2017 Progress Check-In

Sunday, January 1st was a fairly laid-back day at my house. Da Boy played video games, I did some cooking, and I was able to do a tiny bit of hand sewing. (My machine slipped a belt or something, and I haven’t gotten around to cracking it open to check it out, so all my sewing has been hand sewing, lately.)

I beaded the neckline of my Christmas/New Years/Because I Want It Dress (my arbitrary deadlines kept flying by. The next is the Very Curvy Sewing Celebration on January 13th, but we’ll see). I feel like it needs more interest around that neckline; so far I’ve only beaded in a line following the neck. It definitely needs more, though, because this basically only gave it the same effect piping would have. Whomp whomp.

Mildly shiny piping, at least.

Anyway, I also got my waist stay made up from some petersham ribbon and a trousers hook-and-eye (as opposed to the dress style of hook-and-eye). I haven’t attached it to the seam allowance in the dress, yet, though. The dress still needs that, as well as hemming, and then just decoration. I’m debating making a belt or waist tie or something, too, because the dress doesn’t have a waistband, and I feel naked without one.

Monday, January 2nd, I didn’t get to work on my dress, but I did get a little bit of beading done on a collar I made to go with a new alma blouse I whipped up. The top took no time to make, but the collar is killing me, timewise. Oh well.  Getting lots of practice in for future beading projects, as long as they all involve nothing but straight lines of bugle beads. -_-

Tuesday, January 3rd, I got through tacking my waist stay to my dress waist seam in precisely one place. That’s it.

Wednesday, January 4th, I was able to get more tacked down, only to discover I put my hook and eye too far apart, and now need to move the eye further back (to make the waist stay tighter).

Thursday, I didn’t get any sewing done, but I did get some fabric pre-washed in preparation for a marathon sewing session.

On Friday, I cut out a Laundry Day Tee (by Love Notions), and sewed it up on Saturday. I don’t have any pics of it, yet, because I wore it all night and threw it in the wash today (Sunday). I also made some Leggins’ (also from Love Notions) for Baby Buggalo, using my leftover scraps. A+ on both, though I made a couple mistakes on my tee. Nothing I can’t live with, though, and I’m really in love with it.

Sunday I cut out some Classic Footed Pajamas  (Peekaboo Patterns), a Skater Skirt (Love Notions), some more Leggins’, and a t-shirt for Baby Buggalo (based off of the Pajamas pattern and modified). I got the skirt and the t-shirt sewn up on my serger. The skirt is perfect, but the t-shirt ended up being just a little too big. I’ve tweaked the pattern just a little bit (trimmed 1/2″ off the shoulder), and made the changes to the already-cut-out pajamas to see if that will be the fix I need. If not, then I think I may need to raise the armhole a little bit.

You may  notice everything I made was a knit; my machine is still busted, so I’m using my serger only. Unfortunately, my serger’s presser foot broke (ha ha ha of course it did), so I used some JB Weld to get it back together. I hopefully just didn’t do that great a job of applying the JB Weld, since the foot came apart again and put a stop to my sewing session. I’m going to attempt to re-apply it, and give it more time to cure, too.

Fortunately, this weekend was just supposed to be my testing-patterns-out weekend. Now that I know the Laundry Day Tee, Leggins, and Skater Skirt all work out, I can cut out multiple versions of them in all the fabrics I’ve been getting prepared. Once I’ve got the t-shirt pattern & pajamas pattern all figured out, I’ll be able to tackle everything at once. I have plans to use up every last scrap (Baby Buggalo and I might be a little matchy-matchy from now on, hahaha), so I can’t wait to get everything sorted out. Hopefully, I’ll be all set to sew by next weekend.

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Good 2017, Nice 2017. Please Don’t Bite Me, 2017

*Warning: gratuitous baby pictures for no reason at all. Not even sorry.*

I imagine there’ll be a big resurgence in blogging for lots of folks with the new year, followed by a great big dropoff, the way gym memberships do, or kale sales, probably. 

But until I find that edge and drop off the face of the world once again, Hai! According to WordPress, it’s been 10 months since my last post, and I can’t even blame that on having a kid, because she’s only 9 months! Hahaha! 

