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Weekend: What’s Your Routine?

weekend 10 10 Weekend: Whats Your Routine?

In her book, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp talks a lot about routines and its effect on creativity. I start my day with the same ritual, which I don’t share often because of its eccentricity. I wake up at 4:00 AM, sometimes earlier, and after quickly checking emails, I put on my workout clothes. Sports bra, leggings and t-shirt on, I tie the laces on my sneakers and walk to the gym. For the next hour and a half, I stretch, lift weights and run. It’s a no-brainer act, but doing it the same way every morning impels me to not only live a creative day, but a creative life.

Whether conscious of it or not, everyone has their own unique routine
. While the composer Igor Stravinsky played a Bach fugue in his studio before moving onto his own work, Beethoven doodled in his notebook each morning musical ruminations he had in his head that day. There are many days I wake up and think to myself why the hell I do this? But the power I attach to my routine keeps me from going back to sleep and it induces some sort of on switch that gets me started, motivated and excited to lead a creative life, sewing included in that formula. In my feature for Coca Cola in which I documented a day in my life, it was only after I ran that I could then sew. As I wrote, “Post 10 mile run, I shower and eat a carb and protein loaded breakfast – homemade granola with bananas, dates, chai seeds and almond milk. I am now in the right headspace to sew.”

Whether it’s putting creamer into your coffee every morning or playing a certain song while getting ready, routines make us do something. At the same time, routines replace doubt and fear with comfort and stability because you know you are doing the right thing (if you’ve done it before with success, you do it again).

Do you have a routine for the day? What about a routine for sewing? Must you position your ironing board a certain way, or lay out your tools in a certain order before beginning a project?

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Bra Making: A Short Guide to Choosing Fabric

bra making 1 of 1 Bra Making: A Short Guide to Choosing Fabric

Before giving bra making a go, it’s important to have a firm understanding of how each part of a bra should function – cup, cradle and wing – because this is what will guide you when making fabric choices. Many sewers get stalled even before starting because selecting different fabrics for each section is too daunting. Stretch lace for the front? Powernet for the back? Tricot for the lining? Contrary to what many beginners think, both woven and knits can be used to make a bra, and hopefully after reading this, you’ll be comfortable and confident to choose between the two.

First concept to understand is direction of greatest stretch, abbreviated DOGS. In a woven fabric, grainline is used to indicate the direction that has the least amount of stretch, and in most cases, patterns are aligned with this line. In bra making, patterns are cut according to the direction of greatest stretch (DOGS). So, when you’re looking at a bra pattern, lines with arrows indicate the DOGS, not the grainline. To find the DOGS on your fabric, pull on the lengthwise and the crosswise. What has more stretch? That is the DOGS. On stretch fabrics, there is either a stretch in one direction, called a 2-way stretch, or a stretch in all directions, called a 4-way stretch.

With this understood, let’s walk through the parts of a bra and its function.

Band: The band must have stretch running around the body because if not, there will be no room to breath. So, the DOGS is perpendicular to the hook and eye. Also to note, the band is not stabilized in most cases (the bridge and cups are; more on that below).

Bridge: The bridge must be stable from side to side and from top to bottom. Why? Because the bridge is where the bra’s support comes from. While we allow the back to stretch for breathing, we stabilize the front so that it can support the breasts, which sit right above it. The bridge is stabilized in two ways. First, the DOGS is placed parallel to the center front, then the bridge is interfaced with tricot, fusible or something similar.

Cups: The placement of the DOGS on the cup depends on the type of support desired, and that’s a whole other post in itself. You can change the direction of the DOGS to meet a particular need, but in most cases, the DOGS on a horizontal, cross cup seam bra is parallel to the neckline on the upper cup and perpendicular to the cross cup seam on the lower cup.

Now, let’s match the performance with fabric.

Band: Remembering that the band is supposed to stretch, choose a stretch fabric such as powernet, lycra, stretch lace, etc.

Bridge: The bridge can be either a woven or a stretch fabric. Duoplex, Simplex, woven cotton, woven silk, satin, or lace are popular rigid fabrics, and stretch lace is a popular stretch fabric. Whether the bridge is a woven or a stretch, remember that it will need to be stabilized with a lining or a fusible interfacing.

