What the Cup Size! Black Beauty Bra Appreciation Post

One of the most important things I’ve come to understand in my garment making journey is that patterns are not built for my (your) body type.  Few people can pick up a sewing pattern, sew it as-is from the package, and have it fit them perfectly.  The other important thing that I am still coming around to in my garment making journey is fully knowing and accepting my body shape as it is so that I can make the necessary changes to patterns to get well fitting garments.  For some reason I still struggle with that. 

Sometimes I know I need to make changes to a pattern, but I want to be stubborn and force things to work out with minimal effort because I am looking for that finished project. 

Sometimes I know what I need to change on a pattern, but maybe I don’t understand how to do it or the best way to accomplish that change. 

Sometimes I am too stuck in my belief that any “body” can wear any garment, while at the same time not fully accepting the amount of alternations necessary to achieve a good fit for a garment that isn’t made with your particular shape in mind.

There are no bad patterns and no bad bodies, but you really need to put in that work to get a good fit for some items.  And that is when you need to decide if it’s worth all of the work or if you should pick something closer to your shape.  I like a challenge, so I usually fiddle around until I get something that works well, sometimes at the detriment to my sanity.

Despite my decent sized library of lingerie sewing patterns, I’ve made the Black Beauty Bra 8 times.  Not because I love it that much, although it is a beautiful pattern, but I’m just stubborn and can’t seem to move on until I get it perfect. I have a fantasy bra project I want to make using this pattern as a jump off point.  I need it to work!  Along the way, I’ve learned quite a few things that don’t work and things I need to pay more attention to as I make bras in the future.

The first 4 were earlier in my bra making experience and I learned quite a bit along the way.  

  • On some of them, I used layers of mesh instead of power net because I wanted to use matching materials or kits and I learned that power net is a much more supportive material to use for my size breasts.
  • I learned to change the style lines of a bra. 
  • I learned to not cut into your prettiest lace in short supply that you absolutely love before you get a halfway decent fit. 
  • I learned to check my measurements using the designer’s suggested method before buying a pattern.  
  • I also learned a way to accommodate asymmetrical breasts in a pattern. 
  • I even learned to never, ever throw away old modified pattern pieces as I am finalizing the fit.

Then my breasts change which means I need a new size and it’s time to start all over again.  My breasts are bottom full, projected, with a narrower root.  This bra pattern is best suited for wider, shallower breasts.  For the next four Black Beauty Bras, this is the stage of learning to use a cradle that fits my wire size and adapting the cups to fit and learning to understand/accept my body shape in relation to the shape for which the pattern is best suited. Straight off of the printer, this bra is not for my shape.

This bra did not work unless I made a ton of modifications:

  • Shallow Bottom cup depth (BCD) is the main reason this bra did not fit. I was being pushed out of the cup because the bottom cup was not deep enough. The bottom cup was split horizontally and vertically to increase the depth.
  • I used a 34DD cradle for a 40 wire and inserted 34FF cups.
  • The power bar for the 34FF was too wide and cutting into the breast, so I decreased the width.
  • Straps were set too wide, as typical of a balconette style, so I shifted them in 3/8″.
  • Lengthened the band for comfort.
  • Cross cup length increase of 3/8″ to get the bridge to tack against the body.
  • Lengthen the upper cup neckline which turns out I don’t need this added length probably due to horizontal increase of the bottom cup.

The fit is so much better but still the bridge does not lie completely flat against my chest wall. Maybe I need just a tad more cross cup width for more depth. For now, I think it is safe enough to move on to my fantasy bra project or move on to a different pattern.


Cozy Classic Vibes

I find myself back in a space where I don’t even know what I want to wear anymore. I think I had a few ideas on where I wanted to go with changing up a few things style wise to get me to a place where I had a lot of items I would love to wear. But a little weight gain + slow sewing + poor planning + distraction equals a recipe for confusion.

