Sewing: Basic Bra Making Tutorial Part 1 of 2

This is my first Blog Tutorial, I hope you like it. I look forward to your comments, input and questions.

A few years ago I took a Bra and Corsetry making course with a friend.

Few of my friends know I make a good many of my own undergarments, things wear out and I needed to make some replacements. It has been suggested that this would make an interesting post. Normally I can make a pretty fancy Bra in a few hours.  I usually make a couple at a time. Truthfully, it’s not rocket science. If you can sew, you can do it too. Parts can be ordered on-line, purchased at your local fabric store or hardware can be scavenged off old bras. 

   However I have discovered, it takes a lot longer when you are trying to explain what you are doing and photographing the process at the same time… I hadn’t anticipated that.

So here we go 

  Basic Bra Making Part 1

Yes it is a good idea to start with basic sewing skills before you take this on.

Having said this, really it’s not difficult. Most general fabric stores carry the patterns and supplies you will need. You can also order fabric and notions from a supply house like Bra-makers supply.

What you will need to make your own Bra.

1) Measurements!  Most people get this terribly wrong.

Read this Article: Bra fitting: Finding your perfect size

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not entirely the cup and straps that stabilize your bust. The band below your bust and the back structure are integral in the support system. The cups reduce bounce and the straps should be carrying a minimum load. Kind of like a bridge, if the foundation cannot support the structure things go horribly wrong.

I sold foundation garments in a specialty store years ago. The difference between a Bra that fits and one that barely fits is night and day!

2) A Pattern: There are lots of patterns out there. However like the off the shelf bra, they don’t all fit the same. Decision time, Wire or no Wire?

I suggest that we start with a simple pattern and compare it to a bra you wear and fits your measurements. You may need a sacrificial victim.

Eventually with practice you will be able to draft, make adjustments and produce your own pattern, once you get the general idea.

 We are going to start with a simple wireless bra.

Not sure this one is still available, it was in my pattern stash.

Not sure this one is still available, it was in my pattern stash.

Kwik Sew 2375 I have used this one before. It’s simple and works up fast.

If you are buying a pattern, look for one with your size, and simple construction with simple lines, to start.

 I always redraft the pattern in tissue. The pattern pieces are small and edges of the small pieces can become even smaller after cutting, so the size on the pattern changes. A trick I learned when I started making for myself.

I reuse good patterns, so I'm more careful with them.

I reuse good patterns, so I’m more careful with them.

There are actually only small amounts of fabric involved in making a bra.

3) Supplies: You could go out a purchase all the hardware to make your first Bra, or take and old worn our bra and selvage the bits and pieces you will need. This is your first effort…

I needed: Thread, back bra hook and eye fastener, (2) rings, (2) Sliders, shoulder strapping , 4.5 yds-3/8″ wide plush lingerie elastic, I buy a 1/3rd of a yard of fabric,  you can get a couple of bras out of it. You will also want a ballpoint sewing needle for your machine. (Use your own pattern for your list, This was the list for my pattern)

4) Fabric and Elastic: This is important! Use a firm knit material, look closely at your pattern. There will be several types of elastic required to make your bra. If you get the wrong stuff your bra will not fit properly and be uncomfortable.

Fabrics: Fabrics made for Bra making are not the only ones you can use. Tricot, lace, stretch satin, cotton/Lycra, and all-cotton knits and wovens. When making bras, you have the freedom to choose bright colors, jacquards, or plaids, if you like. It’s good to start with a stretch fabric like two-way stretch nylon/Lycra satin, which makes fitting easier and is more forgiving. Use your best judgement and suggestions on your pattern to guide you.

Note on stretch fabrics: DOGS = Direction of greatest stretch. When testing for bra fabric stretch a 10″ length of fabric along a ruler till it resists.

10″ stretched to 13″ = 30% stretch / 10″ to 14″ = 40%

Don’t use more than 40% stretch – less stretch firmer bra cups, better for larger sizes. I prefer 30% stretch for more support.

However I have used Chinese silk brocade in peacock colours, tricky but awesome!Looked something like this, required some bias cutting, a little more advanced sewing.

For our purposes I am using A (40%) stretch floral Jacquard a small amount of net, a stretch lace about 6″ wide and a (30%) stable tricot.

The tricot came from Fabricland, the foral jacquard was from Bra makers supply. Both were in my stash.

The tricot came from Fabricland, the foral jacquard was from Bra makers supply. Both were in my stash.

