Sewing and textiles with Ann
My bras were getting uncomfortable, so I popped off to Marks and Spencers to be measured. The result was alarming, especially when the lady brought me a new suitably sized bra, and it was HUGE. I hated it. (But it is more comfortable….)
There was only one answer to this problem. Make my own, of course.
The first port of call nowadays is obviously The FoldLine, to search all available bra patterns, and after much consideration and reading of reviews, I chose Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough.
I hope that people intending to make a bra will read this blog for information – and then continue and enjoy the process!
I bought 3 new bras in M&S at a total price of about £60 (many thanks to the lady in the queue who gave me a voucher worth £10 off.) They are all huge; if anything they are slightly too big, but they are pretty.
I don’t go to Asda very often, but I was there the next day and found 2 bras for £10 in total. Now I seriously wonder about how anyone can make a bra for £5 and pay the makers decent money, but after debating for a while, I bought 2. They are not my normal colours (white, black, cream….) but they fit well, and are not so huge.
So how much has it cost to make a bra? Well I have calculated £10.30 in this case, BUT that doesn’t include all of the items that I bought in error, or where I have bought 3m elastic, or a metre of PowerNet, etc. in preparation for future makes, or because I couldn’t justify the postage for less. And I had the main Broderie Anglais fabric left over from a project last year, and bought trimming that matches exactly for the upper cup.
As a better guide to the price of making your own, SewingChest.co.uk sells ‘toile kits’ using roll end fabric and elastic, for £12.90. Then you need to add a suitable proportion of the pattern price, which was £13.72.
The Marlborough Bra Pattern
Its a multi sized PDF pattern, so it downloads from the US almost immediately. You find your size and print out the 9 page instructions + 3 pages for your size, then trace your pattern pieces. Pretty easy as PDF patterns go.
The instructions are very detailed and I followed them almost word for word. I did make a few mistakes though, and my copy now has several annotations.
In particular, attaching the wire casing is quite tricky. Note my comment about tacking first. Don’t even bother to pin; just tack along the casing stitching and inside the seam line, then sew along the casing stitching. Hopefully you’ll get it right first time. Add to the Notions list, unpicker!
I also spent much of the making time wondering if I had missed a key stage, as the seam where the cups are attached to the frame remained unfinshed, whilst all other seams eventually get covered.
Right at the end, the instructions explain to use Fray Check on this seam.
I did find that if I made a mistake, my work did not match with the next picture. Be assured, the pictures are correct.
The other significant mistake that I made was to stitch the casing all the way up to the top of the bridge. The instructions do say to stitch 3/4″ from the top of the bridge. The finish would have been tidier if I had done that.
Source of supplies
I would advise to use a bra making specialist for supplies. I bought several items in error from non-specialists, some of which will probably never be used. I just typed Bra Making into Google and came up with two suppliers: I chose to use sewingchest.co.uk. In particular, here is the bra when I realised it didn’t really have the right elastic types, along with the bag of elastic.
Well., it looks lovely, and I have learnt a lot from making it. On first wearing it, it appeared to fit OK, in as much as it was not huge, which is what I was aiming to achieve. I am actually a bit surprised about where the problem lies – the upper cup is too small. Of course there is no stretch in any of the fabric except the powernet, so I wonder if using stretchier fabric would resolve the problem. Apart from being keen to justify the cost of the pattern, I may never find out, as my reaction was to have a go at a different pattern, which will no doubt be blogged soon…..
Useful advice, thanks Ann. I’m always so impressed with people who make bras. (Especially having shelled out for a new one in M&S earlier today!)