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Bra Sewing Tutorial

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    Materials and SuppliesWhen shopping, its important to locate your correct underwire size. If this is your first bra, I highly

    recommend buying underwires in the size you think you are and then one size up and one size

    down. Just 1/4 could make a massive difference in comfort. You might be surprised by what ends up

    being comfortable. (And yes, I was wearing the wrong size underwire for many years so I can testify.)

    What you choose for your bra fabric depends on your experience, and what kind of support you need

    or want. Those of you with experience in bramaking or who have a different pattern than the ones I

    chose may want to branch out and try some new fabrics or techniques.

    FOR THE CUPS AND CRADLEThe patterns we are making require some kind of stable cup fabric that does not stretch. If you want

    to use a stretch lace, lycra, or anything with spandex, youll have to either line or interface the cup in

    some way. The bridge will always need to be lined or interfaced, unless you are using a very stable

    fabric.

    Traditional bra fabrics:Duoplex, Simplex, bonded or fused tricot.Of these, (I personally like

    Simplex, which has a nice drape and is very soft on the skin.) These are all satin-y tricot/raschel

    fabrics and are easy to sew.

    Natural fibers:Woven cottons or silk satin like acharmeusea beautiful bra fabric. Keep in mind

    that woven cottons dont tend to be t-shirt-friendly (fabrics stick to it) and sometimes the seams wont

    lay as smoothly. I love silk bras and I take good care of them, but they are not sweat-stain-friendly

    (living in Texas, ask how I know!).

    Lace:A rigid lace made for lingerie is perfect as a cup fabric.Lingerie stretch lacesare another

    option and usually more widely available.Sewing stretch laces do require a little bit of

    experience in fitting.They will also need a stable lining as I mentioned above. Some of you may

    want to experiment with using lace or some kind of decorative mesh on the outside of your cups or

    cradle. There are many different ways to use it.

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    For linings:15 denier tricot or 40 denier tricot. In some places these fabrics are simply called

    tricot or net. These are very useful fabrics to have around in bramaking. The 15 is very sheer and

    stretches just a little. The 40 is more opaque. Some of the kits will include a bit of this for lining. I like

    to stash some in neutral colors because I use it everywhere. It is very useful as a stable lining for thebridge and cradle area (and almost all my RTW bras use it for this). Some bramakers like to use

    powernet for lining.

    Instead of lining, you could also stabilize a fabric withfusible tricot interfacing, often used for knits.

    Look for something that can be fused at a cooler setting on your iron.

    Left to right: 40 denier tricot, 15 denier tricot, fusible interfacing

    FOR THE BAND/WINGSIdeally, your band should use a fabric with about 50% stretch and good rebound.

    Powermesh/powernet:Powermesh comes in many weights and qualities. Some women will need a

    heavier weight powermesh. I like medium weights if I can find them. They are soft and drape well but

    strong enough. Very lightweight powermeshes are useful as a lining for stretchier band fabrics but

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    are really only good for the lightest of bras or even knickers. (The ladyshorts photo in my sidebar is

    made from a lightweight printed powermesh.)

    left to right: heavy, med, lightweight powermesh

    Lycra:These can be good band fabrics but check the descriptions as some lycras may be too

    lightweight or too stretchy for you. Youll have more options in color choices, which is probably why

    folks making bras tend to use lycra instead of powernet.

    For now, try to avoid using jersey as your band fabric. This is something you might want to try later

    but jerseys often get narrower as they are stretched and are quick to lose their elasticity. If you have

    allergies or need/want a natural fiber bra, you can try making a band from woven materials, but you

    will have to experiment with the patterns band length to find a comfortable wearing ease.

    A note about lycra for those who are new to sewing lingerie or swimwear:For the most part, fabricslabeled lycra by lingerie, swim or dance fabric shops are tricot and raschel knits made with nylon

    (sometimes polyester) with spandex for elasticity. The quality and weights of lingerie lycras will vary.

    Some of them will have a 4-way stretch, some 2-way. Sometimes suppliers may sell an uber-soft

    microfiber lycra, other times youll end up with something that looks more like shiny 80s swimsuit

    fabric. I try to read the descriptions carefully if there are any.

