List of top bra / lingerie making supplies in the UK and EU

A simple beginner’s guide to bra making

So bra making.

Seems like just about the hardest sewing challenge out there right?

Well, what if I told you it’s easier than putting in an invisible zipper and less taxing on the old brain cells than doing a pattern adjustment?

True story.

Look, I know it can seem scary.

Heck, I was there a year ago before I started. There are a few new terms to learn and a whole bunch of materials to get your head around (hello tulle, stretch lace, and picot elastic I’m looking at you).

But sewing your own lingerie is not hard.

It’s really just about finding the right pattern and learning some new lingo.

And in this post I’m going to prove it to you by talking you through two of the things that took me the longest time to puzzle out:

  • The best bra patterns for beginners
  • A low down on the different materials that go into a bra (and where to use them)

List of top bra / lingerie making supplies in the UK and EU

The best bra patterns for beginners

I don’t know about you, but when I first started looking into making my own bra I was a bit overwhelmed. I was desperate to sew something pretty, but that also held my hand through the whole bra making process.

Here’s what I learned.

Bralettes

I would recommend starting your bra making adventure with bralettes. These have no wires which means you don’t have to worry about bra wires or casing. Plus they’re super cool right now and comfy as heck.

By far, my number one recommendation would be the Watson bra by Cloth Habit. The fit is amazing on pretty much everyone. The instructions are super clear and the longline version of this is just amazing.

Other top bralette patterns:

Underwire bras

These are a bit trickier because finding the right wires and sewing the underwire casing takes just a bit more care. But it’s still 100% doable.

Plus, sewing your own underwire bra is pretty much equal to finding Β£100 in an old jacket. Sweet.

I’ve just recently made my very first underwire bra using Cloth Habit’s Harriet bra. I love the shape of it and the non-lace option. And I can confirm it’s an awesome pattern – flattering with clear instructions.

A few other popular underwire bra patterns are:

List of top bra / lingerie making supplies in the UK and EU

A low down on the different materials that go into a bra (and where to use them)

So this was by far my biggest challenge with bra making when I first started – so many new, unfamiliar materials. How do you even tell the difference between lining, tulle and lace? And what the heck goes where?

Honestly. Your brain hurts, right?

An easy way to get over this first hurdle is to buy a kit. There’s loads of options out there and I think they’re hands down the best way to get everything you need without sweating bullets.

If you need a run down of places to find bra making supplies online you may just find this post helpful.

Buttttt… Even bra kits don’t quite tell you what to use where. I know I struggled for a bit to make sense of the kits I had bought.

So after significant research and lots of harassing my amazing friend Susan (who knows all there is about bras) this is the cheat sheet I came up with.

Fabrics

For the Cradle – the fabric for your cradle should be 100% non-stretch. This is where the support comes from so you need it to be secure. As far as I know, this is non-negotiable across all bra patterns.

Words to look for when choosing fabric for the cradle: any fabric that is non-stretch and is called lining, denier, tricot, simplex, duplex, or bra tulle.

You can also use this under stretch fabrics, laces or lightweight fabrics to stabilise the cradle and give optimum omph.

Cups: now this is where you want support, but nothing as serious as your cradle.

Some bras (like the Watson) need stretch, while others (like the Harriet, Marlborough or Emerald Erin) can use lightweight, non-stretch fabrics.

Words to look for when choosing fabric for cups in bras that need stretch: scuba, stretch lace, stretch lining, stretch satin. Basically anything stretchy that has a bit of snap to it (no snap and it will stretch out after a few hours and provide no support)

Words to look for when choosing fabric for cups in bras that don’t need stretch: anything non-stretch like lace, silk, satin, rayon, tulle, tricot, simplex, duplex

The band: this is going to need the stretchiest fabric to provide a good fit and further support.

There are specific fabrics that do the job but I’ve also used medium-weight jersey in the past.

Words to look for when choosing fabric for the bands: power mesh, powernet, scuba, jersey, stretch anything.

Elastics

I didn’t realise that there were so many different elastics in a bra, and that each has a specific function. Choosing the right elastic means more comfort and a better fit, so it’s pretty important to get it right.

Elastic for the neckline: this gives the cups some extra capacity to hold in the ladies – so they don’t spill out. You can use any width elastic, but narrow-ish ones tend to be used here.

You might also want to use an elastic that has a particularly pretty edge – as a design feature.

Elastic for underarm and the hem: these should be wider than your neckline elastic as they’ll be used in areas that’ll be doing a lot of supporting (i.e. the band and cradle).

Anything too narrow and it might cut into your skin. Ouch.

 

Phew, that’s a lot, right?

Don’t let any of that put you off. I still totally stand by what I said earlier:

Bra making is not hard.

