Monthly Archives: April 2012

Biu Biu Review

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Do you have trouble with Ready-to-Wear blouses with buttons that pop and gap? Do empire waists ride halfway up your bust? When you sew, do you have to do a Full Bust Adjustment? In knitting do you use short rows to accommodate your bust? If your bust is larger than a C cup, my guess is yes. The Big Four sewing pattern companies, knitting patterns, and most RTW clothing are based on a B cup. As you can see, you don’t have to be terribly large busted in order to benefit from clothing made with your bust in mind.

Luckily, several companies cater to the larger-busted woman. Colette sewing patterns are based on a C cup. Silhouette sewing patterns offer a variety of cup sizes. Ysolda Teague offers outstanding knitting advice and patterns for accommodating a large bust in her book Little Red in the City. Finally,  several RTW companies offer blouses and dresses for the woman with a large difference between the waist and bust. Unfortunately, many of these are quite expensive. Not so with Biu Biu.

I read about Biu Biu on Thin and Curvy’s blog — she has a wealth of information about fitting the bust, even if you are neither thin nor curvy. She provides a review of the company, including photos. Go see! Based on her review, I decided to give Biu Biu a try, and I was not disappointed. Far from it! The quality is fabulous, the fit is wonderful, and the prices are terrific, even accounting for shipping.

I ordered 5 items:

  • Vanity Fair long-sleeved white blouse
  • City short sleeved blouse in cappuccino and white
  • Hanoi knit top in bright green
  • Fuego knit top in raspberry (see photo above)

My total bill for 5 shirts, including postage, was $150. I paid about $27 in priority postage. I thought I was ordering parcel post for $16, but apparently not. As it turned out, I am glad it worked out this way because I got my tops in 10 days instead of 2 months. If we divide the postage evenly into 5 items, it adds less than $5.50 to each piece. I think $40 for the long-sleeved blouse seems very reasonable, especially considering similar tops list for $120 on other Not-to-Be-Named websites catering to the same target market. With postage, I paid $22 for a short-sleeved blouse and about $35 for each long-sleeved knit top.

Ok, let’s stop talking price now and get to the point! These tops all fit like a dream. I was nervous about having to ship ill-fitting items back, but I just found my measurements on the chart and crossed my fingers. I was on the cusp on the waist size, but since I have a little paunch, I decided to go to the larger of the two sizes for the waist. My waist is about 30″ (or 76-77cm) and bust is about 38″ (96cm). I chose the 40B for the woven blouses and the 40B/BB for the knit tops. The size was perfect.

Here is the City short-sleeved blouse. Side shots show no button popping! The Vanity Fair is the long-sleeved version with a little more flair at the hip.

I am very happy with the fit. The quality is also outstanding. The knit tops are made of soft cotton, and both have interesting details that make them more visually appealing than plain t-shirts. The Hanoi top does not have any gathering under the empire waist like Fuego does. Fuego is very full and would accommodate a wider belly, but it doesn’t have that pregnant look.

I recommend going to look at the Biu Biu site, even if you make your own clothing, just to see the styles. Biu Biu knows how to dress for a full bust. Their style is made for women like us, so the blouses are very flattering.

Usually t-shirts look like hell on me because they pull across my bust and my stomach, leaving a baggy area inbetween that hides my waist. Not flattering. I often buy a larger blouse than my shoulders really need because I can’t button them. Or I buy the right size, knowing I will always have to wear it unbuttoned with a camisole peeking out. Biu Biu takes all that into account. The shoulders fit, the waist fits, the buttons stay buttoned. Biu Biu offers dresses, blouses, and knit tops. There are a variety of colors, styles, sleeve lengths and collars to be interesting. I look forward to seeing their new offerings this spring!

Impatient Reveal

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It isn’t blocked. The ends haven’t been woven in. I haven’t even thought of buttons. Yet, here I am, bursting to blog about my Miette. It’s so lovely!

This is a sweet little pattern, free no less, by Andi Satterlund. I used a hot pink shade (Teaberry) of Berocco Comfort yarn.

I made a boatload of modifications, mostly because I was between sizes. Also a little bit because I am not in my 20s. That means I had to lower the bust darts (which required rewriting the lace part), make it longer, and add width below the waist. (See how I didn’t say anything derogatory about my body? I’m trying to stop doing that).

I can’t wait to model it for you.

