Getting the pattern I wanted

A couple of years ago, I had some success with the Pin-Up Girls "Linda" bra pattern.  When I was placing an order for bra-making supplies earlier this year, I saw that they had produced a new pattern for a demi-bra with front closing, the "Sharon" bra.  It looked pretty similar to the Linda pattern, and I probably could have made the changes myself, but sometimes it is easier to have somebody else do all the work for you, right?  Uh-uh.

I made the pattern up and it didn't fit well at all.

Problems for me
  • To be fair, part of the problem may be that I used a fabric with no give (Duoplex),  and maybe I need a bigger cup on one side.  I ended up with a double boob, and let me tell you, I didn't think I had enough flesh for a double boob.  
  • The straps are made from 5/8" elastic.  The pattern I bought is for A - AAA cups.  Whilst 5/8" may be fine for larger caps, I think it is disproportionate for these cups and I would have prefered that they changed to 3/8" elastic for the smaller cup sizes.
  • Using a 5/8: ring to attached the straps means that this ring is held in place by 3/8" elastic (the armhole elastic), so it is flimsier than a 3/8" ring would be.
  • The straps position is less than flattering.  They are positioned above the BP.  All my RTW bras use a wider position, which I prefer.  
  • I used the recommended wires for this pattern, but they are too short, which I think is part of the reason why the bra rides up at the front when I raise my arms.
I was pretty cranky that I had bought an expensive pattern and wasted good-quality materials on this bra.

I sat down to consider the features that I really wanted in a bra.  This is what I came up with;
  • demi-bra coverage
  • cup with vertical or steeply diagonal seaming
  • back band that curves downward (to take into account the back dart that we put in fitted clothing)
  • 3/8" elastic straps (I know some people prefer fabric straps, but my straps don't fall off and I think that the elastic looks prettier)
  • The other side of the strap ring to be held in place with fabric, rahter than elastic, as this elastic is one of the first places to show wear in my bras. 
  • padding optional
  • back elastic can be connected with either a t-intersection or an integrated strap
I combined several patterns to come up with the pattern I wanted.  The bridge pattern is customised to my shape.  The band piece is from the "Linda" pattern.  For the cups, I was guided by KwikSew 3300 and Elan 540.  I wanted less coverage that the Kwiksew and more than the Elan. 

This is a comparison with the Kwiksew pattern.  I did mess up a bit here.  I assumed that the Kwiksew pattern that I had copied, cut out and left in the envelope was my size, but it was actually a 32A, not a 34A.  I have been using wires for a 34A, which only just fit in.  I made this cup up 4 times before I realised.  Next year, I will modify for longer wires with a wider diameter.  If you click on the photo, you can see that the top of the cup has a different shape.

Here is a comparison with the Elan 540.  Slightly different curvature in the cups, due to mistake mentioned above. 

Here are the completed bras, made using a kit from Bra-Makers Supply.  I like pretty bras, but beige ones are far more practical.  I think that this one is both beige and pretty.  The fit is good and it is comfortable.  Maybe a tad snug around the rib-cage, but the elastic will probably give with a few washes.

I made another one in blue / white.  I thought this combo would be cute, but I actually don't like it as much as the beige one.  Maybe because I haven't finished it off with a satin bow (It took me ages to work out how to make those bows)?


  1. They are both really pretty to me. Great job! Sorry about the wadder.

  2. Very pretty! I love the beige version with the aqua accent.

  3. I still have not made a bra I like. I now have 2 bought patterns, a book, 2 self drafted patterns and lots of bra making stuff. I also spent $318.50 on bras for myself and one daughter at the June sales.
    You are getting off very cheaply really!
    Your new lingerie looks pretty and practical. I might just be re-inspired.

  4. I take my hat off to bra makers, to me it's the holy grail of home sewing. So many things to get right! A while back they were running a 'booby traps' weekend bra making course here and if I had a weekend free, sure I'd have done it, just because it seems like such a hard thing to figure out on your own.

    They are really beautiful bras and there's nothing surer than the back elastic will give. Harumph, it's the main reason I have to replace mine ...

  5. Very pretty bras. I really must give this area of sewing a go.

  6. Your bras are really lovely and look professional. It must be more annoying to make a bra that doesn't fit because what do you do with it then ... unless your sister or friend is about the same size. I have very small back and take a 10E. My favourite bra of all time was a front opening and it was fantastic -I wish I could have a week to just sit and work out a bra to fit me too.

  7. Fabulous bras! I just had a similar bra-making eureka moment myself! Thanks for comparing it to KS 3300, I had been using that, too so it was interesting to see how yours compared.

    And lastly, any chance of showing us how to make those little ribbon bows?? :)

  8. They are both gorgeous! None of my undergarments are this pretty.

  9. Absolutely beautiful lingerie. Bras of this quality cost of fortune. One day I will learn the craft.

  10. I am very envious. I dare say if I put lots of work into it I could achieve a result worth wearing but I am too scared.

    Hey, I am really curious, the actual sewing of a bra from start to finish, how long does it take you on average?

    And do you make undies too? If so how long do they take you?

    Both of these bras are pretty, but the beige one has a better line for the eye to follow, created by the blue in the lace along the border, which would probably emphasise the top curve of the breast/cleavage
    The blue and white one's main line is the diagonal down the middle between the pieces of cup so it creates a narrower and deeper V look.

    I think in terms of design lines, the beige is just a more flattering design :-)

    (But hey, I am not sneezing at the blue and white either, it too is quite lovely :-)

  11. A blue bow in the middle of the blue bra would probably make the eye focus on that, then from there widen out to the edges of the V, creating a sense of ease, rather than constriction.

    Don't mind me! I am a graphic designer by trade and the difference between the two, and their effect is intriguing me :-)

  12. Hi again! Thanks for the answer. Yeah, on days like in my last post, everything is approximately 10 times longer!

    So it sounds like the biggest part of bra-and knickers sewing is learning the skill, and getting the pattern to work etc. If I could whip up a bra I liked and was comfortable in and preferably was pretty, in 2 hrs, I would never buy another rtw one.

    I am glad the comments on the design helped :-) I'd love to see a piccie of it with the bow!


  13. It is a pity the expensive pattern didn't work out, but the two bras you made using your own pattern look absolutely fantastic to me, better than RTW!
    I have huge admiration for anyone who makes their own underwear. I still haven't had a go at this, still seems a bit scary! but your beautiful examples here are very inspiring!
    Well done!

  14. Interesting pattern comparison. I am beginning to realize on bra patterns, it is the slightest curve or 1/8 inch that makes the difference in a well fitting bra and a disaster. Both the bra's are very pretty.

  15. Both bras are beautiful to me!! I wish I could make them sooooo nice!!

  16. They look fantastic but bra making does sound a bit scary. Is it? It sounds like once you get a style that fits perfectly you can whip up fabulous bras for next to nothing (compared with the substantial prices in the shops) but getting to that point isn't so easy.

  17. Your bras are great! I've got to make more and tackle the front closing Sharon pattern, though it sounds like caution is appropriate.