A Little Bit of Red Lace… and a Cat

I’m so glad to be home, and boy did I miss all the cat and dog cuddles.* They were in good hands, but it’s hard to be away from our zoo.

During most of August I had little time to even sew or think about sewing so it was fun to have my mini sewing machine with me on our holiday. My Janome managed to get most of the way through a bra project until I ran out of bobbin thread, so the second thing I did (after the pet cuddling of course) before even unpacking was to finish off this red lace set.

I’ve used the old standby pattern again–Pin-up Girls Classic, with the adjustments for stretch I made on my last lace bra. I’ve been far adrift in bra-drafting-land for the last couple of months, and have made more tester bras than any finished project. It’s armed me with a few good ideas for bra-making tutorials! But it’s still nice to be able to have an easy project and familiar pattern to fall back on. The hipsters are a recent draft, and not my favorite–they’re a little too low cut. I’ve made a lot of underundies that I just don’t like so I think it’s time I focused on those for awhile and at the very least copied my favorites. My absolute favorite unmentionables are $29 a pop. I know, crazy.

This time I paid extra careful attention to the seam allowances on the front where the lace scallops meet the bridge.

I thought you might want to see how the tiny decolette elastic is sewn to the top of scalloped cups. This is a little colored ribbon elastic that Merckwaerdigh sometimes includes in their kits, but many of my favorite bras use a 1/8″ clear elastic for the same purpose–to help the cups stay flat. It has to be stitched onto the cups before they are sewn into the band, so the channeling can seal it up.

All the materials are from a Merckwaerdigh kit. Kits are such a great way to dive into bra-making so you don’t have to mess around with collecting all the odds and ends, but I’ve not always been ecstatic about the materials or elastic quality and color. The lace is always pretty. One of the ways around the bra-notions-collecting conundrum is to buy the basics in bulk. Some of my best elastic came from Bramakers Supply but their costs can be pretty hefty. Sew Sassy is much closer to my home (shout out to Alabama!), has nice lingerie elastic that gets cheaper by the bulk, and some great prices on hook and eye tape and channeling and whatnot, so I plunged and bought enough notions for 10 bras, which came to about $4 a project. Sweet! Now of course if you’re going the bulk route, you have one color to stick with, but if it’s white that’s nothing 30 minutes in a pot of good ole Rit Dye can’t change. Here’s a little peak at a test bra I made this summer with all the elastics dyed to match:

Have any of you dyed elastic before? I’d love to hear about your experience…

*Oh, and this is Charlie. He has a twin brother, T-Bone, who’s hiding under the bed.

Normally Charlie is shy but he liked my tripod or maybe the dangling camera strap.

See how I managed to finally sneak a cat photo in after a year and a half of blogging?


Sewing On the Road

During the first two years Derek and I were married, we were traveling almost non-stop. How it all ended up this way is a long story but the short version is that I fell in love with a man who has a huge taste for adventure. We had a whirlwind courtship, a two-week engagement, and were married in Prague. In the beginning our apartment felt more like a playground than a home. We wanted to sleep on the beach in Barcelona more than own furniture. Our Czech apartment on our wedding day, ten years ago this summer:

{The groom wore a white silk suit that he calls his Pentecostal preacher suit. I still have no idea where he found this and think he had the better costume! I scrounged mine up from a sale at Zara.}

I really like being a homebody now, so much so that when we travel I tend to want to bring my homesteader hobbies with me. And Derek likes to remind me I don’t have lightweight hobbies. I know with a little ingenuity some folks can make great art with an phone camera but sigh, I’m not one of those people. I like tools. I hauled a 40-lb bag of compost from Belgium to Poland during my phase of “pretend gardening” with little potted plants when we were making lots of road trips. I attracted a lot of affectionate looks toting a massive purple metal watering can through Heathrow airport. (I just had to have it, and the English have THE BEST gardening tools.) And so lately I’ve been wanting to take my sewing whenever I go somewhere.

Have you seen these before? Derek’s so cool, he looked at the box and said, “Look at that, it’s a Ja-NOH-mee Mini!” I never knew that’s how you pronounced Janome. And there ya go.

This is a $50 machine and weighs less than a pair of shoes and is about twice the width of my hand. I’d read about it on a couple of quilty blogs as being a decent machine to tote around so I thought, why not? It actually has a nice feed, although it’s verrry slow and there’s no speed control. There’s no light, but it has six stitches, including 3 zig-zags, goes backwards and forwards and that’s pretty much all I really need!

Of course I probably should’ve packed it better because it begs to be broken. Have you seen the way those guys throw suitcases onto the conveyer? The plastic bobbin winder broke off in my suitcase, and I ran out of bobbin thread before I could finish my project. But if any of you have a hankering for a travel machine, I’d definitely give this a cute and very useful thumbs up.

See, I got my lingerie-sewing fix.

And it sure beats hauling compost for a sense of home.


Late Summer Escapes

Well hello again. I’m writing this post from a somewhat sunny California, on a much-needed rest at the tip of summer’s end. Sometimes space is good, nobody knowing where you are is good.

That I’m wearing a windbreaker should give you an idea of how happy I am! When I last saw Texas, the heat was still pretty killer. I experience a certain late-summer languishing akin to those late-winter blues in climates that actually have a sense of winter. Too hot to think, too hot to get inspired about clothes! I’ve been traveling quite a bit and have hardly been home in the last month but I’m hoping some of this time away from heat and le blog and interweb activity will bring some fresh perspective and direction, both in my sewing and my writing.

Not that I haven’t been sewing or at least thinking about it! My free time has been filled with visions of pretty underthings and a few experiments in my own designs. Friends, I am utterly taken with lingerie design. Making my first bra a year ago tapped into something deeper for me–more than just another thing I’d like to learn how to make. Gardeners often talk about “signature plants” and my flowers became sweet peas. I even tried breeding my own varieties. Their history, fragrance, short-lived ephemerality, small but radiant blossoms and attraction to bees essentialized everything I loved about flowers. You can probably see the connection. I might have to stop myself from turning this into a lingerie blog! But seriously, I might start a regular feature on lingerie design, sewing and sourcing.

But first things first. Thank you for your sweet comments about my silk bra. It’s already become one of my favorite bras and definitely one of better-fitting ones I’ve made. I can’t wait to get back home and experiment some more with the pattern. Several comments gave me some good ideas for later later posts. Katherine asked me about how I adjusted my patterns for stretch and this is a little something I’ve been researching and working on, with a help of a few books about lingerie design. I’ve even come up with a geeky cool calculator that is helping me adjust pieces for different stretch percents. In an upcoming post/s I will share more ideas on how to adapting and fitting bra patterns.

Now to catch up on all your lovely blogs… Or just keep enjoying the bits of cool sunshine on my face.