Bra Making with Madalynne

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Most overdue post probably but ¯\_(?)_/¯. Kate & Roses probably articulated the experience better than I could ever, and also let us all know that making a bra can be a feminist act. I struggle with my feminism so there’s that.. struggle in the sense of details but not the overall sense of it. Going on a tangent here, this week we had a shit ton of snow, and lo and behold my landlord was in Cali, which meant I was stuck shoveling snow. The contractor working on the building next door offered to shovel my front stoop since I was struggling. I oscillated between “No, I can do this it’s ok” to “What a kind and generous offer, please help”. </rant> 005 028110

I had bought demystifying bra fitting and construction way back when it was only offered as a PDF because I knew sooner or later I was going to dip my toes into making undergarments. The book was great, however I knew I would need a visual in construction steps. Obviously if I truly wanted to I wouldve been able to figure it out on my own (with a lot of cursing and tossing shit around of course). Going back and forth between emails with Maddie, she had mentioned way before announcing her workshop what she had in mind. It was Christmas, so I gave myself the workshop as a gift. The week right before the class we had a snow storm and I had to assure Lauren that I’d rent a snowmobile if need be. or ride my Tauntaun

 

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I took the bus to Philly with Jen from @ohhellodollface whom I was dying to meet even though we live in the same city, ha! The taxi tried to play us taking the longest route ever until I got upset and told him to leave us 5 mins away and we’d walk.

Anecdotes aside, let’s discuss what you came to read. All my life I grew up wishing I had my mom’s touch to decorate things nicely. The lady goes all out taking christmas trees, ornaments, 2ft santa dolls, etc. I mean I can’t even be bothered to serve alcohol in anything other than red cups when I host parties. If my mom made me jealous, Maddie had my jaw drop. So imagine her blog aesthetics times 54542643863896360436. Everything was thought out and anticipated for in advance. There was a breakfast corner stocked with coffee, juice, the works. The studio had big windows so everything was lit nicely. I know some people would rather have a no frills lesson with none of the extras included, but I was really happy with everything. Plus have you seen me eat/drink? I’ll school you.

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Once the class was over Maddie had expressed how nervous she was, but she did a good job at hiding it. The class was for construction and not fit, which again was fine by me since I just wanted to learn steps and pieces and constructions, and also hang out with other women who love to sew. Supplies were included: rotary cutter, fabrics, notions, pre-cut patterns, as well as printed copy of the pattern in cardstock paper. Maddie was thorough in explaining the different parts of a bra and construction. The class was setup in similar fashion to other classes I’ve taken at FIT where the teacher talks, demos and has us watch and then we go at our own pace.

Tricks like temporary fusing lining and fabric saved us time, as well as how wide our stitches should be, because that wouldve taken me personally a few tries to get. We took a few breaks to eat, which by the way was delicious. I was wearing one of those waist belts that I had to put away for a bit cause yeah. We all sat at the table eating and talking to each other which was awesomesauce, cause there was no sort of clique thing where people go on their own. I had to take advantage of the photo booth because I’m a clown and will jump on the chance of making a fool of myself. There was a taxidermied wolf that I really wanted to hardstyle with but nah. I groped the mannequin instead.

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Back to bras.. I was so fucking esctatic to see my bra coming together as one of the pictures captured. You see.. everything for me is looked at in an analytical form. Sewing to me are like puzzle pieces that at first Im like how will this work and then it’s like OHHHHH SHIEETTTT. My advice however is to place all the cut fabric pieces on top of the pattern piece laid out as if it were constructed. It makes it easier to know which ends to sew and you don’t end up sewing something wrong with the lightening stitch, like I did. Much to my surprise we finished the bra in the time slot. At first some of the women were hesitant to try on the bra, but (and this is why I love her) Lauren had no fucks to give and changed in her bra and came outside for us to see. Other gals, tried it solely in the bathroom. I was looking forward to modeling my bra at the photobooth with a soft blur but sadly my bra was a size too small because that was the week when my ladies blow up. But it fits now and I wear my bra all the time. Maddie did offer fitting advice to those who ask, and gave them tidbits on how to pinch in some places or modify the cups to fit better.

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The Malborough bra works for my breasts. My next one I’d probably raise the top cup a little more for coverage and slighlty widen the top part of the bridge.

