Off the Rack ~ Hell Bunny Alexa Cardigan and Pinup Girl Clothing Luscious Dress Reviewed

Throughout the year, I’ve picked up some great bust-friendly clothes and never got around to writing about them, so unless something more pressing pops up in the next few weeks, I’ll be catching up on some reviews. This week it’s the Hell Bunny Alexa cardigan and the Pinup Girl Clothing Luscious dress.

I’ve been on a bit of a nautical kick lately. I own several garments that have sailor collars or anchors on them. Recently I picked up the Hell Bunny Alexa cardigan, which has an actual collar that flaps around on the back instead of simply being embroidered on.

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So cute! I was a little unsure of sizing since cardigans can be tricky for big-bust ladies. But after searching the internet for reviews and photos of Hell Bunny cardigans, I decided to go with my usual medium instead of sizing up to a large for the sake of potential button gaping.

The fabric (81% viscose and 19% nylon) is super stretchy and the medium is definitely appropriate for my 29” waist. There is some pulling on my 37” bust, but luckily there’s a nice, thick strip of grosgrain ribbon lining the inside of the button placket and the button holes, so the potential for button gaping is minimal. You can see that the line isn’t quite perfectly straight, but I think the only way to achieve that would be to size up and I really wanted it to be figure-hugging, so this is fine.

I love the bow at the neck. It’s so precious. And obviously the sailor collar round back is perfect. The anchors are embroidered around their edges and then there’s polka dot fabric inside the anchor providing those little spots.

I do think the arm length is rather odd. It just covers my elbows and it feels weird. I keep wanting to push it above my elbows or pull it down to be true three-quarters length. I think it looks perfectly fine, but it feels strange to have all this fabric bunched up in my elbow, especially since it’s cuffed here so it’s really two layers.

I bought this sweater from a UK-based store on Amazon.com, but it can also be found on several US websites such as SourpussClothing.com and Unique-Vintage.com, among others.

As for the Luscious dress (also size medium), I actually bought this lovely two years ago! I never reviewed it for some reason—yet it’s my favorite item I’ve ever ordered from PUG. I even own it in another color, the navy with red trim.

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I’m wearing it with an old Freya Deco in 28G. It’s not quite work-appropriate, but the cleavage isn’t too excessive (though bigger ladies may beg to differ).

This dress is so comfortable! It’s a rather thick 97% cotton and 3% spandex blend that feels like light, stretchy sweatshirt material. It pulls on over the head so there are no scratchy fasteners. It’s also got the “double-dip” neckline that is ever so flattering on busty women.

Even though I adore it, there are some issues. For one thing, even though that lack of fasteners makes it very cozy once on, it’s difficult to get over your head and boobs since the waist doesn’t open up—and even harder to get off! I have to bend way over and pull it by the skirt and shimmy out of it. Make sure you take your glasses or hair accessories off first too, or else they’ll be pulled off with the dress.

Additionally, the sizing is a little inconsistent. The navy version of this dress that I have is significantly tighter. It’s not visible to other people, but I can feel a real difference. As such, the navy is even more of a struggle to get on and off. I know black dye tends to make fabric less stretchy, so perhaps the dark blue color is to blame. I wouldn’t really know for sure unless I tried other colors to compare.

The worst thing about this dress, though, is that the first time I washed it, the black trim bled all over the skirt. I even washed it in cold water! When I pulled it out of the machine, I was shocked to see all these dark blue blotches. I threw it back in with Oxy-Clean (a non-chlorine color-safe stain lifter)—twice!—but the blotches wouldn’t go anywhere.

Disregard the small darker dot near the bottom. It’s a grease spot from my pizza dinner tonight (oops!).

Disregard the small darker dot near the bottom. It’s a grease spot from my pizza dinner tonight (oops!).

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The worst offender. The big triangle on the right is an inch and a half wide.

The worst offender. These are not grease spots. The big triangle on the right is an inch and a half wide.

