I am so happy to be writing this post as it’s been such a long time coming! I first starting banging on about sewing my own bras back in my 2017MakeNine list (which is a perfect example of why I’ve stopped making these lists!) Why has it taken me so long? A couple of reasons, confusion being one – fear definitely being the second.
If this is you, let me attempt to talk you out of that, hopefully convincing you that there really is nothing to fear – whilst I try to simplify any confusion you may have with regard to the seeming myriad of different elastics and supplies you might think you need. But first…
Why Sew Your Own Bras?
Why did I so desperately want to sew my own bras? It wasn’t about design choice for me, or even about accomplishing new sewing skills – which, of course, are both extremely valid reasons! It was because wearing bras tended to make me, what I term, ‘Brangry’ (Bra = Angry)! I would wrestle my way out of any bra I was wearing the nano-second I walked through the front door. I wouldn’t even stop in my tracks to do it; I’d end up tossing said bra over whatever I was passing as I furiously whipped it off. Family and visiting friends were accustomed to finding bras discarded in a Brangry fit over the back of dining chairs, in the fruit bowl (it was otherwise empty!), down the back of the sofa – even in the shoe rack! No matter what size bra, no matter what style, no matter whether I’d had it professionally fitted or not – I hated wearing bras – they were uncomfortable to the point they’d make me seriously agitated.
I’d long suspected its partly down to my shape – I’m a DD cup on a relatively narrow petite frame. Bra straps would constantly fall off my shoulders (tightening them didn’t help). My boobs are also quite bottom heavy – 90% of shop-bought bras would squish and flatten my boobs in the lower cup so they’d end up overspilling in the top cup – even if it was ‘technically’ the right size. If I sized up, they’d fit in the bottom cup and then gape in the top. I could go on and on…suffice to say my loathing of bras goes a long way to explaining why I tended to live in PJs when at home!
Are you noticing the past tense I’ve been using? Oh yes, things have very definitely changed – I’ve gone from stark raving Brangry to being very Brappy. (I’ll let you work that one out 😉 ) So, here’s why…
Within five minutes of seeing the release of the Black Beauty Bra (by Emerald Erin) pop up in my Instagram feed, I’d bought the pattern. 30 minutes later and it was printed out and I was reading through the instructions. I clicked over to her Store and decided to buy a few sets of Findings packs to save myself the hassle of trying to separately source them all. I browsed the web and bought a couple of different lengths of duoplex – a Jacquard ‘nude’ and a black (both from Sewing Chest). If you’re planning on sewing View A, Duoplex is ideal; it’s a polyester, non-stretch knit fabric which is sturdy enough for both the cups and the bridge of the bra. You will also need some Powernet fabric – this is the highly stretchy yet strong and supportive stuff that forms the back band of the bra (look for the crucial word ‘strong’ in the description when browsing options). Alternatively, you can buy entire kits direct for the whole bra, including the underwires, whether you want to make View A (the sturdier day-wear version I wanted) or View B (all the pretty lace and tulle!) If you really want to source your bits in the UK it is most definitely worth checking out www.sewingchest.co.uk (and if you can’t see something you need on their site, do email them!)
But guess what, after all that initial frenzy; all those supplies sat in my stash drawer for, oooh, at least another five months. Y’see, I was still dealing with the fear.
I had hella incentive to make my own bras, so to procrastinate for so long must have meant that my fear was huuuuuge. As always, in hindsight, I can’t really remember what that fear was. Was I expecting it to be really fiddly – all those weeny seams? I suspect it was mainly a fear of disappointment – what if it didn’t work out and I was left with the shattering reality of being consigned to a lifetime of feeling Brangry?!
My advice is, whatever shape your fear takes; acknowledge it, feel it and sew the damn bra anyway!
