Saturday, 17 September 2016

Interview with Wendy from Custom Bras

It's time to curl up in your new comfy lingerie, make yourself a warm drink, and read on to learn more about this whole new and seemingly underground movement of custom bra making. The industry of custom bra making and custom bra sewing is a entirely new to me. I honestly hadn’t even looked into it and didn’t realize how big of an industry it was (even in Canada) until I joined in with this lovely group of ladies for the Canada Cups Blog Tour. I think it is quite fitting that Beverly introduced everyone on the tour as it seems that (almost) everyone who is anyone in the Canadian Bra Making Industry has learned what they know from her. It seems, the term “Fairy Bra-Mother” is quite fitting. Wendy from custombras.ca is no exception to this rule. Read below to learn more about custombras.ca and what types of services and products she offers.



1.      Tell me a little bit about yourself and your sewing background/experience - I immigrated from Britain 13 years ago.  I have always sewn from a very young child where I would make my dolls dresses, then as I got older I made clothes for myself and then my husband; then as I had my 3 children I made their clothes too. I was taught "formal" sewing at high school.

2.      What got you interested in bra making?  I attended a creative show and met Beverley Johnson.  I was very interested in making my own underwear, especially as a big woman I would always get home and rip my bra off ASAP.  My daughter also found finding a nice young sexy bra almost impossible as no-one could get her size right and nothing fitted her comfortably.  So my daughter and myself went along to a mother and daughter sewing weekend and we made bras that fit.  I was totally hooked!

3.      When did you open your store? Why did you open it?  I opened my store after I  completed the professional bra fitting course with Beverly Johnson.  I opened it so that I could offer women or men all they need for making underwear.  It all started with bras, but I realized that my own 2 sons found it difficult to get comfortable underwear (with them being very tall and thin) that fit them without being too small.  So I began stocking stretch jersey and stretch cotton as well as a range of elastic to use on the underwear.  Then my search began to find underwear patterns (these were few on the ground) and finding a range of patterns I now had everything for men's underwear.  I held workshops at the Toronto creative festival for making men's underwear, we were sold out.

4.      What types of products/services does your store offer?  I have everything you need for any type of underwear for women, men and children.  I offer a very wide range of stretch lace in a wide variety of colours that are sourced from around the world.  I offer workshops in bras, underwear, swim wear and we are now developing baby underwear.

5.      What is your target market for your shop?  Women and men who are finding it difficult to find comfortable underwear.

6.      Are you only online? Do you also have a storefront? Where are you located?  We are an on line store, but we are hoping to have a store front soon.  We are located in Cambridge.  Our online address is www.custombras.ca

7.      What drew you to the custom bra business?  The more that you make bras you tend to look at women in general and how their posture is and how a good bra would benefit them.  I also make custom bras for customers, and I am always so pleased when they are ecstatic that when they put on their custom bra that they can't feel it!! and that it doesn't hurt them.  I've had many ladies crying to have found a bra that actually fits. 

8.      What trends have you seen since you started making bras?  The styles of bras seem to change every year and finally the styles are becoming more realistic to womens shapes and needs.  We seem to be moving from a 1940-50's look with high wasted underwear and long line bras to much more "soft" look (with very little support for the bigger lady). 

9.      What are the biggest differences between custom and RTW?  Custom can be in any size and fit you perfectly and you can make the components fit to your needs.  RTW has a very limited range of sizes, colours and shapes.  Also RTW is designed to only be wearable for 18 months! Custom (when washed correctly) can last for years.

10.  How do we find you on social media?  Custom bras is on facebook.


Are you one of those people who has difficulty fitting into ready to wear clothing?  Are you one of those people who feel the need to rip off your bra as soon as you get home? Now is the time to start sewing your own unmentionables! Check out custombras.ca or one of the other retailers interviewed during the tour and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

As always, check out more photos of my projects on instagram. I will be back with a quick wrap up post on _____

Cheers!
Michelle

Tour Sponsors


Giveaway

Click the image below now for a chance to win a bundle of 3 Craftsy classes (your choice):
craftsy_final_circle_logo
 Stay with us through to the end of the tour for a chance to win additional prizes:
  • complete kits to make your own bra,
  • bra- and swimsuit-making classes,
  • fabric, and more ...

