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. ūüėČ

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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! ūüôā

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.

The Wedding Lingerie

Well, my plans for the lingerie ended up all over the place. I did make the bra and I will be making the camisole, but left out the tap shorts and the underwear. I just didn’t want to fiddle with the bottoms and have been feeling stressed by it and not wanting to do it. Instead, I bought some white stretchy shorts with lace on the bottoms and some lace underwear to match my bra. I will blog about the camisole another time and include a review. The pattern I am using for the camisole is the Savannah camisole from Seamwork mag. So, this post just includes my bra. Oh the grand plans that come down to one thing while I co-plan a wedding…

The Bra:

Since making my cloned Elomi bra, I was pretty psyched to get to making another bra with the tweaks to the pattern. Before making the bra for my wedding, though, I had to make another test bra.

From the last bra, I shortened the band, narrowed the bridge, increased the lower cup and accounted for the stretch in the lace for the upper cup. I also shortened and narrowed the straps.

Outside:

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Inside:

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The “test” bra is in fuchsia duoplex, black powernet, and fuchsia elastics/findings from Bra Maker’s Supply and black and fuchsia stretch lace from a local store. The fit is almost perfect. The band ended up tighter than I expected, but still okay. Not uncomfortable unless I eat a big meal. The bridge still doesn’t sit flat in this version. It’s a little difficult to understand how this bra works in the flat version. The stretch lace is narrow at the top so the bra looks like the straps are close together. On me, however, they are in the correct position. To give you an idea of that, I put the bra cup on a balloon:

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It’s hilarious to me that the balloon is still not big enough for that cup and I still find the cup a little small…

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Unfortunately, the lace in this version got a couple little holes in it when I washed it.

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The other thing I realized was how bulky the bottom cup seam is where the powernet of the band and the duoplex/lace of the bridge meet. I doubled the powernet in the band, which also meant that the bra was more supportive, but I also doubled the duoplex in the bridge, as well, to ensure the support there, too.

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Super bulky seam that I didn’t trim down. The sewing is less than stellar in that area. The problem with sewing with duoplex and powernet and lace is that ripping out seams is almost impossible without destroying the fabric so I left it. My technique only gets better with every bra so I know this will be remedied in future versions.

The other issue I seem to have with the sewing is in the straps:

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The straps are sewn to the powernet with a double lightening stitch. This one is actually better than my wedding bra version, but you can see that I didn’t quite catch the powernet in the second row. In spite of using pins, the three layers move about a lot. I need to figure out how to improve my technique there. It works, but I am worries about the longevity of the bra in that area.

The other thing to note is how narrow the bridge is:

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The underwires actually overlap in this area, but I have no issue with comfort from that.

For my wedding bra, I left out the lace on the bridge and made sure I clipped the seams to reduce the bulk. I clipped one side of the doubled duoplex and powernet so that I was only sewing over one of each within the 1/4 inch seam allowance. I also further increased the lower cup and the upper cup. I decided not to increase the band, but I have done it for the next version, including increasing the upper cup and lower cup again. Geez, how big are my boobs?!

You can see the seam is much smoother on this version:

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This version is an even better fit. The bridge is almost flat against my breastbone (only a 1/4 inch out now). I haven’t spent a lot of time wear it, because I am saving it for my wedding mostly. I did wear it for a day last week to make sure I wouldn’t have a problem for my wedding day, though. It fits will and is very pretty. The only issue is I derped and put in the hook and eye wrong so I will be fixing it this weekend, because I can’t hook it very well this way since I am used to the other way.

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Here are more balloon pictures:

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You can see that the cup is even bigger in this version, because of the bagginess in the cup against the balloon.

Here are some lovely detail shots:

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Oh and the crappy job I did on the straps (even worse than the last time!):

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The interesting comparison here is this bra to the original cloned one:

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It’s pretty similar in terms of length.

Here are all my cloned bras so far with the most recent on top:

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I feel like they are getting a lot better with every step. I’m really pleased to see my skill increase. So much more room to grow (damn straps), but it’s getting there.

From here, I basically want to make all the bras. I will hold off for a while, though…cuz wedding…and see how these wear. I have enough materials for another two bras minus one pair of wires. Then in the future, I’m hoping to try foam bras and bras for my swimwear plans.

Also in the series:

April: The Wedding Dress, pt. 1: The Design, the Muslin, the Fabric, and the Outfit

May: The Wedding Dress, pt. 2: Construction and Details

June: The Flower Girl’s Dress and Sash

Stay tuned for:

July: Wedding!

