It’s Lingerie Month over at the Curvy Sewing Collective and I’m happy to report that I have finally delved into the art of bra-making! I’ve been interested in sewing my own bra for a few years now, and I have had a bra pattern and two kits to try my hand at it for just as long. It seems like a natural progression from sewing garments to sewing lingerie. After all, having the right undergarments that fit you well is key to a great look and helps your garments to fit and look better. Although I had yet to sew a bra until recently, I have sewn corsets, camisoles, slips and one pair of tap pants. I suppose I am not truly a lingerie newbie, but assembling a bra definitely brings about a different sort of skill-set with new techniques to learn and master.
I’m not really certain what held me back from bra-making. It was a combo of wanting to spend my sewing time making clothes partnered with a bit of trepidation at trying something that looks deceivingly difficult. Sewing a bra is not as hard as it looks, it’s just a different approach to sewing. The pieces are small as are the seam allowances and you use your fingers for a lot of the work rather than pins. It’s really interesting to see how these pattern pieces intersect and how something that looks rather sloppy turns into something a bit professional looking. It really is a satisfying experience to undertake.
When Beverly Johnson’s first bra-making class (Sewing Bras: Construction and Fit) was announced back in 2014, I quickly added it to my classes and watched it. It was fascinating to me to view the process from beginning until end and learn from an expert. She is known as the “Fairy Bra Mother” and has a lingerie supply store along with a line of lingerie patterns and courses. In this class, she uses her Pin-Up Girls Classic Bra and discusses everything you need to know about bra fabrics, elastics, and trims to make a simple and straight-forward un-padded bra. This was an excellent resource that I’ve since watched twice more — once as a refresher and again as I was making my own bra.
I used Kwik Sew 2374, which is a pattern that she suggested along with her own pattern and an Elan pattern — all with a similar design. I actually purchased my Kwik Sew pattern several months before, so I was happy that it is one of the suggested patterns for her class. At the time I bought my pattern, I was researching bra patterns and came across the Pin-Up Girls patterns. I would have ordered one then, if it wasn’t for pricey Canadian shipping (these are now available in the US), so I chose a cheaper alternative.
As I watched her class for the third time, I started working on my bra pattern. It’s nice to pause, rewind, rewatch and slow down Craftsy classes to your own pace. The Kwik Sew instructions differ from Beverly’s lessons, so I followed her advice whilst also reading my pattern. The two bras are slightly different, so I actually amended the KS bra to fit the techniques she showed in her class.
I used a bra kit I purchased long ago from Bravo Bella that uses tricot. Not knowing much about bra supplies, I figured this was the easiest route to go. Unfortunately, this kit didn’t contain all of the notions I needed to make my bra as it is more suited for the bra patterns that Bravo Bella sells on her site. It is also a tricot kit, and I’ve since decided I prefer the recommended duoplex fabric. As this kit didn’t contain enough channeling or elastics and didn’t have any rings or sliders, I had to make do with what I did have in my limited lingerie stash, so that I could practice the techniques and complete my bra. This was definitely a setback, so I would recommend double-checking your kit (if you’ve bought one) with the provided materials list on either the Craftsy class or your pattern. In my naivete, I assumed the notions were interchangeable with different bra patterns. Note to self: read supply list!
I actually purchased another bra kit on etsy from Hooks and Wires (does not seem to be in business any longer) at about the same time that I bought the Bravo Bella one, and it does contain all of the notions I need to make the Classic bra featured in the class. I didn’t want to use that kit, however, as it’s hand-dyed with lace and I didn’t want to waste it on a practice bra.
Beverly often reiterates as she takes you through each step, is that she doesn’t want you to do your best sewing and instead focus on learning and practicing the techniques used. Precision is really the key to getting your bra to look and fit well. The stitches need to be the right sizes and the seam allowances need to be exact. You also need to take the right measurements. Thankfully, this is all explained in this class and the additional class materials help you with getting everything that you need down.
After she walks you through constructing your bra pattern, she talks about fit and how to alter your bra to get it to fit correctly. This is an important part to the bra-making process. You might be taking your bra apart to get the fit to your liking, so it’s a good thing that you didn’t do your best sewing when you made your first bra. I found this part of the class to be vital to sewing your own bra and she discusses these fit issues in layman’s terms and shows you how to correct any problems you might have. I didn’t use this part of the class on my first bra, as I dislike the pattern and won’t be perfecting the fit on it. However, I will definitely be referring back to these lessons when I find a bra pattern that works for me.
The last part of this class is the fun part, as she shows you how to add embellishments and lays the groundwork for making your own fancy bras. After all, isn’t this the main reason why we want to sew lingerie? To make luxurious bras and panties for ourselves! It was truly interesting to see how to accomplish making the beautiful bras she showcases at the end.
I’m also happy to share a 50% off link for this class from Craftsy.
This discount link will expire on 2/28/16 at 11:59PM MT.
- I am not certain that I would have had a bra turn out as successfully as this one without taking this class. Seeing her demonstrate the process rather than reading instructions helped me to fully understand the methods used in bra-making. I now feel like this is something I can master and that I have an understanding of the fabrics and notions required to make more bras.
- I very much dislike my final bra as I don’t like the pattern AT ALL. I don’t wear these type of bras and as I don’t have a large chest, I don’t need that much support. I think the Kwik Sew pattern is deceiving as as it doesn’t look as much like a “granny” bra on the cover art. I probably would have liked the Pin-Up Girls Classic Bra far more. I prefer t-shirt bras with molded cups for shaping and I don’t like full-coverage bras. I know I need to learn the basic techniques and make simpler bras like this one before progressing into foam bras, balconette and demi bras, which are the ones I really want to make and wear.
- I think the bra pattern featured in this class should have come with it. I’ve taken other Craftsy classes that came with patterns and I like the added feature. I find it very beneficial to this course and would have appreciated it. The addition of a bra kit in the Craftsy store would have also been extremely helpful.
- Bra-making is expensive. If you are like me and have different tastes in bras than the bra featured in this class, just assume that the pattern, materials and supplies used for your first one are going to be money down the drain. It’s not like making a muslin for a dress which is relatively inexpensive, as you have to: A) have the pattern that you may not use again, B) buy the fabrics/notions that you might be wasting as you cut them up and use them. But every new skill needs a beginning and you have to start somewhere. I’m going to take this bra apart and re-use some of the notions and materials, so at least there’s that!
- I feel that I now have the confidence and ability to start with another bra that will be wearable and to my liking now that I have the practicer out of the way. I’m thinking of trying the Orange Marlborough bra that every blogger who sews bras seems to have sewn. I will have to adjust the band size, but it looks like a design that will suit me. After that, I want to try the Pin-Up Girls molded cup bras (can’t choose which one at the moment…). I’ll be taking Beverly’s new bra class (Foam, Lace & Beyond) before I start that as that’s exactly what I want to sew! And of course, I guess I should take the second class of hers (Designer Techniques) as well, to complete the trifecta. I really do look forward to sewing some beautiful matching bra and panty sets in the future! I’m so envious of the ones that Megan makes!
Oh and here’s my ugly granny bra….. I didn’t want to share the entire thing as I didn’t have all of the required notions and had to franken make them. Even though I don’t like the pattern, I know it would have turned out far better with all of the materials. It’s also sans underwires as I had the wrong ones….
Note: I am a Craftsy affiliate and received this class for free. This is my honest review and all thoughts are my own. If you’re a blogger, I highly recommend becoming a Craftsy affiliate, too. If you’re interested in joining, click here for more information.
Happy Lingerie Sewing!