Swoon Ethel


After making the Conference Tote Bag, I thought I’d like to make more bags. I’ve read a few books, bought a book, reviewed a book, am planning on buying a new book coming out, and took a few Craftsy classes – all on bag-making. I thought it was time to try another bag.

Let me tell you, it’s a lot more of a workout to make a bag than it is to make a bra! I can’t think of a anything that you fight with as much on a bra. The only thing that would come close is stretching the elastic along the band, but that’s nothing. Now, having said that, there are no fitting issues with bags at all.

Before I go on about the fight I had making the bag, let me show you what I made.


This is Ethel, a free pattern from Swoon. I love the shape of this bag – that’s what drew me to it in the first place. It’s just a bit different for a tote bag with its tear-drop shape. DS2 came home the day I’d made it and said it was beautiful and what he really liked was the shape too. So, it’s a winning shape.

It doesn’t show up really well in the photos, but there is an outer divided pocket on the front of the bag. That’s something great for phones or keys or lipstick that you don’t want lost in the bag.

I used the same quilting cotton for the lining on this bag as I did on my Conference Tote Bag.


Here’s the outside of Ethel with just a bit of lining showing. I love how these go together.


You can see that front pocket I mentioned a little better in the above photo.

And here’s the back of the bag.


Oh, I love that shape. I’d like to make this again and include a few of the lovely details from the Conference tote – like an inside pocket with zipper, and a zipper closure.

Speaking of detail, here’s a close-up of the floral detail:


I love the gold on there, and the contrast between the dark brown and white.

Now, let me tell you about the fight we had. Well, the bag has interfacing and/or foam on all the pieces to give it structure. I did fight a little bit with the Conference Tote Bag – I’d decided boxed corners and I were not going to be friends. On this bag there are no boxed corners. However, the whole time I was sewing the seams, the foam seemed to want to push against something and I felt like I was fighting to keep my seam allowances straight. Tell me, any other bag-makers out there, is that normal? It felt like an arm workout that lasted too long.

The second fight is leaving that little six-inch gap in the lining to pull the whole bag through! I’ve read different comments where bag-makers have referred to that as birthing the bag. To me, it seemed more like I was trying to rip apart what I’d just fought to sew! Again, it was an arm work out too. Once the bag is turned though, well, that’s when you can see how it’s going to look when it’s finished. There’s just a little bit more sewing and some pressing to do, but the finished look is there. It’s a great moment.

In the end, I’m very pleased with it. This will be making its way to my Mum for Christmas this year. I had a lot of hints and questions after the first bag I made – I knew my Mum would love one too.

Happy creating!

An Agnes-Inspired Skirt


Do you ever have one of those weeks where everything impinges on your sewing plans? That was my week this week. After a busy first part of the week, I was looking at Thursday thinking, ‘I have a whole day to sew.’ No, Thursday was spent driving errands for my family. So, Friday looked pretty quiet too, until the furnace guy showed up and needed to bring the giant hose through my sewing room window.

Now, all the errands are done, and my furnace is clean. Thankfully, my sewing project this week wasn’t a difficult one.

It wasn’t very long ago that Style Arc came out with a beautiful Princess-seamed dress. I saw it and loved it right away. As soon as it was available as a PDF, I bought it. The Agnes Designer Dress.


I saw it and it was love at first sight. But… I don’t wear dresses very often. In fact, I think I only own one. I’m much more a skirt person. So, after a few months of having the pattern and wanting to do something with it, I decided to use some of its lines and make a skirt.

Out came my trusty skirt sloper. I used that make sure I got the correct fit for the waist and hips. Then I overlaid the Agnes pattern on that are re-drew the left side of my pattern to match that flare.


The above photo shows the how much of a flare there is on the one side. The flare on the dress is on the princess seam, but I didn’t want a skirt with princess seams. My flare is on the side seam.

It went together quickly once I had some time to sew. Here’s the front of the skirt. You can see the flare on the right side of the photo.


The basic pattern I used falls in-between an A-line skirt and a Straight skirt. It does flare over the hips – otherwise it wouldn’t fit my shape at all. Once it’s over that hip curve, it’s straight down. This will look like a straight skirt on, but with a bit of flare on the left side.

Here’s the back. Again you can see it’s straight with the flare showing on the left side of the photo.


This material is a bit more substantial than some knits, so it may not sit the same as in the illustration, but I’m really thrilled with it. This is my skirt for the holidays this year.

