Since I’ve made my first underwear sewing experiences with a sewing pattern by Cloth Habit (namely the „Watson Bra“) and I really love the fit and the support (although not underwired) of it, I couldn’t resist to try this new sewing pattern as well.
Reason for the effort
I was simply sick of constantly searching for bras, just to realize over and over again , that there are only 2-3 versions in my size (30-32 DD) to try on and that I have to choose between these more or less fitting bras, which price range are reaching my acceptance limit.
Therefore I am now challenging the market by sewing my own – that’s at least the plan! haha
And after hours of searching the internet I found the „Watson Bra“ sewing pattern by Cloth Habit back then, because german bra sewing patterns are similar to our market … they only have standard sizes.*hmp*
The international market seems to be way more up to date than ours and the „Harriet Bra“ sewing pattern is available in the following UK sizes:
28 A – E to 42 A – E
as well as in
28 E – H to 42 E – H
-> if you need help understanding the different international bra-sizes, click HERE for a “bra size conversion chart”
In addition, next to really good sewing instructions with a lot of pictures and some tips about which fabric to use, a really good calculation about how to find out your real bra-size is also included, because this is so important for the later fit.
And who is still not satisfied with all that, there is still the blog of Cloth Habit, which has even more information about fabrics, additional materials and how to work with it.
Soooo, but now let’s start with my first try to sew an underwired bra:
Step 1: Determine your size
Step 2: Fabric, sewing materials & cutting
Steps 3 – 4: The bridge
Step 5: The frame of the bra
Step 6 – 9: The band
Steps 10 – 15: The cup
Step: 16: Sew in the cup
Step 17: The underwire channeling
Steps 18 – 20: The underarm elastic
Steps 21 – 22: The band elastic
Steps 23 – 24: Topstitching and finishing of the underwire area:
Steps 25 – 27: Hook & eye closure & bra-straps
Which is the right size for me?
Which size do I normally wear, what does the measure & calculate method given by the sewing instructions of the pattern say and for which am I going for my first try?
Okay everything tells me that I should go for a 32DD. But am I satisfied with this to finally start? No, because I usually have the problem, that bust measurement etc. is correct, but the cup (only the fabric part) is still a bit too big for me. But how do I find out? There is a simple method: Take your pattern pieces and pin them together at the seamlines, which are indicated in the pattern and try it on. In my case, the cup was as expected a bit too big and I corrected it according to the „paper bra“.
Fabric, sewing materials & cutting:
A. Fabric & sewing materials
Because I do not like microfiber fabric on my skin, I decided to go with a cotton fabric with only 2% elastane and a one way stretch direction. It wasn’t that expensive too, so it will not hurt that much if my test is going totally wrong. Because if you have the same experiences as I am and you usually do not really fit into standard sizes, it’s the same with sewing pattern, not matter how good they are. So please test the fit of the pattern first, before you start using your real and/or expensive fabric.
A 2-row hook & eye, some powernet (for the band), strap elastic, rings & sliders, lining for the bridge (inelastic), underwire channeling, underwires, plush band- & underarmelastic, as well as some elastic for the décolleté, I ordered over the internet.
Because fabrics used for underwear are usually fine, smooth and slightly slippery, it’s best to cut the pieces from a single layer of fabric. So trace the pattern pieces to your fabric (also trace all given marks), flip them and trace the opposite side to your fabric as well. Note: the pattern piece for the bridge has to be 1x main fabric & 1x inelastic lining fabric, that’s because you want this part to be stable for a good fit. For the band (2x) use powernet. And if you want your bra to be even more stable (especially for big sizes) use a double layer of fabric for the outer cradle.
Step 3 – 4:
Pin the bridge pieces right sides facing together and sew them together along the top. Iron the seam allowance to the lining and sew it to the seam allowance of the lining. If you have done so, fold everything to the right side and fix the two pieces together with a seam at the edge of the fabric. This step is not essential, but it makes working with it a bit easier, because the fabrics can’t slip anymore.
