Here's a preview of the Make My Lemonade Ada skirt I made using some fabric I received free of charge from Minerva. Head over to their blog to view more photos and find out more about the project.
This is the first of a series of posts I'm going to be sharing on the subject of bra making. I've only ever made one bralette and it was a disaster! So these posts will probably be filled with fitting issues, sewing mistakes and links to any tutorials I find as I work my way through a list of bra patterns, starting with sports bras and bralettes and moving on to underwired bras and bikinis. My hope is that they will be useful to anyone else who is thinking of venturing into bra making.
To prevent myself from abandoning projects when they start to go wrong, I'm going to publish a post when I start each bra and update it weekly with my progress. Hopefully this will also remind me to take more progress pictures and notes along the way.
First up is a sports bra...
The first pattern on the list is the Mighty Sports Bra by Evie la Luve. It's available in sizes 2XS-3XL (30-45″ chest measurement). This is a relatively small size range so if you're looking for a similar pattern for a larger chest measurement, I recommend the Simplicity 8339 (or the Simplicity 8560 if you're looking for something more supportive). This pattern is available in sizes 30A-44G and back view A looks very similar to the version I'm making in this post.
My chest measurement is 35″ which makes me a size S for this pattern but I cut out a size M instead because I need to be able to get it over my shoulders to put it on. I bought enough fabric to make a couple of toiles so I can experiment with the fit.
Fabric and Notions
The pattern recommends fabrics with 20-30% stretch such as spandex or scuba. I'm using this floral polyester lycra fabric (flex) from funkifabrics, a plain black scuba from my stash (this is available from most fabric shops) and some black powermesh for the back.
If you're not sure what the stretch percentage of your fabric is, cut out a 10 cm
"Our levels of desire, patience, persistence, and confidence end up playing a much larger role in success than sheer reasoning powers. Feeling motivated and energised, we can overcome almost anything." - Robert Greene, Mastery 
This is the Sew Over It Tulip Skirt that I made during some dressmaking classes my mum signed me up for as a Christmas present. I completed the final version of this skirt in March last year and shared some photos on Instagram but I never got round to writing up the blog post. Because my measurements have changed since I made it, I can't share photos of it on my body but I'll update this post if I ever manage to fit into it again!
I love the crepe versions of this skirt on the Sew Over It site so I chose to use the deep purple satin backed Prada crepe from Minerva Crafts. Or is it a crepe backed satin? Both sides of this fabric could be used - crepe for a casual skirt, satin for a more formal look. The satin gives the crepe a beautiful sheen in the daylight and the shiny side feels softer against the skin so I decided to use the crepe as the right side for this project.
I enjoy the sewing process so I never rush to finish a garment but, because I had a few weeks to make this, I spent extra time on the little details: hand sewing both the waistband and invisible hem, and finishing the seams with a contrasting bias binding using the Hong Kong finish tutorial on the Colette blog.
I did save some time by using pre-made bias binding in Liberty Wilmslow Berry D Tana Lawn from Etsy since I couldn't find any shops that sold this fabric by the metre. I don't make full garments with Liberty fabric because busy patterns don't go well with my colouring but I love to use it to add fun touches to the insides. If you have some fabric in your stash that you love but it
I started making this shirt last year and it sat half finished, waiting for buttonholes and sleeve tabs for five months. When I saw that @stitch_make_bake and @patsypoomakes were organising a Rosa sewalong, it gave me the motivation I needed to complete it in time for Spring.
I used 2.5 metres of heart print stretch cotton from Pretty Mercerie because I wanted to make a shirt dress that was similar to this one from Sézane:
Pretty Mercerie sell some beautiful fabrics but they sell out so quickly! If you find something you like that's sold out, sign up for stock alerts and you'll receive an email if the fabric is ever re-stocked.
Another great French fabric shop is Make My Lemonade. They sell lots of brightly coloured prints, their delivery to the UK is reasonably priced and their site can be viewed in English if you don't know any French.
Back to the Rosa shirt!
I cut out a size 4 (UK size 12) and shortened the bodice by 1¾″. I usually add this back on to the length of the skirt but I forgot this time so the finished length is a little shorter than it should be. I often have to do broad shoulder and large bicep adjustments with most pattern companies but I've never needed to do that with Tilly and the Buttons patterns.
Because I wanted a clean look, I skipped the topstitching on the princess seams and yoke pieces and only topstitched the collar and button band. I also decided to use plain navy buttons since the print is already quite busy. For the buttonholes, I used the stabiliser plate attachment that came with my buttonhole foot (previously mentioned in my button front Cleo post).
I had a few issues sewing the collar:
- The points of the collar kept getting stuck in my machine despite using a wedge of fabric to level the presser foot (see more on this below if you don't know what I'm talking about). I think I may have needed to adjust
My colleague and his wife had an impressive collection of Slugs & Snails tights that their sons had outgrown and they wanted to turn them into a memory quilt. I had no quilting experience but I offered to do it since I loved the tights' bright colours and designs, and I love sewing for other people - it gives me the opportunity to make something I wouldn't usually choose to make for myself.
