Monday, January 23

These are the bras I know I know

I did get to sew this weekend, not as much as I hoped, but it was good.  I've made lots of bras and I thought it was time to try again.  I went to take a picture of the work in progress and thought I'd post a few other bras I've made that have not worked out for one reason or another.  Then I started singing in my head "These are the bras (Daves) I know I know" courtesy of The Kids in the Hall.

Before I get into my bra history, I have to give a shout out to K-Line.  She has been doing a fantastic little series on bras.  Pretty sure this is part of what gave me the push to make another.  Sadly I haven't been in the right mental state to comment on it much, but it's a good read.  Go over, I'll wait. 

Most of my supplies come from Sew Sassy.  Even with duty etc at the boarder, it seems worth it based on what is available at Fabricland (although most of the lace is from Fabricland).  The under wire are heavy, I love the channeling (922 - not 909), the stretch satin has a nice amount of stretch to it and washes well.  My parents go to Florida for the month of February, to save the crazy shipping I stock up once a year.  My other recommendation if you are going to make bras is the Beverly Johnson book The Bra-makers Manual.  This has saved my sanity and inspired me that I could make bras and it was okay to make a few to get it right.

To answer the first bra post from K-Line, I am not comfortable taking pictures of me in ill fitting bras.  I'm sorry these are not so great pictures because my 38D/DD bras do not look so pretty flat, but I still don't have a dummy to model them for me.  Maybe if I can get this looking good and no nipple showing, but for now, you get flat pictures.  If I do work up that courage, it sure as hell won't be sexy "oh look at me" bra-porn pictures.

So first up is the bra I am working on.  Elan 645.  I'm making it in purple stretch satin, lots of support with tricot in the cup, powerknit underlining the back.  So far so good, except...  I put the black lace in on the wrong cup so it is inside out.  I realized this after I had topstitched and cut the seam allowances so I'm sucking it up knowing it's not perfect.  Right now one cup is inserted, the other is not.  It will have under wire, I think that is optional with this full band bra but I like underwire if it's fitting properly.

I have made this bra before, but the cup is much too large.  K-Line asked if people like a snug band.  I am sad to say all the bras I'm wearing at the moment are loose from being too old and stretched out.  The one thing I loved about this bra was the feeling of the band.  It's snug, you aren't fitting much between my skin and that bra, but not uncomfortably so.  It is quite sad just how much retrofitting would be required for those cups to hold my breasts because the band truly is perfect.  My breasts get bigger when pregnant, maybe one day my band will stay the same and I'll fill those cups.  Doubt it.  So realizing a lost cause, there are no straps on this bra.

Bah, this is right side up in Photobucket.

 The first bra I was really pleased with was this one.  Elan 510.  Keep in mind, this isn't the first bra I made, there were a few white ones with the bra kits from Sew Sassy first.  As directed, most of these bras would be disappointing.  I don't think they give enough support as directed with the supplies in the kit.  I figured that out quickly.  510 appealed to me as a front closing bra.  I'm on the cusp of not being able to find front closing bras.  Either they cut off at a 36 and are too tight, or they only go up to a C cup and there are spillage issues.  I thought making my own would be nice.  I did love this bra.  It didn't lift them all that much, but I had a nice shape and I could wear a deep V neck shirt well.  I would wash that out in the tub, hang it to dry and wear it all over again.  The lace cup was starting to get a little stretched out when the front clasp broke. 

So I tried to make another one.  Not nearly as successful.  This one ended up too small if I remember right.   I think the satin shrank from the steam in the iron.  So frustrating.  Adding to that, I screwed up the straps, something is twisted.  I should revisit this one to see if the magic closet has helped. 

Ever try on a bra and you just know it's not designed for your breasts?  The shape is wrong, it is just... wrong.  That's Kwik Sew 2101.

All that lovely pink top stitching, black & pink lace...  Sigh.  Love the look, but it would take more engineering to make that fit than I'm willing to do.  That said, it actually fits my mother in law well.  At some point I'll finish the straps etc and give it to her.  Someone may as well wear it.

I'd say the consistent fit issue comes down to a few points:
  • Too much space in the upper cup, I'm a D/DD depending on the band, but it's not in my upper chest. 
  • My breasts do not push together, again, they just aren't spaced quite like other D cups I think
  • Fabric - a small change in the degree of stretch has left some bras (not pictures) just making me look flat and spilling.  Ick.
  • Fabric - shrinking.  One of them must have shrunk because by the time I went to sew it up, the band was smaller than the power net.  It wasn't that way when I cut it.
Even with all these failures, that one success haunts me.  I LOVED that bra.  When this works, it will be perfect.  Until I get it right, I'm not so interested in buying more. 

