Now that my second bra is finished, along with its coordinating high-waisted panty, I thought this would be a good time to collect my thoughts about this whole lingerie-making experience, and share a few things that have occurred to me along the way.
Here’s the thing. Okay, one of the things. For some reason, I had always believed that to make my own bra would be like making my own shoes: someone else does that, not me. Despite my years of sewing experience, even when I looked closely at a bra, trying to reverse-engineer the construction of it, I simply couldn’t muster up whatever it would take to attempt making my own.
Maybe it’s the materials— how the heck do I make a seamless molded cup? Or the notions, most of which seem to be used only for bras, like the rings and sliders for the adjustable straps, or the specialized elastic types— where do I find those?
Tip: Speaking of elastic, this was a revelation to me: lingerie elastic is different! From what I’ve read so far, it sounds like the major difference is that lingerie elastic is specifically made to be sewn through, where regular elastic will fray if you try and sew through it. Also, the amount of stretch is different; for the most part, lingerie elastics should have some give, but not be super-stretchy. If you’ve ever had bra straps stretch out to the point of being unwearable, you’ll understand this! So make sure you’re purchasing elastics that are specific to use in lingerie.
The truth: I was simply intimidated because bra-making was outside my experience. But then, every time I make a dress with a new pattern, or mix some new dye colors and paint them onto yarn, it’s uncharted territory, isn’t it? Maybe it’s something about living in Portland, Nike-Just-do-it-land, but eventually, I had to just take that leap, despite my trepidation, and try it. (Hard to believe that was less than a month ago!)
What pushed me over the edge? I started thinking about the last time I went bra shopping (over a year ago). I only went to one store, but after nearly 4 uncomfortable hours of getting undressed, measured, dressed again to go see what bras I was eligible for, undressed again to try on literally dozens of bras, I left with just one bra. (I was too spent to even think about panties at that point. Speaking of spending, it cost me over $70.00.) Okay, I do love that bra, but if I had bought matching panties (at least 2 or there’s no point, right?), my total bill would have easily been over $100.00.
Don’t get me wrong— I’m willing to pay for quality. But that should include the quality of the experience. And from where I’m sitting right now (wearing one of my new me-made bras), this way, I can not only have quality, but quantity— to say nothing of a custom fit!
And P.S.: Once I had that first bra made, I noticed how much more quickly the second one went. Start to finish, it took me less than 3 hours to make— less than the amount of time spent shopping for a single bra. And let’s not overlook the savings in dollars as well as time: both bras I’ve made so far have cost me less than $10.00 each in materials, since I used fabric scraps I already had for the major parts.
So what have I learned in this past month?
1. Respecting one’s limitations is all very well, but sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself to try something completely new. Risky? Bah!
2. I’ve discovered one more justification for hoarding all those fabric scraps. (Like I needed one.)
3. There’s a world of bra-making resources out there to help, from supplies and classes to blogs and books (don’t forget to check your library, especially if you’re not totally sure about this bra-making thing).
4. Too difficult to find color-matched elastic, straps, closures? With apologies to Nike, just dye it!
5. It is not, in fact, possible to have too many bras. Especially when you can easily make matching panties, including the lace-trimmed thong coming up in my next post!
As noted on my Resources page, I’m not an affiliate of any of the resources I’ve mentioned in this blog, at least not so far. (I’ll be sure to disclose that if something changes.) These are just some of the people and resources I’ve found most helpful.