I took the tights home two years ago but didn’t cut into the first pair until October this year. I spent a long time planning, reading tutorials, ordering fabric samples and procrastinating out of the fear of messing it up. Once I’d finally found the courage to snip into the first pair, I worked on the quilt every evening and weekend for six weeks to get it finished in time for Christmas.
Since this was my first quilt and I wanted to show off the tights, I kept the design simple and used a hundred equally sized squares, attached them to a solid red cotton fabric by stitching in the ditch and finished it off with a matching binding. Below are the full step-by-step instructions if you’re interested in learning to make your own memory quilt.
- Gather your supplies. You will need:
- Old t-shirts or baby clothes
- Interfacing - I used an iron-on fusible woven interfacing for knit fabrics but use whatever works best with your fabric
- Backing fabric - I used this plain red quilting cotton to make the tights the main focus but a patterned fabric will hide any wobbly topstitching
- Batting (also known as wadding) - I used Quilter's Dream Natural Select in cot size
- Square quilting ruler - I used this 4.5″ x 4.5″ ruler by Sew Easy
- Quilting ruler - I used this 2.5″ x 18″ ruler by Arteza
- Matching or invisible thread - I used Gütermann Sulky clear thread
- Clover Wonder Clips (these are optional but great for holding together many layers of thick fabric)
- Cut the pieces out
I love making clothes at this time of year - coats, shirts, jumpers and chunky scarves are my favourite things to wear - and this cable knit scarf has been on my to-do list since I first started learning to knit.
This is the Byway Scarf and Wrap pattern by Jared Flood for Brooklyn Tweed. I chose this one because it was complicated enough to keep me interested but not so complicated that it would take me years to complete. I originally planned to make the wrap version but after choosing my yarn and pricing it up I decided to make the scarf.
I used Cascade 128 Superwash in the colour Deep Sapphire from Wool Warehouse. It's 100% merino wool so it's fine, soft and not itchy. I like to use wool rather than acrylic yarn for garments because it's breathable and has antibacterial properties so it stays fresh. The downside is that wool is considerably more expensive. This yarn cost me £8.99 per hank and I needed 6 so the scarf cost me £60 to make in total (including the pattern but not including the needles).
I used some 6.5mm rosewood knitting needles from a Wool and the Gang kit I bought a couple of years ago. These are no longer available to buy on their site as they've been replaced with bamboo needles - possibly due to the fact that rosewood is now a protected species - but Pony rosewood needles are still available from some sites if you're looking to get hold of a pair. For the cable needle, I used a 20cm double pointed Knitpro Cubics needle.
As you can see in the photos, I knit straight from the hank instead of winding the yarn into a ball first. I don't have the equipment for winding it and I didn't want to waste time doing it by hand. I hung it from one of the rails in my sewing room and knit it from there so it didn't get tangled. I wouldn't recommend doing this if you have nowhere
I recently went last minute shopping for an outfit for a party and was instantly reminded of why I started sewing in the first place - I visited ten shops, only found one thing I liked and it didn't fit me. I had a half finished Sew Over It Lottie dress at home so I rushed back to add buttonholes and hem it so I could wear it that night.
The pattern came with issue 3 of Lisa Comfort magazine and is exactly the style of dress I love to wear in this hot weather - loose fitting, thin straps, gathers at the bust and a tie waist belt to give the dress some shape.
The simple design makes it a great dress for showing off bold prints. I had planned to use a fabric from my stash but I noticed on the last page of the magazine there was a preview of the new cotton lawn fabric being released by Lisa - Busy Blossom in Boho Black.
This is exactly my style - black with bright florals - as seen in this Instagram post I made during Sew Photo Hop last year on the subject of my signature look:
Being surrounded by lots of beautiful fabrics on Instagram, it's easy to be tempted into buying everything. If you know what colours suit you, which prints you feel good in and what your style is, it's much easier to say no to fabrics and keep your stash under control. My fabrics need to be cool-toned and highly saturated and any prints I choose need to be large and simple (small, busy prints such as ditsy florals make the overall colour of the garment look
This project has been on my to-do list since the pattern was released and now the nights are getting warmer I thought it would be the perfect time to make some summer pyjamas.
I used the Fifi pyjamas pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and cut a size 4 with no adjustments. I should have done a small bust adjustment to take an inch off the bust since my chest measurement is 35" - I've since discovered that there are instructions for bust adjustments for this pattern on Tilly’s blog. I think I'll also try lengthening the crotch depth of the shorts next time because the measurement from my hips to my waist is greater than the standard 8" (a problem I have with most store-bought trousers/shorts). I've started making my own skirt and bodice slopers using the courses by Suzy Furrer on Craftsy so I'm starting to get a better idea of the adjustments I need to make for future projects.
The lipstick print fabric is a soft viscose from Wear Lemonade (now known as Make My Lemonade). If you've followed me on Instagram for a while, you may remember that I already made some pyjamas with this fabric using the free patterns and tutorials from the Make My Lemonade blog. I've not posted a photo of the finished set yet though because the pyjama top is hidden somewhere in the unfinished projects pile just waiting for me to sew on the buttons!