Oh and to answer another question K-Line asked, I have been for a proper bra fitting.  The first time was to get a strapless bra for a wedding I was a bridesmaid for.  A couple of years later I dragged a friend to get fitted.  I was wearing the right size and was pleased to hear that.  My friend, however, did have one of those life altering fittings that drastically shrunk her band and increased the cup size.  Go figure, the bruising from the under wire stopped with the right size bra.


  1. Those bras do look gorgeous! Good for you for taking on the challenge. I have never been tempted to make my own -- I am pretty consistently a 34A and require fancy padding to even look like I have breasts. That's something I prefer to leave to the experts. Although, if someone could make a non-ouchy strapless bra for those of us who are more rib than bust, I would consider a polygamous marriage with them.

    I DO want to learn how to pad out dresses so I can go braless entirely. That would be awesome!

    1. Thanks. I found a couple more when I was moving laundry around in my bedroom. My collection of ill fitting bras is rather rediculous.

      I bought Kwik Sew 2358 to try a strapless bra at some point. Or at least a long line bra. But I don't quite have the itch to do that yet. It's there when I'm ready to tackle it.

  2. Thank you for your timely post. I had a bra fitting on Friday. I have gained 20 pounds in the two or three years, and I knew I needed new bras. In fairness, I did buy 4 new bras last year, but I have now outgrown those as well. I guess it's a good problem to have in a society that is obsessed with breasts. I have been tempted to make my own, especially now bc I can't find my size or in pretty styles in shops, and I am nervous about ordering online just to find nothing that fits. I have to admit, I'm nervous about sewing my own as well, bc after reading other peoples' adventures, I'm wondering if I would be better off just spending the exorbitant price for mail order!

    1. I think like everything in sewing, you really have to feel a draw to do it. Sewing doesn't really save money when you figure time etc, this is similar. I was thinking about making bras for a year before I bought the manual. Then I got the patterns. Months will go by between failures and I'll feel the itch again. I don't feel the same way about pants or coats.

      That said, they don't take a lot of fabric, they don't take a crazy amount of time. It is about precision, so going slow is important, but the seams are short so it's not really that time consuming. It just takes focus or you end up with lace facing the wrong way like I did.

      You have to be ready for fitting issues to continue. Not all breasts are the same like bodies, so not all patterns are going to work (I'm looking at you KS2101). Or, take something like the two day bra making course Beverly Johnson offers where you work out all those fitting problems and end up with the perfect pattern.

  3. I admire your bra making the way some people admire my jeans! ;)

    Isn't there a bra-supplies site out of Ontario? Bra-maker's supply? I only remember it because I try to keep track of Canadian online shops when I run across them, because I hate (hate hate) ordering from the states. Still haven't found a good Canadian online fabric store, though...

    I hate it when you re-make a project that worked SO WELL and the second version just *doesn't*. It seems to happen a lot with stretch fabrics. Poo. Good luck on your quest for the holy grail... :)

    1. Yep, Beverly Johnson is part of Bra Maker Supply in Hamilton. I have not ordered products from them yet mostly because of prices. I'm sure it's beautiful fabric, and I know I don't need much, but at $24/m, I better freaking love it. One day I'll visit the store. Hamilton isn't too far away and it is enroute to wineries...

  4. What an awesome post Sera! Thanks for the shout out. Your bras are gorgeous. You don't need to model them for that to be apparent. And I'm so glad my blog series is helping you to find your mojo. It has almost convinced me to try bra sewing again - almost, but not quite! I'm still not over the trauma of every bra I've ever made that didn't fit. Which is all of them so far. Mind you, the Ruby slip has helped me to understand bust fitting in a different way, so maybe I'll drape my fabric on my dress form??

    1. Glad you liked the post, I loved your series, quite thought provoking. I swear sewing is full of straches that need itching, but everyone has different itchy places. Bras are mine. I'll go 8 months without doing it and then I find I'm thinking about it all over again.
      I could see how draping would help figure out where the patterns are going wrong for your shape. It's hard when you pretty much have to finish it before you know if it's actually going to work out.


Thanks for your comments, I love to have a two way conversation. I seem to be getting a lot of spam from anonymous users and am turning off the ability to comment that way. I really would like to hear from you so if you do want to add your two cents without an OpenId, email me at seraphinalina at gmail dot com.