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!!
This week I have a set for you that I’m completely in love with 🙂 and I’m calling it my Lily of the Valley set, because they are my favourite flowers 🙂
Besides incorporating everything I love in this set, it’s also special because I’m using lace that was gifted to me by the lovely Ying of TailorMadeShoppe! I was admiring her rose gold hardware (also used in this set) and she was admiring some of my non-stretch lace, so we decided to do a trade, I had no idea she would include some of this beautiful white stretch lace! So I knew it had to be made into something special! Thanks Ying!!
This three-piece set is a lovely fusion of stretch lace, bra tulle, fold-over elastic, regular 3/8″ picot elastic, white bamboo and rose gold hardware 🙂
I’m living for this rose gold hardware- I feel like it brings this set to the next level!
I never usually do a photoshoot with a whole set like this, because it just seems too riské, but I threw caution to the wind with this one, because I love it so much! And this has to be one of the most fun backyard photo shoots I’ve done!
I absolutely love how sheer everything in this set looks! That’s one of the best things about bra tulle on garter belts- it’s sturdy but you don’t have to hide your beautiful panties underneath!
And I feel like the fit is very spot on, if I do say so myself!
It’s also a really good thing that mom procrastinated so long on sewing up her sheers for the front window! We used the fabric pinned to the clothesline for this photoshoot 🙂
Now for the bra details! This is actually a partial band bra (the channelling turns in towards the cup), but I designed it to have a frame that went along the bottom of the cups with this low bridge to allow for this beautiful cut-out in the center 🙂
Then the cup itself is a very simple vertical dart, the dart ends just about where the lace edge ends, so the seam isn’t too prominent, and I love how the sheer white bra tulle shows over the top of the lace, and is finished with the fold over elastic for a really clean edge!
I decided to mirror that look of lace edge, bra tulle and fold over elastic with the garter belt because I felt it gave the set a great balance and cohesion!
And the panties are my bikini bottom pattern, and I made the front panel with lace and tulle, mirroring the top of the bra and the garter belt too!
I absolutely adore my new set! I can imagine I’ll make myself another one just like it if I ever get married, there’s something so bridal about it.
But for now, it’s just me and my Gibby!
And naturally, because I just can’t take myself so serious with this photoshoot- I had to include a couple of the bloopers! lol *so glamorous*
Hope you’re all having an amazing weekend! (and a happy 4th of July to all my USA buddies out there!)
What have you been sewing lately?
Can you believe that June is already coming to an end? It seems like it just flew right by, and I’m loving it! I’m definitely a summer soul, so I’ve been out in the sunshine, loving life! I just can’t stay inside in the summer!
And you guys have make some beautiful bras & things this season! WOW! On we go!
First we have a beautiful white set from Raisa of Olympian Cotton!
Raisa made this bra using the Watson longline pattern from Cloth Habit. She used this dreamy white lace! So gorgeous!
She paired this with some lace panties to match, using a modified version of the Watson Bikini brief, so that she could have the beautiful scalloped lace edge on the leg 🙂
And a set this light and dreamy deserves a garter belt! She made this one using her own self-drafted pattern How pretty is this!
Next we have a lovely foam bra from Genevieve of Sew a Button on Your Underwear!
Genevieve is tickled pink by her new pink T-shirt bra, and I can see why! It’s a beauty! She made this using the Amanda pattern from PUG patterns.
Next we have a pretty bra from the lovely Samantha!
This is the first time that Samantha has made a partial-band bra and it turned out beautifully! I love the colours and that lovely lace that she used on the upper cup- and the pop of that bow! Love it!
Next we have some lovely submissions from Ilna!
Ilna made this lovely set using some mustard coloured fabric remenant that she got from a friend and paired it with some beautiful black lace. She used the Azalia pattern, and altered it to have a gothic arch, and butterfly lace- SO pretty!
She’s also been busy making some panties- these gorgeous burgundy lace panties using the Sew So Easy lace undies pattern, and the other pair using a modified MakeBra Hipsters pattern and some pretty ruffle elastic! Love!
Next we have a stunning bodysuit from the lovely Sofia of Silver Lining Atelier!
