Some time ago I fell in love with the wonderful long gradients of Schoppel Zauberball. Of course, I immediately had to have a few of these beauties. I wanted fingerring weight, but unfortunately I ordered the laceweight variant by mistake. So now, what to do with them? I browsed in Ravelry for hours for suitable lace projects but nothing caught my eye.

So what, since I fancy myself a designer I’ll just make my own stuff! So I put away my other two design projects which got stuck a little bit anyhow.  For quite some time I wanted to make a half-pi shawl, so these were my requirements: laceweight, half-circle, a little bit on the romantic side, but not too kitschy … here we go. I proudly present my “Sundowner”.

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The name is inspired by the lovely color gradient in reds and pinks that reminds me of a sunset and in my mind I saw myself sitting on a terrace by the Mediterranean, sipping a cool cocktail and wrapping myself in a soft lace shawl against the fresh evening breeze … wouldn’t that be lovely?

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The body of the shawl features alternating stripes of stockinette stitch and an easy lace pattern which highlights the long gradient to perfection.

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And the edge is adorned with romantic horseshoe lace and a picot bind-off.

The pattern will go into testing in a few days – if you are interested to be a test knitters keep an eye on on my Ravelry group, the LanaCabana blog,, the Facebook page or Instagram.

There are things in sewing for which I do not have much patience, like fusing on interfacing or marking the darts of a pattern. Somehow I feel that it takes too long to work with chalk paper and I am not even speaking about thread tracing here. For my everyday sewing I am using a faster technique which works very well for me.

Mostly I am using transparent foil for my patterns, I prefer this to paper patterns for various reasons. For once it is really practical to have a see-through pattern for fabric matching. Furthermore the foil is much sturdier than the flimsy paper and for my dart technique the patterns gets folded over a pin. Paper patterns tend to tear here, but my foil patterns are staying whole.

First, I place the pattern on the fabric …

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… and mark the lower end points of the dart with small clips.

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Then I place a pin a tin bit above the point of the dart (pinning through fabric and foil).

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The I fold back the foil pattern over the pin so that the fabric is now lying open. The position of the dart point can be seen very well.

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Now you can trace a line between the dart point and the clipped dart end with chalk and a ruler.

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Do the same for the other leg of the dart. Be careful not to distort the fabric while drawing the line.

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And here we have a perfect dart, marked in just a few minutes.

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So. Since December 23, 2016 our little village is now official part of the mordern world, we finally have a highspeed internet connection – yay! This means that I have to think about new excuses for not blogging, since the slow internet not longer is an issue. Neflix, Amazon Prime … so many temptations 🙂

But in fact I resolved to blog more frequently because it is now really so much easier if you don’t have to wait for half an hour to upload just one little image.

Speaking of New Year’s resolutions: I want to do more sewing. I have so many patterns lying around that I never tested and so many fabrics … a lot to do for 2017.

The first projects I already decided upon are firstly Simplicity 8050 from this lovely red rayon fabric. Probably View A with blue piping, but maybe short sleeved as the rayon is really lightweight and more suitable for summer.

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Project No. 2 is this lovely plaid winter fabric that wants to become a dress. Actually, I think I’ll start with this one since this is more consistent with the actual season. So let’s get started!

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In case you asked yourself why it is so quiet here – I have been working in the background. Since about two years I am toying with the idea to try my luck as a knitting designer and at the beginning of 2016 the decision was finally made: I will do it!

From this moment on I started to work on the project in earnest: I designed a few models, knitted, ribbed, knitted again, wrote patterns, discarded them, wrote them again, thought about names, drew logos, tried blog designs … and I quickly realized that this is going to be hard work. But work that also was a lot of fun and now I have finally reached the stage to launch the whole thing.

Since the last weekend my designer blog lanacabana.de is online and since a few weeks my first design, the summer shawl Submarine is available in my Ravelry-Store. More shawls are in planning, one will be released within the next days.

Shawls? Really? Yes, I know, this is not my usual predatory pattern, but shawls are fun to knit and to design and I don’t have to worry about fitting issues. So this was the ideal entry point into designing before I venture into the stuff that is closest to my heart.

My one true love is vintage knitwear – sweaters, cardis, accessories. And this is going to be the main focus of my designs. Orientated on original designs I want to write patterns for a broad range of sizes. Most of the original patterns are only available in one (mostly rather small) size and I want to make great patterns also for the bigger girls. From my own experience I know that the really cute designs are very rare in larger sizes and I hope that I can put things right here.

