I made a version of this Nettie bodysuit by Closet Case Files when it came out over a year ago. I had just started to get into sewing with knits at the time, so every completed project felt like a success. And I was thrilled with the fact that such a great pattern existed in the face of the entity that is American Apparel. People always talk about the good things this company has done over the years, namely employing Americans/immigrants in US-based garment factories with liveable wages and benefits, and that is undeniably awesome. But I always felt like the good the company did in terms of it’s ethical labor practices was vastly overshadowed by the countless cases of abuse, harassment and assault that so many people who worked within and for the company had to face. I used to read JANE magazine religiously when it was still in print and I remember seeing this amazing/disturbing piece of journalism by JANE contributor Claudine Ko and reeling from anger and shock. That was the first I had ever heard of the awful antics of AA founder Dov Charney, but it would not be the last; since then there have been tons of think pieces and essays and anonymous accounts of the habitual sexual misconduct within the company, not to mention the fat-phobia and body shaming that American Apparel not-so-secretly promotes.
All of this is to say that Heather’s Nettie didn’t just feel like another awesome pattern to add to my stash- it felt like a warcry. I had been empowered with the tools to make a garment that seemed to belong almost exclusively to a company I hated (American Apparel is known for their knit tees, leotards and gold lamé leggings), effectively shooting a figurative bird at their poor business ethics and misogynistic practices. Currently, American Apparel seems to be threatened with financial ruin, and the rumor is that they will be closed by year’s end. I hate that it happened this way. I would much rather the company had shut down the bad behavior as soon as it was discovered so that it could focus on being a great example in the global fashion market. But, alas, that is not what happened. The good news is that AA showed the world that it was possible to create a successful international clothing brand made on American soil; hopefully other companies will follow (some of) their footsteps in the future. The other good news is that, thanks to Heather, I don’t have to rely on any of those future companies to provide me with a great fitting bodysuit!
Speaking of the bodysuit…I ran into a little problem with it when I made my first version. The pattern gives you the option to line the front with a shelf bra so that if you make the low back or scoop neck version, you don’t have to worry about wearing a regular bra with it, which would most likely peek out. But when I inserted my shelf bra in my bodysuit, it did this weird puckering thing at the point where the bottom of the “bra” met the side seams. Because the bottom of the shelf bra has a length of elastic sewn onto it, it was pulling the side seams taught, and it was very noticeable when I was wearing it. I realized too late that this was because I had graded the bodysuit to a smaller size in the waist, so the dimensions of my shelf bra were off and causing the elastic to make the sides pucker. I intended to immediately make another version to fix the issue, but I procrastinated, and it wasn’t til much later when the 2015 Sew Independent contest was announced that I found my opportunity.
I made my most recent version of the Nettie bodysuit in a jeresy rayon fabric that was a mistaken online purchase (I thought I was buying supplex for activewear, but the fabric was too soft and pretty to return). This time I fixed my issue with the shelf bra by ommitting the elastic all together, which worked out beautifully- I have a small chest so I don’t need much (if any) support at all, and the fabric of the shelf bra lays down fine without the elastic. All other aspects of the construction were exactly the same as before, and I am SO pleased with it. Now that I have figured out my shelf bra issue, I just want to make this again and again and again cause this bodysuit goes with EVERYTHING.
In these photos I paired my Nettie bodysuit with a circle skirt I made with instructions from Gertie’s Book for Better Sewing and fabric from The Fabric Store. And right before the pics were taken I had just finished an appointment with my acupuncturist so I have cupping marks all over my back that look pretty weird and perhaps even unsightly. It usually takes several days or even weeks before these bruises fully disappear so I took my pictures sooner rather than later before they got darker; thankfully you can’t see the REALLY dark red ones on the sides of my neck. Apologies to any squeamish people out there, and in case you haven’t experienced the process before, the cupping doesn’t hurt at all- for me they are the equivalent of giant dry hickies 😉