How to sew a bra just like one you love

How to sew a bra

I told you I was addicted! Not only have I made another bra since my Maya AFI one, but I’m already planning my next one…um, my next two actually, and a bodysuit…(In fact, I wrote this post way back in the week before Christmas, and have already made a further 2 bras and am almost finished on a corset, more on those soon!).
But first, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I decided to take a bit of a break over Christmas and kind of abandoned the blogs – I tend to do this at this time of year, but this year it was a little forced as our internet and phoneline went down for a couple of days due to the flooding. I’m sure most of you in the UK (and maybe farther afield?!) will know about the flooding that the UK has been suffering recently – York, our nearest city, got the brunt of over Christmas and the surrounding areas were affected too. In fact, on Boxing Day our usual 30 minute drive took 2 and a half hours thanks to almost every road being closed or underwater! We almost didn’t get through as the way we finally managed to get through was closed only like an hour after we went through – we wouldn’t have bothered but the cats had been alone since Christmas Eve (don’t worry, they had plenty of food on a timer for those 2 days!). Anywho, the next day, all the internet went down. It was pretty chaotic for York where the sales had just hit but all the card machines and cash machines were down – scary!

Anyway, onto the post! So, my Maya bra wasn’t a perfect fit for me because of the shape as well as the fabric being not quite right. But I didn’t lose hope as in the end, it was a properly constructed bra using foam and underwires and I was super proud of it. I decided that now I know how a bra goes together, where everything goes and in what order, that I could try something else: creating a bra based on one that I know fits me really well and that I love. So instead of using a pattern, I decided to attempt drafting my own. My favourite bra style is a CHP cup by Ewa Michalak in a 30G – this one to be precise – it’s got a 3 part cup with 2 vertical seams, has a low cut balcony shape and is nice and open on top.
I took apart an old bra that no longer fits me in cup size and pulled the underwires out of it. Luckily, the wires were pretty much the same size as the original Ewa Michalak bra that I was basing my pattern on – so the perfect width for me (many in the size recommended for my cup size are too wide, these are just right). I also used the underwire casing from this pulled apart bra. In addition to that, I pulled the hooks and eyes off an old Watson bra I made that I didn’t like very much, plus the band elastic and straps, as I was too impatient to wait for delivery of some!
I used this beautiful red floral fabric bought from Boyes a while ago that has a bit of stretch, plus some powermesh from my stash from Sewing Chest, and foam from my stash from Make Bra.

How to sew a bra based on your favourite bra How to sew a bra based on your favourite bra

So how did I create the pattern? I’ve had a few recommendations that the best way to draft a bra pattern based on one that already fits you without taking it apart is to pin out the individual cup pieces and trace out the outline of it. I did this by laying out the bra over a piece of tracing paper (my giant roll forever coming in handy!) on the carpet, then I pushed pins through the cup along the seam of each piece so that it would lay flat while marking out the outline with the holes from the pins. It was fairly slow going as you need to use lots of pins to make sure it’s laid out flat and that you can more accurately trace out the shape of the cup piece. You’ll repeat the process for each cup piece, so you end up with the 3 pieces to make up the cup. You’ll also need to make a copy of each piece if it’s a foam bra as you need 1 for the foam without seam allowances (as foam cup pieces don’t overlap at the seams), then one with seam allowances for the fabric to cover the foam pieces.
I also traced out a bridge for the bra over the Ewa Michalak one, then used the back piece from the Maya pattern to complete it.
I’ll try to get pictures of this process in action some time, as it’s quite difficult to explain just with words! Hopefully you’ve got an idea of how I did it though.
So how did this bra turn out? Much better in terms of shape than my Maya bra as well as in fit in the cups. The band did turn out a little tight though as I used proper fusible mesh interfacing on the bridge (so there’s no stretch at all there, as it should be) and the powermesh in the band has a little less stretch than the fabric in my Maya. It means that this time, instead of the band being too big, it’s slightly too tight – typical! The tightness of the band is pulling the cup slightly too shallow unfortunately, so this one just needs some consideration taken into the stretch of the fabric when I sew it next time, adding a bit extra length if it’s not as stretchy, or keeping it as it is if it is stretchy. As you can see though, it creates some crazy “cakes on a plate” cleavage – it almost looks as though it’s too small from the front pictures, but looking from the side (first picture), you can see it’s actually not. The small band and shallowness of the cups though is causing it to get pushed down to sit a little too low.
The only other thing I would change about this bra is that I would be more careful with attaching my cup fabric over the foam as it doesn’t have a smooth top edge – maybe I’d topstitch it in place?
Anyway, despite its flaws, I love the fact that it actually worked! It looks like a real bra (again!) and is super pretty with the fabric. As I said, I’m now planning my next bras! I have a pattern for a 40s bra made with non-stretch fabrics, and I’m planning to buy the Boylston bra pattern and sister size it (several times…) to try a pattern which can be made in foam and non-foam – I’ve had several recommendations for this pattern, so I’m looking forward to trying it!

How to sew a bra based on your favourite bra How to sew a bra based on your favourite bra

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4 Comments

  1. January 2, 2016 / 3:34 am

    That turned out brilliantly Sian! I love the fabric and the fit looks great 🙂 I’ve long been interested in cloning a bra, sadly all my well-fitting RTW bras are moulded cups without seams for me to copy, which makes it rather difficult. Still, there should be some new patterns coming out this year which I’m very excited to try! Can’t wait to see what you make this year 🙂

    Maddy x

    • Sian Thomas
      January 2, 2016 / 10:22 pm

      Thank you! Again, the fit is a little off but I’m getting there slowly! I did see someone mention on a sewing group that they’d traced out a moulded cup and split it into 3 parts, so I wonder if that might work.
      Ooh, I’m looking forward to the new patterns this year too! I’ve just completed my first Boylston (on your recommendation!) and am loving the pattern. I’ll be posting about it soon, but it’s a little small in the cup still – I went for the 36DD, so am thinking I might try a 40DD and shorten the band even more, fingers crossed it works because I love how it works and comes together!
      xx

  2. January 3, 2016 / 8:54 pm

    Wow, you are so talented! I couldn’t even think of doing something like that. Gorgeous print, and it looks like it fits well too 🙂 – Rai xx

    • Sian Thomas
      January 4, 2016 / 10:55 am

      Eep, thank you! I’ve been working my way slowly up to sewing things like this, so it doesn’t feel like talent – lots of work over a couple of years really 🙂
      xx

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