Christine Haynes is a Brooklyn-based sewing author, teacher, and pattern designer. She is vintage inspired sewing for the modern seamstress. Christine turned her focus to teaching others to experience the joy of making clothing for themselves through her patterns, books, and workshops.
Today post in our Lottie Dress & Shirt PatternSewawlong is much lighter than the last, as we are only focusing on the side seams and the vents. After this step, things really start to take their shape! Note: if you want to 100% confirm the fit of the pattern, you can always baste the side seams first, try it on, and adjust accordingly. If you need to take it in a tiny bit or make it a smidge larger, it's still possible during this step by simply reducing or enlarging your seam allowance. Hopefully you made a muslin and nothing major needs to be adjusted! But small amounts are totally acceptable at this point. Okay, let's get started!
1. All the views have side seams that need to be sewn, but if you're making a shirt or maxi version, you will have a stopping point on the side seam and will not be going all the way to the hem. In this first step, simply pin the side seams together, right sides facing. If you will have a vent, be sure to clearly mark where you want to stop on both side seams, so they are of equal distance from the hem.
2. Sewing from the sleeve hem, sew down towards the hem. At the underarm curve, take your time and go slow. If you feel uneasy on curves, you can always draw yourself a line to follow. Just make sure the marking tool is water soluble! If you feel uneasy about making the curve smooth, you can also reduce the stitch length so the stitches span less distance and create a smoother curve.
3. Once you've sewn down to your hem or stopping point for the vent, the seam allowance needs to be finished. If you do not have a vent, you can finish each edge individually and press the seam open; or you can finish the seam allowances together and press them toward the back. You can also skip steps 4–7!
If you have a vent in your view, keep reading! For the vents, the seam allowances must be finished separately so the seam can be pressed open. I choose to serge mine, as pictured above. Note: I do not do this first as it can stretch out the fabric, especially the curve. So only do the finishing after the seam is stitched. While you're pressing, once you reach the section unstitched, press the seam allowance to be consistent with the width of the part that has been sewn above it.
All views need to have notches cut into the underarm curve for the fabric to spread and open to lay flat. Simply snip into the seam allowance, getting close to the stitching, but do not cut through it!
4. Fold the seam allowance in half at the vent, and a couple of inches above the top of the vent, and press.
5. Before we topstitch the vent in place, you might want to tell yourself where to turn at the top of the vent. As always, be sure to use a water soluble marking tool. I like to turn about 3/8–1/2" above the top of the vent, but this is purely personal preference.
6. Starting at the hem, sew up one side of the vent, pivot, sew across the seam allowance, pivot, and sew back down to the hem. Edge stitch about 1/16–1/8" from the edge.
7. Give the vent a good press and repeat all the vent steps on the other side seam for an even pair. And that's it for today!
We will be back here Wednesday to learn how to bind the sleeveless version, and then Friday we will wrap it all up! See you then!
Today's post for the Lottie Dress & Shirt PatternSewalong is a rather beefy one. We are getting into the heart of the construction today and things are really starting to take shape. Everything up to this point feels like prep, even sewing the darts and pockets, but now we are shaping the garment itself. First I will walk you through how to add the 3/4-length sleeve extension on View B, then I will show you how to sew the shoulders on all three views, and lastly, I will help you sew a perfect neck binding. Okay, let's get started!
3/4-Length Sleeve Extension: View B
Technically this is part of View B, but of course, you can add it on to your version of View A or C too, depending on how you are mixing and matching the elements of the pattern. We are starting here, because in the next step, sewing the shoulders, the sleeves need to already be attached.
Sewing the 3/4-length sleeve extension is quite simple, but the key is to make sure you have actually sewn the correct part of the sleeve extension to the correct side of the Lottie. For the sleeve front, look for the single notch of the extension to match with the single notch at the short sleeve, and the triple notch goes up toward the shoulders.
For the sleeve back, look for the double notch of the extension to match with the double notch at the short sleeve, and the triple notch again goes up toward the shoulders. You see how important correctly cutting your notches is right now!
1. Once you have your pieces sorted out and the correct sleeve extensions paired with the correct side of the dress or shirt, pin the sleeve fronts to the dress or shirt front, and pin the sleeve backs to the dress or shirt back. I suggest pinning at the ends and the notch first, then pin in between as it's a slight curve.
2. Ease the sleeve to fit and sew in place. Be very careful not to stretch the whole seam out, so when you are easing, be very gentle as this is on the bias.
3. After sewing on all four sleeve extensions, finish the seams as desired and press the seam allowances toward the sleeve.
4. Top stitch 3/8" from the seam on the sleeve side of the seam. You will be sewing through your seam allowance, securing it in place. Repeat on all four seams.
5. Give the sleeve seams a final press (you might want to use your ham for it) and now we are ready to sew the shoulders!
Shoulder Seam: View A
Each shoulder seam is slightly different, but many of the same principals apply. I will show you how each one looks based on the three views. First up, View A.
1. Pin the shoulder seams with right sides together. Pin at the ends and notch first, then pin in between.
2. To sew the shoulder seams, start at the neckline opening, then sew towards the short sleeve hem. Repeat on the other side by flipping the fabric over and sewing from the neckline to the hem.
3. Finish the seam allowance as desired.
4. Press the seam allowances towards the back if finished together, or press them open if finished separately. Use a pressing ham while pressing to take the place of your shoulders.
