Yesterday I finished sewing my second Barrett Bralette, a free pattern from Madalynne. Before I share my newest project with you, I wanted to share my first Barrett Bralette and how I altered the pattern to fit me. It seems like this sort of bralette only works well on small cup sizes, so when this pattern was published I was anxious to see how it worked on women with small rib cages and larger cup sizes. On Instagram I saw Barrett Bralettes on a wide variety of figures, and realized I had two options for altering the pattern to work for me. For reference, my underbust measurement is 31.5" and my full bust measurement is 37". I usually wear a 32D in my handmade bras.
Options for altering the pattern:
1. Use a large cup size and pair it with a small band.
2. Use a small size appropriate to fit my underbust measurement and increase the projection.
I decided to go for #2, since most of my fullness is in the lower cup, and I prefer not to have a lot of fabric in the upper cup going towards my armpit.
According to the pattern directions my underbust measurement would have technically put me in an x-small, but I decided that would probably be too tight and cut a size small instead. At the apex (fullest part of the bust) I added 3/8"on both the center front and side cup pieces and gradually blended back to the size small. Why 3/8"? To be honest, it was just an educated guess and luckily it worked for me.
I cut my project from cotton/lycra jersey and lined it with stretch mesh. I planned to use this bralette as a sort of sports bra, but I don't do very vigorous exercise so a super supportive bra was not necessary for me.
One of the changes I decided to make was to use 1" elastic as both the straps and the entire back band. Why elastic only? Well, there's a story to tell and I'll get to that once I finish showing you my bralette.
I used the back band pattern piece as a guide and cut three lengths of elastic. I basted them to the edge of the side cups, then topstitched down the entire seam. To secure the straps to the back elastics, I sewed a zigzag box over all the crossing points.
I'm quite happy with the fit and feel that it gives me a good amount of support for a bralette. I think using a strechy-but-firm knit fabric really helps to provide support, and so does adding a mesh lining. I like to show the guts of my bra makes, even if they are a bit messy. Please excuse any wonky stitching.
Now.. why did I use so much 1" wide black elastic? Because I have lots of it. Lots and lots of it.
My husband spent all of 2016 stationed in South Korea, about 20 minutes from Seoul. He is a brave and adventurous type (and also has a degree in anthropology), so on his days off he'd hop on the subway, pick a random exit, and just explore the surrounding area. One day, he happened to stumble upon Dondaemun, Seoul's fabric market. Seven floors of fabric, trims, and commercial embroidery and sewing. He was amazed by all the vendors and wanted to get something for me.
At that time I was beginning my bra-making journey, so I sent him swatches of the plush back elastics and straps that I was looking for. While I am blessed to have a husband that is eager to do nice things for me, he doesn't quite have the eye to pick out things that match the samples I give him. He found a vendor selling this black elastic and thought he had hit the jackpot. The vendor did not speak English, but through a few Korean words and gestures, Aaron thought he communicated that he would like five yards of elastic. The man nodded and began unrolling the elastic and measuring. And measuring and measuring, and unrolling and unrolling. Aaron became alarmed when the pile of elastic grew bigger and bigger and quickly looked up the Korean word for five (daseos) and waved his five fingers. The man nodded his head and just kept measuring. Aaron's friend said "Dude... I think you're getting that whole roll." Sure enough, that is what happened. The man shoved all the elastic into a grocery bag and wrote up the bill... which, translated into American dollars was a grand total of $15. Hah! Quite a good deal.
While not plush back elastic, it is quite soft against the skin, and not overly firm like packaged elastic. So I am happy to use it in sports bras and waistbands.
I put my bralette on my form to check the strap placement and realized that with my latest pair of briefs (from the pattern I am developing, stay tuned!) I had inadvertently created a matching set.
Have you tried the Barrett bralette? What do you think of the fit?
Also, have you been to any of the amazing fabric markets around the world? Have you found any good fabric and trim deals?
Remember the red shirt I made my husband for Valentine's Day? He loves it and has worn it several times, but there is a fit issue still bothering me.
Diagonal wrinkles from the armhole up towards the neck. This is a common fit issue in RTW shirts for him as well. I searched through all my books on fitting, and all of them say the problem is sloping shoulders. Before I made this shirt, I had adjusted the shoulder slope several times and I really didn't think that was the problem.
The typical shoulder slope adjustment is to lower the shoulder line at the armhole edge, and then lower the armhole by the same amount to preserve the armhole length. The wrinkles in this shirt were not loose; in fact they were quite tight on his body.
Just to be sure the problem was not the shoulder slope, I followed the instructions in this video from Threads, and traced around my husband's neck and shoulders to check the slope against the pattern.
Spot on! So if that wasn't the problem, then what was? I continued to do more research on the internet, and came across a post in a sewing forum of someone having a similar problem in fitting a men's t-shirt. The issue? Atheltic build. More fabric is needed in the upper back and upper chest to accommodate muscles.
So I traced off the pattern onto tissue paper, and drew lines across the upper chest and back. Beginning at the center, I cut them open, leaving a hinge at the armhole. I had my husband try them on carefully, and I let the tissue hang open. Sure enough, he needed about 1" on the front and 3/4" on the back for the tension in the tissue to be released.
I don't have pictures of the fitting because he gets antsy and I need to work as quickly as possible. While I try to be professional (even with my spouse) during a fitting, I think he still feels I am negatively judging his shape and not the shape of the pattern. Something for me to work on, I think.
I had to re-draw the neckline, and also straighten the center back and center front seams. Time to work on a new muslin! These fitting issues are making me wonder if it would be worthwhile to develop a men's shirt pattern for athletic builds. The Sewcialists recently posted an interesting article on sewing for plus-size men. Sewing patterns for men already seem to be limited, and plus-size even more so. I already have a long queue of patterns I wish to develop, but I think I will add in a men's shirt for athletic builds in larger sizes.
Do you sew clothes for men? What sort of fit issues do you have?