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:


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…]

Off the Rack ~ Alterations Project: Shrinking a Dress Ribcage While Maintaining Bust Volume and Waist

Last month I did a roundup of all the Trashy Diva dresses I’ve tried, with scores for how boob-friendly they were. One of the dresses I featured was the Sci-Fi Rockets print “Rockette” dress, a halter with a big contrasting red collar and pockets.

I somewhat guessed on the boob score for that one, though, because the size 10 I have is really a size up from my usual 8. But the 10’s waist apparently ran smaller in this model, because it fit in that spot while being way too big around the ribcage. Yet it had the perfect amount of volume for my breasts. Since it’s made of a pretty sturdy stretch cotton, I felt comfortable altering it myself. Here’s what I did to shrink the ribs while maintaining volume in the chest.

Essentially, I added vertical darts where they weren’t any before, in the space between the waist and my breast apex. Secondly, I tightened the ribs at the existing side seams.

(In these photos, I’m wearing a Freya Deco Strapless in 30FF, and I measure 37”-29”-41”.)

Here’s the dress pre-alterations. You can see it bagging around my underbust area.

Here’s the dress pre-alterations. You can see it bagging around my underbust area.

[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!


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…]

Homework Help from Full Bust Readers

When I showed you how the DD Atelier Samantha dress fits me a few weeks ago, I confessed that I was going through a frumpy phase. Well, it turns out that confession is not only good for the soul, it’s also good for the wardrobe. Your comments became my homework assignment, and this is the result. Four steps took me from the look on the left to the look on the right.

dd atelier before and after samantha

First, alterations. In my original post, I mentioned that I should probably hem the dress, but then I tried rolling up the sleeves and realized I should shorten them as well. This goes along with the petite issue that I mentioned last week. While I prefer waist-length sleeves because they highlight my waist, shorter sleeve and hem lengths also mean less fabric to overwhelm my frame.

Second, even though you can barely tell, I listened to what you said about patterned tights. I think I found the last pair of polka dot sheer black nylons in New York City! I had always considered opaque black tights to be a winter staple–almost like boot substitutes, but a friend set me straight in this email:

I agreed with the comments about “lighter” hosiery.  The solid dress (which was beautiful) and the opaque black tights felt “heavy”.  I liked the suggestions for patterns, but I’d keep it subtle and also consider lighter shades and something more sheer. “Fun” hosiery can look awkward on women our age–it can look like you’re trying to be too young or come off as vintage (in a not good way) or old.

Third, obviously, I changed my shoes. I also tried boots with this dress, but as with the opaque tights, they weighed everything down. I had no idea I already owned a pair that would work here (unless I wear them with opaque tights, of course!).

Fourth, I experimented with pendants. Wow! Thank you for opening my eyes to the possibilities! I often skip necklaces because mysterious metals give me a rash, but when reader Rachel wrote that she has “found a pendant chain that I like the length of, and I rotate what’s on it”, I realized I could do the same with a plain gold chain that I never wear.

For this dress, I needed something fairly prominent to break up the expanse of fabric across my chest–plus, a large pendant also helps balance–and sometimes even minimize–a large chest. However, I bet you’ll agree that anything is better than nothing, including the onyx rock pendant on the far left that came with my Rock Cotton tunic.

busty pendant size comparison

I’ll also be experimenting with length some more. For instance, I usually raise the  cluster of freshwater pearls that you see in the above center photo by a couple of inches (although I’m still not sure why the pearls don’t work as well as the disks in the photo on the right. Too vertical? Too light? Any ideas?).

Below, I tried lowering the disks, thinking this would help group my chest with my neckline. Instead, I get a disk that bounces off the cliff of my bustline! Plus, in this case it looks like balance points trump neckline grouping. (Here are links to my first post about balance points, as well as my latest post about balance points.)

busty pendant length comparison

These simple improvements to my outfit kept me so busy that I never got around to bracelets or brooches, but I’m looking forward to to trying those sometime as well.