In Progress: Silk Polka Dot Boylston Bra

10 May

sewing with spiegel boylston bra

Hey everyone! I’m back with another bra post… again! This time, I’m trying something a little different though – I have made this bra *entirely* on my Spiegel 60609 machine. If you’ve followed my past bra posts, you will know how much I love using my old standby Bernina 350 for assembling lingerie, especially since the variety of feet that I have make things super easy. However, I was really curious to see how the Spiegel 60609 held up when it involves fussy lingerie sewing, so I used it for this project. And now I’m going to report my findings to you!

A few things I noticed that I think bear mentioning:
– I’m not a huge fan of the way the seam allowances are marked on the throat plate of this machine, as it makes it a little difficult to get a precise 1/4″ seam allowance. However, this is really easily solved by laying a piece of tape or even a Post-it note where your 1/4″ line should be. This is what I did, and it worked fine.
– The feed dogs (what move under your needle to push the fabric along) on this machine are AMAZING. Seriously, I didn’t have to pull my thread tails at all when starting or stopping a seam. The machine just pushed everything through without any snags or chewed up fabric – even with using silk crepe and teensy 1/4″ seam allowances. Color me impressed!
– The one downside I see to this machine is that you can’t move the needle in either direction – which is what I typically do to get accurate edgestitching (on my Bernina, I use the stitch-in-the-ditch foot and move the needle all the way to one side, it gives me a perfect 1/8″ without having to even really think about it). With that being said, I used the clear foot that comes with the Spiegel 60609, and found that the opening off the center of the foot is exactly 1/8″ from the needle. As long as you line this opening with the seam that you are edgestitching, you will get an accurate stitch. It does mean that you need to pay attention and maybe sew a little slower – but the 60609 also has a speed dial to slow things down, so no excuses now! 🙂
– There are a BUNCH of zigzag stitches on this machine!! For elastic insertion (which I’ll go over next week in part 2), I used stitch #226. I found the width to be perfect for what I needed.

The pattern I am using for this bra is the Boylston Bra from Orange Lingerie. This beautiful balconette pattern works for both foam cups and fabric cups, and features self-fabric straps and a really nice rounded shape. I’ve made it a few times in the past, and it’s a favorite of mine 🙂 I am making the size 30D.

For fabric, I am using silk crepe from Mood Fabrics (look familiar? I used it to make a top! Yay for lingerie using tiny scraps, ha!) for the outer, black power mesh from Tailor Made Shop for the back band, sheer cup lining from Bra Maker’s Supply, and black foam bra padding also from Bra Maker’s Supply. The elastics and notions are from various points in the NYC Garment District – I just have a giant stash that I pull from as I need stuff 🙂

I hope you like watching step by step progress shots, because that’s what you’re getting this week! 🙂

The pattern has you start by assembling the cups – there are 3 pieces that are sewn together with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Don’t know why, but I don’t have a picture of this step. You’ll just have to trust me haha 🙂 Make sure you backstitch at each end, as it’s really easy for stuff to come unraveled and make your (lingerie-makin’)life hellish!

Making a Boylston Bra

For the foam cups, I cut all the same pieces and remove the 1/4″ seam allowances (more info on this here!). Then you butt the edges up against each other and attach them – in the same order as you sew the fabric cups – using a zigzag stitch.

Making a Boylston Bra

Here is what the pieces look like when they’re attached. Pardon my yellow marking – those are the pattern notch markings (I use wax instead of snipping, since the seam allowances are so tiny).

Making a Boylston Bra

Topstitching the pieces as instructed is also especially important, since a lot of fabrics used in lingerie don’t press very well. Here is what I was talking about in terms of using the foot as a topstitching guide – if you line up the open side with the edge of your fabric, as shown here, the needle will automatically hit exactly 1/8″ from the edge.

Making a Boylston Bra

The fabric straps are folded in half and then sewn to the top of the cups, as shown, with the folded edge facing the center of the bra (the raw edges will be finished with elastic eventually).

Making a Boylston Bra

Next, the foam cup is placed against the right side of the fabric cup, and pinned into place along the top edge. I also like to run that edge of the foam under the serger (with a 3 thread overlock) just to help flatten things a bit more, but that’s an optional step. Sew this seam at the normal 1/4″.

Making a Boylston Bra

After sewing, you flip the foam to the inside and pull the fabric cup taunt to the edges, and pin everything down. This might require a bit of finessing with the fabric, which is normal! It’s also normal to have some excess fabric that needs to be trimmed off. I love how this finishes the top edge of the cup and also catches the strap! Once everything is as smooth as you can get it, go ahead and baste around the raw edges to secure everything, and then trim off any excess fabric so it’s even with the edge of the foam.

Making a Boylston Bra

Assembling the bridge, cradle, and band are similar to assembling the cups – use 1/4″ seam allowances and follow the topstitching guide in the pattern. I chose to line my bridge and cradle with sheer cup lining, because it gives some extra stability to the silk crepe. Also, you can use the lining to encase the raw edges so the inside is nice and clean! You just want to lay your pieces so the fabric is on the right side, and the cup lining is on the wrong side – with the seam you’re attaching sandwiched in the middle. After sewing the seam, the outer fabric and cup lining flip up to cover the raw edges.


Making a Boylston Bra

After the cups and bridge/frame/band are assembled, then you put them together (and THEN it really starts to look like a bra!). This part can seem a little fiddly, but it’s doable as long as you go slow and be mindful of what you’re sewing (again, slowing down the speed on the machine helps a lot). I find it helpful to use less pins – since you’re sewing a convex curve to a concave curve, you want to be able to stretch and pull the curves as you approach them (and pinning too much can limit that, at least in my experience). I pin the beginning and end of the seam, and the notch points marked on the pattern. That’s it! Another tip is always start at the center front – it’s very important to get those edges lined up perfectly.

