This was also a highly requested tutorial- like last week’s tutorial on changing your pattern for different sizes of underwires. If you’ve read my posts on Underwire Fitting and my Guide to Different Underwire Styles. Then you might have found that you need an underwire that is a different style than the one that you use in your favourite pattern. So what do you do about it? – Modify the pattern of course.
To start off- I want to say, just like with any bra pattern modification, there are definitely limits to this- and depending on how large of a change you’re trying to make with you pattern, there will definitely be some test bras and fittings required. There’s only so much you can do with a bra pattern if you’re planning to make serious modifications.
This post is all about my Round Underwire!
If you want to know more about underwire styles & the wires I offer check out – Underwire Styles & Body Types
If you’re looking for more info on fitting underwires check out – How to Fit an Underwire
Next to the Orange wire, this would be my second most ‘standard/average’ style of wire. This wire is a little higher at the centre front, which give a bit more full coverage for those who like to stay secure! This wire was named for the shape- pretty straight forward- it’s a nice round shape, and is great for people who have that more round breast type- but can be a bit flexible to suit different bodies too. I’ve used this wire lots before, and it’s pretty common 🙂
I have some SUPER COOL BRA THEORY for you today!!
I often get asked “how do you make so many beautiful professional looking bras?” And that real answer to that is- experience- I’ve been making a bra almost every week for about a year and a half now! And what I’ve learned from that is the importance of bra planning. Thinking about the bra before I make it, where the seams are going to be, how I’m going to attach the strap, what elastics and fabrics I’m going to use.
One thing I like to do is to search through my lingerie board on Pinterest to see what beauties I love the most, then deconstruct them. It’s so easy to look at a bra and just think “oh that’s so pretty- I could never make something that amazing!” but if you really break it down into all its parts- a lot of bras are actually quite similar. And when you break them down you can figure out how to make them yourself!
So I thought I would try to share some of the bra planning wisdom that I’ve gained with a guide!
I made up a two page checklist/guide that breaks down a bra into all the elements that you should think about before you start to make it. I like to use this on bras that I see on Pinterest, but you could use it on a bra that you think up completely on your own! It helps to iron out all the kinks you could come up against. There’s nothing worse than getting 3/4 done with a bra then thinking- ‘how am I going to attach the strap in a nice way?” or ‘I would have really preferred a strap scoop in the back’. This can all be avoided with a bit of thought and planning!
and Voila! Here’s the Guide!
Here is a link to the PDF version so you can download it and print it out for yourself 🙂 (otherwise you could save the images off of the blog- but that might not be as pretty)
This guide is targeted at mostly underwired bras, but you can still use it for non-underwired (just skip all the wire related questions!) and it’s also more useful for bras that have seams (rather than any type of moulded cup) because that’s what most people are sewing.
It goes over underwire type, construction, seaming, cup-strap-cradle & band details, fabric and elastic choices, and as always there’s a spot for you to put in additional comments!
This, of course, doesn’t cover every single feature that every bra out there has, it’s more to get you thinking about how bras are made and what you should think about when you’re dreaming up your next creation 🙂 I think it also helps to break it all down and make it seem a little less intimidating!
I thought I would show you the guide in action with my most recent bra: The Lily of the Valley!
This bra has a lot of pretty features, and it can look overwhelming- but it’s really not too complicated- here is how it breaks down in my guide 🙂
Boom! In no time you can have a quick and dirty break down of your bra- which makes it so much easier to plan out your construction, see where you might rather change things, how it’s all going to come together!
Are there any other bras that you would like me to break down using this guide? I can do a mini series of your favs!
Do you struggle with bra planning or have a system of your own?
Talk to me in the comments!!
Now you’ll want to trace the bottom of you bra frame, marking the center front, the side seam, and the center back (this is the bra hook placement- which would be the point you attach your hook & eye, or the fold point that your g-hook would sit in). In this photo I traced all the way past the g-hook fold, but please ignore that.
Now that you have this, you want to measure on your body how long you want your tankini skirt. Do this by starting at the center front of your bra, at the bottom of your bridge, then measure down your body to the point you want your tankini to end. For my mom this was 13″.
Then on your pattern measure straight down from the center front and the center back 13″, making a box.
If you left your pattern like this, you would have a very straight tankini skirt, with no allowances for your hips.
In the back of this tankini, you want to have some wiggle room to fasten your bra hook. Measure approximately 1.5″ in from the center back along your bra-frame line, and 3″ down the back of your back seam, and connect these in an arc. This will give a nice little space in the back to allow for your bra fastening.
Now this is the point where you want to add in all your volume, and I like nothing more than a lovely flouncy tankini skirt!
I like to use the slash and spread method, where you slash your pattern, the spread it to add some volume. This gives a lovely circle-skirt type of volume, so there is no extra gathering and bulk at your bra frame, but it just flounces and flows out from there in waves! Really flattering and easier to sew!
