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A Lace Bralette That Broke The Rules

how to sew a bra

In Sara’s interview, she said that Chrissy Day, her mentor, “taught her all the rules and then how to properly break them.” For the past year and a half, I lived according to the rules and my bible has been Beverly Johnson’s Bra-Makers Manual and Norma Loehr’s Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. If they said to do it, I did, and if they said not to, I didn’t. I wasn’t going to be Judas and turn my back on them, until now. I know the definition of point of most strain, I know how the importance of an exact bridge width, and I know the different orientation of grain lines for different levels of cup support. I even made flash cards, people! With this knowledge, I ventured off and made someone completed on my own, using some rules and ditching other. The end result? A lace bralette that although it still needs some tweaking, suits my needs.

how to sew a bra how to sew a bra

Depending on what top I’m wearing for the day determines the type of bra I’m going to wear. If I’m wearing a blouse or a shirt, I choose a cupped/underwire bra like this one, and if I’m wearing a knit, a tee, or a sweater, I opt for a soft bra like this one. In my opinion, soft bras give a smoother appearance underneath clingy knits and sweaters. So far in my bra making experiments, I’ve focused on cupped/underwire bras, but because this time of year is super busy due to the holidays, I decided to save my sanity and rub off a quick and easy bra pattern from a bra I bought at a thrift store.

The construction of this bra is as simple as it gets. Made from lace I bought at Spandex House during my most recent visit to NYC, the only seams are princess and side seams. There are two sets of straps that when intertwined, hold up the bra. The front straps are a halter, so the front left strap wraps around my neck and becomes the front right strap, and the back straps loop around the front straps at center back. The bottom band elastic is 1/2″ and the top band and neckline elastic are 3/8″ – both both from Bra Makers Supply.

So how does this bra break the rules? Well, normally the band is left unlined, but on my RTW bras just like this one, the flimsy lace on the band is the first portion of the bra that starts to deteriorate. To give the lace on this band a longer life, I lined it with my new favorite bra lining, micro mesh. A long-time tricot buyer, I always wondered what the soft, stretchy lining fabric was used on my RTW bras. When I came across micro mesh while at Spandex House with Marce, I knew what I had in my hands. No, it wasn’t the golden ticket; I was luckier than Charlie in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. I had something sweeter than even the sweetest cocoa – a lining fabric that although it’s as hard to sew as chiffon, it gives that same luxurious look. Micro mesh luxurious? I know.

In most bra making circumstances, lining the band is a no-no. The band is left unlined for a reason – because the bridge is stabilized both up and down and side to side, the band allows the chest to move for breathing. But the lace and micro mesh were both four way stretch, and even when combined, the bra expanded enough that I could get it over my head (remember, there is no closure on this bra).

In what other ways did I break the rules? Look at the back of the bra – do you see any sliders or rings. Nope. Technically, it’s okay to eliminate them if you know your strap length and the straps are a stable fabric and/or stabalized. Because elastic loses its stretch over time, even if the strap length is known, rings and sliders should be used to adjust the length as the elastic wears out. But I freaking hate those things, especially Β when I’m leaning against the back of the chair, so I got rid of them. Yes, the straps will eventually lose their stretch and become too long, but at that point, I hope I will have made many more replacement bras. Plus, it’s an easy fix to shorten strap length.

how to sew a bra

One tip that has helped me a lot when attaching the straps is to sew a box stitch with an “x” in the middle instead of a bar tack. My machine doesn’t handle sewing bar tacks just like the RTW bras – the bra doesn’t move under the presser foot and the thread bunches up like Donald Trump’s hair (or is it a wig?). What results is a tangle mess and a grumpy seamstress. This solution has always ended up clean and professional looking.

The only alteration for this bra is the placement of the princess seams. For my next one, I’ll move them closer to center front and have it intersect the strap point.

And no, I didn’t get a tattoo. It’s temporary and from one of my sponsors, Pepper Ink. It’s the same Etsy shop that created the sewing related temporary tattoos. She has a store full of vintage inspired, feminine designs that are so much fun to try out. Pepper also creates custom creations, so just send her a message with what you have in mind!

30 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sarai Mitnick

    Oh my gosh, I love this so much! It is gorgeous.

