Was Ist Das, “Bra Catcher”?

I’ve gotten that question a lot this week. I believe I first heard of bra catchers from Els, one of the original Sewing Divas, but I can’t seem to find a post about it. I remember thinking they were a great idea, and they are perfect for preserving your modesty when wearing a wrap dress. So what is it? Essentially, it’s a tab that “catches” your bra so the bodice stays close to your body, regardless of whether you are sitting, standing or bending over. I think it’s a pretty cool idea. And on top of it, it’s super easy to make! Here’s how I do it:

First, cut a piece of boning, between 2 and 3 inches long.

I also like to round the edges of the boning with scissors or a nail file

Next make a “pocket” for the boning with a scrap of fabric. I make the pocket’s finished length about 1 inch longer than the boning. This will allow for movement and a little bit of give.

The finished width of the pocket is the same as the boning.

Slip the boning into the pocket, then invisibly stitch the open end of the pocket along the outer layer of the wrap neckline at center front.

I use small hand stitches to affix it to the neckline.

When you wear the dress, just tuck the bra catcher into the center band of your bra. This will keep your wrap dress snugly and comfortably in place.

I padded out the bra to give Shelley a closer approximation of me.

It’s a great and easy addition to a wrap dress that makes it infinitely more wearable. And it’s not only good for wrap dresses. It works for any top or dress that you want to keep from gapping. Give bra catchers a try. I think you’ll really like them, and you might even find yourself wearing more wraps!

And it’s pretty unobtrusive!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Tutorials, Wrapapalooza | 14 Comments

I Wish…

(Originally titled “Setting Up Wishlists in Gorgeous Fabrics”, suddenly I had the opening song from ‘Into the Woods’ in my head, so I changed the name)

I received an email from one of my favorite customers asking if we could implement a popular feature from the old Gorgeous Fabrics site, wishlists. Here’s some good news – we have them already, and they are even better than before!

Here’s how it works. Have you ever looked at a fabric and thought, “That might be nice to use for a dress, but I don’t have the pattern right now”? You can save that fabric in a wishlist on Gorgeous Fabrics. On each fabric’s page, there is an icon for wishlists

If you click on that icon, it will allow you to add the fabric to a wishlist.

You have one wishlist, titled “Wishlist” set up by default, but you can (and here’s a great big advantage over the old site) set up multiple wishlists for different purposes!

You can create multiple wishlists, and share them with friends or the public!

You can view your wishlist, add to or delete from it, and change quantities

You can see how a shared wishlist will look to your viewing public.

You can share your wishlists on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and email.

And you can always view all your wishlists by clicking on your name at the upper left of any screen. That will take you to your account page.

Wishlists are easy to use, and they are so helpful when you are planning a SWAP, wardrobe, or just wanting to keep track of fabrics on Gorgeous Fabrics. I hope this little tutorial helps, and

Happy Sewing!

Posted in Fabrics | 1 Comment

Wrapapalooza Week 1 Pattern Review: Vogue 8646

The first dress is a wrap! Ooo, yeah, my bad. But one week of September has flown by, and I managed to get my first of possibly four wrap dresses done. Voila, Very Easy Vogue 8486

Pattern Description: MISSES’ DRESS: Close-fitting, mid-knee length, wrap dresses A, B have front pleats, back darts and flared skirt. B: three-quarter length sleeves with elbow dart and stitched hem. Purchased belt. Separate pattern pieces provided for A, B, C, D cup sizes.

Sizing: 6-22, with bodice variations for A, B, C and D cups. I made a 12 with a D cup.

Fabric Used: Circle Print ITY jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics (sold out, sorry)

Machines and Tools Used: Home Juki serger, Pfaff 2130 (It’s back from the shop – YAY!!!!). Ham, shoulder stand, sleeveboard and of course, Naomi the Naomoto and my ironing board. The Pressinatrix must be appeased, don’t you know.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle. Thread. That’s it.

Tips Used during Construction: There are No Hard and Fast Rules in Sewing…, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Tips and Tricks for Sewing with Knits.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Vogue, Vogue, Vogue. I love you dearly, but… Can we please at least approach the 21st century? What is with the continued use of bias tape to finish the edges of knits? It’s not like sewing machines can’t handle sewing knits. It’s not like there aren’t oodles of videos and Tutorials on the Internet for better ways to finish edges. Let’s make a deal – you take that file from 1972 that contains the instructions for finishing necklines with purchased bias tape, and I (and the rest of the interwebs) will stop lambasting you for it. Deal?

Other than that they were fine.

Construction Notes: I used a narrow hem to finish all the edges except the sleeves, which I just finished with the hem treatment suggested in the instructions (2 inch hem with ¼ inch turned under). I do find that, when I tried on the dress, there is a bit of gaposis at the shoulders. It’s not a forward-shoulder alteration. It needs some fabric taken out evenly from the front and back at the shoulder/neckline intersection point.

Likes/Dislikes: Dislikes – Well, there’s the whole bias tape thing. Also, the armhole on this is LOW. I am really glad I didn’t make it sleeveless. I was tempted, but some pretty amazing storms blew through while I was working on this dress, and they ushered in beautiful fall-like weather so I opted to make the sleeved version. I’m glad I did. If you make the sleeveless version (or the sleeved, for that matter) I’d make a muslin of the bodice and check the armhole before you sew.

What I like? The shape. This is a very pretty silhouette. The neckline fix is easy to do and I’ll do that tomorrow. I also like the fact that this wrap sits reasonably high and doesn’t show a lot of cleavage. I’m going to sew a bra-catcher so I can wear it without ever worrying about gaping when I bend over. More on that later. I like the shoulder pleat detail:

I also just like the lines of this pattern. It’s quite flattering to a number of different figures. Here are pictures of it on Shelley. Please note that she doesn’t fill it out like I do. I stuffed a bra to try to approximate me a little better, but I’m not as skinny as she is. I’ll try to get a picture on me at some point.

The sleeves are the same length, I just didn’t set it on the shoulders correctly and I’m too tired to go upstairs and retake the picture.

Pretty good pattern matching, if I do say!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I might, though I have 3 others in the queue to make first. I recommend it, with the caveats mentioned about the armhole and the hem and neckline finishing.

Conclusion: A good dress with nice lines. And it goes together quickly.

Happy Wrapapalooza!

Posted in Vogue, Wrapapalooza | 5 Comments

Wrapapalooza Week 1 Progress

Hi everybody! This week has been a little bit crazy. Getting kids back to school, seeing DS the oldest perform in the first football game of the season, seeing DS the younger lead the band as drum major, and in between that, going on a buying trip left not a lot of time to work on Wrapapalooza. But I did manage to get the first dress cut out and mostly sewn. I’m making Vogue 8486 in a circle print ITY as the first dress. It’s close to being done, but not quite there. Here’s the bodice on Shelley:

Made from a sold out ITY jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics

The skirt is done and hemmed. All that remains is to attach the skirt to the bodice and hem the sleeves. Hopefully that will be done tomorrow. Til then…
Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Vogue | 2 Comments

Can You Recommend a Good Dry Cleaner for my Gorgeous Fabrics?

That’s a question I get fairly frequently. I’m in the Boston area, so I know some good ones nearby, but for those not near Beantown, not so much. But here’s a hopefully helpful hint. There’s an association called America’s Best Cleaners that certifies dry cleaners for quality. The cleaner to whom I take all my really good garments is a member, and I can’t say enough good things about them – Holly Cleaners in Newton, MA. They are a half-hour drive in no traffic, and the fact that I’m willing to do that is a testament to their quality and service. The members are all over the country, so if you need a dry cleaner for your couture-quality garments, check this website out:

America’s Best Cleaners

I have no affiliation with any of the cleaners or the association, I’ve just had very good experience as a customer of Holly.

HTH and Happy sewing!

Posted in Plugs | 5 Comments


Here we are at the last day of August. Ay yi yi, where has the summer gone? Tomorrow, September 1, is Labor Day here in the US, and, along with the holiday, it is the start of National Sewing Month! I thought it would be fun to do a very loose sew along to mark the month. So I looked through my pattern stash and I realized I have at least 4 different wrap dress patterns. That’s when I had a lightbulb moment: let’s make wrap dresses for September! And I shall call it…


Here are the four patterns I pulled from my stash:

4 Weeks, 4 Wrap Dresses? We’ll see.

Clockwise from bottom left: StyleArc’s Kate, the ever-elusive Vogue 1549 by Diane Von Furstenberg, Very Easy Vogue 8646 and StyleArc’s Tia.