My current exploration is to try different pants styes and figue out which ones I like. Basically I am working with a bunch of different patterns to find out which ones I want to sew more often. In the past I’ve always told myself certain styles would not work for me, but I don’t have any actual concrete evidence that I wont like them on my body. I also don’t subscribe to the usual rules of what works well for certain body types. I think wearing what you like and what fits properly is enough of a rule to follow.

Burda patterns seem to work well for me, so I chose to make a pattern from Burda Style magazine 11-2019-112A.

It was a petite pattern so I had to make the adjustment for tall because I have long legs, but it was simply a difference in lengthening the pattern in three places along the leg as explained in the back of the magazine.

I also graded up the pattern two sizes. While I needed the width in the rear I did not need all of that extra width in the front so i ended up with way too much front width and crotch length. I was probably better off using the largest size (Size 21/41 and making a full seat adjustment. After lots of making and remaking my toile, I cut the final pattern in a wool-like herringbone fabric from the stash.

I paired them with another remake of the Seamwork Oliver top (Size 10 with a FBA) in a luscious cabled rayon/poly/nylon from Joann fabrics. I lowered the neckline 1/2″ because it cut uncomfortably across my neck. The combo is really cozy classic to me.

The Meditative Act of Spindling

This year, I finally got the opportunity to attend the NY Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY!  The weekend was full of squeezing exquisite yarns and fibers, oogling the knitwear on display from all of the vendors and attendees, and doing just a small amount of shopping for future projects.

Yarn haul!

Most importantly, the weekend was spent wtih a wonderful friend laughing, chatting, and sharing all of the things we love (and dislike) about the fiber arts and fiber arts community and beyond.  I was so completely into the moment I forgot to take pictures of the event.  I promise you I was there!

I have a running list of creative arts I want to try, despite the fact that time and money are precious commodities and I already have a lot of current interests.  This does not stop me from believing I can just try all of the things and somehow squeeze them into the 24 hours we have available.  Spinning/Spindling is just one of those things on the list that I thought I would get around to one day, but having a friend who is a highly knowledgeable and talented spinner drop a few bits of fiber and knowledge in your lap definitely speeds up things.

Convertible Spindle

My first attempt at practice was using a simple spindle I brought years ago at Knit Picks that could be used as either a top or bottom whorl Turkish spindle.  It was fiddly and I practiced with it a few times before I was gifted a much nicer turkish spindle.  My yarn looked uneven, thick in places, micro thin in others and I was completely discouraged that it was not perfect right from the jump.  Absurd, I know.  I left it alone for a few more years.  Gifted fiber sat in my creative space, admired, but unused until I was able to convince myself it was ok to learn for learning’s sake. I was reminded: Practice, not perfection.   I left Rhinebeck weekend with a few key tips from my friend, a different spindle, a bag full of fiber, and a renewed interest and determination in the craft. 

How it started

Key Tips: Park and Draft.  Spin for 15 minutes per day.

Once these tips sank in,  I began to lose myself in what I was doing and spinning became a lot more meditative.  I was having fun.  I was relaxed.  It might sound silly, but I was at peace and in the zone.  In those 15 minutes per day I devoted my energy and concentration to the act of spindling.  Spinning, parking, drafting, and winding Romney wool fiber.  In idle moments I find myself reaching for that spindle again and again.  It’s quite portable, much more so than beading and some knitting, so now I carry it with me often.  It’s still not perfect, but that’s quite alright.

How it’s Going

The ultimate goal I’ve set for myself is to spin enough yarn for a hat.  How do I ply it into yarn? Will I dye it? What pattern will I chose?  All unknown at this stage.  I’m just not there yet.  I am really taking my time with the beginning stages of turning fiber into yarn. 

Definately visit my friend, Dnali.thestudio on Instagram and on her blog to check out her fiber adventures and find out what is brewing for her future in fiber.