Tour Schedule Itinerary

Follow the magical tour to see what we all have under our clothes

Canada Cups Logo Draft
  // Please note that none of these post links are available before the scheduled date. If you click on one too early, you will get an Error 404: Page not found. You know about those, right? //
Sunday, September 11
Monday, September 12

Tuesday, September 13

Wednesday, September 14

Thursday, September 15
Friday, September 16
Saturday, September 17
Sunday, September 18
Whoohoo! It's giveaway day today!
Monday, September 19
Have you entered the giveaways yet? Today's your last chance.
Tuesday, September 20
Giveaway winners announced on all the blogs:
After September 20
  • Come back to visit all the blogs for followup posts. It's always fun!
  • Craftsy class discounts expire at midnight Sept. 30

 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Review of Sewing Lingerie: Essential Techniques


Well, I’m the first stop on this amazing blog tour with my review of the Craftsy Class - Sewing Lingerie: Essential Techniques by instructor Alison Smith. I come to you all the way from Edmonton Alberta. So I guess I’m the western representative (or according to Our Fairy Bra Mother, the left cup). Valérie from  Élégantine has also reviewed this class and is also posting today

You might be amazed to hear this is my VERY FIRST CRAFTSY CLASS! It won’t be my last though because I have already bought Beverly’s Sewing Bra’s Construction and Fit and her newest Sewing Panties classes. Maybe those will keep me warm through the cold winter ahead? I’ve also become a Craftsy affiliate so any Craftsy links you see on my blog or on my posts are affiliate links. I love that you can come back to these videos at any time and how many different things you can learn. Here I am sporting my awesome Craftsy Swag that arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. Craftsy sent one to all 12 tour participants, how cool is that?!


I was excited to learn more about what craftsy classes are and how detailed they are. Many people live in smaller places and would have to travel great distances in order to take classes from expert instructors. Craftsy opens up the opportunity for everyone to benefit from the modern world of the internet and have equal access to their classes. The Sewing Lingerie Class is broken up into 7 lessons. You can also jump to specific points within the lessons which is extremely helpful when you are going back to re-watch parts of the video class during your sewing project. There is also the opportunity to ask questions directly to Alison, the same as you would if you were sitting in a classroom. I've always wanted to learn further techniques for sewing with different types of delicate fabrics such as silk, woven polyester, georgette, satin, cotton lawn, as well as lace and lace trim. She also explains what types of stitches are best for sewing with the lace trims and even how to pick the best lace trims. There is an entire lesson about sewing straps which is extremely useful because it is such a different technique from anything I've ever sewn before. All in all this was a very useful class that I am sure I will reference back to again and again.
Although there is a Vogue paper pattern included with this class, I elected to purchase two PDF patterns rather than learn how to follow a paper pattern (yes that’s right I’ve only ever sewn PDF Patterns!) A perfect fit for this Canadian Blog tour was to use patterns from the Canadian Pattern Designer Ohhh Lulu. She exclusively designs patterns for Bras, Underwear, and Lingerie and also sells some of her handmade intimates online. I purchased these two patterns from her Etsy Pattern shop and all opinions about the patterns are my own. I also kind of cheated because I love knits and am extremely comfortable sewing with them. I probably should have used some of the new techniques I learned in my craftsy class to make some gorgeous woven lingerie but i'm built for comfort and I know I will wear the lingerie I made often.




















My first outfit was made using the Clara Camisole from Ohhh Lulu and the Uptown Undies from Peekaboo Pattern Shop (Peekaboo Patterns aren't Canadian but I already had the pattern and wanted to try it out with the Clara Camisole). I used an amazing deer antler custom knit strikeoff from Blackrabbit Fabrics. I actually don't fit into the sizing for the Clara Camisole. The lowest bust size is 34/35 and mine is 33". I made the pattern as is for the first one to see how big it turned out. It is slightly too big but nothing crazy as you can see in the pictures. The other thing I did for both camisoles is to use removable bra straps that I salvaged from an old bra I no longer use. The straps are in great shape and the light cream matched perfectly.


For my second take on the  Clara Camisole I ended up taking off approx 1/4 inch off both sides of the cup pieces before cutting my fabric. The fit is much better on the second version. The only other change I made was to do knit binding around the cups/back rather than fold over elastic. I have been doing a lot of binding lately and like working with it a lot better than FOE. I also used the removable straps on this one. I paired up this camisole with the Eloise Shorts also by Ohhh Lulu. I made a size small as it was recommended for 35/36 hips and mine are a 36. I used another wonderfully soft and stretchy cotton/lycra knit strikeoff from Blackrabbit Fabrics that is currently on pre-order. I find the shorts to be a little big but I think that is because of the stretchy knit. I will likely size down next time I make them in knits but keep the same size if I use wovens.

