Thanks again to everyone who posted, sewed, or just read along. I hope you enjoyed this month’s Lingerie theme! I think we might do our next theme month in October – I’m thinking one challenge a season?
In the comments, I’d love to hear what theme you think we should try next, and what you learned this month about lingerie!
Hello Sewcialists, happy lingerie month to you all! I’m Ginny and I love sewing lingerie! Well, actually, I love sewing & making a variety of different things — but lingerie sewing currently tops the list of my sewing favorites :D. I blog infrequently at Ginpins, and also put some of my projects up on Kollabora. I’m an ambivalent blogger, but I do read dozens of sewing blogs and enjoy them all immensely and consider you all to be my uber talented virtual friends (even though the vast majority of you have no clue who I am LOL). I am posting here today in response to an invitation (aka sewing dare :P) from Crafting a Rainbow — thanks for the nudge Gillian!
Have you all checked out Orange Lingerie’s new Boylston Bra pattern? I purchased it very soon after Norma released it, primarily because the Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra fits my niece, whom I sew for frequently, absolutely perfectly. I’ve yet to achieve an acceptable fit in the Marlborough for myself, but I do fall quite outside the cup size range. I wear a smaller band, require a narrow bridge and large deep cup — my experience with Marlborough has shown me that the bridge is too wide for me, and the cups much too shallow for my body type — but those cups, oh what a lovely shape they have! One of these days I’ll tackle the project of fitting it to myself.
Anyway, enough about me and back to the Boylston! As the Marlborough fit my niece so well, I was confident that the Boylston would be a hit with her and likely fit well. I made the 36B size in both cases. The Boylston is a sleek balconette style with self fabric straps, characteristics which should allow for an easy conversion to a swimsuit top (next up in the sewing queue!). One of the best things about sewing for my niece is that I can have the fun of making lingerie which is totally unsuitable for my body type while simultaneously spoiling my favorite financially strapped college student. I consider that a win-win! She likes to tell people that while she’s a poor college student, she does enjoy the luxury of custom made undies everyday :D. Way to flatter your Auntie into more sewing for you, Emma!
I waffled on fabric choice, but as this bra is designed to be sewn using “no to low stretch fabric for the cups / frame”, I decided to try making the cups, frame and straps from a pretty rose print cotton broadcloth that was lurking in my stash. This was my first foray into using a woven fabric as a component of a lingerie set and I feel it was successful. I think the bra turned out to be very summery and feminine and would be pretty worn under a translucent white top! The straps feature back elastic extensions (with rings & sliders) plus the the back of the bra is white powernet, so the required stretch factor is addressed. I decided to use foam lining in the bra as well, and it was extremely easy to do and looks quite nice. Typically, I zig-zag foam lining pieces together, but this time I used Emerald Erin’s satin stitch method and I absolutely love it (thanks Erin ♥).
The super clean finish at the top of the cups appeals to me though I had worried that the foam lining might make this area bulky or lumpy. However, that concern turned out to be unfounded. After sewing the seam, I carefully trimmed the foam very close to the stitching, then understitched the foam lining — it worked perfectly, is bulk free and looks darn good to me. The results bode well for the upcoming swimsuit top version, don’t you think?
Because I’m a tremendous fan of matching lingerie sets, I made a couple pair of coordinating undies too. I used Emma’s favorite panty pattern, Make Bra’s DL21 with sheer stretchy nylon/lycra mesh for the main part of the panty combined with the rose print cotton (cut on the bias) for the narrow front panel and crotch piece. These briefs hit right at the navel and are especially nice fitting for a pear-shaped figure (which my niece has) since the waist is smaller and the seat is roomy — they definitely have a snazzy retro vibe too. I edge stitched the panels and the crotch seams just to keep everything nice and tidy — plus I just adore me some nice top-stitching. I finished the waistline with foldover elastic and think that it gives a polished finish to the sheer mesh.
