Wednesday, May 7, 2014


My doctor told me that with all the hunching forward I do (at the computer, sewing machine, cutting table, ironing board, etc.), I need to stretch my upper body more, like with some regular yoga (or "sewga," as my colleague calls it). Don't want those pectoral muscles to shrink. Eternal slouch!

Have I taken her advice? Uh barely. But I have sewn some stretch garments...? Surely that counts toward something, like my emotional health and blogger points. And I could probably do yoga in this outfit as long as I was home alone with the curtains drawn, so we're getting there.

I was a chuffed little pattern tester for Closet Case Files' newest pattern, the Nettie Bodysuit, named after a real Nettie you may know. I remember bodysuits from the 90s as a child, but the appeal of them now is that they stay smooth and tucked in under all the high-waisted skirts I own without all that unsightly scrunched up bulk underneath. I remember Heather's debut bodysuit that she wore paired with her Tania culottes last year, and I thought she was a genius. Now she brings her genius to the masses.

The pattern comes with two neckline variations (high neck and scoop), three back neckline variations (high neck, medium scoop, and looooow scoop if you dare), and three sleeve lengths (short, 3/4 and long). Options also include a snap crotch for practicality's sake (interpret as you may), a shelf bra, and a dress length hem for some bodycon sauciness. Here I've made the bodysuit with scoop front neck, medium scoop back, and 3/4 sleeves. What else would you expect of me, really? I did make the snap crotch and I laugh every time I have to re-snap because I'm certainly not graceful at it. Maybe I attached them in the wrong direction.

Here's Ms. Thang bravely modeling the suit on its own. She's not self-conscious of her dented hips and Barbie-like thigh gap:

As you can see (..kinda), the suit is designed for full rear coverage. The leg openings, like the neckline, are bound with self-binding that is pulled quite snugly for a close fit. The whole point of a bodysuit is that it's a close fit. The Nettie has mega negative ease and calls for a fabric with 4-way stretch and 5-10% lycra content. Fabric makes all the difference in the fit of this pattern, so check out Heather's extensive post about Nettie fabrics, as I can't give much more advice than she does.

For this version I used a charcoal heather gray cotton-spandex knit from Girl Charlee (found here), which has 75% stretch. I made a generous size 8 (probably more like a 10) in the torso and arms and graded out to a size 12 at the hips. EDIT: Heather has since updated the sizing, so by her chart I am a true 8 in the torso now, instead of the 6 I fell in before. If you follow her advice for fabric selection and sizing, you should be fine.

I'm so glad I made this skirt, too. The pattern is a lengthened version of a rub-off I did of an old store-bought skirt. I've decided I really need to start wearing longer (knee-length) skirts, especially in bare-legged weather, but I don't have that many casual ones. I also wanted to copy the RTW way of constructing a waistband like this: it's wide so provides stability and comfort, but there's a hidden interior channel for 3/4" elastic at the top, so the waistband won't flip over or start to droop like my other handmade knit skirts that are only held up with fabric.

I bought this fabric at the same time as the fabric for the Nettie with the intention of wearing them together. Though the fabric colors are both called "charcoal," the grays are pretty different -- the skirt is more blue -- but whatever. There's always an ~element of surprise~ in online fabric shopping. The skirt fabric is a cotton jersey in a "plant silhouette" print, also from Girl Charlee (found here). It's pretty cool but pretty similar to the print of my first Cambie dress, which I didn't realize until I started sewing it. Oh well -- Cambie doesn't get out much these days, but this skirt does. It's very breezy and soft, and the length means it normally stays decent in gusts of wind.

It's sheer so I lined it in some white fabric I originally bought to line a swimsuit. It's one of those performance knits from JoAnn. I have two swimsuit fabrics in my stash and wavering intention of actually ever making one, so I snatched the lining from the pile when I was in one of those anti-swimsuit moods after eating too many Reese's cups shaped like Easter eggs. DON'T say you can blame me. The lining is attached to the waistband as one with the skirt shell, but hangs free.

I'm planning on recreating this exact outfit in many different fabrics. A striped Nettie is definitely next in the queue. Um, I wonder if Girl Charlee offers in-house credit cards.

If you're still not convinced, check out Carolyn's seven Netties, Lauren's non-bodysuit Nettie, Lindsay's Nettie dress, Mokosha's low-back Nettie, and Nettie's own Netties. Then get your Nettie here. Phew, links.

So, do you find time to stretch out your aching sewing muscles with some sewga, or is your doc worried about the inevitable seamstress hunch, too?