Thursday, April 23, 2015

Self-drafted nursing tank and Women's Boxerwear

If the internet is to be believed (and everything on the internet is true) then it seems like bra/lingerie sewing can be addicting. There are new/better patterns surfacing and a lot of ladies are jumping on the trend, even making multiples of things. I knew I wanted to make a few items, mostly because fitting my entire body during a pregnancy is terrible. Since I was going to be ordering bra-making notions online, I carefully planned some projects to take best advantage. One such project was a self-drafted nursing tank.

After my first baby was born, my most favorite garment was this nursing tank from Target. I also love the Bravado Essential Nursing tanks. There's just something about the fabric and the fit that makes these two comfortable and practical. I FINALLY found a fabric that was similar (90% cotton and 10% spandex but with a super-soft cottony hand!) but I didn't even bother looking for a true nursing tank pattern. There might be some out there, but I wanted to try drafting my own.

The top/bra portion is a hack of the Anna Crossover Bra from Ohhh Lulu. I redrew the center portion so that it more closely resembles the Jasmine Bra, also from Ohhh Lulu. Remember that I had already fit the Anna (with a FBA) so I wasn't starting totally from scratch. The bottom portion of the tank is from the Sami Cami, a free download from Iconic Patterns.

The bottom 1/2" of the Anna Crossover Bra pattern is meant to be used for sewing an elastic band. Instead, I used a 1/2" seam allowance to sew the bra portion to the cami portion, using my sewing machine. Then I used the 1/2" SA to create a casing for elastic, essentially making a shelf bra. I topstitched it with my coverstitch machine. Inspired by the Bravado tank, I also added a fusible knit interfacing inside the cup lining to reduce nipple show-through (I really wish there were a different way to describe that, but there ya go). The only photo I have is too dark to see so at least you're spared a visual!

I *think* the length isn't quite as long as I'd like, but it's hard to say with a giant belly distorting the shape! I ended up simply serging the bottom so I can reassess the fit after the baby is born.

What makes a nursing tank different from a regular tank is, of course, the straps/cups. Modeling the tank after my Target version, I used nursing clips, bra strapping, and clear elastic to create a drop-down cup.

The clips and strapping (among other items) were ordered from Sew Sassy Fabrics. It was pretty easy to create the assembly, as long as I had a model to follow! The clear elastic prevents the bra strap from flying back over your shoulder after you've unclipped the cup. If you have a nursing tank you know what I mean. If you don't, then it's likely you don't need a wordy explanation :)

This tank isn't perfect (the shaping of the cups is kind of wonky, visually) but it's fully functional. And it didn't cost $25! Actually, I received the fabric for free because I had a gift card for writing a contributor blog post. Boom! Almost free tank!

The only thing better than using free fabric is using up small cut pieces that are laying around taking up space. I decided to spring for the new Women's Boxerwear pattern from Stitch Upon a Time, a designer who gets a lot of love in my Facebook fabric groups. I have a big stack of men's boxer briefs that I wear all the time under skirts and dresses, but I was excited to try a "real" women's version. The verdict:

These. Are. Amazing.

I made one pair from the leftover black knit used for my nursing tank (the bird knit is a tiny scrap from this jersey at Girl Charlee), and then promptly made another pair from the remnants of this tank top. Woohoo matching set!

The pattern has options for short-shorts, longer shorts, low-rise, high-rise, hemmed legs or bands, knit waistband or elastic. Both of my pairs are the low-rise short-shorts. The pair with the bird use a knit waistband and the black/red pair use upcycled elastic as a waistband. Both use bands on the hems. No joke, you can sew a pair of these in a half hour. The instructions give you two options for the center panel, either enclosing the seams using the burrito method or treating the two layers as one and having exposed seams. I used the burrito method.

I simply adore both of these. I mean, how fun is the center panel with the bird?? The black fabric is cotton/spandex, the birds is cotton jersey, the black and red is cotton/rayon/spandex. I recommend a cotton/spandex knit for the majority of the boxers, but you can use cotton jersey for the center panels.

