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10 Things You May Not Know About Bra Making

bras (1 of 1)

It’s the little tips and tricks that make a master sewer. A tailor has his secrets for pad stitching, and a shoemaker, Perry Ercolino being one example, has his methods for molding the perfect pair of oxfords. Pun intended, these are my “inside wires” for bra making. Each one is important, but not enough to dedicate to one post, so I compiled them below. I hope they help you has much as they have helped me!
 

  • If you find that the zigzag stitch used to attach the elastic does not have enough give, there are two ways to increase the stretch: widen the stitch width or shorten the stitch length. Generally, a combination of the two is used.
  • In a correctly fitting bra, breasts should be lifted a little higher than their “at normal position.” How high is a matter of personal preference
  • Think of your upper body as a see-saw, with your breasts on one end, your back on the other and your body in the center. If the band is too loose or the cup fabric is too stretchy, the bra will slide up in the back, and the breasts come down, or sag, in the front.
  • If you’ve read vintage lingerie sewing books, you’ve probably come across the term Antron in reference to a fabric. Wonder what it is? I did for a long time. All it is is an old word for tricot.
  • If the fabric you have chosen is too stretchy and you don’t think it will provide enough support, double up the plys (plys=layer of fabric). By marrying two fabrics, the stretch is reduced by at least 30%. Powernet is a great choice that will beef things up. To join the layers together, you can spray baste using a temporary adhesive such as this one.
  • In wovens, grainline is used to indicate the direction of the fabric that has the least amount of stretch, and patterns are usually aligned with this line. In bra making, we use direction of greatest stretch, abbreviated DOGS. While the band and the bridge almost always follow the same DOGS direction, it varies on the cups varies depending on the type of support desired. The thing to remember is that the direction of the breast’s weight travels in the direction of the fabric’s pull, or direction of greatest stretch (DOGS). On a full band bra with a horizontal cross cup seam, if the DOGS runs vertically on the lower cup, the bra would have more “bounce” because the stretchiness is going up and down.
  • Ever get confused which way the hook and eye should be sewn? The word “eyes” has four letters and so does left, so they go on the left side as if you were fastening the bra on someone else.  Predictably, hooks go on the right. Thanks Beverly for that tip!
  • The width of the zigzag stitch when sewing elastic depends on many factors. One is the amount of stretch desired and another is the width of the elastic. But what always remains true is that the zigzag stitch shouldn’t be more than half the width of the elastic. Thanks Norma for that tip!
  • Are you experiencing skipped stitches when sewing over a bulky seam? Use a hammer to thin out it out. Go ahead, pound away! This is a tip I adapted from a wise jean maker.
  • Have you ever heard of a boutique strap? It has the adjusters at the front of the bra instead of the back. Personally, I think this strap style is more comfortable because the hardware (metal or plastic) does not dig into your back when leaning up again a chair or something similar.

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21 Comments

  1. Reply

    Leah

    I love your tips for bra making. I was inspired by you to start making my own bras and took Beverly’s class at Bra Makers Supply. You are my inspiration for Sewcialists August Tribute month. I will be taking on a similar challenge to your 48 hour lingerie set challenge. The bras you’ve make are beautiful!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      What a great comment. Thank you! Will you do me a favor? Will you let me know how your challenge turns out? Email me.

      • Reply

        Dominique

        Hi Maddie,
        Awesome tips! Now I’m inspired to make my own bra. Everytime i buy a bra the straps fall down my shoulders :-/. What is the name of the fabrics you used in the picture if you don’t mind me asking? They’re pretty.

  2. Reply

    Velosewer

    This is the type of post I love reading and so often your posts are full of good information. Thanks for sharing this information Maddie.

  3. Reply

    The Nerdy Seamstress

    This is such a great post! Now, if I can gather up some courage to make my first bra!

  4. Reply

    Sofie M

    Great post with such great tips. I remember all bras had the hardware on the front when I first started wearing bras making it easy to adjust when you have it on. It just seems like the last 10 or so years they have been putting them on the back… I find that annoying as you say. Thanks again.

    • Reply

      Jan B

      It’s been a long time since hardware was on the front of bra straps- the idea is that you don’t have the slider causing a visible bump under your clothing. It was so much simpler to adjust straps way back then!

  5. Reply

    sallieforrer

    Great tips Maddie!!

  6. Reply

    Gwen Gyldenege

    Thank you so much Maddie & other tip ladies. Great stuff!

  7. Reply

    anto

    I love these tips! i’m definitely taking notes.

  8. Reply

    Vicky Scott

    Where’s the best place to get a pattern or info on bra making for a first timer! I can’t access your class as I am in Australia but would love to try to make my own bra’s?

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Vicky, if you email me, I will send you the course outline, which outlines each step of making a bra. So sorry you can’t take it!

      • Reply

        Francesca Amodeo

        🙁 I tried to enroll specifically because of your course – and it’s for US only. But why????? sob, sob

      • Reply

        Jacquelene Betancourt

        Hi Maddie, Can you send me a coarse outline as well please? Thank you so much in advance :)))))

  9. Reply

    Victoria Beppler

    I don’t know where I’ve been for the past couple of weeks–your posts. Oh my goodness. And your bras? Even better. I’m looking into The Sewing Party info right now and am definitely going to be signing up. I can’t even contain myself.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      So wonderful to hear and I’m glad that you’re back!

  10. Reply

    Elise Harris

    I am always drooling over the beautiful lingerie sewn up by talented seamstresses like you, but have such a nightmare trying to order all the bits and pieces to make them! It seems like no one shop or kit has everything just how I want it, and shipping from separate shops can be so expensive. I have to admire all the work that goes into acquiring the right materials as well as the skill that goes into making the bras.

  11. Reply

    Sheri Williams

    hi! there is a long brown hair on the pink bra back in the first picture. I kept trying to get it off my screen lol.
    I love making bras and by experimenting it might be possible to make your most perfect one. thank you for the tips.

  12. Reply

    Daniela

    Hi Maddie!

    Quick question, what does one call that pretty ‘string’ like stuff that sometimes is used double for the front part of the bra shoulder straps. It is in the last pic in the post!

    I love your work by the way, so inspiring!

    All of the very best, Daniela

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