Completed: Silk Leopard Print Boylston Bra

5 Aug

Man, I am SO far behind in terms of what I made vs actually posting it. This is from 2 weeks ago. Ain’t mad about it!

Silk leopard print Boylston braThe pattern here is the Boylston bra, which is the newest pattern from Orange Lingerie. I think I mentioned this before, but I’ve been waiting for a hot minute for this pattern to debut – Norma showed me a photo of one of her samples when I met with her in Paris (man, that sounds so fancy! I wish I was that fancy irl haha) and I was super excited about the idea of making a bra with a woven fabric. Also, tiny prints. You need a tiny print so that it doesn’t get lost in these little pattern pieces. And isn’t everything tiny automatically twice the fun? Yes.

Another big selling point of this bra vs the Marlborough is that the Boylston has been designed to be made with foam cups (you can also make it without foam cups and just have a soft, lined bra, if that’s your jam!). At the time of my snooping, I wasn’t terribly interested in foam cups (I am now, though), but I loved the idea of a lined bra, again, made with a tiny print. Also, the balconette shape is new to me – I don’t think I’ve ever actually owned a bra with this silhouette because I’ve never found one that fit properly. So obviously it was time to try something new! Silk leopard print Boylston bra

Since I’ve already made the Marlborough bra a number of times (one two three, etc etc), and I was pretty comfortable with the fit, I compared the pieces of the two patterns together to see if there were any similarities. Both the bridge and the back band on the Boylston and the Marlborough are almost exactly the same. The cradle is also pretty similar. Obviously the cups and straps are different, but I felt pretty confident that I could cut my usual size in the Boylston and not have any weird surprises. So I made my bra up in a 30D, same size as the Marlborough was for me. I also applied my Marlborough back band changes to the Boylston pattern – I figured if the bands were drafted the same, then they would probably need the same LT-alterations (mostly shifting the curve so that the straps hit the right spot, and extending it to be slightly longer. Which means technically this band isn’t a 30, but, whatever. It fits me now, that’s all that matters). The cup wrinkles you see on the dressform aren’t there in real life; she’s just a slightly different size than I am.

Silk leopard print Boylston braI tried to wait & hang around to see if anyone else made this pattern before I dove in, so that I could steal their ideas without having to figure things out on my own. But, y’alls is too slow for me! I waited a couple agonizing weeks and said, fuck it. Cut that sucker up, stitched her together, new bra by the end of the day. Yay! Silk leopard print Boylston bra

I wanted to try something super duper fancy for this bra, so I made it out of silk! The outer is this leopard print silk charmeuse from Mood Fabrics, and it’s REALLY nice stuff! I used the shiny side facing out – normally, I prefer the matte side of silk, but the shiny side definitely looks more bra-like (and I’d guess will also wear better under clothing, since it’s ~slick~). For the cups, I did try out foam for the first time – and I’m a total convert. Bra foam RULES, you guys!! Making the little cups was really fun (and having little foam boobies floating around the sewing room is a total thrill, let me tell you) and they definitely make this bra look way more RTW than anything else I’ve ever made. I’ve hated foam bras for quite a while now – mostly because of that weird half-grapefruit shape that they all come in. My boobs definitely aren’t shaped like that, so they never fill out the bra correctly – there’s always a giant gape at the top half of the cup. What’s nice about this pattern is that the cup is seamed, so you get a more natural shape which in turn makes the foam cup fit better. I bought this foam from Sweet Cups Bra Supply (which is the US version of Bra Maker’s Supply – cheaper shipping, but the selection isn’t quite as extensive, wah) and I really like the way it feels, as well as how it sewed. One of those little foam pieces was plenty for this bra – I estimate that I have enough to cut at least 2 more bras, maybe 3. So it’s not terribly expensive, either.

While this bra pattern was designed to work with foam, the pattern isn’t actually drafted to be foam-friendly – you have to do that yourself (does that make sense? The stye works with foam, but the pattern needs a couple of tweaks for the best sewing results.). Part of my waiting around for someone else to make this pattern was that I could not figure out how to seam up the foam on the bra – wouldn’t the seam allowance be bulky? I did some lurking and found this make a foam cup bra series on Cloth Habit, which answered pretty much all of my foam questions. I retraced the cup pieces onto light plastic and removed the seam allowances, and followed Amy’s tips for sewing everything together and trimming down the foam within the seam allowances to reduce bulk. I’m really pleased with the results. I think this bra looks totally professional.

