Saturday, 16 July 2016

Bras, bras, bras and knickers!

Hi all! I have been having a blast these past few weeks discovering all there is to know about sewing and fitting bras. I have reached a point where it's a case of do it or buy it, because my options are running very low indeed. I really, really, really hate underwear shopping, so finally bit the bullet and made some. I have dabbled with lingerie sewing, but never really spent a great deal of time analysing it or me. I asked for and got a book for my birthday called 'pattern making for underwear design' so decided to start there. I like to work backwards! I have studied lingerie a little and taken a lot of notes in the past on construction, but it is still pretty unchartered territory for me. I drafted a pattern using the book, which was ok but I knew it wasn't what I wanted. I then draped a pattern directly on me (as difficult as it sounds) and still I wasn't happy so I bought a pattern to sew. I chose this one and made view A. It did not come out as I'd hoped (a mix of not checking the fit first and choosing too small a size), so I sulked a bit that I'd used a beautiful bra kit on it having not made a toile first and then salvaged as many bits as I could to sew up a Watson.


Is this pattern nice or what??? So slow to catch on and I honestly thought that the triangles would be very unflattering on me, but I loooove it and immediately made another one!


The pants included with the pattern were not quite to my taste, so I made them bigger and more granny like! Only Instagram pics I'm afraid, but the blue cotton jersey and the floral ones complement the bra's I made perfectly I think!



Next on my journey of discovery was the underwired bra! I discovered the free Maya bra pattern here and have seen some lovely versions popping up on Instagram so thought I would try it. I salvaged some underwires from an old bra and have a load of foam from uni, so got to work! I was scared of making underwired bras as I expected it to be deeply uncomfortable, but guess what? It wasn't! This first one got dismantled as did the second one, but it is a brilliant pattern actually. I am just plotting my third 'perfect' attempt and along with the Watson have two great patterns in my bra making repertoire! The only real change to this pattern was to adjust the bridge slightly (slash the centre front and pivot the bottom out by 0.5cm) as well as swap the back wings for the Watson pattern which offers more support in my opinion.


Did I stop there? No I did not! I still hadn't made a bra that I was really, really proud of. Enter the Marlborough bra. This held the biggest promise for me as it is soft (no foam), underwired and also just very pretty. I made the quickest of toiles and decided it was pretty perfect, so jumped straight in with the good stuff! I seem to be the same size on all three patterns shown here and chose this based on the Watson instructions for measuring.


I wanted this one to be special so raided my stash and pulled out a rigid lace trim that I have had for a long time and have no idea where I acquired it. It matched well with some beigey silk crepe scraps I had and was able to use as a lining. I'm not sure if silk crepe is advisable as lining as it may not hold up over time, but it is so lovely. I like neutrals combined with bold accents, so went with bright orange straps and wire casing. The straps weren't quite long enough on their own, so I extended them with some royal blue strap elastic I had in the same width. It is a really pretty, but modern match with the pale blue power net I used for the back band. The only fitting issue I ran into was the back band being a bit snug, so creatively extended it! ;-)

Note - I bought the power net and a lot of bra supplies from this UK company on ebay and they seem pretty good!



I am so extremely happy with how this turned out. There are certainly things I could still improve on, but I have really discovered an aesthetic and fit that I like. Actually the style of  lingerie is not something I have analysed much over the years, but I prefer delicate materials in vintage type colours or with a bold kick from the trims. I probably should have referred to my pinterest board a bit more and saved myself a lot of figuring out on that front!

Oh, I made co-ordinating granny pants so I actually have set!!! The most exciting thing! They do not photograph well, but when on they flatten out and look nice (honest). I chopped up my pattern to make a front panel and altered the top front piece to accommodate a non stretch fabric for the silk and lace. The bottom front is power net lined with cotton jersey.


The front sided panels are just power net.


The back of the pants is just cotton jersey in a matching turquoise that happened to be in my stash, so they are fancy-ish, but comfy.



Here are some more pictures of the bra because I love it so.





It really feels like I've achieved something special and I am so excited to be able to make bras instead of shop for them.

I have some ideas for a future bra too! I made this gaultier bodysuit at uni many moons ago when we were given a project to copy a designer garment. I did not get my hands on the original garment, but instead researched vintage lingerie for construction information. It was a really fascinating project and although the bra cups are awful (totally flat and wrong), there are some interesting details to draw inspiration from.

By the way I have never worn this!!!



I have also got a vintage item that I have in my collection of inspiration garments. I believe this is a cathedral style? It's a bit squished from bad storage at the moment, sorry! It's fabulous though and has lots of stitch detail and velvet lined straps.



This will definitely be a look I will be exploring in the future. I may try again at drafting my own made to measure bra too! I keep getting asked if I will release my own bra pattern when I post things on Instagram and the short answer is not anytime soon! It is not an area I have experience in and is a specialist area in terms of design. I would need to do a lot more work and research before that would be even a remote possibility, so no!

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed reading this lingerie making journey. Have a good weekend! xxx

14 comments:

verykerryberry said...

Bra making is an exciting journey, love your Marlborough! I used the same supplier for power net and elastics and the quality was excellent. I may have to buy the Marlborough pattern and give it a whirl

Melissa said...

Great job, Marilla! I think, like you, I need to set aside a time just to explore and power through bra making. Thanks for all the info!

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Kerry - so so much fun! Really happy with the Marlborough and think the fit is perfect for me. Hope you like it too if you give it a try! Yep, that supplier is spot on ;-)

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Melissa - it's definitely a pursuit for when you are in the right mind set. I have thought about it several times, but never had quite the right motivation! Nothing like an empty undies drawer to get you motivated! ;-)

Jane said...

Thanks for documenting all this for the good of sewing-kind! I am so excited by the possibilities of making my own bras now. Cool to see the corsetry stuff too!

Claire said...

What a journey- you've been persistent and it shows. Lovely lingerie!

Crab and Bee said...

You've been busy! I've been enjoying your journey on IG as well. I love, love, love the bold notions with neutral fabrics, too. I'm also getting to a point of shop-or-make (although I can get away with very minimal bralettes) so this is inspiring!

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Jane - I think we are both experiencing the same discovery at the moment and the joy of sewing your own undies! It is so liberating!!!

Marilla Walker said...

Hi Claire - well you could say I am mildly obsessing about it! ;-)

Marilla Walker said...

Hey Morgan - I think you could really get into this! I am really enjoying the very involved and quite time consuming nature of it all. I don't need support as such, but do find wires provide a nicer shape on me. So much to learn!!!

Bellbird said...

I'm so keen to give the Marlborough a try, yours is sooo beautiful! The colours you've used are unexpected amd gorgeous. I agree that underwires give a better shape, I've made three Watsons and although I really like them I wonder if underwires would help get things more central on the chest? Or on mine, at any rate. Anyway you've inspired me :-)

Marilla Walker said...

Hey Bella - yep, without under wires everything is all out to the side! ;-) I honestly love the Marlborough so much. Look forward to seeing what you make x

Sonja said...

You are so clever! These are all so beautiful! Personally I still find the thought of lingerie sewing very daunting, but I need to give it a try as my stuff is all getting pretty ratty. Your work is so inspiring!

Marilla Walker said...

Why thank you sonja and totally understand! Can't say or recommend the Watson enough for a first bra. It is so bloody good!!! There are so many components to worry about that it sort of feels like it will be a disaster, but truly it's not as scary as you think! X