I'm seriously contemplating cutting a zillion more of these and leaving them for after the baby is born. They're so quick, easy, and satisfying that I can see them being a great boost to my mood when I have a quick second to sew.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An Impossible Me Made May?

Any other year, I look forward to Me Made May with excitement. I love the challenge of wearing handmade every day, and with the rise of Instagram it's even more fun to follow along with other sewists. But there's a bit of a monkey wrench in my life this year. Y'know, no big deal, just pushing a small human out of my body sometime mid-May.

The last two years, my MMM pledge has been to wear something handmade every day, with no repeats. Kind of insane, really, but I managed! That goal is absolutely not possible this year (I think?!?), which makes me sad. I hate the idea of moving "backwards" to a "lesser" goal, like allowing repeats or only doing it part-time. 

But what makes me more sad is the thought of not participating at all.

I've gone through my me-mades to see how many items I have that I can actually wear at this late stage of pregnancy:





That's 27 items (like...whoa). Not shown are a bunch of underthings and loungewear, which for the purpose of this challenge I'm totally counting. Yay for making up my own rules! I'm actually kind of shocked at the amount of items I have that I can wear, but they do skew towards colder weather. May in Indiana can range from a chilly 40 degree morning to a suffocating 90 degree afternoon. I think the biggest wardrobe hole here is some sort of maternity shorts or capris. My first child was born in February, so I never needed them. I have some ideas for upcycles to take care of that problem as the weather warms up. 

I'll be pregnant for the first half of May. Then there will be a few days in the hospital, and a few weeks home where I'm literally changing shape every day. And not sleeping. I'm putting a lot of emphasis on the maternity aspect, but in reality the time after birth is probably going to be more challenging. Expect to see a lot of me-made pajamas! 

By the way, does anyone have good ideas for me-mades I can wear in the hospital? Because yes, I'm the kind of person who thinks/obsesses about wearing handmade clothing in a hospital while giving birth. I have the wrong shaped head for headbands and already have been gifted some new jammies/robes to wear. Should I make another Anna Crossover Bra? Would it be cheating to wear a me-made fabric bracelet of some kind? Y'know, to complement the beautiful hospital bands I'll be wearing haha!

Enough waffling, it's time to make my pledge!

 'I, Beth Byrge of 110 Creations, sign up as a very pregnant participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2015, including the days spent delivering a baby in the hospital! Ideally, I will have no repeats, but give myself plenty of wiggle room as my body changes shape.'

For all the details on MMM and to make your own pledge, check out this sign up post from So, Zo... the genius behind the idea. Are you participating this year? 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Bahama Mama Swimsuit

Is it hot enough to swim in your neck of the woods? Yeah, me neither. But that didn't stop me from sewing a swimsuit in March! Actually, I was testing the Bahama Mama maternity add-on from Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop. I've been sewing Amy's children's patterns for years, but this was the first time I ventured into one of her women's patterns. The results, as always with PABPS, were awesome!

I honestly can't remember the last time I bought a children's pattern from another designer, that's how much I prefer Amy's designs. This maternity swimsuit lived up to all my expectations, even though I was very wary about sewing more swimwear

The pattern is actually two patterns, the boy shorts and the tankini (click here for the regular, non-maternity version of the top). Amy has plans to make more swimsuits so you can mix and match patterns. I made the boyshorts in a size small, with no modifications for pregnancy. The tankini is also a size small, using the maternity add-on pack. I'd say "small" is my pre-pregnancy size, though my bust size has increased while pregnant, which made it tricky to pick a size. I sewed in size D cups (from Wawak) into the shelf bra. It was a tight squeeze, a D cup into a small, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked out. The rest of the top is unlined to reduce bulk. The shorts are fully lined. You can sew the straps in a criss-cross or straight over the back, or tie them in a halter neck.

One of my biggest frustrations with the Bombshell suit I made last summer was the seam allowance, and the excessive use of the sewing machine over the serger. A SA of 1/4" plus my sewing machine plus slippery swim fabric just did not make for easy sewing. The Bahama Mama uses a 1/2" SA and the vast majority can be constructed on your serger. Happy dance! I still used a glue stick to baste in many places, just for my own sanity.

