I have recently fallen down the bra-making rabbit hole. It all started with the Madelynne by Simplicity 8228
I have actually had this pattern for quite some time but a quick perusal of the back showed that it needed all these things I had never used before. Picot? Powder Mesh? Stretch Lace? I never knew where to buy them so the pattern sat in the back of my closet unused. I was planning a trip down to Colorado Fabrics in May and I figured they might have what I needed. Well they did have stretch lace but it was $10 a yard and since I needed 4ish yards I wasn’t willing to spend that much on a bralette. So I bit the bullet and ordered from Debs Lace and Trims I bought Black, Purple, Cadet Blue, Teal, and Pink Lace. Everything came in 5 yd cuts and most were in the $1/yd range. I also picked up some picot and skinny elastic. From Fabric.com I was able to find the power mesh for considerably cheaper then the bra sites were selling it for so I picked up Nude and Grey. With all the accoutrements in hand I got to work. You will have seen the first bra on hear a few weeks ago. It was the racerback style in cadet blue with nude power mesh underlining.
While I was pseudo-happy with the results I wanted to make some changes. You’ll notice that the seam line falls about an inch to the outside of the apex of the breast. I have scoured the internet and I find this is true of every example I have seen made. I’m not sure if this was a stylistic choice by Madelynne but (to me) it gives a splayed shape to the chest which I find unflattering. For my next attempt I redrafted the cups so that the seam line is more center (along the princess seams of the dress form). I also left out the racerback because this detail looks nice but its quite high. While I am a millennial I’m not into the “look my bra is showing” trend. It was fairly easy to just leave out the racerback pieces and add some straps instead.
I also want to note that I paid extra close attention this time to make sure my insides were much cleaner. I still didn’t use the spray adhesive, but I have bought it now so I can use it in the future.
I was happy with how this turned out but lurking on all the bra-making blogs had me pining for something that looks a little more bra-like. The patterns by Cloth Habit seem to be fan favorites so I picked up the Watson (a soft cup) and Harriet (Underwire) Bra Patterns.
I started with the Watson thinking that the soft cup would be easier to tackle first. Now having made both I don’t think there is a huge difference in difficulty between the two patterns and Underwires aren’t nearly as tricky as they look. My first Watson was intended as a tester to narrow in on sizing. I sewed up a 38A in a black 4-way stretch jersey with some miss matched notions from my stash. I stabilized the bridge with the black tricot fusible interfacing that I had purchased for my pencil skirts.
The verdict is still out on this one. I don’t love the shape this gives me, that is to say I don’t love my natural shape and this bra doesn’t do anything to alter it. The way I see it I have two options either a) use a smaller cup size so the cup shapes (squishes) the flesh in a more rounder shape or b) perhaps the jersey recovery isn’t enough. I think this could be easily remedied by underlining the cups with power mesh. I want to fix it but i’m too anxious to get a bra that works so I decided to set this pattern aside and work on Harriet.
The Watson bra calls for all stretch fabric whereas the Harriet uses a stable fabric for the cups, cradle, and bridge. One blogger mentioned using silk charmeuse for bras as the ultimate in luxury…well I happen to have 8 yards of silk charmeuse wasting away in my stash. It came as part of a mystery fabric bundle purchased with my winnings from the Pattern Review contest. I don’t see me wearing a dress in this colorway but for some reason I think it works for bras.
I used a pastel findings kit purchased from Tailor Made. These kits are an excellent deal. I find them much more economical than the full bra kits and the only extra things you need to get are the fashion fabrics and mesh. The kit is also pretty generous. I actually sewed this up 3 times trying to get the right fit. I reused the strapping, underwire channeling, and hook & eye from bra to bra but the kit came with enough picot that I still have some left over after the third bra.
As for sizing, first I made a 38A just like Watson. The band was way too big and the cups where fine on my larger size but a little generous on my smaller side. I went back and actually read the sizing directions and found out I should have made a 34C. If you are familiar with bra sizing you know that these are sister sizes so the cups are the same between 38A and 34C. Since the first bra was a bit generous I sewed up the next as a 34B instead. This time around the band was way too tight. I feel a little like goldilocks at this point, too loose, too, tight….the only thing left is “just about right”. The cups felt right but I was getting a bit of “quad-boob” at the top which is normally an indication that the cup is too small. However I thought this might be happening because I stretched the picot too tight over the top edge of the cup. For the third bra I decided to sew a 36A. Which is a larger band but the same size cup. I didn’t stretch the elastic at all over the top of the cup. I am very pleased with the results.
I’m still having ever so slightly quad-ness with this size but with some tugging I think that I have identified that it’s a result of the straps being too short. I cut the straps at 18″ because I like the idea of it taking exactly 1 yard of strapping to make a bra but I think moving forward I could benefit from just a couple inches more on each strap. Unlike the Watson I think this was gives a nice shape. Probably because the stable cup fabric forces the tissue to conform to it and not vice versa.
I noticed on my first two “practice” Harriets that the silk charmuse unraveled like a beast. Since this pattern is unlined it made for messy insides. For this last bra I serged all the seams with matching thread and I am hoping this will keep it much nicer looking.
Now you might think that this was an awful lot of bra sewing but actualy I made all the bras from this post over the course of a single week. I can do an entire bra including cutting and sewing starting after my morning yoga and be done before our 11am walk. I can reasonable get 2 done a day if I wanted. Thats one reason why I am finding bra sewing very satisfying. Its quick but the result looks like a construction master piece. I have many many many more bras in my queue. Here is just a sneak peak.