Thursday, 30 June 2016

Bra Making Success, plus Storing and Sourcing Supplies

Like many of you, sewing is my therapy.  I've made a conscious decision not to pursue it as my main income for fear of losing my love of the thing I most like to do,  Instead, I earn some money through it but most of my sewing is for fun.  But I am a greedy sewer. I want to sew it all.  Quilts, bags, clothes and now lingerie.  I wind myself up with the sheer amount of things I plan to sew- far more than is possible in the time available - and I often need to remind myself to slow down, finish what I am sewing now and worry less.  Since my 'Bra Making with Madalynne day', I've been sewing more undies.  Starting with an everyday bra, using the same pattern (I think this is being released by Simplicity some time in August) and a few tweaks on the class bra I made.


On this one, I narrowed the bridge- the gap between the two cups.  I also shortened the distance at the bottom of the band so the elastic and underwires are closer.  


This one isn't perfect, the underarm area still waved a little as I sewed it and probably needs a slight reduction towards the top of the seam- my sides are quite straight rather than tapering in at that point. It does fit better than any shop-bought bra that I own.  I literally cannot find a bra without padding to fit me.  My high bust is flat and bony and any bras without padding tend to gape forwards on me. The combination of stretch lace and power mesh - a supportive net that is on the inside of the cups and front band and is the sole fabric for the back band - is perfect for my small bust.   It goes against some bra maker's recommendations to use fabrics with little or no stretch I guess but this level of stretch helps my fit issues and still provides sufficient support.  It's not a good combo for a heavier/fuller bust but for mine it works well.  


This is the Sierra, a free pattern from Maddie Flanagan.  I made this for my daughter.  The support is light and is based on compression - squeezing  and flattening basically!  The front is stretch lace and the lining is a very firm power mesh, comparable to a control fabric.  There is no 3D shaping in the front cup area, instead the combination of cross-over and pressure holds everything in place.  This is an XS- too small even for me.  It's the sort of bra to wear for a sleep over, or a day at home.


Construction was straightforward apart from the edging around the band which involved zig zags following the scallops. that was tricky.   I do recommend adding an extra inch to the end of each side- the part where the hook and eye will go.  It just gives you a little extra room for fitting to the right level of constriction. 


This is Noelle, another Maddie free pattern which came out this week.  I made this last week during a shout out for testers.  I made a small as the sizing matched my measurements but I needed to size down and next time I'll make an XS but with the S darts as they are spot on.  I used a shape wear cotton/nylon blend for the main fabric and elastic lace for the bottom band.  The final crop top is a gentle relaxed fit, good for bed or hot days.  I'll use a power mesh to line the next one and aim for a more supportive feel.   There's a matching high waist panty with the pattern download too. 


Although I've had more success with bra making recently, I still feel very much the beginner.  It is a fascinating world.  I am in the Bra Making Forum Facebook group which is a supportive global network of  bra makers and shows just how many potential fit issues there are for all our differently sized busts.  Supplies are still an issue.  I buy kits here and there, I also buy supplies on eBay but it is hit and miss.  The Shapewear fabric I used for Noelle is wonderful quality but a random find.  I found ¼" elastic (needed for the straps) hard to come by.   I've also bought elastic or lace which is weak and will not survive the most careful hand washing and wearing.  Terminology is mixed and inconsistent - Power mesh and power net are used interchangeably but the density and tightness of them varies from flimsy net (often used for pretty knickers ),  to extra firm (sometimes used in control garments).  Power mesh can be double layered to strengthen it's compression effects.



It is an expensive business too.  I find I have a big draw full of supplies and yet if I want to make something I am always short of something.  Every bra or pair of knickers takes more elastic than you first imagine and a fair amount of thread.  It helps to have everything sorted into labelled zip loc bags and I recommend recycling your worn out bras- great for the strap sliders, wires and little bows or roses that all seem to last a lot longer than the rest of the bra.    These bits are also good for making a test bra when trying a new pattern.  For kits, I've recently bought from Natasha of Arte Crafts- although the $/£ exchange rate has changed rather dramatically since then- her pink Duoplex kit kit was lovely quality and I am looking forward to sewing it up. I also bought this kit from Freya of Elise, a UK supplies seller.  I assume she is hand dying her kits  to create the different colour options  I ordered a yellow kit, it looks more orange/apricot that I was expecting  but it was good value and I think it will combine with blue nicely.