Shoulder Seam: View B
For View B, the key difference is that there is the 3/4-length sleeve extension sewn on, but the steps are basically the same as for View A.
1. With right sides together, pin the dress or shirt front to the back along the shoulder seams. Pin at the sleeve hem, the neckline, the shoulder notch, the sleeve notch, and the extension seams first, then pin in between.
2. Sew from the neckline opening towards the sleeve hem on each side. Be cautious as you go over the sleeve extension seam, as you will want those to line up!
3. Finish the seam allowance as desired.
4. Press the seam allowance open if finished separately, or press them towards the back if finished together. Use a pressing ham to take the place of your shoulder.
And that's it!
Shoulder Seam: View C
The shoulder seam on View C is even easier, as it's quite a short distance from the neckline opening to the armscye. Here we go!
1. Pin the dress or shirt front together at the shoulder seams, right sides together.
2. Sew the shoulder seam from the neckline opening toward the armscye on each side.
3. Finish the seam allowances as desired.
4. Press the seam allowances open if finished seprately, or press them towards the back if finished together. Use a pressing ham under the seam while pressing.
Finishing a neckline opening with bias binding is a very common practice, yet I often hear from my students that they struggle with getting this part to look perfect and professional. There are three main tips: 1–Press a lot and use a ham! 2–Try not to stretch the neckline or the binding during this whole process. And 3–Be as precise as possible, as there isn't a lot of room for error. Go slow and take your time.
I tried to help out the beginners by not reducing the seam allowance when sewing on the binding, as I've seen in classes that things can go terribly awry when you ask a new sewer to sew binding on at a 1/4" seam or something equally tiny. You still need to be on the money with your 5/8" seam, but I think it eases the mind to have all that extra fabric to hold on to during the process. Okay, ready? here we go!
1. Fold the neck binding in half, right sides together, and line up the short ends. Pin them together and sew. Trim the seam allowance in half.
2. Press the seam allowance open. Fold the neck binding in half, wrong sides together, and press. Make sure your raw edges are line up perfectly. These two pressing steps are much easier done with a sleeve board.
3. Divide the neck binding into four equal parts and mark with pins or a water soluble marking tool.
4. Divide the neckline into four equal parts and mark as well. If you didn't snip the center front and center back during the marking process, find the center front and center back by placing the shoulder seams together. Be careful not to stretch out the neckline during this step. Find the remaining two points by working from the center front and center back. Note that the shoulder seams are not the midway point between center front and center back. They will be forward of the shoulder seams.
5. Pin the binding to the neckline by matching the four quarter spots. The raw edge of the binding should be facing up and the fold should be down.
6. Continue by pinning in between the four anchor points, lining up the raw edges around the neckline opening. If you didn't stretch anything out and cut and sewed your binding and shoulder seams correctly, there should be no easing necessary. They should line up just right.
7. Sew the binding to the neckline at a 5/8" seam allowance. Take your time and be consistent as the binding on the left of your needle needs to be equal all the way around your neckline.
8. Using a pressing ham under the neckline, press the binding up toward the neckline opening. Really open the seam and press it flat.
9. Understitch the neckline by sewing through the binding and the seam allowance only. Your stitch will be directly to the right of the seam from the last step. Go slow and sew as close as you can to the seam without crossing over.
As indie pattern companies move more and more into designing PDF patterns, us included, it seems like a good moment to have a refresher on how to print and assemble PDF patterns correctly. It is very easy, but for those that are new to it, there are a few key moments that you really want to do right. So I will talk you through the entire process from start to finish. Okay, let's get to it!
1. Find the Test Square
First, you need to find the page that contains the test square and print that page. Every PDF pattern will have a page that has a shape on it that is a specific size. Ours has a 4" square, usually on page 1 of our PDF patterns. But sometimes due to the shape of the pattern pieces we have to move it to another page. How do you find this page? There are two ways. You can either open the print-at-home PDF file and locate it by scrolling through the pages, or you can look at the print-at-home chart in the instruction booklet, pictured below.
2. Print the Test Square
Once you have located the page that contains the test square, you want to print just that page. The reason you are printing this 4" square is to make sure it is sized correctly, thus making the pattern the correct size as well. You do not want to print all the pages, only to find that the square was too big or too small. You just want to print that single page to confirm the square is the correct size, then you can move onto printing the rest of the pages.
To print the test square page, open the print-at-home PDF file in a PDF reader software, like Adobe Acrobat or Apple Preview. Note: for copyright reasons, the files cannot be opened in an editing software, like Adobe Illustrator. Once you've opened the file, ask the computer to print the file, but only the page with the test square on it.
Now this is the important part: you want to print it at 100% scale. You do not want the computer to enlarge it to fill the page, nor shrink it to fit the page. You want it to be printed full size. How do you do that? Simply make sure the print window looks like these examples below:
Adobe Acrobat print window
Apple Preview print window
Once you've printed that page, you want to measure the square to make sure it is in fact 4" square. If it is, you can now print the remaining pages. If it is too big or too small, double check that all the scaling buttons and settings are correct and try again. If it still is too big or too small, and you've checked everything you can think of, then it might be time to ask a professional. Usually this goes just fine and you don't have to bring in the heavy hitters, but all printers and computers are different, and there might be something set in your printer preferences that we cannot guess from afar.
3. Trim the Pages
Once you have all the pages printed successfully, it's time to trim them to assemble them together. I find that if you trim all the edges of the pages, it's really hard to line up a cut edge to another cut edge. So how I prefer to do the assembly, is by trimming only the right and bottom edges of each page, so when you go to assemble them, you simply overlap the cut edge onto the uncut edge, and tape it together. Also this cuts your trimming time in half! So it's a win win!
