came together easily, this time I handled the centre front, where both cups meet, much better and I am happier with the result.

As I had more layers to handle this time I decided to baste the cream lace and black dots in place and that was very helpful.

I used a 2 hook closure and I wish I had used a 3 as it would have given me more support. My previous Watson felt a little loose under the arm; although this time I stretched the elastic more through the under arm and adjusted the pattern a smidge, it could still do with adjusting a little more.

There are two black stripes that run down the front, they don’t line up when flat but they do line up when they are on because the knickers stretch more than the bra band.

I nearly put dotty bows on too- should I change them?

Maya and the Unicorns

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This is my second go at the Maya bra, and I’ve been saving this fun unicorn fabric from LillyandMimistore on Etsy (and apparently comes in 3 colours). The Maya bra pattern is kindly available from here for free. Here was my first attempt.

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My previous Maya bra wasn’t a bad fit, but needed a pinch taken out of the upper cup. Here is how I went about changing the pattern.

I’ve taken the foam pattern piece, it has no seam allowance top and bottom, and made 3 cuts top to bottom leaving a tiny piece of paper as a hinge.

Then I’ve overlapped the two pieces at each cut and stuck them back down.

This has reduced the volume but left me with slightly funny shaped pieces that need adjusting. On the top edges I’ve reconnected the corners with straight lines.

On the bottom edge I was worried about changing the original shape so I traced the original shape edge back on.

And added some seam allowance to give the final piece below.

Not the most beautiful photos, apologies.

After that I constructed the bra as before, this time I tried using ribbon to cover the seams of the cut and sew foam rather than lining it. I think I preferred lining, but I like to try different techniques to see what I like best.

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I had a couple of issue, once again applying the elastic it stretched under the arm as my machine struggled to cope with the layers. This means I have a slightly gappy underarm section. I’ve decided to take a small pinch out of the wing next time so that if it stretches a little it won’t be a problem. I might lower the height of the under-arm too.

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The second issue is that I still need to take a little more from the upper cup. I erred on the side of caution, it’s a much better fit than before but a little more would be good. The bridge fits flat against my chest and the wires are in the correct place, less than a cm reduction should do it.

This little bow I made from two pieces of ribbon.

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Generally it just fills me with lots of happiness. It’s so beautiful and colourful. My entire reason for starting making bras was because I was fed up with the lack of fun bras bigger than a DD cup.

This week I’m going to purchase the scrundies pattern and make some matching knickers.

Marlborough IV – Blossom and Green

Greetings and a very Happy New Year to you, I finally have time to share some of my latest creations with you, that I actually finished last year.

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I found the fabric kit for this bra for sale on The Sewing Chest, who I use for a lot of my findings, if I’m honest I don’t necessarily find it the best website but they are UK based, very quick to deliver and usually have what I’m looking for or a viable alternative. It wasn’t a complete set but had the main fabric, some really good PowerNet, Tricot lining in a matching green, green elastics, and some red and green findings, all for less than £10, bargain. I supplemented it with some lace from TheBraShop on Etsy (actually two lots of lace as I couldn’t pick a colour… sssh… don’t tell), and a few bits from my stash.

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As the fabric is firm I decided to make yet another Marlborough bra, as this is my forth standard length one I was fairly certain how the fit would turn out, but took my favourite bits from version 2 and 3. Version 2 was the red and blue scuba bra, I liked the shape of the cups better on this version they were more round shaped and less pointy. However, version 3, the grey/black version has a lower underarm which was much more comfortable and didn’t dig in, so I used the frame pieces from that bra.

One of the issues I have with my previous versions was that the frame, under the cups kept rolling outwards, something that didn’t happen with my RTW bras. I asked on the Bra Making Forum and I was directed towards an article by Beverly Johnson called Thin is in. It seemed that the problem was the shape of my body was causing it to roll, and because I had been using thicker elastic on the frame for extra support and a longer frame than on my RTW bras the problem had become apparent. I followed Beverly’s instructions on how to fix this issue and now have a much thinner band and the problem has gone, thank you Beverley.

I used the flip and stitch method again to line my bra and hide all the inner workings and so the over all result is pretty neat on the inside.

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Overall the fit is pretty great, it’s comfortable to wear and doesn’t have any of the earlier flat spot problems. However, despite adding more and more to the volume, I still need to add a little more, my breast tissue doesn’t quite fill the bottom of the cup, and the bridge is still sitting a tiny bit away from my chest, not a lot. It’s the best fitting Marlborough so far, and it does look good, so just really small changes now to try and make it the perfect fit.

I have enough fabric left either for a pair of knickers, or for another bra, and I might make another this time with the green lace.

 

Maya bra

September and October have been busy for me as I’ve finished off making some new clothes and starting some Christmas projects, tis very nearly the season after all- especially if they are to be finished by Christmas 2017. (Maybe this will be the year my Christmas jumper finally makes it off the knitting needles). That’s why finishing this bra and knickers set has actually taken a stupidly long time. 

