Tuesday, 19 July 2016

self drafted basic bra

So I am falling down a deep hole of bra making and I can't get out! I never ever thought I would summon up the energy to make my own lingerie let alone draft some, but I am increasingly getting more drawn into everything there is to know about bras. I find the process very pleasing actually in that a bra is not quick to make and you can become very involved in the fine little details (and pretend you are a couturier).

I am certain one of the reasons that I am enjoying it so much is because even though I am an average size (36B), I have never felt that shop bras fit me particularly well. Actually, the truth is that until I measured myself for my Watson bras I thought I was a 34B or 36A, so that's probably the main reason. Ooops! That explains a lot in terms of why the cups always felt like they were in the wrong place, so there's a tip. Get yourself measured or measure yourself properly!

Armed with my new found bra size and some very specific measurements I used the book I received for my birthday back in April (pattern making for underwear design) to draft a basic bra. This is the first pattern in the book and probably the most useful.

It is definitely a book for someone with prior pattern cutting experience. Even basic knowledge would help, but it might seem a bit technical if you are coming to it with nothing. It provides all the information you need to measure yourself and get started and the drafting seems pretty straight forward. When I first looked at it though, having not made a proper underwired bra before I felt confused about knowing how to pick the correct wire to start drafting (you need the underwire for your size to draft the blocks). Now I have some wires that seem ok, it seems a lot more straight forward, but just this one thing did stop me from getting started straight away. There is also no problem solving in terms of fit issues, so if you run into any problems during the drafting process then you have to figure it out alone. All that said I kind of hate saying that you need to know this or that to get started, because if you are determined enough to figure it out then you probably can!

Note - there are also blocks and for knitwear such as t-shirts, knickers and leggings which seem much more straight forward.

I turned my block into the pattern and made up a quick toile to discover it did not look right. At this point I would have been confused if I hadn't already made the Marlborough bra recently, but when compared I could see that I had pivoted the underwire out too much on the outer side of the front band, so pivoted it back in a bit. One toile later and I was pretty shocked to find the pattern working. Really and truly I was surprised!

After a quick rummage through aaaall of my scraps I settled on some silk satin that had failed to become anything. I bought it with some birthday vouchers from work a long long time ago and started making a dress which didn't work out. I then refashioned it into a top which I also abandoned part way through and was pretty much going to bin it, but it's too lovely so I am happy it now has purpose. I paired it with some cream power net and got thinking.

The construction kind of worked itself out as I went along. When I was cutting the power net I decided the selvedge looked nice along the inner edge of the upper cup which gave a nice clean finish and sort of dictated how the rest came together and I was able to use the remaining selvedge as the elastic trim across the outer cup and back band.

Because I hadn't planned it well enough from the very beginning I failed to resolve the top point of the upper cup where it meets the strap. It would have been so nice to have a mitre there, but I couldn't achieve it with the way it was cut. No matter because it's all part of learning new things, but it does bug me. The style is too minimal for a bow to hide it, but I have sewn a loop of the selvedge to attach the strap and I think it is as good as it's going to get.

Because the look is so fine and delicate I chose to make silk under wire casing that I underlined with nylon to give it a little more durability as it certainly won't be hard wearing (the front bra band is lined with power net for strength). Any elastics or trims I have are just too heavy, so I bound the side seams with the silk and used a doubled power net strip for the bottom band. It works so well and is really firm, stopping it from riding up!

I didn't want to topstitch the silk wire casing down because I didn't want stitching on the front band (fussy). I hand stitched it to the power net lining and topstitched the first 3.5cm only on the top of the inner and outer wire. I felt some machine stitching was necessary to keep the wires in check so this is a compromise. I shall try doing things in a different order next time so I can try and machine the casing to the power net. The bra actually looks just as nice on without under wires, so I could completely change the construction to omit the casing, but I kind of like the detail and the added shape it provides.

I still can't quite believe how well this has come out and the fit is like a dream. The style has morphed into a sleek, very light weight and supportive long line bra with a low scoop back. Totally love it! Need to make some pants next to complete the set!

Here are some pics on my (generic) stand. She's too small for it but trust me, it looks so good on!

I definitely wouldn't have had the confidence to do this if I hadn't tried out the previous patterns from this post, but I am all pumped up to try all sorts of things. Using the selvedge of the power net as a trim has got me all excited about making trims too. The absolute worst thing about bra making is finding trims, so I'm going to dive into making some. I have been flicking back through 'the secrets of sewing lingerie' and am definitely going to tackle making my own hooks and maybe fabric covered elastic as a bottom band?

Never stop learning! ;-)