As I mentioned last week, I’ve been inspired by the Cloth Habit Bra Sew-Along to try my hand at sewing some bras again. I was fairly happy with the foam cup bra I made a while back, but I finally found some Marks & Spencer’s non-padded bras that I really like the fit of and I was encouraged by these that I could probably make my own that fit nicely, too.
In all my previous attempts I’d used KwikSew 3300 as my base pattern, but this time around, I wanted a fresh start, so I pulled out Elan 530 which I’d bought years ago and never sewn up. The seaming of the cups is different to the KwikSew and I thought that might make all the difference for me.
In the past, I’d been really frustrated because you can’t check the fit until you’d absolutely completed sewing the bra, wasting hours and materials if the fit was off, but the Sew-Along offered some really good advice in terms of making a muslin and exactly what was important and what could be left out. So here’s mine, with some fetching gingham ribbons for straps (and underwire channelling, ha).
I adapted the bridge (based on excellent instructions in Orange Lingerie‘s upcoming book!!), added 1.5cm to the band as it was too tight, and pinched a little out of the cups along the seam line before unpicking it all to reuse some of the parts in the finished bra.
For the finished bra, I used the “Gabi” lace from eLingeria that Katherine also used to make a lingerie set! (That lace also comes as a handy bra kit or panty kit if you’d rather buy it that way). I had to look up my order details, but I’d bought this lace last May, and paid only €9 for the 2 meters, which is fantastic value if you ask me!
I learned a lot about careful lace placement from my sewing of the Ruby Slips so I always take a photo of the pieces before I assemble, as for some reason I can get a better overall picture when looking at a photo than I do in real life.
At first I didn’t overlay the bottom cups with lace, but this looked a bit weird, so I added those. Even though it’s mostly black lace on the bottoms, it makes a world of difference and cut back on the shininess.
So for the finished bra, the cups have three layers each – the lace (which is pretty flimsy, and also stretches, which you don’t want in cups), a black nylon underlining layer (with the stretch running opposite to the lace), and the same black nylon as a lining.
From my previous bra making experience, I learned a nice trick to getting everything finished and lined nicely…
First, join the lining and outer layer together at the top edge (in my case, the two black layers, as I want to lay the lace over this later to have the scallop edge overtop). I stabilised this before sewing to prevent any stretching. Flip it right side out & press, then lay the lace layer on top, and zigzag along the top edge, and baste around the other edges. For the bottom cup pieces, baste the lace layer over the underlining layer around all the edges.
Now you’re ready to join along the mid-cup seam! Place the lacey lower cup face up, and pin the upper cup (lacey side down) along the mid-cup seam at a few strategic points. Now place the lower cup lining piece on top of this, right side down, and re-place your pins through all of the layers.
It’ll look something like this:
Once that’s sewn, flip it right side out and baste along the remaining edges. You’ll now have cups which are nicely lined and anchored at the mid-cup seam! Don’t worry about the basted edges – they’ll get finished by the underwire casings, elastic, and other pieces as you go along.
Here’s a shot of those cups, inside (lower) and out (upper)!
And one of the finished bra, yay!
I had everything already in my lingerie sewing stash, but I think my straps are too short so those are only pinned to replace later, when I can actually try it on to check the final fit…
…which I’m unable to do right now as I came down with a bad case of shingles over the weekend. The pain was bad enough for me to trudge to hospital in a snowstorm to get antivirals and Serious Painkillers, but because it’s on my left torso, anything tight like a bra band will open the poor blisters.
I really want to sew another bra, but it’s not a good idea until I can check the fit of this one, so I made some matching panties since I had a bunch more lace leftover.
Lingerie stash for the win again – I had the perfect, very narrow picot elastic to match the delicate softness of the lace, which I used on the leg openings. I wanted the scalloped edge to be the waistband, so I had to put a slight pleat in the pattern to make the top straight, but then I realised the lace would definitely need stabilising.
Step forward, some tiny, 4mm wide flat black elastic I had lying around, which I just zigzagged along near the top edge!
With the beige thread in the bobbin, it’s almost invisible from the right side, hurrah!
I used the lace for the main body of the panties, front and back, and then used the black nylon for the crotch section, lined with some beige panty lining fabric I picked up at Kantje Boord (along with the pretty matching little bows, since I’d thought ahead and brought this lace with me!).
So now I have a lovely, matching bra and panty set!
I still have some more lace, and I’m still home sick (and hopped up on a serious amount of prescription painkillers), so I may make a matching camisole, too, though I’m not sure what I’ll use for the body fabric… I really want to make some more bras (especially with the gorgeous purple lace I bought at Kantje Boord but stupidly didn’t buy matching bra parts for!) but I know I really need to check the fit of this one before I make anymore. Stupid shingles blisters!