[QUOTE=Foiled Again;894214]My mother caught me trying to use her machine when I was three. She decided to teach me rather than wait to find me howling with a needle through my pinkie. I think I LIVED at the Singer Sewing Center through elementary school. The owner, a relative of some kind, let me use ANY machine, (I was his "how hard can it be if a seven year old can do it?" model.)
Narrow seams - get a machine with a speed governor on it. Sew on SLOW. Also many machines have a seam guide that screws into the bed to keep you straight. If yours doesn't, a piece of colored tape marking the seam allowance distance from the needle can help you go straighter.
Anyone can learn anything if they are willing to put in the time and patience. What you want to do will take both. If you intend to use stretch fabrics a serger
is almost a must. That sentence will cause instant consternation from many people - but remember - Scarlett O'hara wore supportive undergarments LONG before elastic was invented.
There are quite a few people today who are allergic to latex who must wear 100% fabric bras. If you can remember the 1950's some of those were still pretty common. In SOME respects those could actually be more comfortable than the spandex ones of today. If you're carrying an extra few pounds, spandex loves to create grooves in your softer spots - and most of todays bras either have NO underwire, or ONE under the cup underwire or ONE stay where the side piece meets the cup. That little sucker will stab you at both ends. Back in the day, most bras for large busted women had a series of vertical side stays, put in like fence posts about an inch apart, from the side of the cup well back under the arm. It kept the fabric from rolling, and gave support without that one little spear jabbing you.
All "C" and up ladies should treat themselves to a trip to a high end fitter at least once. Extra stays can be added to off the shelf bras and many like them better that way. It's a do-it-yourself project if you can thread "wooly nylon" on your standard machine and get the proper bias tape to encase the stay. (Try on an old bra first.)
So: Down to specifics. Take a sewing class in sewing with stretch fabric. The LARGE JoAnne and Hancock stores often run those. There are also some very nice independent stores out there, but check for longevity and reputation of their classes. You can find some very good DVD training too, but when things go wrong an instructor can get you back on track a lot quicker than a DVD. The real benefit of taking a class IN STORE is that you can use the higher end machines like the Pfaff and Elnas and Husqueveras??? sp?. (Then find a used one on the internet.) Instructors will show you less expensive ones too if the top models are just out of your range. You'll get to know what works and what won't by taking the class.
IMHO, nothing Singer has built since the late 60's is worth a darn. Also don't touch anything you can get at WalMart - they may have a known manufacturer's name, but they are a cheaper version.
Virtually all machines are now manufactured in Asia - even the Janomes. However there is decent Asian stuff and Asian crap. Mid-level Janomes tend to be very good machines, both the regular and sergers. I can't speak for the high end embroidery ones though.
Now about those narrow seams. Most seams are trimmed back during or after sewing. Sergers all have cutters that snip the fabric back to the stitch line just before needles. Other seams are oversewn. Get a piece of scrap fabric and I'll teach you two techniques.
FLAT FELD SEAMS - sew your plain old 5/8" seam. Press open. On the inside trim back one seam allowance to a bit less than 1/4" inch. Use small scissors to make it easier. On the other side fold over the seam and press in half parallel to the stitching. Fold that over the raw trimmed seam. Press flat. Run a second line of stitching down the folded side about 1/16" from the fold. TA DA.
Now for a blue jean seam, run another line of stitching 1/16" inch from the first seam.
Another Variation on that is to triple fold the uncut seam allowance and instead of sewing through the front of the fabric actually fold that piece around the trimmed side and sew down the edge just behind the main seam going only through the folded allowance and the trimmed one inside.
FRENCH SEAM - If you ever sew anything that loves to ravel, a serger solves that problem, but if you want to make your seam look very elegant, especially on something that's a bit see-through - there's a very simple way to do it. Cut your pieces as normal. Put them together RIGHT SIDE OUT, sew the seam with 1/4" or less, Fold the pieces inside out, and press flat at the seam. Sew the real seam at 3/8". This encases the raw edges inside the seam. (GREAT for scratchy stiff stuff like Taffeta.)
So. Bras are all detail work, even the "over the shoulder boulder holders". Some machines have a speed limiter (great for kids learning to sew) and very good for this kind of work. Look for that feature and for anything especially designed for stretch fabric.
And DO look up "large cup size bras" on the internet. You may find you CAN get something ready made for your relatives. (Of course the ungrateful wenches will probably have reduction surgery about a month after you master how to make their garments!)
Thank you for all the tips. I will try them out.
I pretty muched stopped sewing for my DD after puberty. I can tweak a standard pattern for a good fit, but her needs were out of my skill level. She is not heavy and that is one of the problems. Women's clothing is not made for someone with a large bust and small everywhere else.
Books and DVDs are pretty much my main option since I drive longhaul. Wish I could find a one or two week class being offered on bra and lingerie making. It would be worth spending my hometime on.
I would certainly benefit from a class to learn how to fit a bra. DD most certainly did not get her well endowed bustline from me. My method of fitting a bra for myself has been to hold one cup over one boob and throw it in the cart if it looked like a good fit