Week 19: Manila #2 and Bra #1

Hey there! I made a bra this week! I’m going to cover everything non-bra-related before the cut, so you can easily stop reading at that point if you don’t want to read in depth information about (my) boobies.


So the first order of business for the week was my second pair of the Manila leggings.


I really love this pattern. I should definitely have done some pattern matching, because one of those roses gets cut off right at center front, but fortunately these are leggings, and I subscribe to the “leggings aren’t pants” school of thought (at least on me). That cut-off rose will always be under a skirt, haha.

One of the freeing things about being a mediocre seamstress is that you can’t do much worse than ready to wear when it comes to pattern matching. If it sucks, people will assume you bought cheap pants – not the greatest thing for them to think when you put a bunch of work into something, but at least they won’t secretly judge your sewing failure.

Hand basting the waistband didn’t quite save me this time – I still wound up with one side of the waistband not tacked down in the seam, and had to unpick it and stitch it back down. I realized when I was doing the petal cuffs this time though that pressing this material actually does work, and keeps it from rolling – so next time I use something similar I’ll try pressing the waistband before I stitch it. I’m also tempted to wear gloves next time I use this fabric – it kept catching on nicks I couldn’t even feel on my fingers and fingernails.

As a side project, I’ve been unpicking a pair of black corduroys that met a tragic end by splitting right down the butt while I was out and about. Now that I’m sewing regularly, I was like “ooh, fabric!” and started thinking about things I could do with the remaining good fabric. I figured a knee-length skirt would be a good candidate, and I made Selene awhile back, and although I need to fix some fitting issues with it, it has that center front panel that would allow me to use a smaller piece from the pants. Unfortunately, when I laid the pattern out on the fabric, it became pretty clear I wasn’t going to have enough:

Of course Kaylee sat right on the clean fabric as soon as it came out of the dryer.

I might be able to tweak the back pattern to separate it into two pieces, but I think even doing that, there’s not enough good fabric left to cover the whole thing. The seat area has marks from where the pockets were, and the front pockets cut into my usable area on the front. I didn’t even bother to lay out the waistband pieces, because if needed I could have done the waistband in a separate fabric.

So, sadly, Selene is not going to work out for me here. I’m also questioning whether I can manage a skirt just from this one pair of pants at all. I might have to stash it and use it for a much smaller project, or as an accent fabric on something.

Complete tangent here: unpicking these pants was a really interesting experience. When I was a kid, probably even into my teen years, I assumed that ready to wear clothes were made entirely by machine. I don’t think it really occurred to me that real people could be making so many clothes, or that it would be so inexpensive if they were. Unpicking my inexpensive ready to wear pants reminded me that there are people behind the clothes we buy, sewing the same seams I’d be sewing if I made them myself. They do it day in and day out, on the same style of garment over and over again, and they’re paid substantially less than I am so that I can afford to buy a pair of pants that sort of fit me for less than $30.

Unpicking just felt like a weird sort of communion with the people overseas who did the sewing on them in the first place. This whole year of making all my clothes is at least partially to make me mindful of the process that goes into my ready to wear clothes, but this is the first time it’s really hit home.

OK, enough with the serious stuff, on to boobies!


I ordered a kit and pattern from Sweet Cups – they’re the US distributor for Bra Makers’ Supply, which Beverly Johnson owns, so I knew the pattern and fabric would match up with the Craftsy class. I pretty much just wanted to follow the exact instructions from the class for my first bra-making experience, since I don’t know enough about bra-making to be able to improvise yet. I got turquoise, figuring that even if fit like crap, at least it would be a nice color.

I was too impatient to wait to start until I’d bought matching thread, so I used the turquoise/fuschia/purple variegated thread I had for the Akita shirt. Wow, Ethel did NOT like that thread. I have never had so many thread breaking problems as I did on this project. It broke threading her once – one of thread catches is a little tight, and BAM broken thread. It broke the first time I pulled the thread from the bobbin case. It was pretty much an inauspicious beginning.

Also, I was hoping the contrasting thread would be sort of cute and intentional looking, but it pretty much just looks like I couldn’t find matching thread. LESSON LEARNED.

All the pieces laid out. I should have tried harder to press that fabric.
Topstitching on the cup cross seam – I am so proud! Look at those lines, so evenly spaced from the seam! Who needs a stitch in the ditch foot anyway, NOT ME.
Bottom and side elastics attached.
The finished product!

I’m kind of thrilled with the way the whole thing came together. I was careful with my topstitching, and for the most part it came out pretty darn evenly.

I made a 42 D, which is a couple of band sizes and a cup size larger than what I wear in RTW. I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern beforehand because I knew this was supposed to be a fitting bra, and I could make adjustments after I’d seen what the default fit was like.

I was really unsure about the D cup in particular, because the C cup I usually wear in RTW is always loose around the top edge and tends to pull out from my chest. (It’s a classy look, let me tell you. Good thing I’m a programmer and nobody cares what I look like.) Every bra I’ve had that I can remember has been a foam cup, and I honestly didn’t realize how much I hated them until I put this bra on.

It has a few fitting issues, but it’s already so much better than what I’ve been dealing with in RTW. I love the full band (apparently my other bras are all partial band, and I didn’t even know there was a difference?), I love the lack of foam cups, I love that it lays flat on my upper chest and doesn’t stick out. I am pretty sure I have never actually had a well-fitting bra in my life, haha.

The most noticeable fitting problem I have is that the underarm feels really tight, and the top of the cup is a little loose (no surprise, given my RTW problems). From the discussion boards, it looked like I could take out a dart to fix the top cup looseness, and the more I looked at it, the more I realized that the tightness is probably shoddy stitching on my part, and if I’m more careful next time it should be better.

I also decided to split the lower cup to help fix an issue where the bottom of the breast isn’t quite flush with the underwire (it’s like a millimeter away, but so long as I’m making pattern adjustments anyway, why not make one more?).

Adjusted pattern – you can see the dart on the left, and then lower cup has clearly been split.

I went ahead and ordered materials for another bra from Sweet Cups, because I’m SO EXCITED to have a bra that basically fits. I wore it most of today and the underarm tightness is less noticeable the longer its worn. I’m grateful that even my initial mockup fits pretty well.


I guess my other goal for the week was to watch more Craftsy classes? BOY, DID I. I, uh, need to not buy anything for awhile. That $20 class sale last week got me good. I have a newfound fascination with couture sewing techniques that may or may not rear its head in my upcoming projects. (Those classes with Alison Smith are incredible, by the way. I just love her to bits.)

Goals for next week:

I seriously don’t even know. I ordered materials for another bra and fabric to make shorts from the shapewear class, but I doubt they’ll be here until later in the week. I was going to get started on that Selene with the corduroy, but obviously that is out. So… I guess goal #1 for next week is to figure out what the next project is going to be?


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