My Second Bra/Panty Project: Thoughts & Observations

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.

2nd bra & panty set
Yes— Why did it even occur to me to try making my own bras? Good question.

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My Second Bra, Part 5: Making a Coordinating High-waisted Panty

My daughter came back from several years in Paris with the firm conviction that every bra should have at least one matching panty. And that every piece of lingerie should be the best quality you can afford. It took a little convincing, but now I quite agree with her. And I must say that, even in the short time I’ve been making my own under-goodies, I’ve noticed that there’s something about setting a matching panty down next to a bra that seems to make the bra look even better. Especially a beautiful, unique, hand-made bra!

So today I’ll show you the steps that go into making a color-blocked, high-waisted panty; I’m planning this to coordinate with my newly-finished second bra. I’ll be using my OhhhLulu Betty High-waisted Panty pattern (the same one I used when I made my first bra and panty).

Here’s my second bra, with some materials I pulled out to see if they’d coordinate:

Materials for panty
The materials I’ve chosen to make my high-waisted panty. 1. Turquoise hand-dyed nylon/Spandex. 2. Black elastic trim (the same used on the bra). 3. Black all-over stretch lace fabric.

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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.)

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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.



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My Second Bra, Part 2: Materials from the Scrap Stash

Now I’ve chosen my pattern, made a few minor alterations to it, and organized the pattern elements. With the goal of making as much of this bra as possible with materials I already have on hand, I’m anxious to pick my main fabrics. Off to my scrap stash!


 

Tip: Be sure to read through your bra pattern’s instructions before even thinking about fabrics. In my case, my pattern specifies fabrics with no stretch for every part except the back bands, which use powernet. But some of the patterns I’ve looked at, especially the bralette and some foam-lined styles, call for fabrics with stretch. My pattern also calls for non-stretch lace for the upper part of the cups.


My scrap stash
Quite an impressive pile, isn’t it? Out of my total stash, I pulled just silk and lace fabrics; the silks range from chiffon and georgette to crepe de chine, charmeuse, twill, and brocade. Some of these will hopefully become the main ingredients in my new lingerie wardrobe!

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My Second Bra, Part 1: Choosing a Pattern

I’m now in the planning phase for my second bra! And since I started this blog only after the first one was completed, this time I can show you my process, from beginning to end. I’m starting today with choosing my pattern.

For me, this part is easy. I’m going to use the same pattern as for my first bra: The Marlborough Bra pattern from Orange Lingerie. I’m choosing this because, although my first one really fits amazingly well, there’s a bit of fine-tuning I’d like to make to the pattern this time around.


 Tip: According to bra-fitting experts, if you’re smaller-busted, styles with rounder cups will help enhance your shape. Larger girls tend to benefit from the structure provided by cups with 2 to 3 pieces, rather than seamless cups. I generally wear a DD/E cup, so I’ve started with the Marlborough’s 3-part cup.


In this photo, you can see the some of the original pattern pieces (on regular printer paper), and a piece I traced from the original onto tissue paper. The red line is the cutting line, and the dashed green line is the seamline.

My pattern: The Marlborough Bra
The Marlborough Bra pattern is the one I used for my first bra. Now I’m going to tweak some of the pattern pieces for an even better fit. (The book, Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction, is by Norma Loehr, the designer of this pattern and owner of Orange Lingerie. It’s incredibly thorough, and has given me a lot more confidence about making changes to my pattern, and bra-making in general.)

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3 Things I’ve Learned from Sewing Bras

I’ve been sewing since I was 5 years old, and have been making most of my own clothes since my pre-teen days. I remember making iconic items like tie-back flutter-sleeved tunic tops and satin newsboy caps for my school friends by the time I was in fifth grade. (Don’t judge me— it was the ’70s.)

But regardless of all my sewing experience, I’ve found that there is always something more to learn. And my recent venture into the previously unknown-to-me sewing territory of bra-making is proving to be no exception.

The making of a bra
I’ve learned a lot of new things about sewing since starting to make my own bras!

Here are 3 things I’ve learned from sewing bras.Read More »

The Making of The Little White Bra

My last post was an introduction of sorts to my current project: The Little White Bra, a.k.a. The Bra Before Dyeing (or just “Before”). Now, since this was the first time I’ve used this bra pattern, I’ll show you how I made it, including a few changes I made.

My pattern is Kwik-Sew 3300— I’m being adventurous and trying my first partial-band bra! For those of you who might not know the difference (and I’m not sure I noticed it myself before I started making bras), partial-band just means that, rather than a continuous band running all the way around the bra, including under the cups, the band comes around from the back to attach to the sides of the cups only, with a small bridge piece connecting the cups in the middle, like so:

Kwik-Sew 3300 bra pattern
The Little White Bra I just made, using Kwik-Sew 3300, View A with the lace upper cups and bridge. (Click the photo to see this pattern on Kwik-Sew’s site; right now it says it’s temporarily out of stock. Boo.)

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FLASH: A Versatile New Bra Pattern from Orange Lingerie!

Hot off my e-mail inbox this morning: Orange Lingerie has released its second bra pattern!

Meet the Boylston Bra:

  • PDF sewing pattern for an underwire bra by Orange Lingerie - Boylston Bra

(Illustration/design courtesy of Orange Lingerie. Click on the image to go straight to this pattern listing in the Orange Lingerie Etsy shop!)

In case this illustration isn’t enough inspiration, in the Etsy listing for this new pattern, you’ll also find a photo of a beautiful bra made from this pattern, in a lovely floral print; this photo makes it clear that this is a balconette style. And the description says (in part) that the Boylston Bra can be lined with cut-and-sew foam, among several possibilities. It really does sound versatile!

As you know, I’ve already made my first and second bras with Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough Bra pattern, so I can say with confidence that the pattern and instructions are professionally designed and executed— not to mention that the style and cut are just beautiful, and I already know the sizing works for me (I’m usually a 36DD, but according to this pattern’s sizing, I used the 40DD pattern, which is virtually perfect). And I love the new balconette style of the Boylston, so I’ll be showing you what I make with this pattern very soon!

ArteCrafts Launches New Website, Celebrates with Free Shipping!

ArteCrafts, one of my very first suppliers of bra-making goodies, has just launched their brand-new website: bramaking.supplies. To celebrate, ArteCrafts’ owner, Natasha, is offering free (yes, FREE) shipping on all U.S. orders placed on her website* until May 15, 2015! Simply use the discount code FREESHIP when you place your order.

In my very short time making my own lingerie, the beautiful and high-quality materials I’ve already used from ArteCrafts include wide stretch lace (for my first thong), continuous hook-and-eye bra back closure tape (on all of my 4 bras, including dyeing the tape for 2 of them), and super-soft bra strap elastic, which I’ve dyed to use on my second and fourth bras.

Stretch lace for thong
A gorgeous wide stretch lace from ArteCrafts that I used for my first thong. Click the photo to find this lace on their new website— and get free shipping too!

Natasha also sells fabrics, specialty elastics, underwires, kits, and much more. I highly recommend her shop for carefully curated bra-making supplies!


*IMPORTANT: This special offer applies to orders placed on bramaking.supplies only— not the ArteCrafts Etsy store or any prior orders.