Large Bust Wedding Dress Dreams with Curvy Custom Bride

Scrolling through Instagram recently, I stumbled across Curvy Custom Bride and was excited to recognize its founder, Leila Breton, the columnist who gave us incredibly helpful instructions for big bust alterations for coats, armholes, waists and more. I link to all ten of her posts at the bottom of today’s interview. Leila had to scale back her extracurricular activities in 2014, but she didn’t scale back her sewing trajectory. Instead, it moved from hobby to full time profession, and you’re going to love reading about it today.

Darlene: We are super excited to hear from you again after your last column in 2014. Tell us what you’ve been up to!

Leila: It’s so great to be back on Hourglassy. You know I’ve been obsessed with fit for some time now, starting with my own closet, and now helping women get a perfect fit! I recently rebranded from Three Dresses Project to Curvy Custom Bride. While I still do TDP social media-ing, my energy is focused on reaching out to curvy women who are tired of shopping for a wedding dress that exists only in their imaginations! You know, that dress that is the exact look and the perfect fit? For a lot of us with fuller chests, that just doesn’t exist.

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Darlene: You describe hiding behind your bouquet on your wedding day. What else led you to wanting to serve the busty niche?

Leila: I’d have to say being busty myself, and feeling the pain of trying to buy clothes that made me look and feel worse than I already did. Shopping made me feel like I didn’t belong. Wearing clothes that don’t fit affects your daily life. The most frustrating thing is that I don’t fit in “standard” sizes or plus-sizes. It’s the in-between gripe. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, and now I have the skill to provide a valuable service that I think goes beyond just fitting or just creating an awesome gown. Sometimes I feel like an Alterations Therapist. There are a lot of emotions that come up with what I do and I believe in holding space for my clients.

Darlene: Can you share some of your clients’ pre-Leila horror stories with us? [Read more…]

Mandarin Shirt Sew-a-Long: Day 5

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Find the rest of the Sew-a-Long series here!

Finally – the end is in sight! Once you are finished, don’t forget to share a photo of your finished Mandarin Shirt in the Jailyn Apparel Flickr Group!

For this step you will need:

  • Mandarin pattern instructions
  • Your personal, adjusted Mandarin pattern
  • Final garment fabric, recommended is shirting with 2-3% Spandex. I discussed options and which fabric I chose in the intro post
  • Interfacing (1 1/4 yards)
  • OPTIONAL: Pellon ShirTailor Interfacing for the collar (1/4 yard should be enough). I used this and found it helped my collar stay nice and stiff!
  • Notions (matching thread, buttons, etc)
  • Iron + Ironing board

Since you have already assembled a preliminary version of your Mandarin top, this part should be quite easy! I found it went much more quickly than my muslin did and I felt more confident assembling it.

One thing I really loved were all of the instructions regarding finishing work. The Mandarin instructions include all of the small steps to do along the way in order to create a shirt that looks incredible inside AND out! I mean, just look at these seams!

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Truly no detail is overlooked. I usually cringe at the inside of me-made garments because they look SO homemade. But the Mandarin, apart from my slightly crooked seams, I think could pass as store-bought! It is the nicest-looking garment I have ever made (and I made my own wedding dress)!

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Are there mistakes? Definitely. My tailoring skills need work! I wouldn’t want to go up against Darlene in a shirt making competition, that’s for sure 🙂 But for my first try, I am QUITE pleased.

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Small fitting note: Remember the last, final adjustment I made to my fitting muslin? I took in the side of the top bodice and bicep of the sleeve just a bit. I opted not to make this adjustment on my final garment, as I thought it looked fine without it and I didn’t want it to be too tight across the bust. After seeing these photos though, I’ll probably go back and take it in. It would make the fit closer to that of the other Mandarins I’ve seen in the Flickr group, as well as alleviate some of the bagginess in the back! What do you think?

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I was surprised at how much I LOVE pairing this top with my denim vest! I love the vibe, and the contrasting collar shapes are super fun to show off. I am excited to find more ways to work this into my weekly wardrobe rotation! (On a completely unrelated note: am I the only person who struggles to know what to do with skinnies+booties? Cuff them? Tuck them in?? I can never decide and now that ankle flashing is making me doubt my decision. Haha!)

