Bra Sewing, Swimsuit Sewing, Vacation Sewing

All the sewing in this post!

I still have a backlog of projects to share with you but I thought I would share some things that I recently sewed where I have used the pattern before or, in the case of bra sewing, am using an updated pattern.

Bra Sewing

I’m super pleased with my alterations on my bra pattern. This is definitely a better fit than the last bra I sewed. The last bra fit well but throughout the day my cup would spill over. This bra does that on the 3rd day of wear after washing.

After the last bra, I incorporated more volume in the lower center cup, split the bottom cup into three to better distribute the volume and give a nicer shape, shifted the straps in by 1/4 inch, and scooped out the underarm by about a half inch graded to a 1/4 inch at the top.

It’s really difficult to tell the difference between the two since the previous bra was in black, but the projection is shifted slightly more to the centre reducing the splaying from my pectus carinatam. Unfortunately, the above picture was also taken right before my period when I was swelling like crazy. I generally have a 2 -3 inch difference in my bust at that time. Hello hormones! It’s much better now and I can see how the volume in the cup is a much better fit.

Overall, the shape is great. I feel comfortable in the bra. There are tweaks, however, for next version.

  1. More volume in the lower cups
  2. Less length along the top edge of the upper cup
  3. Move in the strap another 1/4 inch since the strap is still flipping over
  4. Even out the horizontal line where the lower cup and upper cup meet (bring it down by about an inch and a half at the side grading to the height of the cup closest to the bridge)

I’m considering accounting for the differences in cup volume in my 2 breasts, but I think I will wait until after the next iteration to do it.

I’d like one more underwired bra in my rotation and then I want to make changes to my bralette pattern. I’m going to get myself a couple of pattern drafting books for lingerie soon and see if I can apply some of those techniques for a better fit.

Swimsuit Sewing

I recently made another Cashmerette Ipswich Swimsuit and I love it.

The mermaid scales are both from Water Tower Textiles. I chose to make a full side panel with firm powernet for a scandalous see-through look. I love it.

I did not make a bra for this. I lined it with powernet instead. The fit is not bad. Definitely some drooping in the water, but not too bad. The straps with bra strap elastic really do wonders for that. This is a size 24 G/H on top. Bottoms are 24 graded to a size 26.

Why make a swimsuit when winter is about to hit Canada?

Vacation Sewing

My husband took me to Varadero, Cuba for my 38th birthday!!

It was such a perfect birthday!!

We drank…

We ate…

We went to Havana…

I could definitely spend all my birthdays in warm weather and on the beach from now on!

Of course, I couldn’t leave without some marathon vacation sewing…

Cashmerette Rivermont top

Nothing like a mirror selfie with fox pj pants!

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I love it so much. I may take the straps off, though, since I find the elastic can cover my bra straps comfortably.

I also shortened some Misty Jeans into shorts to give them new life, but neglected to take a picture.

For my birthday, I made it a goal to raise $200 for the Ehlers-Danlos Society and I exceeded my goal by $127 for a total of $327!! I am so grateful for the generous support of my friends and family. It made for the best birthday gift. ❤

In my reflection on the past year, I am grateful that I am managing my chronic illness better. It’s through my own hard work and that of my respirologist that I have come so far. With my chronic cough under better management, I am able to do more and get a better grasp on my health rather than struggling with the day to day of just breathing. I know without the meds, my health is tenuous so I have to be super careful to not miss a dosage or else my breathing becomes difficult as well. The fact that there are meds that do help me is huge and I am incredibly grateful for that.

Of course, saying I am managing my chronic illness is not a cure or that I am no longer chronically ill. I know my limitations better now and I know when to rest versus when to push it. I am gradually incorporating more exercise into my life, but I will not do it at the destruction of my body. I have a better understanding of what is good versus what is bad. I am disabled. I cannot do a lot of things normally and often have obstacles that prevent access for me. It’s been quite a year for me of setbacks and realizations and lots of wins. 38 feels good. I have hope and that is an amazing thing to have.

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Drafting a bralette

I have been wanting a decent bralette for a while. However, there is no pattern that goes up to my size. Well…. Seamwork Florence does, but that was a disaster when I made it…

I knew the basics I wanted: racerback, non-stretch cups for support, wide elastic band, front closure, etc.

I just decided to take the plunge at drafting my own using my measurements. There are lots of different ways to do that… and since this was a completely new thing for me, I didn’t really document that process. I may at some point, but it was a learning experience every step of the way.

