Monday, July 7, 2014

The bra story

Pattern: Pin-up Girls Classic bra, size 30D, slightly modified to fit my wires
Fabric: White dotted cotton from stash, white powernet from Sewing chest and white notion kit from Merckwaerdigh on Etsy.

I have been wanting to sew lingerie for a long time, ever since Amy over at Cloth Habit posted her serie about bra-making. I had great plans then to follow the sew-along and learn how to make beautiful, handmade bras. I entusiastically bought kits from Merckwaerdigh, a pattern from Pin-Up girls, and fiddled around with plush and picot elastics. The results were, sadly, less than stellar and I quickly lost interest, confused between powermesh, stretch lace, linings and trims.

Around the same time, probably due to my extensive research about bras and fit, I realised I had been wearing the wrong size bra. No wonder, since my size is barely available in specialty lingerie stores, and definetely nowhere to be found in the usual chain stores. (As a side note, I do not consider that I have a large bust. The letters in the size of my bra have very little to do with the actual size of my breasts, as the volume they refer to is in direct correlation to the lenght of the band, and my breast are certainly not bigger because my bras are! It took me forever to actually really understand this, and I will not try to explain. Rather, I suggest you go read what Butterfly Collection has do say on the subject.) I discovered high quality bras that fitted very well and were pretty and fun and colourful, like Freya and Panache, and for a while I was happy with my drawer full of store-bought lingerie. Who said I have to make everything?

So I continued, for the last year, to admire Novitas and Amys beautiful bras, thinking that "one day" I would be skilled enough to sew a bra that actually fitted. Then Tasia, from Sewaholic, started to post lingerie too, and it somehow managed to give me the kick I needed. I suddenly was super inspired, and eager to finally demystify bramaking.

I re-read all of Amy's sewalong posts and studied my RTW bras. I finally understood what parts need to stretch (the back band), and which should not (pretty much everything else), and that was the lightbulb moment for me. So I simply sat down, traced a 30D from my Pin-Up Girls Classic bra pattern, cut my fabric, a little lace to be pretty and constructed a bra. Just like that! Well, I had also ordered a few different wires in different models and sizes from the Sewing Chest and that also really helped in getting a good end reslut. The sewing itself is rather simple. Inserting all the different elastics does take a bit of practice, but is not really difficult. It does require a lot of precision, which I rather enjoyed. The hardest was attatching the hooks, I had to unpick several times because I was not catching everything properly.

The result is a bra that is very wearable, which I a super happy and proud of. I always considered it a muslin, and there are many things I will adjust for my next version, and my stitching can also be perfected. About the pattern, I will say that the instructions are extremely detailed and pertinent. The fit is quite good, straight of the envelope, on me at least, and feels quite true to size. The model is, however, quite dated. The bra gives lots of coverage, and the wide straps feels a bit old (i do think I messed up somehow with the elastics and seam allowances and that my straps are larger than they are intended to be). It also gives me a very pointy shape, which is awesome for a retro look, but maybe not what I would go for daily. I believe that all of this will be easily altered with a bit of drafting and Amy's helpful posts.

p.s. My lingerie photographing skills are also something I hope to improve... ;)


  1. This is really pretty! I really enjoyed Amy's series on bra-making, too, but I'm afraid of trying it myself! It just seems so complicated and overwhelming!

    1. thank you Sonja! don't be afraid! all the skills are pretty familiar, and it is actually not that complicated. just small manageable pieces. choosing the right fabrics and gathering notions can be quite a challenge, but buying a kit is an easy way to handle this. i can see myself spending quite a lot of time in perfecting the fit, though...