But bad blogging habits aside, I sure do love the optimism of a new year. In this case, I’m not gonna lie, my optimism is extremely guarded. 2016 is like a really nice dog that turned around and bit me, so 2017 is kinda getting a slight side-eye from me for now. We’ll see how it goes, I guess.

For me, personally, I’m basically just working on being the sort of person I could look up to. I’ve been in a rut as far as my sewing goes for far longer than I care to admit, and it kind of comes down to sewing things I’m not actually very enthused about because everyone else is doing it. (Fun fact: I have definitely jumped off a bridge because everyone was doing it, so….) Generally, if I am confident in my skills or knowledge, I’m more than happy to strike off on my own, and do my own thing. It’s when I don’t feel that confidence that I turn into a lost little lamb and start searching for a herd to follow. 

But now, my sewing time is limited in a way I’ve never experienced before

so hell if I’m going to waste my precious time making things I don’t want or like. I really, really enjoy the process of sewing (machine or hand), embroidery, beading, etc. Going forward, it is my intention to focus on quality over all else. My wardrobe definitely has gaps, and I have plans to fill them, but nothing is so pressing that I have to rush to complete them. I constantly set arbitrary deadlines and stress myself tf out trying to meet them, and usually end up cutting some pretty crucial corners in the process. 

Eff. That. Ess. (I’m not actually doing a good job of not swearing around my kid, yet, but meh. #workinprogress, right?)

I’ll be posting more later (famous last words, cough cough) about the projects I intend to tackle, but for now, happy new year, y’all. Sure hope it’s better than the bullshit year we had last year (excepting the exceptionally awesome things that happened, of course).

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Bluebell Lingerie Set

I made a whole set of lingerie! I’m, like, a fancy person, now! I named it Bluebell, because holy crap there’s some Lulu Mae shit going on with this. (Apologies if your name happens to be Lulu Mae, but seriously. You have to be aware that your name is girly AF and country as all git-out.)

Bluebell Bra Set 01

I started with the bra, and then I decided I needed some matching undies because fancy. I’d already made the Fehr Trade lacy thong before, and despite my increasing measurements (totally all pregnancy and not at all taco-bell-related, honest) they continue to fit, so that’s where I started. The gingham is a woven, but I cut it on the bias, and it definitely worked. 5 stars, would do again.

Bluebell Bra Set 02

In these sorts of posts, people always tell you there’s no way to photograph undies and still make them look cute and tiny. I really wouldn’t know; these suckers are huge. The thong isn’t huge compared to my RTW undies, but let’s talk granny panties for a sec.

Bluebell Bra Set 03

I LOVE the look of Ohhh Lulu’s Grace panties, and that woven panel thing just makes me swoon. But her XL is for a 41″-42″ hip? WTF? I was really annoyed by this, and so I went about drafting my own pattern, to get roughly the same look. After seeing my finished product and how gigantic they are, I guess I can see how a smaller person might not even imagine a 50+” hip could exist. To be fair, these are specifically made to be granny panties (I don’t think hers are), so they completely cover my ass. (I was going to do that ass…ets joke thing, but meh. It’s my ass.) The leg elastic actually sits on my legs, cupping my butt, and that is the weirdest thing ever to me. I’ve never in my life worn non-thong underwear that didn’t turn into basically-a-thong underwear after a few minutes of wearing*.

But one of the points of consensus of having-a-babydom seems to be that you’re going to want some granny panties, so there we go. I actually compromised with myself to get over the awful horror associated with granny panties, and 1: made them see-through (except the woven front panel, and the crotch), and also 2: made the thong that also goes with the set, so it can still be a schmexy set. Speaking of that crotch, forgive my use of 2 pink crotch liners, one of them ridiculously hot pink. Here I am sharing my see-through granny panties on the internet, but the embarrassing part is that I used the first cotton jersey I could grab for the lining. =/

Onward to the bra! I used my corrected cradle piece with the extra inch in height, and with the CF fixed so that the underwire channels didn’t cross over one another so ridiculously. I think I actually am going to have to go back to having them cross completely. I have an extremely narrow space between my breasts, I guess. Makes for great cleavage, maybe?

Bluebell Bra Set 04

The extra height on the cradle ended up being more or less removed by some ridiculously wide elastic I used for the band. It’s like 3/4″ or something, and firmer than I’m used to. This’ll come in handy once I get the hang of it, but I pulled it too tightly when applying, so this bra gets uncomfortable after about 6 hours of wearing or so.