The second pair was made using Ohhh Lulu’s super comfy Grace panty pattern. The Grace is designed for bias cut woven fabric front and back panels and stretch fabric side panels, and I used stretch nylon/lycra lace sides on this pair. I love this versatile pattern and have made many pairs (for both Emma and myself) using bits & scraps leftover from other projects. I do deviate from the instructions for this panty though — I elasticize the entire leg opening (measure opening and cut elastic 10% shorter), while Sarah recommends folding under and coverstitching the leg opening sans any elastic. I have a rather flat behind and find that if I don’t add the leg elastic that the panties creep up — adding the elastic easily solved that issue.
I highly recommend the Boylston Bra pattern, particularly if your figure is on the average side. Both panty patterns are pretty awesome too, so give them a try if you have a chance.
I’ve enjoyed all the lingerie posts this month and am sad that July is drawing to a close — thanks to everyone who posted on the topic!
Charlotte from English Girl at Home here today, with a review of The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie by Katherine Sheers and Laura Stanford. I ordered this book shortly after it’s release, inspired by seeing photos from the book on other blogs. Lingerie Sewing Month has given me the nudge to finally sew a project from the book, rather than just admiring the gorgeous photography.
The book features 25 projects, including a good range of – in my opinion – more practical patterns, which could be sewn multiple times. These include a selection of knicker patterns, three soft bra patterns, and three sets of camisoles or vests and accompanying tap pants or french knickers, which could be worn either under clothing or as pyjamas. The book also includes a number of patterns for less everyday items, including three suspender belt patterns and two wedding garters.
The three bra patterns included are for soft bras. Two of the bras look quite delicate with one piece cups, but the Lace Longline Bra (below), which is constructed from two-piece cups and an underband, looks more supportive. I’m planning to try the pattern soon.
Pattern pieces are provided at full size, printed on two heavy paper sheets stored in an envelope at the back of the book. Patterns sheets are double sided and pattern pieces overlap so tracing is required. The pattern sheets aren’t especially busy so identifying the relevant pieces is straightforward and pieces are small so quick to trace.
The individual pattern instructions don’t state which pattern sheet the pieces are printed on, but they don’t take very long to locate. Pattern lay plans provided at the end of the book confirm the number of pieces each pattern is composed of, as well as providing cutting recommendations.
Pattern instructions are thorough, with simple numbered steps. To save space and repetition, individual pattern instructions use abbreviations (explained in a key), and refer you to tutorials section for techniques.
I absolutely love the tutorials section of the book (entitled ‘Sew On & Sew Forth‘). I have a tendency to be a bit slapdash (in my sewing and generally) and use methods which get me to my end goal quickly. This book really encourages slow sewing and attention to detail, with many of the tutorials covering hand-stitched finishes and embellishments. All techniques include a coloured illustration, which I found really helpful.
Patterns are provided in six sizes (8-18) ranging between 81cm-106cm at the bust and 81cm-106cm at the hip. Compared to the techniques information, the information provided on sizing appears relatively minimal. It is fine for the knickers and camisole sets, but I wonder if it is quite brief for bra making? Being unfamiliar with bra construction I’m unable to judge.
My first project from the book is the Boudoir Blushes camisole and french knickers set. The example in the book is a made in silk satin and is absolutely beautiful.
I decided to make my set as summer pjs, so used a more practical cotton blend fabric which I picked up recently in Berlin’s Turkish Market.
The set was straightforward to sew, although it is more time consuming than it looks if you follow the instructions and apply the lovely finishes suggested. For the Boudoir Blushes set, the finishes include french seams, a shell edge around the back neckline of the camisole, and reverse hems along the bottom of the camisole and knickers. Both the shell edge and reverse hem finishes were new to me, and I really enjoyed learning some new techniques and taking the time to apply them (while lounging in front of the TV, a major reason I enjoy hand sewing). There did appear to be one omission in the pattern instructions, with no reference to finishing the bottom hem of the french knickers, however it was clear from the photo to repeat the technique used on the camisole hem.
I popped them off after I finished making them for a quick photo in my bedroom. I don’t normally wear my watch to bed:), although I am often found sat on the bed knitting.
The set has been getting lots of wear since I finished it, and makes a comfy pyjama set for warm weather (in the winter I like to be a LOT more wrapped up than this). The camisole has an A-line shape that I really like, and which appears more pronounced in this cotton version than in the silk satin version in the book.