Grab your paper scissors, and trim the right and bottom edges of each page, right up to the gray dashed line. Do not cut that line away! You should still see the line after trimming.
Continue trimming all the pages until they all have the bottom and right edges trimmed off.
4. Assemble the pages
Once you have all your pages printed and trimmed, it's time to assemble them all together. Refer to the chart above that is included in your instructions on how the pages are going to fit together. You're essentially forming a giant puzzle. But since size is a key factor in your pattern, you really want to be sure to line everything up as best as you can. Overlapping the pages beyond the gray dashed line, or leaving gaps between them, will cause the pieces to be too big or too small, and then the fabric pieces once cut might not go together well. So take your time and make sure everything lines up just right.
Slide the uncut edge under the previous page, so the trimmed right side lines up with the untrimmed left side of the next page. So above, page 2 has the right side trimmed, and page 3 still has the margin of paper on the left side. Page 2 is overlapping that margin, allowing the gray dashed lines to meet. The gray circles will also line up, as will the actual pattern piece lines. Once everything is lined up, tape the pages together, and continue on until that row is assembled.
I prefer to assemble each row, then join those rows together. Below you can see the first row joining the second row, forming the pattern pieces. Just like when joining single pages, the cut edge of the upper row overlaps with the uncut edge of the row below it, making it easy to line up the gray dashed lines and tape in place.
Once you have assembled your rows, the job is now done! This isn't most people's favorite task to do, but once you do it a few times, you get faster and faster at it. And there is something wonderful about working with paper instead of tissue, which is far more precious. Though even someone who doesn't mind this task probably doesn't want to have to do it again, so once you have your whole PDF pattern taped together, I suggest tracing off your size preference with Swedish tracing paper and a mechanical pencil. That way you don't have to cut the PDF pattern and it remains ready for future use!
As always, contact us with any questions you might have about this process. We're happy to help!
We are so excited to announce our newest pattern, the Varda Dress & Top. The Varda is a perfect middle ground between a loose shift and a fitted sheath. The French dart in the front and the contour darts in the back create style lines are designed to follow your curves, with just enough ease in place to give you room to breathe and eat a meal. Just the way we like it! Plus with three sleeve options and two lengths, this classic design will be a workhorse in your closet for years to come.
The Varda Dress & Top is only available as a PDF pattern and is on sale for the first week. Click the button below to pick it up at 20% off today!
This is one of the first times we went at the design with a top in mind, then extended it to a dress length. Usually it's the other way around for us. But as I wear pants more often these days, I really lacked curve-friendly fitted woven tops in my wardrobe, so I went about to design one. Both the Varda Dress & Top have all the same style lines and darts to give you a shapely and flattering fitted woven garment.
The gorgeous French darts also allows easy fitting for a sleeveless look, as the excess fabric for shaping is brought down below the bust and along the side seams, instead of focusing it up in the bust and armscye area. In addition to sleeveless, there is also a short sleeve and elbow sleeve, giving you three sleeve options, plus two lengths, for six glorious customizable and classic silhouettes for a great wardrobe staple.
The neckline is finished with narrow and topstitched facings, as are the openings for the sleeveless option. Both the dress and the top are closed up with a 22" zipper in the center back, allowing you to adjust the ease so you can fit the garment as you like, for easy on and off. The length of the dress hits just ever so slightly above the knee, making it both evening and office appropriate. The top length lands at the hip, allowing you to use a full 22" zipper, and still have enough space for a short seam below the zipper and a 1" topstitched hem.
The long contour darts on the back and the curved upper back center seam help to fit and follow your curves beautifully. And because the Varda Dress & Top has a distinct lack of frill, it's great in a very wide range of fabric types. Everything from a lightweight silk, to a mid-weight cotton shirting, to a slightly heavier barkcloth works brilliantly.
Like with our other PDF-only patterns, the instructions are done in photographs instead of illustrations, for a helping hand in a sewalong style. We used a simple white background on the photos this time to save you ink when printing. We also selected a fabric that reads well in color or black and white, so you can choose to print with black ink only if you prefer. These changes are thanks to feedback from all of you! We absolutely welcome input if you see something that could be improved. We think a lot about the user experience, so let us know!
Now go get yourself the Varda Dress & Top pattern! It's great for all seasons, body shapes, ages, occasions, and tastes. A truly versatile pattern! Tag your makes with #christinehaynesvarda and #christinehaynespatterns so we can see what you do with our pattern! And thanks as always for being the best customers ever. We love you guys!
First, a warning: this post is super long! But I wanted to be really complete in my experience thus far, as to possibly help anyone else starting out with their own bra making! So get comfy, grab a cup of tea, and read on...
I don't remember who I saw sewing up bras first on the internet, but I remember seeing them and thinking to myself, no, really? I've been sewing for decades, and yet the idea of making something like a bra sincerely never occurred to me. Not because I didn't think I could do the sewing, but because a bra has to really perform a job! It's not just for placing on top of your body, it's shapewear meant for a key task. And well, if it doesn't perform its job, it's pretty useless. It seemed totally intimidating to think I could get the fit right to make the effort worth my time and money.