First try on was a little bit disheartening since the amount I subtracted in the cup was a bit too much so I actually needed to add most of that back in. The back, however, was perfect. Really really perfect actually. I didn’t want that lovely velvet to go to waste since a friend had given it to me so I decided to add a third cup piece for a 3-piece cup so that I didn’t have to scrap the mock up entirely. I really love the result and the shape of the cup. Still some more work fit-wise but it is very close!

The cups are made with stretch velvet and lined with sheer cup lining (either from Emerald Erin or Artes Crafts, I can’t remember but either of them have great quality sheer cup lining). Back is stretch powernet from either Blackbird Fabrics or Emerald Erin; I also doubled it up for more support. I finished the edges of the back and cups with fold over elastic from Emerald Erin. The band elastic is wide elastic from Emerald Erin and the straps and slides/hoops are from Arte Crafts. Front closure from Bra Maker’s Supply, I believe.

As you can see the front is still a bit scandalous and I needed to cover it with my long hair. Hahah. The length of the cup is also off in the center front, meaning that there is a bit of spillage instead of support there. It would benefit from at least 2 inches taken out as well as 2.5 inches to 3 inches added into the cup volume. My next steps are to lower the armsyce a bit since it comes up a bit far. I also want to move the straps on the front a bit closer to the center to match up with the back. I want to make the cups rounder to give a nicer shape In the process of making the curves in the cups rounder, I should be able to add in the extra material needed to give coverage in the center. I am going to make the elastic band a bit tighter since it is a little loose causing the front closure to twist forward a little and not lay flat. The length of the cup also needs to be shortened slightly overall (maybe an inch on the side and a few in the front center. This is going to bring the whole cup up and make the band sit a bit better under my breast tissue.

I really really like the 3-piece cup. I think it offers a nice shape and look and great support. It will also be nice for using some lace in the center cup or doing some colour blocking. The racerback is so incredibly comfortable and makes my back feel great. I might actually make my wired bra into a racer back, too, given how great it feels. I’m really pleased with this bralette. It feels supportive but incredibly comfortable. The support in it is a bit less than my wired bras. I think it will be improved by the fit changes I am making.

I got a few people asking for a pattern for it on instagram. I have no sewing pattern plans for this or ever! It was a learning experience and I really enjoyed doing it. I would be interested in developing it for sale of the actual product, but creating sewing patterns is so not in my interest. I’d much rather sew. 😉

Bra Fitting for People with Pectus Carinatum

Pectus Carinatum, or pigeon chest, is a chest shape where the breastbone is pronounced from the rib cage creating an egg shaped chest where the point of the egg is about where your bridge for your bra sits. It is often described as a “deformity” and considered “abnormal.” It is a chest shape and I will not describe it using those words again. It exists in the world, is common. It can be caused by breathing problems, such as emphysema, or rare diseases, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is my case.

You can’t really tell that I have this chest shape until you see me without a bra or feel my rib cage. The usual suggestion to hide this chest shape, if it causes no physical distress, for women is to get a breast augmentation and have larger breasts to disguise the difference. For men, as long as there is no physical distress, they are often told to do weight lifting to have chest muscles that disguise the shape. I’ve always had a large chest since I was very young so my chest shape is often ignored unless the health professional is looking for it. Interestingly, the doctors that noticed it also talked to me about EDS before I was diagnosed, especially when they saw my range of motion. It wasn’t until I got diagnosed and realized that maybe this chest shape was causing all of my major bra fitting problems: bridge not sitting flat against my chest or the apex splaying toward my sides.

Using the image from the Fashion Incubator, you can see how an egg shaped chest does this:

No matter what I tried, these issues were not going away and I wasn’t able to think outside the “normal” box. The “normal” box is where most bra patterns are drafted. In fact, this was all confirmed recently by Erin’s Love to Sew podcast interview where she talked about how bra patterns are drafted for a pretty narrow range of chest and bust shapes and there isn’t a lot of specialization for different shapes.

