I hate writing bad reviews. It’s even worse when it’s in my “specialist subject”, as there’s a subset of people that will think it’s just sour grapes or something. But I really, really wanted to like this pattern. I get asked all the time for recommendations for a good sports bra pattern, and Simplicity 8339 looked good on paper – lined, supportive straps, wide under-bust band, and a variety of cup sizes.
A good friend of mine travelled to Tokyo in January, and asked if I wanted anything. “Oh, some nice traditional kimono print fabric would be nice if you see any”, I said. Well, he ended up going to Nippori Fabric Town one day and fell hard for Tomato (I might also add here that he owns a vintage Bernina sewing machine!). I ended up with a massive stack of cotton prints as well as some lovely wool tweed, too.
I’ve been meaning to sew up two of the more traditional prints in particular ever since I received them, and I thought they would coordinate really well together in a project as they’re the same colours but different prints:
Pop quiz – What’s better than an entire Saturday set aside for sewing?
Give up? It’s an entire Saturday set aside for sewing with a friend! Yes, a few weeks ago my friend Sanchia (whom you may recall as my Threshold Shorts pattern athlete model) was all “we need to set a sewing date and make some leggings!” so we found a Saturday we both had free, and she came round to the boat last weekend! Sanchia has sewn before, but hasn’t made leggings in a while, so she selected some fabric out of my (frankly, overflowing with fabulousness) lycra stash, and we used my Steeplechase Leggings pattern to sew her up a pair without any inner leg seaming.
And since we were going to be sewing all afternoon, well, I might as well make a pair for myself, too! Since Sanchia chose my FunkiFabrics “Prism” lycra (I had the Flexcite base but it’s also available on their wicking Titan base fabric, I wanted to choose something dark so we wouldn’t need to change threads, so I used some fabulous cityscape lycra that had literally just arrived from Sewing Chest the day before (they have got some great sales on their sportswear fabric pieces right now, just sayin’!).
We had a good chat cutting out the fabric, and then pinning each step together and constructing them assembly-line style, plus a break for lunch, and then she got to play on my coverstitch machine for the hems and waistband finishing, too. By the time 4pm rolled around, we had two finished pairs of leggings!
We vowed to wear our new leggings to Run dem Crew on Tuesday, where we got another friend to snap some photos of us!
It’s that time again! I can barely keep up with all your amazing, inspiring, and beautiful versions of my patterns these days, and before I know it, I’ve got an overflowing heap to share with you! I know how helpful many of you find these – it’s all well and good that I make nice versions of my patterns, but so much more helpful when you see how good they look on other bodies, too!
Be sure to click through to read the details and see more photos on each of these entries, too. With a long weekend coming up both here in the UK and in the US, there’s no excuse not to whip up something sporty!
Winnie’s Steeplechase Leggings with exterior rolled seams & zebra Surf to Summit
Karen’s 5(!) Steeplechase Capris for herself and her daughters
Maria’s three pairs of Steeplechase Capris, with great reflective accents
Sally’s wintry Surf to Summit for the ski slopes!
Maria’s “Hunger Games” inspired Duathlon leggings
mixtilli’s red Lacey Thong lingerie set
I’m not sure sure what happened, but I caught the lingerie-sewing urge hard a few weeks ago and finally cut into some gorgeous pale green lace I’ve been hording for years. It’s been so long that I’m not even entirely sure which online-lingerie-fabric-shop-which-has-since-closed-down I bought it from – eLingeria? Danglez? In any case, it was worth holding on to, and worth buying a pale pink bra findings kit off etsy a year or two ago, and then finally purchasing some pale pink “silk touch” lycra from Tia Knight about 6 months ago to finish off my supplies!
Frankly, I’ve been meaning to sew more Orange Lingerie Marlborough bras ever since I’ve made my other two. The original pale yellow one I wear several times a week, every week, and I love it. The wings on the pale blue one have stretched out a bit, and I really need to unpick the back hooks and shift them smaller to make the band more stable so I’ll wear that one more, too. But that I have two highly wearable bras that I love has meant that I doubt I’ll ever sew another underwired bra pattern again (unless Norma releases another, I suppose!).
The construction on this bra is the same as the other two – my only changes were stylistic, namely to not overlay the lace onto the frame, and to not line that piece, either. I fused lightweight interfacing onto the lower cup, centre front, and frame pieces, then basted the lace overlay on top, and used another pale pink piece as lining as I constructed. I also stabilised the scallop edge of the upper cup with clear elastic, because I didn’t have any beige narrow elastic, which I vastly prefer to the horrible clear stuff!
After I finished the bra, I kept the momentum going and made two pairs of panties to match – one using my (still free!) Lacey Thong pattern, which I could make in my sleep these days, but that I love and just plain works for me.
Like little green shoots poking through the earth as the warmth of Spring approaches, I feel like my sewing productivity and creativity is just pushing through from all angles at the moment. I’m so proud that so many of you love my Steeplechase Leggings pattern as much as I do (and I’ve got loads more to share!) but I wanted to share a bunch of smaller things I’ve been getting on with…
Have you ever heard of Sock Stop? It’s a bit like puffy paint we used in the 90s, but it’s intended to paint onto the bottoms of socks and slippers to prevent slips and falls. I bought
some from Guthrie & Ghani recently to see if it helps keep activewear hems in place without requiring silicone elastic (which can be a bit fiddly to sew on). I’ve tried it out on the hems of my Steeplechase capris (which you’ll see soon) and I want to test them out on my next cycle ride…
I can’t believe my birthday’s nearly here again – it seems like I only just made my galaxy-print sheath dress! I celebrated early with my BFF Pip, and she very kindly bought me this Secrets of Sewing Lingerie book and a metre of gorgeous silk chiffon from Dalston Mills! I’m super impressed by the variety and styles of panties, bras, camisoles, garter belts, and accessories in the book, but I want to try out a few patterns before I post a review.