In finished my first sweater design Serenity while I was on my summer vacation and I had to wear it straight away. I combined it with a pair of wide shorts which I threw together last minute before setting out for Spain. The are really just a modified version of my hubby’s boxers pattern: lengthend and spread out on the seam to create a culotte-effect. The waisline has a wide elastic band – very fast and easy to sew and very comfortable to wear. I think one can make an exception and let some sun and air get onto one’s legs while on vacation even though they are not as nice any more as the used to be.

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Serenity is knit from fine merino yarn (DROPS Baby Merino) and I was sweating quite a bit in the evening sun at the Costa Brava – hence the grumpy face. So she is not suitable for the midsummer heat but I think I will have plenty of opportunities to wear her in the upcoming fall. She also looks really nice with 194oies pants (this was even warmer, by the way).

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This model from an issue of Australian Women’s Weekly was the inspiration for Serenity, so she’ll be standing any test of authenticity.

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By the way: I still am looking for kind and patient test knitters for Serenity in a few sizes, so if you want to give her a try you can apply in my brandnew Ravelry-Group. The patterns is only available in English at the moment, I am planning a German translation, but it will take few days – err – weeks.

Todays outfit is a knit top made using New Look- 6940. I bought the pattern last year, tested it and made a few shirts right away, I love this look with Jean’s, I think the pattern brings out the better “parts” of my not-so-skinny figure. Combined with the Freddis of Pinewood Vintage Workpants it is a sort of hybrid look – not authentic 40ies, more retro inspired. I am not an authenticism fanatic for everyday clothing anyway, so I realyy feel good in this outfit.

I am big fan of New Look patterns which are part of the Simplicity family. I like many of their designs and the fit is very good for my shape – much better than that of the “big 3” Butterick, McCalls and Vogue. Unfortunately they are not as easy to get in Germany and more expensive than in the UK and the USA, a pity.

Todays variation is made from an almost not-stretchy knit (yes, there are knits like that), decorated with pink ribbing. For the ribbing fabric I used a ribbed shirt I bought at a boot sale – I often get lightweight ribbed sweaters or shirts second hand for that purpose, they are much better than most fabric sold als ribbing which is mostly too thin.

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No makeup, my self-control is slipping. Can you tell that it’s another home office day? But my hair is done, so no complaints, please.

The pattern offers some nice views, I only made D up to now, sometimes with the tie, sometimes without. But I also like the sleeves of view E, I will try these on the next shirt.

So, not much else to say about the pattern. It is pretty, easy to sew and I like the fit. I have had this shirt for more than a year now as well as the other 3 from the same pattern. I think it is time to make some more, there are still some pretty knits in my stash.

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Merken

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Dear readers, I just noticed that some of the pictures in this (and maybe also other) post are missing. I have no idea what happened, I try to fix the problem and find the missing pics. Keep your fingers crossed.

Did I tell you that I have been to Palm Springs in May to take another Couture Sewing class with Claire Shaeffer? Of course I also raided Joann’s and they had a sale on Simplicity patterns, 99 cents each. I went slightly out of control and bought some. Well, a lot, actually. Who cares what I said yesterday about not wanting to buy any more patterns …

To cut a long story short, I now have a stack of Simplicity patterns wanting to be tested and last weekend I started with Simplicity 2369 namely View C, the tunic.

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A perfect top for my home office days and a very nice pattern for knits. I am going to make this again, maybe the dress variety.

 

wpid-pict_20160607_151734.jpgFor once I do not have any complaints about the sizing, the people at Simplicity seem to have a better concept for their sizing tables than other companies. According to the table I needed size 20 and after some measuring I decided that 20 would indeed be fine. And it is. It is only a tiny little bit too large, but perfectly wearable. The next one I am going to make in 18 anyway (except for the hip part, I’ll leave that as it is).

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The only thing I don’t like so well is the very noticeable seam in the center back. I’ll try to convert it to darts the next time.

So far so good. But I am obiously unable to sew a piece of garment without making some stupid mistake or other.

I had chosen a nice firm piece of Jersey with fantasy flowers of which I had 1,50 meters. I needed 1,60 meters according to the instructions, so cutting was a challenge. I would have had to piece the tie ends.

But I didn’t even make it to that part. It is an asymmetrical pattern, i.e. you have to pay attention which side of the fabric is up when cutting the front pieces. Which I didn’t and so i produced tow left fronts – bingo! And there were only scraps left, so cutting a new front piece was’nt an option. After throwing my usual hissy fit I picked the pieces from the trash bin again and decided that it just HAD to work somehow. I sewed a strip of fabric to the mirror inverted front piece so it was large enough to cut a new (correct) one. Since I didn’t have any more fabric by then I made the tie ends from contrast fabric.