But what about you – have I convinced you, or do you still have some doubts? Or maybe you’ve had a go at bra making (are obviously addicted) and have some other insights to share.

Thinking about making your own bra? Don't worry - this simple beginner's guide will tell you everything you need to know about patterns and supplies. I've got you covered! about making your own bra? Don't worry - this simple beginner's guide will tell you everything you need to know about patterns and supplies. I've got you covered!

  1. Reply
    PsychicSewerKathleen

    You have a such an easy, conversational way of saying it’s not so difficult πŸ™‚ I remain skeptical BUT I confess that I am seriously considering Beverly Johanson’s class on Craftsy. I have taken her panties and swimsuit classes which were wonderful and now I wouldn’t consider buying panties again ever πŸ™‚ I’m in Canada and so is Beverly. She has a shop in Hamilton (and online) that specializes in all the materials a girl could ever need to make her own bra as well (probably patterns as well) so the excuses are sounding increasingly lame on my part πŸ™‚ I bought 6 bras last year (I had discovered that I was wearing the totally WRONG bra size!) and I could have bought a small car instead πŸ™‚ but needed bras more. I’m sure I could make them for much less $! So I can feel the tug, I just haven’t taken the leap…yet.

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      You should definitely take the plunge! I’ve heard good things about Beverly’s workshops and shop – that’s the Pin Up girls serries right?

  2. Reply
    Jenny

    Thank you so much for the encouragement that it’s really not that hard! I’ve been considering the Watson bra set for a while and think you have convinced me. I’ve made swimwear but bras just seem harder! Wish me luck!

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      You can do it Jenny! If I can do it anyone can. Plus you’ve already made swimwear so you’re already ahead of the game!

  3. Reply
    Addy

    Thank you so much for breaking down all the different types of fabric! I have the Watson pattern and have all my power net, stretch mesh, etc but was so confused about the cradle lining even with the Watson sewalong. Now I feel prepared!!!

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      Thanks Addy! That was exactly why I wrote the post. I sat there looking at my bra kit and thought, well now what? πŸ˜‚

  4. Reply
    Julie

    I have taken the plunge and am so glad I did. It IS much easier than I thought it would be to make my own undies and bras. One thing that helped me a lot was watching the free video to Jalie pattern 3131. It’s an easier bra to make. I didn’t much like the pattern before I made it (what’s the deal with the gathered cups???) but I love it now. It’s my favorite and most comfy bra now. It gives nice support. I even made one with under wire in it (I tweaked the pattern after making another designer’s underwire bra). Up to now, I have used only plain non lace fabrics, but I think my next one will be more β€œfancy”. Thanks for explaining the different fabrics.

  5. Reply
    Helen Mason

    I am desperate to see my own bras. I *hate* it when I need new ones because I can never find ones that fit properly and are comfortable, even when measured or fitted!
    My problem us that I need a larger size (UK 42E or thereabouts) and I’m struggling to find patterns. Any help/suggestions?

    1. Reply
      randomly_happy

      I hear you – I’m 28/30 G and find it hard to buy pretty bras. Cloth Habit’s underwired Harriet bra comes in 28 – 42 E – H. If you’re keen to try a different bra you can adjust the band to suit you. The key is finding your sister bra sizes and work from there (Google sister bra sizes to work out yours). Curvy sewing collective might also be a good place to look for bra patterns – lots of good knowledge there!

  6. Reply
    Jennifer

    I have no fear about sewing anything else but I just bought the Harriet bra pattern and was stunned to see the list of fabric and finding requirements. This post is very helpful and I think I just need some basic supplies to take the plunge on a muslin. Thanks!

  7. Reply
    Lia

    I got a little burned when I first tried bramaking – I’m the anti-unicorn; the Watson didn’t work on me (I’m four-fingers wide set – I think that’s why), and after making it 3 times, I got fed up. Super fun to sew but the materials are so various and expensive I would rather invest that in something like pants or a button-down and just wear the cheapo wireless bras that are all I need. Other people’s bras are soooo preeettttyyy though!

  8. Reply
    Lia

    I got a little burned when I first tried bramaking. I’m the anti-unicorn; the Watson didn’t work on me (I’m four-fingers wide set – I think that’s why), and after making it 3 times, I got fed up. Super fun to sew but the materials are so various and expensive I would rather invest that in something like pants or a button-down and just wear the cheapo wireless bras that are all I need. Other people’s bras are soooo preeettttyyy though!

  9. Reply
    Anonymous

    Lia, you can always use an existing bra you like and fits well as your pattern pieces. And I never use expensive fabrics until I make one I’m happy with….a muslin as they say. Don’t give up, you’ll love how comfy your bras can be after you practice a bit more.

Leave a comment

You have to agree to the comment policy.