I made a bralette! I hadn’t intended to make a bralette – as opposed to a full-on underwired bra – as my first piece of upper lingerie, but it came up in #sewmystyle for November and, well, I always like a challenge. By challenge, I of course mean a gravitational, Newtonesque type of challenge where I taunt the cotton lycra gods with the enigma of keeping my DD breasts in a vaguely upright position without the aid of any form of wire or cup. In other words, can I even wear a bralette with a 38D/36DD set of melons?
There are some other subreasons: Evie La Luve has an amazing video walkthrough on her site for all 4 versions of the Darcey bra and it really made it so much more straightforward to make. Plus, and I don’t think I’m alone here, one main reason I haven’t knuckled down to my “proper” bra construction – and I have a fantastic Orange Lingerie pattern and kit just waiting to be assembled – is because of all the bits and pieces of mesh and powernet and elastic this and that. It makes my head spin just thinking about it. Oh – and, finally, it’s also one of my #makenine projects this year! 🙂
The Darcey bralette is fairly simple for a bra, relatively speaking, and it goes up to a D cup. So I thought, well, let’s start at the very beginning (as Maria von Trapp once said) and go for a simple pattern with minimal accoutrements and see how it holds up. Yes, literally. From there, I can figure out what I like, what helps and what hinders me when it comes to bra-making. As I mentioned, there are numerous different versions of the pattern and I decided to go for Version 1, which is the basic version, in size XL.
I chose to use the strongest power mesh I had in my stash for the lining. It’s from one of my bra kits and is pretty firm. For the “pretty” fabric, I chose a piece of cotton lycra I had in my scrap box that had a decent weight and stretch. It’s a little heftier than some of the others in my stash, with good recovery thanks to the lycra, and still a decent stretch. There are only three pattern pieces: a front, a side and a back piece and one set of each for both the cotton lycra and the lining.
There are really complete paper instructions that come with the pattern, but I must admit I only really used the video walkthrough. It’s exemplary – broken into different parts for the 4 versions and each step is shown really clearly and slowly. It’s a fantastic resource if you’re a lingerie newbie. I started by sewing all the pieces together in such a way that all the seams are enclosed between the lining and the cotton lycra.
Then it was onto the dreaded elastic sewing, that I think is the part everyone gets nervous about. Well, the video really makes light work of it. It does take a little handling and I can definitely improve a LOT, but I was pleasantly surprised for a first attempt. The pattern uses the three-step zigzag stitch, but you can use a regular zigzag too if you don’t have that stitch. After attaching the picot, it was time to apply the fold-over elastic and I really didn’t have a good colour in my elastic collection. So I ended up using this cool rainbow coloured trim elastic, which was slightly thicker, but I think it worked out well.
After putting the elastic on, all that was left was to add the straps and back connectors. This was easy and fun, but I did realise that I had the wrong size sliders and also the wrong width back connectors. Urgh. I considered driving all the way to the nearest store (not so near) to pick some up, but then I remembered my drawer of badly-fitting bras that I haven’t gotten around to throwing out yet. I rifled through and – yay! – found a slightly off-white bra from which I could harvest the correctly-sized notions.
So I have a bit of a mixture of hardware as well as some been-in-the-wash-a-few-times greyish back connectors. They’re clean – I promise! Just try and ignore them, ok?
So does it fit? Well, look, no – not exactly, to be honest. BUT – I’ve heard so many times that you need to make at least two or three bras before you get a good fit unless you’re very, very lucky – and the truth is that this actually fit a lot better than I was expecting! My boobs are too big for it, and I had a suspicion that would be the case as I finished up the FOE and thought the cups were looking a tad more petite than my usual bra cups. It’s probably just one size too small I reckon. The back is a little too long for me and also too narrow in the back straps I think. I compared them to the only non-underwired bra I have that I wear regularly and that has much more width around the back, which I suspect I need for support.
Taking all that into account though, once I’d shortened the straps to the right length, it was pretty comfortable and even a little, dare I say it, supportive? Definitely wearable (once the issues were fixed) and a darn sight prettier than my RTW bras. 🙂 So I think I’m going to compare it closely to my RTW bralette and make some adjustments and then try again. I think this might be doable! As I was hoping, my brain is now whirring with: “What if I add this here?” and “Maybe this would work better like this?”, and now I feel like if I read about some common adjustments I know what they’ll be referring to better.
All in all, the sewing of this bra only took a few hours, so it’s a good investment of time for the knowledge gained. Evie la Luve offers tutorials on how to increase the cup size amongst other things on their website, so I think I’m going to go and check that out next. I also have a new appreciation of which hardware, in which sizes, I need to look out for in the future to make sure everything goes together nicely. This was a good bit of education all round (I wonder if it will fit my sister? Better get new back connectors though!!!).