My Third Bra: Something Completely Different

After making both my first bra and the second with the same pattern (the Marlborough Bra from Orange Lingerie), and making them both mostly out of silk, I’ve started to feel the urge to try something different. Completely different.

Here’s what I have in mind:

1. Instead of making the bra first, then trying to find stretch panty materials to coordinate, I’m going to pick my panty fabric first, then use that for the bra as well. This will mean using (gasp!) a stretch fabric for the bra, rather than woven.

Coral jersey fabric
Here’s the main fabric I’ve chosen for my new bra: a slinky, stretchy poly/Spandex jersey in a beautiful shade of deep coral pink. At left is narrow satin tubing destined for a bra strap idea I have, and at right is embroidered tulle I’d like to use, well, somewhere. These 3 materials form the starting point for my tonal color palette of coral, fuchsia, magenta, and rose-red.

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It’s a Thong Story… And Now It’s Done

After doing all my thong pattern modifications and getting the fabric and lace pieces cut and ready, I’m so excited to actually sew it together! I have a feeling this part will go faster. You know that saying, “Measure twice, cut once”? I think that applies perfectly to sewing projects— taking the time to prepare the patterns and fabric pieces maybe won’t guarantee a perfect result, but it does give you a heck of a head start.

Here’s where I left my thong:

Final mock-up of thong
All mocked-up and ready to sew!

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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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All the Pretty Pieces: Dyeing to Match (or Not)

At this point in my second bra project, I’ve chosen my pattern and assembled fabrics from my scrap stash, incidentally creating a color palette in the process.

Materials for my second bra
The main elements going into my second bra: 1. Sheer silk print, to be layered over 2. Silk snakeskin print (the same fabric I used for my first bra!). 3. Black stretch lace fabric, to be layered over 4. Bamboo/spandex for coordinating panty. 5. Black picot-edge elastic trim for both bra and panty.

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 »

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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My First (hand-made) Bra!

I’ll always remember my first time…

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:

My first bra!
My first completed hand-made bra (and matching high-waist panty). See the end of this post for a list of material and pattern resources and links.

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