Quick Weekend Therapy Sewing

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It was probably inevitable that I would end up with a fabric stash problem. I’m a pack rat by nature, I like to have things around that just might come in handy someday. I don’t mind having some basics (and not-so-basics) kicking around for when the urge strikes. What I have more trouble coming to terms with is the scraps. I can’t seem to throw away anything bigger than a square foot, so a frustrating portion of the stash ends up being these pieces lingering from finished projects. They do come in handy—for contrast details, bias tape making, piping, pocket linings; and the kids will dive through them from time to time, especially when Tyo is in a monster-making mood, but in general the amount generated is more than the amount used, and they’re frustrating.

The best way I’ve found to deal with them (when I have the time) is to just keep making stuff from the fabric leftovers until it’s all gone. This often gets derailed by other priorities, of course, but one can try (and at least the machine is all threaded up in the right colour.)

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I had not quite a metre (very oddly shaped) of this stretch lace left from a far more exciting yet less practical project that has yet to be blogged, pending a proper photo-shoot. >_< Anyway, I having already cut some Rosy Ladyshorts (cute pattern, free, go make some) from it, I figured I would see if I could squeeze a simple long-sleeved tee out of it using my handy-dandy old knit sloper.

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Obviously, I could. Not much to say, just a few details—for a light neckline finish I serged a band of white jersey to the neck, folded to the inside, and topstitched down with a zig-zag; it’s soft, a little tidier than just adding clear elastic, but not too heavy, so I think it pretty much hit the mark for what I was going for.

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The sleeve hems I just serged and folded over and topstitched—nothing special.

I added a band for the hem, as I have for most of my recent knit-top makes, because it’s both easy and nice-looking, which is a rare combination. ;)

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I then needed a camisole of some kind to make the thing wearable. I made one from some cream cotton-lycra jersey; this is really a wardrobe staple I’ve been avoiding making for probably as long as I’ve been making clothes here.

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I hacked my knit sloper into a wide-necked curve, (maybe a little wider than ideal, but it echoes the scooped neckline of the lace overlay well) and made a little tank-top.

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I didn’t have any fold-over elastic in the right colour, however, so I made bands using strips of jersey. If I had been willing/able to to make them as bindings, with the edges folded in, it would’ve worked really well, but with bands turning into knit tubes for the straps… well, there’s an ugly spot at the join. Some hand-stitching could probably pretty it up, but it’s not an ideal method.

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On the whole, though, it works, and both will be useful (if not terribly seasonal) wardrobe staples.

The only tragedy is that I burnt out the motor of my White, which is my go-to machine for knits (other than the serger) about halfway round the hem of the camisole. That was a lot of hand-wheeling to get it finished. >_< Next question: is it worth it to fix such a machine? A new motor can be had online for about thirty bucks (although Sew Classic won't ship them to Canada, apparently. Boo.) and my father-in-law has the know-how to attach one if I can get the right size and mounting-brackets. (This is still more money than I spent on the whole machine, by the way.) It's an internal motor, but still belt-driven and looks just like the external ones, to my untutored eye, anyway. /sigh. It was also my favourite machine to do buttonholes with the buttonholer attachment on. Double sigh.

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Of course, there’s still a little bit of the lace left. Time for another pair of ladyshorts?

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Jeans for the Cool Kid

The Happy Teenager

The Happy Teenager

Tyo’s been making out like a bandit this year. I mean, really—Syo got some yoga pants she doesn’t like and a quick stretch-knit birthday suit, and Tyo has racked in a pikachu onesie, an Avengers grad dress, and now this. I realize in terms of project numbers they’re similar (and both low… but my sewing time is at an insane premium these days, peeps), but if you look at hours committed… Tyo is way ahead. Obviously I have some parental imbalance to redress. (In my defense, Syo has benefited from at least a couple of other things that never made it on the blog, but still nothing that required more than a couple of hours to knock out on the serger.)

But anyway, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and Tyo was so very, very squeaky about this project. She was starting high school (which, in our neck of the woods, starts in Gr. 9, or roundabouts age 14), and very nervous, and determined that she had to make the most badass first impression ever. Her father was committed to drive her to school for the first day on the motorcycle. She campaigned for (although she didn’t get) freshly-blue hair.  (I like the blue hair just fine—it’s the pain in the ass of getting it applied, followed by the days of blue-getting-everywhere (blue towels. Blue bedsheets. Blue bathroom. Blue clothing.) that drive me nuts.)

But she did get a pair of jeans.

I haven’t made Tyo a pair of jeans in, um, a long time. There were these shorts, over two years ago. The last pair of Jalie jeans was 2011. This was around the time Tyo became a reluctant (but eventually fervent) convert to the Cult of the Skinny Jeans, at which point the lifespan of a pair of jeans on a growing child became numbered in months, rather than seasons or years. Handmade disposable pants? Even with a little sister and littler cousins for hand-me-downs, this was Not Happening—I declared a jeans-for-kids moratorium. Actually, I declared a moratorium on any jeans that cost more than $10… thrift store scores only, it was.

But, lately, that pesky growing thing that children do has slowed down for Tyo, and this was a big occasion, and she had a very specific idea she was very excited about. And, well, she’s been stealing all my shorts for months. So I had her go try on my most recent pair of jeans for myself. And, while she’d probably rather be shot than seen on the internet in floral jeans, the fit was pretty much spot on except for length.

It’s a very weird feeling any time someone else puts on your carefully crafted, custom-fitted handmade clothes and they FIT—it’s even weirder, IMO, when it’s your daughter. At least I’m still taller than her, unless she gets a grade-9 growth spurt, anyway.

So the good news was, I didn’t need to trace another copy of my pattern—just take a few inches out of the length. And Tyo wanted her vision completed badly enough she was even willing to help cut the fabric.

The cutter.

The cutter. (In my floral jeans, although you can’t actually assess the fit in this picture)

Which is not a thing that happens, ever. So yeah.

As for the Vision behind the Pants? Well, we don’t have Hot Topic in Canada (at least, not in my backwater corner of things), but Tyo has a dear friend whose parents are, um, a little more well-heeled than we (mind you that does describe a fairly large chunk of the Canadian population) and tend to take their children on cross-border shopping trips of fairly epic proportions (Fellow Canadians should note we are not part of the 80% of Canada’s population that lives within a two-hour drive of the US border. Such trips require hours of driving and hotel stays). And said dear friend had a pair of Hot Topic jeans that were one colour on one side, and another colour on the other side. So we scoured the stash for the best black denim, and then went through all the purples (how on earth did I end up with four different lenghs of purple denim? I may have a Problem.) to find one which best matched, which turned out to be this totally-intense primary (OK, secondary) purple. That I couldn’t photograph in true colour to save my life, but anyway. It’s a very bright, clear purple.

One good thing about cutting jeans this way—you pretty much have to cut in a single layer, which is a good idea anyway if you want jeans that hang straight, but I am lazy and always talk myself into cutting folded. Sometimes I get away with it, sometimes I get really annoying twisty seams.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say about the actual construction, except that I did modify things for a stitched-on fly extension, which I think I prefer to the cut-on one all my other jeans have had to date (storebought jeans always have one that is stitched on—I think the seam gives needed reinforcement to the fly edge, especially in stretchy jeans). It’s obviously not a make-or-break detail, and I’m still not terribly comfortable with how you do a fly this way, since it’s a bit different and I did end up having to do some unpicking… but it’s a thing to work on, anyway.

Back Pockets

Back Pockets

Tyo specified that the main construction should keep colour to its appropriate side—probably a good thing. Left to myself I would probably have colourblocked everything, and it would have ended up looking really busy. As it is, I couldn’t resist swapping the back pockets and the belt-loops, and I’m not sure if it adds to the overall look or takes away. Minimalism might have been a better idea. Oh, well. I do like the doubled belt-loops at the sides as well as the back.

Two buttons

Two buttons

I finally remembered, after regretting it my last couple of projects, that my currently-favourite-waistband pattern piece is a bit wide, and the jeans buttons I can get a hold of here are a bit small, so a single button results in a rather insecure attachment that lets the waistband roll over in weird ways. Two buttons, however, is perfect. (I also made Tyo try them on while I marked the button location, so I don’t THINK I need to move them over, which I still have to do with my flower jeans, because the position that looks like it’s lined up  nicely when the jeans are laying flat is actually too “loose” when the jeans are on a body and the waistband is under tension—leading to chronically-low-flying flies.

One final detail, which you probably noticed in the earlier pictures, was inspired by some jeans a character in one of our favourite family TV shows, Lost Girl, wears. I can’t find any good shots, but I screen-capped this one:

 

Kenzi's laced-up jeans

Kenzi’s laced-up jeans

 

The Kenzi character wears at least a couple pairs in this style, with the sneaky inner-thigh lacing, which I knew Tyo loves as much as I do. And, Fabricland recently started carrying some fairly sturdy grommet-tape (where was this stuff two years ago when I was looking for it for the steampunk Hallowe’en costumes?!?)

Lacing!

Lacing!

So I added some. It was ridiculously simple to do, although its obviously a bit of a different look than the inspiration. Still, a fun, unique detail, and definitely one no one else has.

We took a bout a bazillion photos of Tyo in the jeans, but it was the end of the day and we were rushed so there was a lot of blur and not a lot that did the jeans justice.

I’ll still subject you to them anyway.

Back view, with pockets and blur.

Back view, with pockets and blur.

I should note one more thing: these are not true “skinnies.” They were made according to my personal favourite leg-style, which I would call a stovepipe—tapered and form-fitting to the knee, absolutely straight below it, which creates jeans that are snug through the calf but not actually skinny in the ankle. I asked Tyo if she wanted them skinnified, but she said she likes this shape, and it doesn’t seem to have decreased the cool factor (although it has its drawbacks when we get to stuffing-pants-into-winter-boots weather).

Great pose, plenty of blur.

Great pose, plenty of blur.

'Tude.

‘Tude.

I did try them on, but lucky for Tyo, they’re just a little bit too short. :P

Obviously this first-day-of-school project is a bit out of date at this point >_<—I’m currently working on a Hallowe’en costume for the Stylish sister-in-law, and hating it mostly because it’s not for MEEEEEE, and dying to work more on ridiculous historical clothing projects that I have no actual need for. Not that I have a need for much clothing, at the moment, other than perhaps warm fuzzy things to get me through the impending winter. Hopefully I’ll manage to blog some of that in a more reasonable time-span… hah.

In the meantime, I’ll just be happy that my kid still thinks the things I make are “cool”.

At least sometimes. ;)

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A quickie

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I’ve been starting a lot of projects but not finishing much. /sigh. Never a good sign. But when this scrap of knit jacquard (can knits be jacquards?) threw itself in my path last week, I thought that maybe it would be something quick enough that I could actually get it out. It was a piece as-is, a cut barely over half a metre, but it had the most gorgeous roses pattern, and it obviously needed to be the world’s simplest knit skirt.

Simple knit skirt.

Simple knit skirt.

It didn’t end up being quite as simple as I might have liked. The wider feature of the roses wasn’t centred on the panel, but I wanted it centred on the skirt—I figured I’d cut the panel so the roses were centred, with a single seam at the back. As it turned out, this wasn’t quite wide enough, so I had to add a narrow panel to the back. We’ll call it a feature.

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I took the opportunity to use a bit of snuggly-soft grey elastic I’ve been hoarding as an exposed waistband. Possibly black would’ve been a better choice as the grey is a bit lighter than the charcoal in the skirt, but I think it works, and it’s every bit as comfy and snuggly as I had hoped it would be.

Waistband

Waistband

Since it’s visible, I didn’t just want to overlap my elastic; so I sewed it right-sides together and then topstitched the seam allowances down to the sides to flatten them. This may not have been the cleanest way to finish the waistband, but it’s serviceable, and it won’t likely be seen often anyway.

I used Steam-a-Seam in the hem and finished it off by hand with catch-stitches for lots of stretch. And that’s about as complicated as even I can make a simple knit skirt.

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It’s almost nice enough to make me excited for fall…

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The Ultimate Sundress

Fabric, Pattern

I’m getting so I have a lot of sundresses. This is mostly OK, since I wear them quite a lot when the weather cooperates (although a lot of them are white, which is less good). But one can never have too many of a Useful Wardrobe Item, especially something distinctive like a sundress.