Cups: Just like the bridge, the cups can be made with woven or stretch fabric, and it depends on the type of support desired. The recommended fabrics are the same as the bridge. The fabric of the bridge and the cups can match, or they can be a different fabric to add contrast.

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A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505

a coat in the making 1 A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505
My strategy for cold-weather dressing is simple – stay warm, look good. Most women don’t want to sacrifice silhouette for the sake of a warm coverall, but I’m in the camp who believes that sac-like can be chic, at least when it comes to coats and jackets. Plus, it’s a daunting task trying to find RTW outerwear that doubles as a figure-flattering AND toasty topper.

It seems like there is an endless sea of sewers currently making their own iteration – Lauren and Jenny, I’m hollering at you! – and our conundrum can be summed up thusly: we’re antsy to get our warm wardrobe on lock while summer sticks around, last minute, trying to thwart our plans. Summer, I have 2 yards of antique chenille brocade on my sewing table. You’ve got to go!

I’ve joined them in their coat adventures; Simplicity 1505 is the one I’m making. It’s a vintage pattern that I spent several days muling over before purchasing, my excuse being the fabric. Over a year ago, I won the most sumptuous vintage chenille brocade on Ebay. A real showstopper. Thick and textural, its beauty will only shine in a garment with minimal seams because adding darts, pockets, button tabs or epaulettes would break up and diminish the pattern. With an overarm seam, side seams, and not much else, this pattern (Simplicity 1505) is perfect.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been construction and patterning issues that have come up. First was yield. Because there was only 2 yards of this fabric, and I couldn’t go back and buy more, I had to shorten the body length by 6 inches and even then, I had to break the facing into 2 to fit all pieces on the fabric. I could have gone shorter, but then I’d be compromising the silhouette. I’m going for a duster type coat.

Then there’s the interior details. Because of the surface texture, ironing is out of the question, meaning sew-in interfacing was my only option. Remember that time I spent all day accurately cutting and hand sewing hair canvas? That happened last weekend. Also, I translated one of Claire Schaeffer’s dressmaking methods for this coat; my muslin became the underlining. I made a first fit sample, marking all the corrections on it. Then, I used it as my pattern piece, hand basting along all seam lines. Sure, it adds another layer to an already thick fabric, but old man winter can be brutal!

Well, that’s where I’ll leave you today, and on I go with my adventure. Below are a couple snapshots of my work in progress. Wish me luck!
a coat in the making 2 A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505 a coat in the making 3 A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505 a coat in the making 4 A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505 a coat in the making 61 A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505 a coat in the making 7 1 of 1 21 A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505a coat in the making 8 A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505a coat in the making 9 A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505a coat in the making 1  A Coat in the Making: Simplicity 1505

Weekend: A Tug of War

weekend 10 03 Weekend: A Tug of War

There’s an interesting tug of war that happens when we fail, and it’s even more interesting how we accommodate the duality. Of course, we want to forget failure, but at the same time, we have to remember the lessons learned. I have found that I do my best work after my biggest mistakes and that’s mostly because the memory is so painful that I do everything in my power to never let it happen again.

Also, it’s easier to move on from failure than it is with a win. After a grand slam, out of the park success, I think, “I could lose this.” The American mentality is you’re only as good as your last performance. But when we strike out, it’s easy to get back to work and do different/better next time because hey, you sucked that last time.

Failure is also humbling. It’s therapeutic. It cleanses. It forces you to stop, access the situation and remind you of where you are.

I’m thinking about all of this as I plan my fall and winter sewing because like death and taxes, failure is inevitable. It will happen. So, if I set out to make 5 pieces in the next 6 months, should I expect, maybe even plan, for at least 1 to be a failure? A lot of sewers get into a sewing rut after a horrible make, but if he or she plans for it, it might make the blow a little less painful. This might be a grim, pessimistic way to look at the situation, but life is not all unicorns and happy, pretty flowers. There should be no shame in failure either. Just like the warriors in The Odyssey, we shouldn’t hide our wounds, but acknowledge them as a badge of honor.
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      Did you hear that I'm teaching an online bra making class? In 1 hour, I walk you through constructing a bra from start to finish, and I'll cover choosing a bra pattern, finding your size, tracing and cutting tips and construction. Click HERE to sign up now! If you can't attend the class, I will be teaching it in person this winter here in Philadelphia; EMAIL ME to be put on the waiting list.


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