I’m looking forward to testing out a bra and knicker pattern from the book in the near future (as soon as I work through my current sewing to-do list…).
Have you got a copy of this book? Have you sewn anything yet, or just stared at the photography lovingly?
**Editor’s note: As it happens, we had one of the author’s of this book, Katherine Sheers, guest-post for us this month, but I promise Charlotte’s review is completely independent! — Gillian
Back in November, I took Beverly Johnson’s beginner bra making course at Bra Maker’s Supply in Hamilton, ON. I was very lucky to learn how to make a bra from the Fairy Bra Mother herself. In the course, Beverly fits you and the instructors and her do any necessary alterations to the pattern. We used the Classic Bra pattern from Pin up Girls. By the end of the course, I had an okay fitting bra, but not a great fitting bra. I had a lot of alterations ahead.
My main reason for taking the class was to be able to make cheaper bras in better fabrics and a wider range of colours. My 40HH size often meant my bras were around $100 each and only available in black, white or beige. Customs charges, exchanges rates, and shipping fees to Canada made the cost of shopping online unrealistic even with decent sales. I am lucky, however, to have a well-fitted bras even though they are in boring colours. Because I knew what a nice fit in a bra felt like, I didn’t want to spend the time tweaking the Classic Bra to my size and taste. I wanted to take my well-fitted bras and clone them.
Bev has a tutorial on one method of cloning using freezer paper. I followed the traditional method. This does mean taking the wire out of your bra, though. You can put it back in but you may want to choose an older bra that you are ready to retire.
You need some knowledge of sewing a bra in order to use your cloned pattern. I had only sewn one bra before cloning my own bra. So it is possible to do this at a very beginner stage. Please note the tutorial is just for creating a pattern. Not for sewing a bra. If this is your first time sewing a bra, I suggest Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction by Norma Loehr to help you understand not only how to sew a bra but also how to alter the fit. I used this book to help me alter the fit of my pattern pieces. It helps you understand the fit issues and the pattern pieces you need to change based on the fit issues.
I am not an expert in bra making, but found this method really worked for me.
Before you start, try the bra on and note any fitting issues so that you can do some flat pattern adjustments. Also, check the stretch direction and note the stretch percentage in the fabrics. Note where the elastic is pulled and try to determine how much it is pulled by. You can do this by pulled the material flat and checking the difference in the length. This information will help you sew the bra later. I’m not going to be going over fit issues or sewing in this tutorial. Just the basics of cloning a bra.
Time to gather your supplies:
You will need either a piece of foam core board or a cardboard box flattened out and made into a piece big enough to pin your bra to. I used a cardboard box, because it was what I had on hand. You can also use cork board or anything that you can stick pins into without ruining the pins.
You needs pins. I recommend pins with either a pearl head or something on the end. Not flat top pins, because you will get sore finger tips with those. I used them the first time I cloned my bra. Ouch!
You need paper or tissue paper. I chose paper this time so that I can show you more clearly how the pattern piece looks and how to add in seam allowances.
You need pencils and rulers. A regular ruler and a french curve are good for the project. You can do it without the french curve, but it does make it easier.
And, of course, you need a well-fitted bra.
Take the wires out of your bra. You can do this by making a small hole at the end of the channeling and working your wire out of the channeling.
Having the wire out will also make it easier to order your wire later. You can use the charts on bra supply websites and match them directly to your bra wire.
Lay your paper over top of your cardboard and make sure you have a piece big enough for your pattern.
You pin at the stitching line. You will be adding in seam allowances later. Just make sure to not pin on the top stitching line. In the picture below, you can see the line of stitching to the left of the pins. That line is the top stitching. If you pinned along there, you would have to add in even more once you take the pins out.
Be sure to get your fabric flat. In the below picture, you see I stretched the elastic under the arm out so the fabric laid flat on the paper. This is probably the more difficult part of this, because the pins will want to pop out. Make sure you really secure them in your cardboard.
All your pin holes will connect together to become your pattern pieces. Be sure to stick them into the corners and get them pretty close together.
Connect the dots.
