Saturday, 30 May 2020

Madalynne Intimates Barratt Bra / So Zo... Knickers

Easter is my favourite time of year, but with the nationwide lockdown in place I was more than a little worried about wasting it. Four days off in a row is usually my idea of sewing heaven, so why was I feeling so uninspired?

Unsure how long we are going to be trapped indoors for, I wanted to be sparing with my stash. With no just nipping to the market to buy buttons I wanted I was going to have to be as resourceful as possible.

In my printed PDF patterns folder I came across the Barrett Bralette - another free download from Madalynne that I'd forgotten I'd actually downloaded. Win! The pattern is a softcup bra with cute little cutaway, made from just three pattern pieces and some elastics. The download also includes a super handy walkthrough with really clear instructions.

I had an array of stretch fabric leftovers in my stash, I was concerned that my elastic supplies wouldn't make the cut- but I'd completely overlooked this picot-edge plush elastic that I'd bought in a bundle from Abakhan ages ago. I was excited to find it didn't look too naff against my black and gold lycra. In fact it served well to make my fabric look more cute and slightly less... gangstery! The yellow seemed a good choice for Easter weekend. My supply of powermesh is slowly depleting but I figured there would be enough for this pattern- It's only 3 pieces after all... Come on let's sew!

Madalynne is a great advocate of using adhesive spray to attach your fabric to your lining. Sadly there are no such luxuries here during lockdown! I tacked the inside and outside together using big hand stitches. You only need to do the centre front cups as you will need to sew the side cups and back band separately in order to sandwich the seam allowances inside the bra.

The instructions are put together sooo perfectly, so I don't really have to extra-explain any of it for my future self. I did make the back band 2 inches shorter as it seemed a little loose around the back at first try on. Next time I will take this extra length equally from the front and back so that the side seams are exactly at the sides! Obviously this extra fabric was also taken off of the lining piece before sewing. I also decided to topstitch the cup seams, just because I always like the finish this gives on bras.

I would like to remind future me to really pay attention when sewing that centre front though. The seam is only a couple of cm long but you must stop sewing before you get to the edges to ensure you have room to sew your picot elastic to the top of the cups and the edge of the cut away.

Stitching the elastic is both the fun part and the infuriating part! The elastic is sewn to the front and then flipped over to the back and secured with a second row of zigzag stitching. I didn't stretch out any of the elastic as I sewed, however when trying on the bra I realised the elastic could be a bit more body hugging at the underarm.... Would you believe if I'd read the instructions all the way through that's exactly what they suggested! Doh! I unpicked and re-stitched, applying extra tension to the elastic at the underarm only.

I guess you can sew it however you want- but the pattern suggests attaching the bottom band directly onto the bottom of the bra instead of stitching then flipping it to the inside. You need a bit of careful consideration when manoeuvring around the cut out. The gap should measure 2 1/4" (I made a size 12, if you make smaller then it should be around 2"). I pinned the elastic on, starting from just before the cut out and then marked 2 1/4" on the elastic so I could be sure to be accurate. I then continued to pin all the way round as suggested in the pattern and tried on. I did a bit of jiggling at the centre front- I found I needed to take the curve off of the underbust area on the front panels for the elastic to sit without gaping. Must be something to do with being a bit flat I think, but I'm cool with that.

In my bid to be resourceful I salvaged some straps off of an old bra. This also saved me the fiddly bit of sewing my own straps and weaving all the ends through the sliders.. Always confuses me! I used quite big rings to attach the straps to the front (the same shape and style used for the centre back of my Noelle bras) as regular bra loops were a little too small to fit all the elastic bulk through comfortably.

I really enjoyed using plush elastic as the stretchy black lace I usually use for finishing isn't quite as robust. I have some pink and blue from the same bag that I just need to team with some appropriate stretch fabric and we'll have another Barratt on the way!

For the briefs I used the same FREE pattern from 'So Zo' blog that I always use. I adore it but I will encourage myself to step out of my comfort zone and try a different pattern next time I make kickers.

I made my usual front panel hack to give myself opportunity to use all the fabrics I'd used on my Barrett Bra to make it match, as well as using the same two elastics. The only other thing I needed was a tiny bit of t-shirt Jersey for the gusset.

I used the same 'sandwiching' method to encase the seam allowance between the fabric and lining of the front panel. Doing the second side can be a bit fiddly as you have to kind of twist it back on itself to get inside. Its only a short seam though, so once its sewn you can fold it back to the inside and your seam allowance is hidden!
I then tack the lining and the fabric together so I can treat it as one when attaching the leg elastic.

Besides that it's pretty plain sailing! I loved using matching fabrics and notions to my Barratt Bra, I feel super sassy in this matching set. I love the sexy gold meets cute yellow! I'm pleased lockdown has forced me to dream up up this combo... Perfect lockdown lounge-wear!


