Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Return to Bra Making: Yeah, You Read That Correctly

I don't know how this is happening, but I'm about to embark on another bra-making expedition.

You don't have to tell me that it's not part of my summer series (which is rather incomplete due to lack of time and motivation). You don't have to tell me that this is always a recipe for disaster. You don't have to tell me that there are better ways to spend the last long weekend of summer.

I'm incorrigible.

Here's the thing - this bra-making expedition is bound to be VERY different from every other I have heretofore undertaken because I don't care if the fit is perfect. I'll let you get over the horror of that statement... OK, back with me? I don't care if the fit is perfect because I'm making a lounge bra.

Sure, would perfect fit be the optimal result? Um, yeah. But since I can't seem to crack that holy grail with a seamed, under wire job, how likely is it to happen with a bralet?

Thing is, I just spent a small fortune on a non-wired, longline lounge bra that doesn't fit and I knew it well before I got to the cash:

It was a calculated purchase. Firstly, Fortnight Lingerie is Toronto-made and I want to support every local bra-maker out there. Secondly, this brand is the shit and I want to be able to tell you about it (more to come). Thirdly, I intend to hack it with the assistance of this pattern, which Gillian* rightly noted is practically the same construction as the Fortnight longline:

Ohhh Lulu Longline Bralet 1404
I should clarify that the Fortnight manages to provide terrific lift and support with no under wire and it does look so much sexier than those Bali things I've been putting up with. If only the side cups were slightly larger. The style tops out at a size that is technically smaller than mine so there's no way to buy a better fitting version.

I don't know how this has happened, as I only adventure into bras, oh, every year or so, but somehow - despite a lingerie supply stash that rivals that of people who actually make bras for a living - I don't have fabric that's right for the job. Unsurprisingly, every bra I construct, I construct with non-stretch fabric (for lifted support). Natch that's not the point of a lounge bra, the function of which is light support and comfort.

Whatevs. I'm going to wing it with some (likely) suboptimal fabric in my stash. Until I resolve the issue of fit (try not to laugh), it doesn't matter overly - though, truthfully, bra size is rather contingent of the stretch principles of the fabrics used to create the bra in question.  I've decided, for the sake of my space limitations, that I must rely on my experience of fabric and fit to guide me in the muslin stage. I'm not enlarging this stash any further.

Now, on the topic of establishing initial dimensions for the paper patten cups - and this is a 2-cup bra, not my regular 3-seamed kind - I took a rather unconventional route. I think it owes equal parts to draping (what I did when I made this slip) and to my recent recognition that most of the volume in my bust is contained by an increase in the size of the outer cup, not the inner as I'd previously believed (something I learned a lot about when making this dress). Sure, my centre projection is extreme, but mysteriously it is not accommodated by adding extra fabric at the gore. I'll talk more about my fitting strategy as I embark on the muslin process.

What I will tell you now is that I used the Ohhh Lulu pattern pieces as a guide only. Not one piece was left unaltered - and most were altered substantively. This is a bralet drafted for the shallowest of boobs.

PS: I think it behooves me to say that I'm not going nuts over this one. If it doesn't work out, fit-wise after 2 muslins (produced early in the weekend), it's going back into the drawer with all the other patterns I'm still trying to wrap my head around. I refuse to amp myself up beyond belief. I'll get there eventually.

* I suggest that you click on the link to Gillian's blog since she just migrated to Wordpress from Tumblr...


  1. I love that longline bra! Wonderful. RTW bras don't fit me well -- I did find a sport bra (the ISIS line) that fit crazy well. I look forward to your adventures back into bra-making (part tres?), and hope you find success. I am still dying to take the bra lady's class!

  2. check out Don MCunn bra making classes & ebook

  3. I attended a bra making class recently (unblogged because I was helping the teacher work out her curriculum and materials) and was really interested when it came time to fit muslin 1.0. She started with getting the the band and straps really right - snug and secure - before touching the cups, which we did last. It was very interesting since I probably would have gone at it cups first. Anyway, just thought the tip may come in handy!

  4. I want to hear how it turns out! I tried the Oooh Lulu Jasmine bra last month and it did not end well. The fabric recommendations were vague so I'm not sure if that had something to do with it or not, but the sizing was way off. It seems to have a lot of rave reviews so maybe it was just me.

  5. i was eyeing this pattern recently. i would really like to start making some lingerie (time for some nicer underthings...) and this seemed like something easy to try out. hope this pattern works out for you!

  6. Sewing bras is like a little itch on your back between your shoulder blades, it never truly goes away and it damn near impossible to reach when you try to scratch it.
    I'm feeling a little of that itch myself. After packing up my sewing room and walking through a lingerie department... I miss my stretch lace and underwires.
    Good luck, I think you'll have better luck with a lounge bra because it really doesn't need to be perfect to be good.

  7. I tried to comment earlier today, but maybe my school laptop ate it? I'm really excited to see what you can make! (Although I think you should buy some nice fabric that's just right, because then it you can get a consistent fit AND you'll like it more once it's wearable! :)

  8. It's funny, because I've been thinking about going down this rocky road again too. Especially after your last post, which I comment-vomited all over. Sorry about that. ;-)

  9. I still can't believe you're making bras. Do you recognize how badass you are? You make things I would never even attempt to make and I salute you hard!

  10. Funny, I just hacked this same pattern with the intention to draft my own version of a Fortnight bra too! I have some old Lycra that I'll test it out with 1st. I'll keep you updated!