These photos were taken with no flash and no filter. The blotches are color accurate. This also happened with the light pink Natalie dress (with black trim) I used to own. So I guess I should have known better, but usually cold water staves off bleeding! PUG really needs to start pre-washing their dark trims. I’ve since read that a vinegar-water soak should set fabric dye so it doesn’t bleed, so I would definitely recommend trying that before washing the first time.

PUG offers these dresses in six colors now, each with a different item embroidered on the shoulders: mint with black trim (mermaid embroidery), navy with red (pirate octopus), black with baby pink (drunk elephant), red with black (pinup girl), sky blue with black (Neverland pirate skull), and bubblegum pink with black (swans).

While I love the two I own, I’m really not into any of the other colors or embroideries. I hope they make more in darker colors like teal, plum, or rust, and I really want one with tattoo-style swallows embroidered on it. There’s a leopard print coming soon as well, but I’m so not a fan of the weird two-tone print.

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Off the Rack ~ I Skipped CurvExpo (By Choice!)

Last weekend was the CurvExpo NY for the spring and summer 2015 season. I had initially planned on going, was all registered and everything, but at the last minute I decided to skip it.

Thanks to Darlene’s reader survey a while back, we learned that the Curve show is the content on Hourglassy that readers like the least. So it was hard to get up the motivation to bother going, especially since I haven’t had a free weekend in literally months thanks to an unexpected glut of work and planning my October wedding.

But additionally, there’s so much of the same stuff there season after season that it’s losing its value for me. Every Curve (which is twice a year), I see Eveden, Panache, Curvy Kate, Parfait, and Claudette. It’s rare that I discover something new. In looking over my previous Curve posts, only Claudette has come out with some totally different items instead of strictly variations on the same old stuff. Even the new brands I’ve written about usually aren’t really part of the full-bust market. I’m lucky if they go up to a British G-cup. And then you have brands like Mimi Holliday, whose product I always adore, but can’t do anything more than ooh and aah over it since they don’t offer my size.

Come on, guys, where is the innovation?? And if doing something truly different is too risky, how about doing something totally basic yet missing from the full-bust market? Can someone please make a full-bust racerback bra that opens in the front already? How about getting with the program and using laser-cut fabric for the bra bands? And how many times do we have to ask for different shades of “nude” before a company makes a dark brown continuity bra?

I’m just over it when it comes to new prints on the same bra season after season. Plus, even when a company makes a print that I absolutely love, I can often see them online before I show up at Curve, to say nothing of the excellent coverage that my bra-blogging contemporaries are writing.

So, will I never attend Curve again? That’s doubtful. I still find some fun stuff there, but it’s more and more becoming non-bra items (see Bordelle, PSD, and Empowered by You at last winter’s Curve). Plus, it’s a good way to maintain professional relationships between Hourglassy and the brands we regularly cover. But this time? I don’t feel like I missed much.

If you want to see what was on offer at Curve this year, I invite you to check out my fellow bloggers’ coverage:

Off the Rack ~ Comparing the New Freya Deco to the Original

I’ve been thinking about investing in some new Freya Decos to replace my existing ones, which are very worn out at this point. So when Bare Necessities was having a sale, I ordered the Deco Honey in Topaz, a pretty mint green color.

The original Deco is great, but has met with complaints that the edge of the cup rolls out ever so slightly and is visible through clothes. I experience this issue myself, and it’s worse on my smaller side so it looks particularly wonky. This Honey model is one of the new ones that have trim along the cup edges to ameliorate this edge rolling issue.

Here’s a photo of the trim:

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It’s the same color and fabric as the rest of the bra, and is sewn nice and flat. Unfortunately, though, it still fails its intended purpose and is actually more visible—a lot more, in fact—than my old Deco.

I first tried the bra under a dress I own that is the worst offender at visible cup edge out of all my clothes. This exact dress is what I had in mind when I selected the Deco with trim. Here is a mirror shot of it over the original Deco (click to see full size):

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And here it is with the new Deco:

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Aaaaah! Before it was only slightly noticeable, but now it looks totally ridiculous. And it’s definitely the right size because I ordered a couple to compare and this, the same size as my original (28G), was the best fit.