Then I finished the top to see if it fits and if I like it. It fitted and I liked so I put my newly acquired couture sewing skills to work to gloss over my stupidity.

If you need to make a dart or seam but you don’t want to destroy the pattern of the fabric, this can be solved with appliqué. In Claires Book “Couture Sewing Techninques” (the first edition of 1994) she shows this gorgeous jacket by Elsa Schiaparelli form her spectacular Circus collection of 1938. You can see the expertly done appliqué-technique on the left horse which goes over a seam.

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Quelle: https://books.google.ch/books?id=e3Sd_mikSP4C&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq=schiaparelli+circus+jacket+applique&source=bl&ots=_1L_OwQj-T&sig=9JXb1akfx-AAR1VfnF34ZdA8U-c&hl=fr&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj43YPW_5LNAhXLWxQKHcJ0DTEQ6AEIPTAL#v=onepage&q=schiaparelli%20circus%20jacket%20applique&f=false

After piecing the front part, I had a seam at a rather obivous place which I wanted to let disappear visually using this technique.

 

So I picked matching pattern pieces from the scraps and pinned them over the seam.

The next official step would be basting, but … well .. I am lazy. So I slip-stitched the pieces directly to the top. The seam allowance of approx. 4 mm is turned under on the go. Finally gave it a good pressing and voilà – an almost invisible seam.

See, you can use refined Couture techniques on humble jersey tops. Or you could concentrate a little more next time and save yourself a lot of time and effort 🙂 . So, can you spot the seam?

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Hello dear readers – if you are still out there 😀

For a long time nothing happened here and I had in fact already written up a post that I am going to close this blog – but I just couldn’t bring myself to publish it. I realised that this blog is too close to my heart to give it up just like that so I decided to give myself a little shove and start blogging again.

In fact I have not sewn much in the last few months. On the one hand I do not need so many new outfits since I am working from the home office most of the time. On the other hand I just didn’t have the fun I used to have with my hobby No. 1 and if it isn’t fun then it isn’t a hobby, right? Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t give up sewing altogether, I still see this as a short motivationless period and I still have some ideas I want to make happen in the course of this year.

In lieu thereof I have turned towards my hitherto hobby No. 2: Knitting. This is currently the thing I would like to do all day long. My fingers are constantly prickling and aching to hold needles and my head is burstng with ideas.

And I have a plan. A big plan. Still a secret plan at the moment because I have to prepare things and get ready, but as soon as everything is set, you’ll learn all about it.

Today I show you one of my recent finished knitting projects: the lovely hoodie Fickle Heart by Justyna Lorkowska. It has been snowing again this week, so I am glad to have this beautiful cardi to keep myself warm and cozy.

Made from DROPS Nepal in the beautiful raspberry red no. 8910.

I tweaked the pattern a bit. Justyna has designed the hood in simple stockinette stitch which is also lovely, but I didn’t want it to cover so much of the beautiful cable pattern when it is hanging down the back, so I continued the cables on the hood.

Furthermore, I added a little braid at the button band because I worried that the cardi would be too tight. It turned out that I needn’t have worried, it would have fit even without the braid, but there it is.

Ok, the cardi isn’t exactly slenderizeng, but I love it anyway. It is comfy and cozy and warm and … pink! There cannot be anything wrong with pink, right?

Here’s the link to my Fickle-Heart project page on Ravelry.

 

During my search for suitable basic patterns I rembered that I still have the yet untried Astoria sweater pattern sitting on hard disk and I thought this might be a good basic pattern for casual sweaters. Once I fitted it perfectly, I could do a lot of funny things with different sleeves or necklines.

Looking at Astoria versions of other people on the internet I realized that many people have problems with the fit, though most of them are unaware that they do. There is the classic problem of too wide shoulders for a sweater with set in sleeves and the sleeves itself also look funny on many pictures, as there are diagonal wrinkels around the bicep.

Some days ago, fabulous mod girl Eva tested the pattern thouroughly and came to the conclusion that the sleeves problems are due to the sleeve cap being too flat. She changed the sleeve shape considereably and produced two very stylish simple little sweaters.

And so I thought I’d be super smart and wouldn’t even bother with the original Astoria-sleeves. Instead I used a sleeve pattern I know fits me well and transfer the corresponding armhole on the Astoria bodice pieces.

