Making Bras, how I learned to be more precise

My beginning experience of making my own bras with PDF and paper patterns by independent designers.

So a while back the Watson bra and panty pattern came out. Or as I should call it my gate way drug into lingerie sewing. Since then it’s been:

“oh stretch lace!” “I need gold rings and sliders” or “I should really buy this five yards of sheer tricot in tan, I can use it lining laces”.

Needless to say bra sewing has it’s own fabric and notion requirements that didn’t already exist in my stash, so I grew it with my new skills.

The first foray was the PDF Watson by Cloth Habit in long line form. The first version was the largest offered on the pattern and was too small in the cup. I added about a quarter of an inch on the cup and band seams.  I made it out of some random poly jersey number off the red tag table at JoAnn’s Fabric, lined it with swimwear lining and dyed the elastics with iDye poly in dark brown. It’s a great light weight bra for us that cannot go bra-less but it doesn’t do much for my profile and just kept them from bouncing all over the place. Still in bra rotation but usually worn on work at home days. I learned that pattern weights and rotary cutters are much easier to work with than the pin and scissor method I grew up with. Elastics were not that difficult to figure out as I had used them for other projects but trial and error led me to stretch needles instead of ball point.

Pre assembly of the Watson Bra Long Line version
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Finished assembly of Watson Bra Long Line version with many layers because this fabric was so stretchy.
Dying elastics is so easy with the right dye, over dyed beige, cafe and sunshine yellow for this project.

The next was the PDF Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie   I made the first two in scrap materials I had around and thrift store finds. This is for a non stretch cup materials so there are really endless version possibilities. Again I measured and barely fit into the largest size the pattern offered. Having never seen an underwire bra I just gave it a shot adding some to the back clasp band area so I could try it on. I think at this time I also found the FB groups for bra making and the members there pointed me In the right fitting direction. The ivory daisy number was my third atempt after getting guidance on how to split the bottom cup and add a quarter of an inch near the apex and curve it out to each seam from there to add more rounded volume. It worked so well and fit better than I could have expected. It was made with vintage lace and tricot sheer lining. I don’t pin much but I did use Clover clips to hold things together. The elastics were dyed with tea and coffee in a fit of “I need beige!” the color has remained after many washes. I also started using blue painters tape at this time to mark the front right side up of the pieces, I made many inside out upside down mistakes before that. With the fit just right I could finally cut into the tan and black Italian lace I found while in FL. It has such a soft hand and is really wearing well.

This was the first bra with underwires. So pretty but didn’t fit
This was the pattern piece we (the wonderful people on the bra FB groups) decided needed to be split.
This was the vintage house coat I used as lining.
Getting ready to attach elastics and wire casing with a split bottom cup, I can already see the volume.
Still my favorite bra, the split at the bottom of the cup gave just the right amount of volume.
This was the fabric I wanted a bra in but it took four different bras before I felt comfortable to cut into it. Italian lace with an ever so soft hand.
The two ladies lined up one waiting on elastics and dyed casing.

Then on to the paper Merckwaerdigh in CULP 16 Orange is my favorite color and I had been eyeing this kit in their Etsy store for a while.  I have now made three of these and I am still not sold on the shape it makes my chest. It is a more natural hang flat sort of action rather than the more rounded and up and out of the altered bras, so it just may need some fitting adjustments. It is designed for stretch materials which in larger cup sizes needs extra lining to be strong enough to hold up the boobs. While sewing on these bras one of the things I like to do is set my machine to half speed and needle down when it stops, this keeps me from running off too fast and I can pivot better on a lowered needle with the pressed foot down. I stitched up a purple lace one that isn’t lined properly (used swim wear mesh instead of something stronger) and is falling apart, then I made another with tricot as the lining here and it fits much better I also added a bit of height to the underarm bridge and more curve to the bottom cup piece, though I skipped the padded shoulder straps with cut and see foam.

I bought the kit of orange and pattern on Easy. It was definitely more of an advanced pattern.
There were some mistakes made, the volume was not deep enough in the cup, which is why we should alway mock up/muslin/toile before you cut into your favorite color you have been stalking on etsy for weeks.

Bra sewing has turned me into a better sew person, I more often than not take my time now (unless I am stash busting some kids play cloths, those are just going to get run to pieces anyway), I pay attention to details more and I am more willing to dust myself off and try again. I would love to say “if you measure well and cut perfectly the bra you sew will fit perfect too” but that’s not how it works, you measure and make and alter and make and make. It takes more time but once the fit is right it feels so good on and is great looking too it’s addicting. There are great Craftsy courses to take to help you sew bras and forums or FB groups to help you with fitting and general camaraderie as we all sit and pick out our misplaced stitches.

Some of my dealers, I mean sources:


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