The first bra that I thought, yeah, I can do that, was the Watson Bra from Amy of Cloth Habit, pictured above. I have a feeling that this was the "ah ha!" lightbulb bra for a lot of other sewers too. It doesn't have an underwire, so it removes what seems like the scariest part of bra making from the situation. I have since learned that the underwire is hardly the hardest part, so why the lack of underwire should comfort me is silly. I stocked up on kits from Blackbird Fabrics, found more notions along the way, and before I knew it, a year or so had passed and I had a huge bin of fabric and notions, and no bras sewn.
Fast forward quite a while, and I still was collecting more and more bra making fabrics, elastics, and notions. I knew I was going to do it at some point, but when, who knows! Then last fall I went to Camp Workroom Social. I met Amy in real life, (who is a hilarious firecracker by the way), and then proceeded to watch students sew up their own bras. More than a few of Amy's students ran into my classroom to lift up their shirts and show off their newly sewn bras to my entire class. Which of course was met with a huge round of applause! That's what this camp is like, the kind of place where you can run into a classroom full of strangers, whip off your top, and show off your boobs in your new bra to a supportive round of cheers! Yeah, it's pretty magical!
Needless to say, I left camp inspired and totally determined to sew my own bras too. I thought, if these students could do it, I could do it too! Of course, they had Amy by their side to help them, but still, I was absolutely determined to go home and give it a shot!
Step One: Research
First thing I did was read every blog post on bra making I could find. I highly recommend doing this if you've never sewn bras before, because learning from others is hugely helpful. If you'd like a shortcut, here are the people I found most helpful:
I know there are a TON of blogs that are writing about lingerie and bra making, but these are the ones that helped me the most. Amy and Norma have great tutorials on their blogs that go along with their patterns, and Erin, Lauren, and Ying all have tons of information on the things they are personally sewing.
Step Two: Patterns
Next, you need to decide what pattern(s) you want to try. I knew for sure that I wanted to give the Harriet Bra from Amy a shot, and I knew from friends (and my research) that both the Marlborough Bra and Boylston Bra from Norma were great. I bought all three, and figured that just like when you're trying on bras in department stores, they're all going to fit differently and one will likely be better than the rest. I didn't plan to make multiples of each, rather make muslins and see which I liked best and go from there.
To my untrained bra making eye, the seam lines seemed quite similar between the Harriet and the Marlborough. The Boylston seam lines were the most different, and also it uses a handmade strap for the upper portion. So I decided to try the Marlborough and Harriet first, and see which I preferred.
Step Three: Fabric & Notions
Yeah, this is probably where most people come to a screeching halt, because even for me, this part still makes my head a bit nutty! Learning all about bra making and lingerie fabrics is a whole new thing. It doesn't matter if you've been sewing for a long time, because for the most part, these aren't fabrics you've used before unless you've made bras and lingerie in the past.
First thing I had to do is figure out what I actually had, because since I was gathering things haphazardly over many years, I really didn't know if I even had the right stuff to sew up these bras. After some inventory, it turns out that I did in fact have most of what I needed. But I still had a lot to learn. If you are just starting and aren't sure what to do, I highly suggest buying a kit where everything is included. This will give you everything you need to try out a pattern and learn what's what. And honestly, I'm still figuring it out, because what one shop might call one thing, another shop calls it something different! There is much trial and error to be had, and that is just part of the deal, so get comfortable with that idea from the start.
Once I figured out what I had, I then made a list of what I still needed. I ordered some fabric and notions from a few shops, and really had a great experience with all of them. These are the shops I bought everything from:
I also bought a few notions locally, but the bulk of my bra making materials came from the three shops above. There are a ton of other on-line stores, many of which I'm sure are lovely, but these are the only ones I tried and I was very happy with them all.
So, let's talk about the fabric and notions you're going to need, bit by bit.
1. Underwires I am still learning all there is to know about underwires, so I'm hardly an expert on this. But here's what I've learned. First, don't assume that what you're buying from a store is what you actually should be wearing. Second, don't assume that what the pattern tells you is right either! What I would suggest is to measure yourself as instructed by the pattern, then buy a range of underwire sizes in that ball park to see what really works best for you. I know you can buy long ones and cut them down, but honestly, I'm not doing that. I like buying the finished wires and I bet a lot of you do too.
In addition to the size, there's also shape to consider! Yay! This is one reason I really liked the shops I bought from listed above. Both Tailor Made and Emerald Studio, where I bought my underwires, know the indie pattern scene and are helpful with telling you which shapes work with what patterns. There's a lot of the guess work removed for you. So don't hesitate to ask them or to ask the pattern designer either. They're all so very helpful!
The shape I needed for the Marlborough and Harriet were the "classic". I also have some of the "demi" that I needed for the next pattern I tried, the Fenway Bra, also from Orange Lingerie.
You can see the clear difference in length and shape between the two when stacked together. The "demi" is shorter and dips lower, as the Fenway Bra is frameless and this fits the shape better. How will you know which you should use for which pattern? You won't! Nope. The patterns don't tell you this exactly. I get why, because there are so many factors to consider - size, shape, etc - so it's really good to have a few different ones on hand. Or get into the cutting thing.
2. Elastics & Channeling OMG you guys, so many elastics! First lesson to know: the elastic along the neckline and under the arm, for the straps, along the bottom, and along the lace edge, are all different! Yeah, seriously. So again, if you've never sewn a bra and want to see how it goes, buy a kit! Don't buy a bulk spool of one elastic and think you can use it on every part of your bra, because you can't.