Bluebell Bra Set 05

I used the same cotton gingham for the bra cups, as well as some stretchy poly lace I found at Hobby Lobby, and everything is lined in the same white mesh I used in my granny panties (mesh was from Joann). My band elastic, straps, and hook & eye came from Arte Crafts on etsy, the elastic along the upper edge actually came from a gigantic spool I bought from Lace and Trims, also on etsy. The hooks and sliders are still left over from my Bra Makers Supply order I made (the last ones I had left, actually), and it’s hard to see, but the clear plastic swimwear hooks are from Merckwaerdigh.

Bluebell Bra Set 06

Even lined with the mesh, the gingham is actually pretty sheer. I would never wear an unlined blouse or dress made from it, for instance, but for underwear it’s double-plus happy good.

Bluebell Bra Set 07

Here she is stuffed on my dressform. Pretty gorgeous, right?

Bluebell Bra Set 08

And functional! (Hopefully.) I attached the swimwear hooks from Merckwaerdigh between the strap elastic and the fabric straps, so I can unsnap and hopefully nurse.

Bluebell Bra Set 09

Fairly easy to unsnap, but the end does fall over my shoulder when I do unsnap. Not difficult to retrieve, but still. Kinda annoying.

Bluebell Bra Set 10

And that exposes my dressform’s bandana-boob.

Bluebell Bra Set 11

Did you notice I closed her up and just stuffed the bra like I said I ought to do in my Bralogy post? Now my bras can actually close around the dressform, and you can get a better idea of what they look like on.

Bluebell Bra Set 12

*There’s one exception to the underwear-not-covering-my-butt history. At one point in my childhood, I did something I knew for sure I was going to get in trouble for (let’s not get into specifics). Knowing full well that I would get a paddling for it, I put every single pair of underwear I owned on, as well as some shorts and then my jeans, and then went and faced the music.

I don’t know if it actually helped lessen the sting of the swats, but the outermost pair of underwear got so stretched out that they always actually covered my butt completely from then on, haha! #cleverlikeafox

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Trilogy of Bras–A Bralogy?

Being a Bra-making Fool has really paid off in a very short amount of time. I cranked out 3 separate bras and they’re all worn in exclusive rotation right now (I’ve retired everything else, since nothing fits). Equally exciting is that I’ve been whittling away at my fabric stash (albeit small bits at a time). I have a bunch of random little bits of fabric that I had no idea what to do with (hashtag-sewing-problems, right?), but couldn’t throw out (of course). Lingerie-making solves that!

Since I was so rusty at bra-making (I thought), I didn’t want to use up any of my good fabric scraps (how does this make sense?). So, after digging through my stash, I came up with a blouse I’d found at a Goodwill. Hashtag ThriftyBoobs! It’s a blouse I secretly love but would never have worn (and couldn’t have, anyway–way too small for me, even pre-pregs). It was all stretchy lace (although very fuschia with all that floral print), bell sleeves, and even had a sort of mock corset-lacing thing going on at the front. Very much one of my favorite things from the 90s (you’d totally wear it with one of those tattoo-choker necklaces, you wouldn’t even have a choice) and one I would never be brave enough to actually wear (even back then).

I wish I’d gotten a picture of it before cutting it up to become a bra, but I fully expected this whole endeavor to be a bust (hahahaha “bust” hahaha). I was making a bra after a year of not making any bras; I was completely guessing at a new bra size; and honestly, even if it’s the right size, it’s likely to change anyway, what with the nursing and eventually being not-pregnant and stuff. So, naturally, it all worked out perfectly.

Bra1 A

This is the only bra-on-the-dressform pic I have. She was already maxed out before I got pregnant, and now she’s nowhere near big enough to replicate my lumps curves. Despite this, she’s WAY too big to wear my bras, since she’s expanded out to my full bust size, not my ribcage size. As soon as I typed that, I realized how dumb it is that I haven’t just fixed that, but meh. If you wanted to see ridiculously gorgeous dressform-modeled lingerie pics, you’d be over at VeryPurplePerson’s blog, anyway (seriously, go see. How can lingerie be so beautiful?).

