Failing occasionally and why that’s ok.

As a creative individual, I feel like I am in a constant battle with failure.

Actual failure or fear of failure, it’s lurking in the back ground every time I pick up something new to do, be it sewing or drawing, writing or playing an instrument or any the multitude of other things I attempt on a regular basis to fuel said creativity.

Even though I am a perfectionist, realistically I know fearing failure is ridiculous. Even when you do have a massive fail whale of a project, generally these are the projects that help you to learn and grown your skills. But the fear of these fails can still always stop you from starting: what about the wasted money, the wasted time and the wasted effort of pouring your heart into a project headed for disaster?

I have had a bit of a break from the world of sewing (though still completed one little project, to be revealed soon!) for many reasons this last half of 2017. Failure was not the main reason, but it did feature on this list. Not so much the fear of sewing ‘badly’, but more an endless nagging question I have around trying to decide how I want to approach the world of sewing: career or hobby?

Am I still looking to pursue a career in sewing, or will this slowly destroy the love I have for it when it becomes a day job? Can it’s support me full time and provide enough income for me to live the lifestyle I aspire to, or will I be slowing run into the ground until I am forced to give it up and go back to a regular 9-5?

The fear is real.

I have no doubt that these are questions all creatives face about their passions a hundred times a day. And make no mistake, I have learnt no answers to these questions – just that having a little break has reconfirmed one thing and one thing only to me: I love sewing. Specifically the satisfaction of sewing lingerie.  And from now on I am aiming to make it more of a priority in my life again in a bid to refuel the passion.

To keep this post somewhat related to actual lingerie rather then just my inner ramblings on existential crisis, I present you with this:

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To this day, this is the lingerie make I felt the most failure about. At the time I made it, I felt it was the most ill-designed, slapped together thing I had ever seen. Not even worthy of attempting to fix, but instead shoved to the back of a shelf to be forgotten about.

These were the second pair of knickers I ever tried to make, and riding high on the success of my pretty as a picnic briefs I decided to make another pair from the same book, these cute embroidered tulle knickers.

They had ruffles! And polka dots! And embroidery! I mean, could these knickers be more up my ally? The image in the book uses a lovely peachy coloured tulle which I liked and wanted to recreate. First faux pas of the pants, I rushed into buying the first tulle I could find and ended up with a yellowy fleshy colour rather then a peach. Nice colour, but not at all complimentary to my very pasty white skin!

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I digress. Rather then stopping and considering acquiring a more suitable fabric, I ploughed on and lovingly marked out and then embroidered my little polka dots – hours and hours of work making them all perfect!

Once my polka dots were all finished and lovely I was hit with my next question: ‘now what, how to finish these??’ At this point I quickly realised I had not yet acquired any stash of nude or complimentary toned elastics or jersey to finish the pants. Riding high on the anxiety I had been harbouring of having to find THE PERFECT SHADE OF MATCHING NUDE AND NOTHING ELSE WILL DO, I threw the pants into the UFO pile never to be seen again.

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About 6 months later I saw them taunting me from the bottom of the pile and pulled them out with a new determination to get them finished. This was the summer where stretchy tulle body suits with strategically placed lace and chunky black elastic finishes were EVERYWHERE.

I figured what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so snatched up all of the black stretchy goodness I could find and blindly sped towards knicker completion.

WHY, EMILIE, WHY.

The outcome, in my opinion, was less then desirable. The sewing itself was fairly solid and the the knickers were as good a fit as I could hope for this puffy/gathered style. But the design choices? No.

The solid, high contrast black clashed woefully with with delicate polkadots I had spent so long hand embroidering. The dark elastic drew all the attention away from those little frills I loved and using black thread to sew over the nude meant every little bit of less then perfect sewing stood out like a sore thumb. And not to mention that jet black gusset which I just cannot tear my eyes away from.

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So how did I feel after this failure? Anxious? Scared? Down?

Actually, non of the above. Just more determined then ever to improve and happy to write this one off as a bad design decision.

And do you know what? I remember so vividly being so ashamed of this knickers when I first completed them maybe a year and a half ago, but having stared at them hanging on my wardrobe all week after photographing them for this post I have come to decide they actually aren’t so bad after all. Definitely not worth all the hate I’ve sent their way. Funny what a bit of time can do huh?

So from now on, it’s time for us all to embrace the fails. And not be so hard on our selves when we need to take a little hiatus 😉

EW X

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Watson 2.0

This little beauty is my finished Watson 2.0. Over all I was really pleased with the make and both the fit and finish were much improved on my original version. This version offered not only more support, but also an improved shape compared to the last one which is exactly what I was hoping for.