I bought this fabric more than a year ago, because I fell totally in love with the stylized floral print. Totally, completely in love. It’s a fabric I have sat and patted many a time in the months since, a stretch cotton sateen, which has to be one of my favourite fabrics of all time, by the way. I knew I wanted it to be a flared-skirt sundress; I bought three metres, figuring that would be enough for most anything I could decide to make with it. Then a few weeks later, I found the last metre folded up in the remnant bin. A week or more after that, it was still there. It came home with me. Butterick XXXX was a real possibility, except after I made the Picnic Dress I didn’t really think my wardrobe needed two. Vogue 2429, in the simple flared skirt version, became the new plan. And then it sat. And sat.

Back on Canada Day (July 1st), I checked my schedule and realized that, between my two jobs, I had no days off before July 20th. Faced with the grim reality, I managed to wrangle a personal day (so, one day off!) and committed to self-care in the meantime. Which, for me, means mostly sewing. So I was determined to make something satisfying, simple, and self-indulgent. This sundress fit the bill.

A simple little dress

I usually make a size twelve, but knowing that my fabric was a stretch, and wanting the option to wear it sans-bra, I made the size ten at the bust, grading up to twelve at the waist. I shortened the bodice a wee bit (though the darts are a bit high so perhaps I could have shortened more), and did my usual sway-back adjustment. I keep resolving to skip this on a full-skirt pattern and see what I can get away with, but the skirt for this one, which looks flared on the envelope, is really not much more than a gentle A-line. .

Front view

Front view

It’s actually the only thing I wasn’t super-thrilled with about the dress—I didn’t want a full circle skirt, but a half-circle at least might have been nice. Anyway, I didn’t fuss around with pattern-matching or any of that, so I got this wee little dress out of 1.5m of fabric—meaning I have enough left to try again if I should feel the need. It actually looks really good from the side, but I feel like the skirt looks a bit narrow and flat from straight on.

Piping!

Piping!

The only fun detail I added was a touch of self-piping just along the top of the bodice; since it’s a straight seam I didn’t even bother cutting a strip on the bias, just on the stretchy cross-grain.

Innards

Innards

The bodice is lined with white stretch poplin (left over from the flower jeans), and I used some wide flat-fold bias-tape for a narrow faced hem since I may have cut the skirt a bit on the short side, and I like facing curved hems.

Faced hem

Faced hem

The skirt isn’t lined, but I often wear it with my half-slip as it seems to sit over the hips just a bit better with something slippery underneath.

Hem

Hem

I love how invisible the hem is.

The best shot. /sigh.

Good dress. I intend to wear the snot out of it, for the few more weeks that the weather allows…

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Happy stripey dancey fun.

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It’s been a dancey-sewing summer around here. Probably inspired by having some fun performances happening, although the vast majority of the sewing wasn’t related to that—it has still been fun to have some exciting new gear to wear to class. And, it’s all knits which are quick and satisfying, which is important for me right now always.

Anyway, one of my sewy friends made the mistake, a few weeks ago, of lamenting over a black & purple striped spandex fabric she’d picked up some ends of a few years ago, and never actually used (her sewing has been rudely interrupted by that whole having-children thing the last few years). And then yesterday, while ogling her stash during a visit, she said if there was anything I wanted to use desperately, just let her know—she’d rather see it used than languish in her basement.

Dancey pose!

Dancey pose!

Moments later I was cradling two or three metres of gorgeous fabric in my greedy little arms. I did leave her the other end piece (a metre and a half or so) for some future swimsuit.

It was time for some more Fauxlodias, and, of course, a matching crop-top,

Pants. Jalie 2033 hack.

Pants. Jalie 2033 hack.

For the pants, I pulled out Jalie 3022 again, plus my add-on swoosh.

Swoosh.

Swoosh.