It’s really not as fiddly as you might think. Yes those seams are small but as long as you are working with the right needle, they shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. I used a stretch 70 needle on my first (the nude one) and it was all plain sailing. Strangely, when it came to sewing the second, I had an absolute nightmare initially trying to sew and topstitch the outer cradles to the bridge. I switched out my jersey needle for a fresh one. Didn’t help. I changed it for a Sharp. Didn’t help. I changed it for a Schmetz Univeral and Bingo – we were back to all systems a go-go. I don’t know what laws were at play here but if you’re suffering with skipped stitches and fabric being chewed into your feed dogs, play around with needles and foot pressure tension on a scrap of fabric. You’ll get there.
The instructions for the Black Beauty Bra – from what size to cut through to construction – are clear and easy to follow. In fact in turns out that, far from being a difficult, highly technical thing to sew, it’s a ‘Bish, Bash, Bosh you’ve sewn yourself a Bra!’ type project. And it’s fun!
My Verdict on my Finished Bras!?
I sewed both my bras straight out of the envelope; only placing the back strap just a wee bit further towards the centre of my back (to help with my narrow frame). I figured I’d worry about fitting alterations later.
But guess what?! They’re both turned out perfectly. Utterly utterly perfect. Can you tell I’m still in shock?! I say perfect, they’re almost perfect – I’m going to use a wider, 3 part, Hook & Eye fixing next time (widening the back band to fit).
It’s love, pure and simple. The Black Beauty Bra rocks! It’s comfortable – and that’s me of all people saying that! My boobs feel supported; I can almost forget I’m wearing a bra! I’ve even jogged in mine (not intentionally, haha, I was just in a rush) AND NO BOUNCING! They look perky; my clothing hangs better. And they feel such a well-constructed expensive bit of lingerie – my old RTW ones look shabby in comparison.
Actually, its been illuminating making my own in more ways than one (or two 😉 ) – it’s given me the ‘eyes’ with which to see just why all the RTW ones were so terrible…one had the back straps attached just to the very top edge of the back band, so yeah it was going to pull and ride up my back. One was too narrow in the depth at the sides so yeah it was going to cut in. One had virtually no real cradle support at the centre of the bra, just some lace…and more than one had underwires that were almost circular which meant they cut into the outer top edge of my breasts (to the point of routinely breaking blood vessels in my skin) – I do not have circular orbs that sprout from the centre of my chest; I have boobs that have fed two children that start from my armpit! The list of design ‘faults’ in my RTW bras is long and I was very happy consigning them to the bin; where they rightfully belong.
My Tips & Recommendations for Sewing your own Bra
- For your first bra, I heartily recommend buying at least the fixings kits to start with (the ones from Emerald Erin contain generous amounts of everything you need and come with a handy little chart to help familiarise yourself with the contents). If you think you’re going to ‘blind yourself with science’ researching all the separate bits – especially if you’re in the UK where buying options seem limited – chances are you’ll just give yourself a headache and quit (been there done that so many times!) Otherwise check out / contact www.sewingchest.co.uk
- Unless you really, really want all the pretty lace and tulle, opt for View A initially – there are less steps and it will give you the confidence to Approach B.
- If you haven’t got them in your kit, get yourself some WonderClips and some WonderTape. I really didn’t want to use pins unless absolutely necessary with this project, WonderClips were easier and more practical. WonderTape is great for holding the small side seams open before topstitching in place – I didn’t find it necessary elsewhere.
- Whilst sewing the bra, if you’re struggling with chewed fabric and / or skipped stitches, don’t think its you. It’s likely only a change of needle type is required.
So there you go! I kind of just want to sew all the bras now and nothing else! I have No. 3 cut out but have forced myself to put it to one side. I see sewing my own bras as becoming a staple part of my sewing practice – I’ll probably routinely sneak them in between other projects. I know they’re fun, I know they’re not difficult and I know they’re reasonably quick to sew so they’re perfect ‘palate cleansers’.
Are you going to have a go?! As for the term ‘Brangry‘, surely I can’t be the only woman whose RTW bras made her feel that way?!
Until next time, happy sewing (and happy boobs!)
Disclaimer : NOT a sponsored post or Affiliated to Emerald Erin in any way – All items mentioned were purchased by me. Opinions given are my honest and unbiased opinion. Post contains unrelated Affiliate links; if you chose to purchase via these links you will not be charged any extra, however, I may receive a small commission.