The Wedding Dress, pt. 3: The Reveal and the Day.

Seamwork’s Florence Lounge Bra

Disclaimer: there is swearing in this post.

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I sort of knew going into this project that it might fail horribly. I have huge boobs, after all, and the phrase “lounge bra” as Seamwork calls it doesn’t really fit with huge boobs, even if my measurements are within the pattern’s specifications. I wanted to try it out, though, because I had some scraps lying around and it doesn’t hurt to try things and watch them fail. It’s all a learning experience.

I really like the idea of Florence, I do. I also have a major crush on the model, Sierra McKenzie. Most of her stuff is nsfw, fyi, btw. So google her carefully or don’t, whatever. ūüėČ Anyone else giggle when they say they are googling someone or is that just me? It sounds oddly dirty.

Anyway…..

I was pretty excited for the lingerie issue of Seamwork and the two patterns. The Geneva knickers are also really cute, but I had a good pattern already. Florence, however, took me in. I want a lounge bra: something to wear at home or to bed and feel supported but not restrained. Florence isn’t really that unless you do major changes for larger cup sizes.

In the larger sizes, the cup increases length-wise, as well as in the width. It’s a significant increase length-wise. Based on the line drawing, I wouldn’t have thought that it would be such a long cup, but in the larger sizes it is very long.

The instructions have very little information in them as well as an odd instruction or two that made me question the process all together.

First off, there is no instruction on stretch percentage. The fabric is simply listed as 6″ stretch lace, but there is no guidance given in terms of stretch percentage. I have four stretch laces in my stash that vary from 20% – 150% stretch. That’s quite a difference. Not all stretch lace is considered equal, either; some can be higher quality than others and have perfect recovery while others have shit recovery. I decided that my lace was either too stretch or not stretchy enough and figured for my first Florence I wouldn’t risk using any of it and instead went with a spandex that had a good stretch/body to it. You saw it before with my gold Moneta.

Second, there is a far easier method to creating the adjustable straps than the one listed in the instructions. Here is the easier method via Madalynne. I was taught this way in my bra class and the method in the instructions, which is here, kind of makes my head spin. You can still attach the extra bit of elastic to the other side of bra ring after or before, but why go through the trouble of sewing the slider bit around other bits of elastic, when you can make a much neater bar tack without all that crap in the way?

Third, I find it very unlikely that they tested this for the larger sizes.

Fourth, I think the band runs really large. So test your fit before you put the elastic in. In comparing the Geneva knickers to my pattern, I also see those run rather large….and there might possibly be an overall issue in both patterns and how they are graded up.

Of course, I know I am not a typical size in my chest, but I doubt this works for larger bust sizes (1X-3X). That’s the problem with lounge bras, I guess, they cater to small busted women, which is great…for small busted women.

I guess I have a problem with creating a pattern for a certain size when it won’t work without proper guidance on stretch percentage or possibly reinforcing with powernet or etc.

If you want the Florence to work for you and you have a large bust like me, be prepared to do a ton of shit to make it work.

Things you might want to do to make the Florence work for a larger bust:

1. Line it with powernet.

2. Add in a closure at the back so that you don’t have to stretch it over your head, because the powernet won’t be as stretchy as the lace.

3. Extend the bridge length slightly so that the cup is more supported underneath.

4. Shorten the cup length, if you have to. I would have to, because I have short shoulders (wait, is that a thing…. I dunno how to describe it…) and the bra cup extended to the back….

5. Drink lots of wine.

6. Repeat #5 until you forget what you are doing.

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*please drink responsibly*

I think I will just get a sports bra pattern from Pin-Up Girls and toss this in the garbage. The nice thing is that I didn’t use much new material for it. No big loss there. ūüôā

Honestly, I am glad for fuck-ups like this, because they help me learn. I learned more about sewing with spandex and using elastic in lingerie. It was a nice learning experience even if the pattern didn’t work out for me. ūüôā

Here is a picture of my Florence. I literally got to a point when I didn’t care about creating a perfect finished product….so the sewing isn’t great, because I just used it as an opportunity to try new stitches and play with elastic methods…

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TL:DR Review

  • Pattern:¬†Seamwork’s Florence lounge bra
  • Pros:¬†Great for small busts….maybe? Not for large boobs…
  • Cons:¬†Errything. Too much to put here.
  • Make again?:¬†NOPE.
  • Rating:¬†white-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-mdwhite-star-black-md o/5 stars

Attack of the Bra Clone!