I found a Fashion Incubator article on the Wacoal Style #65547 bra, which is drafted for egg-shaped chests. The post outlines a long list of things that help the bra fit egg-shaped chests. I’ll summarize a bit:

  1. Straps closer together in front and back
  2. Fullness closer to the bridge than normal
  3. Narrow bridge
  4. Taller bridge

A taller bridge doesn’t actually work for my particular chest shape. My chest protrusion actually decreases about where the bra band sits meaning that the chest protrusion has a pretty large angle from the band up to the centre between my breasts. No matter what I do, the bridge could never sit flat because I do not have a flat chest area there. Instead of a taller bridge, I need a shorter bridge to get a better fit and a wire that does not angle forward poking out in various pictures, like it does below:

I also have the wonderful luck of having shoulders and ribs that like to go out of place if I try to use a back closure. For me, a front closure is much much better.

I needed to change a few things in my bra pattern to accomodate these issues.

  1. I needed a front closure, but I also needed an adjustable back closure for days where I am swollen due to my chronic illness.
  2. I needed more fullness in my cups since I have gained weight since I last made a bra.
  3. I needed a lower bridge and probably needed to cut the bra wires to fit it.

My muslin was an incredible success. Made here in a basic cotton fabric so the cups are wrinkly since the fabric won’t stretch a bit like duoplex does:

Obviously, the wires poke up since they are too long, but I have good coverage in the cup and with elastic on the edges of the cups, I will feel pretty secure in the bra. The cups fit much better than before. My wire size has not really changed.

I decided to make the bra using my duoplex fabric.

Since making these changes, I do see that the apex isn’t quite as forward as it could be. I will move my straps a bit closer to the bridge to maybe help get my apex closer to the centre and not splay to my sides. I will also try to move the lower cup seam a bit to the centre as well so the fullness is shifted a bit. I also decided to split the bottom 2 cup pieces into 3 to see how that distributes the fullness. I also think that the shape will look a bit better like that. Additionally, I added a slight bit more to the upper cup where the elastic is attached as well as a bit more in the lower cup.

I have to say, though, that this bra is as close to perfect and comfortable as I have gotten in my entire bramaking journey.

I’m pretty pleased with the bra in terms of sewing. What a difference a machine makes. My Singer is way more capable of handing the materials and maintaining control. It’s not 100% perfect. I mean, what is? But it is way way better than my last bra in terms of sewing.

Materials are duoplex, firm powernet, lace, elastics and hook and eye closures.

I am in a lingerie making kick lately along with wanting to make all the pjs. I’m working on a bralette pattern that will hopefully work and I am tweaking my underwear pattern to have panels that will work well with lace or powernet.

Prep School Bra

I recently finished a bra that reminds me of a prep school blazer.

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Funny enough when I googled “prep school blazer” one popped up that was the exact blazer I had in mind when I put the colours for this bra together. I totally want to make a blazer like this sometime this year, too.

 

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Yellow and navy are one of my favourite colour combinations. Others include: white and orange, hot pink and black, dusty rose and brown, grey and mauve, orange and hot pink, turquoise and hot pink, white and cerulean blue. I could go on but I will stop there. You get the idea. I have some favourite colour combinations. Apparently a lot of them…

This bra is made with a new cloned bra pattern. I used a different Elomi bra this time. When I was buying RTW bras, I was a huge Elomi fan. They fit me almost perfectly and I found their sizing reliable. This bra has a split upper cup with the top part in a sheer cup lining. It makes the bra lines really nice. I had two of these bras left in rotation: black and beige. My main issue with the Elomi bras was the boring colours my local store had available in the humungo sizes I needed. Recently, I retired my beige bra after another tear in the powernet. It was three years old and worn very frequently. I used that bra to clone. I followed my usual method with the pins. Check out the tutorial here. Here is the original bra:

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I had some issues with the pattern. I guess I didn’t walk the lines of the pattern enough and had some mismatching. I’ll be sure to remedy that for the next version.

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My main fabric was a dark navy lace. It looks black in most of the pictures, but is navy blue. I used sheer cup lining from Arte Crafts to line the entire bra and for the upper cup. The sheer cup lining is nylon and needs a lower heat on your iron. It can be ironed on a low heat. I forgot to change my iron settings and melted the first two pieces I sewed. Easily cut out the pieces again and turned my iron down. Oops. The navy lace was horrible to sew with. I forgot how much I hate lace like that! It has heavy threads through the flowers and shapes to make them pronounced. My machine hated them and kept tangling the thread and eating the lace. I used a bit of a longer stitch and mostly remedied the issue, but found it was still occasionally catching. A ball point needle helped. I would have thought that a sharp would be better, but the ball point was better for this lace. The sheer cup lining on the other hand was a dream to sew with and went together very well. I used the ball point needle on it too and it worked really well. No catching or tangling or eating of the fabric whatsoever. I have to say the lining is amazing. It looks and feels exactly like the lining in the upper cup of my Elomi bra. I’m very impressed. I have this in white and black and think I might be lining all my bras from now on. For the lace bra, it does give extra support, but in any bra it would be a lovely finish.