So, what's what? Here's a little cheat sheet:
Fold Over Elastic (FOE) - this is elastic with a groove down the center that is to help you fold it in half for sewing. This is used for finishing edges on undies and some bras too.
Lower Band Elastic - this has a plush side that goes against your body, and a non-plush side that goes against the bra. It likely will have some sort of picot edge, but not always. It is slightly wider than the elastic used for the armhole and neckline.
Armhole & Neckline Elastic - just like the lower band elastic, but narrower.
Strap Elastic - this ranges a lot from type to type, but the key difference I've found is that it's usually a bit thicker and more stable than the elastic used on the bra. Many are shiny on one side, and some have decorative picot edges. Note that this has to fit with your hardware, so be sure to check the width to make sure they're the same.
Underwire Channeling - not actually elastic, but the other similar notion that you will need if you're sewing an underwire bra. This goes under the cup and the underwire feeds into it. More on that below...
If like me, you've never done anything like this before, you too might make the same rookie mistake I did with channeling. Just like with the elastics, the plush side goes against your body, and the underside faces the bra. Here's what no one told me, what no blog post mentions, and what all the patterns I have do not say: this is not just a flat piece of notion, but rather this is two layers sewn together that your underwire fit into. Okay, maybe the word channeling is a giveaway and I just missed the obvious, but I sincerely thought you sewed this to the bra, and the underwire went between it and the fabric. So the "channel" was made by sewing the notion to the fabric. Nope! The end opens up. But just looking at the end, you'd never know this. There's zero gape and at least to me, it wasn't obvious. And again, it's never mentioned anywhere on anything I read. So if you did this too, you're not alone! But obviously feeding the underwire into the channeling prevents it from being seen through the sheer fabrics, and also prevents it from poking through lace etc. Okay, moving on...
3. Fabrics Every bra I've ever owned was made with a fabric that stretched, so it was a total surprise to me that the Harriet and Marlborough both called for non-stretch fabrics, except for the back portion that went from the side seam to the center back. Being completely stubborn on this, I totally ignored this and gathered up all kinds of stable and stretch fabrics to see what I liked.
I had a hard time remembering what was each fabric was called, and what pieces came from which store, so as each thing arrived from various shops, I labeled each piece of fabric, and made myself a swatch chart, pictured below:
Before you know it, "ivory", "beige", and "nude" all look the same and you'll forget which was which! So I found that this method helped me remember what was what, and where each piece was bought.
I also stocked up on gorgeous stretch laces, bra foam, and all kinds of fabrics that I thought I might want to try. The good news is that bras take so little fabric, so while you do need a lot of bits and pieces, you don't need much of each! All the lace on the left below are from Tailor Made Shop, and the lace and mesh on the right are from The Fabric Store in LA.
4. Hardware & Closures Lastly you will need rings and sliders, as well as the hook and eye closures for the back of the bra. Again, I found a lot of variance out there. Things to keep in mind:
Your rings and sliders must match the width of your strap elastic
If you plan to move the straps around as I did (more on that below) you will need more than one set of rings per bra.
Not all patterns are designed for all closure widths. So make sure you're buying the one that fits your pattern. They come in many sizes, but most bras will call for 1, 2, or 3 hook and eye sized closures. (Norma has a pattern for making your own if you'd prefer it all to match perfectly. Find it here.)
The actual hooks and eyes come in a range of metal colors, so if you want them to match your rings and sliders, make note!
And lastly, some hook and eyes have a little pocket for sewing, and some you have to fold over and form the pocket yourself. I didn't notice that they weren't all the same, and was surprised by this.
The red one on the right has a pocket to slide the bra end into, where the one on the left does not, and you have to fold the left side under the right side to fit the bra end into. Both are fine, but they are quite different to work with and as a new bra maker, I didn't notice the difference when I was buying them.
Step Four: Making Muslins
Phew! Okay, now that you've picked a pattern and gathered everything, it's finally time to sew up a bra! For the sake of science, I decided to sew the Marlborough Bra and the Harriet Bra in the exact same fabric and notions, so I could clearly see how they were different.
The first step is to measure yourself and figure out the size. If you've read anything about bra making already, you likely know this fun fact: you cannot test the fit until you've sewn the entire bra. The reason is because the fit is entirely dependent on each little bit. So while you think you might be able to test the bra without finishing the bottom or adding the straps, you simply cannot. So like I mentioned above, just get comfortable with the notion that you will have some waste and not all of them are going to be winners.
I followed the measuring advice of both Norma and Amy, and decided to go (mostly) with their suggestions. In real life I buy and wear a 36B. I've never been professionally measured and this size was chosen because it felt the best to me. Is it the "right" size? Honestly, who knows! So I didn't just assume that this was the size to sew. With Norma's measuring I was to make a 38B, and with Amy's it instructed me to sew a 34D. Clearly these are hugely different. But what I've learned is that the volume from one size and letter to another is the same, and that because these bras are designed differently, they fit differently.
I decided to sew up the Marlborough in the suggested 38B and the Harriet in a 34C, going down one cup size from the suggestion. Also, it should be noted that unlike the pattern suggestion, I chose to sew them using stretch fabrics and not non-stretch fabrics. This will of course change the fit tremendously, but since I knew I wanted my finished bras to be sewn in stretch (I just find that more comfortable) I wanted to test it in this way too.
So here are my first two test bras! The Marlborough is on the top and the Harriet is on the bottom. I used the exact same fabric for each and sewed them exactly as instructed, with the exception of swapping out non-stretch for stretch of course.