For this tankini skirt I’ve drawn lines where I want to split the pattern and add some volume: one in the middle of the back, one at the side seam, one in the middle of the front, and then I want to add some big fun volume in the front, so I’ve added 5 lines, which will all be slashed and spread. I’ve also added just a little at the center back seam that you can see!
Now to the slashing and spreading! Remember that this is one side of your pattern piece, so the extra you add will be to both sides! I find that with stretch mesh- you really can’t go too wrong- it’s so forgiving and light!
I decided that for the middle back, side seam, middle front, and the first two front slashes, I would add 3″ of width. I did that by slashing along my line, inserting a piece of paper under, and measuring a 3″ gap between the old hemline marks.
To create some bigger drama, I added 5″ to the three front slashes closest to the center front.
Also (and of course I didn’t get a picture of this step)- You need to add a seam allowance along the top frame edge, this allowance should be the same width as the elastic that you are using for the bottom band of your bra, since this will be sewn into the bottom elastic allowance on the frame of your bra.
Add a standard 1/4″ seam allowance along your center back seam (or whatever seam width you like to sew your stretch mesh with).
At the center front I’m going to be leaving my tankini open, so that it has a slit up the front. For a nice finish with this style I like to add a little extra seam allowance, about a 1/2″, this is so that I can fold it in on itself (so there are no raw edges showing) and so that I can overlap the fronts.
Once you have your skirt pieces cut out you will take you your bra that you’ve made up (just the the point of before you add your elastics)
Then you can see laying this out, just how your skirt pieces will be attaching to your bra- you want to attach them along the bottom frame of your bra.
So flip your skirt pieces so they are right sides together with your bra, and pin it along the bra frame, remember to line it up just overlapping the center front (so that your skirt pieces overlap) and you skirt should end 1.5″ in from your hook and eye.
After you’ve pinned both sides, I like to baste it down with a zig-zag stitch like this, you can faintly see that the bra is under these skirt pieces in the picture below.
Once you have it like this, with the skirt side up, you will stitch your elastic to this edge. Imagine there is no skirt piece and you are sewing your elastic to the bottom edge of your bra just like you normally would.
The next step is to sew your elastic, on the second pass, like you normally would, only when your flipping it back in towards the bra cups, make sure that you separate your tankini skirt from the bra frame, so that your skirt is going down and your bra is going up.
This way your elastic will only be shown on the inside, and your tankini skirt just looks like it’s seamed with your bra frame. It’s a very similar technique to if you were adding a ruffle there, or piping.
Then all you have to do is finish sewing up your bra as usual, however you planned, and sew up your center back seam of your tankini skirt!
It’s really super easy! And with the stretch mesh it’s even better because you don’t have to worry about hemming or finishing the edges, it’s best to keep it very simple and light!
I can’t wait to show you the photo shoot I did with my mom for this one so you can see it on her!
I also have another little surprise for you with the photoshoot reveal! 🙂 😉
So much fun stuff happening!!
Do you like tankinis? Do you think you’ll use this tutorial?
Talk to me in the comments!!
It’s still Sunday! I know I know, I’ve been total crap at posting this month- I completely missed last week- but I have a very valid excuse- I joined the quarter century club, that is- I turned 25- and it was a weekend of celebration and family and friends, and there were too many surprise plans to get anything done!
But of course I’m going to make it up to all you lovelies! So I’m starting today with a trio of posts! Today is a tutorial on using cut & sew foam in your bra/bathing suit, the next post will be on making your bra into a tankini oh la la, and the final post will be showing off the lovely tankini that I made for my mom 🙂
So on with todays tutorial!
How To: BraMaking with Foam
I’m going to start off by saying that I love foam. I’m a huge fan. I think that it helps so much to add structure, support, coverage and comfort in bras and especially in bathing suits.
There are different names and styles of foam that you can get for bra making, but they are all generally a layer of foam that has been laminated with fabric on both sides so that it’s nicer to work with. It can be called: cut & sew foam, bra foam, polylaminate foam padding (which would mean it’s laminated with polyester), it can also be called sheet foam. There are various thicknesses, qualities and fabric lamination that you can find, they’re all different and the best one is the one that you like the best.
— shameless self-promo here — I’ve found a foam that I import from France, it’s laminated in the softest microfiber, and it’s nice and thin (1.6mm) meaning that it doesn’t add too much volume, more just the softness, smoothness and overall shape of foam, and I completely adore it! It’s everything I love in foam, and I’ve been using it with everything I make since I got it! —
So once you’ve picked your foam, and you have your pattern that you like, you’ll need to add different seam allowances to your foam pieces than you do to the fabric that you’re planning to cover the foam with.