I'm fairly certain I'll be able to wear this suit when I'm no longer pregnant. It might be a bit long, but that's an easy fix with my coverstitch. Heck, I might even cut off the majority of the tankini and make a bikini instead. The printed fabric is from Girl Charlee (I used it to make leggings previously) and the black is from Jo-Ann's. The print is see-through when wet (whomp whomp) but the shelf bra covers up the important stuff. 

I have to apologize for these hideously sad photos. This suit is doomed. I live in land-locked Indiana, but we have a large lake with a beach nearby. The day I went to take these pictures it was 60 degrees and the beach was flooded.

I promise that when it's not flooded it looks more like a beach and less like a swamp. A goose-poop covered beach, but still a beach. This past weekend I went to an indoor aquatic center with the hopes of taking more photos...and their heater was broken. So the pool was closed. The lesson here: never tell a 3 year old you're going to go swimming until you're in the water.

If you're looking for a modest, easy to sew swimsuit, buy this pattern. I love sewing up black swimsuits so I can mix and match with RTW pieces (hello Target clearance with orphaned swimwear!). This would be an excellent starter pattern for anyone who hasn't tried a swimsuit yet. I'm so glad I got to test it out! While you're picking up this pattern, take a look at the brand new Tutu Cute Swimsuit for girls. It's 15% off today only to celebrate the release.

I received the Bahama Mama pattern for free in exchange for testing feedback and photos. I am an affiliate of Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop and have used affiliate links in this review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Mood Board of the Month: Unpredictable

April is another month of transition, and you need to be prepared for lots of different temperatures. This month, I'm inspired by fewer layers, shorter hems and sleeves, and lightweight fabrics.

// Patterns //
Love 'em or hate 'em, long culottes are all over the place this season. For great results, try the Liesl+Co. Girl Friday Culottes pattern. Balance the volume on bottom with a boxy top like McCall's 6927. If the weather cools down, throw on a chic boucle jacket using the Named Patterns Lourdes Cropped Jacket. When you're ready to head out for the weekend, keep it simple with a long-sleeved maxi dress. This Burda pattern is one of my most-pinned images this year!

// Fabric //
Sticking with our spring color palette, try some drapey navy linen-look (50% rayon) from Jo-Ann Fabrics for your culottes. Add a fun purple print with this bird voile, from Hawthorne Threads. Your boucle jacket will be extra versatile in a neutral wool from Mood. You'll look AND feel amazing in your maxi dress made from bamboo rayon jersey (SO. SOFT.) from

This post is not sponsored by any pattern designer or fabric seller. I wish. I just have too much time on my hands and love planning wardrobes! Check out my Mood Board of the Month Pinterest board for all the links to my inspiration.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Oliver+S Badminton Dress for Easter

Warning: I am not responsible for the cuteness overload in this post!

A few weeks ago I spoke with Organic Cotton Plus about doing a blog post/project involving their fabrics. I first heard about OCP a while back and even ordered (free!) swatches. I was impressed with their quality and jumped at the chance to work with them. After browsing the website and agonizing over the options (printed interlock for baby clothes! pink batiste for summer blouses! dragon poplin for...anything!) I ended up with two cuts of muslin and some cotton ribbon. I planned to make an Oliver+S Badminton Dress for AB, my 3 year old.

Organic Cotton Plus shipped FAST (like, two days!) and before long I had my goodies in-hand. Let me tell you, this is not your average muslin-making-muslin. Organic fabric truly does mean better quality.

Both cuts of fabric are SO SOFT. I prewashed, of course, and also prewashed the hand-dyed cotton ribbon per the OCP website (by hand with a little detergent in the bathroom sink). AB's closet is almost entirely knit fabrics. She's pretty picky about what she wears. If she doesn't like it, it comes off and I'll find it crumpled up in a corner of her room. But I'm happy to say that she wore this dress all day on Easter and never once threatened to take it off!

The colors are so vibrant in person, I don't think this photo does them justice.

