The Nullarbor Cami and Dress is a pattern that I pestered Leila for for the longest time, because I knew it was a basic which was missing from the fat sewing pattern back catalogue. I knew because folks often emailed me to ask for recommendations and there weren’t many. There certainly weren’t many that were beginner-friendly plus-size cami patterns that were drafted with larger cup-sizes and bodies in mind.
The Nullarbor takes less than a metre of fabric in many of the sizes, and the dress takes about 2 metres of 150cm wide fabric at my size (I’m in about the middle of the size range). The pattern is finished with a facing, which conveniently tidies away the straps and ensures a neat finish all the way round.
Size details: I have a 48″ bust, 40″ waist and 52″ hip and made Size 1. I probably should have made the changes to the pattern for narrow shoulders, as I know that’s a common fit issue for me, but what I might do instead is to size down to a couple of sizes so that I’m choosing the size based on my bust measurement, instead of my hip measurement. This might bring the shoulders in enough for me, and also bring the underarms up a little higher. The fit of the cami is supposed to be very relaxed, and not at all tight or ‘close to the body’.
Fabric: I used a remnant from The Fabric Store of their Dijon coloured crepe, which was approximately a metre long. I bought it on a whim and then got it home and realised that I might well never be able to make anything from it for my body (plus size patterns are notoriously hungry). You could use even less fabric than suggested by making the facing from a different fabric, which makes this a great piece for leftovers. You could conceivably pop an extra half a metre in your cart when shopping for pants and make the cami from the leftovers (great for a faux jumpsuit).
Size details: Size F is my usual size in Muna and Broad Patterns (was previously called Size 1), but I cut my Waikerie Shirt to Size E and graded out to Size F at the hips because I could, and because it made sense with my narrow shoulders. But, the Waikerie Dress pieces I cut in a Size F. To make the pieces work, my back pleat is just a little fuller than the pattern was necessarily intended for.
This dress has generous pockets and a great shape and I’ve really been enjoying wearing it as a duster outer over pants and tops! It works great as a versatile capsule wardrobe piece!
Fabric details: This is Charetreuse Linen from The Fabric Store. It’s no longer available online (they’ve replaced their original linen with Vintage Finish Linen or Heavyweight Linen options) but I found and purchased this in-store. I had some fabric left from 3 metres, but I cut on the open and with a lot of pattern tetris!
As a total aside, I don’t care for the look of the Vintage Finish Linen as it has a bit more drape, looks a bit less crisp and the colours are also less saturated. Overall it’s skewing away from the structured look you can still achieve with linen with a bit of heft and getting closer to something vintagey, which is not really of interest to me. They’re also no longer selling my favourite Marsala coloured linen- but I’ve found that the Rhubarb linen from A+R Fabrics in Aus is a pretty close match.
I love working with Leila to put these patterns out- this dress is exactly the relaxed linen dress that I wanted to buy, but couldn’t find and got in to sewing in order to make, before discovering that nobody was making relaxed patterns in my size either!
Although sometimes our ideas for pattern releases start from pretty simple impulses, like ‘we need a bra-friendly cami that takes not much fabric!’, to ‘what about a bralette?’, we’re also trying to fill our own wardrobes (and hopefully yours) with great-fitting patterns which fill a gap!
I’m a little late to the party to talk about the new Banksia Bralette pattern, released by Leila and I through Muna and Broad, mostly because I do have reservations about sharing pictures on the internet of myself in a bralette (funny where we draw the line isn’t it?)!
While I was procrastinating on sharing pictures of myself in a bralette, we released the Banksia Swim Expansion which adds a tank option, which has an attached Banksia Braltte inside (a tank with built in support, there’s something I could take some pictures of)!
The Banksia Bralette is designed to lightly support the breasts, but also to keep them separated (no more sweat from boobs that are touching). As someone who wears a lot of utterly un-supportive cotton crop tops which generally serve to keep my boobs covered but not supported- this pattern from Leila has been an absolute revelation.
The Bralette provides options to customise how much support you want, and Leila came up with a unique system which uses slings to give very light support to the breasts, while also separating them and stopping them from touching each other. If you have small enough breasts, or they’re wide-set enough that they don’t touch then you can easily omit the sling. Other possible permutations for support include (in order of support), two layers of fashion fabric in the front for light support, two layers of fashion fabric in the front and back, powermesh and fashion fabric front piece, powermesh and fashion fabric front and back. I shared a picture this week on Instagram which shows just some of the Banksia Bralettes I made during the pattern testing phase! In the end, we released the pattern with sewing size (different to RTW) D cups and B cups and with pieces for narrow shoulders!
My Current Measurements: Upper Bust 43″ (109.5cm) Full Bust 48.5″ (123cm) Under Bust 40″ (101.5cm) shoulder width 16″ (40.5cm)
Size Details: I made many permutations of this bralette, but my favourite version, which will be where I base my future versions is a Size E, with the B Cup, narrow shoulder pieces. I like that this narrow-cup piece is a bit lower under the underarm and fits nicely on my narrow shoulders.
Support details: I’ve made multiple variations of the bralette, the most supportive (and binder like) being the powermesh front and back version (which reduces my Full Bust size by more than 3″ while providing a lot of lift), and the least supportive being single layer of fashion fabric front and back and powermesh slings (still very comfortable and perfect for sleeping in, if that’s your jam)! I;ve got a few more bralettes (without the tank planned)- one with two layers of fashion fabric front and back and lightweight powermesh slings and another with powermesh front and double fashion-fabric back. For me, both of these support options will provide a decent amount of support and lift- they’ll be comfortable enough to sleep in but would also be appropriate to leave the house in.
I ordered my powermesh and fold-over elastic for the Banksia Bralette from Nellie Joans, which is a NZ based small-business but one which ships all over the world! Helen from Nelli Joans is an absolute star, and she’s always been so helpful with any of my requests. She also has a gorgeous selection of swimwear fabrics, including this ribbed black fabric which I’ve got put aside for a Banksia Bikini.
The Orange Tank: I don’t like this orange, but this version was my wearable toile of the longewear possibilities. The tank is made from a cotton/lycra and inside the support is provided by powermesh front and back and lightweight powermesh slings. The powermesh is very firm (and can be tricky to get on), but I love the support that’s provided here- I would happily wear the house with this tank and no bra. I’ve ordered some hefty bamboo/lycra in black for my next version- the neckline works great under my Torrens Box Tops and Waikerie Shirts (and, Waikerie Shirts is mostly what I’m wearing these days)!
Conclusion: I hate wearing bras at the best of time, and finding the right fit for underwire bras can be a challenge. The Banksia Bralette provides the comfort I sought in croptops (or going bra-free around the houses), and depending on the level of support, can also provide the lift that I sought in a bra. The unique power-mesh sling system that Leila devised keeps the breasts separated and sweat free, which is a bit gross to have to mention but a definite bonus if it’s something you’ve experienced!