Anyway, dressform pics are excellent at showing the seaming on the bra. Just to reiterate from my previous post, I’m using Merckwaerdigh’s BHL15 as my base pattern, with some significant mods to some of the pattern pieces. There are a couple of variations included in the pattern (“2 Big Size Bras”, remember? hahaha); I’m using the one with the powerbar option. I like the variety of pieces in this version–it just seems like it has to work, whereas the other version (1 big upper cup piece and 2 smaller lower cup pieces that are vertically-seamed) might not work. I haven’t even tried it, tbf; I was drawn immediately to the one with the powerbar. /shrug

My underwires cross in the center front. It feels fine wearing it, but it looks kind of weird when I’m actually looking at it.

Bra1 B

The powerbar and lower cup piece are lace lined in duoplex, while the upper cup piece is only lace. I think I’m also trying to show the ridiculous volume of the cups, since they’re soft and you can’t really tell unless I’m wearing it.

Bra1 C

The cradle is lace lined with duoplex for sturdiness, and the band is lace underlined with 2 different powernets, actually. When I was cutting up the blouse for fabric, I discovered that it had a light layer of black powernet in some places (maybe to lend some opacity to the lace?), which was awesome. The powernet I have is too lightweight (Amazon purchase, whomp whomp), and also very white (it’s dye-able nylon, so I got white; but then I never dye it, ha!). I’ve just been doubling and even tripling it in order to give more strength to the band. The white powernet was pretty durn ugly under the black-based lace, so I used the black powernet sandwiched in between the lace and the white powernet. Perfect! Elastic, hook and eye, and channeling were all black, and I used some gold rings and sliders I’d bought from Bra Maker’s Supply after Tasia posted about the jewelry-quality schmanciness (again, all left over from my last foray into bra-making. I really did have a lot more notions than I had thought I did!).

Bra1 D

And when I wear it, it actually fit me damn near perfectly (what is perfect in a bra, anyway?)

Bra1 E

There’s a little bit of pointiness I get when I wear a soft-cup bra, but I think that’s just something I have to get used to. I think it’s just the natural breast shape, and I’m more okay with it now that I’m pregnant than I was before. Growing up nowadays, it’s hard to stop thinking breasts are supposed to be perfectly spherical, but the pregnancy changes my body’s gone through have made me a helluva lot more accepting of my natural shape.

Bra1 F

Regardless, wearing this bra feels like someone is carrying my breasts around on dainty little pillows for me, without my shoulders having to hold the burden, so definitely a good fit! The center actually sits completely flat against my chest!! I’ve never had that, even on the bra-that-fit before, so I guess maybe it didn’t actually fit as well as I thought. This is an indicator that for the first time in my life, there’s enough volume in the cups. This is a huge contributing factor to the magical carrying-my-boobs-around-on-pillows feeling this bra gives me. If you don’t have this, your bra doesn’t fit. Plain and simple.

Bra1 G

For my second bra, I was feeling a little more confident, so I busted out some silky fabric I’ve been holding onto. It’s supposed to look like dupioni, I think, but the “slubs” are all very regular, pretty much screaming man-made. When I did a burn test on it, though, it seemed to be rayon rather than poly, which I’ve never heard of (I mean I’ve heard of rayon, just not rayon dupioni). I don’t know, doesn’t matter. It’s silky and off-white in a sort of grayish way. More black elastics and hook and eye, more gold rings and sliders.

Bra2 A

I tried to prevent the underwires from crossing one another this time, and pretty much failed. I topstitched my seams with a 3-step-zigzag, and for some reason, it makes it look like a baseball to me. I was going for an elegant, Parisian sort of cream and black, but I ended up with baseball. I’m okay with this, I think.

Bra2 B

I underlined all the cup pieces in the same duoplex as before, and the the band is one layer of black powernet and two layers of white. I was fairly meticulous about changing up my thread colors to match the fabric, but I also had the tension set fairly low when stitching from the front so I wouldn’t pull any black thread from the wrong side to the right side and make it look janky. So, instead, the wrong side is the janky-looking side.

Bra2 C

I also tried to create some fabric straps for the front (mostly to cut down on how much strap elastic I had to use, honestly), but I didn’t incorporate that into my pattern pieces when cutting. I made them after the fact, and they’re also somewhat less than elegant. Not a massive failure, though, at least!