I have two fabrics in my stash that I will use for two of the dresses: one is a sold-out black/white print, the other is Abstract Zigs Rayon Jersey – Blues/Multi. Both are, of course, from Gorgeous Fabrics.

Whether I will make all four dresses in September is up in the air. But I think I’ll start with Vogue 8646 and the black/white ITY jersey. Today it’s really hot, so I am tempted to make the sleeveless version. That should see me through September and into cooler weather under a jacket. I am leaning toward using the Abstract Zigs with the Kate pattern, but I might use it for the DVF. I can make that decision later.

In the meantime, who wants to join me? Leave a comment and let me know if you are in, and what you’re planning to make. What other patterns for wrap dresses do you like? It can include mock-wrap, if you prefer. You don’t have to use Gorgeous Fabrics, though of course that is always appreciated. :)

Let’s have a Wrap-dacious, Wrapapalooza September! It will be fun, it will be fashionable and it will be fabulous! Okay, I’m off to check my pattern measurements and pre-wash my fabric so I can get going tomorrow.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fashion, Sewalong | 9 Comments

Pattern Review: StyleArc Tamara Top

In a continuation of One-Yard Winners, I made a StyleArc Tamara Top yesterday.

Pattern Description: “TAMARA KNIT TOP: “T” Top with interesting design lines allowing you to create your own look – colour block or use a lace or a sheer fabric to dress it up. A great basic “T” a must have wardrobe builder.”

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10.

Fabric Used: The same as the Ursula Skirt: Novelty Bows Matellassé Knit in Off-White, and Novelty Bows Matellassé Knit in Black.

I’ll say here that these are not the optimal fabrics for this top. I wanted to try an experiment using what was left of the one yard of each fabric from the skirt. This fit the bill nicely, showing that you can use less than a yard in a size 10. But they are heavier and less stretchy than you really want for this pattern. StyleArc recommends a jersey, and I agree completely.

Machines and Tools Used: My home Juki serger to sew all the seams, Bernie the Bernina to sew the hems and topstitching.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 70/10 needle. Pro Sheer Elegance interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply (the pattern calls for Vilene to stay the neckline and corners at the shoulders, but I don’t have any. Can you even get Vilene in the US?) Thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Sew From Wide to Narrow. Just about anything by The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Very minimal, but I didn’t need them, because this pattern is beautifully drafted and goes together without any trouble. The only tricky part is the acute corners at the shoulder insets, but even there it went effortlessly. The only thing is that the corners are not as sharp as they should be. That’s because I used a double-knit with texture rather than a jersey.

Those corners would be sharper in a lighter jersey

Construction Notes: I made a FBA. I used fusible interfacing to stay the edges that would otherwise stretch.

The inside view

I serged all the seams, and I changed the thread on the sewing machine when the hems crossed seams. I remember that was something I saw in an article about Norman Norell when I was young and it left an impression:

White in front, switching to black

I used a narrow zigzag for the hems and topstitching around the collar.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a sharp looking pattern. It even looks pretty good in a heavier fabric than intended. The sleeve length as published is a great length for going from summer into fall and winter.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I’m going to do it again! I have a black and white ITY jersey that will be perfect with plain black ITY.

Conclusion: Another one-yard winner! Here are the front and back views on Shelley:


…and back. Sorry for the lousy resolution. My good camera is at the office.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Reviews, StyleArc | 10 Comments

Things to Make with Less than One Yard – Ursula Ponte Skirt in Black and White

Continuing my series on projects and patterns that use up one yard (or less) of fabric, today I give you another StyleArc Ursula Skirt. I’ve already made this once, and you can see My Original Pattern Review Here. I used all the same construction methods, so I won’t bother to review it again. But this time I decided to do the contrast panel version, using two Matellassé doubleknits from Gorgeous Fabrics: Novelty Bows Matellassé Doubleknit in Off White, and Novelty Bows Matellassé Doubleknit in Black.

I used the off white for the main front panel:
Ursula BW Front

And I used the black for the sides, waistband and back:
Ursula BW Side
Ursula BW Back

I thought about using the off white for the back panel, but there is one big obstacle:


and his name is Hoover

I’ll have black dog hair all over me anyway, but at least I can see it on the front and get at it with a lint roller. Sitting on my family room couch in a white-backed skirt would spell disaster.

