Readers Questions – 5



Another round of Readers Questions.  New and not so new sewists with sewing dilemmas for you to give advice, guidance and solutions.

Please leave your answer in the comments below.  And if YOU have a sewing question you would like answered, drop me a line using the Ask A Question link in the menu bar above.

Readers Questions runs about once a month on the site, so if you have a pressing question that simply can't wait – try posting on the Facebook page and see if anyone is online to help.

Questions for this month


Desperate Mom asks:

Can anyone tell me where to find extra large bra cup patterns with small band sizes? Please I am desperate! My 13 year old daughter was blessed with enough breast tissue for 4 people and hates it. I can't blame her since I have dragged her around to every department store, lingerie store, and specialty boutique in our area to try them on. She and I are both so frustrated that a size 30 J or something close is like finding a needle in a haystack. Even the lady at the specialty bra boutique measured her incorrectly and then kept bringing us bras that my daughter's cups continued to “runneth over” to the point where she was in tears once again. She just wants a cute tween bra like all the other girls in gym class and I do NOT think that is asking too much. Please help.

Jackie asks:

This week on a TV series there was an attachment or foot demonstrated on a Baby Lock or Brother machine that  sewed in perfect circles.  Does anyone know – what was the name of that foot and where can it be purchased?
Thank you.

Rachael asks:

Do I really need a serger?  I see so many sewing bloggers and sewing patterns where a serger is used so I'm wondering if I should get one.  Can you tell me, what do you use yours for?  What is a serger good for doing, and where is it not really needed.  I mostly sew clothes and bags, the sort of projects you find on this site.

And if you do recommend one – what are the features I should look out for on my first serger?  Thanks.

Joan asks:

I've got a question about rotary cutters.  How do I decide what size to buy?  I can see they come in very small, at about 18mm to quite large at 45mm.  I'm assuming this is how wide the cutting disc is.  Why are there different sizes and how do I decide what size is right for me?  I'm not a quilter, I want to sew clothes for my grand-daughters, but find using scissors a bit difficult these days.

Rosayln asks:

I’ve just recently found out about reusable peripads (maxi pads) and can’t find a pattern for them.  I ran across a how to video from but she does not have a pattern and I am to clumsy and impatient to try to figure it out on my own!

Do any of the readers have any links to suitable patterns or tutorials, or have any tips or advice for sewing this sort of product?

Val asks:

I recently made an Elsa dress (Frozen character) which my grand daughter was ecstatic about. However one sewing section I am still not happy about is the point at the bottom of the bodice.  It sticks out.

The bodice comes down to a point in the center and joins into the gathered skirt which is shaped to match, but the point sticks out.  I unpicked it and made it lie flat by changing the point to a softer curve, but I'd love to know how to fix this for the future.



Thank you everyone for sharing your advice.  Till next month….

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31 Responses to Readers Questions – 5

  1. Jules68 says:

    Desparate mum, uk is the answer to your plea. They do band size from 28 and cup size from DD to J I think, in bras, and clothes from a UK 8 to 18 in curvy, really curvy and super curvy. The telephone sales staff are very knowlegable and have all worked in their stores and know how the bras and clothes fit in relation to each other. I am a 32 G so I feel her pain, my own daughter is a 28F. Do not, under any circumstances go for a bigger band to acconodate her cup size, it will leave her with terrible back problems in the future, and make her look at least 1 clothes size larger, plus her breasts will end up round her waist – not a cool look.

  2. SewMagical says:

    Val, I have not made that costume, but there are a couple of tricks to help get a sharp ooint. Rather than stitching a right-angle at the point, take a couple of short stitches ~across~ the point. Trim your seam allowance close to the stitching line, and clip the seam allowance up to, but not through, the stitching. These steps will help give a sharp point when you turn the fabric right side out.

  3. Jackie, this is the circular sewing attachment I have for my baby lock machines. I love it. It’s expensive, but if you do a lot of embellishment work, it’s well worth the money.

  4. Mary says:

    Desparate Mom:
    I have a daughter who has the same issues with bra fitting. As someone else said, adjusting a larger band can work. Also, this is a link Cloth Habit
    to a chart of “Sister Sizing” (how different bra sizes can work with a little adjustment). There is also a link on the page for an easy tutorial to do the adjustment. Hope this helps.

  5. Diane Cullum says:

    If you don’t want to mess with boning, just make sure your seams are trimmed close in that area with no gathering on the actual point of the V. I’ve sewn many costumes without boning and haven’t had any problems with the V sticking out. It also may be the fabric. You might need to pull off some of the shiny discs in the seam and allowance so it will lay better.