Loose Ends

I’ve been working hard trying to tie up the loose ends of many projects I’ve started over the years. This could really be a full time job by itself! I’m almost down to the most labor intensive items with my knitting and crochet work.

What I have left:

Indian Knights Blanket: Super labor instensive colorwork

Egyptian Lace and Color Shawl: Super labor intensive fine lace

Zigzag Mens Sweater: In pieces and needs to be seamed

Flower Art Frame: A large, ongoing project with multiple pieces that’s great for travelling

Trilogy Sweater: Currently working

I am quite comfortable leaving the three intense and large projects waiting in the wings for now, but I’m super excited to start the next needle project (Cloudbow from Pom Pom Magazine )so I have to clear something from this list, most likely the men’s sweater. The pieces have been blocked, but I have discovered a hole that needs to be fixed before I can put them all together. That is one of the detriments to leaving a wool project undisturbed for too long.

One of the loose ends that I most recently tied up was the Neverland Crochet top. The cool thing about this top is that it can be worn with either neckline in front. This wasn’t my first yarn choice, but it was a linen yarn (Knit Picks Lindy Chain) from the stash that I thought would work well in a lightweight top for the summer. I was glad to have the yellow to give this basic tan a pop of color!

My measurements were smack dead in between the Medium and Large sizes, but went with the large because I plan to machine dry this item and I wanted to account for a little bit of shrinkage that might occur with the linen fiber. Regretfully, I didn’t do any math to make all of the necessary adjustments for the BEST fit, but I made a length adjustment for my comfort. I also didn’t test the strap length until after I wove in all of the ends. Of course they were too long, but I machine-stiched them to fit and crocheted the sleeves on to hold the seam in place.

I plan to pair it with a pair of bright yellow dropped crotch linen pants. I have no idea if i will like the look together, but I’m going for what I see in my head and maybe it will work out. If not, I will find something else that works.

Year of the Kalle Shirt

I’m calling it early!  This year the Kalle Shirt is going to be my number one make.  I’ve made the cropped version, I’ve lengthed it and made a lace version, and I already have plans to make the tunic and the dress. 

Before I work through the plans for the next few makes, let get into this super fun guipure lace top.  All of my work with lingerie lace was the start for inspiration for making a lace version of this top.  Lingerie mostlys works with stretch lace and I was hoping i could find something with a bit more structure to use for a top. 

Many times I will have an idea and then work backwards by searching the web for something similar or something that best conveys the idea in my head since I am not the best sketch artist. Even though I’ve been sewing for many years, I still don’t have a lot of experience of working with many different fabrics. Often I am not sure what fabrics pair best with each other.  And because I order fabrics primarily online, I’m not always willing to take the hit per yard if it doesn’t work out.  So I used pinterest to help me find button up tops with lace and cotton to give me an idea of how the two would work together and came accross a few guipure lace shirts that were really close to my idea. From there, I used mood fabrics to see what fabrics were available and I fell in love with a tropical print and white guipure lace.  This shirt would fit the vibe quite nicely for my upcoming trip to the Dominican Republic.

To get the look I wanted, I lengethed the front of the shirt pattern to match the back and then straighted out the curved hem.  I wanted to keep the scalloped edge of the lace as a design feature on the shirt, but failed to account for that length when I cut the back piece of the pattern. I accounted for my mistake by sewing a strip of fabric to the back hem, folding up to create a hem, and top stitching.  All of these adjustments were made on an already fitted pattern since I made this shirt once before.

Design Your Wardrobe, Revisited

I signed up for Design your Wardrobe in 2020, which turned out to be a challening summer to be inspired to sew a wardrobe. My concept collection was shelved and the fabric was tossed onto UFO mountain. Since I’ve been working through or scrapping each one of my unfinished projects, I thought it was a great idea to revist this project and complete the wardrobe for Summer 2022.

I wrote about week 1 of the start of the process 2 years ago, but I didn’t share the draft post for the remainder of the process so I will throw in some of those details before I share my first three completed pieces.