Thank you so much for reading to the end of this post! I had so much fun sewing these up. Check out my instagram account for more photos and be sure to check out all the posts during the tour. I'll be back on Saturday with my interview with Wendy from custombras.ca

As for the Sew Straight and Gather Pattern Giveaway from Yesterday, Sakina is the winner using Random.org.


Giveaways

Click the image below now for a chance to win a bundle of 3 Craftsy classes (your choice):
craftsy_final_circle_logo
 Stay with us through to the end of the tour for a chance to win additional prizes:
  • complete kits to make your own bra,
  • bra- and swimsuit-making classes,
  • fabric, and more ...

Tour Schedule Itinerary

Follow the magical tour to see what we all have under our clothes

Canada Cups Logo Draft // Please note that none of these post links are available before the scheduled date. If you click on one too early, you will get an Error 404: Page not found. You know about those, right? //
Sunday, September 11
Monday, September 12

Tuesday, September 13

Wednesday, September 14

Thursday, September 15
Friday, September 16
Saturday, September 17
Sunday, September 18
Whoohoo! It's giveaway day today!
Monday, September 19
Have you entered the giveaways yet? Today's your last chance.
Tuesday, September 20
Giveaway winners announced on all the blogs:
After September 20
  • Come back to visit all the blogs for followup posts. It's always fun!
  • Craftsy class discounts expire at midnight Sept. 30

 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Pairing up with Valérie from Élégantine

On a whim, I signed up for what I knew to be an all Canadian bra making blog tour back in early July. I was able to convince my Sewing friend and fellow blogger Valérie to join in as well. 

Fast forward a few months and the tour is finally here. The tour is officially called Canada Cups - Cross Your Heart Relay. It's also sort of an East vs. West of which more will be revealed in the next few days. Check out fellow Canadian, and local bra making celebrity Beverly Arsenault-Johnson's post introducing the tour here. Oh and how cool is this, Beverly's nickname is "The Fairy Bra-Mother". Here are a few sneak peaks of my post for tomorrow.


Valérie and I have become online friends over the last year as we always seem to meet in various pattern testing groups. We even started our blogs within a week of each other only 7 short months ago! Valérie has put in an amazing effort to make Élégantine into a lovely blog with gorgeous photos of her children and sewing creations. I am slightly jealous of the absolute quality of her blog but am also extremely happy for her and always love to see her new creations and posts.


One of the pattern designers both Valérie and I have tested for is Terri from Sew Straight and Gather. Terri is also Canadian and I absolutely love her patterns. Check out one of my favourite dresses the Women's Uptown/Downtown Dress modeled here by both Valérie and Myself. We decided it would be fun to sew up different versions of the same dress and even more important than that, we each have a copy of this dress (or a different pattern of your choice) to giveaway courtesy of Terri! Leave a comment below and head on over to Valérie's post to leave a comment there as well. Winners will be chosen tomorrow, September 12th, by random number generator and included in our blog posts.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Refashion Month 2016



I am extremely excited to join in on the Refashion Month Blog Tour Hosted by House of Estrela. Head on over to her blog to see so many amazing examples of ways to reuse your otherwise discarded clothing. Learning how to refashion existing clothing is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and an extremely affortable way to sew your own clothing. I always love a good refashion (although I usually call it an upcycle). I might switch to refashion though because it is a much nicer and more upscale word, worthy of custom made to measure clothing. Read on to see what I made...


For the top, I decided to upcycle a nightgown into an Essential Tank from Pattern for Pirates. I bought this pattern during their memorial day sale and wanted to test out the tank version before I try the maxi dress. The fit is great and it is super comfortable and light. 

Earlier this spring I started to plan out a capsule wardrobe using the sudoku style wardrobe I learned about through the Free Notion Blog. One of the pieces I decided to try out was a woven version of the very popular Brassie Joggers from Greenstyle Creations. My hubby had this amazing pair of woven athletic style pants from Lululemon sitting in his drawer that he hadn't worn in 5+ years. I elected to size up one from my suggested knit size and I love the results. I used the lower rise option but would likely opt for the mid rise option if I made these in woven again. If you look closely, you'll notice the lululemon logo and mp3 pocket I was able to keep on the back!


