Finally! Sewing my own Lingerie : the Black Beauty Bra Review

I am so happy to be writing this post as it’s been such a long time coming! I first starting banging on about sewing my own bras back in my 2017MakeNine list (which is a perfect example of why I’ve stopped making these lists!) Why has it taken me so long? A couple of reasons, confusion being one – fear definitely being the second.

black beauty bra

If this is you, let me attempt to talk you out of that, hopefully convincing you that there really is nothing to fear – whilst I try to simplify any confusion you may have with regard to the seeming myriad of different elastics and supplies you might think you need. But first…

Why Sew Your Own Bras?

Why did I so desperately want to sew my own bras? It wasn’t about design choice for me, or even about accomplishing new sewing skills – which, of course, are both extremely valid reasons! It was because wearing bras tended to make me, what I term, ‘Brangry’ (Bra = Angry)! I would wrestle my way out of any bra I was wearing the nano-second I walked through the front door. I wouldn’t even stop in my tracks to do it; I’d end up tossing said bra over whatever I was passing as I furiously whipped it off. Family and visiting friends were accustomed to finding bras discarded in a Brangry fit over the back of dining chairs, in the fruit bowl (it was otherwise empty!), down the back of the sofa – even in the shoe rack! No matter what size bra, no matter what style, no matter whether I’d had it professionally fitted or not – I hated wearing bras – they were uncomfortable to the point they’d make me seriously agitated.

I’d long suspected its partly down to my shape – I’m a DD cup on a relatively narrow petite frame. Bra straps would constantly fall off my shoulders (tightening them didn’t help). My boobs are also quite bottom heavy – 90% of shop-bought bras would squish and flatten my boobs in the lower cup so they’d end up overspilling in the top cup – even if it was ‘technically’ the right size. If I sized up, they’d fit in the bottom cup and then gape in the top. I could go on and on…suffice to say my loathing of bras goes a long way to explaining why I tended to live in PJs when at home!

Black Beauty Bra sewing pattern review Sew Sarah Smith

Are you noticing the past tense I’ve been using? Oh yes, things have very definitely changed – I’ve gone from stark raving Brangry to being very Brappy. (I’ll let you work that one out 😉 ) So, here’s why…

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Two pairs of Morgan Jeans … and a chat about Raw Denim

Hi! I’ve finally got around to writing this post having been bed-ridden for 9 days straight with the worst flu I’ve ever had – I say flu, but I really don’t know – it was the weirdest case of flu ever! But thankfully I’m back to normal now (‘normal’ being a relative term, obvs!)

Sarah Smith v Raw Denim, Round 1

[*EDIT : this post has been amended retrospectively to take into account, lessons learned since initially writing it!]

I’ve sewn a few pairs of skinny jeans in my time (using the Eleanore stretch pants pattern by Jalie – see here) but I really felt my wardrobe was lacking a relaxed pair; my last RTW ones having finally fallen apart! The Morgan ‘boyfriend’ jeans have a traditional coin pocket and button fly and are suited to a roll-up hem – in other words, exactly what I was looking for. PDF duly purchased!

Have you sewn jeans before? If not, are you intimidated by the idea? I’ve got to say from the off, in terms of actual sewing, making jeans is not difficult. And I found the Morgan instructions to be absolutely faultless; which of course helps – in fact, I find sewing jeans a methodical and therefore joyfully therapeutic process. All that lovely topstitching for example!

I will say, having the right notions and tools for the job really makes a difference though; I found my Hump Jumper / Bulky Seam Aid absolutely came into its own with this project, ensuring that my sewing machine foot navigated bulky seams with ease and ensuring that my topstitching didn’t ‘skip’. A seam guide (the 1/4″ mark is particularly useful) and a fabric marker (I used my Clover Chalk Pen) are also incredibly useful for marking your double topstitching lines so you can sew them equidistant.  You will also need good quality jean topstitching thread (choosing your colour is fun in itself!) I used these rivets and these ‘laurel wreath’ jeans buttons. (If you’re unsure how they’re installed; I use the same method as in my Snap tutorial – no hammer required!)

To my mind, the hardest part of sewing jeans is not the construction; it’s not even, technically speaking, the fitting of the jeans – it’s accounting for the particularity of your chosen raw denim. Raw denim, being 100% cotton, tends to relax substantially throughout the day  – so what fitted perfectly in the morning may be a baggy mess by the evening. Conversely, a pair that has marginal breathing room over breakfast fit beautifully come dinner  – or so I’ve found! Which can make ‘seeing’ what fit adjustments you need to make that bit trickier!

Using fabric scraps leftover from my Panda Pajamas for the pockets and waistband

The weight of your denim is really important then. I would say for this particularly pattern, you don’t want to use anything less than 10 oz. Mine for both pairs – was 9.5 oz – I didn’t think that half ounce would make a real difference but it does feel too lightweight for the cut of these pants  – if I sew this pattern again, and I’m sure I will with further mods, I think I’d be looking for something substantially firmer – between 10 – 11 oz, as these are likely to have less ‘give’.

Let me talk you through my experience – I’ve sewn the Morgans twice now with different adjustments – and I’ve washed and worn both pairs loads

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A Crossback Apron – The Maria Apron by Maven Patterns

Hi! I’ve got a new ‘Sewing Uniform! Quite frankly, the amount of times I’ve rushed out of the door, after sewing to the very last available minute, only to discover too late that my clothes are covered in thread and bits of snipped fabric! It’s not a good look on the school run, when a fellow Mum stops to pick the lose threads off your clothes! And not only that, you return home to find you’ve shed them all over the house!

So whatever was left of my dignity called ‘Time’ on that and went on the hunt for a suitable Apron pattern…

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My #2019MakeNine Plans … it’s about more than just sewing!

My revamped sewing space – ready for a clean start!

Writing my #2018MakeNine sewing review post highlighted how I’d put sewing for comfort and practicality above anything else last year. One of the reasons I’d placed comfort so highly though, was simply that I was actually very uncomfortable in my own skin. Reaching what my Doctor refers to as my ‘mature years’ and dealing with the subsequent hormonal changes, hit me unexpectedly and hard. Some days I really struggled to get dressed – I need to wear breathable fabrics and can’t abide anything compressing or overly fitted; even wearing underwear can drive me to distraction. Always an insomniac, it got out of hand; my joints started to seize up and I was wracked with pain most days. I honestly felt like a woman in her 70s, not her 40s.

My weight fluctuated quite dramatically over the course of the last year too and, if I’m honest, I had this unhealthy internal dialogue that would assert that, given the way I felt, it was pointless to sew anything too ‘nice’.

So what’s different this year? Well…

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