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My Best Bra Yet!

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I took a detour to sew a red dress (it’s almost finished!) but I forgot to show you what I finished before I that. My best bra yet!

I’ve made many bras since I started sewing lingerie last summer but this is the first one I’m proud of and wanted to show you. In my opinion, this one looks somewhat professional and not completely homemade. The fit is almost there too – just a few slashes, openings, and closings and I’ll have a pattern that perfectly fits me (a perfect pattern is possible people!). I’m taking my time but super excited to get to this point because once I get there, the perfect pattern, I’ll have a bra block that I can manipulate into many different silhouettes.the detailsThe band, cradle, and top and bottom cups were made with a cotton, silk, and spandex blend that I bought at Paron Fabrics. I stabilized the cradle and lower cup with a polka dot silk chiffon. I went against the grain by using silk chiffon as opposed to tricot or mesh but it worked, at least I think so. By cutting the lining with the straight grain running horizontally (around the body) for the cradle and vertically (up and down) for the lower cup, both were stable and had little stretch.

Because the silhouette was a longline, I attached casing at the side seam and seam below the cups. Neither had boning inserted. The casing around the cup seam did not have underwire inserted either.

I clean finished the cross cup seam by sandwiching the upper cup between the lower cup lining and self fabric. On all my previous bras, I trimmed the seam allowances to 1/8″ and topstitched on either side of the seam. For this bra, I didn’t and I like the cleaner look.

In her manual, Beverly Johnson’s writes how she doesn’t cut her elastic 15-20% less than the length of the seam or edge. Instead, she feelsΒ how much to stretch the elastic while sewing. I’ve noticed on a lot of RTW bras that the elastic hasn’t been stretched a lot. Also, when I undercut the elastic 15%, my bras look too shirred. So I took Beverly’s advice and stretched the elastic according to what looked right (I tested a few samples beforehand) and sewed that same amount on the top and bottom band. I stretched the elastic even less on the upper cup because it is supposed to be stable in this direction – since it is cut with the straight grain running horizontally, it isn’t supposed to stretch a lot.

best bra yet 2struggling withBut there are a few things that I am still having trouble with that maybe you can help me with.

If you look at the picture above, you will see that I attached the hook and eye closure using a straight stitch. I have tried every type of needle – ballpoint, stretch, denim, universal – and every size – 10, 12, 14, 16 – but the zigzag stitches skip. It upper and bobbin threads locks on the right side of the stitch but skips on the left side. So if I continue to sew, the stitch ends up being a straight stitch. What is interesting is that it only happens on the hook side and only when it’s not over elastic (I start stitching at the top of the band and it’s okay but when I continue past the elastic, it starts to skip). Any tips?

I’m in love with the shape of the strap scoop, especially ones like Fortnight, but mine look dopey. It doesn’t curve nicely and looks like a mistake. Any suggestions?

Does anyone know what width elastic Fortnight uses? It looks bigger than the width I used, which is standard (3/8″-1/2″), but I like the wider, sportier look.

23 Comments

  1. Reply

    Ginny

    Such an enchanting bra! Your fabrics, the style and superb sewing have resulted in an extraordinary bra — well done Madalynne :D!

  2. Reply

    hannah

    It’s looks great! If I had to guess, the skipped stitches might have something to do with the difference in thickness, especially since you say it works fine over elastic. Have you tried adjusting the tension? You could also try using some kind of tear away stabilizer to increase the thickness on that side, or try using a stretch stitch instead. Alternatively, this could also be a common defect for the machine you’re using, which would be worth looking into. I don’t really know much about sewing machines, so these are just my best guesses.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Another commenter suggested using a stretch stitch so I’m going to try that first. If that doesn’t work, I’ll look into if it is a defect of my machine. With every failed attempt, I get closer to this conclusion.

  3. Reply

    Novita

    Such a sweet loking bra! I love your idea of using chiffon as lining πŸ™‚
    I’m not sure why but I have never had skipped stitch since using stretch stitch to attach the hook and eye closure. If your machine has it, the stitch looks like a lightning. The result looks similar with straight stitch but it has slightly more stretch.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Thank you for the tip. I’m going to give this a try. I’ve stuck with a zigzag stitch because I thought it was the way hook and eye closures should be attached – it’s the way I’ve seen it on RTW bras.

