Sewing: Part 2 of 2 – Basic Bra Making Tutorial

So here is Part 2 of 2 Bra Basics 

You have read Part 1 of Bra Basics, and all the references, and purchased everything on the list. You have drafted your pattern on tissue and carefully cut your bra fabric out!

We are now ready to proceed!  Some Assembly required :0)

Note: Were my instructions differ from your pattern, follow your pattern instructions.

Reality Check: All your pieces of fabric are cut out and ready to assemble. Don’t cut your elastic yet!

 ????????????????????????????????? I am lining mine, Netting under the upper cup, and a 30% DOGS stretch tricot lining inside the 40% DOGS Floral Jacquard. I  have basted the pieces together using a Ballpoint machine needle #75. If your sewing machine does not have a stretch stitch, use and elongated zigzag stitch. Some experimentation may be required.

or Stretch Tricots 75 sewing machine needles

or Stretch Tricots 75 sewing machine needles

Note: Basting pieces together using a straight stitch at the longest stitch setting. Don’t back stitch when basting this increases bulk. Cut long tails to smooth out any gathering. Make the seam allowance less than 1/4″. Use only a few pins, stitch slowly, stop and adjust often.

Basted - Upper cups with net lining

Basted – Upper cups with net lining

Sewing Tip #1: sew with the heavier fabric on the bottom for best results.

The great thing about stretch fabrics, they are very forgiving. A little stretch to even things out is allowed.

Sewing Tip #2: Stitch the lower cup to the upper cup, with the lower on the bottom. This makes it easier to work your way around the curve.

The curves go in opposite directions, lots of pins are necessary here.

The curves go in opposite directions, lots of pins are necessary here.

Then comes the ticklish part, the seam down the cup is Top Stitched down to the outside of the cup. You are going to have to feel your way down the back of the seam while sewing from the front. Go slowly, check constantly that everything is where it needs to be.

 Note: You may have noticed that I like to sew things on the side that will be visible. This means that you have to go slowly, check often and feel your way along.

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Look, I have been doing this for years and sometimes it doesn’t work. Oh well, move on to the next step :0)

When seams go wrong.

When top stitching goes wrong. About 2″ of topstitching only caught 1 layer, oh well…

This is where a little extra time and attention pays off. Watch closely to match up lace patterns to get as close to a mirror image as you can. When it works you can really see the difference lining things up and pin placement can make.

Don't ya love when a plan comes together.

Don’t ya love when a plan comes together.

Reality Check: Cups are together, there are no fabric pcs leftover ;0)

We are ready to do the shoulder straps and elastic.

Strap assembly: (Make 2) Cut 16″ of 1/2″ Plush strap tape. Taking the slider, fold 1″ through the middle of the slider, sew down backstitching 3 times. Take the matching ring, Cut (2), 2″ pcs of 1/2″ Plush strap tape fold shiny side out through ring.

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Elastic: (For my Bra) I cut (2) 14 1/2″ pcs of 1/4″ Plush picot edged elastic. I cut 28″ of 1/2″ Plush picot edged band elastic. for the upper edge

Top: (2) upper 1/4" Picot edged plush back elastic, Bottom: Picot 1/2" plush back Band elastic

Top: (2) upper 1/4″ Picot edged plush back elastic, Bottom: Picot 1/2″ plush back Band elastic

(Your elastic measurements will likely be different.)

Note: that the actual measurement for the Band is 32 1/2″ relaxed, we cut 28″

and the actual upper edge is, 17″, we cut 14 1/2″

Yes this will work with a minimum of fuss!

Elastic Application Part 1

Upper Edge

Fold the upper edge on the each side of the Bra, place (3) pins to indicate quarters. With the flat edge of the elastic against the upper bra edge right side facing and plush side up pin the elastic to the edge. Working from the centre back, pin half of the elastic flat and relaxed to the half way point on the fabric edge.

Upper: Plush back picot edge elastic, plush side up flat edge to selvage edge of Bra. Note placement of tab with ring.