The frame of the bra:
Sew the outer cradles to the bridge, right sides facing. Iron the seam allowances apart and edgestitch them from the outside to each side. If you have, use an edge presser foot for this and your seam will be really accurate. (see photo 9) As soon as you are done with this you can already see where your underwires belong! 😉
Step 6 – 9:
Pin and sew the band (right sides facing) to the still open side of the outer cradle (pinning is a good idea, because powernet can be really slippery). Iron the seam allowance to the side of the outer cradle and edgestitch it. (see photo 9)
Note: photos 6 – 8
Because I prefer to also have the outer cradle made out of two layers of fabric, I have first sewn two pieces to the outer part of the bridge, the other two to the lining part of the bridge, then fixed them together to one double-layer piece (only at the round parts where your underwires belong). The band I then pinned between these two layers (right sides facing) and sew them together. Finally I edgestitched from the outside.
Step 10 – 15:
First you sew the elastic (for the décolleté) to the right side of the upper cup. Place the elastic with the plush side up and with the decorative edge away from edge of the fabric. Stretch the elastic gently as you sew (as close to the decorative edge as possible) and use a small zig-zag or an elastic tripple straight stitch for this. Then turn the elastic to the left side of the fabric and topstitch it in place. (photo 11)
Now pin and sew the two lower cup parts (right sides facing) together. (photo 12) Make sure the marks matches. Iron the seam allowance to the outer cup and edgestitch. (photo 13). If you have, use an edge presser foot for this.
Join all three cup parts now. Important: Please make sure that the marks (dots and lines) matches while pinning and sewing these pieces together. Iron the seam allowance to the bottom cup and edgestitch. When reaching the dot, fold the remaining raw edge under and sew the edgestitch till the fabric ends. (photo 15)
Sew in the cup:
Pin the cup evenly into place, right sides facing and sew. It was so much easier than expected, sleeves with ease are giving me more trouble, because here the length of both parts that belong together is the same. So don’t be afraid of this step!
The underwire channeling:
Lay the underwire channeling with the plush side up with the edge flush with the cup seam. Sew the underwire channeling to the seam allowance, stitch just inside the edge of the channeling and align it with the curve of the cup seam as you sew. Stop sewing about 3/4″ before the underarm edge.
Step 18 – 20:
The underarm elastic:
Sew this the same way as the elastic for the décolleté. Only difference stretch the elastic a little bit more as soon as you reach the curve, so the elastic will later lay smooth to your skin. And although it is mentioned different in the sewing-instructions I closed the underwire channeling at the step where I edgestitched (from the right side) the elastic to the left side of the fabric. I simply like it better this way, but you can also follow the given instructions, it is just a matter of taste.
Step 21 – 22:
The band elastic:
This is to sew the same way as the elastic for the décolleté and the underarm elastic. Just stretch the elastic at the curves a little more than at the straight parts.
Step 23 – 24:
Topstitching and finishing of the underwire area:
For this sew a line of topstitching just outside the wire seam. It should be close to the original stitching line that attached to channeling. Then sew an other line of topstitching parallel to the first one. Leave enough room between these too lines that your underwire will fit it. Now insert your underwires and close the still open channeling side by turning the left over channeling to the left (inside) side of the bridge and sew a straight line of stitches from the right side to keep it there.
Step 25 – 27:
Hook & eye closure & bra-straps:
Sadly I forgot to take photos of the preparation of the straps, so please just follow the instructions given by the sewing pattern, the instruction has pictures and it really easy to understand, so I think there is nothing that can go wrong! 😉
Place your hook & eye closure next to the ends of your band (where it is going to be sewed on) to check if it fits. If it is narrower than the center back, please trim the center back so it will fit into your closure.
Sew on the straps now. Therefore place the strap on the right side of the fabric, with the pretty side up and sew it there with a zig-zag stitch which is 1/2 the width of your strap. Make sure you align the strap with the edge of the fabric and sew the strap along the inside edge of the elastic. Same at the other side.
At the front side of your bra, put the extention of your cup from the front through the ring and fix it by sewing 2 lines of straight stitches. Make sure that your strap is not twisted before fixing it, repeat this step at the other side.
Now you only have to sew on the closure at both sides by slipping the band into you closure and secure the layers by using a zig-zag or satin stitch.
Great and beautiful sewing pattern, really good instructions! I would definitely recommend this pattern!
I’m still going to make a few changes though, just to make it fit me even better, but for my first try I am really really happy! At some parts it fits better than most of my bought bras, at the others (the bridge for example is a bit too small for me, which results in the creases at the sides of the cups) the changes are easily to be done! I’m really looking forward to make some more versions of this pattern!!! 😀
Thanks Amy (the person behind Cloth Habit) for another wonderful sewing pattern!