  4. Reply

    Reana Louise

    I have no idea about your question because I’ve never sewn a bra, but my my if I could reach through my little laptop screen and steal this beauty I totally would. Yep, resorting to theft because I’ve never seen such a pretty bra ever.

  5. Reply

    anto

    Way to go! What a beautiful bra. All of that hard work is paying off. I love Fortnight’s lingerie and how the longline silhouette looks. I still don’t have much experience sewing stretch stitch so I wouldn’t dare try to answer your questions. I hope some of the talented ladies that visit can offer a solution.

  6. Reply

    Heather Lou

    looooovvveeee!!!! Saw a peak of this before, happy to get more deets. ALL I HAVE BEEN DOING FOR THE PAST 2 WEEKS IS BRA-MAKING! It’s crazy addictive. I made a longline Friday that is pretty good but for my next effort I’m going to try a few of the tips you mention (casing on the sides, alternating grain direction on cradle with lining & fabric). I was wondering if I should try boning since I find the cradle has a tendency to rise up/get bunched under the ladies which kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Love your fabric choices too. Unconventional and witty!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Oyy! I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

      You could add bonding to the casing but I have found that the casing alone prevents the bra from riding up. Personally, I don’t like boning in my bras but that just a personal preference.

  7. Reply

    sallieforrer

    This is beautiful! Love your fabrics. I’m not sure that I’m much help on all this bra sewing because after my first, failed attempt, I put the whole thing on the back burner! But good luck! I’m sure you’ll figure it out in no time!

  8. Reply

    oonaballoona

    my jaw is on the floor.

  9. Reply

    Ginger

    This is so pretty! Obviously I don’t have any lingerie wisdom to offer, but I love how this looks!

  10. Reply

    Angela

    Beautiful bra! So well made, and I really love the fabrics that you used.

  11. Reply

    Jessica Alvarado

    amazing! What beverly johnson manual are you referring to? i so want to learn about lingerie making.

  12. Reply

    Adeline Chong

    Hello! I stumbled across your blog as we hardly have any sewing blogs in my country. This is amazing and a great inspiration and motivation.

    Cheers,
    Ade
    http://Www.adesays.wordpress.com

  13. Reply

    Kelly

    So pretty! The patterns are unexpected but go so well together, and the whole thing looks pretty darn professional. Congratulations!

  14. Reply

    Carlee

    “Since I started sewing lingerie last summer” ?!?!?!?! Holy cow you learn quick! I wish I was at the stage where I could tackle a bra. I don’t think my skills are up to the challenge quite yet.

  15. Reply

    Jackie Saffert

    Maddie – you are so incredibly talented! I don’t really sew but I keep coming back to your blog time and time again because of the beautiful designs and creative content you’re always coming up with. I hope you’re able to perfect your pattern soon!

  16. Reply

    Rebekuh Browning

    I love the contrasting fabric colors, and the whole thing just looks gorgeous! Congrats on your best one yet pretty lady.

  17. Reply

    Kait

    Love it! I want to make my own!
    To answer your question: What kind of machine do you have? Some machines can’t handle bulk very well, or different fabrics like sequined and such. You can change your pressure foot tension and sometimes that will help. Tried a walking zigzag? If it’s your bobbin tension, have you tried threading it through the eye on top of the finger, or playing with the bobbin tension?

  18. Reply

    Rachel

    You rock lady! The bra looks fabulous! Fabric is darling too!

  19. Reply

    Amy

    darling! and congrats on finishing something you are happy with πŸ˜‰ Really pretty and I love silk in bras. I just love silk. But oh do I have a ton of thoughts about elastic! The Fortnight longline bras use about a 1/2″ plush picot on the bottom of the band, at least the few I’ve seen do. And I am with you about learning to “feel” the stretch as you go–takes practice but it gets more predictable. Since every elastic has a different quality and stretch there are no absolutes. (And also the narrower the elastic, the less tension it has so reducing it the same amount as a wider elastic is not going to end up with the same fit.) I find that most home sewing instructions have you pull elastic too much anyway…

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