According to the sizing table I need size 2X for the sweater, so I cut out this size, altered the armhole and sewed sweater no. 1

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Sweater No. 1: size 2x, sleeves and armholes from my tried and trusted wrap dress pattern

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Conclusion: the sweater is too short for a comfortable feeling, I have a constant urge to pull it down. It feels too baggy. The sleeves are fitting quite well but the shoulders are still too wide. Already here I had the nagging feeling that the sleeves are maybe too tight for the style of the sweater, but somehow it slipped my mind an I continued to use the same sleeve pattern.

For the second version I cut the sweater one size smaller, made the bodice longer by 6 cm and repeated the armhole alteration of version 1. the pink lines are the original Astoria pattern, the blue lines are my alterations.

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 Trueing the side seam:

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Sweater No. 2: Size XL, bodice parts lenghtened by 6 cm, same wrap dress sleeeves as in no. 1. I am standing a bit lopsided, because I have my mobile in one hand to trigger the camera. Hence the wrinkles on the left side.

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Conclusion after the frist trial: the length is better, the shoulder width is ok, the overall width of the sweater is ok. The armhole could be deeper.

Since I still had some of the pink knitted fabric left I made a third version with a slightly changed armhole (purple line).

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Conclusion after the first trial: Version 3 fits better than version 2, the armholes could be even deeper.

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The fabric is all used up now and I believed that I had adapted the pattern almost to perfection, so there is no sweater no. 4 (for now) 🙂

However …

Why did I write “after the first trial” in the conclusions for Sweaters 2 and 3? Because in the meantime I have worn sweater no. 3 for half a day and the first enthusiasm has subsided. Meanwhile I have a different opionion concerning the fit:

Firstly I think that the sweater is too tight after all. It has the tendency to creep upwards and form a nasty wrinkle right across the bust. Secondly I meanwhile believe that the shoulds are too small, one centimeter more would have been better. Thirdly the armhole could be larger. The lowest point of the armhole now is sitting right underneath the armpit with no ease and this is eventually also a reason why the sweater wants to crawl upwards.

Overall conclusion:

My oh-so-smart sleeve adaptation maybe wasn’t all that smart after all; the sleeve pattern I chose is perhaps too tight for the style of this sweater. And if the garment is supposed to fit casually it is not recommendable to make it too tight because this will ruin the look. I am having difficulties with the style of this pattern because it is somewhere in between a baggy casual sweater and a fitted top and somehow I don’t know wich kind of fit is the best for it. I am open to comments here, even if you tell me that the sweater looks crappy on me in all three versions 🙂

So what’s next?

Frankly, I don’t know. There are a few paths I could follow:

1. Why not try a version with the original version as intended by the designer? However, I don’t have high hopes for that version, because when I look at the steep curve of the armhole as comparted to my armhole, I think there is too much fabric in the area above the armpit.

2. Try another alteration: Version 1 with larger armhole and wider sleeves.

3. Transfer the elements of the pattern that I like (neckline, waist shaping, waistband) to a shirt pattern that fits me better like the Polar Hoodie by Green Pepper Patterns in size M which I already made many times.

4. Sew blouses, who needs sweaters anyway 🙂 no, just kidding 🙂

It’s hard to believe that such a simple thing as a sweater pattern can cause so many problems, isn’t it?

Der Maschinenpark wurde mal wieder erweitert.

New additions to my machinery.

Vor einigen Monaten hattte ich die einmalige Gelegenheit von einer Schneidermeisterin einen professionellen Schnellnäher von Pfaff günstig zu kaufen. Erst war ich sehr unsicher, ob ich wirklich so ein Ding brauche, der Schnellnäher kann ja nur Steppstiche – diese allerdings, wie der Name schon sagt, richtig, richtig schnell (Haushaltsmaschine = VW Golf mit 50 PS; Schnellnäher = Ferrari). Hinzu kommt, dass es sich nicht einfach um ein Nähmaschinchen handelt, das man mal eben auf den Tisch stellt – o nein! Die Maschine kommt komplett mit einem Tisch mit Metallgestell daher und sie wiegt gefühlt mindestens eine Tonne.

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Some months ago I had the chance to buy a professional straight stitch Pfaff machine from a dressmaker. I had a few doubts whether I really should buy it, since it only makes straight stitch seams – however incredibly fast (my conventional machines = Volkswagen with 50 PS, Pfaff professional = Ferrari). On top of that it is not only a nice little machine you put on the tabletop, no! It is built into it’s own table and a very sturdy one with metal feet at that – very, very heavy stuff. Read More →

Finding a well fitting bra is even trickier than finding a well fitting pair of pants. Especially for larger bust sizes it is essential to wear a bra with a perfect fit unless you want you bust point to be in the approximate area of you belly button.