I didn’t want any extra seams in the back to have to match stripes across, though, so I attached the swoosh to the outseam and fudged the two back pieces into one. The back seam is pretty much straight except for a tiny dart incorporated into it at the top—i just shaved an amount equivalent to half the dart off the outseam and centre back seams. Not terribly scientific, but these are knits we’re talking about. Yay, knits. Oh, and after checking that the stretch lengthwise was similar to the stretch widthwise, I decided to run my stripes up the legs of the pants vertically. Less stripe matching to do that way. Also looking cool.

Ruched foldover waistband

Ruched foldover waistband

I wanted to add a ruched, fold-over waistband/overskirt thingy, for a bit more interest and because my hips need all the oomph they can get. I got the inspiration for the construction from the mini-skirt on Jalie 2920, but I didn’t actually use that pattern because it’s over at my sister-in-law’s house since the last time I made leggings for little girls.

Back View

Back View

It’s a short skirt with side-seams, mirrored at the hem, so the hem ends up being on the fold. When sewing up the side-seams, I added clear elastiic, stretched as much as I could, so that they would gather themselves up. Then I sandwiched 1.5″ wide elastic between the two layers at the top, and serged the whole thing to the top of the pants. I decided to put the serged seam on the outside, so that it’s covered by the fold-over of the ruched-up “skirt” when you’re wearing it.

Pensive.

Pensive.

The crop-top is the top of the franken-pattern I put together for my red velvet dress, which is largely Kwik Sew 1288, with a few modifications for fit based on my Nettie, cut on the bias with CB and CF seams to make that fun chevron.

Crop top. Looks better on.

Crop top. Looks better on.

Because I’ve been aching for a good striped knit to try that chevron design. (OK, I could perhaps have tried it with my black and white striped spandex, but I didn’t think of it in time.)

Chevron!

Chevron!

This stripe isn’t quite as nice quality-wise as that black-and-white one, by the way, although it’s close. The fabric is a little thinner, and the stripes were a bit irregular in some places, which is really weird and makes it really hard to stripe-match. Fortunately it’s a knit, so the fit is fairly forgiving. For a finish, I just serged the edges, folded under, and topstitched with a triple-step zig-zag. I feel like this is a legitimate finish for dancewear, at least, if not for regular clothes. ;)

Back view (full)

Back view (full)

Of course, the best part is how excited I am to go to dance practice this week, so I can wear my new outfit… ;)

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Cover Up

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Cover Up, AKA Caftan

I made a cover-up. Better known as a caftan. We have some major (major by my standards, anyway) dance performances coming up and my instructor was giving me a rough time about my habit of throwing a tablecloth over my shoulder and calling that a cover-up. Sheesh. But it’s not as if I don’t have plenty of fabric in stash already earmarked for just such a project.

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With gold dress, for effect. Without head because I am too lazy to do makeup today.

I got the fabric from a friend who quilts; someone brought it back to her as a souvenir from India, but of course although cotton, it’s not at all a quilting fabric. Her loss. ;) It’s a very crisp, but thin and sheer fabric—I’ve never seen a cotton organza in the threads, so to speak, but this might be something like that, though maybe a bit heavier than organza ought to be. It’s a shot cotton, with warp threads of gold and weft threads of purple (or is it the other way around? Too lazy to look up my weaving terms right now, sorry), with a darker purple print overlaid on top, and I absolutely adore everything about the iridescent, multi-hued look that gives it, right down to the golden selvedges. I actually have a gloriously-70s caftan pattern, but it involves somewhat shaped side-seams, and I couldn’t bear to cut those gorgeous golden selvedges. So this one is made of whole cloth.

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Edging with bias tape.

Not all forms of dance have the concept of a cover-up—an easy-to-remove, all-engulfing piece of clothing that hides (or at least obscures) the costume before and after performance. Maybe because not all forms of dance have you, um, baring quite so much skin as bellydance can. Being a high school drama alumnus, I like to think of it as our version of “not breaking curtain,” since only rarely do we have a show with an actual backstage where we can hide before performance. Ideally, a cover-up is great to look at, without being so eye-catching it detracts from another performer.

