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.

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