Game Changer

I made a bra!  I had always thought this was something that was a waste of time, would be too fiddly and too difficult to fit.  However recently, for some weird reason, the idea popped into my head and I just couldn’t get it out until I had given it a go for myself.

To give me a fighting chance of it fitting correctly, I used one of my well fitting bras as a pattern.  Using the tips from Susan’s Measure Twice/Cut Once blog I carefully unpicked half of my bra leaving the other half so I could see how it went back together again. (the bra was old and manky but still fitted well).

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The pieces are quite small to work with and the seam allowances are teeny tiny, mostly about 6mm, but the construction was generally quite straightforward.  With the other half of the bra left intact, it was relatively easy to work out the order of construction and all up the process took about 4 hours.  Not bad I thought, especially for the first one.  Even better, the fit is perfect!

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The insides of the bra are not finished but as they are all of stretch fabric there are no fraying issues.  I topstitched all the seams also for a professional finish. My original bra had some kind of stabilizing tape on the seams that covered the seams, but I couldn’t find this in the store.

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I bought all my supplies locally at Make It Fabrics who have mostly everything I could want, although sometimes finding just the right colour is tricky which is why my elastic on the back is a slightly different colour. It was all I could find and at the time I didn’t know what I could or couldn’t change.

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Most of the construction was done in straight stitch, except for the elastic which was sewed in a triple zigzag stitch.

What I learned for next time:

  • ensure the bridge (middle bit) does not stretch at all, this affects whether you have cleavage or not!
  • make sure the power mesh is cut the correct way around, it seems to stretch one much more than the other
  • the stretch of the shoulder straps is important. My original elastic hardly stretched and so the sliders kept moving
  • bras are super fun to make and rewarding, I can now use all the colours and laces!!
  • now that I have one I will experiment with different fabrics. The cups of my original bra don’t stretch much so is there any reason I can’t use cotton?
  • apparently I have no shame, putting my underwears on the internet for all to see!!

Generally I find bra shopping to be really difficult in “normal” stores at least.  My cup size is too big for the straight sizing range, but my back and shoulders are too narrow for the plus sized ranges.

I will definitely be making more, in fact I have already cut out my next one! Not only are they fun to make, the price savings alone make it worthwhile.

28 thoughts on “Game Changer

  1. Oh this is SO encouraging! I have exactly the same fit problems with RTW bras and have also been finding myself increasingly tempted to try making one, despite vowing I’d never bother. It’s just so depressing to spend all that time and money and still not find something that fits properly. My main problem is I don’t have a bra I like the fit of enough to copy, but I guess I’l start from the nearest good fit and adjust. Anyway, yours turned out beautifully – and congratulations on the fitting first time! Miraculous 🙂

  2. Bramaking is awesome and very addictive! Beverly Johnson has a couple of Craftsy classes I’ve taken and learned a great deal from. Also, Emerald Erin has an Etsy shop and a really good blog. I am going to try cut and sew foam in the new year as I’d like to try cotton too. Your first try was waaaay better than mine. There’s a whole new world of pretty out there waiting to be sewn!

  3. Woo! how exciting! I have opposite problem from you in RTW (small bust for my band size and need a wider wire than corresponds with my cup size), which is why I started making my bras. I’m no expert (I’ve maybe made 7 bras) but this last one turned out really well so while there is definitely a learning curve, you can get through it fairly quickly I think. I think you should be able to use non stretch fabrics for the cup and the bridge as long as you get a good powermesh for the back!

  4. I am in awe of your talents! Fabulous result for a first go.

    My bras are a serious piece of engineering that I am unlikely to be able to replicate, so it is unlikely that I will ever make lingerie. Besides, there are still so many pretty frocks to make…………

  5. Awesome! Bra making is still on my list to do, I think I keep putting it off because it seems so fiddly but you make it sound ok! I’m also probably slightly put off by having to hunt down all those supplies…

  6. I am so impressed by your bra making! I would never think to cut up one of my old bras to make a new one. Bras have never really interested me sewing wise. But with the trouble I have finding RTW that fit properly I really should give it a go.

  7. I saw this on your instragram and was very impressed. I’m exactly the same as you – tiny shoulders and back and large in the front but also a very narrow bridge. Nothing fits. I’m in the process (like right this minute – distraction needed) adjusting a huge RTW one I bought for $7 (very pretty and figured the notions would cost me that anyway) and am making it a strapless bra that fits me. Deconstruction at the moment. I was just thinking what was the name of that shop that sold the notions… and there you are with the answer! Thanks.

    1. I spent about $10 all up for all the supplies to make one bra. Pretty cost effective I thought. Although perhaps less so now I’ve bought supplies for 5 more – addicted much?!

  8. Congratulation a beautiful bra first up! I have made cotton cups and it works quit well if you cut them on the bias and line them with fine cotton. It’s so lovely to wear your own handmade lingerie. Thanks for an enjoyable post.

  9. What a fabulous virgin bra! I love that you have created your own personalised bra pattern. And it’s soooo pretty.
    Hooray for Susan for enabling via her blog & industry knowledge too.

  10. Your bra is gorgeous! Congratulations, bra-cloning is a great way to get success on the first try. To cover the seams, you can use Dritz Seams Great or make your own bias cut sheer nylon tricot strips. They are soft and not scratchy, cover the seams and still provide the necessary give needed in the cup seams. Many fabrics don’t require this, however. I have successfully used bias-cut cotton for bra cups and front frame… the amount of give needs to match the original or bra will not fit.

    1. Cloning – that’s a better word for it!! Thanks so much for the tips re covering the seams, I’ll have to see what’s available here. Luckily this one isn’t scratchy at all.

  11. Wow, this is amazing!! Congratulations on having such a successful garment the first time around, I’m super impressed. I’d totally be showing off my undies on the internet if they looked that awesome 🙂

  12. I’m another person who is fairly narrow in the body and large in the bust (although I’m no waif – don’t know why bra size ranges are so hopeless). Surely a 30″ underbust and 36″ full bust is not that unusual??? Anyway, I always have trouble getting a band small enough in my cup size. I am also tallish and even if I do get a bra that fits, the straps are too short and end up pulling the bra up and distorting the balance lines. Thank you for your notes and suggestions. I need to try this!

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