    ABOUT BRA KITS

    With a lot of kits, you will need to order underwires separately. Be sure to read their descriptions.

    Also, many kits seem to be short on strap elastic, so consider ordering a bit extra. For my bras, I

    need about 114,3 cm of strap elastic and I have a short shoulder-to-bust length. The Bra-makers

    Supply kits assume you are making the fabric strap in their patterns so they really dont include much

    strap elastic at all.

    Note that Merckwaerdigh and Elingeria kits are often entirely stretch fabrics so you will need linings

    of some sort.

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    BASIC MATERIAL CHECKLIST

    Fabric for cups and cradle

    Lace for front of cups/cradle (optional)

    Stretch fabric for band/back of the bra

    Lining for cups/cradle or suitable interfacing (optional)

    Hook and eye

    Rings and sliders

    Strap elastic

    3/8 picot elastic for top of the band and armline

    1/2-3/4 plush picot elastic for the hemline

    1/4-3/8 narrow picot elastic or trim for the top of the cup

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    Underwire channeling

    Underwires (optional)

    Bow/rosette trim for front (I like making my own!)

    Other things youll need for the sew-along:

    clear ruler or way to mark seam allowances

    tracing paper

    a kick-butt sharp pencil

    some kind of heavier paper like cardstock for your final pattern

    tailors chalk or washable fabric marker

    stretch needles (70 or 75)

    zig-zag foot

    thread (at least one full spool)

    a rotary cutter is very useful in bramaking but optional

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    Find your band size

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    To find your band size, measure yourself snuglyaround your ribcage, right under the breasts. It

    helps to breathe in and halfway out, then measure.This measurement or closest even band number

    upisyour band measurement.

    If this sounds too small to you, try measuring yourhigh bust, just above your breasts and going

    under your arms. The closest even number to this would be your band. Basically, your band needs to

    be close to the width of your chest as if your breast tissue werent there!

    My underbust is 29/74cm and and my high bust width is 31.5, and I usually use a 32 band.

    Sometimes I go down to a 30 in a bra with really stretchy materials. In European sizing, I use a 75.

    Note: If your pattern tells you to add four/five inches to get to your band measurement, I recommend

    that you ignore it!When making a custom bra, you can always adjust the band for comfort by

    lengthening or shortening later, and most likely you will do this anyway for different stretch fabrics.

    Underwire fitDo you know which underwire fits you best? The bra patterns Ive suggested all use a regular length

    underwire, but in the future some of you may want to explore using a shorter or longer one,

    depending on your support or comfort desires. Its good to experiment!

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    I found my best wire size by comparing 3 sizes of wires, going one size up and one size down from

    my usual size.

    The wire should closely hug the natural curve where your breast meets your chest wall. No poking

    into the underarm, sitting on your breast tissue, or dropping below that crease. Underwires increase

    in diameter by about 8mm per sizethats a really small difference but it could be a crucial one! If you

    are having trouble finding your natural curve, you could use a washable marker to draw on your

    crease and see how the wire fits into it. I know that sounds funny but some of us have probably

    squeezed our breasts into too-small underwires and seeing that crease helps!

    Ive made a page withlinks to wire charts,if you need them to compare wires.Elingeria ha

    regular length : http://www.elingeria.de/downloads/Buegelsatz.pdf

    Find your cup sizeFor those who want to leave out underwires, one way to find your starting cup size is by subtracting

    the width of your high bust from your full bust.

    I know this doesnt work for every shape and you need to be wearing a good fitting bra while

    measuring.

    Take your underwire size and compare it to your band size to find a cup size on this chart. My

    underwire is a 32 wire, so I move over to find my band size and its corresponding cup, a 32B. (In

    European sizing, a 75B.) My friends size is in green.

    http://clothhabit.com/underwire-charts/http://clothhabit.com/underwire-charts/http://www.elingeria.de/downloads/Buegelsatz.pdfhttp://www.elingeria.de/downloads/Buegelsatz.pdfhttp://clothhabit.com/underwire-charts/
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