Week 2 of DYW was all about defining a color palette, which was a struggle. The pinterest board I created contained loads of bright colors and my fabric stash had very little of that. I shopped my stash and stumbled on a lovely pink which coordinated with a geometric african wax print and that became the focal point of the collection. I used a color website to incorporate other colors into the pallete to break up all of the pink. Week 3 was about taking your style inspiration, color pallette,

I think I took about 3 weeks to plan my looks. I dug through patterns at seamwork, my personal pattern stash, indie pdf patterns, burda style magazines. I collected watches so that I could source the right fabrics. There were so many options available to settle down on 6 looks, but I managed to settle on a spring/summer collection of looks with linines, lgith weight rayon crepe, waxed cotton and knits.

Look 1/ PRINTED COORDINATES: Seamwork’ Adria Top, Seamwork Christina Skirt both in Geometric Waxed Cotton from Stash. (coordinates with shorts, wrap, and pants)

These two were swapped out for Butterick 7603 and Burdastyle Skirt #102 from 6/2019 issue

Look 2/STATEMENT PANTS: Breaking the Pattern Solina Top in Linen from Stash, Seamwork Channing Pants in Pink Material of Unknown fiber from Stash (coordinates with shorts, printed skirt, and printed top)

Look 3/CASUAL BASICS: Burda Style Top #119 from 7/2019 issue in Blue Knit Fabric from Stash, Seamwork Miller Shorts in Linen from Stash (coordinates with printed top, wrap, and printed skirt)

Look 4/BOLD DRESS: Mccalls or BurdaStyle Dress in Geometric Waxed Cotton from Stash. Will be revisiting the dress style as I think I might swap it out with a different pattern. (coordinates with wrap)

Look 5/KEEPING IT SIMPLE ONCE PIECE: Seamwork Lucy Jumpsuit in Chartruese ponte Knit from Mood. I want to add some details to this jumpsuit. Any ideas for me? (coordinates with wrap)

Look 6/RELAXED DRESS: Victory Patterns Hannah Dress in rayon crepe print and solid from FabricDotCom and Butterick 6176 Wrap in Linen Knit with Laminate from Mood (wrap to coordinate withdresses, jumpsuit, printed top and skirt, linen top)

I wish I was working with a brighter color palette, but the point was to use up some of my stash supplies. Regardless, I am super excited to see all of these looks come together!

A Crafty Origin Story

I’m not sure if I ever told my crafty origin story. Perhaps I did in an old, long forgotten blog. It’s not one of those stories that starts out with a maternal figure passing down their handcraft skills and traditions to the next generation. These stories seem to be common and most compelling.

This Long Thread by Jen Hewett, graciously gifted to me by a good friend, has me pausing to reflect on the start to my creative path.

I feel like my story starts with me waking up and deciding that I wanted to sew, however, that actually isn’t all of the way true. My story really does start with that maternal figure, my mother. She wasn’t a crafter then, even though she has taken to the crafty life with diamond painting these days, she didn’t teach me a creative skill. She did plant the creative seeds that have since bloomed into to a thousand crafts. Each Christmas during my childhood I asked for the sun, moon, and stars on my hand written wish list. This list was a full page (sometimes front and back) of items circled from toy store catalogs and advertisements complete with page numbers, colors, and any other identifying information to get me that exact item I wanted.

I had a very blessed Christmas. I received some of what I asked for, some that I didn’t, and always two gifts that were non-negotiable: an educational toy and a crafty toy. The craft toys (and later the educational ones) became my favorite. Over the years I received Strawberry Shortcake fashion plates, paper dolls, a spirograph, latch hook sets, Play-Doh, a light brite, and the ultimate toy for creativity: legos. This is where the creative in me was born!