The most difficult thing to photograph are teeny little pinholes. You can sort of see above the little dots that are below the french curve. Using the french curve or freehanding, you will connect the dots. If you are freehanding, I suggest more pins and make them closer together to get an accurate pattern piece.
Here is the pattern piece once the dots have all been connected.
Add in seam allowances.
Bras have a standard 1/4 inch seam allowance. I added in seam allowances by marking a 1/4 inch on my ruler and then making dots and connecting them again. You can use any method you like for adding in the seam allowances.
Repeat for all your pattern pieces.
Your bra may not have all of these pattern pieces or they may look completely different from mine.
Note the stretch direction on the pattern pieces and name/date the pieces. When you make pattern adjustments, I suggest tracing and dating the new piece again so that you aren’t just constantly altering the same piece over and over. It will fall apart that way. You can toss out the other piece, but I suggest keeping them until you’ve tested the fit on the new bra. You might want to go back to the previous alterations and use those instead of the new ones.
You don’t really get away with not having alterations and muslins with this method. You still might have fitting issues for a few different reasons:
– The bra itself was not a perfect fit
– The fabrics you are using are different
– Errors in the cloning process
– The position of the sun (joking!) and many more
Bra fitting is a difficult process and gets all the more difficult the large size you are. Sewing the bra is a breeze in comparison! Very minor differences can lead to very odd fitting issues in larger sizes and you can’t really check the fit until the bra is done. If you have a smaller size, this can be true as well due to different size breasts or the shape of your breasts. Don’t get discouraged that you will still be tweaking the fit as you go. The point for me was to get a little bit closer to having my style of bra and for a cheaper price than I was used to for my size. I’ve gotten that and, with each bra, I get closer and closer to the perfect fit.
Here are the three bras that I’ve created with my cloned pattern, including my largely failed first bra:
Top beige one I created for my wedding day, centre one was my second cloned bra, and the bottom one was my first using the cloned pattern. I’ve now made four bras in total including the Classic Bra. My best fit so far is the top, but it will only get better from here.
What a delight to be asked to be a guest blogger on Sewcialist! I’m excited to be able to write about a subject very close to my heart – bras for the bigger bust.
So what qualifies me to write on this subject? Good question! Let me tell you a little about myself before we get down to business! My name is Karin and I run Mrs. Weaver’s Finest Unmentionables, a bra and corset making business in Calgary, Canada. Like with so many things, my business grew from my own very selfish desire to have beautiful lingerie which was never available in my size. I remember as a young girl, developing early and being taken bra shopping by my mother only to find that nothing fit. A small ribcage with disproportionately larger breasts meant I was in a DD/E at the age of 13, and heading to a specialist bra shop where a very elderly lady would instruct me to undress, eye me critically and announce 30E.
Initially the exclusivity of this little shop was exciting, it’s frilly little floral bra’s in the window by brands such as Perele and Aubade gave me hope of something deliciously feminine and fragile. My disappointment was huge when yet another ugly beige ‘thing’ was plucked from a little box, thick with dust which looked as though it had last seen service as an instrument of torture in the Spanish Inquisition. I rejected it outright, I would not wear it. “It’s all there is” was the retort. “But it’s ugly!”, “Don’t be so ungrateful” and with that the offending item was wrapped up, my mother paid an exhorbitant sum for it and I loathed it with a passion, picking at the stitching at the top of the casing in the hope the wires would pop out sooner than later.
Fast forward 25 years and I have never worn a beige bra again. Instead, I scoured the world looking for beautiful bra’s for my size. And sometimes I got lucky!! But not often, and when I did there was always still some little issue with straps slipping, cups puckering, bands rolling. All things I was happy to accept because it was ‘pretty’. Then one day, I decided this was crazy and went on a journey to make my own – now I own over 20 bra’s just for me! And some even have matching panties!! And now I am on a mission to provide beautiful bras to all women who feel overlooked or forgotten by ready-to-wear.
So, to business! In this post I want to share with you some of my thoughts about bra-making for the larger bust. Not all of these techniques are necessary, or will work with ALL sizes, but my aim is to stimulate your imaginations and encourage you to try a range of things in your bra-making adventures; the main thing to remember is to embrace all that you have and make your bust work for you; some of the most beautiful bras I have seen have been made for a fuller bust.
