My Second Bra, Part 4: Finishing!

In Part 3 of my second bra project, we ended after adding the back bands. Now all we have to do is add the finishing touches: elastic trim, straps, and the back closure. Then we’ll slip the underwires into place, and finish off the ends of the channeling. And I just may add a little embellishment to the center front (we’ll see).

I’ll start by adding my elastic trim to the underarm/back band edge. This technique, which you’ll see on virtually any ready-to-wear bra or panty, is done in 2 separate steps. The first is to attach the elastic, wrong side facing up (very important) to the right side of the bra, using a small zig-zag stitch, and sewing very close to the inside edge— the edge closest to the picot loops.

This piece of elastic will go from the top edge of the back band (not including the scooped-out area near center back) to the end of the outside edge of the power bar.

 Tip: You don’t want to stretch the elastic much while attaching it; a slight stretch going around the curve of the underarm helps to smooth that curve, but don’t stretch the elastic on the back band portion.

Elastic trim: sewing the first pass
After making sure your elastic side is placed with the wrong side facing up, you’ll want to align the non-picot edge of your elastic with the fabric edge. Then zig-zag-stitch as close as possible to the inside edge of the elastic. (Since I’m sewing here with black thread, it’s nearly impossible to see my stitches, so I’m representing them with the small white vees by the green arrow.)

Here’s a look at the inside view after sewing this first pass.

 Tip: I’ve pinned the channeling out of the way so I don’t accidentally sew over it! Now you can see why I didn’t stitch the channeling all the way to the underarm edge— it would have created too much bulk, added to the elastic.

Inside look at sewing elastic
The green arrow points to the first stitching pass; use a small zig-zag for this. (The other stitching line you can see that’s nearer the fabric edge is where I basted the sheer outside fabric to the snakeskin-print backing.)

Now I’m ready to finish sewing on this piece of elastic. First, I’ll flip the elastic over to the inside of the bra; you should just see the picot loops from the right side.

 Important: Before you make your second stitching pass, trim the ends of your channeling (just the ones at the sides, not in the center of the bra) so that they lie smoothly under the elastic; you can finish stitching the channeling all the way up to the elastic line at this point, or do this after your second stitching pass. Here’s what mine looks like on the inside, after completing the elastic stitching:


Finishing the underarm channeling
Here, you can see how I’ve tucked the trimmed end of my channeling neatly under the elastic, prior to sewing the second pass. Starting from where the initial stitching of the channeling left off, I’ve completed stitching the channeling the short distance up to the elastic. (If you’re wondering about the white stitching on the channeling, that part didn’t absorb any dye!)

And here’s what this area looks like on the right side, after completing the second stitching pass:

Second stitching of elastic trim
For the second stitching pass to secure the elastic trim, use a 3-step zig-zag stitch if your machine has this option; otherwise, use a fairly wide regular zig-zag. So far, I’m preferring to sew this part from the right side of the bra (as shown here), but you may find it easier to see what you’re doing with the wrong side facing you as you sew.

Next, I’ll repeat this process on the other side of my bra, as well as along the entire lower edge of the bra, with the same elastic. After that’s all done, let’s add the straps!

Pinning the strap in place
After assembling your straps with rings and sliders, attach them to the top of the power bar. (Note: Your pattern may or may not have a power bar like the Marlborough Bra does, but it will most likely have some sort of extension on the upper cup that will be the attachment point for your straps.)

The other end of the strap will get sewn onto the curving bit at the top center back of the back band. It’s also a 2-stitching-pass process, but a different one from sewing on the elastic trim. (I’m sorry I didn’t take any photos while doing this!)

Here’s what you do to sew down the strap: After making sure your strap isn’t twisted, line up the upper edge of the strap so that it just barely overlaps the curved edge on the back band. Using a small zig-zag stitch for both passes, stitch first in the middle of the strap, then once again close to the inside edge, making sure you also sew through the fabric. (You can see the strap stitched in place in the following photo.)

We’re almost done! Now to add the back closures. I’ll just hand-baste them on first; both pieces have parts that kind of sandwich around the center back edges of the band, so I’m finding it saves a lot of frustration if I baste through all layers first.

Closures basted in place
After making sure I have the hook and eye sides properly placed, I’ve hand-basted the pieces in place on the ends of the back bands.

Using a fairly tight zig-zag, I’ll stitch my basted closures into place.

 Tip: Since I bought continuous hook-and-eye closure, and cut it to the length I wanted, the top and bottom edges (where I cut the pieces) were raw; I’ve read that you can just leave them as is, but there are several layers there, and I prefer to close up those raw edges with zig-zagging.

Stitching the closures in place
Stitching through all layers at once, I’ve zig-zagged the vertical parts that attach the closures to the bands, and continued the stitching across the horizontal (cut) edges to finish them nicely. Oh, and I’ve removed the hand-basting. (You’d be surprised how often I forget that— it’s why I use contrasting thread now for basting, since it’s more noticeable.)

In the photo above, you can see the long ends of the channeling in the center front of the bra; I hand-basted them down after inserting the underwires. Once the rest of the bra was finished, I tried it on, and since I’m happy with the fit and placement of the underwires, I can machine-stitch the channeling into place.

It’s done, it’s done! Here it is, front and back:

Finished bra, front and back
Here are the front and back views of my second bra! It may not be to everyone’s taste, but I personally love the added spark that my hand-dyed straps, back closure, and channeling bring to this bra. Oh, and I did add a little embellishment—it blends in at the center front, but there is a small ribbon bow, with a gold bead in its center. Think I may try a different color.

Next up: We’ll go step-by-step through making a coordinating panty, which will incorporate fabric I hand-dyed along with the bra notions— don’t miss that!


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