Sunday, June 28, 2020

Strappy sports bras: Greenstyle Sports Power Bra

Ever since shelter-in place began, my usual spin and lift workouts have been out of the question, so I've gone back to running and yoga. Running is higher impact, and free at-home yoga involves looking at young, sleek youtube yoga instructors wearing the cute clothes of their sponsors. 

All of that had me looking sadly upon the section of my drawers devoted to the ill-fitting sports-bras of another era of my life. Bras are the one area of my wardrobe which I do allow myself to buy, so I did actually attempt to buy one. After spending hours hopelessly attempting to gage fit and style on a computer screen, I finally selected one, paid, and settled down to wait only to get an email from the company-- sorry, out of stock, order cancelled. I took that as a sign that I should just rise to the challenge of making my own. How hard can it be?

The Greenstyle Power Sports Bra struck me as the kind of strappy sports bra I was looking for, it has lots of great reviews. Many years ago I made the Greenstyle Sundance Jacket and it was a great pattern, I've been meaning to make another in a less flashy print. 

My usual measurements put me at a 36 band F cup, but then I realized it said to measure with a good-fitting sports bra on. Well, I don't have one of those, that's why I'm making the pattern! So I used my tape measure to estimate the kind of compression I wanted, and that put me at a D cup. 

Early version with  2 inch elastic that was far too tight.

I jumped right in with no muslin, and fortunately the fit on the bust was excellent. The fit on the band, however, was so tight that I couldn't breathe properly! For the 36" band size it has you cut a 30" piece of elastic, which seems rather tight. In my elastic it was unbearable. I'm not sure exactly how long my elastic was when I got it right, but it was more like 1-2 inches of negative ease, and I haven't had any problems with the elastic riding up. 

I also ended up swapping out the 2" elastic for a standard 1" elastic. I like the look of the 2" elastic, it gives it a sort of longline look, but it cuts into my round belly that starts right under my bust. 

There is no powermesh or any fancy support fabric in this bra, just clear elastic sewn into the seams. I've probably overthought the issue of support, having read all about different types of power mesh and how you can overlap them in different directions, etc, and that might well be very necessary for some people. However this bra is totally supportive for me, there is almost no unwanted movement while jogging. 

I made a couple construction changes. One is that the instructions have you sew on the band in such a way that it would leave an exposed seam under the bust, and that didn't sound very comfortable. I looked around for another method, and ended up using the method Jalie uses for the Coco Sports Bra. I haven't sewn the Coco, but it is next on my sportsbra list. It's hard to describe, but you basically sew the casing to the lining, then sew the elastic to the other side of the the casing. Then you roll the elastic up in the casing until it is covering the seam allowance of the outside fabric and top stitch it down. The Jalie instructions are available in the pattern listing. It worked really well for me, and the inside is seam-free. 

In fact, the inside finish is so clean on this bra that I put the pink one on inside out for these pictures! You can tell because the seam on the band doesn't look totally level, like it does on the right side of the bra, and also you can see the seamed side of the straps.

Speaking of the straps, that's another area where the instructions didn't work for me. If you are making skinny straps, you can use bra strapping, but I think it looks nice to make covered elastic straps that match my fabric perfectly. They use a method I've seen before, where you stitch the casing wrong sides together with the elastic lined up at the edge. However, I was thrown by the suggestion to use clear elastic (which is not what is shown in the photos in the pattern), and by the fact that a seam allowance is shown. It took me 4 tries to make a good strap, which was super frustrating. I ended up swapping clear elastic for swimwear elastic, and trimming the seam allowance before turning, because leaving it made an ugly, bumpy strap. Next time I'll just follow one of the many tutorials available on the web. 

The other area that didn't work for me was the suggestion to trip 1/4 off of the bottom of the lining. I understand the idea of trying to make the lining a tiny bit smaller so that seam allowances pull to the inside, but cutting it off of the bottom only made the whole thing sort of lumpy. The pink one was my second try, and I didn't cut anything off of my lining and it all lays much flatter. If I was doing a real contrast lining, I think I'd just trim a scant 1/8 off all edges of the lining instead. 

Anyhow, one could say that I ironed out my difficulties with my first run (the gray bray) and in the second try with the pink bra, and it all came together very quickly in a satisfying manner! I'm very pleased to finally have some new sports bras that fit perfectly, provide great support, and fulfill my desire to have cute strappy bras!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Euler Bra by Sophie Hines Review

There's nothing like spending 3 months working from home to get one to reconsider the state of one's loungewear. I've never really understood the point of bralettes... but suddenly I found myself gravitating towards my one lonely RTW bralette and longing for more. 

