Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bombshell Swimsuit - Bikini Bottom Variation

Last time I posted photos of me in a swimsuit you were so incredibly sweet and supportive in the comments that I didn't hesitate a second to post these ones.
After all, I had to share this project, because it's AWESOME.

I spent last weekend at the seaside, at my boyfriend's apartment in a very small town in Liguria. I obviously brought with me my Bombshell swimsuit, but the day before leaving, I realised I also really wanted a two piece with me. I live in a country of people obsessed with tanning, so I succumbed to peer pressure and wanted to maximize the quantity of skin to put under the sun.
And just like that, I needed a flattering bikini bottom.
Now, if you're a pear-shaped lady like me and you have a big bum, you know that regular bikini bottoms will always and inevitably move around and show stuff you really don't want other people to see. You know, when you're trying to walk as graciously as you can in this tiny garment and it gets caught between your cheeks, and you just want to throw yourself in the water so nobody sees your ass? It's humiliating.
Rogue thread sticking out... Nice!
Since I was already familiar with the construction and I finally have a working serger, I finished my pair in about two and a half hours. Not bad at all.
I used the same black lycra as my swimsuit, I would have preferred some color but a. it was made on a whim and this was the only thing I had in the house and b. almost all my bikini tops go with it. 
I'm sorry you can't see the details too well because of the black, I tried to adjust the photos but this is the best I could do.

I felt so put together and glamorous at the beach, a joy that only someone that has really felt the pain of being incredibly uncomfortable in a bikini can truly understand. Thank you SO MUCH, Heather.

And speaking of the genius, she gave me one copy of the pattern for one of you, and that is:

Congratulations, Hannah! The pattern will be emailed to you directly.
Now you and everybody else reading this, go make a dozens of these swimsuits! If you're intimidated by it, there's a sew-along to help you out!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Burdastyle Magazine 07/2013

There's quite a bit of WTF-ery in this issue, so let's get it out of the way first:
I get it. It's summer. It's hot. People want to wear "easy" clothes. But is a sewing magazine really the place for these things? THREE OF THEM?
There are a billion tutorials on the Internet for this kind of stuff, so do we really need them?
Besides, they look kinda tacky, even for swimsuit cover-ups.

And continuing down the lazy route, not one, but two maxi dresses with an elastic band. The first one actually probably has a woven band since it has a side zipper, but still, it's gathered rectangles of fabric with a rectangle band. Do we really need a pattern for this?
And who put that ugly belt on the (ugly) second dress? What were you thinking?

WHAT IS THIS? A hand towel incorporated in your dress?
Practical? Maybe. Pretty? NO.

 And again, WHAT IS THIS??? Overdesigned much? Those skirt panels hurt my eyes.

A sequined bathrobe. WOW. A new frontier of uselessness has been reached.
To be fair, this pattern is also presented as a jersey maxi cardigan with pockets, and it looks much better, but, as I'm almost tired to repeat, it's a bunch of rectangles sewn together. Almost anyone can figure it out without a pattern.

 This is not as f*d up as the patterns above, but it's oh-so-tacky. Ew.

This... uuh, I don't know what to say. It's not something I'd make for myself, but it has interesting details. Maybe someone could make it work.

Finally, here are the patterns that I find kind of cute in this issue.
Would I buy the issue just for them? No, and I won't.
I don't like them near enough to trace them off those nightmarish sheets and add seam allowance, but they're not bad, no? 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

La Mia Boutique 06/2013

It was too good to be true.
I was afraid it wasn't going to last, and I was right. After a spectacular issue in May, La Mia Boutique seems to be back to its old ways of mediocre patterns and incredibly bad photography and styling.
It's not a bad issue, just a very forgettable one, especially if compared to the previous one.

 Ok, this is actually very cute. The pinticks are completely lost in this print, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the technical drawing.

This isn't bad either, but I'm not too excited by anything. The pants were another surprise when I saw the technical drawing, but not a good one, this time.

Now, this is interesting. Wouldn't make it for myself, but it's something new. It could also work as a top, without the flounce.
But seriously, who took this photograph? The light here is terrible, did they seriously use a professional photographer?

This is where I started turning up my nose. The shoulder pads on this top are kind of ridiculous for modern standard, which makes me think it's from a very old collection.
I don't know, I'm not sold on this one.

This is incredibly tacky, even for LMB standards. They sell it as "sexy", but it's really not. Also, impossible to wear if you have more than an A cup.
The back is droopy and unflattering, I really don't like anything about this.
There has been a lot of buzz around swimsuits here and on the blogosphere lately, so some people might be happy about these swimwear patterns.
I personally find them a bit outdated, so I'm really not interested in them.

