My Third Bra, Part 2: Finishing Up

Now that I’ve got my cups sewn into my third bra project, it’s time for one of the main things I’m doing differently than the pattern (Kwik-Sew 3594): adding underwires. That is, at this phase, I’ll be adding channeling to house the underwires, which will get inserted a little later. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Ready to sew in channeling
With my cups sewn into the band, I’m ready to tackle the underwire channeling. (Note: The embellishments won’t get sewn in place until the very end; they’re just here right now for inspirational purposes.)

The pattern doesn’t call for underwires; instead, the instructions say to cover the cup-band seams with strips of nylon tricot binding.

Tip: Even if you don’t want underwires in your bra, many bra-making experts suggest sewing in the channeling anyway; this adds a bit of soft structure to the cups, and also helps keep the cup seams from stretching out. The tricot binding specified in this particular pattern may give some support, but its main function is to cover the raw seam edges.

The thing about putting in channeling is that it makes it necessary to carefully plan how and when you’ll sew in your elastic trim, since that trim will ultimately cover the ends of the channeling; if you cover the ends too soon, you won’t be able to insert the wires! (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Just for fun (okay, I want to see if it will make a difference), I’m starting by pre-curving my channeling. This is nothing more than using my steam iron to give a little cup-shaped curve to my channeling, thus:

Pre-curving the channeling
My channeling pieces after a little steam-shaping session. Note that I kept my stitched edges to the inside of the curves; my reasoning for this is that the first sewing pass is to attach the channeling to the cup seam allowance. In other words, that first pass will be sewn directly on the stitching line on the channeling.
After 1st stitching pass
And here’s a look at the inside of my bra, after making the first stitching pass to attach my channeling. I’ve only sewn the channeling to the seam allowances.
Channeling details
At top is a closer look at the center front; I’ve stitched these ends of the channeling to within 1/2″ of the top. At bottom, you can see that on the underarm edge part of the cup seam, I’ve stitched until about 3/4″ away from the edge; this will make sewing my elastic on a lot easier.

Tip: I’ve decided that I’ll insert my underwires (later) starting from the underarm edge of the cups, rather than center front. Making this decision before sewing on the channeling is really important; leaving the gap in the stitching at the arm and neck edges means I can keep the channeling open (and out of the way when I put on my elastic trim).

I think the toughest thing about not following a pattern to the letter is trying to figure out the order in which things need to get done. After some debate, I think I’ll do some preliminary work on a slightly fancy strap idea I’ve had:

Basting strap tubes
I’ve cut 2 10″-long pieces for each strap, and basted them to the strap extensions at the top of the cups. Notice how I’ve kept them in the middle, leaving the side edges free. That’s because…

… now I’m going to sew on my elastic trim! Although this is a different style than the picot-edged trims I’ve used on my first two bras, it will go on exactly the same way: in 2 stitching passes. Here’s the bottom of the band after the first pass:

1st pass on band trim
A look at the 1st stitching pass to attach the elastic trim, in this case, on the lower edge of the band. Note: The RS of the elastic is face-down on the RS of the fabric. “WS of trim” means that the WS is what you’re seeing where the arrow is.

Tip: For the 1st stitching pass, use a small zig-zag stitch. Machine settings vary, but here’s what I use: stitch width = 2.0, stitch length = 2.0.

1st pass underarm trim
Here, I’ve done my 1st stitching pass with the trim at the underarm edge. Note the the stitchin line comes close to the satin tubes, but doesn’t actually overlap it.
Keeping channeling free
Pin channeling down to keep from accidentally sewing it shut while stitching your first pass on the underarm edge.
Trimming channeling
After your 1st stitching pass on the underarm edge, trim the channeling so the cut edge is just below your stitching line.

Do the same thing on the neckline edge, after stitching your 1st pass:

Trimming channeling at front
Repeat the channeling-trimming step at center front, after your 1st stitching pass with trim on the neckline edge.

After sewing down the second edge of my channeling, I’m ready to do my 2nd stitching passes to finish my elastic trim!

