24 February 2015

I Made a Bra!



If you'd been a fly on the wall during the creation of this - my first homemade bra - you would have heard a repetitive stream of frustrated "doh!", "aaarrrgh!",  and "I'm so stupid!", interjected with the occasional "ooh!" exclamation of delight.

This baby is essentially a wearable toile, a tool in the learning process as I figured out how to make a bra. I don't think I've ever used the seam ripper tool so much in my life, as I sewed things together in the wrong order, used the wrong stitch setting, left holes in places where there really shouldn't be holes, and came to realise what a huge difference one single mm makes when working on such an intricate scale. But when I trimmed off the loose threads and admired my work, I felt that immense sense of pride you get when you make something with your own hands... I made a bra!


This was the result of a course I've been doing at Morley College on lingerie construction. We started with a pattern from the book Bare Essentials: Bras - Construction and Pattern Drafting for Lingerie Design and adapted it to a strapless shape (purely because strapless bras was the focus of the course this term). We made a rough toile and fitted it to our own bodies. It was at that point that I realised I personally don't like the shape of the cups on this pattern. You could call them "vintage", but they just remind me too much of Kermit the frog's mouth. But I persevered with it, the plan being that once I grasp the construction methods I can play around with the seam lines and shaping of the cups, adapting it to something I like better.


I know some of you are looking for lingerie supplies, so here's where all the bits are from:
- turquoise cup lining, black power mesh, underwires, hook & eye closure bought from Sewing Chest
- black stretch lace, stabiliser fabric, underwire casing and two different types of lingerie elastic from Freya (thanks, Freya!)
- satin-covered boning bought from Minerva
- padding scrounged off Carol at Morley College.

I enjoyed learning a new skill so much that I've signed up to the next six weeks of the course too. We're going to do moulded cups next, and I'm going to ask if I can go off piste and make a bra with straps. I can't wait!

Have you learnt any exciting new sewing skills lately?

31 comments:

  1. This is blooming fantastic - colour, design, everything. An absolutely awesome project.

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  2. What a beautiful piece of undergarments! Very well done!

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  3. wow making my own bra's would be handy as the shop ones never fit right! this is amazing! well done x

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  4. Wow! Love it! You have made something difficult look easy and... in this case, sexy. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Wow that is awesome! I clicked on the link for "Freya" to look at elastic, and it took me to this site: http://www.elisepatterns.com/. Not sure if that's the right one, because I wasn't able to find any elastic for sale.

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    1. Oh yes, I should have explained - Freya is a friend of mine, Elise Patterns is her shop.

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  6. Ooh, this is so pretty. And it's great that you'll be able to customise the shape and style to your personal taste, as well as your exact measurements - the joys of making things!
    www.thriftmakesew.wordpress.com

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  7. That's fantastic! I love the design xx

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  8. Wow! I've wanted to make my own bras for the longest time, you are so brave! You've done wonderful and it looks brilliant with the blue and black lace.

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  9. Hi Tilly! Happy 2015 to you!

    "Kermit the Frog's Mouth" - too funny, and now that's all I see! Great colours here! And WOW, I've never made a bra! I tried to refashion swimmers one time (for a friend) but never an actual bra.

    xoxo to you!

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  10. Gosh that is so awesome. I think I'd get totally addicted once I'd mastered one. Though like you say, you'll want to adapt it for a better fit...it's interesting to see when we've made something, how there's a new appreciation for store bought ones that DO get it right and perhaps we're a little less critical of those that haven't gone so well (i.e. cup shape) when we know the hard work involved in the whole process! In saying that I just sent back a bra at the weekend because it 'separated' too much and I needed it to pull me in, not make me look wider! Otherwise it was a beautiful bra. Anyway I think this one looks amazing. I'd be worried they'd tell me I was too big to make my own!

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  11. Absolutely gorgeous - well done!

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  12. You did an amazing job, looks great!

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  13. I think what I'm most worried about is fit. I know the bras I wear don't fit well. I'm always tugging and pulling and pushing on mine, but, I don't know how one should fit so I'm afraid to try to make my own. Do the books and courses on bra making actually explain how to fit a bra? On a middle aged woman? lol. Yours is gorgeous.

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    1. I know what you mean - it's so difficult to buy a bra with a fit that you like (it's a very personal thing really). I haven't got my hands on any books yet, so I couldn't tell you what they include. My course hasn't gone into it much really but I tweaked the fit of the toile. I'm still not happy with the shape though! I think it'll take a bit more analysis until I work out what it is about the bras I like the fit of that I can replicate in my homemade ones...

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  14. This is fantastic for your first try! Bravo Tilly, bravo!

    I personally don't like foam/molded cups, but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in what you'll learn next. GOOD LUCK!

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  15. ooh that looks really professional! i made fitted crop top with the kemit the from mouth for summer but I wasn't such a fan of it. Actually it was more like Kermit had aged a lot and his mouth was a bit duck like... Fitting that shape is really tricky without a padded cup

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    1. Hahaha! The Kermit shape definitely improved once I added the foam padding, but it's still a bit pointy for my liking :)

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  16. Hi Tilly, sorry that this is out of topic, but I just scrolled over "My Makes" links and I realize that you tend to have wider/fuller bottom in your dress. What do you do to your pattern to have that effect? It will be nice if there is tutorial for that!

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    1. Erm... I guess that's because I have a fuller bottom myself?! ;) Often it's just a case of combining a smaller waist with a larger hip size (see 'How to combine pattern sizes' a little down the page on this tutorial), and sometimes shaping darts on a toile. I hope this helps!

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  17. Very impressive! I've always imagined bras are really difficult to make. You nailed it though, very beautiful :)

    Meg, Optical Intake

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  18. What a beautiful job you've made of it Tilly, amazing! Did you say where Morley college is or did I just not read that bit? I wonder if there's anywhere near me (Hertfordshire) to do a course?

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  19. Hi CJ here!
    Love this Project!!
    Kudos to you! I have been sewing for 43years and your project has given me the encouragement to try "something new". Love the finished look! How is it in comfort?

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  20. Nice job! They look so professionally made. I don't think I would have the patience to do the same :D

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  21. Wow! Aren't you clever, I'd love to do something so gorgeously delicate. As for me, I got given Love at First Stitch for Christmas (cheers mum) and I'm about to have my very first go stOJ bottoms (I'm a week or so behind you in my sewing ability 😂).
    Thanks for such a great blog, and for the book which- I kid you not- has changed my life and made me fall in love with my sewing machine 💕

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  22. Silly fat fingers and teeny iPhone... That was "at pj bottoms" :D

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  23. This is amazing! What a gorgeous piece - you should be proud!

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  24. Well done! I think it looks lovely! I'm a plunge or balconette girl myself, but don't think the cups on those would work on a strapless number. Can't wait to see your next piece!
    I have the bombshell swimsuit to tackle. A bit out of my comfort zone. Will check out your links for elastics and reinforcements!

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  25. This is amazing! Great job! Don't think I'm quite at this level yet, but so inspired!

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  26. That is amazing!! Where did you learn to sew?

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