 There's also a couple patterns of swimsuit coverups... Nothing earth-shattering, though, unfortunately.

Finally, the plus size section looks sadder than usual... The only other pattern for plus-sized ladies is an ugly top that I didn't even include.

Do you get why I'm so disappointed?
My copy is for sale here, in case anyone's interested.

Silvia also posted a review for this issue, which I'm running off to read (I waited 'til now since I didn't want to be influenced by someone else's opinion). She's a woman of many resources, so I'm sure you'll find something useful on her blog.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Interview: Heather of Closet Case Files

Before I leave you to this little tête-à-tête, I just wanted to thank you all SO MUCH for all of your kind comments on my Bombshell Swimsuit post and for all the links to European shops you are sharing. You guys are the best, as usual.
I also wanted to spend a word to defend my boyfriend, as I realize I made it sound worse than it actually went. I pushed him to give me a honest opinion on a full-figure swimsuit picture and he basically told me it wasn't my best look. That's it. Not the best thing to hear from your sweet half, but he wasn't mean to me at all. Still, it was heart warming to see how defensive you were of me :D

Now, read on if you want to more a bit more about Heather and her amazing new pattern.

For those who are not familiar with your blog, Closet Case Files, can you tell us something about yourself? How long have you been sewing?
In my real life, I am a commercial interior designer working for a small firm (right now I am re-developing the design concept for a Canadian coffee chain). I’ve been in Montreal for 10 years, and am so blessed and thrilled to be living in this free-spirited, laissez faire, creative community.

Closet Case Files started 2 years ago when I made the decision to stop buying new clothes. I’ve always been totally obsessed with fashion and as result had a wee bit of a shopping addiction (read: major credit card debt); I made a resolution to only thrift or learn to make any new clothing. I quickly discovered the sewing blog community and was utterly blown away by what everyone was up to. My blog quickly shifted from a fashion/”outfit of the day” type of thing to become entirely sewing focused; it became a way for me to monitor and share my progress as I learned to sew.

I made my first dress around this time 2 years ago and with the exception of a few items here or there, have pretty much stopped buying clothes at all. I don’t even thrift much anymore unless I’m looking for vintage fabric, patterns or things to refashion. I’m incredibly lucky that I get to be creative from 9-5, but I can’t believe how incredibly validating, life-affirming, and confidence boosting learning to sew has been! I have a tendency to be hyperbolic, but I think learning to sew was the best thing I’ve ever done.

The Bombshell Swimsuit pattern came from a bathing suit you made for yourself. How did you begin sewing swimwear for yourself in the first place?
I’ve always had a thing for vintage 50’s swimsuits. I have a drawer full that look great on but are a nightmare wet because they’re made of stretch cotton or weird vintage knits. Then, I fell in love with these Norma Kamali swimsuits I saw on the cover of a Vanity Fair magazine (featuring the Desperate Housewives of all people). This was before I learned to sew, and I had a seamstress make me a replica a few years ago. When it started to really fall apart, last summer I decided to figure out how to recreate the style.

Studying the numerous swimsuits I had and a number of vintage patterns, I drafted a suit that fulfilled what I was looking for: a modest but flattering silhouette, ruched sides, and a ruched, low cut seat that completely encased the bum (anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows how much I LOATHE what happens to full-bootyed ladies when you wear a high cut suit. Quad cheek horror).

It was a pretty ambitious project for someone with relatively little sewing experience, but I was helped tremendously by Dixie DIY who was hosting a swimsuit sewalong at the time (She is my swimwear Yoda). Following her advice, I made a maillot and a high waist bikini last summer. The reaction from readers surprised me – women REALLY wanted the pattern. I realized there was a huge demand for this kind of modest, sexy, vintage suit so I taught myself how to grade patterns this spring in order to release it in time for beach season.

Heather's original swimsuit
Who do you recommend the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern to?
I think this is a universally flattering swimsuit. I’ve seen it on every shape of body, and everyone looks so good wearing the Bombshell my heart swells about 4 sizes when I think of it. Personally, I’m fighting the tyranny of the bikini. I have nothing but love for those of us who can pull one off, but I suspect the majority of us just feel exposed and uncomfortable in the damn things. I released this swimsuit for every woman who dreads swimsuit shopping, who avoids situations where they need to wear one, and who is filled with self-doubt and self-loathing on the beach, when they should be frolicking in the sunshine like summer nymphs. Life is too short to hate your body. It’s the only one we’ve got – why not wear something that makes you feel beautiful?