This outfit is the perfect lazy summer day outfit to head to the farmer's market or do some gardening in the yard. The best part is that other than my time it was virtually FREE since I used existing clothing and scrap pieces. I hope you like my outfit as much as I do!

Cheers! Michelle

As always, check out my instagram account for other projects













Friday, 1 July 2016

O Captain! My Captain! A new swimsuit from The Wolf and the Tree



I've been testing for Saskia Smith with The Wolf and the Tree (aff. link) for awhile now. So far, all of the patterns I've tested have been much loved staple patterns that I've been able to use again and again. This new swimsuit pattern, O Captain! My Captain! (aff. link), is no exception. There are literally too many top/bottom combinations for me to count. (Although I'm sure someone who can math well could probably figure it out.)


I pre-tested this pattern using one of my most favourite swim fabrics, a wonderful grey and white striped swim knit with mint polka dots from Marshall Fabrics in Edmonton. I've also used it for a swimsuit of my own, posted here. I love the print on this swim knit and I also love that it's not the typical bright pink princessy colours you see for toddler girls suits in the stores. This is an early version, so fit has changed a little, but the overall looks is very much the same. The top is the full length tankini with short sleeves. The bottoms are the regular rise with yoga band.


For the Official Test, I changed it up and made the colourblock bikini length with short sleeves. I found an awesome ladies swimsuit at a local thrift store which I was able to cut up and upcycle into this suit. I didn't have quite enough of the pattern/purple so I did add in some pink sleeves from a swim knit I had on hand.


I also did up another tankini length top with long sleeves in this solid hot pink swim knit. I love having the option of a long sleeve top for the sun protection (and extra warmth in cooler water). Plus the hot pink top matches great with the patterned bottoms as well as both of the swim and surf shorts I made a few weeks ago and blogged about here.


This pattern has a massive size range of 12 months all the way up to 14. My little one is only in size 2T now so I forsee MANY uses of this pattern over the next 10 or so years. Oh, and there's talk of a Ladies pattern, so I guess she'll be covered for life! Don't forget to grab your copy of O Captain! My Captain! (aff. link) while the pattern is on sale for $8.

As always, check out more of my projects on Instagram

Cheers! Michelle




Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Pattern Testing the Swim and Surf Shorts by Gracious Threads + Giveaway!


I have a very special place in my heart for Jessica from Gracious Threads. First, because she gave me my very first pattern testing gig for the Starfish Shorts. Second, because she lives super close to me and I love to know that people are designing patterns in my own backyard!

 ... but seriously, how cute is this little bug! She had a lot of fun playing while I snapped photos back then, but we've definitely both gotten better at photos over the last 15 months.


I decided to hit up the thrift store for fabric for this pattern test because there is no board short (microfibre) fabric to be found anywhere in Edmonton and I didn't have the time or patience to order any online. I ended up finding two different pairs of shorts to use for this test. The blue pair are a men's large and cost $3.99 and the stripes are a youth size 14 and cost $4.99.


These Swim and Surf Shorts are a size 2 for my mini 3 year old. There are two length options with this new pattern but I chose to use the shorter length. This first pair was made with the board short fabric for the main and waistband and quilting cotton made into binding.  There is instructions right in the pattern tutorial to make your own binding. I also included the optional swim bottoms with this pair. I absolutely love the colour pairing of the dark blue (my 3 year old's favourite colour at the moment) with the bright pink to make them girly!

I couldn't be happier with how this second pair of Swim and Surf Shorts turned out. I ended up having to use the stripes turned vertical for the waistband in order to have enough length for the fabric (one of the joys of upcycling) but to be honest I think it worked out great as an accent. I also painstakingly removed the binding from the original pair using my seam ripper and re-used it for this new pair. I decided not to put the swim bottoms in this one because I have a purple women's swimsuit that I will be making into a 2 piece suit for her in the next few weeks.

 ...And now for the best part, my very first giveaway. Jessica from Gracious Threads has donated a copy of this amazing pdf sewing pattern for me to give away for free! Just post a comment at the bottom of this blog post telling me who you will make these shorts for if you win the pattern and I will choose a winner using random.org on Thursday, June 23rd around 8pm MST.


Thanks for stopping by!

Read more about these shorts on the Gracious Threads Blog

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