I used less than one half of the one-yard piece of each fabric for the skirt, which leaves me with enough of both to make a color-blocked top tomorrow.

Shameless Plug Time!
New Kai Scissors
I got an email from Kai Scissors last week that they were having an introductory offer on “Very Berry” colored scissors and shears. I generally need to replace or augment my shears every 2-3 years, and the email arrived at just the right time. So I got a pair of 6 ½ inch scissors, and I got a new pair of serrated edge professional shears. I also indulged in the curved scissors. Phyllis swears by them. I love Kai scissors. They are my go-to brand. Even with the heavy use I give them, they retain their edge better than any other kind of shears I’ve used. NAYY, just a very happy customer.

I’ll probably try to whip up a top with the remaining Matellassé knits tomorrow. Then I want to start on my next big project, which is a red lace dress. More later…

Happy sewing!

Posted in Fabrics, Notions, StyleArc | 5 Comments

I’m Bumping This Tip Up to the Top – Make the Lining First

Carolyn, of Sewing Fanatic Diary fame, did a good post on linings yesterday, which got me thinking about a tip I wrote originally back in 2002 (!!), then published on my blog in 2008 (!). For me, making the lining first is logical. It keeps me from getting project fatigue, which often happens to me if I make the outer shell first, then the lining. Anyway, here’s that tip for your reading and sewing pleasure:

Make the Lining First

And the corollary to that:

Make the Skirt First

Both of these seem to speed my sewing process along and limit the number of UFOs, so hopefully they will help someone else.
Happy sewing!

Posted in Tips | 2 Comments

Things to Make with Less than 1 Yard – McCalls 6963 Cowl Neck Top

Carrying on with my “things you can make with less than a yard”, here’s a great top. McCalls 6963 by Palmer/Pletsch

The sleeveless version in size 12/14 takes a little less than a yard

Here’s another pattern for a top that uses just about a yard of fabric. According to the pattern envelope, View A (which I made) takes 1 1/8 yards. But I was able to fit it on a yard of jersey with leftovers.

Pattern Description: MISSES’ TOPS: Close-fitting, pullover tops have draped front neckline variations, narrow hem on back neckline, and stitched hems. A: armhole bands. I made View A, the sleeveless version.

Sizing: 8-24. I made a size 12, grading out to 14 at the waist… sigh.

Fabric Used: Super Soft Rayon Jersey in Foggy Sunshine from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course)

Machines and Tools Used: Juki home serger for most of the construction, Bernina for the finishing.

Needle/Notions Used: Stretch 75/11 needle. A scrap of weft interfacing to stabilize the shoulders. Thread. Steam-a-Seam on the hem.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix. Trim Your Knit Selvages Before Cutting Your Pattern

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They were very good. The Palmer-Pletsch patterns have tons of instructions and fitting lines for getting the fit you want, which is really nice. In the version that I bought (today at the $0.99 sale at JoAnn) there was a very small error. There are seven pages of instructions (lots about fitting, as I said), but one page said “Page 2 of 8″
Okay, that’s totally minor, but just in case it makes anyone look twice, know that there are only 7 pages of instruction.

Construction Notes: I made my FBA on a size 12, then I graded up to a 14 at the waist, back to a 12 at the hip. I used my serger for all the seams and I used a .1 mm zigzag to finish all the hems and the topstitching at the armholes. I used Steam-a-Seam on the hem. I’m not sure if the one I used (it wasn’t the Lite version) is too heavy or I just don’t get how to apply it correctly, but I’m not totally thrilled with it. As you can see from the finished pictures, it’s wavy.

I also did a slight swayback adjustment, using the markings on the pattern.

Likes/Dislikes: I really like that this pattern is drafted so it doesn’t sit too low on the armhole (a big complaint with many patterns)

This is a great pattern for using up a yard or so of fabric. On the pattern envelope, View A calls for 1 1/8 yards, but I didn’t need that much. 1 yard worked fine.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes I will definitely make it again and I recommend it.

Conclusion: This is a great pattern that will work well as a wardrobe builder. Here are the front and back views on Shelley – wavy hems and all:

Front, with wavy hem

And this is why I usually hand-hem my tops.

So all kidding aside, I’ll probably cut off the hems and re-do them so they aren’t wavy. Other than that, this is a winner!

Posted in Fabrics, McCalls, Reviews | 4 Comments