For UK and European bra makers, I have a list of suppliers here.  It is hard to always find exactly what you want in the right place, but things are improving.   I think the best piece of advice I can think of when it comes to bra making is to look at what you currently wear- check the lines of what fits you well- what style cup?  How does the back look?  Then look for a pattern which is similar.  I would also recommend looking at what other bra makers have made- look for someone with similar fitting issues.   I found a list of bra making blogs here at Sewsnbows  No bra pattern works for everyone,  I see lots of styles that will never work on me and I doubt that something like the Sierra would work on a large cup size.  Big or small busted, we all have issues and expecting one pattern to address everything is expecting a miracle from the pattern maker.   For bra making supplies in other parts of the world, check out Amy's guide on Cloth Habit.   There's a fascinating listen on Sandi Hazlewood's Crafty Planner podcast where she interviews Norma Loehr of Orange Lingerie.

On a side note. I've had a huge spike recently in viewing numbers - I don't know why but if you are new to this blog, Hi there!  And you are welcome to introduce yourself too...and if you came here via somewhere else, let me know, I'm curious!



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June at Eternal Maker

It's been a busy week- post Brexit moping up of tears (mine, husband and daughter), prom and preparing for a few summer events so I've squeezed this nine-of-the-best post  for sponsor Eternal Maker  into the last day of June.  Summer is currently on hold in the UK, nothing new there, so I've put a mix of garment weight fabrics alongside quilting cottons and  naturally, I had to include some double gauze.   Enjoy.


In rows, from left to right:

  1. Cotton indigo dot, Robert Kauman.  Wide 57" floaty fabric- good for soft drapey effects, scarves or soft tops.
  2. Grey Stripe cotton jersey from Kiyohara.  Amazing quality fabric- look at the pic close up to get an idea of the weight, it has a bit of heft to it.  I've made a Maritime knit top (excellent pattern, hopefully fit my review in next week) from the gold version of this and it washes up beautifully in the machine. 
  3. Maritime Knit Top pattern, by Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S under her Liesl + Co label.  It has a variety of sleeve lengths  (easy to extend into a full length sleeve)  a faced neck line and side vents for a classic Bretton top.  I've made three of these and it's a definite tried-and-true pattern for me.  As with all of Liesl's patterns, the instructions are exemplary and include a full bust adjustment.
  4. Yukie Indigo Michael Miller Fabrics.  There's a more than hint of woven Ikat inspiration in this print.  Quilting cotton although you can see it made up in a man's shirt on the Michael Miller website.
  5. Cityscape barkcloth from Hokkoh.  Slubby weighty cotton, great for bags, cushions and garments with a bit of structure.  I made a barkcloth skirt- see here.
  6. Cat Vintage Matchbooks by Cosmo Tex.  Glorious print on a textured cotton- love the teal background and everything else about it.
  7. Cat Vintage Playing Cards by Cosmo Tex.  More stubby texture and a glorious colour and print. 
  8. Double Gauze, Komorebi Blue Nani Iro by Naomi Ito for Kokka.  Amazing depth of colour in this beauty, Naomi Ito at her endless best. 
  9. Meadow, Pink Orange, The Lovely Hunt, Lizzie House.  Deep saturated colour in this Lizzie House print on quilting cotton. 



Monday, 27 June 2016

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Blocks 79 and 80: Patience and Patricia

There's a couple of easy blocks in the Farmer's Wife quilt-along this week although be warned, it's the calm before the storm, next weeks blocks are really quite a challenge. Starting this week with block 79, Patience (p.238  heart breaking letter of sadness p.70).  It's a simple nine-patch style construction for this block and only needs rotary cutting and sewing together.


Fabric Credits
Kona Sour Apple
Lori Holt Flower Patch for Riley Blake
Heather Ross for Windham, Tiger Lily, cats on grid in green
Ayumi  returns with a guest post for block 80, Patricia (p. 239  letter p. 52), go to her blog here.


Fabric Credits
Windham, Playdate, Diamond flower yellow
Kona Melon
Heather Ross for Wyndham, Tiger Lily Butterflies in brown

{For both blocks, I link to sponsor shops for fabric bought from them and elsewhere for other fabrics}

Even though this is a simple block, easy to rotary piece, although I ended up sewing the pieces together incorrectly three times...


Here are two more nine-patch blocks to add to my collection, eleven in total.