Watson 2.0

Watson 2.0 Brief

The main difference between this version and my first was the change in size, making the band smaller so that I had a snugger and more supportive fit. I think that changing the fabric to the thick scuba knit rather then the thinner stretch mesh I had used previously also helped with that.

Watson 2.0 Back View

I also changed up the straps so that they altered at the back rather then at the front as I don’t find it comfortable when the sliders sit on my shoulders. This was a simple change but made the world of difference to how comfortable the bra was when it’s on.

Watson 2.0, ring has been moved to the back of the bra as has the bra slider with a fixed point on the cup.

Original Watson, ring slider at top of cup and fixed point on the band, meaning the bra straps altered from the front.

This bra was also a bit of an experimentation as it was the first time I was working with the scuba fabric and I have to say, I HATED it. Although it was pretty easy to sew with and did create a nice shape (on the bra at least, I found it came out quite baggy on the knickers) it was just a complete pain. I found it pulled on EVERYTHING, the foot of my sewing machine, my finger nails, bits of paper on my desk, EVERYTHING. I also ended up completely having to re-cut my bridge piece as my first attempt at sewing it together resulted in my sewing machine needle (One I thought was stretch but it turned out was not) pulling all the way along the piece.

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Original Bridge piece complete with pulls

Once the bra was complete, I also found that although it created a nice shape, the scuba was really bulky. This meant in areas such as the top of the cups where it attached the straps and the middle of the cups where they meet at a point, I wasn’t able to fold the fabric under and hide the raw edges as I would normally like to. Since none of the fabrics fray it was no big deal – just personal preference for making everything as neat as possible!

So my ultimate decision is, though I feel the scuba is fine for more casual styles such as this non wired Watson, I don’t think I would rush to use it again. I do however have a lot of this fabric left, and as the pattern is so beautiful I will definitely be using it up on my next couple of makes where appropriate!

EW x

Laying It Out – Getting the Best Fabric Consumption Possible

When I was laying out the fabric for my Watson 2.0 it occurred to me that I always take A LOT of time to lay out my pattern pieces. I have always been plagued by the notion of getting the absolute best fabric consumption possible from any piece of fabric I use and this has extended to all of my lingerie makes.

Considering Options

Moving pattern pieces around a couple of times before committing to a layout can help you to find the best option

This can take a lot more time then just following the recommended lay plans that generally come with patterns but for me it is worth it. For example, the scuba that I am using for my Watson came from a kit with enough recommended fabric for one bra and one pair of pants. I managed to get my bra and knickers from just under one third of the fabric, meaning I can stretch this piece to 3 sets – especially if mixing the fabric with mesh or lace for some of the pieces!

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I managed to cut this whole set from a piece of fabric just under 60cm wide.

It helps that I am a small size and therefor the pattern pieces I cut are smaller and easier to manoeuvre. It is also easier to achieve this if you are not taking pattern matching into consideration. If you are wanting to pattern match, you have no choice but to work with the pattern and lay your pieces whenever they need to be, such as with my Marlborough bra shown below.

Pattern Matching

If pattern matching you are confined to putting your pattern pieces wherever they need to be to get the symmetry. You can still try and use as little fabric as possible though!

However, if you think you have the patience to try and cut down your fabric usage my top tips are:

  • Take your time! Try a few different combinations of pattern pieces until you find the one that not only gets a good fabric consumption but also makes your life easy. Don’t squish everything up for the sake of it if it’s going to make life difficult!
  • Try to work symmetrically. As much as possible I try to mirror my pattern pieces when laying them out – it makes it more difficult to forget something if you’re pairing them as you go along!
  • Keep orientation in mind. Before you place anything check the orientation (grain line) of your pieces to make sure you’ve got them all the right way. Also make sure you have them all the right way up. Does your fabric have a pattern that has an obvious top and bottom? Can your pattern pieces be rotated to get them to lay pattern or do they have to be kept all the same way? These are all things to consider before marking everything out.
  • Measure twice cut once. One I and still working on myself! Before you cut out any pattern pieces make sure you have all the pieces you should and they are all laid out in the right orientation. The biggest culprit of having to use extra fabric for me is having to recut pieces I missed or cut in the wrong direction later on.
  • And most importantly, use a non permanent method to trace your pieces! Many a time I’ve had to move a piece last minute and then ended up with a massive chalk line down the front of it that never fully comes out. I’ve just invested in an air soluble marker and it may have been the best decision I ever made.

If you’re short on time or desperate to start a project this overly complicated method of pattern laying probably isn’t for you. But if you, like myself, enjoy the satisfaction of squeezing as many pattern pieces into a tiny area as possible why not give it a go for your next project!

