Monday, 25 September 2017

pin-up harriett bra

I have had an idea for so long to make this bra (or something along these lines). In fact this vision has probably been the driving force behind wanting to learn how to make bras in the first place! Maybe not for this exact article, but for the pure reason to be able to make lingerie in the fabrics and colours I love with the detailing I find most appealing whilst knowing the shape is going to fit. My biggest gripe about shopping for such items is that feeling when you see all the pretty things and realise that only the one you liked the least actually suits your shape. Jeans and bras. They are the garments that never fail to disappoint!

I have long been influenced by vintage/retro lingerie and have been storing up ideas of how I can incorporate it into my own wardrobe. The styles I'm talking about are not "me" per se, but elements of them really are (if that makes any sense). I am a bit of a romantic I guess and I love the shiny salmon pink fabric and the topstitching that is synonymous with these styles, but wouldn't have a clue about how to wear or indeed feel confident enough to wear the quite accentuated bullet shapes. Of course, as well as actual vintage examples I also refer back to modern representations or re-issues.

Here are some of the pieces that have guided me.

A very crumpled original longline bra definitely steered my fabric choice. Being up close and personal I realised this is made of a much sturdier fabric than you'd imagine. I got a spot on match with some cotton backed corsetry satin. I believe this is the one I ordered!

You can see how the inside is finished with loads of twill tape. I love the inside as much as the outside!

The Jean Paul Gaultier corset/bodysuit famously worn by Madonna. This piece was actually my introduction to lingerie making. Whilst at university over 10 years ago I set about drafting a pattern and making a toile to match the original as closely as possible. It is obviously not an exact replica, but I look at it now and am pretty proud of it having had no previous experience of this type of construction. It has stood me in good stead and the research I did to get to that point has been something I have referred back to in my more recent lingerie endeavours.

This next one is a modern repro of a vintage style by Playtex. I just keep it for reference as, although pretty, is not me. I love all the details and the construction, but I find it too strappy and actually uncomfortable for a soft style.

So back to my make. I see this as a kind of graduation in a way. I have done a lot of work over the past year (starting here) getting to know my way around bra construction and pattern drafting as well as trying out different bought patterns. It has been rewarding in many ways and now I am in a place where I can pick and choose my construction method as well as pattern adaptions. I feel very at ease with the process. This bra definitely represents that. I just confidently cut into my fabric and set about constructing the whole thing carefully and considerately knowing that the end product would be fit for purpose. Of course there are elements I would like to refine (isn't there always?), but I wasn't rushing through it, desperate to find out if it had worked or not which can be the case when you are new to bra sewing. I am feeling very Zen... ;-)

I used a silk strip to encase the seams of the lower cups and lined the upper cup. I really wish I had covered the wire casing with silk or something (just being picky).

The prettiest bra straps and findings. I think the shop I got these from is now closed. Sorry!

Sorry if I've been a bit gushy, but I'm really pleased with this one! Learning the skills to make a good bra is not actually that hard and fitting is not as painful as you'd think. You can push yourself further if you want to, but you don't have to and it means you no longer have to endure the drudgery of bra shopping! FYI, this was made using the fabulous Harriet bra pattern by Cloth Habit. I suggest you read her blog from start to finish for her inspiring bra making journey! xxx