work in progress

Free Bralette Patterns on Youtube

I mean, we must have known this was coming?

Following on from my last mini-series on my Youtube channel, where I made and reviewed 10 free underwear sewing patterns, I’ve embarked on doing the same with bralettes! The first video in the series is available now on Youtube, and the next ones will be uploaded weekly.

In the first video, I introduce the series, go over which patterns I’ll be using (ten of them!) and talk about which sizes I’m choosing (also which sizes the patterns themselves are available in). Here are links to all of the patterns I’m using:

Stay tuned next week for the second video, where I talk (a lot) about materials for sewing bralettes, and show off which materials I’ll use for mine!

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Vlog Series: Free Underwear Patterns, construction methods

I will start off with a warning that I began filming with one Very Clear Idea for how I was going to explain underwear-sewing methods to you guys, and then I totally changed my mind. But! It’s for the good of the fit in the end, rather than the ease of applying elastic. Your preference may differ! I think my edit came out so that it wasn’t so confusing (I hope???) but anyway, I’ll explain it (hopefully) more clearly here as well 🙂 Here’s a link to the video up on my Youtube channel!

Out of all 10 patterns, 9 of them were constructed in one of two ways. There was one wacky exception (looking at you, Rosy Ladyshorts), but the other patterns were either cut as three pieces (a front, a back, and a gusset piece that is not visible from the outside) or four pieces (a front, a back, and two gusset pieces, one of which is visible from the outside). I have, cleverly, nicknamed the methods for constructing these panties the 3-piece and 4-piece methods and it really only makes any difference when you’re connecting the front and back pieces to each other (and, to a lesser extent, when applying elastic to the legs).

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Vlog Series: Free Underwear Patterns Review

This has been in the works for way too long, but I’m so excited to finally release it! Earlier this year, while taking stock of my insane collection of digital patterns, I had the idea to test out some of the many free underwear patterns that are available to home sewists, and review them in a video series!

Small Bobbins review 10 free underwear patterns in a Youtube mini-series.

Why? Well, I’m a bit of a digital pattern hoarder. If a designer offers a free pattern, I download it asap. So I’ve amassed quite a collection of underwear patterns that I’ve never tried. I’ve also been wanting to give my underwear drawer a bit of an overhaul, plus use up a gigantic stash of knit scraps and old t-shirts that I’ve been saving for exactly this purpose. Ideally, I’d love to have a couple of patterns that serve as my go-to patterns, my TNT’s (tried-and-true), but I had no clue where to start! I figured, I probably do have preferences on how I’d like my panties to fit, but I don’t know what they are yet. Plus, it can be a bit difficult to figure out how an underwear pattern will fit just based on the line drawing and description alone.

Therefore, I’ve decided to volunteer my butt to show you what these patterns look like!

The first video is up now on my Youtube channel! You can hear me chat about the patterns I’m using, and try to figure out my size (it’s actually not so straightforward).

The second video will go through which fabrics and elastic I’ll use for each of the patterns, cutting out the fabric, and you get a peek at my gigantic stash of fabrics and notions. I end up touch ALL the fabric, squeezing and stretching it, and it was a useful exercise to get a better idea of which fabrics are better suited for which underwear patterns (if any!). I give lots of tips about what to look for in choosing knit fabrics for underwear patterns.

The third video will go through the main methods of constructing the panties, with some advice for applying elastic and how to alter the fit after you’ve cut out your fabric.

And in the fourth video, I’ll model the panties and talk about which ones I liked best and will probably make again!

Here are the patterns I’m using:

Subscribe to my Youtube channel to get notified when the next video in the series is released, or for any future videos! I have a few more tutorials lined up that I’m very excited about.

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work in progress: cascade coat

Let’s take stock of where I am with my coat.

Costs:

  • Self fabric, 5 meters at €1/m
  • Lining fabric, 4 meters at €1/m
  • Thread, 1000 meters, Guntermann brand, €7 (and some change)
  • Zippers, 2x€4.60 (one for the maternity panel)
  • Snaps,€8.50 (for the maternity panel)
  • Snap installer,€13.95 (for the maternity panel)
  • Interlining fabric, €10/m (I probably used 1 meter)
  • Interfacing, 3 meters at €20.22 total
  • Cascade PDF pattern, €15.37 ($16.94)

Probably adding up just the amount for what is used for the coat itself, I’d guess (generously), I’ve spent €53. The maternity panel will use additional fabric, lining, interfacing, the other zipper and the snaps (and the installer, although that will hopefully get additional use as well). The pattern will be used again, dammit.