Silk leopard print Boylston braAs with my other bras, I used firm powernet for the back band and lined the bridge with the same powernet. All the elastics and notions are from my stash (mostly from the Garment District, but I buy my underwires from the aforementioned Sweet Cups because I love their wires! In fact, I love everything I’ve bought from that site. Their quality is the best!). Interestingly, I had *exactly* enough of all the elastics I used – nothing more, nothing less. Dunno how that happened, but I won’t argue with it! The cups are lined with the foam, and thanks to the elastic and underwire channeling, the only seam you see is the side seam that connects the bridge to the band. I serged that seam with a 3 thread overlock; next bra I make, I might experiment with binding it or even adding a lightweight boning. So many options! Silk leopard print Boylston bra

Silk leopard print Boylston braSilk leopard print Boylston bra

I worried about the straps getting stretched out of shape, since they’re silk and all (a double layer, but still). The edges are finished with elastic, though, so that helps them keep their shape. I’ve worn this bra a LOT since I finished it. I’m actually wearing it right now as I type this πŸ˜‰ hahaha!

Silk leopard print Boylston braThe only thing I will change for the next bra is that damn seam allowance at the top of the cups. Instead of following Amy’s advice and using 1/8″, I used the pattern’s 3/8″ and as a result, the foam is really bulky and there’s definitely a ridge at the top of my bra. Using a smaller seam allowance would have eliminated that. Oh well! Silk leopard print Boylston bra

Here are the foam cups. Aren’t they adorable! They are sewn up with a basic zigzag stitch, the pieces butted together with no overlap. I’ve seen some people cover their foam cup seams, or use a satin stitch to piece them together – but I like the basic ol’ zigzag. It’s strong enough, not very noticeable, and super quick!

Final thoughts – this is by far the prettiest, best-fitting bra I have ever made. I think the shape is really beautiful and modern, but not Victoria’s Secret’s idea of modern (no big half-grapefuit foam cups, PLS). I don’t have any photos of me wearing this one, sorryyyyy, but I’ll make an attempt for the next one (as of this writing, I have 2 cut and ready to be sewn, so it’s safe to say that there will be more of these in my life!). I LOVE that the pattern is made for non-stretch fabrics, and thanks to the foam cup – you could make this bra out of almost anything. Which has definitely got me thinking hard and lurking into the depths of my fabric stash! The fabric straps are pretty, and bonus – they use less elastic than normal elastic straps (so, again, yay for using scraps!). I also think the cup piecing could lend itself to some gnarly colorblocking. We’ll see! I also wonder if this pattern could be converted to a strapless? The shape is pretty similar to the RTW strapless that I own; except the cups have less coverage on this one.

As far as how easy the pattern was to make – well, I definitely did not make it any easier on myself thanks to my fabric choice! Silk charmeuse is hard enough to deal with on a good day, but we are talking about teensy little pattern pieces here. A couple were cut off-grain and had to be recut. I didn’t have too much of a problem assembling and topstitching, but I’ve also made a few bras at this point so I’m pretty confident in those skills. The only construction part that was hard was getting the elastic around the underarm and up the strap. That curve was difficult to navigate. I don’t think this is a hard pattern, per se, but I don’t know if I’d make it my first bra pattern. Definitely not in silk charmeuse with foam cups, at any rate. Maybe start with the Watson or the Marlborough first πŸ™‚ The instructions were good, pretty similar to the ones for the Marlborough. I did notice that Norma added grainlines to the pattern pieces, which indicate the stretch direction so cutting is easier. That was a MASSIVE help! I do wish there were more markings on the pieces themselves – mostly, top and bottom markings. I’m not really sure if my cups are upside-down or not, because there’s really no way to tell.

Tried a new bra pattern tonight! This is the Boylston from @orange_lingerie, sewn up in silk charmeuse with foam cups! Another nail-biter till the end (will it fit?? will it fit??), but I'm happy to report that it fits awesomely. Now to put foam cups in e

Ok, who else has bought this pattern and when are you gonna make it?! Guysss! I need to see more Boylston bras up in here, please and thank you!

