My Second Bra, Part 3: Putting It Together

Finally! After choosing my pattern, deciding which fabrics to use, and dyeing notions and more fabrics to coordinate, now I’m on to the really fun part: sewing it all together! Today, I’ll show you step-by-step how all the major parts are sewn together, and next time, I’ll complete my bra!

Let’s jump right in! Here, I’ve cut all my fabric pieces, and laid them out in a rough mock-up of my new bra.


 Note: In the interest of keeping this post to less-than-novella length, it’s not going to be a tutorial, exactly; it’s more in the nature of a quick overview of the steps involved in constructing a bra. In posts to come, I’ll go into a lot more detail about specific aspects of bra-making. (Remember, this is only my second bra!)

Another note: In this photo, the pieces with the print fabric, which is sheer, have already been basted to a second layer of silk, for stability as well as opacity.


Laying out my bra pieces, along with straps and other notions, helps me visualize the finished bra.
Laying out my bra pieces helps me visualize the finished bra. You can also see the blue straps, black elastic trim, and green underwire channeling (this will be on the inside of the bra). 1. Back closure (looks like this will need to be trimmed down). 2. Back band (powernet fabric). 3. Frame. Along with the bridge (6), the frame supports the cups. 4. The 3 parts of the cup: power bar (extending into strap), lower cup, and upper cup (lace). 5. Trimming the selvedge from the lace, leaving a scalloped edge for the top of the cup. 6. Bridge. This forms the support for the center of the bra, as well as under the cups.

 

Tip: Laying out the pieces in this way also helps avoid the possibility of forgetting a vital part! Don’t ask me how I know this.



Let me back up for a minute to the cutting phase. If you’re using lace for your upper cups, as I am here, think about the placement of the scallops, and about making the 2 cups symmetrical; this is one easy way to give your bra a professional finish. (Many bra manufacturers don’t bother with this detail.) Here, I’ve pinned my upper-cup pattern piece to 2 layers of lace, with the scallops of each layer lined up:

Planning scallop placement
Planning for effective placement of this lace’s scalloped edge. (The solid blue line on the pattern piece will be my cutting line.) I’ve chosen to place the 1 full scallop in the center of my upper cup piece. Note: the straight top edge of this lace will be trimmed off; you can see this in the photo above (#5).

And moving on, the first sewing step is to assemble the cups. My pattern, the Marlborough Bra from Orange Lingerie, is designed with a 3-part cup: upper cup, lower cup, and power bar. I’ll sew the upper and lower cups together first:

Upper and lower cups sewn
I’ve sewn my upper cups (lace) to the lower cups. You can already see how the curving seams are creating a 3-dimensional shape.

Now I’ll sew on the power bars.

Completing the cup with the power bar
Now that I’ve sewn the power bar to the upper-lower cup combo, my cup is complete! It’s also a little clearer at this point how the assembled cup will fit into the frame and bridge.

Here’s a detail of the topstitching on the powerbar-to-cup seam:

Topstitched power bar seam
Topstitching this seam is both decorative and structural: it helps to flatten the seam, and keeps the seam allowance from rolling over to where it would show through the lace. (The upper-to-lower cup seam is also topstitched, for the same reasons.)

 

Tip: When you’re combining fabrics with different textures and weights, as I am here, having a consistent touch like topstitching really helps to unify the overall look.


Next, I’ll stitch the frame and bridge together:

Connecting the bridge and frame
Here, I’ve sewn the little seam connecting one of the frame pieces to the bridge. (The bridge piece is lined; the horizontal line at the top of the bridge is the seam holding the lining and bridge together. All layers are basted together on the remaining raw edges for ease in handling the bridge.)

And now, I can sew the cups into the frame!

Cups sewn into frame
This is where it finally starts looking like a real bra!

Here’s a closer look:

Closeup of bridge
Detail of the bridge after sewing cups in place. Note (again) how nicely matched the scalloped edges turned out!

Now it’s time to start sewing the channeling in place; this is what will house the underwires.


 

Tip: Toward the outside edges of each cup, you can see that I’ve stopped stitching the channeling about 3/4″ from the edge of the frame; this is to facilitate sewing on the elastic trim later on. I’ll finish up that step in my next post.


Sewing channeling on the inside
All right, maybe not everyone would love bright green channeling inside their bra, but with the mostly-grey lining fabric and black lace showing on this side, I thought a touch of color would liven it up a bit! And it also relates to the color palette on the outside of this bra.

Here’s how those 2 rows of stitching look on the outside:

Detail of channeling stitching
The 2 stitching rows from sewing on the channeling look like topstitching on the outside.

And lastly (for today, that is), I’m sewing on the back bands, like so:

The band goes on!
The band goes on! This pattern specifies this should be made of powernet, the only stretch fabric in the entire bra (except for the elastic trim and straps, which I’ll cover in my next post).

Okay! The major parts of my second bra are now sewn together and looking good! Now it just needs some beautiful finishing touches (and a little hardware): straps, elastic trim, and a back closure. I’ll show you all those final bits next time, followed by step-by-step photos of making a high-waisted panty to coordinate with this bra!

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