I’m not a Star Wars fan (I don’t mind it, but I am a fan of Star Trek all the way; I prefer technical scifi), but I can never resist a geeky reference in a blog title or anywhere really.

Disclaimer: This is the post of lists….. So many lists in this post. I like lists.

Long time no post btw. I lost my sewjo for a bit, but it was a busy non-sewing February so I don’t feel bad for taking a break from sewing. After all I made in January, it was good to have a break.

I made my first bra back in November and didn’t return to bramaking. I got a lot of “when are you making another bra?” questions from my surprisingly interested fiance and I gave him a lot of “um….after this thing….” and then it would be after the thing and I’d start another thing. I put off making another bra, because…to be perfectly honest…I hated my first one. I wear it, but it’s not comfortable at all.

Here are the issues I had with it:

1. The underwire is too small: pokes into my arm and cuts into the breast tissue on the side.

2. The bridge doesn’t sit against my chest.

3. The band is too big and the underwires under my cup don’t sit flat.

4. The cup doesn’t fit snugly under my arm.

5. The cup is not big enough and the shape doesn’t work for me.

6. The straps are too long and don’t provide enough support.

I have been feeling pretty discouraged by the whole process. I have three RTW bras that fit me almost perfectly, but they are wearing out and I refuse to buy more bras when I have all this material waiting to be transformed into bras…

Here are my issues with my RTW bras:

1. The cup doesn’t fit snugly enough under my arm.

2. The upper cup isn’t large enough, but the lower cup is perfect.

3. The bridge doesn’t sit against my chest.

There are two solutions to these problems:

1. Stretch the elastic a little tighter on the cup under the arm and possibly raise the underarm scoop slightly.

2. Heighten the upper cup.

3. Increase the cup size (possibly fixed by heightening the upper cup).

I don’t even want to get into all that would need to be done with the other pattern. I got it in my head that I wanted to make a pattern out of my RTW bras and then tweak from there. Of course, I had no idea how to do that and, being a beginner or advanced beginner at best, I felt pretty ill-equipped to handle such a task.

So I researched it:

I started searching for solutions to this and looking at my first made bra with a critical eye. I read Norma Loehr’s Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction over and over and then researched boob shapes and what I needed to help the girls out. Luckily, I found¬†Anne at the¬†Clothing Engineer and all sorts of wonderful links and posts there. Her post on why the Marlborough didn’t work for her really enlightened why the classic bra from pin up girl patterns doesn’t work for me (it can work for a lot of people, but just isn’t good for my shape). Anne¬†posted a link to boob shapes from Linda Unhooked and I found out why the classic bra didn’t work for me.

I’m a full circle:

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Which means I am just full everywhere: on top, underneath, on the side. I have big round girls and they fill in bras. In RTW, I am a 38-40HH. The bra I cut out for my class was a 48F: way too big in the band and way too small in the cup. I think the major issue with where they fit me was that they didn’t accommodate the side boob I have from being super full everywhere and so the RTW bra at the time they considered ill-fitting because the wire went back so far and the wire was bent out of shape from almost two years of wear (I wear my bras until they literally fall apart, because they are so expensive). Of course, I should have spoken up at the time. I’m actually really shy in a lot of situations and don’t speak up enough, especially when it comes to things I am unsure about like bra fitting or time travel paradox or particle acceleration. I liked where the RTW underwire was located and wanted to keep it that way and should have stated that. Of course, that means having a fuller cup. Overall, I just don’t feel like the classic bra is structured enough for the fullness of my girls and felt the support wasn’t there.

What bras work for me?:

Bras with more room in the upper cup and bras with something I now know is called a power bar (thanks Megan!).

My RTW bras are all Elomi bras with a similar shape like this:

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This is the Caitlyn side support bra. The power bar is the cup piece along the side of the cup closer to the underarm; it extends from the lower cup to the upper cup and includes the strap attachment. There are two pieces to the lower cup and then a wide upper cup that extends above both lower cups. The power bar is meant to provide extra support and push the girls forward. Two lower cup pieces provide a structured shape and the large upper cup provides enough coverage to avoid the dreaded quad booooob!!!! Scary stuff there. This is the perfect shaped bra for me. (edit: the Shelley full band bra from Pin up Girl patterns is basically the same as the Elomi bra above, if you are looking for a similar pattern with the two piece lower cup. I meant to talk about this in the post, but realized later I left out this tidbit.)

