Being a Bra-making Fool has really paid off in a very short amount of time. I cranked out 3 separate bras and they’re all worn in exclusive rotation right now (I’ve retired everything else, since nothing fits). Equally exciting is that I’ve been whittling away at my fabric stash (albeit small bits at a time). I have a bunch of random little bits of fabric that I had no idea what to do with (hashtag-sewing-problems, right?), but couldn’t throw out (of course). Lingerie-making solves that!
Since I was so rusty at bra-making (I thought), I didn’t want to use up any of my good fabric scraps (how does this make sense?). So, after digging through my stash, I came up with a blouse I’d found at a Goodwill. Hashtag ThriftyBoobs! It’s a blouse I secretly love but would never have worn (and couldn’t have, anyway–way too small for me, even pre-pregs). It was all stretchy lace (although very fuschia with all that floral print), bell sleeves, and even had a sort of mock corset-lacing thing going on at the front. Very much one of my favorite things from the 90s (you’d totally wear it with one of those tattoo-choker necklaces, you wouldn’t even have a choice) and one I would never be brave enough to actually wear (even back then).
I wish I’d gotten a picture of it before cutting it up to become a bra, but I fully expected this whole endeavor to be a bust (hahahaha “bust” hahaha). I was making a bra after a year of not making any bras; I was completely guessing at a new bra size; and honestly, even if it’s the right size, it’s likely to change anyway, what with the nursing and eventually being not-pregnant and stuff. So, naturally, it all worked out perfectly.
This is the only bra-on-the-dressform pic I have. She was already maxed out before I got pregnant, and now she’s nowhere near big enough to replicate my
lumps curves. Despite this, she’s WAY too big to wear my bras, since she’s expanded out to my full bust size, not my ribcage size. As soon as I typed that, I realized how dumb it is that I haven’t just fixed that, but meh. If you wanted to see ridiculously gorgeous dressform-modeled lingerie pics, you’d be over at VeryPurplePerson’s blog, anyway (seriously, go see. How can lingerie be so beautiful?).
Anyway, dressform pics are excellent at showing the seaming on the bra. Just to reiterate from my previous post, I’m using Merckwaerdigh’s BHL15 as my base pattern, with some significant mods to some of the pattern pieces. There are a couple of variations included in the pattern (“2 Big Size Bras”, remember? hahaha); I’m using the one with the powerbar option. I like the variety of pieces in this version–it just seems like it has to work, whereas the other version (1 big upper cup piece and 2 smaller lower cup pieces that are vertically-seamed) might not work. I haven’t even tried it, tbf; I was drawn immediately to the one with the powerbar. /shrug
My underwires cross in the center front. It feels fine wearing it, but it looks kind of weird when I’m actually looking at it.
The powerbar and lower cup piece are lace lined in duoplex, while the upper cup piece is only lace. I think I’m also trying to show the ridiculous volume of the cups, since they’re soft and you can’t really tell unless I’m wearing it.
The cradle is lace lined with duoplex for sturdiness, and the band is lace underlined with 2 different powernets, actually. When I was cutting up the blouse for fabric, I discovered that it had a light layer of black powernet in some places (maybe to lend some opacity to the lace?), which was awesome. The powernet I have is too lightweight (Amazon purchase, whomp whomp), and also very white (it’s dye-able nylon, so I got white; but then I never dye it, ha!). I’ve just been doubling and even tripling it in order to give more strength to the band. The white powernet was pretty durn ugly under the black-based lace, so I used the black powernet sandwiched in between the lace and the white powernet. Perfect! Elastic, hook and eye, and channeling were all black, and I used some gold rings and sliders I’d bought from Bra Maker’s Supply after Tasia posted about the jewelry-quality schmanciness (again, all left over from my last foray into bra-making. I really did have a lot more notions than I had thought I did!).
And when I wear it, it actually fit me damn near perfectly (what is perfect in a bra, anyway?)
There’s a little bit of pointiness I get when I wear a soft-cup bra, but I think that’s just something I have to get used to. I think it’s just the natural breast shape, and I’m more okay with it now that I’m pregnant than I was before. Growing up nowadays, it’s hard to stop thinking breasts are supposed to be perfectly spherical, but the pregnancy changes my body’s gone through have made me a helluva lot more accepting of my natural shape.