How was the process of developing a pattern for the first time?
Can I swear on your blog? Imagine all of the swear words in all of the languages and then scream them into a megaphone. It was… intense. Because I had to move this winter, I got a late start and only gave myself 8 weeks to get it ready. Since I work full-time, I basically dedicated every spare moment to tweaking the pattern, learning to grade, slaving over instructions. Thankfully, I have a technical background in design, so it wasn’t THAT much of a stretch to apply those skills to pattern making. Illustrator was a godsend once I figured out how to use it.

What really made the whole process so much easier and valuable was the input I got from my pattern testers. I sent a beta version to a number of ladies, women whose style I admired and who I would fly great distances to hang out with. Their insight, input, encouragement and love really pushed me to finish it and get it out there. I say it all the time, but our community is so f*cking amazing it blows my mind on a daily basis. The women (and Peter) I have had the great pleasure to meet and interact with honestly confirms my faith in the inherent goodness, creativity and potential of humans. You guys are the best.

Heather's inspiration
Do you plan to release other patterns?
This is a toughy. I honestly started this whole process with zero intentions to release another pattern. I really just wanted to get the Bombshell out there because there was a serious hole in the pattern market and women were clamoring for it. However, I learned so much, and got such overwhelmingly positive feedback, that I may release another. If so, it would probably be another swimsuit. I think there are so many gifted indie pattern designers doing regular apparel that it might be nice to stay in a little beach niche. But we’ll see. Anything is possible. Especially now that I’ve mastered Illustrator.

And while I cross my fingers for Heather to release a retro bikini pattern, guess what? She is giving away one copy of the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern to one of my readers.
In order to win, you just need to leave a comment below
Please leave an email address so I can get in touch with you (you need to write it in the comment, because I cannot access the address you leave in the Disqus form).
The winner will be selected randomly.

Good luck!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bombshell Swimsuit

So, here's something I would have NEVER thought I would post until last week: pictures of me in a swimsuit.
If you haven't heard of this pattern before, I don't know what rock you live under, but you need to go and check it now!
I was one of the lucky testers for this pattern, and like everybody else, I fell in love with it.

First of all, I apologize for not posting full-figure photos, but this is already a lot of exposure for my confidence. It's actually kind of sad, but it was a not-so-delicate comment from my boyfriend that made me rethink posting a picture where you could see my thighs (ie my cellulite) in all of their glory. Ugh. Men can do wonders for our self-confidence, can they?

But back to the swimsuit!
When Heather asked me if I wanted to be a tester, I was actually terrified, because I had never sewn something like this before. But as I started working on it, my fear became excitement, you know, the type you get when you try something new.
I desperately wanted a crimson red or a navy for my swimsuit, but as usual, I was disappointed by the resources available in in my area. In most fabric stores, I was looked at like I was crazy when I asked for lycra "to make a swimsuit", but finally I found a lady who had some. The only choice of color was black, nude and an awful Barbie pink, but in the end it wasn't so bad, a black swimsuit is a classic.
I also used nude lycra for the lining, since I couldn't find swimsuit/lingerie lining material anywhere, which means my seams are pretty thick.
The same goes for the elastic: nobody here seems to know that chlorine resistant elastic is something that actually exists, not a crazy request from a crazy customer. Sigh.
I will definitely buy the materials and notions online for next time. If anyone can refer me to European shops (besides Merckwaerdigh, mentioned by Novita) I'd be forever grateful.

Despite the hard time I had gathering the necessary, the construction went great! I cut a size 8 at the bust, grading up to a 12 at the hips, and the fit is perfect.
It took quite a long time to make, but that's because I was intimidated by the project, so I would read every step of the instructions at least three time before doing anything, and I would generally proceed veeery slowly.
The gathers and all the elastic to attach do take a while, but all in all, this was WAY easier than I thought it would be. Oh, and my serger broke down and died just before starting this project, so you can totally make it with just a regular machine.
Seriously, don't be scared by it just because it's swimwear: it can be tackled like any other project, I promise.