Still to come is a slip for this.

Happy creating!



Types of Bra Patterns


I’ve just posted over on So Sew Easy’s blog today on Types of Bra Patterns.


This is the third post in a series I’m doing for So Sew Easy on bra-making. The articles are starting out at the very beginning of what you need to do all the way up to jumping right in and start making bras yourself. This one deals with the different types of patterns out there. Not all patterns will work for all women, just as not every bra will fit every woman.

Here’s the link to take a look:

Types of Bra Patterns.

Happy creating!

UFOs and Craftsy


I’m just thinking, my tag line on my blog sums it up perfectly: I love to be creative & make things. That’s it. I love to make things. But repairs? Not so much love happening there.

It was too embarrassing to take a photo of my favorite sweat pants before the alterations began. The waistband had almost no material left where the ribbing folded over the elastic. I was ashamed to wear them in public, thinking, ‘Here’s the girl who sews all the time and look at what I’m wearing!’

However, removing the worn waistband was one thing. Sewing on the new one is entirely different. They’ve been sitting on my sewing desk for three weeks. (sigh)


Then there’s the very small repairs to a bra and panties. Seriously, they’re very small repairs. But I put it off and put it off. The panties have sat in that same pile for the same amount of time as the sweat pants. The bra, only two weeks.


Well, I already knew I wasn’t the best at this type of sewing, and I do normally put it off. However, this month it’s not my fault! What’s really been distracting me all month is Craftsy. It’s all their fault. At the beginning of the month they had an All-Access Pass for sale. I bought it and I’ve spent far too many hours watching Craftsy videos, and loved it.

I have to tell you, I was very organized in my watching. I started with the classes I’ve wanted to watch – the ones in my Wish List. That was great! There are a few of those I definitely want to buy now. You can click on the photo and it will open up the Craftsy class link.

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Here are a few of the ones I found that I will definitely want to put back in my Wish List to buy. I loved the Building Better Bags with Sara Lawson and watched all of it in one sitting. 20 Essential Techniques for Better Bags was great too. The Sewer’s Toolbox was a bit of a surprise for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m sure I took something away from the many classes I watched.

I included Plus Size pattern fitting & design in my list here. I was so very impressed with all the information in this class. Although I don’t quite fit into Plus sizing, I really did learn so much that I wanted to include a mention of the class. There is so much information there that simply pertains to sewing.

I didn’t just sample sewing classes though. I had a blast with Cooking classes too. Here are a few of my favorites, that again, I will definitely want to own.

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I learned so much from the Secrets of Gluten-Free Baking. Richard is a wealth of information, and he made everything look delicious! He answers questions quickly too. That’s always a plus in the classes. I have one class that it’s been years since I asked the question and have yet to get an answer. Craftsy did deal with that for me, but that instructor did not.

Another class that was great was Gluten-Free Italian Classics. Kristine made the best looking pizza crust I’ve seen in years. In fact, my DS1 came into the room while I was watching, and it looked so good he went and made a pizza for himself. There was so much in both of these GF classes, that I will want them.

Creamy Dreamy Custards was to drool over. The rest as you can see were all full of flavors. Homemade Salty Snacks is seriously delicious. The Dumpling class is great too! I already have Andrea’s Pho class, and she doesn’t disappoint at all in this class either. That’s another class I’m wanting to get.

Here’s one I didn’t watch, but heard about all month from a friend who was watching it. From everything I heard, I’d have to say it’s a good one. Seeing as I only eat Gluten-Free, I didn’t watch it.

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One of the biggest surprises this month while using the All-Access pass was I learned of a new style of knitting. My first impression what, ‘What?’ I’ve been knitting since I was a teen. I wondered how there could be a style I haven’t heard about? I knew English and Continental. This month I learned about Portuguese knitting. I even had a little get-together with a friend where we practiced this new style. I love it!

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I first watched Knit Faster with Portuguese Knitting, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I really do love it, and this class will definitely be one I’ll buy to keep. Then a friend mentioned Improve Your Knitting with Patty Lyons. I love this class. Patty makes everything sounds easy, and demonstrates everything very well. I think I was sold when her face lit up when she started talking about Portuguese knitting. I will definitely be buying her class as well.

So, now you can see why I’ve had so little sewing this month. Craftsy was distracting me from new sewing and UFOs. Sadly, the All-Access pass is now over, and I’ll have to wait for sales to get these wonderful classes again.

Happy creating!