56 Responses to “Completed: Silk Leopard Print Boylston Bra”

  1. gilliancrafts August 5, 2015 at 7:44 am #

    OOoh, this is super-timely, because I was just debating Marlborough or Boylston!
    Did you see this post on the Sewcialist Lingerie month? Erin has some great tips about working with foam – and she used to work for Bra Maker’s Supply, so the girl knows what she is doing! πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

      Ooh! Get both!! ahaha!! πŸ™‚ But seriously – it depends on the shape you want, and whether or not you’ll want to add foam. Both are great patterns, though!

      That’s a good post with some good tips! Thanks for the link-up πŸ˜€

  2. Evie August 5, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    I just bought the pattern I couple of days ago! I fell totally in love the second she released it. I unfortunately have to wait to make it until my post-baby size quits changing, but I’m already plotting about what I’m going to dig out of my scrap bin for it.

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

      Oh, it’s SO good for scraps!! The pieces are super tiny and they don’t need to have any sort of stretch to work (especially if you’re using foam). It’s amazing! My scrap bin will never recover from this hahahaha

  3. craftsanctuary August 5, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    I JUST bought this pattern a couple of days ago. I discovered it through the sewcialists blog and my immediate thoughts were:
    1. How did I miss this?
    2. Where are all of the finished versions?
    3. Lladybird didn’t even make this up yet, wtf?
    Thanks for remedying at least one of those πŸ™‚ Your bra is gorgeous, and I’m really hoping I have time to hop on the bandwagon with you over the next week or two! ALSO, I had no idea about the US version of bra-makers supply. Thanks for the update!!

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

      Ha! I was waiting to get my foam in the mail… and then waiting to work up the nerve to actually make it πŸ™‚ You should get cracking on yours! Then there will at least be a few finished versions floating around on the web πŸ™‚

  4. Jae August 5, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    I bought this awhile ago but this is my first bra project and I didn’t realize it, but even the largest cup size is too small for me, :(. So I’ve been trying to grade out the pattern to get it to work. I’ve also been waiting to see examples to know how it should fit on the body, etc. And waiting FOREVER for my bra making supplies. Ordered them 2 weeks ago.

    • gilliancrafts August 5, 2015 at 10:18 am #

      Have you checked if there are any sister-size cups that would work for you? (For example, I’m a 36f, but the cup from a 38dd or a 40d would fit me…)

      • Jae August 5, 2015 at 10:20 am #

        Yeah, that’s what I meant by the largest cup didn’t work, it only goes to a 40DD which sister size wise should have fit but ended up being the equivalent of my current 34DD cup size. I need a 34G.

      • Jae August 5, 2015 at 10:23 am #

        Basically the depth is fine but width wasn’t. My breast root to breast root is 11″ and the 40DD of this pattern is around 10″

        • gilliancrafts August 5, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

          Aww, that’s too bad! (I thought that might be what you meant, but thought I’d throw sister-sizes out where just in case! πŸ˜‰ You could try cloning a bra instead?

          • Jae August 5, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

            Definitely on the list. Went bra shopping the other day and discovered that a 34G really did fit (bit of a shock after wearing 34DD), and ordered a couple off Bare Necessities as they were having a one day sale. :). Also working on drafting a custom cup…semi-successful.

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

      Dang! Who did you order your supplies from, so I can avoid them too? hahaha kidding!!.. mostly πŸ˜› I will say that in relation to the fit, it’s a pretty basic balconette-style bra (google around and try to ignore all the airbrushed cleavage you see; that’s a somewhat decent example haha). The cups should only come up a little bit past the nipple, and the overall shape is rounded (but a more natural rounded, if that makes sense). Dammit. I really should post a picture of myself wearing this. I can’t describe it at all. It’s really pretty, though!

      • Jae August 5, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

        It looks gorgeous! I’m working on redrafting the pattern between Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction, Bare Essentials: Bras, and the website Foundations Revealed. It will be PERFECT dammit, haha. I also hope to make it into a strapless, Bare Essentials had a great bit on how to do that and Cloth Habit too.

      • Jae August 12, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

        I finished my bra!!!

