Camp Workroom Social offered six different sewing intensives:
- Bra-making with Norma Loehr of Orange Lingerie
- Pattern-making with Jen Beeman of Grainline Studio
- Fitting with Melissa Watson and Pamela of Palmer/Pletsch
- Dressmaking with Christine Haynes using her Emery Dress pattern
- Ginger Jeans with Heather of Closet Case Files
- Children's clothing with Erin of Brooklyn Pattern Co.
I signed up for bra-making. Our class of 12 students was slated to make 2 Marlborough bras (one white and one black) over the weekend under the guidance of Norma and her lovely assistant Fleur. Norma's Marlborough pattern has a contemporary and fresh look ideal for smaller chested women. It's considered a full band bra because the cups are set into the frame. There is an underwire.
We had about 12-14 hours of sewing time over the weekend. The class began with a private fitting session in "the fitting shed" (aka broom closet) with Norma. Norma had prepared sample bras in every size with velcro backs. Based on my fitting session, I cut out a 34B.
|The 3 tables of bramakers!|
Norma is a very organized and thoughtful instructor. Since ordering bramaking supplies can be tricky, Norma had us all order the supplies through her and she showed up to camp with them. She also provided us with pre-reading from articles in Seamwork and Threads. During class, she walked us through all of the steps and demoed the tricky parts. Truth be told, ALL the parts were tricky for me. I had a very dyslexic moment on the first morning where I kept sewing the upper cups incorrectly to the lower cups.
|It may look like Maidenform, but it's Me-Made!|
Norma did a great job explaining the engineering behind the bra and the construction methods. For example, she noted that the Marlborough employs small elastic on the upper cup lace to stabilize it and prevent it from stretching. (I have a lovely La Perla lace bra without a stabilizer that is totally stretched out.)
|Narrow elastic sewn to the top of the lace on the side of the bra touching the skin|
Norma also explained that the frame/band combination should be providing the bulk of the support, not the straps. She showed us how we should use the Direction Of Greatest Stretch (DOGS) across the body so that the bra moves with us and doesn't constrict.
|Sewing the wire channels onto the bra. This was tricky!|
After a few minutes in the "fitting shed" with Norma and my new white bra, I sized up to a 32D for the black bra. Norma explained that the sister sizes are 34B and 32C (down a band size + up a cup or vice versa). Since I needed more volume in the cup, we needed to size up and out of these sister sizes. We debated between a 34C and 32D, ultimately deciding on the 32D. Norma explained that I am probably actually between a B and C cup in volume.
|Making bra straps!|
Most of the students were able to finish and/or baste the black bra enough to have a 2nd fitting with Norma. I took my time and only inserted the cups/powerbar into the bridge/frame/band. I plan to have it fitted by Sharon at my next lesson.
|Black bra in progress|
Norma had placed beautiful sample bras on each table and I kept referring to the samples for the rest of the class. Although I was happy to have the sample as a reference, the pattern instructions are excellent and they even include a few illustrations to help guide you through the particularly tricky parts. I do wish that the pattern pieces had included a bit more information such as a marking of the center front on the upper and lower cups and a note on the seam allowance (1/4 inch).
When I returned home, I spent some time looking at the Bramakers Supply website (run by Beverly Johnson with whom both Norma and Sharon studied). Norma had sourced the bra materials included in our kits from Bramakers Supply, including the tricot (Beverly calls it duoplex), lace, narrow elastic, wide elastic, wires, etc. I can't wait to finish my black bra and order supplies for the next one! Check out these beautiful laces!
Once I finish the black bra, I plan to deviate a bit from the fabric choices in our Orange Lingerie kits and follow some of Sharon's suggestions. Instead of power mesh (Beverly calls it stretch mesh with spandex) for the band, I plan to try stretch satin. Sharon says that this will provide more support. And, I am not going to line the bridge with the power net. Because I sized up to a D cup, the elastic straps for my black bra are much thicker. Norma and Sharon both said that this was necessary to provide adequate support. But, I intend to try it out with the thinner prettier straps. Instead of using narrow elastic to stabilize the lace, i am going to try silk bias tape/ribbon.
Enough sewing talk...what about the camp experience? Jennifer did an AH-MAZING job coordinating and planning every detail of the weekend. The foliage was at peak and the YMCA property itself was pristine. We had fun morning and evening activities like the me-made trunk show, bonfire, yoga, etc. I even managed to go on a nice little run around one of the ponds on the property.
|Can you see the horses in the distance?|
Dining Around the City
Gari: Upscale sushi spot behind the Museum of Natural History. I have been wanting to go here forever and had high expectations given all of the good reviews. It was wonderful. I can't believe we waited almost 2 years to eat here! Relaxed service and the sushi was excellent. I thought it was better than Jewel Bako and a good bit more affordable with more substantial portions.
Awadh: This Upper West Side Indian restaurant was recently written up in the New Yorker. The food is from the state of Uttar Pradesh. I don't know Indian food well enough to appreciate the regional differences, but UP food is supposedly cooked over a slow flame. Awadh's food is excellent. Not too greasy, super fresh, and beautifully spiced sauces. Plus, it's moderately priced and in the neighborhood.
Richie's Burger Joint: Our neighborhood butcher, Schatzie, recently moved uptown and Schatzie's son Richie has opened a burger joint in the new space. The restaurant is a no frills neighborhood place with beer on tap and a simple menu. The burgers are wonderful. Good beef really makes a difference. (Like a good legacy butcher, Schatzie grinds all meat to order and ALWAYS flirts with his female customers!) And after the meal, Richie stocked me up with sausages/pork/beef from the butcher counter. Win win!
Huertas: Spanish tapas in the East Village. I met a friend here recently for dinner. The food was good, but not as good as I would expect for a place recommended by Smitten Kitchen and on the NYMag critic's pick lists. I don't seem to ever enjoy restaurants with small plates/tapas---always a bit too greasy, fussy, small and expensive.
Fonda: Upscale Mexican. David Lebovitz posted about Fonda on Instagram several months ago and I immediately put it on my list. We went to the Park Slope location with friends on a rainy Friday night. I was disappointed by all the entrees at our table--glorified Chipotle. Definitely not returning to the Park Slope location. That said, the overpriced guacamole was very good with a smoky adobo sauce.
Mile End: Artisan Jewish bakery on the lovely (and very posh) Bond Street in Soho. I had been reading the glowing reviews for months, but didn't want to face the queue. We slipped in without a wait on a rainy Saturday at 3pm. Michael had the reuben and I had a turkey/mustard/turkey rillettes sandwich. Excellent all around. I love that the portions were appropriately sized and the smoked meats are not processed. We didn't try the Montreal style bagels...couldn't quite cheat on Barney Greengrass and their amazing NY style bagels.
Westville: Soo good. There are several locations in the city. We dined at the Chelsea location. The market vegetable plate is so fresh and tasty and lives up to its hype. The service is relaxed and the wait isn't too bad.