Following on from yesterday’s Part One, I’ve got a whole new heap of activewear sewing inspiration coming your way. You ladies have been so busy sewing up a storm, and I love that you get so excited when I release a new pattern like the Surf to Summit Tops that you make it all in droves!
Winnie’s fabulous peacock print Duathlon capris
Cidell’s winter running Surf to Summit Top for her husband, Jordan
Katherine’s green cherries runderwear (included in my Threshold Shorts pattern)
Veloswer’s kiwi-styled cycling Surf to Summit Top
Carey’s teal and white Surf to Summit Top
I’ve had a few people ask me, “When are you going to release a sports bra pattern?” And to be honest, the short answer is that I have no plans to. My aim has always been to create exercise patterns for designs that aren’t already available, and in my opinion, there’s already a great compression sports bra pattern* out there, Jalie 2563, hiding in the guise of a “Sports top”.
I recently found out that my favourite sports bra pattern is being discontinued (Moving Comfort’s “Phoebe”, boo!), so this was the push I needed to sew up a few more of my own, ready for the next few months of marathon training. I was already cutting into my lycra scraps to create Running armband pockets to fundraise for Argentina, so I cut out some sports bra pieces at the same time when I saw I could fit them in.
The result is two sports bras, one made with Funkifabrics Triathlon (Aqua) print lycra and UK Fabrics navy blue nylon lycra shoulder straps, and one made from UK Fabrics Leopard print nylon lycra topped with aqua nylon lycra (also from UK Fabrics but long sold out). You may remember these fabrics from a bunch of former projects – my triathlon print leggings, my ladies’ cycling Surf to Summit version, my cheetah print leggings, my men’s running Surf to Summit, and my aqua & yellow piping Surf to Summit. Never let it be said I don’t get my money’s worth!
These two were made assembly-line style, so as I sewed the seams on one, I’d do the other at the same time. Happily the colours are similar enough that I could do this without having to rethread all the time.
Ugh, what a crappy holiday. I caught a cold on the 23rd, which then took a merry journey through all my insides throughout the festive season. I was ill with a cough, snotty sinuses, headache, chest infection, etc for the entire two week holidays. By Day 12 I dragged myself to the GP who gave me antibiotics lest it turn into pneumonia, and it was only on the final weekend that I started to feel a little bit better. But I feel like I deserve a holiday do-over in a few weeks – I got cheated out of so much time – there were so many things I wanted to go done…
I’m not sure why, but when I’m ill, I turn to sewing lingerie. Maybe the lace and pretty things bring me comfort, or maybe it’s that the small pieces don’t require standing up to go to the iron. Who knows! In any case, when I was able to sit up without feeling dizzy, I pulled out the Orange Lingerie Marlborough bra pattern again, this time to match a pair of Lacey Thongs I made last winter that have been waiting for a mate this long.
I tried to sew a bra from this fabric and lace a while back, but it was an utter FAIL – not even good enough to document, just one for immediately cutting off the hardware and binning. So it took me a while to want to cut into the lace again – not until I had the success of my first Marlborough bra in fact!
I used some interesting fringed elastic from MacCulloch & Wallis as a feature on the Lacey Thongs, splitting it in half and using it as piping in addition to the waistband treatment. I also (clearly) used the stretch lace throughout instead of just on the wings, too.
I have a long and rather conflicted history with bra sewing. I sewed my first bra five years ago, but despite being an accomplished seamstress and having a really standard body shape, I still haven’t managed to sew a single bra that I’m happy enough to wear on a regular basis in the time since.
I knew Orange Lingerie had a bra pattern in the works for the better part of a year, and I knew her bra construction book was awesome, and, when I met Norma on her trip to London last year, she gave me bra fitting advice in a restaurant toilet – and still when she finally released the Marlborough bra pattern I was skeptical. That’s just how burned I’ve been by bra patterns in the past.
But I eventually did break down and buy it, with the thought to throw out all my other tweaks, calculations, traced RTW pieces, and just start fresh with this pattern and see where to go from there.
Choosing a size was actually the most difficult part for me – despite being a 34B in pretty much every RTW bra brand ever, the different formulas used to calculate bra sizes online are insane. Various calculation methods have said I’m anywhere from a 40A (Orange Lingerie’s method) to a 34DD (Bra size calculator’s method), both of which are just laughable (and yes, before you tell me to go get sized in person, I’ve done that in the past, and they said I actually am a 34B). So I threw both out and just made my RTW size, a 34B, with no changes.
Before cutting into anything good, I first made a black test version – it’s unlined with unfinished edges, with various bits cut off of old RTW bras, and “plunge” underwires that were a bit too short. But it freaking fit.
I wasn’t about to get too excited (I’ve been down that road before, declaring I’d perfected bra fit, finally, only to have problems emerge over time and wear). So I wore it for a week or two. And it still fit well. So I cut into the good stuff.
Everything in this pale yellow version is from my (rather extensive) lingerie sewing stash, and I hadn’t remembered until afterwards, but this gorgeous lace was actually a gift from Norma herself, when she came to visit London! You may notice that my straps have an M&S lingerie brand on them, even. Yes, I definitely recycle when the RTW parts are nearly-new and save me some time!