A Review of Boutique Bags


Many years ago I made a tote bag for my Mother-in-law. She had wanted a bag with lots of pockets in it for a trip. I did my best, but my best then wasn’t anything to impress anyone – including me. I stayed away from making bags for a long time after that.

However, when Deby over at So Sew Easy did a Conference Tote Bag sew-along with video tutorials, I decided it was time to face making bags again. I loved the sew-along, and the bag I made.


In fact, I was using this bag yesterday and I’m really impressed with it. It’s really a great bag! If you’re wanting more information on the sew-along or the bag, you can read about it here.

When I was given the opportunity to review a book on bag-making, I jumped at the opportunity. I really want to make more bags as my last one was such a great experience. You can read my review of Boutique Bags over on So Sew Easy. Boutique Bags really is a great book, with a great chapter on techniques and so many bag options. And I love that there’s a PDF option.

If you’ve been thinking about making a bag, take a look at the review over on So Sew Easy.

Happy creating!

How Do I Store My Stash


A fellow bra-maker asked me what type of system I have for storing my stash. So I thought I’d share with you how I store all my precious materials.

A few years ago, a friend was moving and getting rid of a lot of things. I scored this cabinet from her. She’d used it for her kitchen, but I brought it home and put it in my sewing room.


I love my cabinet! The only thing I did to change it was to add some adhesive paper to the shelves. I can close the doors and if it’s not all nice and neat inside, well, I don’t have to look at it.

Here’s the inside:


I have a few cute craft items I’ve made glued onto the doors on the left side, as well as all the parts of a Prima Donna bra. On the left side I have my knit and woven Slopers, the Bra-Makers Supply Small and Large Finding kits contents, and an info page from Needle Nook Fabrics.

From the top left to right, I have Cotton Spandex at the back, then stretch lace elastics (for making panties), then in front of that I have my prized swatches from BMS showing the colors of all their Duoplex, Power Net, and Cotton Spandex. In front of that I have ribbons for making bows. The ribbons are probably the only thing I have in my stash that not in a plastic bag.

Next I have my box of bra-making Elastics, with a box of adjusted patterns on top of that. Here are my elastics:


Everything is sorted by size and type. The channeling is all in one zip bag. The 3/4″ elastic in another. It is not sorted by color though. If I’m looking for 3/4″ elastic, it’s easy enough to see black from beige in the bag.

Next to the Elastics box are the Laces box which sits on top of the Threads and Wires box. All the laces are still in their plastic for safe keeping. You might be wondering at this point, why I keep almost everything in plastic. I didn’t start that way. One day when I reached into my box for some lace, there was a dead spider in the box. I packaged everything up that same day. I’m not sharing my stash with spiders or any other bugs!


In my Threads and Wires box you can see I keep my threads and bobbins together in little bags too. That way I never have to wonder if that’s the right shade of pink that matches my good thread for bra-making – my spools and bobbins stay together. The wires are all in a bag according to their size.


The far right side of the top shelf contains binders with ideas and photos that have inspired me and sewing tutorials I’ve printed off. Lastly there are patterns in large over-sized envelopes.

That’s the top shelf. The second shelf has my Bra Kits box, and my Bits O Kits box. Any kits I’ve bought, as well as Duoplex, Power Net, and cup lining all go in the Kits box. Any bits I have that can’t make a whole bra go in the Bits box. No photos of that as it’s really a rather messy box and I really need to go through it again and trim down what I have in there.


These top shelves are the treasures of my stash. But I still have two more shelves to go.

The third shelf in my cabinet has an assortment of fabrics for other than bra sewing. Material I’ve collected for bags, skirts and other fun sewing.

2nd-Up-from-Bottom-ShelfThat red and black material is going to be my next Flirt Skirt (still my favorite!).

The bottom shelf has more material, but it’s all in smaller amounts. There’s also felt on the bottom for any fun felt crafts I want to make. And there’s a small basket for my button jar and a few tools, like my Hot Fix tool.


At the back of the bottom shelf is the quilting table for my sewing machine, and some over-sized interfacing.

I do need to rethink where I’ll be storing my interfacing. I just may need more storage.

Happy creating!

Inspiration – Power Bars


No sewing this week; I’ve been sick with a cold. It’s a good thing Craftsy had that all-month access pass. I’ve been making good use of it.

Even though I haven’t been sewing, I wanted to share some fun inspiration I’ve found.