Honestly, the fit on both of these right out of the envelope was better than any store bought bra I owned. I sincerely couldn't believe it! I was shocked and excited! Since both fit great, the big difference was how they actually made my boobs look. To determine this, I took a series of photos: first me straight ahead in a mirror in just the bra, and then the same thing but from a profile. Then I did both of those same shots with a t-shirt on. (Sorry, you're not getting any photos of me in my bra here! So you'll have to trust me on how they fit!) Both were really great, but the key difference was this: the Harriet pushed my boobs forward and the Marlborough pulled my boobs up. Both are good, depending on what you're wearing. For example, if I were wearing something that showed cleavage and I wanted a more "up and out" shape to my bust, for sure the Harriet is perfect. But for more..
The Piper Top is a modern funnel neck knit top. It's just as easy to sew and wear as a t-shirt, but thanks to the funnel neck, it's slightly elevated in style. Inspired by tops of the 1960's, Piper has a folded short funnel neck, set-in sleeves, and an hourglass shape that's meant to follow, but not cling to, the curves of the body.
Choose between View A with short sleeves that hit halfway between the shoulder and elbow, or View B with 3/4-length sleeves that land above the wrist.
The Piper Top is part of the Christine Haynes Patterns Chop Chop collection, which are quick and easy to sew projects that are only available in PDF format. Unlike the main collection, the Chop Chop collection uses full color photographs for the step by step instructions, and illustrates the garments on dress forms instead of a figure. Otherwise they are the same quality patterns as the main collection.
Like all our patterns, the Piper Top pattern is sized from 0–18 and all sizes are included in the PDF. Perfect for absolute beginners, or those new to sewing with knits, this pattern's difficulty is rated at only "one spool"! This is by far the easiest pattern we've released, but because it's so chic, it doesn't look "beginner" at all.
The best fabrics for the Piper Top are medium weight knit fabrics like ponte, cotton knits, cotton & spandex blend knits, scuba knits.
We hope you love the Piper Top as much as we do! Now go grab it on sale!
In mid-December I spent a week in New York City and Michigan just before the holidays. I knew that it was going to be cold, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out our Ellsworth Coat pattern in a warm wool.
Since releasing the Ellsworth Coat, we have received a lot of emails asking about using wool to sew it up. The pattern envelope lists "lightweight wool" as one of the recommended fabrics, so in short, yes, absolutely you can use wool! But the word lightweight is key here. The Ellsworth was not designed for heavy wool or overly thick and bulky fabrics. There are sharp corners at the collar and center front hem, and it is hard to get a proper angle if there is too much bulk. So if you do decide to use a heavier wool or any other fabric, just keep note that you will need to make those angles more rounded, and in a deliberate manner, otherwise it will look like a mistake!
For my winter Ellsworth Coat, I used a beautiful charcoal gray wool for the outer, and a beige and black silk gingham for the lining, both picked up in November at The Fabric Store as part of my allowance for that month. I picked out the fabrics with this project in mind, and I am so thrilled with how it turned out. My wool is not what I'd call heavy, but it is absolutely thicker than lightweight. Plus, I wanted to make it warm enough for December in New York City, so I underlined it in cotton flannel.
Above you can see the shell of the coat entirely sewn up, just before I put the lining in. I cut all the coat pieces in the cotton flannel (absolutely pre-wash that stuff by the way!), then sewed the flannel to the coat pieces at a 1/2" seam allowance. I did not underline the facings, and I also chose to skip the interfacing in the facings and collar since the flannel provided plenty of body to the wool. I only made three construction changes because of the heaviness of the wool and flannel. First, instead of pressing the center back seam to one side and topstitching on that side alone, I pressed the seam allowance open (you can see that above) and then topstitched on either side of the seam. This equalled out the bulk to each side instead of pushing all of it to one side. Second, the other change I did was to topstitch the center seam on the under collar. This just helped secure everything together and was largely an aesthetic choice. And lastly, instead of just hand tacking the hem to the seam allowance on the inside at the center back seam, I also tacked it at each other seam around the entire hem. The weight of the wool can pull the hem down, so this helped keep it in place perfectly.
Everything else was sewn exactly as instructed. I took great care to create nicely rounded corners on the spots mentioned above, and it really all turned out perfect. For fitting, since I was choosing a thicker fabric, and I was underlining it, I wanted to be sure that it would still fit. Because we designed Ellsworth to have a substantial amount of ease in it so you could wear it over something bulky, I didn't have to change the size of anything. That being said, could I wear this over a thick cable wool sweater? Probably not. But I could easily wear it over lots of light and medium layers.
I wanted this coat to be a classic staple in my closet that I can wear for a long time, so I kept the details pretty simple. I used very basic black round buttons, and sewed all the topstitching and button holes in a slightly lighter gray, so the stitching would be noticeable, yet match. I had planned on sewing this coat with bound buttonholes, but I decided to just do machine buttonholes after surveying other wool coats and seeing that it looked just fine. The wool doesn't fray at all, so they look pretty good as is. My machine didn't love sewing them, so they aren't exactly perfect, but then what handmade garment is?
I really love the gingham lining. It's fun and elegant in the silk, but it's also neutral and classic. It adds a perfect pop without drawing too much attention to itself. For me, the sign of a well sewn coat is the spot at the inside bottom corner where the lining and the facing meet. If that spot is sewn well, I trust the maker knew a thing or two about proper sewing. But given that I was using a moderately thick wool, and it was underlined, I wasn't sure how smooth it would go. Thankfully it went together like a dream. Perfect seam and pleat lining. Hurrah!
