I thought this was my best bra but I was wrong – this is my best bra yet.
Not that I have enough projects to finish but when Ohhh Lulu released its new collection of bras and undies, Bambi caught my attention. Up until this point, all of the bras I had sewn were of cups/cradles variety. These types of bras present more of a fitting challenge than a soft bra/bralette and appeal to my masochistic pattern making side. It may sound weird but I love making a bra, it not fitting somewhere, and then going back to my manuals (Beverly Johnson’s or Norma’s) and figuring out why and how to correct the fit issue. That’s how I’ve learned so much over the past year – by trial and error. But in my day-to-day life, soft bras/bralettes make up about 60% of my intimates wardrobe. So to become a more well rounded bra maker, I gave Bambi a try.
The end result was an alarming, astonishing, and awe-inspring undergarment that was simple with a shot of brio. I didn’t expect it to be either. My intention going into this project was, sure, I’ll test it out, right a review, and get on with my other bra making toils and endeavors. But when I finished and took a step back to look at it, I thought, holy crap, I must make more; I need to make more! The fit is spot on too. This will be the perfect pairing for my summer tees and dresses.
Because the suggested fabric is a woven, I chose a rigid galloon lace for the self and a 15-denier tricot for the lining. Technically, I didn’t need to line the bra (linings are used to stabilize cups and cradles, which are usually made with stretchy fabrics) but I chose to for comfort (tricot is softer than lace), to protect the delicate lace from wear and tear, and for coverage (so that it wouldn’t be as sheer).
I used a 1/4″ elastic at the top and a 3/8″ elastic at the bottom of the bra. When I first started sewing lingerie, I used a picot edged elastic that’s was labeled as lingerie elastic. But the recovery on it is not good and after a few wearings and hand washings, it’s dead. When I inspected my RTW bras, I saw that the elastic used are much sturdier and have a tighter tension. I realized that in order to make a functional bra that can withstand movement throughout the day, body sweat, and multiple washings, you really need a good quality elastic like these. Since making this switch, my bras have not only performed better but they look less homemade.
I used the fabric’s wide scalloped edge as a design detail at the bottom of the bra. To accommodate the scallops, I extended the pattern and applied the elastic at 2 inches above the lowest point of the scallop. Do you see the side seams and the cup seam? No and because I “matched” the scallops at each seam. Go Maddie!
The straps were upcycled from an Anthropologie bra I no longer wear. In my opinion, the pop of color makes the bra.
I’ve always had a hard time sewing a clean bartack when attaching the straps. So I was delighted to read an alternative method in Norma’s ebook – a box stitch. It’s much cleaner and much, much easier to sew. Plus, it gives a couture touch to the bra, don’t you think?
The back straps extend to the bottom of the elastic to provide better support. It would have been cleaner to insert it into the elastic but the orange would have been noticeable/visible on the exterior.
Many of my soft bras finish the seams with tricot binding that is folded in the center and then applied. Even though I have a delicate hand when it comes to sewing, I struggled with creating this type of binding. I didn’t get frustrated though – the mass manufacturing world has a machine just for making binding – and I came up with another solution – I applied the binding using this technique.
I still have not found a solution to skipped stitches when applying the hook and eye closure. I have tried every needle, thread, tension, and presser foot. Nothing works. I’ve been applying hooks and eyes with a straight stitch and to be honest, I don’t think it looks bad, homemade, or lesser quality. The hooks and eyes that I buy are finished at the top and bottom edge so that’s one less step for me.
What do you think? My best bra yet?