Monday, August 26, 2013

This may take a while

I have Beverley Johnson's Bra Makers Manual. I have this pattern from Merckwaerdigh.  I have Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction by Norma Loehr (of Orange Lingerie) on my iPad.  I have some mixed experience at making things that look like bras. There is this one which, truth be told, is too big and has wires that dig in at CF. And this pink one, which is tantalizingly close if only I pin 2cm out of the length of the upper cup.  I have lots of lycra fabric and elastic.  I think one of my New Years resolutions was to make a proper bra that actually fits.  I am ready to go.

What do you mean, it's almost September?  It's still 2013.

My first outing, the so-called "sports bra" from the Merckwaerdigh pattern, was a bust (pun intended).  A bust nothing like mine.  As you can see.

 I kind of like the back, but this is really the wrong size (and shape) for me.

This one will not ever be finished.

By the way, bra pieces are very easy to sew together wrong.  Ask me how I know :-)

For my next effort, I have pinned out 2cm approximately from the upper cup of the pattern I used for my pink effort.  At the same time, I've traced a smaller size from the Merckwaerdigh pattern.  This scattergun approach may come to grief.  Time will tell.

Neither of these is getting lining or elastic edging.  I wasted some good FOE on that Merckwaerdigh bra.  I'm making fitting muslins per the Orange book.

Wish me luck...


  1. We share the same resolution--I'm sitting here staring at the instructions for the Elan 645 and saying "I will make this happen." Hey, it's not 2014 yet, and after spending a small fortune on materials this had better happen. :-) Good luck!

  2. I am in awe. I have the pattern, the expensive fabric, some reading material. But I hesitate because I have such a poor approach to alterations. Can never really figure out what the problem is. The rtw bras I own don't fit properly I know but don't know why and not sure the department store ladies are all that knowledgable. I shall watch your progress with great interest.

  3. Ooh, you're either a very brave woman or a glutton for punishment! I made a few bras once fairly successfully, but I made them by copying a store bought bra that already fit. They were sort of like nursing sports bras, with snap open cups and no hooks or wires, but they did have the seamed cups and racer backs. They were incredibly ugly but comfortable, and it saved me from spending a small fortune on the lactating watermellon boobs... ;-) Have you tried comparing your pattern pieces to a RTW bra that fits you?

  4. Check this:

    1. Really useful stuff there! Thanks! It led me here:

  5. You are a fountain of patience Kay! The worst ithat I know you will succeed. Good luck and have fun!

  6. I'm not sure there is anything so addictive and frustrating as bra sewing. I have made many bras that don't fit, two that were pretty good, and every now and again I feel this... compulsion to try again. Do you read K-Line? She is running a marathon of bra making.

    Oh and to ParisGrrl who commented above and has Elan 645, that was one of the patterns that did work out for me as a finished bra. But I'll warn you, it's a shade retro-pointy, at least at a larger cup size. I got fantastic lift when I put powernet in the lower cup, but the shape took some getting used to.

  7. I made my first two bras in January while participating in Amy's sew-along. References to helpful posts are here:

    Norma of Orange Lingerie was a consultant during the sew-along and answered questions in our Flickr group. I don't have her book (yet), so I don't know if she offers this advice, but the two most helpful things I learned in the sew-along were to find my wire size first and then to adjust the cup pieces to fit it. That saved me endless frustration. I used Elan 645 as a starting point and was quite pleased with the fit I got.

    Keep us updated on your progress!

  8. Oh, I feel your pain Kay! Keep on. I'm confident that eventually you will make a bra that fits you beautifully.

  9. Okay, I have to say that I laughed in awe when I saw the photo on Facebook. Kay, everything you make is a thing of beauty. Well, not this... :)
    I say take the one that's very close (the pink) and tweak it. It started with a pattern too, right? So you don't even have to copy a bra, which is what I do to start. I bought a pattern, made the cup and "tried it on" before I constructed. It was so far off, I didn't have a clue where to start, so I used the pin method to 'trace' a couple bras I liked without taking them apart. I've reproduced them many times since. I make little changes here and there. The fabric you use is key, and sometimes you don't know until you try it on what will work really well and what will work just okay. You can use lace overlay to make things less stretchy on parts or all of a cup if that's what you want. I line in powermesh, which gives less stretch as well. I've also used a couple of 2-way stretch fabrics together with the stretch in opposite directions to make them non-stretch. (I don't need stretch, I need support.) So there are many things you can do. I will watch with interest!

  10. Very interesting to follow this...