75 Percent

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On April 16 I had some work done inside my nose to help me breathe better. On April 24 I had my post-surgery follow-up appointment. Before I could even say a thing, the first words my surgeon said at the appointment were, “I know you don’t want to hear this, but you aren’t healed yet. It takes THREE weeks.” Arggggh.

The good news is I am off narcotics, so I can actually function without fainting, hurting myself, or screwing up a pattern to the point of no return. I get very drowsy partway through each day, and I have very little energy. Of course, Doctor pointed out, “You had surgery on your face, dummy.” I would say I am operating at about 75 percent. Not bad all in all. Just enough energy to sit and knit, but not enough be expected to pull weeds.

Earlier this week I made most of a new bra (Merckwaerdigh CUPL16), and the last two days I have been puttering away at Miette. What a lot of fun. I will have project notes on each when I finish them.

Right before my surgery, I finished Diagonale, but it still needs blocking. I’m looking forward to some sunshine for photo shoots when I get things finished.

Slinky Snakeskin

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This is Butterick 4789, the Maggy London Twist Top (size 14). It’s a great little shirt: a nice alternative to a plain t-shirt, but just as comfy.  The twist is flattering to the bust and the belly.

Why is it always so overcast in Michigan?

There are about a million reviews on Pattern Review about so I won’t go into a bunch of gory detail. A few notes are important in my mind:

  • A full bust adjustment is probably not required, as there is plenty of width in the fabric to accommodate a variety of bust sizes. However, I added length so the empire seam didn’t cut across my bust. I merely offset the seams before sewing them together so the top piece had a 1/4″ seam allowance and the bottom piece had a regular 5/8″ seam allowance. Truly, I need a little dab more space, so if I decide to make it again, I will alter this pattern before I cut it.

Seamline rides up about 1.5", even after alteration.

  • I narrowed the little hole where the twist is, because I saw a lot of people complaining about their goodies showing.
  • The cut-on sleeve is not great-fitting. You can see a big wrinkle radiating from the bustpoint to the shoulder. This might be improved a little by adding length. I wear a lot of cardigans and jackets, so I’m not sure the shoulder fit matters so much.
  • I had to remove a little space (about 1/2″) from center back, from the V, tapering to the original seamline about 3″ down.  It’s a nice fit without being overly tight and showing a lot of bulges. The print also helps with that.

 

My husband raised his eyebrows when I first wore this, and said, “Nice!” so I think we have a keeper. When I asked if a dress would work from this pattern, he said, “Definitely. But you should make it longer. That’s way too short for a dress.” Smart ass. I think I may have found my first Tried & True (TNT) pattern.

This fabric reminds me of snakeskin, though I don’t know if that’s what it’s actually meant to be. It’s ITY, which is very slippery and slinky. Last week when I started the draft of this post, I wrote, “I don’t love ITY, so I probably won’t sew with it again.” It has grown on me. Furthermore, I have at least one more piece of ITY in my stash to use up.

Recuperating

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I had all these grandiose plans of posting in the last week, even taking photos ahead of time. Alas, I had surgery to repair my deviated septum, and I’ve been a little less functional than I had hoped. I’m brimming with ideas though, so I hope to have some posts soon.

These will include

*Biu Biu review

*Finished sewing object reveal

*Bra shopping summary

Have a good week, everyone.

Deconstructed Skirt

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The inspiration for this skirt came from Lace Style. Yes, it’s a knitting book, and no, there is no pattern for the skirt. I decided to make one.

Image from "Lace Style"

I had a basic “recipe” for a skirt with the Calista Skirt (by Lila Tueller, see sidebar waaayyyy at the bottom for the pattern). So I pulled out the leftovers of a bedsheet I had used to back a quilt for my son and went to work.

I made 5 horizontal panels, with each panel different in terms of texture or fullness or length. I will explain the process below, in case you want to know. I fully expected this to be a test pattern, but I loved it so much, I just wore it as is.

Because of this, there are a few problems with the skirt:

  • The edges fray badly. I like the look of some fraying, but I have to take a scissors to the thing every time it comes out of the wash. It is the nature of the beast with the slashing, so I am willing to live with that part, but I probably should have serged the inside edges.
  • The color. I would not have picked this color for fashion fabric; it’s just what I had on hand.
  • The fabric is heavy. It has multiple, overlapping layers, and it’s a bedsheet.