Regardless, wearing this bra feels like someone is carrying my breasts around on dainty little pillows for me, without my shoulders having to hold the burden, so definitely a good fit! The center actually sits completely flat against my chest!! I’ve never had that, even on the bra-that-fit before, so I guess maybe it didn’t actually fit as well as I thought. This is an indicator that for the first time in my life, there’s enough volume in the cups. This is a huge contributing factor to the magical carrying-my-boobs-around-on-pillows feeling this bra gives me. If you don’t have this, your bra doesn’t fit. Plain and simple.
For my second bra, I was feeling a little more confident, so I busted out some silky fabric I’ve been holding onto. It’s supposed to look like dupioni, I think, but the “slubs” are all very regular, pretty much screaming man-made. When I did a burn test on it, though, it seemed to be rayon rather than poly, which I’ve never heard of (I mean I’ve heard of rayon, just not rayon dupioni). I don’t know, doesn’t matter. It’s silky and off-white in a sort of grayish way. More black elastics and hook and eye, more gold rings and sliders.
I tried to prevent the underwires from crossing one another this time, and pretty much failed. I topstitched my seams with a 3-step-zigzag, and for some reason, it makes it look like a baseball to me. I was going for an elegant, Parisian sort of cream and black, but I ended up with baseball. I’m okay with this, I think.
I underlined all the cup pieces in the same duoplex as before, and the the band is one layer of black powernet and two layers of white. I was fairly meticulous about changing up my thread colors to match the fabric, but I also had the tension set fairly low when stitching from the front so I wouldn’t pull any black thread from the wrong side to the right side and make it look janky. So, instead, the wrong side is the janky-looking side.
I also tried to create some fabric straps for the front (mostly to cut down on how much strap elastic I had to use, honestly), but I didn’t incorporate that into my pattern pieces when cutting. I made them after the fact, and they’re also somewhat less than elegant. Not a massive failure, though, at least!
Hahaha, this is such a pointy bra! So…I forgot to trim seam allowances, for some reason, and the topstitching can only do so much to flatten giant bulky seams. Since the seams actually run straight across the nippage area, it’s pointy in the most awkward way possible, haha.
I still wear it, with an undershirt to help soften the lines. (Not wearing an undershirt in these pics, of course, for the sake of honesty in showing how they fit.)
For the next bra, I actually went ahead and altered my pattern pieces. I wanted to try adding some height to the band and cradle, making it not quite a longline, but longer than it had been. I added an inch, tapering that down to nothing at the hook and eye end, since that width has been working well for the 3-hook pieces I’ve been working with. I added a little bit of width (1/4″) to the cradle center, too, to help keep the underwires from crossing one another.
I also altered the powerbar pattern piece a little, taking a dart out of it that the baseball bra seemed to need, and incorporating a strap, too.
This made the powerbar curve a little on a side that had previously been straight, but it seemed to work. It may have even helped a little with the pointiness, but it’s hard to tell.
I used some blue cotton with purple polka dots for this one, and I tried my hand at dyeing the white powernet. I was shooting for purple to match the polka dots, but the bottle of Rit I got was deceptively purple on the outside. It was called “wine”, and I guess I’m not enough of a drinker to’ve realized how red that would be. Oh well.
You can see that my underwires definitely do not cross on this bra! In fact, I screwed up and added 1/4″ to the pattern piece, which of course adds 1/2″ to the whole cradle center. Dumb. I meant to only add 1/4″, but I seem to forget the doubling effect of altering pattern pieces a lot lately. I’m blaming pregnancy brain. In my defense, adding 1/8″ just doesn’t even seem worth it. In lingerie sewing, though (especially with bras), these little amounts really add up. Oh well, next time!
The fabric straps are finished on both edges with picot elastic; I just ran the elastic all the way up the the sides and along the straps. Then I threaded the ends through the rings and covered the ends with some rayon seam binding I had in purple. It’s funny, the purple doesn’t match at all on this side, since it looks like a red and black bra from the wrong side. Bleh.
It’s less pointy than my baseball bra, but the fit is actually worse. To be honest, my favorite of the 3 is the first one. I think the stretchiness of the lace in the upper cup really helped give a better shape.
See what I mean? The upper cup is sort of squashing, since it’s a woven fabric (same thing was happening in my baseball bra, but I think the pointiness distracted a little from that, ha!).
Far more importantly, this bra doesn’t sit flat against my chest in the center. The cradle is way too wide, and so my breast tissue is sort of pushing against it (revolt! viva la boobolucion!). So I guess I’m going to take that 1/8″ off of the pattern piece and try again for the next one.
So there you have it! My bralogy: ThriftyBoobs, BaseballBoobs, and Boobolucion. All wearable, so all count as wins!🙂