The first thing to state very clearly is that support is everything! A heavier bust simply requires more robust engineering, it’s as simple as that. Despite most ready-to-wear evidence to the contrary, this does not mean it can’t be beautiful. Slightly larger/heavier than average busts will not require all of the measures discussed here, only you can decide which ones apply to you.
Support is provided by a number of items, but most notably they are underwires, fabric, elastic/straps.
There are a number of suppliers out there with varying grades and strengths of steel. I buy mine from Bra Makers Supply in Hamilton,Ontario – they are strong and durable and come in an incredible range of sizes all the way up to size 60, a wire that can comfortably accommodate bra size 48H. If however you feel you need more support than a single, flimsy wire can offer, use two! It really is as simple as that, by sliding 2 wires of the same size into your casing you will increase the support that it can offer. Just be careful to stitch your casing in such a way that there is room for both your wires.
A larger bust requires fabric that is not going to yield to the force of your breasts. For many, duoplex is the answer. Duoplex is a polyester non-stretch knit that is great for a heavier bust. It comes in lots of different colours too – so no need for only beige, black or white! For the very full busted amongst you, you can use a double layer of duoplex, in the same way that you can use 2 wires.
For the smaller end of the large busted range, sheer cup lining provides a great background to lace while still providing a decent level of support. Personally, I love a foam cup bra – not the preformed offerings from Victoria’s Secret – my breasts have never been that spherical! Instead I use cut and sew foam to make a cup which I can then cover with whatever gorgeous fabric I can get my hands on, you may remember Emerald Erin’s post earlier this month in which she showed her preferred method for working with it. Cut and sew foam gives great shape and support and provides excellent nipple coverage. The downside is that some large/heavy busted women don’t like the idea of more bulk, in which case duoplex remains your best friend.
While some may be delighted with duoplex and the range of colours available, others may feel that it’s still too industrial and needs to be prettier, lighter, more feminine. Here too, you have options! Cover your duoplex in the same colour, or contrasting, lace for a glamorous and sophisticated look. Really don’t like duoplex, but don’t get enough support from sheer cup lining? Then use it as your liner fabric and cover all of the outside with something sumptuous and stunning like this velvet that I used in My Thermal Valentine.
Woven fabrics are usually not recommended for bras. The exception is when covering cut and sew foam where you pretty much choose any fabric you like to cover your cups with. This Spring, I did an entire range using silk charmeuse, I don’t think I’ve ever worn anything quite so luxurious against my breasts. And if you thought that only the smaller busted ladies can get away with the most delicate of lace on their bras, think again – over cut and sew or duoplex you can make a bra that is simply stunning in all sizes.
The larger sized bra generally has a duoplex band with really wide elastic. Again, ladies at the smaller end of the big busted range could opt to use sheer cup lining for their band and cover it with something gorgeous, just make sure you reinforce the bridge area of your bra with a tiny piece of duoplex as this is where most of the stress will be when the bra is on. This is exactly what I did on the Peaches and Cream bra pictured below and it works really well! In the picture you can also see that the duoplex reinforcement of the bridge, a gothic arch in this case, is totally invisible from the front.
Elastic and straps
The larger the bust, the bigger the elastic gets. I wish I could say that 1/4” elastic is an option, but it just isn’t. And as most elastic is turned under it isn’t usually a problem. However, every now and then I will get a lady who doesn’t want her elastic to be so wide, she is looking for something more feminine than that. In cases like this, instead of going for thinner elastic, I actually opt to make the band wider still and design a long-line bra. This may seem counter intuitive but like on this Alice bra here, it can optically slim down the rib cage as well as making the breasts appear smaller, or at least, more in proportion to the chest area as a whole – the result is a very feminine look without skimping on elastic. An added tip for long line bras (or any bra for a larger bust) is that you should sew a little casing into your side seams and insert a short length of boning. This will prevent the band from rolling up and help keep everything in place.
Wide straps are not so easy to hide, and no matter how delicate the cups, big wide straps can instantly turn your dream bra into industrial sacking. Instead of wishing we had a perfect perky B cup, we should rejoice! Wider straps provide a wonderful opportunity to truly customize. Use the wider strapping as a base and add ribbon or lace as shown in Cup A – it’s a lovely way to frame your chest. Adding a lace external power bar, as in Cup B is also lovely, just remember to line your lace with sheer cup for extra support and some ribbon or duoplex in the FOE for non-stretch strength; this wouldn’t work for the a very large/heavy bust, but in that instance you can cover your strap with lace for a similar effect. If you really want something more delicate, and you have a smaller large bust, you could try this lovely spaghetti strap technique. These straps are made from duoplex and are super sturdy. Long lengths are folded using a bias tape maker, and are then folded in half along the length again. This narrow strip of folded fabric is then stitched close to the open edge and voila! Super sexy, super skinny straps. Make as many of these as you require, although I used only 2 straps on Cup C, I’d recommend 3 as a minimum and always work with odd numbers as it’s optically more pleasing. You can either space them further apart as on Cup C below, or stitch across them for a more vertical look as in Cup D. Either way, because of the space between the straps, these provide a lovely delicate result while still keeping everything exactly where it should be.
I could go on and on! I hope that at the very least I have given you lots to think about and try in your own bra-making adventures – regardless of your bust size. If you’d like any further information on some of the suggestions and techniques listed above, leave a comment below, or hop on over to mrsweaversfinest.com, check out the blog and leave a comment there and I’ll be happy to provide tutorials on any aspects that come up.
Hi, my name is Katherine Sheers, I’m a lingerie designer by trade so I was overjoyed when I heard July is Sewcialist Lingerie Sewing Month! My background does lend me a certain bias towards all things lace and silk, but objectively I believe that lingerie making has something to offer every level of sewer, from the complete novice through to someone with years of experience looking for a new challenge.
I wanted this guest post to be relevant to as many sewers as possible, so I’m going to show you a simple technique which can be used to beautiful effect across a number of garments, regardless of how basic or advanced they may be.
For this example I’ll be using the ‘Pretty as a Picnic’ mini from my book The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie. They’re very simple knickers, made from a rigid fabric cut on the straight grain. You can also use this technique on bias cut seams, but there is a chance of ‘bubbling’ in the fabric, so if in doubt do a trial run first.
What you’ll need to gather:
All the basic materials needed to make your knickers
Plus 30cm of narrow lace trim, at least 10mm wide
First I’m going to split the front pattern piece into three sections. This paneling is a great technique in itself, especially if you have small scraps of fabric you’d like to use up. Just ensure you keep the grainline direction consistent across all the panelled pattern pieces.
Measure approximately 3cm out from the Centre Front along the waistband and draw a diagonal line down to meet the legline (as above).
Cut along this line, then tape a strip of 10mm wide paper along both edges to create the French seam allowance (shown above in lilac). Label the pattern pieces, clearly marking the new grainline.
Lay the paper pattern pieces together as above, aligning what will be the stitching lines (10mm in from each edge).
Trim the excess corners of seam allowance paper so they look something like the photo above when opened back out.
Lay and cut out your pattern pieces (for clarity, I’m only showing the front pattern pieces of the knickers here).
Lay your front panel and one of the side panels, wrong sides together and sew a line of lockstitch using a 5mm seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance to 2-3mm in width.
Lay your narrow lace trim, wrong side uppermost on top of your trimmed seam allowance with the flat edge sitting parallel to your stitch line. Pin and topstitch in place.
Open the panels out and press the seam flat with the lace trim pointing away from the Centre Front.
Turn the front and side panels right side to right side, and finish your French seam by sewing another 5mm wide line of lockstitch. This will effectively ‘trap’ the lace inside the seam.
Topstitch along the edge of the front panel (stitching through the French seam) to encourage the lace trim to sit flat. Then trim the ends of the lace in line with the fabric pattern pieces.
Repeat with the other side panel and you’re done. It’s as simple as that!
Now just treat these joined pattern pieces as a single front panel and make up the rest of your knickers as usual.
I’ve used French seams in this tutorial, firstly to make this technique possible for anyone who doesn’t own an overlocker, and secondly, because although they take a little longer than a standard seam, they’re an exquisite way to finish a beautiful item of lingerie.
This lace insertion can be used to create dainty detail in many garment areas. It can be added to existing garment seams such as the side seam join between a bra cradle and wing, or the waist seam join between a slip bodice and skirt. Just remember that it does add a little extra bulk so use lightweight lace (this isn’t the time to stash-bust any guipure you may have!).
I can’t wait to see where you use this technique. Please do add the hashtag #sewlingerie if you’d like to share your makes with me.
Hello Sewcialists! My name is Carolanne and I blog at SweetCarolanne.com. This is my first post on the Sewcialists blog and I am very excited to share my Buchanan dressing gown with you! When Gillian announced that July was going to be lingerie sewing month and that this category included robes or PJs, I knew it was time to get started on the Buchanan dressing gown and I asked if I could write up a pattern review!
When I have told friends and family about this project they seem baffled by what a dressing gown is so if you find yourself asking the same question I have a few alternative names for you: kimono, short robe and my favorite, sexy bathrobe! I also did a little research and have a brief history of the dressing gown to share.
A dressing gown is a loose, open-front gown that is closed with a fabric belt. It is most frequently worn over pajamas or under garments while you are getting ready for the day or preparing to go to bed. Prior to the 19th century, dressing gowns were mainly worn by men as a less confining clothing option and during informal social gatherings. For women, the dressing gown offered a break from corsets and petticoats. Typically a woman would wear her dressing gown while doing all of her day-to-day activities, from eating breakfast to sewing!
Historically cotton, silk and wool are the fabrics used to create dressing gowns and the ladies at Gather Kits suggest light to medium weight fabric with drape for the Buchanan. I chose fabrics from two manufacturers that looked really well together. My main fabric is Anna Maria Horner Cotton Voile in Mind’s Eye Tambourine and my contrast fabric is Cambridge Cotton Lawn by Robert Kaufman in Maize.
This pattern is ranked for an ambitious beginner and I would say ambitious beginner is right on the money. All of the techniques used are fairly straight forward, but some are a bit fiddly if you aren’t used to it. For example, the first few steps are a lot of prep work: stay stitching, serging unsewn edges and pressing and edge stitching little pieces. None of which is difficult, but it is time consuming and important to the finished garment.
Gather Kits patterns are printed on a heavier form of tracing pattern so they are nice and durable. I cut out the size large without tracing it off. If I make this dressing gown for anyone thinner I can still trace the smaller sizes. It’s not meant to be body hugging so even though there are ambitious techniques used the loose style makes this a great pattern for a beginner while also being a very satisfying make for someone with more experience.
I initially wanted to deviate from the original instructions and use French seams, but for the sake of reviewing the directions I decided against it. The directions were very well written and the only step that confused me was how to insert the belt loops, but after a few tries I got there. I have a few small changes that I would make next time. If I make a version with patch pockets I will go ahead and use French seams because I love the look of them. I did make one change which was to add a third belt loop to cover the belt seam as you can see above. This was by no means necessary, but was a very satisfying addition for me.
I didn’t have enough of my main Anna Maria Horner fabric to cut both of the sleeves on the fold so instead I added a little bit of a seam allowance along what should be the fold line and made the sleeves from two pieces. If you are going to make this pattern I would strongly recommend ordering a little bit more fabric than the pattern suggests. Perhaps I needed more because my fabric wasn’t very wide and I made the largest size, but I made the best of it. I even did my best to pattern match and think I did a good job.
The instructions were very well written and I really enjoyed making this pattern. My favorite part was how the cuffs and neckband were added on and enclosed the seam with topstitching. It was very satisfying to see such a neat finish on the inside. I’ve already gotten a lot of wear out of my dressing gown while hanging around in my bathing suit. The pockets are perfect for my cell phone and sunscreen which leaves my hands free to carry a cold drink and a good book. I also had a thought that this pattern would make a great gift for bridesmaids! If I had thought of it sooner I would have made them for the bridal party in my sister’s wedding that is this month. Overall, the Buchanan is a very versatile pattern that I’m sure to make again!