excuse me while I talk about my underwear.

I’ve been sewing a lot of lingerie lately. My life is kind of a series of small possessions–I play host to a revolving door of obsessive interests, immersing in one after another, always centered on an axis of making *something* with a nostalgic eye cast backward in history. My hoarding of pattern catalogs and sewing ephemera *may* be giving way to hoarding of lingerie materials, which in my mind, marks some kind of progress because it’s more about the action of the crafting and the enjoyment of the moment while creating the thing than it is about possession of a thing. We’ll see.

I’m trying to move more into making than owning, more about enjoyment of the process than collecting (but I still love you, bookshelf!). I find trying to sew beautiful things to be a therapeutic exertion of will over a sometimes ugly reality. Politics has me hand-wringing? Grab my lace. Worried about antartic ice sheets? Turn off a few more light bulbs and grab my lace. Focus on the lace. The Western world seems to be both far better than it has been in the last few millenia, in terms of civil rights, gay rights, the standing of women and children, literacy, information access, medicine. Yet in terms of scaled economic injustice and systems of exploitation of labor, climate change, pollution, the island of plastic in the pacific, mercury in and acidification and warming of the oceans, species extinctions, the disappearance of the middle class, the disappearance of privacy, the uncertain future of jobs in a time of automation, it is arguably worse and far more complex than I think most human brains are evolved to be able to grapple with. I don’t know any answers. But in an often ugly, screaming world, I am trying to quietly make what beauty I can. I make lace things. I make lunches. I make babies and make love and make breakfast magic out of 3oz of leftover steak, three eggs and last night’s soggy skinned baked potato. I make scribbles. I make crude jokes. I make my grandma laugh. (Since she watched Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones, there’s not much that phases her. <3) That’s often all I feel I have the efficacy in this world to do.

Anyway…I’ve sewn Cloth Habit’s wonderful Harriet pattern at least 10x since I bought it.

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As it was, without modification, the cup placement was slightly narrow for my rather broad boob placement, as to be expected with any pattern I sew. Yet because my shape is shallow up top, the upper cup was sagging sad and empty, as most bras have for me forever. Not the fault of the pattern, just natural variation in human anatomy. (It is a peeve of mine when people complain about patterns not fitting their bodies precisely, especially when it comes to breast shape, when it would be so utterly and obviously impossible for any pattern maker to account for the bajillion types of bodies and mass distribution in existence.) So I tried tweaking the pieces by taking the C cup as a baseline / wireline / cup to cradle joining point and overlaying the B and A size pieces as guides to taper down to the projection of a B cup at the apex and the A cup at the top. Not sure if this was the most efficient way to do this. In fact, it surely wasn’t. But it gave me something that works. I’ve struggled for a few months with the relationship of the wire to the pattern and cup shape, but I think it’s starting to make more sense and really come together for me now. There are a few great blog entries on this topic on bramakingblog.com that were helpful for me.

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After about 10 iterations, I wanted to try something else–specifically, something less pokey in the side boob. Since I need a wire for a bigger cup size than my actual projection, and I have wide boobs on a short torso, I often feel like the wires that fit me are way too long. Demi wires are a great answer to this problem, so I worked some more on a self drafted bra pattern with a different shape. I’ve been trying to up my technical game by working on enclosing all the seams in my bras (there’s a post on doing just that on the Watson pattern on the TailorMadeBlog that got me started on this). So I tried one attempt with a full band.

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Then I reworked my pattern as a partial band bra for shallow demi wires and ended up with this.

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Considering some minor tweaks and fabric variations for this. Happy Sunday!

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Finished Objects: Vionnet Abomination–Er, Attempt–#1

I finished what I have affectionately termed the squid Vionnet, although not to my liking and, as per usual, at the last minute. I spent a month working on digitally drafting the pattern so that I could make an epic Halloween dress, then life got crazy, then I couldn’t get my printer to print the pattern correctly, then time got short and no muslin was made. I used my semi-crappy black $2/yard clearance shantung because I wanted to keep the stakes low but still have a slim chance of resulting in a pretty dress. My measurements of the flat pattern did not translate well into the sewn garment, alas, which necessitated some major gusset type side insertions on the fly. These insertions threw off the lovely hang of the garment, but I used an Old Hollywood trick and corrected the fit on my body, which required some seam ripping myself out of it later. Alas, no pics. (Is it just me or are 30something mothers frequently absent from the photo documentation of family life? Too old / gen x for unabashed selfie taking, and usually too busy trying to make sure the youngun isn’t swinging from the chandelier to actually look in the direction of a camera…)

The squid dress in theory:

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pattern
The squid dress in 2d theory.
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88 pages. This is why I buy sugarcane environmental happy hippie paper by the case.
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The squid dress in post-wear lumpy reality.

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Be it ever so humble, it does represent a moral victory of sorts. I cranked this sucker out in about eight hours sewing time and, had the fit been correct initially, it would have been pretty amazing. It didn’t even disintegrate! So let’s call this a muslin. I love the sleeves. I couldn’t really see it from the pattern pieces, but upon assembly it was essentially a kimono or dropped shoulder sleeve in the front with a horizontal tuck to give the neckline some drape, and a raglan type join at the back.  I plan to reattempt it as a blouse, with slightly less extravagantly eveningwear type Cersei sleeves, because the design itself is lovely. Consider me even more of a Vionnet fangirl after actually trying to sew her pattern.