  • You can share your farmer's wife quilt blocks with the hashtags #fw1930sqal and for these blocks either #Patienceblock or #Patriciablock as well as #fw79Patience, #fw80Patricia
  • If you want me to take a look at your blocks, tag me on Instagram, I'm @verykerryberry or comment here and paste in a link to your blog
  • There's a Flickr group you can add to here.  All my Farmer's Wife 1930s blocks can be seen in this album and my 9-patch blocks in this album. 
Jo Avery is back as a guest blogger next Monday!  Back with the tricky blocks next week x
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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Sharing: Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress in Floral Jersey for Girl Charlee



All the info is over at the Girl Charlee blog and I go into lots of detail about hemming knits, including lighter weight fabrics, on a standard sewing machine and share samples demonstrating a range of techniques and methods.  Pattern and fabric were kindly provided by Named Clothing and Girl Charlee in return for the blog post.  I chose this patterns after meeting another sewist (Shiona) wearing the Kielo and realising that the style had a lot more appeal for me than I initially thought- seeing things in the flesh can make all the difference!  

Monday, 20 June 2016

Farmer's Wife Quilt-Along Blocks 77 and 78: Nellie and Old Maid

Good morning to those of you following the Farmer's Wife quilt-along, it's time for two more blocks.  Starting with  block 77, Nellie (p.236  letter p.102).  It's a block with lots of little pieces- all squares or rectangles- and although you can rotary cut and piece all of this block following the book CD instructions,  I cut a little bigger and foundation paper pieced the block to keep everything accurate.


Fabric Credits
Kona Corn
Kona Persimmon
Robert Kaufman, Morningside Farm, Daisies Lake, Darlene Zimmerman

I played around slightly with by adding an extra colour with the orange squares in the centre to break it up a little.  Otherwise, not much to report on the making.  My top of the top tips for sewing blocks like these where the sections can easily undo when the paper is torn off, is to keep your stitches small and add an extra back stitch just as you start and end the seam line for a little extra security.


Top Tips for Foundation Piecing this Block
  • Pre cut all pieces
  • Use a water based glue stick e.g. Sweden, to stick the first piece of fabric on each section
  • Chain piece where possible
  • Press section seams open
Justine is guest posting for block 78, Old Maid (p. 237  letter p. 84).   I love Old Maid, it's such  classic quilt block.  See Justine's post here.  I tried out a new shade of green for this block, this is Betty's Green from Moda and it is a soft 30s colour.  As it's mixed in with another Moda print, they harmonise nicely.


Fabric Credits
Moda Solids Betty's Green
Moda American Jane, Bread n' Butter, Dotted Daisy, Ivory

{For both blocks, I link to sponsor shops for fabric bought from them and elsewhere for other fabrics}

Here are another pair of nine-patch blocks to add to my collection, I'm now up to a total of nine.  It never fails to amaze me how fast these blocks go together compared to the Farmer's Wife blocks.


  • You can share your farmer's wife quilt blocks with the hashtags #fw1930sqal and for these blocks either #Nellieblock or #OldMaidblock as well as #fw77Nellie, #fw78OldMaid
  • If you want me to take a look at your blocks, tag me on Instagram, I'm @verykerryberry or comment here and paste in a link to your blog
  • There's a Flickr group you can add to here.  All my Farmer's Wife 1930s blocks can be seen in this album and my 9-patch blocks in this album. 
Ayumi returns as a guest blogger next Monday!  See you next week x
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Sunday, 19 June 2016

June at Plush Addict

Here's my sponsor selection for June from Plush Addict, including quilting cotton, new pattern releases and a beautiful luxury crepe for trousers, enjoy! *edited to add, many of these are now on clearance so at a lower price!*

Starting top left, from l to r:
  1. Free Spirit Lottie Da, Sprig in Tangerine.  Heather Bailey print in a glorious and groovy citrus palette.
  2. Moda Whispers, Muslin Mates, Take Flight in grey, from Studio M, this is just one print from a  beautiful tonal range of white, off whites, light and darker greys.
  3. Dear Stella Carousel Horses in Pink.  Gorgoeus quilting cotton print with great potential for retro styles dresses and skirts.
  4. Moda Whispers, Muslin Mates, XOXO pale grey
  5. Lewis & Irene, Make a Wish: Fat quarter bundle, fairies, florals and fauna.  Soft and pretty colour palette.
  6. Windham Swim Team- Fish Pattern.  this is the first time I've seen this print. It's from Dinara Mirtalipova, a new Windham designer with a fun first collection (see more at Windham).  There's only one print available at Plush Addict but it has a lot of potential for mixing with other fabrics and fish/water/mermaid prints.
  7. Japanese Import, 'Min & Deco' Tulips on Cream.  I couldn't resist the Scandi, graphic style of this Japanese print on cotton.  Deco is the design company name, I think it's just the usual quilting cotton substrate.
  8. Tilly & the Buttons Marigold Trousers/jumpsuit pattern.  the newest release from Tilly Walnes, this pattern is very representative of lots of ready-to-wear trouser and dumpsite styles on the hight street at the moment and Tilly has further pattern hack ideas on her blog.  I've suggested a very appropriate fabric next!
  9. Luxury Crepe in Platinum, perfect for Tilly Marigold trousers or jumpsuit.  In fact, after I chose this for this month's sponsor selection, I found that Tilly had a picture on her blog of the jumpsuit in this very fabric!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Birthday Block Banner

