TABLE OF CONTENTS
About the Author
Sew Your Own
Basic Bra Anatomy
How a Bra Should Fit
More Good Reasons for a Good Fit
Putting Your Bra On
Bra Care and Maintenance
Equipment and Supplies for Bra Making
Evaluating Bra Notions
The Guiding Principles of Fabric Selection
Something Has Got to Give or Stretch
MEASURING FOR BRA SIZE
Testing Underwire Fit
Prepping the Pattern
TESTING AND THE TOILE
The Bridge Test
Constructing the Toile
Band and Frame
Trimming Seam Allowance
The Finished Upper Cup
The Clean Finished Bridge
Attaching Lingerie Elastic
Attaching Underwire Casing
Front and Back Straps
Attaching Back Straps
Hooks and Eyes
Attaching Bow/Centerpiece Decoration
Cutting Underwires Down to Size
Replicating Your Success
A Short Lesson On Dyeing
Whenever I tell someone I am a bra maker the reaction is typically an equal mix of curiosity and befuddlement. I don’t know where people think bras come from but clearly few have considered the possibility of actually making them. I regularly meet women who are in the midst of creating couture garments who are frankly intimidated to go near a bra making project.
Initially I felt the same way. When I started making bras several years ago I aggressively searched for and collected everything I could find on the topic. I found very little. Making bras seemed to be some sort of closely guarded black art. Bra makers seem to jealously protect their secrets almost as if it fell into the wrong hands it would be used for evil. I don’t think that bra making is like Harry Potter magic or The Force and that is why I wrote this book.
It took extended study with a bra making pro and then some serious time practicing on friends and family before I had achieved mastery of the craft and accepted custom commissions from clients. In the end, I learned the most – and continue to learn the most – by doing it, repeatedly.
I believe that every woman who sews should be making her own bras. What we wear underneath our clothing is the foundation for all the other lovely garments we spend hours carefully crafting. All in, a bra will take just a few hours to make and it is something you most certainly will wear. This book will tell you exactly how fit and construct your own professional looking bra.
My goal is to give seamstresses the necessary knowledge and confidence to sew their own bras by demystifying fitting and the construction techniques to get professional looking results. Rather than attempt to cover the seemingly limitless variations of bra styles and fabrication techniques, I focus on the most common bra making techniques that I use in my workroom every day to get consistently beautiful results.
My techniques are independent of a specific bra pattern. While I suggest what to look for when selecting a bra pattern, this book does not provide one nor are there instructions for drafting and grading bra patterns. You are free to work with any pattern you wish or draft your own.
No book on bra making would be complete without addressing fitting. Because I have to fit a wide variety of body types and I only have limited scheduled time with my clients, I developed a systematic fitting process to quickly achieve a fitted toile (a.k.a. “muslin”). I provide instructions how to work through this process and how to solve the most common fitting challenges you will encounter.
Finally, I assume that you know how to sew and have the level of experience where you know how to make pattern alterations and can sew a collared button down shirt on your own. If you are a beginner, there is nothing stopping you from using this book to make a bra but you may need a good sewing fundamentals book to help you through.
SEW YOUR OWN
Need some reasons to sew your own bras? How about ten of them?
1. It is actually cheaper than buying a bra. Surprise! Once you have the pattern, all the materials – fabric, notions and trims – can cost as little as $15. Of course you can also spend a lot more too! Regardless of what you spend on materials, the quality of the bra you make yourself will far surpass the one from the store.
2. It is faster and more efficient than shopping for a bra. With experience, it will only take a few hours from tracing the pattern to wearing the completed bra.
Compare this to the time it takes you to get to the store, park, find the bras you like, try them on, pay, etc. Even finding bras online can take some serious time, especially once you factor in the returns/exchanges as you try to find the ones that fit.
3. You get what exactly you want. You get to choose the color, fabric, trim, etc. You could, if you were so inclined, make a bra for each outfit. That plunging top? That racer back tank? That sheer blouse? No problem. You have a bra for that.
4. You get a bra that fits. With no real size standardization for ready-to-wear bras, your best hope for a bra that fits is to make your own (or have one made for you!). Plus, once you have a pattern that fits, you can replicate it time and time again without worrying about the bra being discontinued, sold out or no longer available. Since bras must be regularly replaced, this is a big deal.
5. It will be easier to fit the other garments you are sewing. You will find fewer alterations are necessary to the bodice of your garment when your bust is contained and is positioned correctly on your body by a bra that fits you properly.
6. You will become a better seamstress. There are plenty of construction techniques in a bra making project to help you refine your skills. We can all benefit from practicing precision ¼” seaming and parallel lines of topstitching. The best part is that no one else but you (well almost no one!) will see any of those microscopic sewing “imperfections”. So you will wear the garment.
7. You can regain your sewing momentum. There is nothing like a high utility project that can be completed in a few hours to get you back into sewing. Bras are a perfect sewing jumpstart when you are stalled on other more complicated projects.
8. You can replicate your favorite bra. We have all been there. You love it, it fits, but it must be retired. You search and cannot find one anywhere. Copy it. You can also improve on the fit in the duplication process.
9. You’ve just found a way to use your sewing machine’s embroidery and embellishment features. All those decorative stitches that you have not used since you bought your machine can be put to work.