Today seems to be all about circling back to my early days of bra-making (okay, that was only three years ago). I’m wearing the very first bra I ever made, the hot summer weather has made me nostalgic for distant memories of wearing refreshingly cool linen, before it became adulterated with polyester and other mysterious substances that for some reason render it wrinkle-free, and nostalgia has also led me back down memory lane to the Marlborough bra pattern— the first one I ever used, and still one of my very favorites; my second-ever bra was also a Marlborough, made with silk scraps from other sewing projects, and I literally wore it until it was in shreds.
And therein, dear readers, lies the origin of The Great Linen Experiment. Read on.
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.
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.
Helpful tips on dyeing rings and sliders, from Natasha of ArteCrafts, one of my favorite suppliers!
I wrote about nylon vs polyester sliders a few months ago and how polyester slides are impossible to dye. For this reason I have switched to stocking nylon sliders so my customers can dye to match their other notions. Plastic findings can be the most difficult to dye and sometimes you might give up on them too soon. Here’s a few tips on how I dyed the slides in this picture. I used RIT Lemon dye and they came out fairly true to shade. But they took longer to take up the dye and a little bit of special handling.
I’ve done a lot of testing with dying these sliders with acid and RIT dyes. The secret to getting the color that you want is acidity and time. I recommend dying all your notions as usual but once you’ve taken out your fabric, elastics, channeling and hook and eyes out…
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.
Yesterday, I dyed some bra notions (plus possible panty fabrics) in various shades of blue and green, to coordinate with the printed silk I’d chosen for my second bra project. Personally, I think that using this related-but-not-necessarily-matching approach really helps all the colors blend with the sort of watercolor-y abstractness of the print:
If I’d chosen just one solid color for the coordinating bits, I would have had to work harder at making that color “match” one color in the print.
Now I just need to add the remaining bits and pieces that go into making a bra: channeling (this is what houses the underwires), strap material, elastic trim (for both bra and panty), powernet fabric (for the back band), and the back closure for the bra.
And here is where I come crashing right up against the dreaded, frustrating, tear-my-hair-out question:Read More »
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.
Okay, it does sound a little weird to say this is my first bra, I admit. It’s been quite a while since the day I struggled to put on the unfamiliar little thing. Actually, my memory takes me more to the feeling of fervently wishing to have reason to wear my first bra! Oddly enough, it’s not that different than how I’ve felt throughout this process of making a bra for the first time: hopeful, nervous, excited, a little shy, and more than a little intimidated.
So, after some initial angst, a great deal of procrastination, a few moments of puzzlement (not to say frustration), and ultimate success, here it is: