My Favorite Bra (Plus Adventures in Lingerie!)

MY SEWING MACHINES ARRIVED!!! As I’m sure many of you can understand, words cannot express my joy. I may not have a house yet (we are currently crashing with the in-laws), but I have my beloved machines back, so all is well.

Of course, I decided to celebrate their return by embarking on a looooong project, the Grainline Cascade Duffle Coat. So unfortunately you probably won’t see any new makes on the blog for a while. However, I do have another old one to share with you!

Several months ago, when I was still in the midst of my bra-making frenzy, I decided to be practical and make a nude bra that I could wear underneath light-colored tops and dresses. Naturally, this bra quickly rose to the top of my favorites list, since I could wear it with literally anything and not have to worry about a darker lace or mesh showing through. Also, it’s pretty!

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You probably recognize the pattern by now – my bra TNT, the Marborough Bra by Orange Lingerie. The fabric is left over from previous bra projects, and the elastics and findings are from Blackbird Fabrics. The underarm and bottom band elastics are actually a pale mint green – a lovely detail that still remains invisible underneath light-colored tops.

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I fully lined the cups with a light mesh, and stabilized the lace with clear elastic. Speaking of lace – that’s by far my favorite part! This lace is from Britex, a store that I will miss a lot now that I’m no longer on the west coast. I added a nice lace detail to the frame, which I hadn’t done before:

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That little detail really elevates this piece from “merely practical” to “fancy yet functional.” This bra has gotten a LOT of use, needless to say!

I also wanted to note that, in addition to my “Adventures in Sewing” and “Adventures in Knitting” pages at the top of my site, I have added an “Adventures in Lingerie” section, since that seems to be a separate “branch” of sewing from my usual garments. I’m definitely catching the lingerie bug again, and will probably need to make a small herd of bras once my coat is finished to get it out of my system!

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Back to Basics, Black Blazer Edition

Every time I move, my wardrobe gets a real workout – I have to pick and choose those few garments that will a. fit in a suitcase, b. mix-and-match to the max, c. cover a variety of social/professional situations, and d. provide maximum comfort for travel and moving. That’s a lot to ask of just a few items! Since moving usually entail interviews for new jobs, etc., I have to make sure to include at least one work-worthy outfit, since I never know when the rest of my things will arrive (my sewing machines – and most of my wardrobe – are *still* in transit!! Agh!).

Anywho, that long, blabby paragraph exists simply to preface another one of my late-2015 creations: the perfect black blazer. Which has turned out to be the saving grace of my suitcase, since it dresses up most outfits while providing the necessary warmth to combat the now-frigid northeast.

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The pattern is, yet again, my beloved Morris Blazer by Grainline Studio. To make the piece even more versatile, I lengthened the sleeves to full-length instead of 3/4 to allow for more layering possibilities. I managed to accumulate a lot of 3/4-length sleeves while in San Francisco, which, sadly, will not be as useful back east, since the New England doesn’t stick to that “sweet spot” of 65 degrees for very long each year. Alas.

But back to the blazer. The fabric I used is a strangely spongey stable knit. It was a bit of a pain to topstitch – I’m still not thrilled with the job I did – but other than that, behaved reasonably well. It also vehemently resisted pressing, and I ended up having to use a taylor’s ham like a wooden clapper (since I don’t own a clapper) to get them to lay flat.

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The fabric also has a fun geometric pattern woven into it that adds some extra interest to an otherwise plain garment. I especially like how the pattern mirrors the shape of the shawl collar (yes, that was intentional…).

In other news, I’m getting ready to (hopefully!) get started on the coat project I mentioned in my last post by tracing the pattern, which is quite a task, since it has over 20 pieces! I’ve decided to do the Grainline Cascade Duffle Coat, view B, since that seems the most practical for New England winters. Now I just need my sewing machines and my fabric to arrive from the west coast…hmph…

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New Dress, New City, New Year!

Hey everyone, remember me??? It feels like years have past since my last blog post – that’s how crazy life has been. I do have a good excuse, though – I moved across the country! Again! That’s right, folks; I am once more a resident of the East Coast. Around Thanksgiving, my husband was interviewing for a job back east “on a whim,” and a few whirlwind weeks later, I found myself backing boxes like my life depended on it. Crazy how quickly things can move when you least expect it. CRAZY.

So, at the moment, all of my precious sewing accouterments are being shipped in large crates across the country. We are staying with family until we either a. find a place to rent or b. buy a house. SAY WHAT?? Needless to say, it will probably be a while before I am able to post my “first makes of 2016!” In the meantime, however, I do have a “final make of 2015” to share, as well as a few reflections and goals for the coming year.

First off, a pretty dress:

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When I found out at the beginning of December that we were going to be moving in just a few weeks, I of course responded by stress sewing. Rather conveniently, this news also coincided with my husband’s holiday work party. So, naturally, I decided that the best course of action was to sew an entire dress – including tracing and fitting a new pattern – the day of the party. And I had to work that afternoon. But somehow, it all came together in time (well, almost – the hem is still basted in :P), and my manic sewing episode actually did help me sort through some of my anxiety about the move.

The pattern is Tilly’s Lilou dress from Love and First Stitch, which I modified slightly to ensure a proper fit. Since I was so short on time and this was my first time making the pattern, I took a bodice pattern that I had already fitted and tested, and traced the neckline and armhole shape onto it. I’m soooo glad I did, because it meant that I didn’t need to make any more fit adjustments as I attempted to break me land-speed sewing record. The fit isn’t quite perfect (the shoulders are a teensy bit too long), but it’s good enough for a special occasion dress.

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The fabric was one of my Black Friday scores from Fabric Outlet in SF. The whole week after Thanksgiving, everything was 40% off, which I used this as an excuse to do some serious retail therapy. I also got two gorgeous lengths of wool coating in anticipation of the frozen tundra of the northeast. Goodness knows I’ll need it!

Speaking of coats, that leads nicely into my goals for 2016! While I have several specific goal projects in mind, my over-arching goal for the year is not to force anything I don’t feel like doing. I was re-reading my goals from last year in preparation for this post, and saw that one of them was to post on this blog twice a week. HA. I realized soon after that that very goal was the kiss of death for me posting regularly, because it set up a guilt-procrastination-more guilt loop every time I didn’t meet my goal. So above all, I want to keep things fun and as stress-free as possible.

With that in mind, here are a few projects I’d love to make, or at least start:

-a winter coat. As I mentioned above, I already have the wool. Now I’m just debating which pattern to choose…

-more jeans. I’ve worn my current Ginger jeans to near oblivion, so I clearly need more!

-more work clothes, especially blouses. Honestly, I’m not that thrilled to sew these, but I really need them, and I’m trying to create an entirely handmade wardrobe so…we’ll see. Not holding my breath on this one.

-my sister’s wedding dress. YUP. I have a feeling this one might trump all of the above…

And I’m going to leave it at that. It could be months before I even have a sewing space, so for now my goal is to be patient, role with the punches, and try not to let the chaos of it all phase me too much. The changes have only just begun, and we have so much left to do before we can truly “settle down.”

To close, I just wanted to mention a few reflections on the past year. I feel like sewing took a bit more of a back seat than it had in 2014, but I’m ok with that, because I had such a full life in San Francisco. And I have to admit, I’m very sad to have to leave such a wonderful city. Even though I was only there for 16 months, I really lived there, if you know what I mean. I still can’t believe how lucky and blessed I was with the opportunities that came my way and the people with whom I shared them. In so many ways, this was the best year of my life to date.

So, here’s to looking at you, 2015. We sure had a heck of a time together.

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