The lace was leftover from a project, made as a bridal gift.

I am applying soft netting behind this stretch lace to reduce the amount of stretch.

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Sewing Tip #1: When I am using a new pattern, I do a dry run of one cup in the intended fabric. Both breasts are not the same, you will need to try both sides flipping the cup inside out for one side. Mark any alterations that maybe necessary to get a good fit on this sample cup.

Pattern layout:  Ok, stretch fabrics tend to stretch more one way than the other. So getting the pieces in the right directions is key here. Pins must be sharp for satins, dull for knits and they will not go in easily cross grain or against the grain. Test pins to see if they leave holes in the fabric. I usually pin along the 1/4″ selvage edge.

Warning: things are going to slide around. If this is a problem cut the pieces separately, one at a time. This is not like dressmaking, pieces are small and fiddly. Be careful to match fabric pattern in mirror image exactly. The tissue allows you to draw outlines of detail points to match pieces for both halves.

Cutting: These are small fiddly pieces, that slide around. I use a rotary cutter and a mat. For satins, I sandwich between tissue paper and cut one piece at a time, with pins in the selvages. I often line my cups with soft knit cotton for more comfort. With stretch fabrics, special care is needed to have the fabric totally relaxed when cutting.

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Ok I’m going to stop here, so you can catch up. A simple pattern some fabric and fixins, and we will meet here next friday and sew this baby together!

If you order your stuff from Bra-makers supply you can have it midweek and be ready for Friday. They do a bundle with fabrics, elastic, Hook/eye tape, sliders and shoulder strap in a variety of colours for $28.00 Cdn. (pattern not included) I highly recommend this as this option gives you the right materials so you know what to look for when shopping for supplies elsewhere.  Patterns are also available from your local fabric store just look for something with only a few pieces for your first bra.

I am really looking forward to posting pictures of your lovely creations! 

Some great on-line advice about Bra Making.

Bra Making Basics PDF (fantastic advice!)

How to sew Bras that fit (You need to read this)

Sewing Lingerie fabrics

Free Soft comfort fit pattern for small sizes

Free Satin Bra pattern in 3 sizes

Sewing support.com

Threads: The Bra Dilemma solved

Kwik Sew Bra patterns

Butterick #B5662 Corset/Busk 

The reference book I use – Making Beautiful Bras by Lee-Ann Burgess you can get it through Bra Makers Supply.

FO’s 2013 = 90  

WIPS 2013 = 10

Used of 38 purchased patterns from Rav = 9 (29 to go)

Stash Used 2013 = 77

Sewing FO’s = 3

Books 2013 = 28 + 1 = 29

Thanks again for visiting,

cya next week :0)

I’m off to visit Tami’s, then on to my blogwalk

come join me in the blogpond :0)

Find me on Ravelry.com and also my Etsy shop

Oh and FYI I have 50% off Back to School Sale at my Ravelry Shop, now we all have so much time with the kids in school. Sale lasts to the end of the month. 3 months till Christmas people!

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andrea Morrison (@wonderwhygal)
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 11:54:02

    That is a pretty cool tutorial. If ever I get over my fear of sewing, I will have to re-read this post.

    Reply

  2. Kathryn | Alpacamundo
    Sep 15, 2013 @ 18:54:38

    This is fantastic! Bra making and sizing has been a topic of conversation at knit night recently.

    Not sure that I have the sewing skills, but it’s on my long list of things to try. 🙂

    Reply

    • kitenswithmittens
      Sep 16, 2013 @ 10:24:11

      Bra Making is not magic, like everything else if you have the right materials and follow the pattern, with some tweeks you can make your own!
      Give it a try, no one is going to see your first effort except people that love you and encourage you ;0)

      Reply

  3. Trackback: WIP Weds: The KW Knitters Fair Adventure | Kittens with Mittens
  4. Natalie
    Sep 18, 2013 @ 08:59:05

    Great stuff! Wow, I guess I never considered making my own bra, but I am now!
    Thanks for sharing on Tutorial Thursdays Linky Party. I look forward to next weeks installment of this project.
    x
    Natalie
    Marigolds’ Loft

    Reply

  5. Trackback: Sewing: Part 2 of 2 – Basic Bra Making Tutorial | Kittens with Mittens
  6. Trackback: WIP Weds: Mr Bunnstible & Balls Up! | Kittens with Mittens
  7. Trackback: List of Finished Projects 2013 | Kittens with Mittens

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