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Closeup, with selvedge and trim

It’s the simplest form of clothing construction after the toga—fold in half, slit one half up the middle for a front opening, widening into a space for the head. I finished the neck and front opening with bias-tape, since I had some that was the perfect gold to match the selvedges. It’s a bit heavier than I might have chosen, but when else am I ever going to use harvest gold bias tape? I attached it with the “applique” stitch, and then got cocky and figured I’d add another row of applique stitch with the meandering vine in between (I have a very limited array of decorative stitches that aren’t strictly zig-zag based). The White did not like doing the applique stitch along the outer edge of the bias tape, and whenever I got too close to it the stitch dissolved in a mess of edge-wrapping and skipped stitches, and I’d probably be picking them all out except that I’m pretty sure trying to match up those stitches would look just as bad (and it’s a costume so theoretically no one is looking closely anyway. Right? Right? K, I’m glad I’m not being graded on this. My gorgeous Indian cotton deserves much better, I know. *hangs head in shame.*

 

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Bias-tape neckline, actually not completely standing up.

My biggest fear, when it came to the bias-tape finish, was that it would be too heavy and end up puckered or stretched out and just ugly-looking. While it’s far from perfect, I think I managed pretty well (helped in no small measure by the lovely, crisp cotton), and while I didn’t have the foresight to try to pre-iron my neck-surrounding portions into shape, a bit of stretching and squishing while sewing, plus a little more than a bit of steamy pressing after sewing, and it’s all lying a lot better than I thought it might, really.

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Although not really inclined to, the front is capable of overlap. I could pin it if I really needed to stay shut, but mostly it needs to be something that can come off and on quickly.

For the side-seams, I marked a point under the arm (12″ down from the shoulder-fold and 10″ out from the centre, for those who might find such minutiae useful), and then angled out to the bottom corner. This gives me more width in the “skirt” at the botton, and something vaguely resembling trailing half-sleeves at the top. So it works.

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Back view, showing sleeve.

I tried to get a closeup of my hem (I used my rolled-hem foot on the regular sewing machine, with a long, wide zig-zag for a soft effect), but none of the photos seem to have made it onto this computer, so you’ll have to live without. No one in the real world will be looking at it, either.

I still love this fabric (which is good, because I don’t love caftans in general), though, and now I will get to use (wear) it, while also not getting accused of wearing a table-cloth. Win!

 

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Teeny little fix

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Over a year ago, I spent a slightly obscene, K-Line-worthy amount of money on this bra. It’s gorgeous, and when I tried it on, the fit was perfect—on the tightest hook, because it was a 32″ band and really, according to the bra-shop ladies, I should be wearing a 30″ band. Fortunately, they also offered free alteration with the purchase, and it would be quite easy to have it altered (and I hate altering things myself)—so, when I picked it up the next week, the bra was as gorgeous as ever, but the band was, invisibly, mysteriously, just a little shorter. Yay!

Except, when I got it home and put it on, something that I hadn’t noticed at all when trying it on happened—the wires dug in like CRAZY between the breasts. To the point where I couldn’t wear it after a few minutes, never mind all day. What the heck? How had I missed this at trying on? I was dismayed. Not to mention upset at the wasted money—no returns on altered bras, my friends.

But what could have gone wrong? It was really uncomfortable. Sometimes you don’t notice a little fit issue until you’ve worn something awhile, but this didn’t feel like that. This was too big a problem to have missed. So, perhaps it was a problem that hadn’t existed when I tried the bra on the first time. What had changed? Only the band length. How would that affect the wires digging in?

I examined the bra more closely. Sure enough, the bridge between the cups was distinctly stretchy. With the added tension on the band, I surmised that the bridge was stretching, too, throwing off the angle of the cups.

Did I mention I hate alterations? So it then sat in my underwear drawer for a year or so. Finally, in a fit of wardrobe purging this staycation, it had to either get fixed or go. I grabbed the first thing to come to hand, a scrap of silk charmeuse with some selvedge, and stitched a stay across the inside of the bridge. I think the silk will be perfect, strong and soft but not bulky.

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And tried it on and—no pokies!!!!

Not a glamorous or time-consuming bit of sewing, I know, but I wanted to document it just because it seemed like such a strange thing to throw off the fit of a bra. And such an easy fix. Why do we avoid these little chores so long? (Or am I the only one?)

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