Are you thinking of sewing a bra for yourself? Are you wondering what you will need to even start something like this? Well, here's what you'll need to start, and a few things you don't absolutely need, but are awfully useful and quite enjoyable.
What machine and stitches do you need?
First, you need a sewing machine. You don't need a specialty machine that does 50 different stitches. In fact, all you'll need to sew a bra are three stitches. This is my sewing machine, and it just happens to have 50 stitches.
The first stitch your sewing machine will need to do is a Straight stitch, both forward and backward. Here's what the icon for the Straight stitch looks like on my machine – it's the first stitch, 01, and the most basic stitch you'll use for almost all sewing and on all sewing machines.
The second stitch your machine will need to do is a Zigzag stitch. The Zigzag stitch is number 10 on my machine. This is also a very common stitch in sewing. These two stitches are on most if not all sewing machines.
The third stitch you will want is a Three-Step Zigzag stitch. Now, this is one of those not-absolutely-necessary-but-awfully-useful-things I mentioned. You can sew a bra without a Three-Step Zigzag stitch, but it does come in handy and makes a bit of difference in how it will look especially. Your bra will more closely resemble a Ready-to-Wear bra if you use the Three-Step Zigzag stitch. The Three-Step Zigzag stitch is number 11 on my machine. If your machine doesn't have a Three-Step-Zigzag, you can use a regular Zigzag stitch.
So, you have your sewing machine and know the stitches you'll need to use. Secondly, you'll also need a sewing pattern, specifically, a bra pattern.
Bra patterns and where to buy them
You can find bra sewing patterns in many places. Some of the big pattern companies have bra patterns. McCall's, Vogue, and Kwik Sew have all had bra patterns at one point. Some of them are still available. This is Kwik Sew 3594 available on the ClubBMV website.
As well as the big companies selling bra patterns, there are also a number of independent smaller companies that sell patterns.
A few of the better known independent or Indie bra pattern makers are Bra-Makers Supply's Pin-Up Girls patterns, Merckwaerdigh's patterns, Make Bra's patterns, Orange Lingerie's patterns, Elan's patterns, Bravo Bella's patterns, and Booby Trap's patterns. This is by no means an exhaustive list. The Indie patterns seem to be growing all the time with new patterns entering the market.
Here's are a few examples of patterns from a couple of these independent companies:
This is a Pin-Up Girls pattern called the Shelley:
This is a pattern from Merckwaerdigh.
This is pattern BHS10. If offers more than one style included in the one pattern and can be found in Merckwaerdigh's Etsy store.
Another pattern recently released, showing the ever-growing pattern availability, is from Orange Lingerie.
This pattern is also available on Etsy.
These are only a few. We'll cover more when we detail different styles of bra patterns. At this point, let's say you have your sewing machine and your pattern. What else do you need? Thirdly, you will need materials.
Materials used in Bra Making
The materials used for bra-making are specific to bra-making. You need material for the cups, usually something non-stretch, and the same for the straps. You will need material that does stretch for the band. You will need specialty lingerie elastics and findings like wires, hooks & eyes, and rings & sliders to finish your bra.
There are Indie stores popping up with ever-increasing frequency that are selling bra-making kits and supplies. A quick search on Etsy, and you'll find many of them, and you'll make your own favorites as you order and become accustomed to what different stores stock.
A few of the more well-established bra-making suppliers who carry the materials you will need are Bra-Makers Supply, Merckwaerdigh, Booby Traps, and Bravo Bella. Again, this is not an exhaustive list of sellers. There is a comprehensive list of bra and lingerie supplies here, showing suppliers for patterns and materials worldwide.
What about extras? Books and Magazines
These are the basics you will need to sew a bra. However, I did mention there are some useful things that aren't absolutely necessary, but awfully enjoyable. There are books and manuals that go into great depth of instruction. A couple of the best manuals are The Bra-Makers Manuals volumes 1 and 2. They are a tremendous asset. You can find both of them a Bra-Makers Supply.
Orange Lingerie has also put out a book, Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction . It's not nearly as exhaustive as the Bra-Makers Manuals, but does have some very helpful information.
There are magazine articles that tell you how to clone a favorite bra. There are online options like blogs, Facebook forums, Sew-Alongs, and Craftsy classes. These ‘extras' really make learning to sew your own bra so much more enjoyable and attainable.
I'll be back again soon to share more with you about sewing your own bras and lingerie.