Upper: Plush back picot edge elastic, plush side up flat edge to selvage edge of Bra. Note placement of tab with ring.

Fold the remaining elastic in half and pin the to the remaining quarter pin and top edge on the bra. This little bit of gathering will help with the shaping of your cup.

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At this point look to your pattern for the strap locations on the back upper part of your Bra. Pin the tabs with the rings in place with just a little showing above the edge. (these are going to need some backstitching as you go over them. We’re going to Zigzag the elastic onto your project, select narrow zigzag stitch and medium length stitch. Zigzag backstitching at the beginning and end of the row. Place the edge of the zigzag close to the picot edge of the elastic.

Zigzag close to picot edge

Zigzag close to picot edge

Bottom Band

Place pins at the quarter points along the edge of the bottom edge of your bra. Do the same with your band elastic. As before, flat edge of the elastic against the bottom edge of the bra edge right side facing and plush side up pin the elastic to the edge at these quarter points. Zigzag backstitching at the beginning and end of the row. Place the edge of the zigzag close to the picot edge of the elastic.

Elastic Part 1 done!

Elastic Part 1 done!

Reality check: Your Bra is all together except the straps.

Elastic Application Part 2

To reduce the bulk under the elastic carefully trim off fabric under the elastic close to the Zigzag. Be really careful, you nip the elastic and the show is over!

Be careful doing this

Be careful doing this

Now fold the elastic to the inside and pin in place.

Note: You may have noticed that I like to sew things on the side that will be visible. This is the exception! You will be sewing the elastic Bra band to the inside of the Bra along the flat edge of your Bra. Set your sewing machine to 3-step zigzag (in my case stitch width 5.5) Test out on your own machine to see what stitch width suits your project.

Folded and sewed down using 3 step Zigzag. If you don't have this stitch on your machine, use a long plain zigzag stitch.

Folded and sewed down using 3 step Zigzag. If you don’t have this stitch on your machine, use a long plain zigzag stitch.

Thread your straps through the rings, the plush side down (what will be next to the skin) thread through sliders. If you miss this step you will be in big trouble at the end of this step!

Then fold and pin as you did the band. Use the regular setting for 3-step zigzag on this narrower elastic. I have to admit I’m a belt and suspenders kinda girl. Before I start to sew down the Upper elastic, I tact down the straps at the top of the cup and the band. 

Fold the strap under the edge elastic. This will make a smooth transition and create stability and better support.

Fold the strap under the edge elastic. This will make a smooth transition and create stability and better support.

Nothing more embarrassing than to have something let go when your dancing up a storm ;0)

Final step: Hook and Eyes

lip folded back after the straight stitch was done

lip folded back after the straight stitch was done

Cut your tape to size, open the lips of the H&E tape and sew with a straight stitch, on the eye side, lip on the bottom, front side up. Stretch the body of the Bra or compress slightly to fit the tape.

Then zigzag the top lip down. The hook side of the tape always presents a little more of a challenge. With the Hook side down (ready to fold back) Stretch the body of the Bra wrong side up on top and compress slightly to fit the tape.

To make the hooks sit in the right position you will have to trim off some of the excess close to the fold. Then zigzag the other lip down.

I used strip Hook and Eye tape, so I need to zigzag the top and bottom of the Hook and Eye tape.

DONE!

Unfortunately Judy and I are not quite the same, and the turtleneck she is wearing is stretching things a bit. I am really pleased with the results. Been ages since I made a white one.

Unfortunately Judy and I are not quite the same, and the turtleneck she is wearing is stretching things a bit. I am really pleased with the results. Been ages since I made a white one.

Not that hard really once you know the steps :0)

My Modifications to this pattern: Fully lined, Soft netting under lace portion of cups, Full shoulder straps, 1/2″ band elastic rather than 3/8″

Here is a rather good on line Bra Video Tutorial by Jalie Sewing patterns

 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 + 1 = 4 

Books 2013 = 30

Thanks again for visiting,

cya next week :0)

FOfriday

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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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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