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Other supplies I used are cream powernet and a blush hook/eye from Blackbird Fabrics, 3/4 strap/band elastic in white and rose gold rings/sliders from Arte Crafts and stashed yellow fold over elastic (from a shop on etsy that I can’t remember the name of and I am too lazy to look in my purchases from two years ago for…). The bows were purchased from eBay. Again too lazy to search for the seller. Both FOE and bows are easily found on those sites.

The straps and hook and eye went together a lot better. I’ve definitely stopped having trouble with those. Helps that I am being more vigilant about cleaning my machine. The switch to a zigzag stitch helps as well.

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I just love the yellow details. It makes the bra perfect for me.

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Let’s talk fit. The bra I cloned it from fit well but was a little bit small in the lower cup. I didn’t want to make an alteration to the pattern without trying it in this fabric. The bra fits okay, but it can definitely use more room in the lower cup to let the bridge sit against my chest.

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It definitely wearable, but not perfect. I do love that split upper cup. I think it makes a nice push up effect. It will look even better with a bit more room in the lower cup and a little shaved off the upper cup in the horizontal line. The apex does need to be moved slightly, but that will be taken care of when I add more into the lower cup.

I really love this bra and can’t wait to make the blush bra with Emerald Erin’s kit copying her Parisian bra. Mine won’t have as low of a front, but there will be a gathered upper cup. The whole thing will be lined with sheer cup lining in white so this was a great test for it.

Blush bra kit

In other news, I made new curtains for our kitchen:

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The material is a cerulean blue polyester. When the sun comes through this window, it makes the whole room look purple. It’s wonderful.

I also made several pairs of Barrie Briefs.

2 pairs of these:

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Made with leftover merino wool jersey. These are super soft knickers!

2 pairs of these:

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Same pink spandex material as the first pair but with mint lace this time.

1 pair of these:

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I used the cream lace leftover from my wedding dress, a wide black lace for the band and narrow black lace for the legs.

1 pair of these:

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Made with a poly spandex jersey and white lace. I also made some tights with the same material:

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Unfortunately, my toes tore through them on the second wear. Sharp toes, I guess… I do trim my nails… Anyway, I am planning on mending and reinforcing the toe. I’ll tell you more about the tights another day. I plan on making some more and talking about how to make them.

This weekend I am planning on working on my Three’s a Charm jacket. Hopefully that will be done and ready for review for you next week! 🙂

Progress Report

First off, check out the interview I did as part of Muse Pattern’s Meet the Maker series! It was a blast to be a part of. You all know I’m a big Muse Patterns fan. I’m also a pattern tester, but I wouldn’t be doing that if I didn’t love them. 🙂

Second, one of the things about working through a super long list of sewing like I have on my honeymoon plans is finding time when I am not sewing to actually take pictures of my finished products. It’s pretty difficult, actually. Add to that chronic pain. Add to that full time job. Add to that not ignoring my husband or stepkids. Add to that eating, sleeping, improv comedy, etc. It’s not my preference to share cell phone pictures, but I’ve decided to do that for a few of them since otherwise I will have far too many pictures to take at once. Some I will save for better pictures and full pattern reviews, but some will be in posts like this, because I am sewing too fast for blogging right now.

In the inane and boring category, I sewed a bunch of leggings. They weren’t part of my plans, but I recently retired three pairs of leggings and then took a closer look at the remaining ones and saw that I had very little time left with them as well. RIP leggings. I usually buy my leggings from Old Navy on sale, because they tend to be a lot cheaper than buying the fabric. But I’ve decided to not give in to fast fashion and make them myself. I had to buy some fabric for this, but I went to the clearance section at Fabricland and bought a bunch for actually much less than the Old Navy sale leggings would have been.

I used my Old Navy leggings as a template for a pattern and got to cutting my muslin.

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Of course, my muslin is in a shiny spandex… Hahha. They turned out okay. A little small in the butt due to the stretch in the spandex.

My next version was in snake skin print:

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These fit so well.

My next two are black and black with white polkadots:

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Unfortunately the fabric isn’t that great and was a lot thinner than I expected. The pair on the right might actually be a wadder sadly.