  6. opalspeacock says:

    Jackie; I saw a tutorial on Sewing with Nancy where she was using a tack on her regular sewing machine to make a circle. The tack is secured and the fabric is centered and spins on the tack while you sew around the edge. I believe it was part of a circle quilt.

  7. opalspeacock says:

    Desperate Mom & Cricket, here is a link to a company that has sizes from D-K (not a typo, it is a K), They are in the UK, I have not ordered from them but have heard good things. Good luck.

  8. MS Barb says:

    Rosalyn–check out for ideas…I have their pads & they look & feel like flannel, on top & bottom, w/ some kind of batting ( I would guess cotton) in the middle…then 2 “flaps in the middle” that snap under the crotch of the panties…

  9. Deby Coles says:

    A comment from Becky – This is for the mom of the 13 year old who needs a 30 J bra. There is a facebook group called; ” Bra makers – beginner through intermediate”. If you ask your question in there, you will get lots of help! Such as where to buy patterns to make yourself and how to measure for a proper fit.
    I hope this helps. Good luck!

  10. Anna says:

    Rosalyn, you might find the “days for girls” site a help. They make sanitary items for charity and have free patterns for all the items and video instructions as well. Hope this helps.

  11. Sharon says:

    My 12 yr granddaughter has a different problem where she needs the larger band to go around her (40 inches) with a small cup (AA). She has been getting away with wearing camisoles, but as her cup size is changing I have been thing about making her bras, but did not know where to start looking for patterns or supplies. Thanks to everyone for for their info. I now know what will be under her tree at Christmas.

    Rachel- A serger is useful to have as others have mentioned to help with sewing quicker, giving clothing a nicer finish on the inside etc. If you are just doing personal sewing, you will be fine with using a zig zag stitch to finish your seams. If you start sewing for others for money, I highly recommend making that investment because it will make the difference between looking “homemade” versus “professional.”

    You don’t have to buy a new machine, you can get a refurbished one from a reputable dealer. Make sure to test drive several models & brands, to find out what “bells & whistles” you want, need or can do without.

  12. Daryl says:

    Roslyn you can go to to Tipnut where there are several links to tutorials for menstrual pads. Choose the one that suits you. I’ve made them before and they are easy make. I donated a lot to some organization for African girls who don’t have access to anything like these.

  13. Daryl says:

    Jackie:The circle presser foot attachment can be purchased from your Brother dealer.

  14. Misha C says:

    I think has some homemade feminine hygiene products

  15. Vicki says:

    Crikett, a serger is NOT a necessity, it’s a luxury. Theyare nice, but you can make your regular sewing machine work fine. Most sewing machines have a zig zag stitch or two that you can use to finish off your seams. The big advantage is the act that it finishes your seams and trims them all at the same time.

    • Theresa Diaz Gray says:

      I agree with Vicki, unless you are making tons and tons of knit clothing and want to do them really quickly, you don’t “need” a serger. It’s great for production sewing. Also remember a serger cuts off the seam allowance so no letting the seams out to make things bigger if you need to. I like a wide seam allowance on kids’ clothes.

      I bought a serger about 20 years ago, when my kids were all little. I had it for two weeks, set it up on a table beneath the front room window (where there was more light). My rottie jumped on the table to look out the window, sent the machine flying. The table overturned, the serger broke into a multitude of pieces. There was no way to really repair it. I decided that I didn’t really need a serger after all.

      You still need a regular sewing machine if you have a serger, but you don’t need a serger if you have a sewing machine.


    • Crickett says:

      I never said it was a necessity. I specifically said you can do it all with a regular sewing machine. A serger just does SOME things faster.

  16. Vicki says:

    Joan, if you are using your rotary cutter for clothes patterns, the smaller the better. The 18mm size will go around curves and corners easier. The larger blades are for quilters that are trying to cut straight lines in a hurry. Just remember, they can do a lot of damage in the wrong hands….it is a razor blade after all!

  17. Desperate Mom: If you want to sew a bra there is a new class on Craftsy that teach how to sew one and the Classic pinup Bra pattern has a lot of sizes…

    I am not done watching the class, but my understanding is that the correspondence between bra band and cups are such that the same volume cup can be several combination of band number and cup letter. Hence, once you find the appropriate cup volume and shape for your daughter breast, you could shorten the band to her tiny torso measurement… The quick chart for the correspondence :

    Here are all my “bookmarks” about sewing bras, panties, swimsuit and lingerie patterns :

    Hope this helps!