Why is cloning a bra a better option for me than buying?:

1. Elomi bras range from $70-$200 for me at my local specialty bra store here in Canada in my size.

2. Online shipping/custom charges from the States or UK don’t save me any money on the above costs even with great sales which do not happen often.

3. Limited choice of colours and styles (I like a rainbow of colours and can only seem to get black and beige here in Canada most of the time…)

4. Working with a cloned bra as a base means more options, cheaper options, and a heck of a lot happier Andie.

So, I set out to clone my Elomi bra.

Seeing how Anne cloned her Panache bra set me on a mission. I investigated methods and chose the pins in a cork board or, in my case, cardboard method from her post. Michelle’s creations also show pictures of this process in her post. Apparently the Bra Maker’s Manual has a chapter on cloning a bra, but I have yet to buy this book.

You first have to take the underwires out of your bra. This can be done without destroying the bra, but luckily I had a bra with the underwires popped out already from it being worn out. Then you pin it with tissue paper between the cardboard and the bra. Pin close to the seamlines around each piece very carefully (those pin holes will connect the dots for your bra pattern. You may also want to wear a thimble. I didn’t and my finger tip is numb now. Bad decision Andie.

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After you pin, you remove the pins once you are happy with it and connect the dots with a pencil. Then you add quarter inch seams around the pieces.

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(sorry, I was using my phone camera instead of the DSLR through this so the photos are not good quality…)

If you have a power bar or places where the elastic was stretched and then sewn on, be sure to get the piece to lay flat. It’s a fiddly process and requires a lot of patience. You may also want to note on the pattern pieces where the elastic was stretched so that you will get it right for your test bra.

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I had almost perfect fit the first time around with a few, but totally fixable issues.

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There were a few mistakes I made:

1. I didn’t pull the elastic tight enough in the underarm area of the power bar.

2. I didn’t install the bottom elastic properly and you can see it peaking out more than it should (you are only supposed to see the scalloped edge there). I had my classic bra pattern instructions next to me, but completely spaced on the band elastic method.

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3. I shouldn’t have added seam allowances to the bridge (the area between the cups), because I pinned on the other side of the wire (in the seam allowances) and not in between in the bridge (d’oh).

4. My machine should have been completely cleaned out and maintained before I started, because it wasn’t working well and didn’t sew properly so my stitches are messy messy messsssssy (embarrassingly so!).

5. I didn’t account for the extra stretch in the upper cup, because I didn’t use anything to stabilize it and so I made a dart in the upper cup to account for the fit.

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Overall, though, the fit is good. So much better than my first made bra, which I wear but feel very uncomfortable in. I altered the pattern pieces for the bridge (narrowed it), band slightly (just to fit the closures), and reduced the length of the upper cup from arm to bridge to account for the stretch fabric and then heightened it a little more to account for the bridge not sitting perfectly (not pictured).

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It’s not bad for my second bra imho. I’m not Lauren in terms of kicking ass at making bras (one day I will be!), but I don’t nearly match Lauren’s skill. I think it’s good for my level. Tons to learn and perfect, but I am really pleased with it. You can see the original (very worn) bra above and the cloned bra in the middle¬†with my first bra at the bottom. It’s quite a difference between the three with the best fit one in the middle: mine!

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I’m not going to plunge right into the next one, because I want to wear it and see where else I can improve the fit. I try to do this for all the things I make and I try to do this before I blog.** I find wearing a garment really changes how you think about it. There will be more issues that arise with how it wears. All in all, it’s pretty exciting to have a bra pattern to work with that I am excited for.

I plan on making a turquoise bra and a fushia bra in the below fabrics and possible laces.

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I will be making¬†some knickers.¬† I also have a good underwear pattern that I cloned from my best fitting pair of underwear. Cloning all the things! My wearable muslin fits well, but I will be making some tweaks for the next versions. I’ll talk more about that when I have a few million more pairs to show you and I’ve figured out the fit/style I want.

**I didn’t wear my white Bronte top before blogging about it and I regret it. I didn’t even pay attention to the pictures or think about the fit, because the post was mostly about the skirt and I was dazzled by the pretty insides of my top. I will talk more about this in a future post, but the neckline clearly stretched out as I sewed it. Looks nice flat, but wavy on me. ūüė¶