I’m going to say now- the #1 goal of sewing with foam is that you never fold the foam- it’s just too bulky. If you are seaming your foam together- it should be butt-together with a zig-zag stitch not seamed in a traditional way, and you should try to finish the edges in a way that the foam doesn’t get folded back on itself.
I’m going to show you the process of this step-by-step!
To start: this is my cup pattern, with no seam allowances:
For the inner foam layer, you only want to add seam allowances into the wireline.
*this is if you’re making a standard full-frame bra (not partial band) where you seam allowance along with wireline and channelling is going to be folded away from the bra*
You want to make sure that it you include this seam allowance so the foam gets caught under the channelling and is finished nicely on this area of the cup. Otherwise you don’t want to add any seam allowances to the underarm, neckline or the inner cup seams.
That will look like this:
Once you have your foam all lined-up, you will want to think about your cup-cover. For cup covers- there are many different fabric options you can choose- stretch and non-stretch- the only thing to consider with a non-stretch fabric is that you want to be quite precise with your sewing and your seam allowances to make sure that it fits over your foam perfectly, because you won’t have the same stretch and wiggle room that you have with a stretch fabric. Generally the added support and structure of foam gives you a lot more freedom with your fabric choice.
Once you’ve chosen your cup-cover, you will want to figure out your seam allowances for your cup cover. These will be the same as if you weren’t using the foam. So you will want to make sure that you have your seam allowances at the wireline, for the inner cup seams, and whatever neckline and underarm seam allowances you planned. For this bra I planned to have binding on the underarm and neckline, so I didn’t add any seam allowances.
I’m going to start with the bound-edge because it’s my favourite!
OPTION 1 – The Bound Edge
In this situation, you should have no seam allowances on your foam, or your cover along the neckline and underarm edges- and they should end together at the edge like this:
Then you want to cut a strip of binding, at least 4X the width that you want your finished bound-edge. So for this one, I want a 1/4″ bound edge so I cut my strip at least 1″ wide.
With right sides together pin your binding to the front of your free-edge.
Then you will stitch whatever width you wish for your bound edge to have, in this case I’m stitching 1/4″, which I think is a great choice.
Then it will look like this:
Then like any traditional bound edge, you flip your binding up and around to the other side, from the other side it will look like this with all the layers showing.
Then you’ll want to pin the binding down, enclosing the raw edge. You want it to be comfortably snug, so that it’s not loose, but you don’t want to squeeze the layers- so that you can maintain that nice 1/4″ distance that you sewed. I like to pin this down, just so I don’t have to worry about it while I’m sewing it down.
Then you just stitch in the ditch- trying to be as accurate as you can- and presumably using a matching thread colour, rather than the example black stitching that I’m showing you lol. Also if you prefer, I’ve stitched this with a zig-zag that is one-on and one-off the edge of the binding, and that works too.
On the underside you just trim off the excess fabric. This is of course something that is ideal for a knit fabric (which would be my bra fabric recommendation), but if you are using a woven fabric that could fray, than you might want to use a more traditional binding approach, where the binding is folded under on the underside and stitched.
OPTION 2 – The Elastic Finish
Now this other option is also great, and really good if you want the added support of elastic at your neckline or underarm.
For this method you want to make sure that you add an elastic allowance that matches whatever width of elastic you plan to use to finish the edge (in this case I’m using a 3/8″ elastic). And this will only be added to your cover fabric, not your foam.
I like to pin my fabric to my foam along those edges, just to hold them in place.
Then from the front side of your cup, just like you normally would (with your plush elastic side up), you will sew your elastic to the edge of the fabric. You want to butt your elastic up to where you can feel the foam end, so you are only sewing your elastic to the fabric and not the foam. And you want to sew on the inside edge of the elastic with a zig-zag stitch.
From the front it will look like this:
From the inside it will look like this, (At this point your foam is only attached with the pins, and NOT caught in the elastic)
Then you want to flip your elastic inwards, over the foam, encasing the raw edge of the foam. This is why it’s important not to stitch your elastic to your foam, because if you do, you will be folding your foam over on itself, making for a very bulky edge.
Then you will stitch down your elastic, on the inside edge- to secure it down, just like you normally would with your bra elastics.
In this example I’ve placed the picots so they’re facing in, so I can have a nice straight edge, but on bras you might normally like the picot showing.
And from the front you have your usual line of zig-zag stitching, the same as your regular fabric bra. But this time you have a foam lining – without the bulk.
As you can see both options offer very low-bulk finishes:
The Bound Edge Method:
The Elastic Finish Method:
Not only low-bulk which is nice to look at- but it’s also easier to sew.
Which finish do you like the best? Binding or elastic?
I’m a bound-edge girl myself, I just love a contrasting bound edge, I think it looks so clean and sharp- I’m sure you’re used to seeing it from me now!
Do you like to sew with foam?
Were there any foam-bra related things that I didn’t cover that you’re still wondering about?
Let me know!