Making a Boylston Bra

Once everything is attached and I’m happy with how it looks, I trim down the foam seam allowance to reduce bulk. Time to add the underwire channeling! 😀 😀 😀

Making a Boylston Bra

I find this step a little weird to explain and even harder to photograph, so here’s a picture of the instructions. The channeling gets attached to ONLY the cups of the bra, right on the seam allowance. Ideally, I like to be right along the seamline that I just sewed, but close enough is good enough 🙂

Making a Boylston Bra

Again, the little notch in the clear foot that comes with the 60609 is perfect for lining up a 1/8″ seam allowance when attaching the casing. Sew all the way around until you get to about 1/2″-3/4″ away from the edge at the underarm, and leave that part unsewn (this will make it easier to attach the underarm elastic).

Making a Boylston Bra

Here’s the casing after it’s been attached! For now, only one side is sewn down – the other side will be sewn once some of the elastics have been added.

Making a Boylston Bra

I think that’s enough bra talk for today! 🙂 Next week, I’ll go over the steps for attaching the elastic and finishing the bra – aka THE FUN PART – and showing my completed Boylston! As always, let me know if you have any questions about this part of the process! 🙂

One more thing! We have a giveaway winner from last week! After some careful contemplation (aka Random Number Generator, hey-o!), our winner issssss….


Yay congratulations, Rosemary!! I can’t wait to see what you make with your voucher! 😀

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway – and big thanks Contrado for your awesomely generous prize donation!

I’ll be back next week to finish that bra! Stay tuned!

22 Responses to “In Progress: Silk Polka Dot Boylston Bra”

  1. Indoor Kitty May 10, 2016 at 8:43 am #

    Pretty, pretty. You must do a bra making class in Nashville. (Excuse me while I prepare a list of budget hotels near the shop.)

    • Indoor Kitty May 10, 2016 at 9:16 am #

      That’s weird. Just did a google hotel search. I expected more choices. Does everyone going to Vanderbilt games stay in Brentwood or something?

      • LLADYBIRD May 11, 2016 at 12:16 pm #

        Well, up until VERY recently, Nashville’s tourist industry was mainly country music – so people mostly stayed near downtown and/or Music Row. There are a few hotels scattered around the city and Midtown, but honestly your best bet would be a get an Airbnb and stay in one of the cool neighborhoods. 12 South in particular is pretty sweet!

  2. PS Bledsoe Art May 10, 2016 at 9:18 am #

    Fabulous explanation! Thanks!

  3. Beth May 10, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    Wow — this is absolutely amazing! You mentioned the plethora of zigzag stitches on this machine; how do you know which one to pick/which one you need? Hopefully the number of the one you chose doesn’t have anything to do with how many different ones there are…. 🙂

    • LLADYBIRD May 11, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

      Personally, I just test on scraps of my fabric until I get a zigzag that looks nice and stretches without popping. A plain zigzag is usually perfect for me. A lot of people like the 3 step zigzag, but I’ve never been happy with it’s looks/performance. Just a matter of opinion! And yeah, the machine has THAT many stitches – well, more, actually! The options are a little overwhelming (my Bernina has like, 30 stitches haha), but just cos they are there doesn’t mean you need to use them all 🙂 I just write down the # of the ones I like and keep them in the notebook by my sewing machine so I can reference later if I need to.

  4. rosemary May 10, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    Jumping up and down with excitment as my brain begins tripping over itself with ideas! Thank you so much!

  5. Julie May 10, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    Ok, so this is not really bra related. I was watching a Jalie tutorial on how to make their Elenor pants. They finished the seam with a serger but….that was after they sewed the seam using a regular straight stitich. I thought the purpose of the serger was sew and finish the seam all at once? Did I totally have this wrong? Please, please say I didn’t have it wrong!!

    • Kim May 11, 2016 at 11:35 am #

      Unless I’m sewing a T-shirt or another jersey fabric item, I sew a normal straight seam and finish the edges with a serger. It’s more secure, more accurate, and generally feels nicer when worn.

      • Julie May 11, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

        Thank you for replying.

    • LLADYBIRD May 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

      Either way is right! I personally use my serger to sew and finish seams on knits. However, on wovens I use a regular sewing machine and then finish the seam with a serger. As Kim said below – it’s more secure, more accurate, and looks/feels nicer in general 🙂

      • Julie May 11, 2016 at 9:54 pm #

        Thanks! for replying.

  6. Sallie May 12, 2016 at 9:46 am #

    Hi Lauren, do you think this bra would work without the underwire? Thanks!

    • LLADYBIRD May 13, 2016 at 8:17 am #

      I definitely would not make this pattern without the underwire – it’s essential for the correct fit and support 🙂 If you want a bra without underwire, I’d look for a pattern that is drafted with that in mind, such as the Watson bra 🙂

  7. Amanda Werner May 14, 2016 at 4:00 am #

    Just wanted to mention that you can sew with the needle in the left or right position! You just adjust the stitch width (0 is left, 3.5 is center, 7 is right) then do a stitch with the foot pedal and it will move the needle to the correct position.

    I just wish there was a way to program it to end in the needle down position.

    • LLADYBIRD May 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

      Um, DID NOT KNOW THAT. Genius!! Thank you for that head’s up!!!

      And yeah, I agree with you – I’d love a way to make the needle stay down each time you stop sewing. It’s a minor complaint, but still!

      • Amanda Werner May 16, 2016 at 6:51 pm #

        Glad I could help! Can’t wait to see what you make now that you can move the needle 😉


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