So I made a bra from following along with the Bra Making: Construction and Fitting Class on Craftsy. It looked amazing and I was SO happy with how it came together. But no matter what it looks like, it only really works if it actually fits. Did it fit? No. Sadly not. It was actually a pretty good fit in most places, but the cups were far too small and I had some top overspill as well as feeling constrained. It felt like my boobs were being pushed flat.
The neckline edge of the cups was also too tight. I almost always have this in store bras too and think I must be fuller in the upper chest than ‘average' which is probably why the usual way of measuring to fit by comparing high bust to full bust gives me the wrong size too and suggested the B cup. I should have thought of that when I picked my size.
I had measured according to the directions and came to a size 36B which seems reasonable because that's the size I settle on most often in RTW bras, sometimes 36B, sometimes 34C or 36C depending on style and brand.
It really is the sort of thing that is near impossible to fit unless its finished and you can put it on properly so it all seemed OK as I sewed but when finished the cups were far too small and I was really disappointed. But its not a real surprise. I have the most difficult time buying ready made bras, and sometimes try on a dozen or more in a shop and still leave empty handed so the fact that my first self-made bra didn't fit was disappointing but not altogether unexpected.
[Not safe for work alert! Do you want to see pictures of what it fitted like? Now I know that's not something you would all like to see, some middle-aged woman in a badly fitting bra, but if you do want to see what it looks like on, then I've set up a separate page and you can click through to take a look. If you would rather not, then you won't be shocked and horrified by scrolling down through this article – no modeled shots on this page.]
The Fitting Process
There are two full lessons on fitting and how to make the adjustments necessary for small changes all over the structure of the bra, but of course she says right at the start that if the cups are just too small, there's nothing to be done except start again and sew the larger size and then try again. That'll be me then!
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Lesson 5 Fitting and Alterations 1
Topics and adjustments covered in Part 1
- The order of alterations
- Straps lengthening and shortening
- Alterations to the length of the back band
- Altering the strap position on the back band
- Altering the band shape for bands that roll or are too loose along the top edge
- Altering the bridge – 4 different ways to suit your body
The pattern alterations all are small, slight and easy to understand. If your fit is good and you just need a small alteration to make it perfect, I really think it could happen. In terms of answering student questions, she is second to none! Her explanations are clear, very thorough and she even will sketch you a picture of what she means or what alteration you need. This truly is awesome teacher assistance in this class.
Lesson 6 Fitting and Alterations 2
Topics and adjustments covered in Part 2
- Altering the strap position to bring them closer to center or further apart by adjusting the cup – good if you have a smaller or wider frame or shoulders
- Altering the neckline edge
- Rounding the crown of the cup if you want to change the shape
- Moving the apex from pointing outwards to pointing straight ahead
- If your lower cup is too flat at the bottom
I decided to simply go for the larger cup size in my second trial and see how that worked out. I cut the 36C and was able to scavenge most of the parts from the first bra. The kit I bought from her for the class actually contains enough fabric to cut of 2 full bras, and I still have quite a lot of the back band fabric left over – probably enough for another 2 bras all from the one kit!
What I wasn't able to reclaim was the elastic so I had to open up my second kit to get the elastics out. But I did unpick the hooks and eyes and reclaimed the strap hardware from the first trial, so in the end not much was lost.
Lesson 7 Embellishments and Design Inspiration
Now we don't all just want to have a bra that fits, we want it to look pretty too. So Lesson 7 introduces us to the use of lace on various elements of the bra including the cups, side panels and back scoop.
She talks about:
- Mirroring vs balancing of lace designs
- Finding the LOPOL of lace – the lowest point for establishing the edge
- The beautiful Butterfly lace design and how to do it
- How to add lace to other areas of the bra such as the back scoop and the side seams
- How to assemble lace onto the cups
- Sewing the lace
- Other designs of bras and inspiration of colorways, embellishments and lace overlays or cups.
Some of the other bras shown for design inspiration
My second attempt at bra making
I added just a little lace to my first trial so I wanted to experiment some more on this second one. I added some to the back scoop here. I think this is a really lovely touch and I'll certainly use this again. (Modeled on Penelope my dress form.)
Then I added some into the side seams. Nice idea too and really easy to do, as was the back scoop lace above.
And some across the tops of the cups and into the bridge. I'm not too excited about where I placed it across the top of the cups in the end, although it looks nicer on the body than it does here lying flat, because it appears to curve. It's all an experiment 🙂 Maybe I should try an all lace upper cup next time! Saucy!
Another really lovely looking bra. But does it fit perfectly this time? Ah, still not absolutely perfectly although much closer than the first one. The cups are still a little bit too small, although I'm undecided if they are just too small overall and I need to go up a size, or just half a size, or if they are simple too small in the top of the cup and I should add some extra length to the neckline edge and volume only in the top of the cup (one of the alterations shown.)
I'll ponder on it for a while, because I need to order some more elastics before making another and it'll take a month or more to arrive from overseas. My fitting class I took before would have me use the slash and spread method to see where I needed to add more, but its so pretty I don't want to cut it apart!
It's still totally wearable and hubby is very proud and says it looks amazing. Praise indeed.
[Not safe for work alert! If you want to check out the fit, then click through to this separate page so you can see me wearing it. ]
Anyone else here sewn their own bras? What do YOU think about my next move? Up a cup size or just increase the neckline edge and top volume?
Check out the earlier article on where you can buy your bra and lingerie sewing supplies.