Hahaha, this is such a pointy bra! So…I forgot to trim seam allowances, for some reason, and the topstitching can only do so much to flatten giant bulky seams. Since the seams actually run straight across the nippage area, it’s pointy in the most awkward way possible, haha.

Bra2 D

Oh my.

Bra2 E

I still wear it, with an undershirt to help soften the lines. (Not wearing an undershirt in these pics, of course, for the sake of honesty in showing how they fit.)

For the next bra, I actually went ahead and altered my pattern pieces. I wanted to try adding some height to the band and cradle, making it not quite a longline, but longer than it had been. I added an inch, tapering that down to nothing at the hook and eye end, since that width has been working well for the 3-hook pieces I’ve been working with. I added a little bit of width (1/4″) to the cradle center, too, to help keep the underwires from crossing one another.

Pattern Pieces 1.jpg

I also altered the powerbar pattern piece a little, taking a dart out of it that the baseball bra seemed to need, and incorporating a strap, too.

Pattern Pieces 2

This made the powerbar curve a little on a side that had previously been straight, but it seemed to work. It may have even helped a little with the pointiness, but it’s hard to tell.

I used some blue cotton with purple polka dots for this one, and I tried my hand at dyeing the white powernet. I was shooting for purple to match the polka dots, but the bottle of Rit I got was deceptively purple on the outside. It was called “wine”, and I guess I’m not enough of a drinker to’ve realized how red that would be. Oh well.

Bra3 A

You can see that my underwires definitely do not cross on this bra! In fact, I screwed up and added 1/4″ to the pattern piece, which of course adds 1/2″ to the whole cradle center. Dumb. I meant to only add 1/4″, but I seem to forget the doubling effect of altering pattern pieces a lot lately. I’m blaming pregnancy brain. In my defense, adding 1/8″ just doesn’t even seem worth it. In lingerie sewing, though (especially with bras), these little amounts really add up. Oh well, next time!

Bra3 B

The fabric straps are finished on both edges with picot elastic; I just ran the elastic all the way up the the sides and along the straps. Then I threaded the ends through the rings and covered the ends with some rayon seam binding I had in purple. It’s funny, the purple doesn’t match at all on this side, since it looks like a red and black bra from the wrong side. Bleh.

Bra3 C

It’s less pointy than my baseball bra, but the fit is actually worse. To be honest, my favorite of the 3 is the first one. I think the stretchiness of the lace in the upper cup really helped give a better shape.

Bra3 D

See what I mean? The upper cup is sort of squashing, since it’s a woven fabric (same thing was happening in my baseball bra, but I think the pointiness distracted a little from that, ha!).

Bra3 E

Far more importantly, this bra doesn’t sit flat against my chest in the center. The cradle is way too wide, and so my breast tissue is sort of pushing against it (revolt! viva la boobolucion!). So I guess I’m going to take that 1/8″ off of the pattern piece and try again for the next one.

Bra3 F

So there you have it! My bralogy: ThriftyBoobs, BaseballBoobs, and Boobolucion. All wearable, so all count as wins! 🙂

IMG_1336

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Bra-making Fool

When I was digging out the picot-edge elastic for my nursing/sleeping tops, I re-discovered all my bra-making notions. I made a couple of bras about a year ago (59 weeks ago, according to Instagram), and had some success. Mostly I made really pretty bras (Merckwaerdigh bra kits, whatup) that were too small. I did finally make one that fit me really well, and basically stopped once I did that. No idea why.

Rediscovering the notions, though (and realizing I actually had a lot more left over than I thought I did), re-inspired me to jump back on that horse. It seriously wasn’t until this point in time that I realized how much I’d outgrown my one single bra-that-fit. =/ It’s just so gradual that you don’t really notice, I guess. I mean, I knew I’d grown. Just not that my bra was fitting so poorly. Idk, anyway, I definitely knew I needed to go up a couple of cup sizes.

My base pattern that I’m working with is Merckwaerdigh BHL15 (“for 2 Big Size Bras“–super flattering pattern name, right? haha). To be frank, though, I have absolutely no idea what size I am, and I’m perfectly happy not knowing a number-letter combo to label my breasticles. I labelled my pattern pieces based on the colors of the lines I was tracing (blue, purple, indigo, etc). I’ve then been modifying those pieces even further, so…no idea what numbers/letters I am. It’s perfectly fine for my own use, though it’ll probably sound weird when I start talking about “purple cradle with indigo volume” and whatnot. Bear with me.