Since I know this dress is notorious for visible bra lines, I also tried a comparison under a smooth jersey dress to see if it would be better under a different neckline. Here’s the original:

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Barely noticeable, but still a tiny bit of visible edge, especially on the right side.

And here’s that same dress with the new Deco:

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Definitely more visible. Looks rather silly, in my opinion.

I ended up returning the new Deco. I’m not sure what it is about its edge that makes it so visible, because I also own the Fantasie Smoothing Tee Shirt bra, which has similar trim on its edge, and it’s not visible at all.

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This has become my go-to tee shirt bra for slinky things since the Deco’s edges don’t work, but I really prefer the oomph you get from the Deco. They’re even both from the same parent company (Eveden). Freya, have a chat with Fantasie and figure this out, please!

Off the Rack ~ A Pinch Under the Bust for a Better Shape

I recently discovered the online retailer Unique Vintage. They carry loads of pinup brands like Bettie Page, Sourpuss, and so forth, and also have their own in-house brand whose prices are, I think, a little on the high side. However, they have frequent sales and recently had a selection on sale for a mere $25.

I own a ’50s-style, full-skirted green and white striped dress that I got at H&M years ago and totally love. But it doesn’t fit quite right any more. It’s a little too tight in the bust and too short in the torso. So I’ve been looking for a replacement for some time, and UV’s green “Seeing Stripes” dress was a perfect replacement, especially at $25.

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At 37”-29”-41”, I am exactly between the brand’s Medium (36” bust and 28” waist) and Large (38” bust and 30” waist) on the size chart for this garment. I ordered a large to be on the safe side—and it’s a good thing I did because the bust just closed without squishing me. Unfortunately, though, the waist and underbust were really unflattering and basically erased my shape. At such a low price, though, it was totally worth the experiment of taking apart part of the bodice and tailoring it to my body. Here is how I did it:

First up, the original dress and the difference when I pulled it taut:

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Some closeups of the construction:

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The bodice has two layers of fabric. The inner layer has boning along two seams on the front and two seams on the back. Thankfully, the outer (visible) layer is just plain fabric, making it easy to alter. I wouldn’t really want to tackle altering boning.

The back seam.

The back seam.

The front seams. You can really see how square the bodice is when laid flat. It doesn’t taper in at the waist at all.

The front seams. You can really see how square the bodice is when laid flat. It doesn’t taper in at the waist at all.

Overall, I determined that I needed to take in the seams under the bust in a dart shape to make the bodice curve under my boobs and fit tightly around the rest of my torso and waist.

The first thing I did was shorten the straps. Even though I have a long torso, apparently I have squat shoulders because straps are always too long on me and I’m forever shortening them.

All I did was fold over the strap on the inside of the dress and sew it to itself along the top of the dress. I need to tack that extra loop down, though, because it likes to sneak out.

All I did was fold over the strap on the inside of the dress and sew it to itself along the top of the dress. I need to tack that extra loop down, though, because it likes to sneak out.

Next I pulled the bust up under my boob to assess where I would need to start sewing the top of the dart.

Next I pulled the bust up under my boobs to assess where I would need to start sewing the top of the dart.

I pinned the spot where my finger was. As you can see, the pins are quite a bit lower than where the breasts actually stop.

I pinned the spot where my finger was. As you can see, the pins are quite a bit lower than where the breasts actually stop when the fabric hangs straight down.

On the inside of the dress, I marked the pin spot with chalk.

On the inside of the dress, I marked the pin spot with chalk.

Next, I unsewed the bodice from the skirt. Since this skirt is very gathered, you can take out as many inches from the bodice as you want and still be able to easily reattach the skirt with it looking the same in the end (more on this later).

Next, I unsewed the bodice from the skirt. Since this skirt is very gathered, you can take out as many inches from the bodice as you want and still be able to easily reattach the skirt with it looking the same in the end (more on this later).

I sandwiched the bodice fabric along the seam and pinned it from the chalk mark down to the skirt. I then sewed along the pin line, starting at the chalk mark.

