Mandarin Shirt Sew-a-Long: Day 1

 

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Today, we are going to walk through the printing and assembly of your PDF pattern. You can, of course, get this pattern printed on a continuous roll of paper at a print shop if you’d prefer to skip this step. But printing and assembling at home isn’t as difficult as it sounds! It takes a bit of time and concentration, but it’s not difficult. And I must say, Jodi from Jailyn Apparel has done a phenomenal job with this pattern. It is easy to assemble and the PDF instructions are incredibly detailed and helpful!

Step One: Prepping for printing

When you download your file, make sure you open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader — NOT your web browser! Some browsers like to open PDF files directly in the browser, but this can sometimes cause issues with the printing size. If you don’t have Adobe Reader on your computer, you can download it here for free.

The next thing you’ll want to do is utilize the amazing “Layers” function in this pattern! If you haven’t already, measure yourself (bust, waist, and hip) and choose which size you will be making from the detailed size chart in the instruction PDF. I currently measure 39″ bust, 32″ waist, and 42″ hip. I decided to go with the regular size 10, as the finished garment measurements seemed like they would be comfortable to me. [Read more…]

Mandarin Shirt Sew-a-Long

Hello readers! I know, it’s been a while since you last heard from me. But I am SO excited about what I’ve got in the works!

Do any of you remember reading Darlene’s posts about a lovely velvet tank top from Jailyn Apparel a few years ago (here and here)? Do you remember the exciting news she shared last May about Jailyn Apparel making a comeback as a pattern company?!

Jailyn’s current PDF pattern offering is the Mandarin top. It is fantastic:

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Click through to go to the Jailyn Apparel Flickr group, for more photos!

“The Mandarin shirt is a closely-tailored style with an under-bust seem that highlights your waist while allowing easy fitting of the bust area. The spread Mandarin collar drops into a V neckline. Closely spaced buttons down the center front work with the fuller bust sizing to prevent gaping across your bust line.

The sleeves sport overlapped, fold-back cuffs with sleeve length options in 3/4-length or above the elbow.

It’s a flattering casual shirt that easily transitions to the office.”

As a sewist, this pattern is so exciting to me! I love the challenge of sewing garments with a good fit. I love it even more when it comes with a pattern that’s already great to start with. I really want to share my love of sewing and PDF patterns and fitting with you – so Hourglassy will be hosting a sew-a-long blog series with the Mandarin top!

Every week, I’ll be publishing a step-by-step tutorial outlining a part of the process of making this blouse. Everything from printing/assembling your PDF pattern, making pattern adjustments and a fitting muslin, all the way down to hemming and affixing the buttons on your final garment! I’ll break it up into manageable weekly portions with photos and tips to help along the way. Jodi’s pattern instructions are phenomenal and you don’t really *need* me over here holding your hand. But making a tailored blouse can be intimidating, and it is always more fun to try new things with a friend!

If you want to join in the fun*, get your supplies ready and check back next week for pattern printing and assembly tips!

Supplies needed: [Read more…]

DIY Swimwear with a Built-in Big Bust Bra that Fits!

I bought swimsuit spandex on a whim a couple of years ago, when I was in a very ambitious mood and thought I could make my own cup-sized swimwear. But once I had it at home in my sewing room, I panicked. Spandex scares me!

Then in May of this year, I came across this awesome tutorial about how to sew a built-in shelf bra. The bra shown in the tutorial is definitely not supportive enough for larger busts, but I figured I could make some adjustments and get it to work. There are some things I would definitely improve next time, but overall I am happy with the final result!

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I’m not going to do a full tutorial, since the Burda Style tutorial is really great at explaining how to make the built-in bra. I will tell you the supplies you need in order to do this yourself and provide photos of the full-bust adjustments I made! [Read more…]

Sanity Savior for Big Bust Maternity and Nursing: Decent Exposures Un-Bra

Today I am so excited to share with you the one bra that saved my sanity at the end of my second pregnancy: Decent Exposures Un-Bra.

It was recommended to me by June of Braless in Brasil, who had a lovely review post at one point. I don’t know if I ever would have tried the Un-Bra if it weren’t for her review and encouragement/high recommendation. But I am so glad I did – this bra is worth its’ weight in gold!

What put me off at first, might you ask? Well . . .

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Front page of the Decent Exposures website

It isn’t exactly the most attractive bra I’ve ever seen. If I had drawn what came to mind when I thought of the phrase “Grandma Bra”, it probably would have looked almost exactly like the Un-Bra. But when I tried mine on and felt the comfort firsthand, and suddenly I did not care ONE BIT about how it looked!


 

Here’s a rundown of how Decent Exposures and their bras work:

You can get the general concept of the Un-Bra from the image above – it is not specifically a maternity/nursing bra. Each Un-Bra is custom made, which means it is fully adjustable to your preferences! They offer scoop back, racer back, and strapless styles. It is manufactured in 7 types of fabric and a wide variety of colors. The order form has descriptions of each fabric selection and the type of support it offers (light, medium, and firm support).

The bottom elastic is 1.25″ wide for cup sizes E+, which makes it extremely supportive. However if you would like to try their 1″ elastic in a larger cup size, or the 1.25″ elastic in an A-D cup, they can do that for you. There is also the option of adding a 2″ ribbed lycra band in lieu of elastic, which works best on A-F cup bras.