I’ve got some stretchier and thicker material (read: better material) for my next four (two pairs of the gray):

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On to the next:

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I made a pair of lace underwear using a tutorial. I’m not going to link to it, because I really didn’t follow it correctly. Hahha. Ever the rebel. The underwear are okay and fit well, but the lace is a bit scratchy.

I have a ton more Kitschy Coo Barrie Briefs cut out and ready for sewing. I sewed one pair, but the stretch percentage made it a wadder. I test for these things. Sounds like I don’t, but I do. But with fitted garments like knickers even a slight difference makes the fit go wonky. Ugh. Luckily, it wasn’t a huge amount of wasted time. The knickers looked good, though. Totally forgot to take a picture of them, though.

In geeky things I made:

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This smoking hat reminiscent of Dumbledore’s hat in the Harry Potter movies.

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Why? Because my husband was playing Dumbledore in a local show called Potterprov. I, of course, was ill both times he played. Nerd fail.

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I made the hat with some fleece on the inside to give the satin body. I just stuck a band on a round piece of fabric otherwise and serged the whole thing. It’s fast and easy not right….

I made some other garments:

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A Jenna cardi hacked into a sweater using this tutorial on the Muse Patterns blog. I refashioned my Fall Moneta from years ago. I used the sleeves cut a bit shorter into 3/4 length. The skirt became the sweater, except for the band which was from the bodice. I did make the band a bit longer so it fit over my high-waisted skirts without any issue.

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Next up a Snapdragon skirt from Tenterhook Patterns made in cream suiting with pastel threads throughout.

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This was a UFO for a while and made in the last days of February as part of the Monthly Stitch UFO theme. I think I cut this skirt out back in December or perhaps even earlier along with this version:

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The wool I used for this one is red with black and grey plaid stripes.  It’s a thick winter skirt, but will be nice for brisk Spring or Fall days. Right now I am writing up a review of the skirt for the Curvy Sewing Collective. I’ll let you know when that is out. Of course, I will also take much better pictures then.

I am also sporting my new vee neck Jenna Cardi using the expansion pack that Muse Patterns released a short while ago. This is made in the merino wool sent to me as my prize for the Muse Loves Merino contest for my Gryffindor cardi. This post is all about Muse Patterns love, it seems. I’m okay with that.

Up next, I am working on my next pair of Style Arc Misty Jeans in actual jeans fabric. I added front pockets and a waist stay to this version:

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I was inspired by Heather’s bright jeans pockets and added some gorgeous floral and butterfly fabric to make my insides pretty.

The waist stay is amazing. Seriously. I am so glad I added it. I was afraid at first that it would cause the pants to not fit well because of the lower stretch, but they fit so well. I’m very impressed. They suck that tummy in, too! The pockets are nice and deep for my phone and keys and whatever else I need. I drafted a waistband for the jeans, as well. It hasn’t been attached yet, but that’s happening tonight. I made a few other alterations to the pattern this time for fit: shortened the front crotch curve, full bum adjustment, and a large calf adjustment.

I also topstitched with purple thread!

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Some errors there, since my machine isn’t that great with heavy fabric, but it looks good to me and totally fine on. I’m a bit annoyed that the back yoke is slightly mismatched causing the pockets to be slightly out of line with each other, but I am not unpicking the seam since it looks fine on and my butt looks amazing in these jeans. Haha.

I’m working through my honeymoon wardrobe list pretty nicely. I have all the pattern alterations done for my Waffle Pattern’s Pepernoot coat. Graded up two sizes and did an FBA for a crazy amount of pattern pieces. I’m tempted to skip the muslin stage and just get started, but I will make the muslin. Sigh…. Being good is haaard.

I got faux fur for the coat and purchased zippers as well. I plan on making the faux fur trim on the hood removable with buttons and button holes. I think it should be an easy pattern hack. I might post a tutorial, if people are interested.

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I also got a bunch of bias tape, because I went a bit nuts that day in Fabricland. I do have plans to grade up the Sewaholic Tofino pants and make a bunch of pj pants, though. Bias tape is always useful, too, and it wasn’t expensive either. My zipper for is a two way separating zipper and heavy duty. It’s going to be a durable coat!

I settled on pink plaid for my Pepernoot coat. I’d like to make the red plaid version in the future if it turns out I love this pattern.

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I’m also going to use a brown wool I have for the pockets, yoke, and sleeve tabs, because I adore contrasting details.

