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?
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)
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.
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:
- Jordy Bralette by Emerald Erin
- Any of these free bralettes by Maddy (though for the smaller sized)
- Euler bralette by Sophie Hines
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 £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:
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.
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.
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.