How I think the skirt could be improved:

  • Maybe cut the slashed panels on the bias to keep the fraying to a minimum
  • Use the serger judiciously. I want some fraying, that’s part of the charm of the skirt. But the serger might be used in places to minimize the fraying. Hell, serger thread in a contrasting color might add to the deconstructed feel of the end product.
  • Consider fabric. Cotton lawn would probably be too thin. And would probably shred after a few washings. Gauze would be crinkly and crumply, which would look great, but might be too loose-weaved to withstand the slashing treatment, fraying into bits quickly. Quilting fabrics might work well, but there is so much going on with the fabric manipulation, a solid is probably better than a print.

You want to make one too, right?

Well, the sky is the limit. It’s really just 5 rectangles of varying lengths stacked vertically and seamed together with 1/2″ seams. The only “must do” rule is, the top panel must be able to clear your hips and fit your waist. I suggest a finished width of your hip measurement + 4″. Then go crazy. Make as many panels as you want with whatever slashing or layers you find interesting.

Here is how I made mine.

The first (top) panel is smooth, as it goes over my belly and hips, and I didn’t want extra distraction there. I don’t tuck in shirts anymore, so I didn’t want a lot of bumps to show through a t-shirt. This panel has a casing for 1.25″ elastic. I cut the panel to be a rectangle 10″ long by 43″ wide.

The second panel was cut 4″ long by 45″ wide. It has an overlay cut exactly the same measurement, which is slashed vertically every 1″. The actual slash is only about 2″ long. You must leave at least 1/2″ unslashed at the top and bottom for seaming this panel to the panels on either side of it. Believe me, you don’t want to have to sew a million loose strips of fabric. To make the slits, I just covered both horizontal edges with rulers to protect the fabric from being cut all the way through the seam allowance, then cut the fabric with my rotary cutter. Rulers also make it easy to keep the slashes straight.

Second panel

The third panel was cut 6.5″ long by 47″ wide. It also has an overlay of the same dimension. The top layer is slashed vertically every 1″, with each slash about 5″ long. I was more adventurous in cutting this layer after experiencing the first slashed panel. You know how when you try to cut pizza you can never quite make it to the edge because the pan lip gets in the way? I realized I could move my ruler further away from the edge and still protect my fabric. This gave me an extra inch of slashing.

Third panel

I cut the fourth panel 4″ long by 68″ wide. I ran 2 lines of basting along the top and gathered it to match the previous panel.

Fourth and fifth panels

The fifth panel is a 3.5″ ruffle, which is actually 7″ long by 80″ wide and folded horizonally. The top edge is gathered and seamed to the previous panel, so no hemming is required. How did I end up with this dimension? It was the top of the bedsheet where the manufacturer folded it back. I simply cut the entire length across the top of the queen size sheet and turned it into the hem ruffle.

The seams where the slashed panels meet seemed a little boring, so I added some seam details. For the top panel, I cut a 1″-wide strip of fabric across the entire bedsheet, ran a line of gathering down the center, and pulled it until it was the same width as the skirt at that point. Then I sewed it over the seam right down the center of the ruffle. For the second panel, I didn’t even gather the 1″ strip. I just sewed it right down the center of the strip to cover the skirt seam. I cut it to the right length when I got to the end.

It sounds like a lot, but really, I finished it all in one day.

I am gaga over the finished product. I would like to make another, but seriously how many deconstructed skirts do I need in my wardrobe?

I actually wore the top and sweater with jeans today, but wanted to show a photo of the skirt on a body, so I just slipped it on and ran outside to catch the fading sunlight. A little too much ruffle going on there for a regular outfit, I think.

Can You See Me?

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I swear, I wasn’t going for a camouflage look. I hope it doesn’t come across that way.

This is Burda 7798, view B.

Mods:

1. In lieu of making a 10 to fit my shoulders and then doing a FBA, I made a size 16 and then sewed two of the darts 3/8″ deeper.

2. I cut the length by at least 5 inches.

3. I installed an invisible zipper in the side instead of center back. It turns out the top is large enough to slip over my head without even wiggling. I may go back and take some in at center front and back. Or I might go back in and scavenge the zipper. Probably I’ll leave it as is.

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I did not enjoy this fabric. It is polyester, and as such did not press well, so the seams all look rounded to me. I may go back and do some topstitching to flatten them. The armholes feel tight; the back seems tight when I reach forward. I seems plenty big, so I think it’s an armscye/sleeve issue.

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The neckline is a bit wide, so I feel like my brastraps are going to show, which will make me fuss with it when I wear it. I hate fussing with clothes.

I love the sleeves.

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And when I came downstairs to show it off, Husband looked up and said, “What is this? I *like* it.” He is not one to pour on the compliments, so I’ll take it.