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The wool on the bottom there will be the contrast. I want to play with stripe direction, too, for the heck of it. I just need to get interfacing for the coat and then I have all the materials ready to go.

I got my first Decades Everyday Three’s a Charm Jacket cut out in black with pink polkadots fabric. I think it’s cotton, but I haven’t tested it. I had just enough fabric for this by cutting the back with a seam along the selvage. I will have to cut the facings out of some black fabric I have, though.

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I was tempted to use the wrong side of the fabric since it is also fun, but I will sew it using the right side since polkadots. It’s a very soft fabric so I am leaving it unlined for this wearable muslin. Future version will be in plaid so I need to draft a lining for the pattern.

I also couldn’t resist getting the new Decades Everyday pattern, the Buttons and Bows blouse even with the horrible Canadian dollar. I need to resist making it up this second, though. I’m becoming a Decades Everyday fan and I haven’t even completed a garment yet! I own three of their patterns now, including the ESP dress. I just love vintage style, but need it in modern sizing. I am outside of the size range, but just need an FBA and a large bicep adjustment for their patterns since their largest conforms to my high bust measurement. So far I am impressed with their patterns. There’s a lot of thought in them and nice details I don’t see often in indie patterns.

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I’ve got this massive pile left to go for things on my planning list before I can tackle that blouse pattern. I seem to be sewing at an insane pace, though, so I think I can get a good amount done by the end of the month. Imagine if I had it all done by the end of the month?! In my dreams… I do have to sleep and eat and work and pay attention to my family…

Can anyone spare some extra time?

 

Maya Bra

Oh you were expecting a non-lingerie post…. I’m the worst. I swear I have a bunch of non-lingerie garments to share. I just need to find the time to take pictures. Sooooon.

This was originally posted on the Curvy Sewing Collective for Lingerie Month.

Today I am reviewing the free (YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT!) Maya Bra pattern from AFI. AFI wrote a great post about why she made this a free pattern. It’s worth a read. I’m extremely happy about the free part since most bra patterns are $15-$20 plus shipping in some circumstances.

The Maya bra is a three piece foam cup bra with lining and an outer fabric as well as a full cradle and band wings. AFI includes different band wing pieces for a 2 eye hook and a 3 eye hook, as well as pieces for the foam cups and the lining/main fabric cups. This saves time changing a pattern for bigger hooks and takes the guess work out of removing seam allowances for the foam pieces.

The size range is extensive and AFI adds new sizes all the time. There is a range from EU 60C/ UK 28C / US 28C to EU 100J/ UK 44GG/ US 44J in letter size and A4 size in English and Romanian. If your size isn’t available for download, simply comment on the download page and ask when that size will be added. AFI is pretty responsive to comments.

To choose your size, you need to know two things: rib cage measurement and wire size. There is a guide on how to measure and how to choose your size along with downloadable wire charts.

I am a 40H in some RTW bra sizes. But I didn’t choose my size based on that. I followed the guide on how to measure. I measured my ribcage at 44 inches and used my wire size 60 that I’ve found to be comfortable in other bras I’ve made. Based on that, I sit at the very end of the size range with a US 44J. I printed off that size and got to work.

Using Emerald Erin’s tutorial on how to piece the foam cups, I found sewing the foam cups went well. The foam pattern pieces have the seam allowance taken out saving you that job. You butt the pieces together with no overlap and use a satin stitch to sew them together. Using the satin stitch in Erin’s tutorial, I was able to put the foam cups together very quickly and the seam is super strong. At this point, you can sort of hold the cups up to your breasts and test a bit of the fit. Unfortunately, it won’t give you a really clear indication of how the cups will really fit since there will be all sorts of factors affecting the fit (gravity being the big one). With bra making, you test the fit when it is all done. It can be a costly endeavor to fit a bra pattern.

You can compare with other bras to get a general idea of fit. I was sewing another bra during one of my versions and able to do a bit of comparison:

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These are pretty close in size which is a good sign.

The instructions are great for novice bra makers to follow along with. However, they aren’t complete just yet. AFI is working on them all the time. Unless you have experience sewing a bra, I wouldn’t suggest you begin with this pattern as the instructions aren’t complete. Once they are though, I think a novice bra maker could follow them easily; AFI provides pictures and clear instructions for the steps that are available. You will need to have some experience with sewing to sew a bra. Beverly Johnson says that as long as you can set a sleeve, you can sew a bra. Think of that as your beginning point.