Location: Halifax Hall Memorial Gardens, Sheffield
Currently Listening to: Do You Remember The First Time?, Pulp

Sunday, 24 May 2020

MaCalls M7575, Shirtdress Hack

I had a very glammy boss a number of years ago. I remember I'd picked up a shirtdress in town one weekend only to find next week at work she was wearing something very similar. Not wanting to look too enamoured by her wardrobe and all round authority I decided to save mine for social events only. Last week I got a promotion at work, and with this in mind I decided it was time to level up my wardrobe to match.

Hacking the McCalls 7575 pattern into a shirt dress has been on my to-sew list for a while. This fabric was a find upstairs in Abakhan Manchester on another sewing trip with Charlotte from Scenes From the Sewing Room. The almost golden stripe in it was exactly what I was looking for and the fabric was the perfect weight and drape to give me a bit of swing! I decided on some gold buttons and D-rings to take it up to the next level of majesty.

I based the new shape of the shirt entirely on that of my ready-to-wear dress. By matching the paper pattern underarms to the dress I measured the dress to be about 11.5 inches longer than the sewing pattern, so I literally just extended the front, back and placket pieces by 11.5 inches.

The shirtdress needs to flare out a little more over the hips to allow for movement and to ensure the plackets don't gape when sat down, so I really gradually graded out the side seams from the hips, adding on a few cm to front and back pieces at the new hem (I need to add about 1.5cm more to the paper pattern as I freaked out that it would be too small and cut a little extra in at the cutting stage).

The RTW dress is actually completely dartless (inspiring me maybe to have a bit of a play around with a men's shirt at some point maybe?), but I decided I wanted to keep the shaping at the bust. I omitted the bodice darts on front and back as I planned to draw the waist in instead with a belt cut from the same fabric.

To make the belt I just cut a stip of fabric the same length of the belt on my RTW dress x 9cm wide, so when I folded it lengthways, right sides together, stitched with a 1.5cm seam allowance then turned right sides out- I was left with a belt 3cm wide.

To make the belt loops I cut two squares 5xm x 6xm wide (carefully cutting them on the fabric so no stripes were visible in hopes they would sort of just blend in). Folded and stitched, the belt loops were then 1cm wide. I turned under 1cm at the top and bottom of each and pressed. When I stitched these to the dress I stitched very close to the edge of the belt loop with little stitches so that the belt would run through them effortlessly.

There weren't really any other changes to the design which was a relief. I cut the dress from 2.5m of fabric but still have some left over maybe for a little shirt or something. The main issues I had to tackle with this project was this fabric is VERY prone to laddering. One little prick and the threads pull like crazy. To try and combat this I selected my sharpest machine needles and made sure all seams were sewn with them. I found my pins to be less trustworthy though, with one or two mis-pins resulting in some thread pulling. Very annoying! But luckily the threads are quite fine so you have to get up close to spot any damage. Pal, you shouldn't be standing that close to me anyway!! I also found hand stitching lead to a few ladders too.... I held my breath slicing open those buttonholes! Fingers crossed no further damage - I won't be wearing this dress to er, anything spikey any time soon! This was also a nightmare whenever I had to unpick anything... Remember those belt loops I spoke about that I attached with loads of really tiny tiny stitches? Yeah, I sewed them on in the wrong place in a mad bid to get the dress finished before I went to bed and had to unpick the lot...!!! There were pulled threads, but luckily with them being right on the side seam I was able to take just a little more in on the seam and hide most of the damage. Lesson learned- always measure twice and then once more for luck!! Especially if you are using fabric that hates you.

Interfacing-wise, I chose a lightweight interfacing in black- I interfaced the entire plackets but cut away the seam allowances before fusing to reduce bulk later on. I interfaced both sides of the collar stand so that the weight matched that of the plackets, and also added two layers of interfacing to one of the collar pieces, again so they were the same weight. I found layering up a lightweight interfacing was a more reliable way of strengthening my fabric without making it too stiff. I only added one layer to the yoke as I didn't want to restrict any potential stretch across the shoulders.

In terms of pattern matching, as their were no horizontal stripes I just made sure everything was cut as symmetrically as possible. I'm super happy with my pattern placement with those plackets!

So happy with my "I'm leaving you for better things" dress - I'll be wearing it to my leaving do for sure. It was exactly what I pictured in my mind well before I'd even picked the fabric or hacked the pattern.

Has anyone any tips on fabrics that snag easily? I think I'm going to buy myself some super fine pins to use for next time to try and reduce the risk, is there anything else I can consider?

Much love,


Location: Halifax Hall, Sheffield
Currently listening to: Death II, Pulp