I know a lot of you have the Ellsworth on your list of items to sew for 2017, so I hope this shows you that it sews up just as wonderfully in wool as it does like those in the model photos, made in cotton canvas.
If you have any questions about the construction of the Ellsworth in wool, let me know in the comments below! I'm happy to help! Huge thanks to The Fabric Store for providing me with such glorious fabrics to work with. If you haven't shopped their on-line store (they ship world-wide and I usually get my packages from them in New Zealand in 2 days!!!), or their GORGEOUS shop in LA, I highly recommend both!
Welcome to our newest pattern, the Ellsworth Coat! Ellsworth is a classic 1960's-inspired double breasted overcoat. For the first week of the launch, Ellsworth is on sale 20% off! Use code ELLSWORTHLAUNCH upon checkout to redeem your discount. Sale runs through next Monday, November 1, so don't wait!
The coat is fully lined, and features elegant topstitching down the front, around the notched collar, down the center back, around the yoke seams, and on the sides of the deep patch pockets.
The set-in sleeves land at the wrist bone, and the coat hem extends to mid-thigh. The coat is designed with plenty of ease to wear over your favorite layer. Or choose to size it down for a closer fit.
Ellsworth is the perfect coat for a first-time coat sewer, as it has loads of polished details, like a full lining, notched collar, and wide topstitching, but is still very easy to sew and is designed for easy to handle fabrics, like cotton canvas. Advanced sewers can sew it as it is, or use it as a jumping point for hacks and customization.
The PDF version of the Ellsworth Coat is available now for instant downloading! It is formatted in print-at-home, US copy shop, and A0 copy shop versions, so no matter where you are or what your preference, it's ready to go! The printed version of the Ellsworth Coat is currently open for pre-orders and will ship mid-November.
This pattern is a long time coming, and we are so happy to finally be launching it. Enormous thanks to all that helped make it happen, and we sincerely hope you all love it!
(Almost) all the teachers & staff - photo from the @workroomsocial IG account
Last weekend I had the honor of teaching my upcoming Ellsworth Coat pattern to 15 lovely students at Camp Workroom Social. Held in upstate New York, it was pretty much an autumn dream come true. Breathtaking hills filled with red, yellow, and bright orange trees and the leaves literally falling around us like snow. It was absolutely magical.
Picture perfect autumn at Frost Valley YMCA
The deck off my classroom
Not only was the landscape dreamy, but the team of teachers and staff on site to work the event was an impressive line up of brilliant sewers and knitters, (mostly) all pictured in the photo above. I've taught at camps and camp-like events in the past, and this was something different. Jennifer, head of the camp as well as Workroom Social in Brooklyn, created a space for people to bond, connect, be vulnerable with each other, learn, share, and grow. Everything I can say sounds trite and corny, but all the cheesy cliché words are true. It was magical and everyone I met there is now like a BFF. Seriously.
My classroom and the most amazing views
My students hard at work, complete with Moose and stone fireplace
In my class, I had the beyond over qualified assistants of Devon Iott (known to many of you as Miss Make, who also works for Cotton + Steel Fabrics) and Kelli Ward (designer and owner of True Bias patterns). Devon and I have been friends for nearly a decade, and we taught together in Los Angeles for a very long time, so we have an unspoken language that was comforting going into this unknown event. Kelli couldn't have been more lovely, and fit into our team like we'd known her just as long. Both whipped up versions of the coat in advance of the class so they could be as helpful to the students as possible. They're just that awesome.
The full moon rising over Frost Valley YMCA
The gorgeous scenery outside my classroom
My students were exceptionally kind, and all but a couple were repeaters from the first year. Everyone knew of my situation and why I had missed being present the year before, and all of them were understanding and so kind as I struggled through the emotional strain of being there this year. It was a huge part of the healing process for me to be there, and to allow myself to be sad if necessary, and I'm so grateful for all my students (and all the other campers too) for the support and love they showed me. This network of people has to be the kindest bunch around.
Chilly morning at Frost Valley, complete with frost on the ground!
Walking through the woods between breakfast and class
As for the student's Ellsworth Coats, well you will see those soon enough! They all agreed to keep it a secret until after the pattern launches on Tuesday, which is so kind. So between the 15 of them, my versions, Kelli and Devon's coats, and the ones I've sewn for my models, there are about 20 already sewn and out in the world. A first for me at launch time. I am thrilled that all the students loved the pattern, and that for a fully lined coat, it was easy enough to actually sew up in two days! Stay tuned for a whole lot more soon on the pattern!
Our ah-mazing leader, Jennifer
It was a total joy to meet all of the fellow teachers, some of whom I have been communicating with from afar for many years, as well as all the staff that were there to support Jennifer. I honestly cannot tell you just now nice everyone was. Crazy nice. And fun. It was just the best and I cannot wait to go back next year!
Learning to knit (& purl) with teachers (including Kristiann & Elizabeth) and campers
Allyson (and Laura, Jennifer, and Sarah to the left) trying to keep the chaos in order to teach us all what to do!
I even learned to knit! Well technically I learned to purl! I knew the knit stitch, which I was doing slightly wrong as it turns out, and now I'm purling and working on my first hat! It was so fun learning with some of the other teachers. Though many of the teachers were in the advanced group, but I'll be there soon ladies!