Construction process was easy. I did disagree with the materials required. AFI uses cotton fabric for the cradle and the lining, stretch lace for the bands, neoprene for the cups, etc. These are good materials when someone is making a bra for a smaller bust and band, but the materials need to be a bit better when making a bra for a larger bust. Instead, I used no lining fabric (I suggest you do line it with sheer cup lining, though; I was lazy and would definitely line it in any future versions), a stretch satin for the main fabric and one layer of the cradle and stretch lace for my 3rd version with black duoplex on the cradle, lined my cradle with sheer cup lining, and doubled powernet for the band wings. It also suggests boning for the sides where the cradle and the band wings meet. I’ve had this in bras before and found it horribly uncomfortable so I left it out, but I did put channeling in that location and that provides enough support to keep the sides from wrinkling.

Version #1

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The first version I made was very large in the upper cup. While I am full all over, I do seem to have a shallow upper cup and a narrow shoulder. Since the method for measuring yourself doesn’t take into account the bust measurements and instead goes by the wire measurements, it does have a much larger cup than may be necessary for your two measurements. My upper cup ended up being far too large. The lower cup seemed okay in that first version, but it was difficult to gauge that. I had more than two inches of excess fabric in the upper cup on each side. The bridge (where the wires meet between your breasts) was also coming away from my chest quite a bit. The band was a little big as well.

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Here is a front-on picture without the excess pinned out and then a picture with the excess pinned out. You can see the difference. The bridge comes away from my chest, but that is difficult to get a picture of.

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Here is a wonky side picture to show you the wrinkling in the band indicating that it is too large.

Version # 2

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For my next version, I removed two inches from the upper cup and one inch from the band. I noticed in the this version that the lower cup didn’t have enough room. It created quite the push up bra experience and was fine to wear for a day, but since the bridge sat away from my body by an inch or two, it was rather uncomfortable by the end of the day. Under the arm came up too high in this version, however, and is a little uncomfortable.

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Not as much excess in the upper cup, but the bridge still comes away from my body.

Very little wrinkling in the side, if any. You can see a bit of the push up effect of the bra by the cleavage happening there.

Here is a comparison of the previous version with this one:

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The upper cup of the first version is folding inside the upper cup of this version.

I added a nice little detail for this bra since I was pretty happy with it:

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Version #3

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For my third version, I increased the volume in the lower cup, narrowed the bridge, and decreased the upper cup yet again. And then I made a disaster sewing… I decided to just make the pieces for the main fabric and trim the seam allowances once I cut out the foam. I definitely did not trim them enough and had to rip the cups out after I sewed up the bra. My seam ripper broke after the first cup and then I used a knife. That turned out to be a great idea and I got the other cup out in half the time. Now I have a knife in my sewing room. Quite the badass here. When I resewed the bra, the issues seemed to be almost the same as the previous version: not enough room in the lower cup and the bridge sits away from my body. The fit it better under the arm, though, and the issues are better albeit in minor ways.

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No wrinkles on the band, but you can really see the bridge issue in this version. Probably due to the fabric choices and not lining the bra with a non-stretch lining. There is also definitely not enough room added to those lower cups.

Here is a comparison of this version with the first version:

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The bigger first version is super squished inside the third version.

Conclusions

I think the Maya bra fit me a lot better than the first time I made the Pin Up Girl Classic bra. Helps that I am using a wire size that is comfortable for me. Maya definitely flatters much better and has a nice round shape instead of the pointy shape of the Classic bra. Except for the upper cup being far too wide, the fit was pretty good. The bridge being too wide is a common issue I have, as well as it not sitting against my chest completely. This is true in RTW. There is a very narrow space between my breasts and it’s difficult to fit for that and still have enough space for the channeling and wires.

I know I will eventually get the right fit with the Maya bra. In the meantime, I’m not using up too much in materials since I can pull apart the bigger bras and try again. I will make the pattern again since it is such a nice shape and the foam really pushes my breasts up. The whole push up bra thing is a novelty in my size!

My advice for anyone trying out this pattern is to compare that upper cup to a bra that fits you well in that area and see whether you need to take it in first. I think the upper cup is likely the part that would not fit for a lot of people unless they have very very full breasts that haven’t felt the effects of gravity ever. Since none of us are lucky enough to live in zero gravity, we’ll have to deal with upper cup adjustments. The bridge may also be too wide. Again compare it to a well fitting bra and adjust before making your first version. There are some things we can do to alter bra patterns before we sew them. If you need some help figuring out some basic bra pattern adjustments, Norma Loehr’s Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction has a section on bra pattern adjustments based on the fit issue. There are also many amazing tips in the first Beverly Johnson Craftsy class. Or you can check out these Cloth Habit posts: cup adjustments, and band and frame adjustments.

