You may have heard that the south was hit with a particularly bad ice storm last week. Nashville was coated with a few inches of solid ice, that kept melting in the sun and refreezing overnight, turning all our roads and interstates into some scary-ass ice rinks for the majority of the week. Since we’re not really equipped to deal with that kind of weather (the last time we had an ice storm anything like this was over 20 years ago – it normally just melts the next day and it’s not an issue), that means that most people spent the week stuck inside their house. And by “most people,” I’m specifically talking about myself. I gotta say – it was pretty nice to have nearly a whole snow week! I wasted the first day by being sick (wah), and the remainder of the days it was really hard to get my ass off the couch because our house is REALLY freaking cold (I’m wearing a fleece robe over my clothes and sitting by a space heater as I type this. I love my old house, but man, they are drafty!). I did want to take advantage of all the free time I had from being home for most of the week, so I made a couple of bras. Bra making is great for cold weather sewing, mostly because you don’t have to strip down often for fitting. Really, just once, and that’s when the bra is finished.
I made 2 bras, but I actually have 3 to show y’all. The first one is one that I finished at the end of 2014 (yay!); I’ve had the photos for ages but I never bothered to post it because it seemed like a pretty boring post on it’s own. For each of these bras, I used a fabric+findings kit to assemble them – so hopefully this will help those of y’all who are still trying to figure out what kit works best for which pattern.
Bra #1 is this sexy little red lace number. This is the Marlborough bra, and the fabric is from a kit from Bra Maker’s Supply (the lace is something I picked up in London; Bra Maker’s Supply doesn’t include lace with their kits). This is the second bra I have ever made, and while I did have a few learning curves with this one, I really learned a LOT.
I really love the kits from Bra Maker’s Supply – they are a good price (less than $30 USD) and the materials are pretty nice quality. I’m not super crazy about the fabric, but it looks nice when it’s sewn up (I like to use the side that isn’t shiny, so it looks less costume-y). The only thing I’ve had a problem with is that they don’t indicate what elastic is for what part of the bra – it’s kind of assumed that you already know. For this bra, I mixed up the lace edge elastic with the underarm elastic, whoops. So now the underarms are lacy, and the top of the lace… isn’t. I doubt any of y’all would have even noticed that if I hadn’t pointed it out, but, it is what it is. It’s not uncomfortable or itchy, at least.
I made this bra exactly the same way as I sewed my black Marlborough, except I left off the clear elastic and lining on the lace (I used the underarm elastic at the top of the lace, to stabilize it). I only made a couple minor fitting changes to the pattern, based on what Norma and I talked about while I was in Paris (scooping about 1/4″ off the bottom of the bridge and adding about 1/4″ to the edge of the upper cup, also moving the straps out about 1/2″). When I finished the bra, I put it on – and it was COMPLETELY unwearable. The back straps were so far apart, they were riding up the back of my armpits. Really really uncomfortable. So I threw the bra in the corner and ignored it for about 3 weeks while I debated what to do. The bra was already finished at this point – underwires inserted, hook and eye sewn in, everything – and I didn’t want to trash it after putting all that work and money into it. This here is the downside of bra making. You can’t really fit-as-you-go.
Spoiler alert: I fixed it and it’s now wearable. I had to unpick the entire back, but I made it work. What I ended up doing was unpicking all the stitching and elastic from the back band, all the way to the frame, and then removed the back band. I measured the pattern band against the band of my favorite bra, and redrew the back curve to match the RTW one. This ended up making the back band bigger as well – so I’m not sure the bra size anymore, since it’s bigger than the 30D I originally cut. Doesn’t matter, though, because whatever the size it is – it fits ME. Anyway, I recut the back pieces in power net and reattached them to the frame, pieced the elastic (since what was attached to the bra was now too short for the band – fortunately, the kits give you more than enough elastic so this was not an issue), and reattached the hook and eye. The bra now fits really well. The band is big enough – it was a smidge too tight before – and the straps are in the right spot. I’m really glad that I took the extra 2+ hours out to rip out and fix the bra, because now I have a wearable red bra!
Here it is on me. This the only floaty ghost bra picture you get in this post, fyi. And only because I did this one agessss ago, ha. You actually see a bit more nipple in real life, but I was feeling modest so I pushed them out of the way. You’re welcome, I guess.
This is the bra that I showed Maddie when I was in Philly for the bra making class. I wanted her to see my fitting changes and tell me if there was anything else I need to tweak. Thankfully, the bra looks pretty good – so I’ve got the go-ahead to keep cutting this size, with my new back band piece and all that.
Soooo, here’s the next Marlborough that I made over the snow week!
No fitting changes to this bra, just fabric changes (and a different kit). I really like that red bra, but I REALLY LOVE this one! I think it turned out sooo pretty! And, while I’m not the kind of person to sit here and wax poetic about my boobs or anything (I mean, they’re boobs, there’s nothing any more special about mine than, say, yours), this bra makes them look really really good. Gives them a nice lift and shape. I’m so happy with it!