From there, a close friend in the 5th grade took me to an after school session where a teacher/school aid taught me the basics of crochet. I decided that my first project was going to be a single crochet stitch blanket for my twin bed. I never finished that blanket, but the crafter in me was still alive. Freshman year of high school is when I decided I would teach myself how to sew. With no YouTube and social media influencers of that day to learn from, I just bought a pattern and studied that thing to learn what I could until I earned some money to buy a book on sewing.

I often tell the story that most of my creative path has started with an idea and self-motivation, which is very much true for some crafts, but there are a few close connections who have definitely introduced me to creative outlets like scrapbooking and card making, spinning, dyeing, and cross-stitch. It’s not completely a solo journey!

EXPLORE: 2022 Word of the Year and the Kalle Cropped Shirt

When I start feeling that drain from using IG, I get the itch to come running back to blog land. It’s a much quieter place to relay my thoughts and experiences regarding my creative life without bombardment of reels, many ads, and endless scrolling. So, what’s new for 2022?

Maybe it’s a little cheesy, but I still choose a word that sets an intention for the current year. I chose the word EXPLORE for 2022 because I wanted to step out of my shell a little bit with different styles, garments, techniques, crafts, and materials. I want to take some time to EXPLORE my current stash of fabrics and yarn, EXPLORE new ways of getting things done, and EXPLORE that area just outside of my comfort zone. So if you are here for this journey on the blog or IG, WELCOME!

Over the past two years with working from home, my wardrobe has trasitioned into a lot of sweats and pjs. After a huge closet purge, I feel like I am left with a lot of holes for both staples and statement pieces. I have spiced up my underthings with more lace, color, and different styles so I aim to incorporate more of this idea in my daily wardrobe as well. Not sure yet what will work for me or not, but the goal is to step outside of my “norm” and create a new vibe.

First up, the Kalle shirt, cut out in a size 12 with a no dart 1.5″ FBA. What’s to explore with the Kalle? Stash fabric, bright color paired with print, and cropped style shirt. This chartruese stretch poplin has been in the stash many years and I’m not even sure what it was originally planned to become. Perhaps it became an addition simply because I like the color and the crispness of the fabric.

I am trying to learn how prints fit into my wardrobe because all solids all of the time are a snooze for me. I can’t do it anymore. I dipped my toe in the print useage by using a black and white fat quarter as a popover accent. The stiff poplin and placket make the shirt float away from the body rather than fall in soft folds, but I don’t dislike how it turned out. It’s a pretty great pattern with solid instructions.

I definitely plan to explore all of the other views of this pattern. A button up shirt and a shirt dress will be great additions to the wardrobe.

TBR: Inspired by Black History Month, Sets 3 and 4

I’ve been trying to learn a lot beyond what’s contained in the pages of the book, digging into the authors and their personal stories and the achievements and controversies that surround them and their works. I frequently jot notes of quotes, themes, and things to make me think about the world or my own life. This is the last of my list, two parts combined into one. I’d better stop talking about these books and get to reading!

With the Fire on High

Transcendent Kingdom

Becoming. Started and didn’t finish.

Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture. I could talk for an hour just with my own hair challenges and experiences

The Souls of Black Folk



Invisible Man

Just As I Am: A Memoir

Vegetable Kingdom

Our Time is Now

Well Read Black Girl

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

Wednesday Work in Progress, Unraveled Edition

I am still pluggin’, chuggin’, churnin’, and burnin’ on the same lace project. This month my focus is on chart C of The Girl with the Rose Red Slippers pattern. This is the section of lace that shows the flowers in the garden

Lots of of yarn overs! I am a little more comfortable with this section and I’m now able to listen to TV and music with words while knitting. I still have the occasional dropped or missed YO which requires unpicking TWO rows. Very annoying, but this isn’t a mindless knit.

My only regret so far is not using a yarn with color.

I am still reading The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison. I have not made it very far in this book. I still want to read it, but I just don’t think this is the time for it right now. It’s a little slow in development, but I understand it is a trilogy.

Joining Kat and the other yarny peeps for Unraveled Wednesdays.