Hello internet friends!
Today I’m super thrilled to share with you part one of #OperationBraDrawer with one of my two recent bra makes, a Berkeley Bra by Orange Lingerie! I’ve been wanting to replace some of my old, stretched out, no longer well fitting RTW bras and after being inspired by this post by Tasia on Instagram I decided that part of my sewing mission for 2019 will be to initiate #OperationBraDrawer and make myself some well fitting bras!
I decided to start off with the Berkeley Bra for two reasons; 1) I had a beautiful lace underwire kit that I bought years ago from Blackbird fabrics that was begging to finally be used, and 2) I had never worn or owned a lace bra, every single bra I’ve ever had has been some sort of moulded foam cup affair, and I really wanted to to try wearing something outside of my comfort zone (who knows I might really like it!). Having previously made underwired swim wear with help from Heather’s sewing swimwear class I knew that I had a small bank of skills to tackle this project, I had really enjoyed making those swimwear tops so I had high hopes that I would enjoy the bra making process as well! I also had the foresight to order myself extra underwire bras when I was making swim wear so I had everything I needed on hand to just dig in!
Turns out that cutting and making a bra was even more enjoyable than making those swimwear tops! Because I decided to start with a lace bra pattern there wasn’t any foam to cut and cutting both the stretch lace and power net was much easier than swimwear lycra and lining which are super slippery fabrics. I think I estimated that I had everything cut and ready to go in about 15 min! A few short evening sewing sessions and one Saturday afternoon later I had a finished bra, which you can see here. I excitedly went to try it on and found that I had cut the wrong size! In my excitement I had forgotten that Orange Lingerie patterns have you add 4” (if you are an even band size) to your band measurement, so instead of cutting the 36D I cut the 32D :( I was super gutted since I had used up all of of the matching elastic and underwire casing. After some hemming and hawing I decided to cut the correct size (since I had plenty of stretch lace and power net left over) and to salvage as much of the elastic and casing as possible, as well as taking the bra straps, off the first bra I sewed.
I ended up having enough of the elastic on the bottom band to use for the upper band and simply got some white elastic from dresssew that I dyed a coral pink to match the pink highlights in the lace. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any underwire casing from dresssew so i was stuck with the pre cut bits of casing plus the small piece I had left over. I decided to salvage the pieces from the first bra and then fill in the missing length with parts from the small piece (you can see this in the picture above) I used some fray stop to prevent the edges of the two cut pieces from fraying and so far so good! I still have the fully seamed together 32D bra, all it needs is elastic, straps, and a 3 X 3 clasp and it’s done, I’m hoping to give it away to someone for whom it’s the right size.
Let’s get down to the fit! My dudes I love this bra! It is super supportive which wasn’t something I thought a lace bra could be, I think this is due to the ‘internal power bar’ which are the folded over power net portions on the inside of the cups. The underwire fits me perfectly which feels amazing after wearing a slightly too small underwire previously with my RTW bras. I also really like the 3 x 3 clasp at the back, it allows the back band to be wider which, for me anyway, adds additional support as well as preventing any ‘back underarm rolls’ like I’ve previously experience with my other bras. The first week after I made this bra I pretty much wore it every single day! which was great but also kind of a learning experience….I found that for the first few days I was super conscious that I was wearing a bra I made myself, I think I was internally praying that the whole thing didn’t fall apart on me even though I’ve never had that happen with something I’ve made before (knock on wood!). Lace is also much thinner than the foam bras I’m used to so i think it took me a while to get used to that feeling of a thin fabric between me and my shirts. I also found the lace slightly itchy the at first, I gave myself a bit of eczema from scratching a bit, and I don’t know if that was from me thinking about the wearing the bra the whole time or it just took me a few days to get used to the feeling of lace since I’ve always worn non lace bras. I’m completely used to it now and I can’t wait to sew myself up a second and third one!
Stay tuned for part 2 of my recent bra making where I talk about making a foam bra, the Mystic bra again from Orange Lingerie.