        • LLADYBIRD August 13, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

          SWEET! Gonna check it out now πŸ˜€

  5. Lola August 5, 2015 at 9:26 am #

    I have the pattern but of course its just sitting there with all my other stuff cause im a lazy sob

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:36 pm #


      • Lola August 6, 2015 at 10:31 am #

        OMG. we need a list of matching thingzzz so we can be the emoji twins

  6. Abbey (abbeydabbles) August 5, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    This is GORGEOUS!!

  7. Janie August 5, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    This pattern is really high on my list! I’ve wanted to try lingerie for a while, but it seems like all of the patterns involve lace, and I’ve yet to meet a lace that doesn’t give me hives. (I’m also not quite smart enough to figure out how to adapt the lacy patterns to not use lace. Is that even a thing?)

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

      Oh, it’s totally a thing! Just use something other than lace πŸ™‚ As long as the stretches are similar, you shouldn’t have any problem swapping out lace for a more opaque fabric πŸ™‚

  8. Ginny August 5, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    Lauren, your Bolyston is absolutely awesome! I just made the Boylston for my niece (the Marlborough has been her favorite bra, so like you, I thought that Norma’s new pattern would work great for her too, and it does), using foam lining. I graded the foam at the top of the cup seam to practically nothing and then understitched it. Since I was worried there would be, I was pleasantly surprised that there is no bulk or ridge. Maybe I just lucked out, I don’t know, but I was carefully ruthless with my seam trimming. I’m pretty sure that the foam I used came from MakeBra, but I’m not certain since my lingerie sewing stash is constantly growing and I’ve forgotten the origins of some of my supplies. Check it out on the Sewcialists’ blog if you like.

    I have some pretty leopard satin in the stash, which after seeing your version, I may have to use for the next Boylston — there will be many future Boylstons sewn by me :D!

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

      Wow, your bra turned out beautiful!! That fabric is just delicious, and the sets are absolutely dainty. Lucky niece you got there πŸ™‚ I think trimming and understitching the foam is key to eliminate the bulk – I just finished my second Boylston, and I serged the top of the foam with a tight 3 thread overlock to flatten it, then sewed it to the shell fabric with a 1/8″ seam allowance. It’s too narrow to understitch, but pressing keeps everything in place. And there’s no ridge. Yay! πŸ˜€

      Also glad to hear that you like the MakeBra stuff. I want to try their foam, but their prices+shipping are a bit much for me (although I’ll probably download a pdf pattern, because I can swing that!). I’ve heard rave reviews about their foam.

  9. Julia August 5, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    This is a very nice version of the Boylston Bra. IΒ΄m a big fan of the pattern too. I already made four and IΒ΄m planning even more! I showed the four today on my blog. If you like to take a look:

    At the moment IΒ΄m a little addicted to sewing Bras, so I started a Sew Along not to be alone with my addiction.


    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:42 pm #

      Your Boylstons are beautiful! I love all the pretty prints that you used πŸ™‚ I agree – sewing lingerie is a little addicting! Which is a good thing, because one can always use more pretty underwear πŸ˜€

  10. Mary Lewis, YarnTangler August 5, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Wow, you are so clever!

  11. Ms. McCall August 5, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    I have silk that I can’t wait to make a top out of so I can use the scraps for a bra – is that backwards and weird? This bra is AWESOME and makes me sad the pattern doesn’t come in my size.

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

      Not backwards and weird at all! That’s what this leopard silk is – I have enough to make a garment, but I still can’t decide on a pattern, so I skipped ahead and made a bra. Haha! And then I’m gonna wear them together BECAUSE I CAN.

      I’m bummed for you that your size doesn’t come in this bra! 😦 I’m guessing that a sister size won’t work?

  12. Lynda Stevenson August 5, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

    Your Boylston looks amazing! I just made it a few weeks ago and like you, am wearing it constantly – pic at
    I used foam also but cut all the seam allowances off and then thought that was maybe wrong? But anyway it worked as I had cut one size bigger in cups than normal, and it’s a perfect fit! On emailing Norma to ask if all seam allowances be cut off for foam (wondered if just the inner ones should be), she said yes and recommended going up a cup size if using foam.

    • LLADYBIRD August 5, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      Ooh, yours turned out so pretty! I never would have thought to use khaki and black together for a bra, but it looks really good!

      Weird, I use my regular size for my bra with the foam, and the fit is great. But that might be different for some people, based on their shape, so that’s a good tip to keep in mind!

  13. Ines August 5, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

    I’m blown away, right out of the water! It looks incredible!

