I’m still in a stage where I’m making as many bra styles before finding my own. I’ve even created a Pinterest board… because who doesn’t love pretending you have more time than you actually have to make a perfectly curated lingerie wardrobe? With each bra, I’m refining the silhouettes, the level of support, the type of fabrics and trims that suit me. Surprisingly, this style has become my favorite go-to, casual bra. You would think that because of the high neckline, I would only be able to wear it under shirts with a high neckline as well. Not so. It’s super cute peeking out from underneath a button down blouse or an oversized tee with a low armhole. This bra, Nellie Warner, is an evolution of Nina Warner, and Nina Warner is an evolution of the Kitri Lace Crop Bra, which I first made last year. My goal was to add another variation/option to the pattern, which is a cutout racerback.
Nellie Warner is an evolution of Nina Warner, and Nina Warner was an evolution of the Kitri Crop Lace Bra. My goal was to add a variation/option to the pattern, which was a cutout racerback. The bra also features princess seams and a bottom band.
Center front, side front and back: Italian velvet-flocked lace knit (Emma One Sock), lined with firm/classic power net (Fleishman Fabrics). Used temporary spray adhesive to spray baste the fabrics together prior to cutting.
Bottom band: stretch scalloped lace (gifted from Donna, a sewing friend who is a member of Bra Making Forum).
This bra was a lesson of the importance of recovery in stretch fabrics. The fabric, a beautiful Italian velvet-flocked lace knit, has a lot of stretch (80% in one direction and 60% in the other) and little recovery. As a frame of reference, a high stretch fabric in lingerie is usually between 25-50% and is usually used only for the band. For the first iteration, I lined with 2 layers of micro mesh, which reduced the stretch to about 50-60%. That’s still high, but I thought since it was a soft bra, it would be okay. It was not. When I sewed the elastic to the underarm and neck, it buckled. Here is a glamorous selfie taken early in the morning. See how it’s wavy and standing away from my neck? I’ve made this bra many times before, and this did not happen. The only difference was the fabric and the elastic. I ruled out the elastic being the cause – it was a good quality plush elastic gifted to me from a sewing friend. She bought it from Bravo Bella, a reputable lingerie vendor. After emailing Natasha and Beverly Johnson, both agreed that it was the fabric. Here’s what we concluded – when I sewed the elastic, which was set almost flat (with no tension), the fabric stretch out. Even with the two layers of micro mesh, it didn’t have enough recovery and stayed stretched out. Wait, but if I set it no tension, how did it stretch out? If you’ve ever sewn a knit, you may have experienced the fabric stretching out slightly while sewing. I made another bra, but lined with a power net and guess what? No buckling! Lesson learned? Make sure that your fabric has good recovery, and if it doesn’t, line it with a fabric, like power net, that does. Micro mesh is best used in bras that have fabric with enough recovery and simply need a lightweight, stretch lining, or in bras that have fabric with a scratchy wrong side (micro mesh is very smooth/soft).
1/4” plush/picot elastic at racerback and neck (gifted from Donna, a sewing friend who is a member of Bra Making Forum).
¾” strap elastic (Bra Makers Supply) dyed to match using Dharma Trading’s Acid Dyes.
Dyeing elastic is tricky. Dyeing elastic black is even trickier! Just like white, there are many shades of black and when I dyed the strap elastic, it had a blue cast and did not match the black in the fabric. The reason? Black is a mix of many other colors and usually requires more dye stuff and high temperatures.
Cutting was standard – I spray basted the power net to the fabric and cut, and I used eucalyptus oil after to clean my cutting mat to remove any residual glue.
With stretch fabrics, I have to adjust the tension of the loopers on my serger in order for the stitch to be even on both sides. Despite my best efforts, there’s always a spot where the machine has a hiccup. I used one of Amy Alan’s tips from her Beginner Serger Sewing and used water-soluble stabilizer. I’ve never had a cleaner overlock stitch, even on a woven! Sewing with it was pretty easy too. I cut strips and placed it on top, and after, I tore it away (the stitches perforate it, which make it easy to tear or cut).
Evolution of the Nina Warner. Changed the back to have a cutout racerback. When drafting, I used a Free People bra to draw the shape and made sure the top edge was ¾” so that I could put the same size ring around it.
We’ve all been in this situation – Nellie Warner is a perfect example – we fall in love with a fabric that is unsuitable for a project. Norma wrote a great post about fabric manipulation and ways you can make fabrics work for your lingerie.
If you’re new to dyeing or are hesitant to try, Bravo Bella has a great video tutorial (thanks Natasha for passing it along to me!).
One of my new favorite bra lines is For Love and Lemons and I’ve been browsing their website constantly for inspiration.
I had a little bit of fabric left over, so I cut this bra. I’m not going to get into the construction or pattern details as this was a quick and dirty make. It’s wearable muslin that still needs some work. I want to get your feedback on it. What do you think? I based the front off of this bra and the back off of this bra. Because it’s so simple, I felt like I was cheating sewing it and wasn’t even going to mention it. But when I posted on Instagram, it goes a lot of great feedback!