A Drawer-full of Accomplishment

More underwear!!!

When I said sewing your own underthings was addictive, I wasn't kidding - because now I have a drawer full of shiny new me-made underwear. Laundry takes a bit more diligence, but other than that, I'm pretty thrilled with the outcome.

All in all, it's three Watson Bras with two matching pairs of undies for each bra. The undies started from the Watson pattern, but I've hacked it up enough now to pretty much call it my own. It takes me about 2 hours to sew up a bra and less than 30 for the undies (if I'm paying attention). Even after all this sewing though, I still haven't quite got my elastic tension down. I think it could be more snug around the leg and for the last bra, I went down a band size, which fits better. I've cut out my patterns on cardstock for future use, though everythign is so dependent on the fabric, that you never know.

The purple version you've seen. I sewed the sporty turquoise one next and the lace version last. For the lace version, which is my absolute fave. I tea-dyed the lace and elastic with good-old Lipton's, about 8 bags or so worth. It make we want to buy a cheap pot and do some more dying in the future. For the lace band I underlined it with the milliskin, but the lace stands on its own for the other parts. It's so comfy. 

I'm pretty well stocked up for now, but i would like to try my hand at an underwire bra next. But first I have some fall wardrobe sewing for me and LMC to do! (Dresses for her, buttons-up and jeans for me!)

Watson Bras and Undies sewn by Ms. Cleaver
Sporty Watson Bra and Undies
Mauve and Lace Watson Bra Sewn by Ms. Cleaver
Mauve and Lace Watson Bra and  Undies Sewn by Ms. Cleaver
Sporty Watson Bra sewn by Ms. Cleaver
Lilac Watson Bra and Undies Sewn by Ms. Cleaver
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On Ethical Fashion and Bra-Making

Fair warning, here there be (non-modeled) underwear. But first, a story. Well two stories.

One of the great things about maintaining a blog (fairly) consistently over nearly 8 years, is that you can conveniently provide a time stamp for when you said something you've totally just contradicted yourself on.

In this case, it was April 30, 2008

"You see, I have this *crazy* idea about slowly crafting an entire wardrobe - except t-shirts and underwear, because I'm not that crazy."
-Me in 2008

Clearly, I am that crazy now. Because I've started making my own underthings, and it's awesome and I'm kinda obsessing about it right now. 

But how did I get from 2008 to here?  A lot of it has to do with how the sewing blogosphere has really embraced lingerie-sewing and indie designers are coming out with great really make-able patterns. But for me it really comes down to story #2, which is something I've (perhaps surprisingly) not talked about on the blog as of yet.

You see, what it really boils down to is that in January 2014, I bought a pair of grey corduroy pants on clearance for $2.98. I know that there are lower costs of living, and loss leaders, and economies of scale. I also know that to sew a pair of pants, even assembly-line fashion, takes some time. And I knew that there was no way you could pay someone a fair wage and sell their product for $3. 

I'm sure the company sold those pants at a loss. They were on clearance and a online-only extra long size (which I hemmed in about 5 minutes). I bought the pants and I wear them a TON in the fall and winter. There's nothing wrong with the pants, I quite like them, but for some reason at that moment, I realized that thanks to my ability to sew and sufficient disposable income to make choices about my own clothing, I could do better.

And so, I decided that from there on out, I would make what I had time to (which is fairly limited) and was only going to purchase clothes from ethical sources.

Ethical to me means:

  • Second Hand Purchases.
  • Made under ethical working conditions, including Made in the USA (or other first-world country), Fair Trade, or other production method that provides a working wage and safe conditions to its workers. 
  • Made to last. 
  • As possible, Organic or Sustainable Materials.

In truth, the first  ten months or so of this experiment involved a lot of returns to teeny little companies trying to do the right thing. Some things just weren't my style. Some had odd or inconsistent sizing. Some didn't have quality to match to the price. Fortunately, I've found a few companies who I adore and fill in the gaps in mywardrobe when I need it. 

One thing I just haven't had much luck with was underthings. There are definitely companies out there making quality, ethical underwear and bras, but none of them seemed to fit my body just right and/or were at a price point I could handle to meet my growing need for replacements.

And that's why I finally figured I'd give sewing underthings a go. And I am sorry that I waited this long. 

The pattern below is the very popular Watson Bra and Bikini. I made a bunch of modifications to the bikini to be more full coverage (raised the rise by ~1 and lowered the leg line by about the same), the bra I sewed as is. 

The fabric/notions/etc. for the first set all came from a kit from Grey's Fabric. The kit made it easier to get started, because most of this stuff  isn't available at my local fabric stores. I made the briefs and bra over a weekend and then the next Monday morning found myself making orders from places called Spandex House and Sew Sassy, to get more stuff to make so many more sets. So far I'm up to three pairs of undies and am sewing my second bra. It's seriously addictive and I'm eyeballing other patterns to try out (Marlborough Bra, I'm looking at you!). I'm probably going to keep going until I have a drawer full. 

Sometimes, it's good to be a little crazy.

Watson Bra made by Ms. Cleaver
Watson Bra made by Ms. Cleaver
Watson Bra made by Ms. Cleaver
Watson Bra made by Ms. Cleaver
Watson Bra made by Ms. Cleaver
Lacy Watson briefs sewn by Ms. Cleaver

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Spring in Southern Maine

Chatting with Supergirl
Checking out the Mandarlorian Mercs.
KIDShorts - Racer version - made by Ms. Cleaver
Goodies from Grey's
KIDShorts - Racer version - made by Ms. Cleaver
KIDShorts - Racer version - made by Ms. Cleaver
Fencing the Garden
Blueberry bush pruned and mulched
Playing in the Sandpit
Tulips and Daffodils
Big Slide

It finally feels like spring! The grass is getting greener by the day. the daffodils and tulips are in bloom and I'm cleaning up flower beds and laying down mulch. The blueberry bush is pruned, the veggie garden fence has gone up, and the sand pit has been raked out and is ready for play. Free Comic Book day happened and we've pulled out the sunscreen and the Seadogs hat. 

It'll still be a while before its warm enough for shorts, but that didn't stop me from sewing a pair for Little Miss Cleaver. The pattern is the KID Shorts from Dana at MADE. While I don't love that all the sewing instructions are on her site instead of included in the pattern (meaning I'm following instructions off my phone), the fit seems spot on (I made a 3T, lengthened the to the 4T hem), and the finished product is uber-cute, if I say so myself. I even got to sew in my first Ms. Cleaver label!

It took about 1.5 hours to make from taping together the pattern to finished shorts, and I imagine future pairs will be even quicker, especially if I do the more straightforward versions. It warmed the cockles of my sewist heart when LMC wanted to try them on as soon as she got up from her nap and wear them over her pants for at least an hour before the need to put a ballet skirt on trumped it.

I'm hoping to sew two more pairs before shorts weather is truly upon us, and then I'm delving into some serious me sewing. I have some grey gingham that I got on vacation last summer that is calling out to be an Archer button-up and I picked up a Watson bra kit and some denim for Ginger Jeans from Grey's Fabric as well as Cascade Duffle pattern that I'll be sewing into my new winter coat come September or so.

I've been super busy with knitting projects of late (look out for a lot of new stuff this fall!), and haven't had much time to sew and I forget how much sewing means to me. To be able to single-mindedly focus on seam finishes and fabric selection and to make something useful and beautiful.  



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