2nd stitching pass
You can make your 2nd pass either from the WS or RS; I prefer doing this from the RS (so far, at least). When you’re done with the lower band edge, go on to the neckline.

Tip: My settings for this 3-step zig-zag: stitch width = 1.5, stitch length = 5.0. Your machine settings may be different, so test settings on a scrap of your fabric.

Front trim before 2nd pass
Here, I’ve folded my trim to the WS just prior to sewing my 2nd pass. Note: At center front, go ahead and stitch your elastic down over the channeling ends.

I know this isn’t the usual order of things, but I’m going to put in my underwires now.

Inserting underwires
I’m putting in my wires now so that I can make the 2nd stitching pass to finish the underarm trim.

Now I can finish the underarm elastic trim, first making sure that I’ve pushed the wires down as far as possible away from that elastic edge— I don’t want to risk sewing over the wire!

When I come to the front (strap) edge of the underarm elastic, I’m going to stitch right over the satin tubing.

Stitching strap extension
Here’s how I finished my strap extension in the front. At top, I’ve made my 1st stitching pass along the neckline edge, and completed the 2nd pass at the underarm edge. At bottom, after finishing the neckline 2nd pass, I’ve flipped the top edge to the WS, so the satin tubes are pointing up, and stitched across the little horizontal bit to secure everything.

Aside: Since I was making up this strap thing as I went along, it wasn’t until I got to this point that I realized there was a better way to handle those satin tubes. If I’d thought of it way back before I even basted the cups and their linings together, it would have looked much better than this! I’ll try this idea again in the future, and hopefully have a better technique to show you. End of aside.

Now all I have to do is add the rest of the strap material, stitch it down at the back, and finish off with the back closure! Hurrah— the home stretch! (I don’t know why, but that phrase always makes me giggle in the context of bra-making.)

Back strap
Now I’m getting my strap elastic ready. Make sure you have the RS and WS facing as shown.
Adding strap to tubing
Again paying attention to the RS and WS, insert strap through tubing strands (top), then thread the strap back through the slider (bottom), just as you did before.

The adjustable straps are finished!

Finishing the straps
Here’s my strap, with the satin tubing connected to the now-adjustable elastic strap.

Before I stitch the other end of the straps down at the back, I want to make sure my closure will be the right width.

Sizing the closure
Top: Looks like no matter where I sew down my elastic, there won’t be enough width for 3 hooks. Bottom: With a 2-hook closure, I’ll have to trim my fabric just a tiny bit before sewing my strap down.
Stitching down the back strap
There are also 2 stitching passes to secure the strap at the back, but they’re both done with the RS facing you.

I like to hand-baste my closures in place; since each piece is sandwiched around the fabric part, this just makes it easier to manage all those layers.

Finishing the closure
Top: I’ve hand-basted both closure pieces in place. Bottom: I’ve zig-zagged my way around all 4 sides of each piece.

I’m done! Oops, almost forgot the embellishments— I’ll hand-sew one at the base of each strap, and one in the center. NOW I’m done!

Third bra finished!
After adding the cute little embellishments, my third bra is finished!

This style is quite different from my first two bras; the band is almost long-line-style (short-line?). I’m curious to find out how it fits and feels— stay tuned!

Belated tip: While working on this bra, I realized that, because I was working with a limited tonal range of colors, I could just pick one thread color and stick with that, rather than hassling with changing thread colors every 5 minutes. In this case, I used magenta thread, similar to the embroidery color on the lace.

I’m planning a matching bikini panty to go with this bra, using Kwik-Sew 3881 (yes, the same pattern I used for my thong). More on that coming up!

Update: I’ve just listed kits to make this bra in my new Etsy shop, theBratelier!


9 thoughts on “My Third Bra, Part 2: Finishing Up

  1. Lindy, you have no idea how much I’ve learned from carefully viewing the details of your bra making. You do really beautiful work, and your so creative! Thank you so much for taking the time to post this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elaine, thank you so much for your encouraging words— I really do appreciate that, and that you’re not only reading my posts, but getting something good from them!


  2. This bra is so gorgeous! I can’t believe it’s only your third one! 🙂 Such a pretty colour and I love the little touches in it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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