As I’ve mentioned before there are times I’ll see a skirt, top, bra, a pair of panties, jacket, pretty much anything that can sewn, and just love it. Then I want to make something similar.

Remember I shared how I paused a movie to take photos of the lingerie coming out of the dresser at the beginning of the movie?

This was the inspiration:


I loved that organza trim on the upper cup of the bra. So I made this:


Well, I still have files of inspiration. Let’s take a look at a few more ideas I have just waiting to happen.

Here’s an example. I saw this bra and loved it. The external power bar looks so pretty, and it’s unique.



Unfortunately, I didn’t write down the name or brand for this bra, or where I found it. I just loved the lines of it, thinking it would be easy enough to alter a classic pattern to make this work. Make it a longer lined bra… Although this original bra does look like a darted cup, I’d probably change that.

I also came across this one on Amazon:


This is so pretty and delicate-looking. I’m noticing a trend – I’m loving the longer lines. This one is a soft bra, that really won’t be the best for me, but again, I’m looking at the external power bar. What a pretty way to add lace to a bra.

There’s also this gorgeous pattern from Booby Traps.


Oh, this is so pretty! And I do like to start with a pattern… When I start with a pattern I can get a feel for how something is put together. However, this one is not in my size range or even close to it. It’s for B & C cups. I’ve heard some rumors that this is going to be graded up a few sizes, so I’m hopeful.

The external power bar on the Booby Traps bra did remind me of a pattern I do have in my size: Merckwaerdigh’s CUPL16.



That’s pretty similar. I could always change up the cup by adding some soft layered material over the top if I wanted the same look as the Booby Traps bra…

Margreet has a couple of other patterns that have similar detail on the power bar.


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These are Mix30 and BHS10. BHS10 could be made into a long line bra that would closely resemble the first bra in this blog. So much inspiration, so little time.

Happy creating!



The Conference Tote Bag by So Sew Easy


I’ve followed Deby over at So Sew Easy for a few years now. I think I first came across her when I found her Reversible Apron – I’ve got you covered! on Craftsy.

I started to follow her blog at that time, and collected more than a few of her patterns. She also started a chat group on Facebook, and I joined that too.

Recently, Deby came out with a tote bag pattern, and sew-along. The bags people were making and posting were beautiful, and I kept reading all these comments how Deby’s videos were so wonderful and helpful. Making a bag has been on my sewing list for a while. It was time to jump in even if I was a bit late.

First, I bought some lovely cotton materials for the bag. I’d picked out all my stabilizers too, but the dear woman working at the fabric store leaned over the cutting table and said quietly that they’d all be on sale for half price in a couple of weeks. Thank you! I bought my cottons, and tried my best to wait patiently.

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Here were the first materials I picked out. I do still like them, but on another trip to the fabric store, I found a third material that goes so well with both of these. I couldn’t resist.

Here’s an in-process photo of the front of my bag coming together.

Front of CTB

Oh, I’m loving how this is looking.

Here are a few more photos and details of this wonderful bag now that it’s completed. The bag front features a padded front pocket. The pocket will be great for a tablet or other device – the padding will kept everything nice and safe.


The bag back can be identical to the front, or the pocket can be divided. I made mine into a divided pocket. And can you see how nicely this bag stands on it’s own? What a great bag!


Inside of the bag there are some great features as well – more pockets! The one side has gathered pockets all along it. Lots of little spaces that are perfect for carrying all the little things we carry with us.


On the other side of the bag there’s another pocket. This pocket has a bit of a surprise to it – it’s a pocket within a pocket.


Just look. The pocket has a zipper and opens up to make another pocket. How great is that?


The bag closes with a zipper, and I found a really cute zipper pull that matches the rectangular rings that attach the straps.


To complete the zipper, there’s a great zipper tab that makes it look so professional.


If the bag pattern itself isn’t great enough, Deby has video instruction to go along with each day of the sew-along. I really can’t recommend it enough! The attention to detail was exactly what I needed to make my first bag. Thanks Deby!

Take a look. The Conference Tote Bag.

I did have one disappointment in making this bag. The foam I bought to give the bag structure also gave it a wrinkle. The foam comes folded in a pre-measured bag. One of those folds is showing through on the front of my bag.


Can you see that? That is glaringly obvious to me. I may have to source another type of foam that doesn’t come pre-folded. However, even though it has this fold in it, I’m incredibly happy with my Conference Tote Bag. I was thinking this would be a great gift for my Mum this Christmas, but I’m not sure I want to give it away. I just might have to make her something else.