  14. mirza August 6, 2015 at 7:00 am #

    By reading the description of the pattern, I totally thought that it was meant for foam cups. Which is why I thought *meh*. Now that I know that there is no foam required, it seems a loooot more interesting! And you’re right about the non-stretch fabric, I am looking at my fabric stash differently πŸ™‚
    Anyways, after reading your article, I started cutting a new Marlborough. My first one had a band WAY too small, so I should probably master the adjustments on this pattern before I buy a new one and run into the same fitting issues.

    • LLADYBIRD August 6, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

      Nope, you can make it without foam too! I’m still head-over-heels in love with foam for now, but I’d be interested to see other people’s versions without πŸ™‚

  15. Ina August 6, 2015 at 7:50 am #

    Really nice bra! My favorite way of finishing the upper cup is to eliminate the seamallowance at the upper edge of the foam completely and use double seamallowance on the outer fabric. Now you can sew the upper edge with the right side of the fabric facing the wrong side of the foam. After sewing this seam you can flip the fabric to it’s right place. I don’t know how this works with the strap construction, but it is a really clean finish with no visible seamline at the upper cup.

    • LLADYBIRD August 6, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

      Ohhhh, that makes perfect sense! I’m going to try that with my next bra, thank you so much for the tip! I also don’t know how the strap construction would work with that, but I can probably figure something out once I’m actually handling the pieces πŸ™‚

    • Andrea August 9, 2015 at 6:38 am #

      I thought I should read the comments before I suggested this exact same thing. Here’s an example of where I’ve done exactly what Ina suggests. The only time that I fold bra wadding is when using it in a partial band bra. But I grade the foam at an angle right next to the stitching, so there isn’t much folded over at all!

  16. Casey Maura August 6, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    I admit: the idea of making bras gives me the heebie-jeebies. Which is hilarious because I used to make corsets! (Which are fiddly in their own right.) But seeing some of the awesome things coming out of the sewing blogsphere lately is making me rethink that… Although I’m probably kidding myself that I’ll get time to actually start making my own undies. haha! But maybe the Watson would be a good gateway bra? πŸ˜‰ Beautiful job, as always! And I really appreciate all your notes and explanations about construction/materials!

    • LLADYBIRD August 6, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

      You should totally try bra-making – I know you would fall in love with it (I would assume it’s as fun as making corsets, except they’re a bit more usable in every day life. Which means you can make them aaaall the time and not feel guilty about it hahaha). And yes, the Watson is a good gateway bra! I highly recommend it; it’s a great pattern and the instructions are really good πŸ™‚

  17. CarmencitaB August 9, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    Hi Lauren, I took a class with Norma when I was in Boston and I was waiting to see it made up, now that I have, I will go buy it and hit the bra making supplies stores. Thanks for the heads up!

    • LLADYBIRD August 9, 2015 at 11:24 am #

      Yes! Can’t wait to see what you make with it! πŸ˜€

  18. gingermakes August 13, 2015 at 4:10 pm #

    Well, I really wanna WEAR this, but I don’t wanna SEW it. Dilemmas, dude! Seriously, I’m scared to enter the wild world of bra sewing, but all this handmade lingerie is just so beautiful!

  19. symondezyn October 14, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    I just love this version you made! πŸ™‚ I bought the pattern as soon as it was released because I really want to make it in silk too – do you have to use foam if you want to use a woven? And did you cut your pieces on the bias or just as per the pattern specs?

    • LLADYBIRD October 16, 2015 at 8:23 am #

      I believe the pattern works both with and without foam, but I haven’t tried a foam-less version to be certain. Since the pattern is drafted to be sewn with a woven, you wouldn’t cut the pieces on the bias (unless you were doing it for the design factor, and in that case, you’d want to stabilize them with foam or lining. The fabric shouldn’t be stretchy, is my point!).

      • symondezyn October 16, 2015 at 10:04 am #

        excellent!!! thank you for the clarification! 😊

  20. rosemary September 18, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    Hey I’ve just started my first Boylston and was wondering if you can advise on what the heck ‘pin stitching’ is? Havent had much luck googling it!

    • LLADYBIRD September 19, 2016 at 9:22 am #

      I think it’s just another word for edgestitching πŸ™‚

      • rosemary September 19, 2016 at 9:35 am #

        Ahh thanks – I think I need to start compiling a dictionary πŸ˜‰


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