I sandwiched the bodice fabric along the seam and pinned it from the chalk mark down to the skirt. I then sewed along the pin line, starting at the chalk mark.

When you first start sewing, I’d recommend starting about a centimeter above your dart and sew along the existing seam, then carefully move to the pin line at a smooth angle. This way, you’re guaranteed that the new seam will match up with the old one.

Additionally, I didn’t actually measure how much fabric to take in, I just pinched it and estimated. As such, I didn’t take out quite enough fabric the first time. But it’s very easy to make the bodice even tighter by simply sewing it again, further in, and perpendicular to the first line I sewed. No need to remove the first sewn line.

Okay, next:

Here’s the new bodice still unattached from the skirt in the two spots. I also placed pins in the spot where I want to sew all the layers of the bodice together, to keep them smooth and in place when the dress is being worn.

Here’s the new bodice still unattached from the skirt in the two spots. I also placed pins in the spot where I want to sew all the layers of the bodice together, to keep them smooth and in place when the dress is being worn.

It’s fitting better already!

It’s fitting better already!

The next step is to reattach the bodice to the skirt. I decided to first remove more of the skirt from the bodice. I used a seam-ripper to remove everything in between the two bodice seams. Then I had to re-gather the fabric evenly and sew it back on.

Gathering fabric is really easy. You start by taking a flat piece of fabric and bringing a needle and single thread back and forth through it at wide distance. This is called a basting stitch.

Gathering fabric is really easy. You start by taking a flat piece of fabric and bringing a needle and single thread back and forth through it at wide distance. This is called a basting stitch.

Once you’ve sewn all the way across the entire piece of fabric, you pull the thread from each end and it will create the gathers. You can slide the fabric back and forth across the thread to get it evenly spaced or to make it the same length as the flat piece of fabric to which it’ll be attached.

Once you’ve sewn all the way across the entire piece of fabric, you pull the thread from each end and it will create the gathers. You can slide the fabric back and forth across the thread to get it evenly spaced or to make it the same length as the flat piece of fabric to which it’ll be attached.

Once I got my gathers evenly spaced, I pinned it to the bodice using a lot of pins. I wanted to be sure the gathers would stay in place and not un-even themselves while being sewn to the bodice.

Once I got my gathers evenly spaced, I pinned it to the bodice using a lot of pins. I wanted to be sure the gathers would stay in place and not un-even themselves while being sewn to the bodice.

A view of the pins from the gathered side.

A view of the pins from the gathered side.

This is a step that would best be done with a serger—the machine that sews three rows at once. Look at the inner seam of the bottom of a tee shirt. That’s what a serger does. The serger’s stitches look nice, keep fabric from rolling, and allow for stretch.

Since I don’t have a serger, I’ll sometimes sew a straight stitch, then sew a zig-zag stitch along it, and then another straight stitch along the other side of the zig-zag. It doesn’t allow for stretch, but otherwise it gives almost the same effect. Since I wanted the gathered seam to match the rest of the pre-existing gathers as much as possible, and I wanted extra strength to hold the gathers together, this is what I did here.

The three stitches from the flat bodice side.

The three stitches from the flat bodice side.

The three stitches from the gathered side. It looks a little messy since my sewing machine is ancient and has a hard time with many layers of fabric, but with such a poofy skirt it’s invisible from the front.

The three stitches from the gathered side. It looks a little messy since my sewing machine is ancient and has a hard time with many layers of fabric, but with such a poofy skirt it’s invisible from the front.

After finishing with the skirt, I tacked the bust in place in the two spots I had pinned before. I also removed the bow because I thought it looked stupid and was ruining the nice effect of the gathered bust. I might attach it to the back of the skirt, though. Here’s the final product:

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It may not look like that much of a difference from the way the dress started, but it feels completely different and looks much more flattering, in my opinion. Clothes that are tailored to my body really feel great!

By the way, that H&M dress that I replaced will be at the Busty Swap Darlene is hosting August 2, in case anyone wants it!