In anticipation of chilly weather, I realized that I had hardly anything with long sleeves, so I quickly whipped up three versions of the Sew House 7's new Toaster Sweater. It was just released in the knick of time for me to serge up a few, which did a great job keeping me warm. I used three fabrics from my stash to make them up: a striped ponte knit in black and white, a thick navy knit with a faux sweater texture, and a lightweight gray knit that feels like cashmere.
I used view 1 for everything but the fit through the body, which I just cut two sizes bigger than the rest and used the corresponding band for that size. I wanted them to be loose and full so they would hang with ease over skirts or pants. The fit is closer to that of view 2, but I didn't follow that sweater to gauge the fit. I just forged ahead since time was a bit of an issue to get them sewn before camp.
The great thing though, is that because of the bands at the wrist and hem, as well as the turtleneck, it's 100% serged and takes seriously like about 30 minutes to make. I skipped all the topstitching for the sake of time and feel like it didn't suffer at all. I highly recommend the pattern for a cozy fall and winter layer, or for a warm pajama top at home.
Washington Square Park
After camp I stayed in New York City for a few days, as I wanted to visit with some friends, and I just adore NYC. So since I was already all the way over on the east coast, it seemed like a shame not to take advantage of it. I mostly wandered the West Village, East Village, Lower East Side, and parts of Brooklyn, all of which I've been too many times before.
Some pretty amazing ladies! Photo from Rachel's IG feed
For those of you considering going to Camp Workroom Social next year, do it. It was the best event of its kind I've ever been too, and if I wasn't there as a teacher, I'd totally go as a student. Best. Time. Ever. Huge thanks to Jennifer for having me (and asking me back) and to every single person that was there. Cannot wait to see you all next year!
Welcome to our newest pattern, the Rumi Tank! Rumi is a feminine and sporty racerback knit tank top and dress that will become a staple in your wardrobe. It is a quick pattern for experienced sewers, as well as those new to sewing with stretch fabrics. Rumi is the perfect intersection of elegant, flirty, modern, and utilitarian, and this pattern will take you from yoga class, to a picnic, to a nice evening out, all in comfort and style.
For the first week of the launch, Rumi is on sale 20% off! Regularly priced at $12, the pattern is only $9.60 until next Friday, August 26. So pick it up and sew Rumi today!
The Rumi Tank is the first pattern that we are releasing that is only available in a PDF format and is not printed on tissue paper. This is the first of a collection we're calling Chop Chop, which are quick and easy to sew patterns that you can buy, download, and sew today.
There are a couple of differences in formatting from our main collection of PDF patterns, which are our printed patterns turned PDF, unlike the Chop Chop collection, which are designed as PDF from the start. The main difference is that the step by step instructions are not drawn illustrations, rather they are full color photographs. Since these are quick and easy patterns, there are not many steps involved and the photos are an efficient approach to quickly getting the information out to you.
The other main difference is the cover features the pattern on a dress form instead of a figure. Again, this is to highlight the simplicity of the design and to provide a quality, but stripped down pattern from the main collection. The rest is all the same: the patterns are sized from 0–18, there are in-depth instructions to help you sew the pattern, and all the other details you know and love. Because of these stripped down details, the price of the Chop Chop collection is slightly less than that of our main collection, which we feel you all will appreciate too! If you're ever in question as to which is which, just look for the Chop Chop stamp on the cover, and you'll know it's part of this group. We want these to be instant gratification patterns that become staples in your closet. And because they are slightly less work for us to produce, we can release loads more patterns every year! Hurrah!
For the first pattern of our Chop Chop collection, we knew we wanted something easy but elegant. The Rumi Tank is precisely that! The pattern has two views: a tank dress and a tank top. Both feature narrow flirty straps that curve to a graceful racerback and a deep scoop neck in the front. Some of you might recall this photo from my Instagram account, hinting at this very pattern!
View B, the Rumi Tank top, is fitted through the upper body with negative ease through the bust. It then gently curves for a nipped in waist and a slight flare at the hip, with positive ease to avoid cling and to provide you with a flattering silhouette. It's also a great stash buster, using only a yard of 60" wide fabric!
View A, the Rumi Tank dress, has all the same flattering upper body details, but after the bust it flares to a fun and swingy trapeze dress. The hem is finished with a contrasting band that matches the contrasting binding around the neck and arm openings.
One of the great things about Rumi is its ability to go from many different situations with ease. The tank top version above in tissue cotton stripes is great for casual events like working out, going to a ballgame, or just lounging at home.
Where the tank version pictured here, sewn in elegant navy bamboo and paired with dark jeans and heels, is far dressier than its striped counterpart and can easily go to a more elegant situation. But of course, you will still be as comfy as ever!
View A, the Rumi Tank dress can also be made in one fabric, by simply combining the hem band and dress patterns to form one piece for the front and back, and sewing the binding in the same fabric as well.
The black and white dress version shown here is sewn in silk jersey, making it a swishy and gorgeous option for a nicer affair, a date night, or if you're like me and you live in dresses, this is a wonderful easy garment to wear everyday.
We are really excited about offering you this new Chop Chop collection of PDF only patterns and hope you all love them too! Pick up the Rumi Tank now while it's on sale, and seriously, you will have it sewn up so quickly you'll be wearing it later today!
Please use the #RumiTank and #ChristineHaynesPatterns hashtags for your makes so we can all enjoy them! Thanks as always for the support an we can't wait to see what you make.