Nothing I sew is ever perfect and these pyjamas are no exception - I must have slightly stretched the bias binding as I was stitching it together because the straps are a little wrinkled. I used some pre-made satin bias binding from eBay because I didn't have enough fabric left to make my own and I think this particular bias binding is intended for stretch fabrics (I didn't realise at the time I bought it) and should be stitched with a walking foot.
Unintentionally rocking the bedhead look in this picture but it fits in with the theme
I started making this Cleo dungaree dress back in November last year and since then it's been sat in a basket with all my other half-finished projects.
I had trouble sewing the buttonholes through this corduroy fabric - my machine wasn’t feeding the fabric so it would just stitch in one place and tangle up! I threw it on the pile and forgot all about it until I had a similar problem with some buttonholes on a corduroy skirt.
After searching through the instruction book, I discovered that my sewing machine came with an additional stabiliser plate that attaches to the buttonhole foot and helps feed difficult fabrics. This solved all my buttonhole problems and now I want to add buttons to everything!
I made a size 4 with no adjustments except for adding an extra inch to the length. I tried it on just before hemming and it still felt a bit short so I folded it over by 1cm instead of the recommended 3cm.
I used The Crafty Pinup’s button front Cleo tutorial but I changed the width of the button band to suit the size of my buttons. Instead of adding 2 inches plus the seam allowance to each front piece, I added 4cm (folding and pressing at 1cm and then 3cm). I only added 3cm to the facing pieces so I didn’t have to topstitch through extra layers.
I accidentally started my first buttonhole too far down (it starts 2cm from the top when it should have been 1cm) but I didn’t notice until it was too late so it will forever bug me! I used plain hammer-on jeans buttons to contrast the textured needlecord and added matching sliders to my straps so I can adjust them if they shrink or stretch over time. For the facings I used a beautiful pink and navy Rifle Paper Co quilting cotton. I don’t own an overlocker so I finished the edges with the double zigzag stitch on my sewing machine with the overedge foot.
You can't really see the
When I bought this fabric from Sew Me Sunshine I had planned to turn it into yoga leggings but, being a lightweight scuba, it doesn’t quite have the stretch percentage that leggings patterns usually require. When I tested it against the stretch gauge of a few patterns, it did reach the minimum stretch marker but the print was distorted and the fabric became see-through – not what you want when you’re doing the downward-facing dog.
With my mind still set on making leggings, I decided to try sizing up, reducing the amount of negative ease to make up for the difference in stretch percentage. Expecting my first attempt to be a disaster, I ordered some extra fabric – this time from Sewloco. Lucy left a note with my order mentioning the Sew out of this World challenge so I thought I’d take part with my leggings.
This project was perfect for mission one – To Infinity and Beyond! (sewing out of your comfort zone) – as whenever I've made an alteration in the past (other than my usual small bust adjustment and shortening of the bodice) it's always ended in disappointment so I often try to avoid patterns that require lots of adjustments. I've wanted to make trousers for a long time so leggings are a good first step since knit fabric stretches to the shape of the body so it doesn't require as many fitting adjustments.
I had some Seamwork credits left over so I decided to use the Manila leggings pattern. It's designed for double knit and ponte fabrics so it has a smaller amount of negative ease than other leggings patterns. It also includes an interesting petal cuff detail and a thin waistband which looks better on my body shape than the wide band of the Shelly leggings.
Because of the stretch content of the fabric, I chose my size based on the finished garment measurements – a size L which gave me 1” of negative ease. I have large calf muscles so I compared my measurement to the pattern pieces and found there
The sun’s out and I have nothing to wear - the dresses I made last year no longer fit me! I’ve started running again to get back in shape but in the meantime I’m making some loose fitting dresses that I’ll still be able to wear when I’m back to my usual size.
This is the McCall’s M7381 dress which features a lined bodice with a tie front and a pleated skirt. I got this pattern free with Love Sewing magazine which includes sizes XS-XXL (4-26) but if you're buying the pattern from elsewhere, the pattern comes in two sizes: XS-M (4-14) and L-XXL (16-26). If you're buying from the McCall’s website you can choose a size by clicking on the size range next to the quantity box (it’s not immediately obvious as they’ve removed the default select box styles for some reason).
I made this dress in a size XS last year in exactly the same fabric and the sleeves, waist and bust fit perfectly but the shoulders were a little too narrow (this is a common fitting issue for me and I’ve since learnt to check for this by measuring the pattern pieces and subtracting the seam allowance). Here's a picture of the one I made last year – my photography has definitely improved!
This time I made a size M with no adjustments. The shoulders fit perfectly but I‘ll try a small bust adjustment next time because there is far too much ease in the chest area and it bulges out when I sit down. Other than that, I’m happy with the fit and length (for reference, I’m 5’5” and it ends just above my knee).
When I made this dress last year, it was my first time using a Big Four pattern and I had trouble finding the finished garment measurements. For anyone else having the same problem, the finished measurements can be found on the individual pattern pieces (just