Color Lines

Firstly, I found which underwire size I am. During my previous bra-making attempts, I just ordered a big range of wire sizes to start off with, and then bought more of the one that ended up fitting me. Not super economical, especially at Netherlands-to-Texas shipping rates & times, but also not too terribly expensive, and now I have a collection of try-on wires for if I ever make someone else a bra.

Underwire Sizes

So, I had underwire size figured out from my previous bra-making attempts, but I wanted to verify that that hadn’t changed with the…growing. It hadn’t, and once I thought about it, it made perfect sense. My boobs got bigger, but the root, where they attach to my chest (check out K-Line’s blog post for further clarification) hadn’t gotten any bigger, and that’s what the underwire actually has to fit. So, I’m still an M100 in Merckwaerdigh’s wire size; that hadn’t changed at all. (Merckwaerdigh’s wires are the only ones I’ve ever tried, and I have no idea how they’ll translate in size to any other company’s wires. For now, I’m just sticking with what I know works. I swear I’m not affiliated in any way, shape, or form with her; I just really like what I’ve tried, so far.)

Next, I had to get a band that fit. I actually got this nailed down while making my earlier bras. I traced off the smallest band piece, and then shortened it 4 cm (according to the crazy instructions, it looks like that would make this a 38D in UK sizing/38C in US, but it’s really hard to tell). The cradle that I traced is also the smallest cradle piece in this pattern. It fits my underwire size pretty much perfectly, and I didn’t have to change anything since the underwire hadn’t changed. Bonus!

Back Band

Now, my last bra (the one-that-fit) used the blue-colored pieces (they were one cup size more than the cradle, but I was able to ease them in), and I knew I wanted to try going up 3 cup sizes from there (seriously, I really had outgrown that poor little thing). So I laboriously* retraced the cup pieces (*not actually laborious at all–there are 3, and they’re tiny) in the indigo-colored lines, added my seam allowances, and cut them out.

Indigo to Purple Cradle

Then I sat staring, racking my brain for how to make these pieces fit into that tiny (comparatively-speaking) cradle. I googled so many different variations of “big cup small underwire” and “large cup small cradle” and the like. I really couldn’t find anything that specifically addressed what my problem was (which is what prompted me to write about this; hopefully it helps someone else out there). I finally posted on Instagram, begging help from anyone I could think of that had made bras and might have answers/suggestions. The Green Violet* came to my rescue with the absolute perfect solution. (*I hadn’t known about the Green Violet before, but I started following her immediately, and between her and Gillian, I found out the Curvy Sewing Collective was doing Lingerie Month! I had no idea I was so in tune with the zeitgeist. Go me!)

So basically, she recommended that I go back to the smaller pattern pieces that were meant to fit the cradle I’d traced, and then slash-and-spread them to get the volume of the bigger pattern pieces. This worked out quite magnificently and was actually really easy since I had the indigo pieces already cut out to guide me in how much volume I was trying to add to my cup pieces. I just made certain that when I slashed and spread, I didn’t add to the seam line where each piece gets sewn to the cradle. That makes these pieces a little less than the indigo size, further confusing the whole “size” thing.

Indigo Pieces & Purple Slashed-and-Spread Pieces

Now that my pieces all fit into the cradle, I was ready to rock ‘n’ roll!

S-a-S Pieces to Purple Cradle

I cranked out 3 bras in quick succession, modifying my pattern a little bit after each one.

IMG_1329

I made the purple floral one first, followed by the silky white one, and then the blue polka dotted bra. I tried to take the artsy hanging-in-front-of-a-window picture that everyone always seems to take with lingerie, but I sort of failed. And by the way, what the hell is up with all the windows in my house having tint on one half of the glass?? I’ve noticed it before and been puzzled by it, but it really affects my artsy-picture-taking, yo. Makes no sense. ANYWAY.

IMG_1334

At least with the flash, you can tell what the bras look like. =/

IMG_1336

I’ll go into more detail on the bras themselves in a future post. I mainly wanted to document how to solve that large-cup-small-wire problem, in case I go another year without making a bra again. (Ha! So not happening–I’m in the middle of a lingerie-making spree!!)

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