To celebrate a year since the publication of her Farm Girl Vintage book, Lori Holt has designed a 'Farm Girl Layer Cake' Anniversary block and she and the Fat Quarter Shop are sharing versions of the blocks made by lots of sewing bloggers (full list in the FQ shop blog post) and I am taking part.  Check out the link here for the free Layer Cake pattern download from Lori.   The block can be made in two sizes, I opted for the smaller 6" size and added some wider sashing to make the block suitable for a birthday banner flag.


July is a busy month for birthdays in our house and I thought a banner flag that came out for family birthdays would be a cute bit of decor.  It's easy to do and the method could be applied to any size quilt block.

How to Make a Birthday Block Banner

In addition to the usual materials to make the smaller block you will need:

  • 12" square backing material
  • Some extra background fabric
  • ribbon, twine or ric rac for hanging
  • a stick- I used a gardening bamboo cane cut to size
1.  Complete the block following the instructions up to adding piece R- we will cut these a little larger!  Cut the following replacement pieces for R to enlarge the block slightly:
  • One 3" x 8 ½ rectangle for top
  • One 3 ½"x 8 ½" rectangle for the bottom
Sew these to the top and bottom of the block.  Press the block, starch if that's your preference!
Fold the block in half lengthways.  Cut the block to make a banner shape using a quilting ruler with a 45 degree line, line up with the fold and the edge of the block as in the photo below.  Trim excess fabric with a rotary cutter to create the banner point.  You can always mark with pencil or chalk first on the reverse to check your shape.


2.  Cut the backing fabric by placing the banner front on to the backing fabric, right sides together.  Use the banner front as a template, cut around it using quilt ruler and rotary cutter.    Mark ¼" seam intersections in pencil at the lower corners and point on the front banner.  Whilst banner front and back are still right sides together, pin around the edge.
Leaving a 3" space along the centre of the top edge, sew a ¼" seam all around the banner edge.   Trim corners and points.   Press the top seam open, including the gap to create a fold in the opening fabric.  Turn the banner through the gap, right side out.  Poke out corners carefully and press.  Use slip stitch to close the opening. 

3.  Fold your fabric over at the top creating enough room for your stick to slide through comfortably- it should not be too sung.  Pin and baste into place making sure your basting stitches are parallel to the top edge as you will be using these as a guideline for your top stitching.
4.  With a contrast thread- maybe even something thicker, I used Aufil 12 wt, stitch along the top of the banner, following the basting stitched and creating the hanging stick casing sleeve,  then continue the stitches around the edge of the banner.   With thicker threads it is often neater to finish the loose thread ends by hand.  Thread the hanging stick through.  Tie twine or ribbon or ric rac to the stick ends to hang the banner, tuck the ends into the casing sleeve.


Hang and enjoy on every birthday occasion!


Fabrics Used:
  • Background: vintage fabric
  • Cake: Lecien small gingham
  • Cake filling Atsuko Matsuyama floral
  • Cake Heart: Ayumi Takahashi for Kokka, Lighthearted  Swedish Kitchen text print
  • Cake Stand: Denyse Schmidt Sweet Ruby floral, tiny Japanese strawberry print and Cosmo cricket sketch print.
  • Backing fabric: Lecien Od New 30s Deer print by Atsuko Matsuyama 
  • Top Stitch Thread: 12wt Aurifil 1231 Spring Green
Check out the other bloggers taking part here:

Vickie from Spun Sugar Quilts
Sedef from Down Grapevine Lane
Kelly from Kelbysews
Debbie from Happy Little Cottage
Renee from Sewn with Grace
Sinta from Pink Pin Cushion
Lisa from In the Boondocks
Dana from Old Red Barn Co.
Melissa from Happy Quilting
Kim from Persimon Dreams
Marni from Haberdashery Fun
Jacque from Lily Pad Quilting
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