  18. Theresa Diaz Gray says:

    Hi Val,
    Cute costume. You did a nice job. Isn’t that holographic fabric just horrible to sew on! Last time I made something using it, it totally gummed up my machine.

    First off did you bone the bodice? If you didn’t bone the bodice, you should. That is what keeps the point down. You do it in a V shape with a center bone (like an upside down peace sign with the long leg cut equal to the rest). You can attach the bones to interlining to avoid having them show through.

    Plastic boning is notorious for bending due to body heat and little people are very warm blooded. However, it’s a costume and not getting heavy wear so you can probably use plastic, heck I know people who have used cable ties to bone corsets! Rigilene is nice for those sorts of costumes because you don’t need casings. If I was making something for a play or historical re-enactment I would use spiral bones since they are cheap and readily available. Spring steel is nice too, but I think it’s something you have to order online.

    Here is a photo of the inside of a boned bodice, you don’t need your bones to be that long. Here’s something more modern

    You might try adding more ease to the skirt fabric. Also you could put a rounded point on it instead of a V. Historically, skirts and bodices were made separately and if they were joined it was with hooks and eyes or just basted together. It’s actually easier to fit that way and you don’t have to worry about cutting the skirt in a V. The skirt would have it’s own waistband.


  19. Theresa Diaz Grayt says:

    Dear Desperate Mom,
    I wear a 30 G and can’t find a single bra to fit me where I live. My solution is to buy a bra with a cup that fits no matter the band size. For example the cup in a 38 DD will probably fit her. Or maybe a 40 DD. Of course it depends upon style, not all bras fit the same.

    Now I carefully unstitch the straps from the back and unstitch the bra hooks. Since you are doing this for another person you can try it on her. Mark where the straps and hooks should go. Bra should fit on loosest hook so you can tighten it up if it stretches out. Cut off excess and re-attach straps and hooks. You might have to fool around to get stuff to fit together but trust me it works.

    If you want to make a bra from scratch this list will get you started. There are a lot of women out there making their own bras. There is also a site called


  20. andiemcbee says:

    I buy all my bras from Bravissimo in the UK. Intl shipping is around $7 and they will fit you over the phone. Customer service is great! Here’s a 30JJ sample:

  21. robindrush says:

    DESPERATE MOM – I certainly can understand your daughter’s dilemma. I wear a large cup size myself and I know the frustration. I did a search on Ebay using her size and came up with quite a few possibilities:
    RACHEL: It depends on how much money you are willing to spend and how much you will be using your serger. You can buy used and/or get it refurbished at a local sewing shop. Entry level sergers are pretty basic. If you buy used be sure to get the manual and if you are new to serging, look up tutorials on Youtube or other websites.

  22. Crickett says:

    Joan: The larger sizes are great for straight lines. I’d recommend the smaller size for pattern cutting. And watch your fingers! Rotary cutters can cut quite deeply.

  23. Crickett says:

    Rachael: As for recommending one: Babyloc all the way. Air jet threading is the next best thing to sliced bread!

  24. Crickett says:

    Rachael: Sergers are great for quickly and securely sewing, cutting excess fabric off, and finishing a straight to moderately curved seam. So the side seams of a dress, sleeve seams, even sleeve caps. Things like top-stitching are best done on a regular sewing machine. You can do everything on a regular sewing machine, but there are certain things you can do *faster* on a serger. If you’re thinking of just having one or the other, go with a regular machine.

  25. Crickett says:

    Desperate Mom: I’m a 34E, so I’ve been right where you are. Very few bra shops, even the “specialty” stores, are going to have what she needs in stock. It will probably need to be special ordered. It won’t be cheap no matter what route you take, so impress on her the importance of good maintenance to keep it in shape as long as possible. I highly recommend Freya and Fantasia brands. Those were the first two that ever fit me correctly, so that the center in the front actually lay against the sternum instead of sticking out.
    First, look for a shop that specializes in mastectomies. Inquire at hospitals if you have to. When you walk in, you should expect to see stuffed chintz chairs, and little old ladies with measuring tapes around their necks. If you don’t see these, that’s not the place for you. I’m not kidding. All the women in the immediate family know where of we speak.
    There are also a few on-line stores that know what they’re doing. FigLeaves is a good one. Their return policy is decent, although they are European, so returns/exchanges take some time. Note that the US and European sizes are different, so you may have to exchange a few times to get a correct fit.
    I haven’t used them yet, but HerRoom has some good sizing tips:,905,30.html
    Best of luck!

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