    I am really addicted to bralettes. They don’t work under clothing for me, but I wear them at home and sometimes to bed. You have me itching to make more.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I almost made your Madeleine bloomers to go with this bralette. I was so darn close, but time didn’t allow me. Next time. I think the name of the pattern shows that that pattern was meant for me!

  2. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    Rumor has it Donald Trumps hair is extra long and they spiral it and spray into place. Like a double comb over.

    http://content.time.com/time/interactive/0,31813,2065167,00.html

  3. Reply

    Jennifer, Workroom Social

    This is so great! I actually almost exclusively only wear bralettes. The fit looks the way I like it too! Comes up right under your armpit. That is always my preference, but I find that RTW ones are low and make my armpit fat look weird.

    • Reply

      Jen

      I’m obsessed with the Honeydew bralettes at Madewell, they’re basically all I wear. My new years goal is to make some of my own based on those. I agree, a good ready to wear bralette is hard to find!!

      • Reply

        Maddie Flanigan

        I haven’t seen the Madewell bralette. I will have to check it out. Thanks!

  4. Reply

    Megan O

    This looks gorgeous, but I couldn’t concentrate on reading about the bra as I was too worried about whether the tattoo was real! Phew, so relieved – I like it now I know it’s fake. Now I’ll go back and read it properly x

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Yes, it’s fake, but I am thinking about getting a real one just like it.

      • Reply

        Francesca Amodeo

        I have been going through all the bra making tutorials and I just saw this – it’s a gorgeous bra, and the tattoo is awesome – did you get a real one like it?

        • Reply

          Maddie Flanigan

          No yet, still waiting.

          • Francesca Amodeo

            well, whatever you do, don’t have one on your foot – I am not a fusspot, but it hurts like the devil! Right there on the arm is perfect…

  5. Reply

    Jen

    Love the look of this one, the white and nude is a great combo! Bralettes are my fav and I seriously agree about micro mesh…that stuff is the jam! All my favorite bras are lined with it. New Years goal is to make at least 1 bra…we’ll see if that happens, haha! Happy Holidays girl.

  6. Reply

    Geo P

    I love it, and the pictures are wonderful, as always! πŸ™‚ Where did you use the micro mesh? Did you use it only for the back? The front seems very transparent to have a lining πŸ˜‰

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      I lined the whole thing in micro mesh (front and back panels).

  7. Reply

    Hanne

    Beautiful! I love the tattoo πŸ™‚

  8. Reply

    Lola Del Rey

    this is beutiful. im jealous of your bra making skillz

  9. Reply

    KZ

    It looks wonderful and really comfy, Happy Holidays!

  10. Reply

    Emily Baker

    loving your beautiful tat too πŸ™‚

  11. Reply

    Heather Lou

    OH MAN, I looooove this! So frigging pretty and obviously the fit is perfection! I want a million of them. And the photos are gorgeous! (Merry Christmas Maddie!)

  12. Reply

    Kelly

    You make me want to sew lingerie! So, so pretty!

  13. Reply

    anto

    Wow, this turned out so beautiful! The fit looks perfect! I’m obsessed with lacey bralettes.

  14. Reply

    Rachael Gander

    this is stunning!

  15. Reply

    Cirque Du Bebe

    Spectacularly beautiful. Love the photos.

  16. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    When you say micromesh are you meaning the one thats like a light light powernet or the one thats like a soft pair of tights?

  17. Reply

    Amy

    What a delicate, pretty bra, Maddie! I love that soft mesh in the cups and the band, especially when using flimsier lace. (I see this quite a bit in Stella McCartney bras.)

    And please please tell me about your gorgeous tattoo! I collect botanical illustrations and if I ever got a tattoo that would be it!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Thanks for the compliment on the bra. It’s no where near your amazing bra creations, but I’m getting there. One step at a time πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the compliment on the tattoo. It’s actually temporary from an Etsy shop. It’s based out of Australia, but the price for shipping is not too bad.

      https://www.etsy.com/shop/pepperink

  18. Reply

    Amy

    p.s. happy new year!

  19. Reply

    Ashley

    I have a question unrelated to the bra which is very pretty. I think I saw a scar on your lower back, did you have scoliosis?

  20. Reply

    Alicia Robinson

    How can I get you to make this bra for me? I’m seriously in love, have been looking for something just like this forever, can never find bras that fit me, and am not patient enough with a sewing machine. Haha.

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