I tried to take a few details shots, but I failed.
Sorry, but I'm sure Heather will be posting every detail you want to see on her blog (she's having a sew-along!).
And speaking of the devil, she'll be here on the blog on Friday with a little interview, so don't miss out on that.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gingham Billie Jean dress

Do you remember my interview with Abby of Bluegingerdoll? At the time, she asked me if I wanted to try her new pattern.
Let's see... feminine dress, gorgeous neckline, vintage silhouette... my answer was HELL YES!
Anyway, it took me a while to make it and photograph it, so here it is, finally.
Let's see the details:

size 8 with alterations

Since the dress was a bit too snug at the waist, I added 1 cm to the side panels of the bodice just at the side seams. It's not the standard way to alter a pattern, but it worked for me.
I also lengthened the bodice by 1 cm, which, I guess, compensates for not doing a FBA.
I stitched the neckline using a seam allowance of 1cm instead of 1,5cm because I wanted it a bit higher and I wanted the straps to be a bit wider.
I made version 2 of the pattern, with the gathered skirt, but used a much smaller panel than the one that comes with the pattern. I wanted to avoid adding too much bulk at the waist.
I also added a tiny bow at the center back for extra cuteness. I'm so happy I did, it's such an adorable detail.

General impressions: 
I am VERY happy with this dress. It totally fits my style, it's girly and cute with a vintage flair. Also, very important to me: it's bra friendly! I just added bra strap carriers (I use the same technique that Dixie brilliantly explained here) and I don't need to wear a strapless bra, which is something I tend to avoid.

A few words about the pattern: Abby sent me the pdf version of Billie Jean and I must admit that assembling it wasn't the most pleasant experience. First of all, there are a lot of pages for such a simple design, because the skirt panels for version 2 are huge! I strongly recommend you skip printing them, save on paper and just cut a rectangle of fabric for your skirt panels. Also, there's a general lack of markings on the pattern sheets and you have to overlap them over the margins, which means there is quite a bit of guess work and patience involved.
In conclusion, if you like this pattern, I do recommend the paper version over the pdf.
Other than that, everything went smoothly! The instructions are clear but very basic, so if you're a complete beginner, you might want to research more detailed tutorials at least on how to sew a princess seam, how to line a bodice and how to install an overlapped zipper. I guess this is also the reason why the pattern is marked at an intermediate level.

I can't wait to see what Abby releases next. The girl definitely has talent, and with some minor improvements here and there, she's definitely one to watch!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Me-Made-May Recap and other stuff

So. I wanted to write this post over last weekend, but since every post and email I've written in the last month starts with "I'm sorry I'm so late", let's pretend it's ok. Ok?

May is over and so is Me-Made-May. I knew I couldn't commit to it 100% this year, that's why I only pledged for four times a week, but I was actually still a little disappointed in myself in the end. I ended up with 3 outfits instead of four twice and I completely skipped the last week.
My problem is not so much my me-made wardrobe, as much as the fact I don't have a fixed schedule in my life right now. Some days I leave the house early in the morning and come back at night, others I don't even leave the house at all. Some days I'm at my parents, some days I'm at my boyfriend. This means:
a) I often have to plan my outfit days before I wear them and pack them, and I'm not good at it;
b) Having to plan an outfit in advance, I often choose comfort and "transportability" (i.e. something that doesn't get a wrinkly mess in a suitcase) over style, and not all my me-made-makes are good for this;
c) I have standards for my photographs. A self-portrait in the bathroom mirror with my cell phone just doesn't do it for me. But that means I don't always have time or the right climatic conditions to take out the tripod and shoot a few photos.

The weather this month also didn't help at all: it was too cold for bare legs, but at this point of the year I feel silly wearing tights. In this sense, my me-made wardrobe lacks some versatility because, just like last year, I don't have any pants or jeans made by me, and this is the time of the year when I wear those the most. It's the same resolution I had last year, but I really need to start sewing pants. I've already enrolled in this course and I'd really really love to try this one as well (affiliate links).

Other than that, I'm quite happy with my me-made-items, with their versatility and durability. This Me-Made-May wasn't particularly illuminating, except as a confirmation of the fact that if I commit to something, I really need to stick to that and try to make it work. Half-assed doesn't make me happy.

Anyway, if you didn't see my previous posts, all my outfits are here, with links to individual posts.

Also, my absolute favorite this year were Andrea and Roisin: you girls did a great job and were absolutely inspiring! :D

Now, on to a happier subject: some of you noticed and commented about it, but last week I gave the blog a facelift and I'm very happy with it, especially because I did most of the work myself.
It's not rocket science, but until last year, I didn't know what html code was and now I managed to redesign my blog and make it look as I wanted. Yay!
I also took it a step further and my blog is now Yay!
The comments are still a bit messed up by the move, but I'm taking care of it (hopefully it works...).

Finally, let me announce the winner of one Megan Nielsen's pattern, courtesy of Backstitch:

Congratulations, Mady! You will be contacted shortly for more details!
Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway.

I will be back very soon with a new finished project (finally!).