I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making this top. I already have plans to sew up a formal version for a fancy work event I’ll be attending with my husband this fall! And I think a gingham casual version would be so much fun. The Mandarin pattern from Jailyn Apparel is a quality piece. Jodi’s tutorial leaves nothing out – it is quite thorough and easy to understand. And as you can see, following the tutorial results in a beautifully tailored, exquisitely finished top that fits you like a glove. It is a pattern worth owning!

Mandarin Shirt Sew-a-long: Day 4

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Find the rest of the Sew-a-Long series here!

Are you ready for the 4th installment of the Mandarin top?! Fitting can be intimidating. Just remember to go slow, take it one step at a time, and do tiny adjustments until you get it where you want it to be! And don’t over-fit! If you try to get a garment to lie completely flat with zero wrinkles, chances are you won’t have enough wearing ease left and it’ll be terribly uncomfortable. There are many great articles on the internet that can help you learn how to fit! Even if you’re nervous, go ahead and give it a try. Hands on experience is the best teacher 🙂

For this step you will need:

  • Mandarin pattern instructions
  • Both fabric AND paper pattern pieces
  • Sewing machine + thread + scissors + pencil
  • Pins or Wonder clips (my favorite!)
  • Seam gauge, measuring tape
  • Full length mirror or camera w/self timer to check the fit
  • Seam ripper!

First, assemble your shirt according to pattern instructions. They are really terrific! I love the illustrations of each step. And I was pleasantly surprised by how easily and quickly the top came together! Truly the most time consuming part of this pattern is the fitting. But that’s the whole point of sewing for yourself, isn’t it?
It was a dream working with all of these pattern pieces – they aligned perfectly. I imagine this is why quilting is satisfying for so many people….everything fitting together so nicely! I am an extremely sub-par quilter, so quilts don’t really do it for me, but I LOVE a well-cut, non-slippery woven clothing pattern!

As mentioned before, for the muslin I omitted the collar and cuffs. I even omitted the buttons and buttonholes at first, but I did add them in later.

Once it’s together, try the top on. I pinned together the buttonhole markings for the initial fittings.

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If you need fitting adjustments, take note, and fix one at a time. From this fitting, I could see that I needed to: [Read more…]

More Sewing, Coming Soon!

Hello dear readers! I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. But I have some excellent news….

I unearthed my long-lost Mandarin shirt pattern pieces!!!

We stayed in over Memorial Day weekend and deep-cleaned our house, and that’s when I finally found them. Buried in a box. In my husband’s office. Why?? Who knows!

In case you’ve forgotten what the Mandarin looks like, here is the photo from the Jailyn website! I haven’t quite finished mine up yet. Stay tuned 🙂

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I am so thrilled to be back on track for finishing that top. If you want to join me – check out the Mandarin Shirt Sew-a-long post for all of the pattern and fabric details, as well as the first 3 tutorials (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). I’ll have the 4th tutorial posted next week, all about the completed muslin and adjustments to make for the final pattern.

I also have some more sewing to show you soon…I want to tell you all about my favorite Indie Pattern Company, Patterns for Pirates! Judy Hale, the pattern designer, has a gorgeous hourglass figure and drafts her patterns to accommodate curves. I haven’t had to do a full-bust adjustment yet! Stay tuned for my reviews of their Slim-Fit Raglan and Sweet Tee tops. They are both fantastic beginner patterns, with gratifying fit results!

Judy is also releasing a new swimwear pattern this summer, and I couldn’t be more excited….just look at these sneak peeks for the Take The Plunge one-piece that Judy posted to the P4P Facebook group:

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Wrap front, nipped in waist, low rise bottoms, multiple strap options…It is literally everything I have been longing for in a one piece. And since Judy made the pattern, I’m confident it will have room for my breasts, too! Can’t wait to try it out and let you know how it goes 🙂

ETA: The swimsuit pattern has been released! They had SO MANY testers of all shapes and sizes, and I am in AWE of how fabulous it looks on all body types! You seriously need to scroll through the image gallery. Look at how well the swim bra supports some of the larger-busted testers (and that Wonder Woman suit!! All the heart eyes):

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It’s on sale through Monday, no coupon code needed. Buy it here (not an affiliate link, I just love it)! I got mine printed and taped yesterday and am soooooo excited.

Happy summer, and happy sewing! Do you have any exciting projects planned? What curve-friendly patterns do you love?