Happy creating!

A Crafty Swap


Do you remember last year when I had the most beautiful scarf and hand-warmers made for me? I wrote about them here. The weather is getting colder and it’s time to pull them out again!

Here they are:

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Aren’t they gorgeous? I love them. You can find more likes these and other styles of Valerie’s in her Etsy store.

Valerie and I were talking during the year after I picked up my beautiful scarf and hand-warmers, and I said I’d like a brooch to match them – black background with white flowers; that I loved her knit brooches. She said she loved my felt ones. We decided we’d do a trade – brooch for brooch.

I sent Valerie a few options, red and white, all red, or all white. She chose the all white option with crystals.


The crystals aren’t showing up very much in this photo, but one of Valerie’s gorgeous scarves is! She really is so very talented.

Here’s what Valerie made for me.


I love it! I pinned it on an old fleece jacket I was wearing that day, but I think this needs to go on my dressy black wool coat. It will really stand out then.

Happy creating!



Fitting the Omega Shape


Here’s a little history of my learning curve on the Omega shape.

Way back in 2012 I wrote a post called The Dawn of the Alteration Age. That was the beginning of my journey in understanding and learning about the Omega shape and the alterations needed to help fit it. In that blog I wrote:

After a few bras, I made a call to Bra-Makers Supply with a question. You see, every bra I wore, whether RTW or one I’d made, all left a line or imprint about an inch or so under the bust line. I was simply wondering what caused this.

Beverly, the owner of Bra-Makers Supply, and author of two manuals on bra-making gave me my answer: the underwires I was using were either too big or too small.

Hmmm, too big or too small really wasn’t the answer I was wanting, but it did help me to realize one thing – my wires weren’t fitting. They were the same wires I’d worn in RTW bras.

So, what is the Omega shape? What is this mysterious breast shape all about? Well, I can’t say every woman with an Omega shape will be the same, but there is a common thread: the actual breast is larger than the root of the breast. If you’re wondering what that mean in terms of bra-making – it means the wire/cradle will not match the cup size. For me, I need a 36 wire/cradle, but a cup that would normally take a 42 wire/cradle.

These two sized parts don’t go together easily as they don’t match in size, so there have to be alterations to get that larger cup into that smaller cradle.

Here’s an older photo showing the different length between the two parts. The cup is on the bottom.

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In this photo, you can see the cup extending out past where the cradle and the wire will end.

There are a couple of alterations to help ‘ease’ that cup into the cradle. One method that I’ve used quite a bit is to run a gathering line of stitches along the lower edge of the cup where it will fit into the cradle, then gather. You’ll have to eye-ball it a bit – gather, pin it in and see if you need to adjust the gathers or not. I tend to over-gather, so usually have to let it out a bit.

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I find this method the fastest and easiest alteration. It does leave a few small puckers in the bottom of the cup, but seriously, who’s looking there?

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As well, I think the puckering is a bit exaggerated on Catherine, as she’s not the same size as me. When I’m wearing the bras, I really don’t notice any puckering.

Another method of removing that excess is one I used when I first started making the alterations – I was trimming the corners of all the cup pieces to take out that inch or so of excess along the bottom of the cup. Basically making little darts all along the seams. The Shelley pattern was good for taking that excess out. But I had to be very careful – although I didn’t need the fullness at the seam line, I did all the fullness in the cup. And to be honest, it was a lot of work.

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The benefit is it’s a much neater looking seam line. I’ve found it’s not worth all the fussing with the seams. I’ve found just using a little steam on the bra after I’ve sewn it really makes most of the little puckers disappear.

One last thing to consider when dealing with the Omega shape is the wires. Often a Vertical wire is recommended, and many women find that the perfect wire for them.

Here’s a great photo showing two wires that are the same size – one Vertical which is much narrower, and one is a regular long wire.

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That’s quite a difference. As helpful as that Vertical wire is for many women dealing with an Omega shape – I needed more help. There’s a big difference between 36 and 42 wires. I needed both the narrower shape, but also the length and I wasn’t getting that with the smaller Vertical wires. I found Flexible wires were perfect for me.

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In the above photo you can see how much narrower that Flexible wire can be. I found the Flexible wires to be perfect for me in dealing with the Omega shape. Along with the alterations I make to the cup (to help it fit into the smaller cradle), I’ve found using the Flexible wires really made a huge difference and made my bras (finally) fit me perfectly.

Happy creating!