Ever since I am buying my lingerie in specialised shops I own a few bras with very good fit, but I wanted to sew my own bras for quite a long time, because it really would be great if I could make ALL my clothing on my own, including lingerie. I don’t want to use a regular pattern because I don’t think that I will be able to do all the necessary alterations for a good fit. With clothing I have enough experience to know where to alter what, but I have no experience whatsoever with bra fitting. And since the sewing of a bra is a time consuming process, I don’t want to go through numerous test runs before I get a wearable piece.

So I set out to take off a pattern from one of my favorite bras, using the same method as with the jeans. The whole thing was fiddlier than with the pants, because firstly the bra consists of many small pieces and secondly they are very three-dimensional and tiny. And in this case precision is really imporant, half a centimeter more or less can make a huge difference here.

There are a lot of tutorials on the internet how to copy the pattern of a bra, half of them tell you to pick apart the original garment. This is totally out of the question because I want to use a relatively new bra which is not beat up by wearing and washing. And my bras have all been really expensive, so I’d rather not sacrifice one for this project, thank you very much.

I used this tutorial from Brown Paper Patterns as a basis,only instead of organza I used my tried and trusted transparent foil.

Here we go

At first, take a look at your template: where are the seams, how many pattern pieces are there etc.

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My cups consist of three pieces, the most suitable construction type for larger busts. Then there is the back part and the bridge in the center front – so I have to copy five pattern pieces in total.

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Start pinning the foil along the first seam.

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Hold the bra cup in your hand during the pinning process and smooth out the plastic sheet every now and then. You don’t want any wrinkles or puckers.

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Then draw along the seamline with the marker. Please be careful not to get too close to the pinholes to avoid bleeding through – your template will be ruined. If you want to be on the safe side, use a soluble marker for this step and redraw the lines with a waterproof pen after the plastic sheet has been removed from the bra.

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This is the blank of the side cup piece. Now you can complete the outline and add all other necessary information on the pattern piece.

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Which side goes where? When sewing your bra you’ll realize that this is essential information because you’ll get to a state where all pieces look more or less the same and one get’s confused quickly.

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Mark the direction of maximum stretch. This is important when cutting your fabric. Lingerie fabric normally has two-way stretch, but most of these fabrics still have one direction where the stretchability is larger, therefore it is important to know how to place the pattern piece on the fabric for cutting.

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Add the seam allowance. I looked up my notes from a bra making class I took many years ago: the seam allowance was 0.6 mm, so this is what I’ll use here.

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Proceed in the same manner with the rest of the pattern pieces. This is the complete pattern for my bra with three-part cups.

Fabric selection

There are many shops that specialize in lingerie fabric and notions and there is a large selection of suitable fabric and elastic lace. For my trial model I decided not to use and lace or expensive lingerie fabric, I will use a firm rayon jersey from my stash.

Additionally, I bought different interfacings because a close inspection of my template bra showed that the individual pieces are reinforced with different types of interfacing:

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Unfortunately I could not find Powernet in three strengths, I only got strong and soft. I will use the strong one instead of the medium for the back parts. It would have been great to have one of these shops close by to be able to touch and feel these special fabrics. Also I didn’t get all the interfacings in the same color, but hey, it’s the trial run and it’s going to be on the inside, so what?

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For sewing I recommend this this excellent tutorial by Sigrid. But before sewing away I took one more look at my template: the cups are joined a little bit differently here.

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The seam between the upper and lower cup is open and topstitched on both sides. The rayon jersey and the Powernet will not fray, so this is not a problem. The seam between the side cup and the other two cup pieces is turned over.

For the rest of the construction I can follow Sigrid tutorial.

And here is the current status – a bad picture, sorry. But at least you can recognize a certain similarity.

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Sewing took me much longer than expected. I ripped out each seam at least twice because I was unhappy with my sewing precision. Handling of the jersey fabric together with the Powernet is fiddly. Even though I joined the fabrics with spray mount, the jersey still crawls away from the presser foot and wants to pucker. I am still not completely happy with the seams but since this is the trial piece I’ll content myself otherwise this will never be finished.

Unfortunately I cannot comment on the fit up to now, because I really can’t try it on without the closure, the wires and the straps and I’ll also not be finishing it in the next 1 or 2 weeks becaus I go to Palm Springs for a couture sewing class with Claire Shaeffer. But I’ll keep you posted.