EW x

Watson Bra 2.0

As best made plans often go, sitting down to create an updated version of the Watson Bra (Watson 2.0, if you will) by Cloth Habit yesterday did not go smoothly. I first sewed up this pattern around a year ago, over the summer of ’16 and while I loved the style, shape and lift the bra offered, I had always fancied making another version with a few little tweaks to make it a better fit for me.

So I sat down to sew, coffee and pattern pieces in hand only to realise I hadn’t pre-washed my fabric yet.  No big deal, I thought, putting it through a hand wash cycle and pegging it out in the sunshine to dry. But then the heavens opened and offered me a second prewash for this lovely floral fabric, putting the make back by another hour or so of drying time. It was as this point I also took a closer look at my elastics, and while all were lovely and can be saved for future projects, they are not what I had in mind for this version of the Watson. So back to the drawing board!

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So while I now wait on other supplies to arrive, I decided to take a look at the original Watson and figure out what needed to change for my second version.

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My main problem about my original Watson had always been that I chose a fabric with A LOT of stretch. So although this lead to a super comfortable and easy to wear item, I just didn’t feel very supported in it. Despite this though, they shape and lift I managed to create was always surprisingly good and even held up to – and in some cases was better then – RTW wireless bras I have tried on in the past.

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The second thing I had wanted to change was that my band was slightly too big. If I remember I struggled with sizing on this make (As I seem to with almost every measurements chart I come across, haha) And I was measuring at nowhere near my RTW size. So I deciding to aim for that as a start but increase the cups slightly as I often do in more unstructured sizes, opting for a 32E. The cups fit beautifully but maybe sat a tad too wide, and the band was too roomy. Therefore on my new version I’ll keep the cups exactly the same the same and decrease the band, meaning I’ll be making up a 30F.

My other minor amendment will be to change the way the straps lengthen and shorten. I really dislike staps that alter from the front as I find the sliders just dig into my shoulders. Therefore I shall be moving them to the back of the bra.

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The other thing I am hoping to achieve in the next incarnation of this bra and brief is to aim to make everything a little bit neater! This make was the first time I had sewn with stretch mesh so I found the process a bit fiddly, to say the least. I was also still in the process of trying to figure out the neatest way to finish off elastics and stretch fabric seams, so hopefully now I am in a better place over all to fix all of these things!

Set back but not put off, we will have to just start our adventures with the Watson another day!

EW x

1940s Brassier by Vera Venus

Tonight I am having a throwback to the lovely little 1940s Brassier I made about a year and a half ago now, just after leaving university! Made using the 1940s brassier pattern by Vera Venus and made using cotton lawn and thin tulle, this vintage inspired beauty was a dream to make and is a pleasure to wear.

1940s Brassier

This was probably my first transitional piece from more traditionally costume based makes (the area of study for my degree) to straight up lingerie and it was such a great place to start.

As soon as I saw the picture crop up on a random pinterest search I knew this bra was to be the first one I made and so I quickly headed over to the Vera Venus website and purchased the pattern. After measuring myself I was slightly confused by sizings as I fell slap bang on the cusp of measurements for both the band AND the cup. But after a quick email to the incredibly helpful pattern designer it was decided I should make the pattern up in a 28D compared to my modern sizing of a 30DD/E.

1940s Brassier

Featuring full, half sheer cups, decorative and functional under bust support in the form of tiny rows of stitching, fixed straps, a hook and eye fastening and absolutely beautiful encased inner seams throughout this bra is an absolute dream for vintage and lingerie lovers alike.

The make up itself was fairy straight forward and enjoyable and I actually found the expert precision required in areas like the under cup stitching to be really therapeutic and rewarding. I absolutely love the vintage shaping created by the bra when it is on and despite being non wired the garment is super supported and the over all shape achieved very satisfying.

Beautifully finished seams

Cup detailing

Once on, the bra is comfortable and well fitting, thought if I were to make up this pattern again I think I would let out the band ever so slightly just to allow for a little more breathing space. Compared to a more modern and fully elasticated bra this one can feel somewhat stiff and unforgiving on the chest, but as soon as it has been on for a little while I found it moulded to my rib cage and fit like a glove. As for the cup shape, the spread of the breast was wider then I was expecting but still delivered all of the forward projection with the slight point that fulfilled all of my vintage silhouette dreams.

This was a wonderful bridging piece to give me the confidence to strike out further into the world of lingerie and definitely piqued my interest to do more experimentation with vintage patterns and design more of my own vintage inspired pieces. Still on the fence about whether to create some vintage inspired knickers and a suspender belt to fully compliment this wonderful item, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

EW x