With bras, the larger the cup, the more adjustments and failed bras you will go through. Sorry everyone… BUT! You can always baste the entire bra together to get the idea of how it will fit before completing the bra. Compare to your other bras to see if the fit will be similar. The important thing to remember is that even though the fitting curve is steeper with large bras, once you get a good fit, you can make all the bras at a lower cost in most cases than RTW. My RTW bras cost me between $60 and $200. The bras I cloned were $80 bras. In comparison, my materials cost me on average $25-$30. If I do factor in labour costs, I actually end up with a $150-$200 value bra for the price of $25-$30. That is a pretty sweet dollar savings and I get the bonus of having a custom bra in my style. Even cloning a RTW bra, it took me until about the fifth one before I could say it was really good. There are always fit issues. With bras, you have to be a lot more precise. My advice to you is to take it slow, be patient, and not get discouraged. Also, feel free to tag me or message me privately on Instagram to ask for help. I love talking bramaking! There are also two great private facebook groups where you can ask a bunch of people for help: Bra Making Forum and Bra Makers – Beginners through Intermediate. You can always use the contact page on my blog and we can chat through email as well.

Size Range (1-5): 5
Instructions (1-5): 3.5 (5 for the ones that are complete, but lost marks due to incompleteness of final steps)
Construction Process (1-5): 4
Final Fit (1-5): 3.5
Overall Rating (1-5) + Explanation: 4

The Maya bra is a great foam cup bra pattern with an impressive size range and an amazing shape. It is unfortunate that the instructions aren’t complete just yet and that places it in the intermediate bra making experience zone. Once the instructions are complete, I can see it being a good place for beginner bra makers to start. Not for beginner sewers, though. You need to have enough experience to confidently set a sleeve to be able to sew a bra.

Garden Bra

Yep, more lingerie. I am not sorry for this! I love it! That being said, I will have a v-neck Jenna cardi and a Jenna top to share with you soon.

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This is my latest cloned bra, the Garden bra.

Why the Garden bra?

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I have an entire garden of little flowers sewn to the bridge and some lovely floral lace.

For this version, I added some to the power bar. Big mistake. I thought this might help with lift and push the girls forward, but it didn’t sadly. The good thing is that I still have my previous pattern pieces and can go back.

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It’s a little bit of a frumpier look with the girls going a bit more sideways. There is very little vertical stretch in the lace, too, which causes that horizontal line to look a little bit wonky. I look fine wearing this under a dress, though:

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I probably would have been better off to line the power bar with a sheer cup lining for extra support. For now, though, I am moving forward. I recently had to retire a different Elomi bra from the rotation and decided to clone it, because I am having trouble parting with it. The upper cup is split into two pieces with the top half in non-stretch sheer cup lining. Since I want to copy Erin’s Parisian bra, I will be using this pattern and putting the gathered bra tulle into the upper cup. I’ve made a “test” version in sheer cup lining and navy lace and will be sewing that up before CSC lingerie month is up.
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Then I am taking a break from sewing bras, because that will make 7 bras this year… I do want to sew a couple more before the honeymoon, though, but those can wait. I’ve got my pepernoot coat to work on. I’m almost done the flat pattern adjustments and ready for the muslin! There were a lot of pattern pieces to adjust.

I’m happy to announce that the hook and eye installation went so much better for this version after all the feedback I got before. I cleaned out my machine. There was an entire dust bunny in there! I put on a new needle before sewing this part. I’m using a zigzag stitch now and it looks great.

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I made another bra after that (my third Maya bra) and it went even better. The strap elastic also went on better there and I got much better in the Maya bra (review for that will be posted on the Curvy Sewing Collective this week) as well. I’m feeling pretty confident after all this crazy bra sewing.

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Of course, no bra of mine is complete without at least one sewing error. Look at that wonky shit on the power bar above the lace. Hahaha. Oh my!

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How weird do these bras look hanging on a hanger? My band can’t even close because it’s so much smaller than my cup and the wire is huge in comparison, but somehow this thing looks just fine and is comfortable as a pillow on.