After the class Maddie took Lauren and me out to eat and drink and meet Andrea. It’s always so meta like when you correspond with people so often online and then finally meet them in person. We were pooped, headed home and got ready for bed. Lauren and I had a slumber party, where we had pillow fights, braided each other’s hair, played girl talk and dream girl… just kidding. We did talk so much crap before falling asleep that help solidify just how much we have in common ha!

It was a weekend of firsts for me. Meeting Maddie finally, which I had been really looking forward to since we were already inducted in our sisterhood of traveling fabrics. Visiting Phila was also a first and making a bra. The next day Lauren and I mapped out our walk. 4 miles in total and then practically ran to make our train/bus.

Bullet points for the TL:DR version

idk why this gets me every time

If you’re an advance seamstress, you could figure it out on your own
If you’re like me and want a step by step visual, you can benefit for the class
It’s pricey but there’s so much included
A small class is great to get one on one advice without interrupting the class
You never know what other small tricks you can learn from the other women there
Madie does a really good job in explaining everything, and why certain things are done a certain way

Normcore

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Being one to go out of my way to avoid this word, the truth is that I should start embracing it. My style probably reflects more normcore than anything else. Regardless of always wishing to be one of those women on the train with crisp blouses, skirts and heels, or structured dresses and trench coats, on their way to their finance job.. I chose comfort over gloss. Even when I sit at my desk and dream of sewing a fitted sheath or button downs, by night time I’m reaching for cozy knits to sew. I’ve been wearing the shit out of this hemlock tee turned sweater. The fabric was purchased from that time I went nuts on black friday. It’s a sweater fabric made up of acrylic and god knows what else, so I tend to hand wash and lay flat to dry.

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These are my second pair of Gingers, except they’re jeggings. There’s a mock front fly and it’s all elastic waist. These are waxy stretch which I love. Not a lot to talk about construction wise other than changing the waistband to enclose the elastic and omit the button. I didn’t include the front fly flap, and just created a mock zipper top stitch.

Tardy for the party, I wanted to recreate this Mcqueen dress for New Year’s Eve. It took me a while to get a starting point pattern and after looking at patterns for an hour I settled for Vogue 8615.

It seams (pun intended) that almost all of the vogue/mccalls/butterick dress patterns favor princess seams and I kid you not this was probably the only french dart dress on there. I semi lined the dress with a peach poly crepe that I thought was going to give me a rough time, but ended up semi alright. Whenever I’m faced with a project that I have no idea how to tackle it sits on the floor while I look at it for a while before deciding where to begin. The skirt was on the Mcqueen dress were inverted pleats all around, so since I wasn’t in the mood to do math, I cut a really long strip of fabric, pinned it to one end and started folding the pleats by 1/2 inch under and 2 inches over (if that makes sense). I didn’t want to recreate the bubble part of the skirt only because pleats and bubble hem means hell to iron out, so I turned the hem, pressed and hand stitched it all around. The tulle comes from a dress I had that I folded in half and stuck under there ha! But I really like the way Emma looked when she wore it with a tulle skirt under so.. yeah sue me.

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2015: New You; Same Bullshit!

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The inspiration for the title comes from this book I keep side-eying on my boyfriend’s shelf: Lose Weight! Get Laid! Find God! Supposedly 45% of people tend to make new year’s resolutions while only 8% of those actually stick and complete it. I don’t make resolutions, rather I’m more the person to stop and start any time of the year as seen with my drinking, running, diet, etc because I can’t really find myself committing to things long term. Surprisingly, blogging about my sewing has been something that I’ve stuck with even when I really don’t want to. I’m still not making any resolutions (even though I did get up to go to the gym today and pre-pack my lunches in advance. In fact I’m about to go for a run and then heat up my meal.. ON A FRIDAY!) but taking inspiration from Ginger‘s now defunct check the technique; I would like to lay out techniques or things that I would like to accomplish this year. Usually whenever I store seasonal clothing, I go through them and decide what to store and what gets donated. This year a large chunk of things I made I did end up donating because I wasn’t happy with the outcome, or the colors didn’t suit me, but most importantly they were rushed. Now that I know how to construct a garment, I want to take the time to perfect the insides as well.