Sofia got to be a pattern tester for the new Cindy underwired bodysuit pattern from Ohhh lu lu! And what a beautiful body suit she made!
I adore these colours, and the contrast of the elastic, so pretty!
The fit for the body was spot-on, but she needed a little more room in the cups- very pretty design though, and wonderfully made!
Make sure to read all about this bodysuit over on Sofia’s blog!
Next we have some super fun makes from Ciara of Crabigail Adams!
Ciara was super busy this month! First she made this adorable Vintage Valentine’s bra and panty set! This reminds me so much of a vintage Valentine’s card! So sweet!
Next she made this Bluebird bra and panty set, where she modified the pattern for a gothic arch! Great detail! And I love the use of lace! I feel like I could look at your work forever and there’s always more to see!
And last but not least Ciara ended the month with this self-drafted bathing suit! Love it! It has a built in bra, and who doesn’t like the combo of stripes and fruit- so fresh, and it looks fantastic on!
And last but certainly not least we have these two beautiful from Ginny!
Ginny loves to make bras for her very luck niece Emma, and wow she must have a beautiful collection now! I absolutely love this pink lace diagonal seamed beauty!!
For this second bra she used the Shelly pattern from PUG patterns. I just love the colour, the lace and those adorable little rosettes! How sweet is this! I feel like you need to be on a picnic eating chocolate dipped strawberries when you’re wearing this! Love!!
And there it is! Your round-up for June! So many beautiful things to admire this month, as always, you guys are unendingly talented!
It’s the big reveal!! It was so strange being behind the camera instead of in front of the camera this time! But I’m so excited with how this tankini turned out, and mom is too!!
This suit was directly inspired by mom and everything that she’s looking for in a swimsuit: support and lift in the cups, and a little extra fullness and coverage around the middle. Mom’s body type is an apple shape (which my sister and I can take full credit for – we were both huge babies), and her waist measurement is almost the same as her hip measurement, so the ideal bathing suit is one that nips in right under the bust, then flows away towards the hip.
The basis for this tankini top is a 3-piece cup bra pattern that I designed custom for mom. The inner layer is cut & sew foam covered with a seamed layer of black swimwear fabric, then over the top I added the stretch mesh. Rather than seam the stretch mesh, which I thought would be too bulky, I just used my pattern piece to make a solid cover that is ruched at the bottom of the cup. I thought it was a really pretty solution that almost makes it look like moulded cup!
For the bra frame I used: a layer of 15 denier for stability, a layer of black swimwear then a layer of stretch mesh. The back band is just a layer of black powernet with a layer of stretch mesh over top.
I finished the top edge with black binding, and made some simple high-waisted bottoms out of the same black to go underneath.
The high-waisted bottoms are perfect, because they can still give a little bit of tummy control, and you can just see them and a tiny bit of upper-stomach through the slightly sheer stretch-mesh!
I’m SO happy with how this suit turned out, and I’m proud to report that mom says it’s her favourite bathing suit she’s ever owned! It has the comfort of a bra, it camouflages the mid-section without being tight and ruched, and it’s super light-weight and fun!
Mom is turning 50 this year (can you believe it!) and my number one goal is to only make things that I would also wear (no old- lady bathing suits allowed!) and I can definitely say that I have some serious swimwear envy over this one! 🙂
Now I have some slightly disappointing news. I was planning to have a big surprise give-away of a tankini kit with everything I used to make this suit. However, Canada Post looks like they’re going on strike very soon, which means anything I put in the mail could get stuck there until the strike is over. I’ve looked into different shipping options for the giveaway, and for my Etsy shop, but the prices are pretty steep and right now I think the best option will be to temporarily close my shop and postpone this giveaway until the strike is over or until I figure out an alternative. But I do promise that I will be having this giveaway in the future (as well as a couple limited kits for sale!), so make sure to keep your eyes peeled for that!
But I’ll end the post on a happier note, with this picture of Gibby, the happiest puppy in the world, moments before he shakes and showers mom with a million droplets of water. 😀
How are your sewing plans coming along this summer? Made anything super cute?
I’m getting all ready for the submission post going out tomorrow, so if you have any last minute entires- make sure you get them in right away!!
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!!