I used one of the kits from Grey’s Fabric to make this one up (I don’t see it on the stock page anymore, but it was black and nude). These have the same duoplex fabric as the kits from Bra Maker’s Supply, but unlike BMS – they also include the lace, underwires, and enough strap elastic (you don’t get enough with Bra Maker’s Supply, fyi! Make sure you buy extra if you order from them). I did change out the ribbon decoration to a black one – and sewed a little rhinestone button in the middle, BECAUSE IT’S ADORABLE – but everything came with the kit. I like that.
The major difference between this bra and the red one is the lace – the red lace is very stable, so it doesn’t stretch. The black lace here is a stretch lace that I did not stabilize. That alone made the biggest difference in the fit.
I’m just including this picture because Amelia looks like a deer caught in headlights hahaha
I’m really happy that this lace had a scalloped edge, so I could use that in the bra. I think it’s really pretty! I stabilized the scalloped edge with a piece of clear elastic – this wasn’t included in the kit, but I have tons of it on hand, so not a big deal. All the findings are the same nude color; the only black is the lace and the power net (and the bow I made – I thought it looked better than the nude bow).
Now that I’m feeling pretty good about the fit, I’ve started experimenting with finishing the seams. I used a 3 thread overlock for this one – at the advice of all my favorite bra makers, basically. You just have to be careful with 1/4″ seams; you don’t want to accidentally cut too much off (I know you can disable the knife blade, but me, I like to live on the edge). Oh, and you can see the little nude bow that I didn’t use! Maybe for my next bra.
Finally, I also made another Watson bra!
I LOVE this one so much! I talked myself into buying that kit one day (I don’t know why, but I was convinced that I needed a green bra – like, who doesn’t need a green bra?); the nude/black kit was actually bought at the same time so I could get free shipping, ha. I used one of the lace Watson kits (the one I bought appears to be sold out, but this one is similar).
I admit – when I first received the kit, I was completely confused. The lace only has a minor amount of mechanical stretch – i.e., no spandex – and there was a TON of powermesh. I wasn’t sure if the bra would even fit, considering the blue Watson I made used a very stretchy material. I sat on this one for awhile because I wasn’t sure how to proceed, but I think I nailed it.
The cups and bridge are obviously cut from lace, with what little stretch there is going in the direction it’s supposed to. The bridge is also stabilized with the included lining from the kit. All the lace is lined with powermesh, and the back band is only power mesh (so it gets the stretch it needs). I’m really pleased to report that it fits very very well. The rigidity of the lace gives it quite a bit more support than the stretchier bra has, so that’s nice. Plus, it almost looks like a real piece of clothing now (I mean, not lingerie haha), with all the lace and shit. Now I’m wondering if this pattern would work with a bias-cut woven fabric for the cups and frame – that’s about the amount of stretch you get with this lace+mesh. Might be something to experiment with later!
All the trim is white; pretty much the only green is the mesh. You can see that I used the picot lace elastic for the upper cups on this one, as well as the underarms. This kit only came with one trim, instead of two. I finished all the seams with the 3 thread overlock, same size and everything as with my last one.
I took a tip from Maddie’s bra making class and used a new method to cut this sucker out. First I used Sulky Temporary Spray Adhesive (that links to the exact one I use; but any temporary spray adhesive suitable for crafting/sewing should work), then I used a teeny tiny rotary cutter to cut all the pieces (this isn’t the exact one I used, but it’s close enough – 28mm Olfa Rotary Cutter. I got it in the bra making class I took). The spray adhesive held everything together while I sewed it, which was extremely helpful – especially when basting the lining to the cradle fabric. No wrinkles there, yay!
Then I made the matching undies with the leftover! Didn’t realize the lace was supposed to be used for the front part (it’s in the project description now, but it wasn’t there when I bought it), so I just made the whole thing from powermesh. I used the wider elastic for the waist, and the decorative for the legs. These are okay; I need to practice more pulling the elastic because it’s not quite stretched enough. But it works well enough.
Anyway, that’s it! I love all these kit options for bras, because it saves me the headache of trying to source all the matching supplies myself (plus, I’m such a sucker for a good kit. Especially when it comes in it’s own box and everything is individually bagged; makes me so happy!). Now that I’ve used a few of the kits and gotten a general idea of what elastic to use in which part (and what it looks like, etc), I feel a lot more confident to buy all the supplies myself and not have to rely on a kit. That being said, I love the kits and I am looking forward to some new color options for sure!
Out of all the kits, I’m not sure if I have a favorite. I love the Bra Maker’s Supply ones because they’re really good and basic – everything is dyed the same color and it matches perfectly. The Grey’s Fabric kits are nice because they have a nice range of colors and they’re not just one solid color, plus, I like the pretty strap elastic and picot edged stuff too. I really love the hardware that comes with the kits from Blackbird fabrics, however, I think I prefer the more rigid lace + powermesh for a Watson, as opposed to the super stretchy millskin. Just a personal preference! The millskin almost feels like a swimsuit. If you’re trying to decide which kit to buy from where, I think it really boils down to your color preferences and how much the shipping will cost. There are lots of options, and they’re all really great!
Ok, I think I’ve done enough bra and boob talking for today! What’s your favorite bra out of these 3? Are you ready to start making your own now? Is there another kit option I should be looking into? I want to try the Merckwaerdigh kits next, I really love the color and pattern options!