I ended up cutting a straight size 10 based on the finished measurements. It even fits my belly (for now) with room to spare!

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

Everything seems doable so far, none of the steps are too wacky or difficult. I can see already where I should be taking more care, but I’ve convinced myself already that this is a learning experience. I’m not going for perfection, plus, I just need a dang coat already! My next version (I’m telling myself) will be made with nicer materials and done with more care.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

I can already tell that my zipper band is too wide (the contrast material I chose is a bit stretchy) and some seams aren’t so carefully measured. I had to shorten my front bands a bit to be 1/2″ away from either ends of the coat; my guess is that my poly-blend fabric stretched as I sewed it. I decided not to sew the toggles, but now I see why they would’ve been useful to keep the center front band from flapping open.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

All of my fabric choices were not the best. I didn’t take into account that Jen says to stay away from bonded interfacing when I bought mine, plus it doesn’t stick so well to the self fabric. The plaid wool/poly blend I used doesn’t seem incredibly warm, doesn’t press well, seems to stretch a bit, plus it smells super chemically when it gets wet or steamed. The interlining is a sweater knit jersey (also used here, I’m wearing it under the coat in the photos without the sleeves); it stretched all over the place when I basted it (I could’ve hand-basted, but see above, I’m too lazy and cold!) and my seams ended up wonky. In some places, the white basting stiches stick out on the front of the coat and in other places I can see I missed the interlining fabric all together.

Sewing the Cascade coat, by Small Bobbins

I still have the hood and lining to go. It feels like I’m near the end, but then I remember, wait, I have to practically construct the whole coat again for the lining! Remember, Kirstin, you got yourself into this mess.

Oh yeah, and then I’m going to attempt the maternity insert when that’s all done. Yippee!

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F/W sewing plans, and a peek at my stash

In the low countries, there’s a traveling fabric convention called Stoffen Spektakel (I guss you could translate it as “Fabric Festival” or “Fabric Spectacle”). Part of my trouble with getting started in sewing (or one of the excuses I make to myself) is my difficulty in figuring out where to buy fabric. I had no clue where any brick-and-mortar shops existed in Ghent for a long time, and when I finally found a few, and figured out their wacky business hours (I’m saving the “business hours in Belgium” rant for another day), I didn’t like being in the store, usually just me and shop owner, not knowing what I’m doing but not being comfortable just ambling around touching everything while the owner waited for me to express interest in buying something. It’s not like a giant Joann’s where I can wander around more anonymously. Then I found some online shops in Belgium and the Netherlands, but I worried about buying something without much experience in actually using fabrics. Plus, Dutch fabric terms don’t always play nice with Google Translate. Would I regret buying stuff that I couldn’t touch and see for myself?

The fabric fairs, held in giant convention centers and full of vendors, (there’s another called the Stoffen Cirkus that I’ve been to as well) provided a (mostly) perfect alternative. My Dutch only had to be decent enough to ask for one, two, or three meters and figure out the fabric names on the signs (having the Google Translate app on my phone helped, it can read and translate signs that are in Dutch!). They were always crowded and I could amble as much as I liked before making any decisions.

This is all to say that I bought a lot of fabric at the latest Stoffen Spektakel that came through Ghent recently. My goal was: stretchy stretchy stretchy, mostly solid colors, mostly fall and winter-appropriate colors, some wovens for specific projects, and a handful of notions. I was pretty successful, although I’m still without a seam gauge (mostly because of language shyness, I later ordered a “zoommeter” online) and I only came prepared with an empty backpack (other people had rolling suitcases, genius!). Since I had to carry several plastic bags with me, which I put down every time I needed my hands, I ended up leaving a bag behind somewhere in the convention center. Luckily it was only one bag with only one piece of fabric; it still sucks, but considering I had consolidated so many cuts into fewer bags, I’m glad it was only the one piece that was lost.