A few Halloweens ago before I knew how to sew, I had commissioned a costume by an excellent seamstress. The costume is still hanging in my closet and I like to take a look at it every now and then. The skirt was lined (invisible zipper included) all by machine, instead of slip-stitching the lining to the zipper. I know it’s probably pretty easy but I keep on wrapping my head around that. So that’s definitely on the list. For the first time ever, I made a blouse using 90% french seams, which I never wanted to do because it took so much time. Speaking of time, I’ve realized that taking into consideration the time factor, I really am not saving more on clothing as a single garment that I had thought or expected. And that’s ok. I figure one dress that fits me perfectly with the materials that I want is worth more than the 6 dresses I would have careless bought and then donated at the end of the season or had to throw out because of signs of wear. But since I’m throwing supplies and time into the mix I figure this should be the year where I take a step back and be a bit more meticulous.

In no particular order or rush some of the things I’d like to accomplish are:

1- Active wear. I swear by under armour clothing, but I’d love to give Fehr Trade a go, especially with moisture wicking fabric from SpandexHouse

2. – Stop being lazy with my lapped zippers peeking through. All my previous attempts have been futile

4. – Double welted pockets

5. – Fully lined by machine dress

6. – Make a tailored Coat

7. – Fully commit to knitting something. A scarf, a hat, something!

8. – Tackle a Bra

9. – Make a tailored fitted button up ( Sewaholic read my mind)

10 – Draft a bodice sloper

11. – Finally accept that I now need FBAs

 

I think 11 are good for now. I don’t want to be overzealous and then not get through anything, although accepting that I now need to do FBAs (fuck you iud) is going to take a while. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Camas Camas Chameleon

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Happy New Year! New year new snow was basically what happened over the last few days. I was worried that we would have a mild winter and then summer would be scorching hot. I took a long hiatus over the holidays, went to New Jersey and spent all my days eating and drinking with the boyfriend and his parents. Before taking off I managed to make a number of new items that I had no time or desire to photograph or talk about. With it my Alexander Mcqueen knock off dress for New Years’ Eve, which I’ll get to (promise).

Speaking of New Year’s Eve.. you already know my motto “go big or go home”. Well, I went big and then I went home. As I peeled off my dress, slipped into my pajamas and crawled into bed, I had a ghastly premonition that I was going to pay for it the next day. Not only did I spend the 1st with a hangover so big, I think I had the shakes (seriously), but the next day didn’t go so well. I guess I paid my dues with the fun I had. But really, it was fantastic. We waited for the ball to drop at the place where I used to bartend, where we indulged in a few shots of whiskey and vodka. Afterwards everyone was too drunk to rebuttal when I suggested we head to Metropolitan (a gay dive bar) because it was free and almost nothing is free in NYC on NYE. So there we were, dancing and even m0ar drinking, when to my surprise a drag queen took to the stage to lip sync. Who was it? None other than Dita Ritz… what?!! I flipped a shit.. in less than 2 weeks and both by accident I manage to witness a RuPaul Drag Race contestant lip sync for her life. The other was Jiggly Caliente at Paradise in NJ.

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Anyways 2015: the year of my sobriety? Maybe. At least that’s how I have been feeling the past few days after a hangover so bad my eyeballs felt they had sand in them. Drink responsibly people. Let’s get back to the topic of things I managed to sew but then got too lazy to talk about.. what ends up happening? If you wait too long, the temperatures drop, it snows and you’re stuck debating on making a run outside or a low lit basement apartment. I opted to freeze my ass off. Mind you this was the shortest amount of time I’ve ever spent photographing. Didn’t even bother to check the shots after to see if I was in focus the whole time.

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I was really drawn to the Camas blouse when it came out because it’s usually the type of knits I wear other than tshirts, when I want to feel somewhat fancy and more grown up. I really wish I were the type of 30 year old that stopped dressing like a slob, but wrap me up in combat boots, oversized sweaters and knits and call it a day. Way back when Fabric.com had their black friday deals I purchased this Cotton rib knit (no longer available). I don’t remember what I had intended to make with it but thought that perhaps it would work with the Camas Blouse. Originally I intended to make the whole thing out of the fabric, but had some lace lying around. Not too much to make something big out of it, but just enough to use it as accent, I went ahead and cut one yolk and one set of front pieces out of it and used the cotton to back the yolk and second set of front plackets for stability.