The pattern is the Maya bra which is an awesome free pattern. It starts off having some beautifully detailed instructions, some of which now seem to be animated. It’s the third bra pattern I’ve tried, and the first time using foam cups so excuse a few mistakes where I considered this a trial go. 

Starting off the instructions are very detailed, the information on what fabrics and materials to use are brilliant. The notches are very well placed and everything matches up extremely well. I used scuba for the outer layer again, last time I used scuba it drove me nuts skipping stitches, this time however I used Gutterman thread and no problems, you get what you pay for, as the saying goes. I couldn’t get the firmer type of power mesh so I used two layers on the wing to give it extra strength, it helped but the firmer power net would be better.

I decided to line my cups a different way to what is suggested, as for some reason with my very limited experience I felt I knew better- I didn’t want to have to cover up my zig zagged seams with ribbon/tape so I constructed the lining separately and then stitched it to my cup “in the ditch”. Pros:-no tape on the inside if the cup or raw edges, cons:- it looks a bit baggy inside the cup, because of the shape of the cup the lining could do with being a teeny bit smaller. Im not sure ultimately either method is right for me, I’ll keep experimenting. 

Sadly the super detailed tutorial instructions don’t make it all the way to the end – I’m not surprised it must have taken her hours so far. This was a bit of a problem for me, as although I’ve made a few bras now and know how to make the frame, I hadn’t used foam cups before and wasn’t exactly sure how to best attach all the layers together,  I had to find another online tutorial to finish it off.

After I finished the cups it was down hill from there, though retrospectively I noticed one cup is at a very slightly different angle. Oops. No-one would notice.

So most importantly, how does it fit?

Well I would call it a success as it keeps the girls safely in for a whole day without hurting. Result. In terms of finer points that need tweaking – the straps dont seem to join directly above the apex, but they are comfortable so I’m reluctant to move them too much, just a smidge in would be good.

The main problem I’ve had is that the upper cup piece needs about 2 cm taking out of the upper edge each side, but the bottom edge staying the same… I have a bit of a gaping upper cup. This is apparently a very common issue with this pattern. Beverley Johnson does a really good tutorial on how to fix this on her bra making class on Craftsy, which can cost between $15 and $40 depending on whether they currently have a sale. The moral of the story though is make a cut on the pattern, and over lap the two pieces and stick them back down like a dart, I’ll be trying it soon once I’ve finished my current bra. Other people have also made a redrafted top piece you can download. 

I also decided to make matching knickers for this bra and my long line bra, both times I’ve used the Montgomery brief pattern from Orange Lingerie. As the lace is so wide it looked very odd to use the whole width of lace across the front, so with both of these pairs I’ve experimented with cutting the lace down – I’m really happy with the result! 

Watson I & Sewcialists Inspiration Month

This August with the Sewcialists it has been Inspiration Month. For a long time I have had lots of Watson bras, designed by Amy from Cloth Habit, covering my Pinterest boards. It was this bra that inspired me to try bra making, as without underwires, and with the excellent sew-alongs that were available I felt it was something I could accomplish.

At this point can I just warn you that if you google ‘Watson Bra’ for inspiration you get rather a number of sleazy pap photos of Emma Watson. You have been warned.

The pattern was $15 dollars as an instant download, it has the bra and a bikini pattern. You can make two different versions, View A has a longline band which I particularly wanted for the look and the support I thought I would need being of a large cup size. There was a lot of information available about which size I should pick for various fabrics. I measured as a 36E but the advice was for quite a stretchy band fabric to size down, so I went for the sister size 34F. Then I looked at the cups, thought no chance and cut a 34 G. This is the biggest cup size for a 34 band and retrospectively I will need to increase it for the next one.

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The fabric I used was a fairly cheap knit as I always consider the first one a bit of a test case and expect it might need reworking somewhat. I’m saving the unicorn and rainbow fabric for best!

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I lined everything as I like neat insides, the cups and band with some power mesh, as I was concerned that the knit fabric wasn’t that supportive, and the band with tricot as suggested. Retrospectively this meant that I needn’t have sized down the band. You can see the horizontal lines where it has pulled round the band. The frame does seem to fit  around the cups nicely so for the next version I am just going to increase the wings a little.

As the knit is such fun colours I’ve enjoyed using mismatch elastics to add to the fun. I didn’t quite manage to get the elastics to touch perfectly at the front, I sewed a bow over it. Next time I also need to stretch the elastic a little more under the arm. 

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This toil is very wearable especially as the band and the band elastic will get softer with time. I wanted a soft bra as I have been in hospital a lot recently and lying down, and I find the wires were digging in. It was much softer to sleep in, and I felt much less rough getting dressed with a bra every day. it didn’t provide much support lying on my sides, but then I’m not sure I have any bras that do. Next to try the matching bikini pattern and see if I can get a comfy fit.