I don't have a good track record with bras, either buying or sewing them. I generally prefer underwires, but I'm super fussy about fit and anything poke-y, bumpy, or rough bothers me. I hate buying bras because they'll feel and look fine in the store, but I'll take them home and won't be able to wear them for more than 45 minutes. I spent ages sewing an underwire bra by Makebra in 2016, including several toiles and many adjustments, and while it is lovely the fit seems fine, it is irritating to wear for long periods of time. I don't even know what would make it better, so I haven't tried again. 

It occurred to me that bralettes are potentially something that I could sew successfully, even in the distracted climate of a stay-home summer. It had to be a pattern that I could easily convert to a cross or racerback, since I have very sloped shoulders and regular straps never stay up. I prefer patterns with a lining or some kind of clean interior finish. Also, I dislike the look of foldover elastic because I can't get past the idea that it looks cheap. What can I say, I'm a tough customer.

I have wanted to make the Madalynne Barrett, and while I haven't seen anyone do it, it looks like you could cross the straps without much fuss. However when I printed it out, the cups in my size seemed very low volume and the instructions for the front cutout looked rather fussy, I just couldn't see how I would be able to sew that without it turning into a hot mess. 

Next I turned to Sophie Hine's Euler, which appealed to me since a cross back was one of the suggested options and it looked like simple but clean finish. I had passed it by at first since it looked like foldover elastic was involved. Apparently one can use foldover elastic, but she also suggests bra strapping, which is used on some of her samples.

There aren't a lot of reviews, but the more I looked at her samples and her work, the more I was intrigued. She has a unique style that is feminine but a little sporty which is very different from other companies. And... it was on sale, so I was sold. While I was at it, I also purchased the Axis tank, which seems to be loved by many on instagram, but I haven't sewed it yet.

I decided I was in between a L and XL, and sewed it up in a ikat print cotton spandex jersey with a thin black jersey lining. I had to cross the front a little more than suggested, and take about an inch off of the bottom outside of the cups. On later versions I make the side band elastic about 1/2 an inch shorter than suggested, and this helps the fit for me. I used 3/8 inch bra strapping for the outside elastic and straps, and 1 inch plush back elastic for the bottom band.

I skipped the back closure, and just sewed the ends together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. 

Her method of sewing the cups with a sort of buritto method is very cool and efficient. I also love that this pattern isn't as specific about notions as some bra patterns... you can use many different kinds of elastics or fabrics. Amazingly, her suggestions of strap length and underbust elastic length are spot on for me (If I don't use a back closure, and I cross the back straps). 

I was instantly in love-- and promptly made 4 more. 

The fit is spot on for me. It's definitely a soft bra, but the support is decent for a casual bra. This one is designated as a swim top so that you can see fit pics. I wouldn't take it surfing, but it would be great on a lazy summer day. I made it in scraps from the Pinecrest supplex that I use to make leggings and sports bras, with a lining of a thinner supplex knit. I used Sophie's instructions to make a covered band using the thin supplex and some Dritz non-roll elastic, and this is now my favorite type of band for these, it doesn't curl at all. 

Initially this one had the very cool long-line addition that is the other view of this pattern, and it did look very cool, but it had a tendency to roll up over time. I think longline bras just may not work very well with my shape, which starts getting round right under my bust. So I removed it, and now it is much less irritating. I also removed the back hooks, since they also annoyed me, and the bra was too loose with them, but just cutting them off and sewing it together made the band of this one a touch tight. Perhaps it will stretch out, but if not I may have to add an extra piece of elastic. For this one I used cool gunmetal gray hardware.

Sophie has a blog post about making the Euler in lace, so I had to try that out with some lace that has been in my stash for ages. I followed her suggestion to size up since the lace and powernet lining aren't as stretchy as the jersey, and I only lined the side cup as she did in her post. I haven't worn this one yet, but if I like it, I can see more lacey versions in the future. 

This gray stripe version is my favorite, it's hard not to wear it all the time! 

And finally, pink. I'm not really a light pink kind of person, but I added this color of Riley Blake spandex cotton to a recent order to make the free shipping minimum because I thought it would be good under light colored summer outfits.

This one has cool silver metal hardware.

I'm clearly addicted. It's a quick, non-fussy sew and uses scraps, so instant gratification. These are in high rotation this summer and my underwires are stacking up at the back of my drawer. 

Of course I have plans to make more. I think in future makes I'm going to move the seams to the outside... less pretty, but more comfy. Even though the seams are enclosed they still bug me a bit. I also purchased some 1/2 inch bra strap elastic and hardware which I think is what Sophie uses on some of her cool versions.