Tulle Bra, and some 1884 inspirations.

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My bra making is improving, though I still have struggle with some of the finishing details like strap attachment and aligning my channeling just right.

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This is my first attempt to make anything with bra tulle, which I ordered from TailorMadeShoppe on etsy. I was surprised by how easy it was to work with, especially compared to ravelling satin and the constantly stretching and shifting milliskin I used for the band. So much of bra making seems to be about the right materials! I had never tried using bra weight picot elastic in the band but it makes quite a difference in giving feeling of sturdy, good fit, and it looks more properly polished than I could ever make it look with fold over elastic. The cup is two layers–a sturdy inner layer of bra tulle, which has no stretch, and an outer cover I decided to add on a whim of stretchy dot lace draped over and darted to fit the under layer. Next time, I won’t bother with the fussiness of draping and pinning; I’ll just use my pattern to draft a solid, single dart cup outer layer instead.

This has been one of my most satisfying projects yet. The pattern is my own draft, which has gone through so many changes and fit adjustments and trials and tribulations over the last few months it’s unbelievable, but I *finally* have a pattern that works for me and a finished bra that fits perfectly. I can’t believe how comfortable an underwired bra can be. It only has taken me about 4 months, three craftsy classes, and a ton of money on supplies and hundreds of hours of my life to accomplish. HA. But never having to waste money in/try a bra on in a lingerie store=priceless.

The pages beneath are from a few issues of La Mode Illustree from 1884. There is no connection whatsoever between the items except a vague notion in my mind of how femininity is universal across the decades. We all like a bit of luxurious prettiness here and there, especially in the 1880s! I thought I’d share some of the inspiration photos I’ve snapped for a future project:

 

This illustration is my favorite, because it shows a woman’s hair let down, which seems rare for any era earlier than the 60s or 70s of this century, and it’s such an intimate feeling for a fashion illustration:

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Current Projects: Digitization and the Pictorial Patterns of 1925

These days I’ve been working on my digitization skills. I am a rabid collector of pattern booklets (among entirely too many other things). They are filled with gorgeous illustration and a wealth of inspiration–I love the unique details and trimmings of the 20s, the fluttery chiffons of the 30s. I thought I’d share some images from my May 1924 Pictorial Monthly Fashion Book, which I’ll be making into a pdf and putting on Etsy, if only for other completist/hoarders/rabid OCD fueled types who might want the reference material.

Etsy shops with vintage sewing materials are an interesting phenomenon; I’ve been sort of studying them. Reproduction patterns are a wonderful thing, but I can’t help feeling a bit irked when people charge $12 for a photocopy or scan of a *single* draft-it-yourself Ecoupe Clair pattern. I’m glad there are people who hoard these things and make them available, but my recent purchase of a 20s lingerie “booklet” was just photocopied instructions from a Woman’s Institute magazine, uncredited except as “original source material from 1928.” Not gonna name the particular person because I actually sort of like her, have bought vintage original booklets from her, and I know she’s just making a living and making rare materials available again–but something about it seems off to me somehow. The Amy Barickman books “Vintage Notions” and “Magic Patterns” are similar–just repackaging of Inspiration magazine from the Woman’s Institute and representing the patterns within it in a modern graphic design packaging. It bothers me somehow that someone would claim authorship in such a way of someone else’s incredible work. But at least Amy Barickman did digitize the patterns into a pdf and write her own instructions. I don’t know. When I start offering my own patterns drawn from vintage sources, I intend to be a bit more…forthcoming? less price inflated? about my work as a “pattern designer.” There’s a difference between being a pattern designer and a seamstress/collector with a scanner, in my mind. Is that snarky? Probably snarky. But also true.

But I digress.

These old pattern booklets are hard to find and most of mine wither to the touch with the chipping, brittle edges and cracks. I love to look at them but am afraid to handle them much, so the digitization is a tricky process. Compound that with these being oversized and too large for a single scan and it’s been a delicious little challenge. But these images are gorgeous. 1922-1927 is my favorite pattern illustration era, I think. The 30s might be my favorite in terms of silhouette, but these colors! These textures! These women looking at you with that Cheshire cat all-knowing look in their perfectly fitted ensembles. *swoon*

Enjoy!

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