Leading up to the fair, I went through all of my patterns and tried to prioritize based on my wardrobe needs, my skills, and patterns I already had. I listed fabric lengths and types, any necessary notions, and ideas I had for colors and prints in a small notebook. I tried to keep it in my mind how any finished projects would fit into my wardrobe, so I didn’t want to buy too many colors that didn’t match or had clashing prints. I ended up buying a fair amount of neutrals, and colors that go easily with jeans or black leggings. And a few prints.

turquoise flower fabric

I got 4 meters of this lovely dark greenish blue fabric with a large flower and bird print. It’s woven, fairly thick, but still drapes nicely. It has the slightest bit of stretch. I only paid for 3 meters because the seller said he could see a discolored line on it. Umm, sure, totally, discount please! I’m imagining a Frida dress from Make My Lemonade (the version with the button placket), and I bought a gold belt loop, eyelets and buttons to match.

yellow speckled fabric

White with yellow and black speckles, a bit sheer, lightweight, and maybe viscose? I have no idea, it was in a pile of precut 1.5×1.5 meter pieces, with jersey, viscose and “other” all mixed together. It stretches and it has a bit of texture. I was thinking about this for an Alder shirt or a Harper blouse. Since I haven’t worked with sheer, lightweight fabrics before, I wanted something with texture so it wouldn’t be a slippery mess.

green abstract fabric

But, despite my intention to get sheer fabrics with texture, I was really drawn to this dark green fabric with black and beige splotches. It’s very sheer, also from the same pile of 1.5×1.5m precuts, with no stretch at all. I’m also thinking of an Alder (a shirt length of version B) or Harper shirt for this.

burgundy ponte

Burgundy ponte di roma (I only know that because it was labeled very clearly). I’m planning a Saiph tunic (version 2 with the ruffles).

black and white fabric

Black with an abstract white, allover floral pattern. It’s a really slippery knit with four-way stretch. I’m definitely going to make a dress out of this, probably the Amber maternity/nursing dress from Megan Nielsen (I bought it immediately when she emailed that the PDF was re-released!).

mint colored knit

A light, mint-colored jersey. Maybe I’ll make another Agnes, maybe a Hemlock, or maybe a shirt version of the Amber maternity patter. It has decent four-way stretch. I like the color, but almost immediately questioned whether I’m the type to wear something so light.

reindeer sweater fabric

I’m really excited about this. Black and white sweater knit with reindeers! I keep seeing a blazer in my future for this.

burgundy jeans

Stretch denim that’s dark blue on one side and burgundy on the other. If I can work up the nerve, these will become pants. Not jeans, but trousers more likely. I have the Emma pattern from Spit up and Stilettos. If I tackle them during the pregnancy, I’ll probably forego all fasteners and try to mimic this elastic waistband I saw on a pair of Asos maternity pants.

black textured fabric

Another one I’m really excited about. I can’t decide if I’d rather have this textured black (slightly stretchy) fabric turn into a jacket (maybe a Mona from Make My Lemonade, I think the hardware plus the texture would look really cool!) or another Saiph tunic (my ideal Fall/Winter silhouette is tunics and shift dresses over tights/leggings with ankle boots). From the photo, it looks like it could be some sort of uncomfortable vinyl/pleather, but it’s a soft knit.

grey sweater fabric

And a dark grey sweater knit. I originally had a wrap dress in mind for this (I love the look of the Olivia wrap dress from Named patterns, as well as everything in their new collection! Get in my liiiiife!), but rediscovering this tutorial for a wrap cardigan on DIY Maternity made me change course. The cardigan was made quicker than I could write this post.

Some fabrics I already have in my stash but haven’t cut into yet:

navy stripe fabric

This navy and white striped fabric. It could be too thick for an Agnes (and I don’t think I have enough for an Agnes dress), but maybe a Luisa dress from Make My Lemonade? Belted and worn like a tunic, I think it could serve quite well through the end of the pregnancy. Or who knows, it could be a short-sleeved Hemlock or an Atalie top that I could wear over a high-waisted skirt.

