The Not-So-Secret Garden

Did you all catch the Super Blood Moon?  I didn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cyclically recurring celestial events, but It was so cloudy here last night that I couldn’t see a thing.  Thank goodness for Instagram and every single person in the western hemisphere with an iPhone.

I’m now in the thick of the fall semester at work, so sewing has been taking a back seat.  I can totally tell when I’m in withdrawal, though.  I’ve been filling the void by shopping online.  Aaaaaand now I have a larger fabric and pattern stash and STILL not any more time to sew.  Do you ever get like this?  Tell me it isn’t just me!

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I had a few hours to spare this weekend, though, so I was able to get a quick project in! This is the Boylston Bra by Orange Lingerie (of Marlborough fame).  I never fell for the Marlborough, but I loved this design as soon as it was released.  I was actually considering purchasing a pattern with a similar balconette style from Make Bra (the DL03), but switched gears when I realized that this pattern has all sizes included in one file.  I’m a newbie and adjustments are a bit frightening, so to pick just one size feels a little risky.

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For this go, I went with my measurements and my usual store-bough bra size and made a 36D.  This required me to buy a bunch of new notions because the larger cup sizes are drafted for wider elastics and thus larger rings and sliders.  I found everything easily at Sew Sassy, and also used the opportunity to pick up some power mesh for the bands.

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A lot of the elastics only come in black or white, so I purchased some of both with plans to dye the white stuff to match my fabrics.  This was my first dyeing experience and it was a bit of a disappointment.  All of the notions seen here went into the same dye bath for the same amount of time (half a packet of RIT powder and about 20 minutes), but I got varying colors of pink.  The fuchsia of the band and the underwire channeling is really what the dye was supposed to give me.  You can see that the soft sides of some of the elastics also turned this deep pink shade.  The rest of it just turned a light pink.  I can only guess that the light pink stuff had a high polyester content, and everything else was nylon.  I’m not sure about the rings and sliders, though, as those are supposed to be nylon coated.  Maybe they just can’t pick up as much color?  I got suggestions to use a dye better suited for polyester, and I think I’ll try that next time.

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I lined the bridge with tricot for stability. I know it clashes, but I only had black!
I lined the bridge with tricot for stability. I know it clashes, but I only had black! There goes that gnarly thread I mentioned.

You’re probably sick of seeing this fabric by now.  It’s the same rayon challis used for my Yaletown maxi dress.  This pattern is drafted for fabrics with little to no stretch, so I was glad to be able to use up the scraps I had left!  I have SO MANY beige bras, so that niche is totally filled.  It’ll be nice to add some funky pieces to the mix.

Here are some construction shots:

First I sewed the foam cups.
First I sewed the foam cups.

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Then the fabric cups
Then the fabric cups.
Then the foam and fabric are joined together along the neckline seam, with the fabric strap sandwiched in between.
Then the foam and fabric are joined together along the neckline seam, with the fabric strap sandwiched in between. The two layers get basted together all the way around to make it easier to insert the cups into the cradle.

Everything went pretty smoothly up until I had to insert the underwires.  They were 1.5″ too long, so I had to cut them down – I cut off 3/4″ on each side.  I ran to the hardware store the next day (after a horrendous morning taking my car to the shop) and picked up some heat shrink tubing to seal the cut ends so they don’t dig in or cut the fabric.  The stuff at my store is just black, but I’ve seen it sold online in fun colors.  I bought two sizes just in case, but it turns out the 1/8″ is a great fit.  I just held it over the stove to shrink it.

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I learned a few things:

  1. Good thread quality = good stitch quality.  The only pink thread I had was an old Walmart spool and it twisted and knotted like you won’t believe.  It’s also kind of . . . fuzzy?  I don’t know, I just didn’t like it.  I hate to be a thread snob, but it was no Gütermann.
  2. Fabric glue sticks are da bomb.  Seriously – go get some.  I’d heard about it from several blogs but never tried it until now.  I used it to hold the hook and eye tape down on the bands while I sewed.  No pins and no mess!  Horrible satin stitching is another story (I can’t even blame it on the Walmart thread!).
  3. I will need to alter the bridge next time.  The bridge is a bit narrow at the top, so I’ll have to figure out how to get it to lay nicely.
  4. My fabric cups somehow shrank and ended up being smaller than the foam pieces.  This causes weird buckling in the cups and the top edges don’t want to lay flat.  I’m not really sure what happened here – I made sure to get rid of the inside seam allowances in the foam cups before cutting.  I used a 1/4″ foot when piecing the cups, but I think maybe I’m not lining it up right and taking off extra?  Has this happened to anyone else?  Fingers crossed that a wash, dry and steam will fix most of it!

I haven’t worn it for long enough to give a good opinion on comfort, but it feels pretty good on right now!  Here are some mannequin shots to round this off.  This is an ancient Sally Stitch dress form that my grandmother managed to keep together by wrapping it in fabric inside and out (it’s seriously amazing how she was able to rig it).  I say mannequin because it’s lumpy and not my size.  It’s no good for draping or fitting, but sometimes it can be used for display!

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Oh and look! The matching maxi dress is hanging in the background!

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5 thoughts on “The Not-So-Secret Garden

  1. Love this! Absolutely gorgeous! I think that your outer fabric cups seeming smaller might be because they’re over foam and it’s thicker. But I find that in general it is so much easier to cover foam with something that has a little bit of stretch. 🙂

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  2. ive been wanting to try this pattern so badly but ive never done bras and the learning curve scares me. this one is beautiful though and i even own that same fabric. love the balconnette style.

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    • I know the feeling! I started with simpler bralettes first and worked up from there. If you’re considering it, it’s really fun! It uses very little fabric and you don’t really even need the foam.

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