What is the most daunting thing that you can think of to sew?Based on my informal observations on Instagram, I’d say most people are afraid of sewing jeans, swimwear, and bras. That was definitely my view back when I was making my sewing plans for the year! I wanted to try making all three of these items in 2019 so that I could check them off my skills list, but they’re also three items that I find fit me the worst in RTW since I’m small chested and long torso-ed. I have much more incentive for learning to sew jeans, swimwear and bras since I know they’ll fit me better after some customizing.
Now that I’ve sewn two of those three “intimidating” things, I can confidently say that sewing a bra is one of the easiest things I’ve sewn so far. Period. (Granted, I’m only speaking from my experience sewing bralettes, which don’t require underwire.) Sure, they’re delicate and the fabrics can be a little shifty, but they’re such a small project that you can sew one up in just a couple of hours. As you may recall from my 2019 sewing plans post, my main fear for sewing bras was sourcing fabric and supplies. Looking back that is very funny to me because bras take hardly any fabric to make! You can also order bra or bra findings kits from a variety of sources (including Tailor Made, Madalynne Intimates, Emerald Erin, and Stonemountain & Daughter), which include fabric and notions for at least one bra and probably more (the kits I used came with 1/4 yard of fabric and mesh which is more than enough to make two bras).
The first bralette that I sewed in April was the (free!) Barrett Bralette by Madalynne Intimates. I first discovered Maddie (the shop owner) when I was living in Philly—unfortunately, it wasn’t until we were about to move. I had a friend in Philly who was OBSESSED with lingerie and it would have been so fun to host a girl’s night at Maddie’s studio, where she hosts classes for bra-making. Anyway, I’ve been stuck on the idea of making one of her patterns since we left in 2016 and this year I finally made it happen.
I ordered one of the Barrett kits from the Madalynne shop (you can see that I didn’t think to photograph it until I unceremoniously unboxed it and used up the notions). These kits are on the pricier end as far as kits go (they’re sure pretty, though!) but I took into account that the pattern was free and I will be using the extra fabric for 1-2 more bras that I have planned. Maddie also included a bonus roll of elastic which I thought was a nice touch. She’s definitely all about the user experience and aesthetic which I think is fun.
I’ve only sewn the free patterns offered by Madalynne (the Barrett and the Noelle), but I found the written instructions to be confusing at times. The sizing chart was spot on with the Barrett though, unlike with my Noelle experience. The cutout at the front was a little tricky to get the elastic just right and the band elastic in the back is unfinished (pictured), because there was no indication that it needed finishing which I thought was a little odd, but maybe I did it incorrectly. I might add some Fray Check so that the elastic won’t unravel in the wash. Maddie also suggests using an adhesive spray (specifically Odif’s 505) to adhere the mesh and lace together so they won’t shift while sewing. I didn’t think that it was absolutely necessary—I did buy the spray (it was $20 on Amazon when I bought it) though I must not have used enough because my fabric pieces were not sticking together that well and I didn’t have any problems with them shifting. I wish that I had thought to take her Creativebug course (!) for the bralette but I only remembered that she had those courses available just as I was writing this post! I’m sure that seeing some of the techniques in person would have demystified some of the experience for me but overall I made a pretty and wearable product.
Sewing this bralette was a breeze. Erin has a great tutorial on her YouTube channel, which I watched before cutting out my fabric and reading the instructions. (I did cut out the lace before reading the instructions, which was a mistake because Erin has suggestions on where to cut so that the lace pieces make a nice point when they’re sewn together.) Hooks and eyes and loops and sliders also seemed intimidating to me which is also very funny to think about because they’re very simple to put together. I really don’t have much to say about this bra except that I love it! It is just so cute and well-put together. The construction is so simple, which seems surprising because the details look very intricate. I’m going to make at least two more versions, one with my leftover Swiss dot mesh and one foam version.
Both bralettes are very comfortable and feel like I’m not wearing a bra at all. I’m a 32C and small-chested, and generally don’t like wearing bras with underwire (a habit I picked up while pregnant/nursing—nursing bras are so comfy!). I love the wide elastic on the Barrett, which is also ideal for larger-chested women who need more support. Bras are such a personal and often ill-fitting thing which makes me wish that more women knew how to sew their own!
* * *
M O D I F I C A T I O N S : none
O V E R A L L : Bras are fun to sew! These bralettes are a great option for the sewist who hasn’t sewn an underwire bra yet—the front cutout of the Barrett is a little more advanced but doable for a bra-making newbie. You can watch video tutorials for both bras on Creativebug and on Emerald Erin’s YouTube channel.