At the beginning of the month I was contemplating making a jacket for spring as it was getting warmer or finally tackling those jeans I’ve been meaning to make for ages. But then it got cold again and I got a cold and just wasn’t feeling like tackling a big project.
A few months back I needed a couple of new bras because the old ones were worn out. I went to my local bra-dealer just to find out that the bras I used to buy had been discontinued. I tried on several different bras and settled on two pairs that fit well enough in the shop. I have since discovered that both of them do not fit me right and hurt and suck and over all just make me angry.
Cut to me lying in bed with a bad cough, a severe headache and the sniffles, dreading to put on an ill fitting bra to leave the house. See me shuddering by the thought of crouching on the floor cutting out huge pattern pieces for either a coat or some jeans. And finally picture me looking through my Bloglovin feed seeing posts on lingerie all over the place this month.
I arrogantly thought to myself – that doesn’t seem too hard, I can probably make a bra. Turns out I was right. But I do blame my confidence on my slightly delirious state. I am usually a very careful planner and think and plan for months in my head before making a difficult garment, especially if I haven’t made it up before. The thought of having small pattern pieces that I would be able to cut at my desk and the idea of pretty fabrics and laces was just too appealing. So I made a bra. Tadaaa:
I can not advise you to do what I did. This is my *first* bra. I did not do a mock up, I did not do a proper fitting, I just went with my measurements and a pattern that is completely new to the market. I used nice lace and notions and a relatively complicated pattern with an all lace frame and cups …and against all odds it worked out fine!
I suspect the reason it worked out as well as it did is that my measurements are pretty standard. I need a longer band than readily available in most RTW bras but my cup size is a B and the underwires for my size fit my bust shape very well. I did expect a good fit from the start but I was surprised how superior the fit was to any RTW bra I own.
(please excuse the stray lint and pieces of thread. I was so excited about finishing the bra that I took the pictures without cleaning the bra properly first.)
Let me talk about the pattern I used. It is the Bella pattern by Sewy. It seems to be a new pattern and it is only available in german but if you made bras before it should be pretty self explanatory.
I would say it is beginner friendly (as in bra making beginner – not sewing beginner of course) although if you’re not quite as crazy as me you might not want to start with a full lace frame and cups. I really liked that you can go to the pattern page on their website and see a very detailed description of the needed materials without buying the pattern first. It is also very size inclusive – the band sizes go from 65cm to 125cm and the cup sizes from A to H (although not all combinations of cup and band are available). The pattern is sold in 4 size groups. You have to add the seam allowance to the pieces yourself. That’s not a super nice task as you have to be quite precise but I don’t mind it too much because with bra alterations you have to cut away seam allowances all the time so it almost doesn’t matter either way.
The pattern includes instructions for cut-and-sew foam cup. This was the deciding factor for me to buy this pattern. I wanted to use foam for the nice shaping it provides but was slightly scared of having to make to many changes to a pattern with it being my first bra. I read multiple tutorials on cut-and-sew foam and working with lace and those helped me tremendously with the construction. I highly recommend the bra making sew-along by Cloth Habit as a great starting point for all bra making adventures.
I was quite scared of cutting my lace as I knew I had to mirror not only the upper cup pieces but also the bridge pieces perfectly as for the bra not to look odd. Meaning the right and left half of the bra should be exact mirror opposites in their lace edging. Turns out it’s not that hard. I cut out the pattern pieces once, turned them over and moved them on the opposite edge of the lace until I could find the exact mirroring piece. I did this with all the pieces that have the lace edge as their finished edge – namely upper cup and bridge pieces and even had enough lace left over to cut the under cup pieces from lace as well.
I was so happy about how well the bridge pieces lined up, I just had to snap a quick photo.
And that’s how it looks like on the finished bra.
I had some hiccups during the construction process. I started with the foam cups and the pieces just didn’t want to fit together perfectly and so I redid them several times over. The lace for the cups went together much better although I went into crisis mode when I discovered that I had assembled one cup inside out – after topstitching it of course. Using a seam ripper on dainty tulle lace is nothing you ever want to do. I highly recommend carefully labeling all your pattern pieces. I also pinned tiny scraps of fabric to the right side of the lace pieces and thus saved myself major headache.
I was planning to cut the back band out of microfiber stretch meant for bra making (as well as the under cups) but found that the color of the fabric I had didn’t match the lace as well as I had thought so I made full lace cups and used a double layer of navy power net for the back band. This worked out great. I like that the double layered power net is still slightly see through but super strong at the same time. It holds everything in place firmly whilst keeping the stretch.
It took me about 8 hours to make this bra – including the seam ripping and all. Not bad at all for a first time I think. I am quite happy with the fit over all and the shape the bra gives to my bust. The only place that could use a tiny bit of alteration is the inner upper cup region. I have a bit of excess space there, but only about half a cm or so. With my next bra I can hopefully change that – I think I should be able to get rid of the excess fabric/foam by altering the seam line of the lower cup pieces to be be more shallow. But I’ll have to some more research on that.
I hope you enjoyed my lengthy rumblings on bra making. Please let me know if you have bra making experience or are planning on making your first bra soon, I’m eager to see what other people have made or want to make and exchange war stories.