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I want to like the shirt, but I’m still not sure. Having no white serger threads, I went with the instructions and decided to french seam about 90% of the blouse (aka everything but the sleeves), so fixing the shirt is going to be a hassle, which I don’t want to get into right now. If the material doesn’t drape enough (and this one still kinda does) then the ends tend to flare out and have wonky seams. I know one of the variations on the pattern page does have this issue, which is why I was a little hesitant to buy the pattern but I’m guessing that my blouse and that one have similar weight and hand. I have issues with my collar, which doesn’t lay flat, but I compared around and noticed the same.

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I didn’t add buttons, instead opting to fuse shut the placket. (There’s a safety pin on there for modesty’s sake). I do like Cookin & Craftin’s version a lot better than mine. Her’s tends to drape more and hang correctly instead of flaring out like an exaggerated a-line blouse. I absolutely adore the fabric, so this is something that I’ll want to salvage at some point in time when I’m not feeling so lazy. Perhaps if taking in some of the bottom flare, I’ll get something that I’ll like more.

The Sisterhood of Traveling Fabric

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love-lola-plaid-mcqueen-skirt_0002Story time: If I were to tell you back in the late 90′s that I sported hot pink hair that alternated between semi pixie and bob, you’d laugh your ass off right? I mean I would too.. It doesn’t matter what kind of music I listen to, and trust me, my taste is particularly eclectic and knowledge spans from hipster nonsense to hip/hop and soul, deep down I always go back to my teenage roots of punk and new wave. It’s no surprise if you think about it. I’m more than certain my eternal apathy and cynicism comes from entertaining lyrics like In my life, why do I give valuable time To people who don’t care if I live or die? in my teenage years.. It wasn’t just the music and fashion that I was drawn to but the IDGAF attitude.. albeit I was more counterculture than anti-establishment. Nonetheless I sported my pink hair, my DIY clothing (lots and lots of plaid of course) and a magnificent left shiner (for a few weeks) like a badge of pride that separated me from the girls that were breed to think about hair, make-up, boyfriends and dressing up. Granted that had I stayed in New York during my high school years, it wouldn’t be so freak of nature.. but imagine looking and acting like this in small town Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.. and it’s more like Kevin Bacon stepping into a town with no dancing. I recently reconnected with a friend who knew me back then, who proceeded to tell stories at my 30th birthday of me back then and everyone was in disbelief of my skin tight plaid pants and tattered shirts, and the all girl punk band I was in that covered Tsunami Bomb.

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2 decades later my dress code and attitude is a bit muted but of course my IDGAF mentality coupled with my DIY sense will always remain and keep me punk at heart.. so when I saw when this Alexander Mcqueen plaid kick pleat skirt, I knew I had to recreate it as an ode. When I first started sewing, I’d just buy fabric and create something, only to learn that my choice of fabric wasn’t working for the garment. Now, still armed with mistakes, I wait until the fabric speaks to me (cliche phrase I know). Back when Madalynne debuted her Aurora Grace skirt, I openly admired the fabric, and she was very kind to mail me the lengthy leftover yardage practically overnight. I’ve kept it in my fabric bookcase waiting to see what to make of it. At first I thought perhaps knife pleats, but I didn’t really want to end up looking too school girl. I’m glad I passed on my original plan and waited until the day I spotted Blair Eadie wearing Mcqueen’s skirt.

 

Construction wise it was pretty straight forward. I used Burdastyle’s pleated mini skirt as a base, since I lost some weight and never fixed my skirt sloper. The only differences from the pattern were to make the kick pleat start directly at the top of the skirt, and create a 2 inch waistband. I’m not a fan of skirts without waistbands for some reason. The original skirt has two back welt pockets, which were omitted because I wanted the skirt to be as simple as possible. Post construction I realized that I should’ve positioned the zipper in the back instead of on the side, like the pattern asks. Oh well.. you live, you learn. The whole time I constructed the skirt I was obviously in a new wave groove on Spotify. I think the playlist is collaborative, which you can feel free and add to .. if that’s your thing.

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PS – It was cold.