It comes with an innovative “front looper”, which you can see on all of the women’s bras above. This loop provides definition and separation, the perfect solution to the dreaded boob loaf and discomfort of having your breasts touching in the middle of your bra. The looper is usually 0.5″ wide, but you can request a 1.5″ loop (I’ve found myself wishing for the wider looper at times).

Decent Exposures offers an extremely wide size range: 30-54 bands in A-L cups is what is listed on their order form. But, since everything is custom made, they can reduce the band size down as much as you need, and they produce cup sizes up to an M! The size guide on their order form works very well, but you can always call them for fitting assistance. They have 20 years experience with long-distance fitting. If you are local to Seattle, Washington, you can even make an in-person fitting appointment via phone or email!

There are also additional options of adding a front closure, nursing flaps, or pockets for prosthesis. I have experience with the nursing flaps. They are fastened with either hook & eye or Velcro. The hook & eye option is a 2-row, 2-column clasp – so that you can adjust the fit to be looser when you are more full in the mornings (using the bottom row), and tighter when you are less full (using the top row). Great feature!

Not only are the sizes and features workable for a wide variety of women, but after you receive your bra, you can send it in for alterations. This service is free for 60 days after your purchase, and available for a nominal fee any time after that. When I called to ask if they had a “cutoff time” for when you could request paid alterations, the associate explained that they don’t have one. If the fabric is frayed or wearing out, then they would be concerned about altering it. It all depends on how often that particular bra has been used. She mentioned that if it were over 5 years old, they would be fairly worried, unless it is an old bra that was forgotten in a drawer and hardly worn. I may be sending my 18 month old bra for alterations soon!


 

I think the Un-Bra is not only a lifesaver for pregnant and lactating women, but a phenomenal “comfort bra” for any full-busted woman. If ordered in one of the medium or light support fabrics, I imagine it would make a lovely sleep bra. In the firm support fabrics, it is supportive enough to wear out and about for a full day. It is simply a superb non-wired bra.

The Un-Bra was the only bra I owned that was preferable to going braless during the final pregnancy and first postpartum months. My body was never in pain after wearing it – I always felt contained, and ironically enough, I felt less-frumpy in this than I did in other bras. It is definitely difficult to get a decent, uplifted shape while wearing a non-wired bra, but the Un-Bra does a fair job. Here are some photos I snapped in December 2014. I was 7 months pregnant and had just ordered a lined Cotton/Lycra bra in size 32J. I must warn you, the bra was still 1-2 cup sizes large for me at this point. I ordered that way on purpose so there would be room to grow when my milk came in (as always, click to enlarge!):

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The photos in the black shirt were taken the very first time I tried the Un-Bra on. You can see I needed to get used to it, I over adjusted myself and you can definitely tell my left side runs larger than my right. Hahaha. I snapped some photos in a white shirt the next day to get a clearer picture of the side shape:

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Much more accurate! It’s no Freya Deco profile, but it’s better than any other non-wired bra I’ve tried.

The close-up photo illustrates the only “major” issue I have with the Un-Bra…It has a VERY high neckline. I was able to hide it under this Downeast Basics cap sleeve tee (the Essential Tee), but just barely. You can see the nursing clips at either side of the neckline. The top photo in the black shirt also illustrates how high the neck goes (I’m wearing a basic v-neck tee from Target in those photos). In the end, though this was annoying, it didn’t stop me from wearing the Un-Bra nearly every day. I would typically throw the Essential Tee underneath tops if I was worried about my straps poking out. But more often than not, I didn’t want the extra layer, so I just dealt with tucking the straps in or having them show (because in my honest opinion, there isn’t anything racy/offensive about showing off this bra. Haha!).

I mentioned the bra being too large at the above stage (7 months). Below is a photo of me on my due date, for comparison! I definitely filled the full 32J here, and for a few months postpartum:

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Aside from the high neckline, my only other complaint was that the Un-Bra is a bit difficult to get over your head. This is the issue with many small band/large bust clothing items that have to be pulled straight down over the head. If this isn’t your cup of tea, there is always the option to order a front-closure bra. Another minor grievance is that it takes a while to dry after being laundered – double layers of super supportive cotton will do that.

Now, let me list a couple of things that I LOVE about Decent Exposures and their Un-Bra . . .

  • The thick elastic band. It is the most supportive and comfortable band I’ve ever had on a bra.
  • Hook and eye nursing closure. It weirded me out at first – but I love that it’s always quiet and doesn’t pop open randomly or squeak like a traditional nursing clasp. Sometimes it’s a bit fiddly to re-hook, you can’t always do it one handed. But it’s not that big of a bother.
  • “Looper” in the middle front of the bra. It gives breasts separation and definition, and it even helps alleviate dreaded boob sweat!
  • Wonderful company that’s willing to work with you. I didn’t send my bra in for adjustments, but if you order and your bra isn’t perfect, you can send it back in for alterations! Adjustments are free within 60 days of ordering, and available for a nominal fee after that time frame. They can adjust the size of the band, length of straps, cut the armpits deeper, and more.
  • GENEROUS size range. They offer everything from 30-54 A-K. They define a K cup as a 15.5-17 inch difference between band and bust measurement.
  • Machine washable and dryable!!! You can wash this bra with your regular laundry!
  • Wide variety of customization options, including nursing flaps and pockets for prosthetics.
  • Made in the USA (Seattle, Washington) from organic Cotton products.

If you’re interested, I’ll give a quick walk through the ordering process after the jump. Since each and every bra is custom-made, there are many options and possibilities. I found it a bit overwhelming at first glance, so hopefully my walk through can help it be less confusing for you.

[Read more…]