I made one Badminton Dress about two years ago (blogged here) and it was always way too big. For the life of me, I couldn't find that dress to test the sizing now, so I made a quick muslin of the size 18-24m again since that was what size I already had traced. It was still too big through the chest, and too short. The final garment has 3" added to the length and 1 1/2" removed from both CF and CB. To remove circumference around the chest without losing it around the knees, I used the same method I typically employ for my own narrow shoulder adjustment (tutorial here). I made no adjustments to the yoke since the bodice is gathered into it. A little less width in the bodice just meant less gathering.

That is a LOT more fitting than I typically feel like doing, but one of the nice things about this pattern is how simple the bodice is. The yoke/flutter sleeve is pretty fiddly, but the overall effect is lovely and definitely worth it.

The scalloped hem is pretty darn cute, too!

The fabrics coordinated beautifully and were oh-so-easy to sew. I don't work with wovens much, but every time I do I appreciate how much easier they are to sew than knits. Especially cotton, which presses and behaves so nicely.

Speaking of cotton, the ribbon is about eight million times better than any poly junk I've bought before. It was easy to fold it over twice and "hem" it to prevent fraying.


I'm so glad I had the opportunity to work with Organic Cotton Plus and try out their fabrics. I'm impatiently tapping my toes waiting for this bike interlock to be available for some sort of baby garment. Check out their website for beautiful fabrics as well as knitting supplies and all natural vegetable dyes. They even have a wedding sale going on now!

Hope everyone had a Happy Easter!

*I received the fabric and ribbon for free in exchange for this review. My choice of project and all opinions are my own!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The third trimester sucks

I wanted to come up with a clever title for this post, but pregnancy brain is real, so sorrynotsorry. With six weeks to go, I'm nesting like crazy and making lists and checking things off. I'm also sore, and tired, and uncomfortable alllll the time. This pregnancy has been much harder than my first. I want to sew. I want it a lot. I think most of us sew because it keeps us sane. But lately, naps are what keep me sane, so napping is what happens.

My feet are down there somewhere

I'm blessed to have a husband that supports our family while I stay home. Not everyone can sleep in the middle of the day! But I'd gotten used to my three year old's nap time being sewing time. These days I'm too worn out to do much of anything except join her. Then I remember that once baby #2 is here, sewing time will be even more limited. This makes me sad.

Even if I could sew, my body is going through so many changes that it's kind of pointless. I have enough baby clothes that I don't need to make more. My three year old is too hard to fit (really). Instead of sewing keeping me company in my SAHM downtime, giving me momentum, I'm stalled out. Waiting around for pregnancy to be over. Focusing on aching bones and swollen feet. Daydreaming about projects I want to make that I know I won't.

What do you do when life, or a physical issue, gets in the way of sewing? I feel a somewhat lengthy hiatus coming on (obviously, I'm having a baby) but mentally I'm not ready for it. I'm one of those people who always has something in the works, and the thought of my machines gathering dust is hard to bear. Even if it means I get a cute bundle of spit up and insomnia in exchange :)

Any tips on how to make sewing a priority when you just don't feel up to it?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Anna Crossover Bralette update

A while back I made my first bra, the Ohhh Lulu Anna Crossover Bralette.

It wasn't perfect (lots of waviness on the fold-over elastic) but I did wear it frequently. Until this happened to the straps.

Whomp whomp. Since this was my first bra, I didn't go crazy buying notions and therefore didn't use actual bra straps. Instead, I folded over some of the FOE, stitched it down, and used that as straps. After a few trips in the washer/dryer, the FOE straps were definitely worn out. Here's a before and after:

I decided to replace the straps. Anytime I throw out a RTW garment, I inspect it for notions that might be useful. I had salvaged some black adjustable straps from a cami that didn't fit right and thought they'd work well as replacements.

I'm not sure what they're made of, but it's some sort of silky non-stretch material. I think polyester charmeuse. I trimmed as much of the pink lace away as I could, cut off the old wrinkly straps, and added the new with a few zig-zag stitches.

An upcycle and repair all at once! I immediately started wearing the repaired bra, and remembered how comfy it is. I'm glad I took the time to fix it. And now I know not to use FOE as strapping, it's just not durable enough. That said, I have a good start on "real" lingerie notions with a recent order from Sew Sassy Fabrics.

Do you keep up with repairs to me-mades?

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