No pictures, but I have a decent amount of white jersey, very very very pale pink jersey (that totally looked white in a dim fabric shop), and black jersey. Totally boring, but I plan on making lots of tops: every variation of the Agnes shirt pattern and maybe another (and another and another) Hemlock. I could also see the black fabric becoming a pencil skirt (with added belly room, using this tutorial from Cotton and Curls).

polka dot fabric

White sheer fabric with grey polka dots. I think it’s too sheer and too light to be anything other than a shirt. This was a very early purchase in my sewing journey, and now I’m not so jazzed about using it anymore.

panda fabric

Fabric that I bought in Bishkek and still have a ton leftover. It was made into a dress that I loved for a long time. It’s a pastel floral pattern with pandas(!!!) hidden amongst it. The original dress ended up shrinking and fading pretty badly, but being without a dryer here in Belgium, I could at least avoid most of the shrinking. Maybe there’s another Frida dress in the future for this fabric (although I worry that the kitschy pattern could be overwhelming on such a voluminous dress).

Phew! I better get started if I want to have anything to wear in the coming months. I’m still trying to keep my expectations fairly low; each garment that I attempt is more about teaching myself new skills and hopefully getting something that’s wearable enough to see me through my pregnancy and maternity leave. Part of that is figuring out which fabrics work well for which sort of projects. If anybody has a similar link to peek into their stash, I’m so curious about what sort of fabrics other sewists have stored up, so please share!

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I’m going to make a coat!

I’m struggling to remember how I handled cold weather last time I was pregnant (my kids will have nearly identical birthdays so my pregnancy timeline is exactly the same; I will be biggest when it’s coldest). I think I borrowed a bigger-sized coat from my stepmom, or maybe my huge brown ski coat sufficed, or maybe I just didn’t zip it over my belly and didn’t go out too often?

I debated making a coat for this pregnancy. Think of the skills I’d learn! Yeah, but think of the sunk cost of buying the materials for something that maybe I don’t have the skill-set to make well. But it’s only for a short amount of time. Still, I don’t have any coat at all, shouldn’t I plan on having something wearable? The time making a coat could go towards making several other outfits. Or one, because I’m still pretty slow at sewing.

I made a plan: either a Cascade or a Minoru, plus an attempt at self-drafting a jacket insert. My idea is that I could make the coat in a normal size, add the insert for the belly and babywearing, and still have a wearable coat when either is no longer needed.

Still, good coat materials cost about a billion euros. I included fabric requirements when I went to the Stoffen Spektakel a few weeks ago, saw some wools that were 20 euros per meter minimum, and decided NOPE. Threw the whole plan out the window.

Then, a fabric store in my neighborhood had a closing sale! Advertising 1-10 euros per meter for everything, I snooped and was mostly disappointed. They had some 5 euro per meter wools, but nothing screamed “coat” to me. Then, I found a wool/poly blend for 1 euro per meter buried in a back corner. Right next to something that I think (I hope) is an appropriate lining fabric for 1 euro per meter. Bingo! Who cares if it’s wearable in the long run? Five meters of self fabric and four meters of lining for nine euros; I’m making myself a coat!

making a coat, by small bobbins

I ordered two identical zippers and other notions, and I’m taking inspiration from this jacket insert shape and size to make my own. I have no idea how warm it will be or if I will get it done in time or if it’s within my skill-set. I decided on a Cascade after all, the simple shape seems like I might have better luck ending up with something I can wear post-pregnancy, and wear with the insert.

I’m a bit concerned about warmth since I bought polyester fabrics. I’m not going to splurge on any sort of fleece lining at this point, but spying on my stash (can’t believe I even have enough fabric for “a stash” now) I have leftover grey sweater knit, or a grey ribbed cotton jersey, that could add just a bit of extra warmth without a ton of bulk.

I’m really waffling about the size. The measurements are pushing me towards a straight 12, but I don’t want a coat that’s too huge, and there’s a decent amount of ease built in. Looking at the finished pattern measurements, I could fit with a straight size 10, even with the belly, but the panel would cover me for sure. I could go down to an 8 for the sake of my ego; a 10 would strike a good in-between. I could grade to a 12 at the hip for more movement, although I probably won’t be wearing so many layers underneath anyway.

I’m really excited to get started, although I do already feel a bit over my head. What is it that makes it so difficult that the pattern is rated “Advanced”? Reading Jen’s blog, it sounds mostly that it’s to ensure that sewers understand it’s not necessarily difficult with the required techniques, but just the required investment of time and materials. Checking blogs for other’s experiences with the pattern seemed to echo that. The steps themselves aren’t too difficult, but there are just so dang many of them.

Wish me luck! I better get back to sewing, it’s getting cold in Belgium!

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