Saturday, 30 September 2017

and just like that...

.... I made a bra.

I am not modelling, too embarrassing! It is awfully tricky to photograph a bra without a person inside...

Not that long ago I looked at my underwear drawer. It is in a pitiful state. Two of my favourite bras have more or less fallen to pieces through constant wearing. I usually get my bras from M&S, I wear plain models. I know, not very exiting. I haven't been fitted in years but the last time I did make an effort the result was disappointing. The bras I felt compelled to buy were uncomfortable and ill fitting and - dare I say - the fitter a bit patronising, to the point that I had to fight  the urge to punch her.

Anyway, it crossed my mind that bras are sewn by someone, somewhere, and that I should also be able to acquire the skills it they could. An initial Google search quickly turned into an obsessive evening occupation. I found a pattern that got consistently good reviews. It is the Pin-up Girls classic full band bra pattern. It is a no nonsense bra (no lace), good for learning I thought. I bought the pattern here. The pattern designer is Beverly Johnson, based in Canada. The patterns are bilingual French and English and comes in 90 sizes. Yes, 90! Different size ranges come in different pattern packs and it is quite important to have at least a vague idea of the bra size you might need.



The 'ingredient' list seemed a bit complicated, lots of bits and pieces that I have seen on bras but never thought I'd ever have to buy. I decided to order a bra making kit to prevent mental overload and not having the right kind of elastic. The kit I chose was put together with this particular bra pattern in mind (you can find these kits in the same shop I linked to above). I chose the navy blue one because my favourite and now unwearable bra was navy blue and I have knickers that go with it that are still in good shape. How come knickers don't wear out as quickly as bras do?

The pattern and kit arrived and after reading through the instructions, I felt flummoxed and set it aside for bit. One Saturday afternoon I decided to measure myself and cut the fabric. The size is calculated by measuring your high bust and the full bust, just as you would in tailoring. Cup size is determined by subtracting the high bust measurement from the full bust measurement. In my case this was 3 inches, which translates into a C cup. I have been wearing DD for years. Anyway, I decided to go with the C, as measured. I didn't expect this whole project to be a success, but an introduction to bra sewing and if the C was wrong, so be it. I often get stressed about sizing, particularly because the shop bought clothes sizes are wildly different and seem to bear no relation to actual size definitions.





Alas, I didn't get very far. I just couldn't figure out how to sew the two cup pieces together, no matter how much I turned them around, trying out different options.... stuck at the first step. I was looking for a tutorial online when I came across this class by Beverly Johnson, using the bra pattern I had. Jo at Three Stories High suggested this class to me a few days after I bought it. She is my sewing goddess and I trust her judgment, so I was really pleased that I had chosen the right class. It was not cheap but I know how much time it takes to make any kind of recorded and filmed tutorial from personal experience and I felt the price was justified. It was an excellent investment and I hope to recoup the costs within a short time. The class is a treasure trove full of excellent guidance and explanations, including fabric choices and fitting issues. Finally I could make sense of the different parts in the bra kit. Every single step is explained in great detail, and shown, too, down to the stitch type and length for each step. Beverly suggests not to use pins, which made me a bit nervous but it turned out not to be problem. There are couple bits where you are 'allowed' to use them.









Thus prepared I started sewing. It was a breeze. I didn't swear once, which is always a good sign. It did take four days though as I had limited sewing time. I watched the videos five minutes at a time and then sewed what I had just observed. I really enjoyed making this bra and the more it looked like a bra the more exited I got. I know, my life is fairly dull :-)

I opted for the underwire free version because I didn't have any and because these tend to come out and ruin the washing machine. The pattern is for both types of bra, and it explains what type and size of wire to choose. I had no idea that bra underwires come in different sizes! You never know, this knowledge might come in handy at a pub quiz one day...

Now for the fit. It is difficult to try a bra until it has the hook bit attached, which was the last step. I was delighted that the bra fits and looks good, as good a plain full bust bra will ever look on a seriously overweight woman. The bra makes my bust stick out a bit more than my worn out old ones but I guess this is something I can get used to. I mentioned earlier I made a C cup because this is what I measured. I think for the next bra I am making a D cup as I have a some underarm fat that also needs to be tidied away. It isn't breast I don't think but I am sure I can shoogle into the cup. First I am going to view the fitting videos of my online bra course, just in case this has information for the overweight bra maker.

I have already bought two further kits, one fuchsia pink, the other dark cherry. I will make the pink one first because I don't think I have cherry coloured thread. I decided that buying a kit is easier than buying the individual bits and pieces. Each kit cost me £17, which I think is good value for a bra, not taking into consideration my hourly rate. With a bit of practice I can whip one up quite quickly.

What do you think? Will you give it a go? Or do you have a tried and tested shop bra that fits you well?

Any plans for the weekend? I have none, other than doing very little and remain sane. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend. x

27 comments:

  1. Your talent and perseverance continue to amaze and delight me. What a lovely bra! I'd never attempt something so complicated. Congratulations!











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  2. Totally impressed Christina, your skills are awesome. I remember watching bra making on the sewing bee and feeling it may be out of my league. Like the idea of the kits. I may keep at the socks at the moment :) Have a restful weekend. B x

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  3. Congratulations you made it!!!! It looks sooooo good. I haven't made one for a while but it is high on my to do list. The video is just great isn't it? I still refer back to how to put the main band on and what the stitch lengths are. I am a bra salvager too. I take the wires out of knackered ones and save all the hardware in a little box.

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  4. sorry, I haven't finished....I have a cerise pink Kit I have been wanting to use for a while so if you are doing pink I will too. I use a website that looks crap but the delivery and products are great. It is called the sewing chest if you want to check it out. Jo xxxxxx

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  5. I'm impressed, it really turned out well. Can't imagine sewing a bra, too complicated for my old brain. I hate wire bras so always go for one with an elastic band.

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  6. Your perseverance has really paid off it looks amazing. I am not sure I have the skill to sew a bra and luckily don't seem to have too many problems having them fitted. This may change now as there is a lack of shops here, time will tell.

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  7. Despise despise M and S bra fitters. I have found a good shop where I discovered I wasn't a 36C but a 32DD. That was a revelation. As I can barely sew a pair of curtains, there's no way I could attempt this. Very impressive.

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  8. Totally impressed Christina and your life is definitely not dull. I'm slightly jealous as I'm flat and need underwire, padding the lot. I remember asking in a shop once about availability etc and was told in strong tones, 'when you go down to - those - sizes...' I did not choose to 'go down' to those sizes. It's just not fair (stamps foot) lol. Cx

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  9. Wow, your sewing skills are amazing. It looks like a store bought bra! What a great job you did. I don't think I'll try making one but I love the idea of having a custom made bra. Enjoy your weekend dear friend. Pat xx

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  10. WOW, that is seriously brilliant Christina. Honestly, so professional, and to have a bra that fits well must be a luxury. Mine are dreadful at the moment. I have lost almost a stone and a half in weight this year and a lot of it seems to be in the bra region. I have been bracing myself for the ritual M&S humiliation. I am really impressed with your sewing, it must be one of the trickiest things to make, all small and fiddly and stretchy, but you've made an absolutely beautiful job of it. Great value as well. CJ xx

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  11. That was very brave of you to attempt such a complex project. Way beyond my capabilities, though I half wish I had the skill to make a bra that is in my size.
    As an A cup, if I can find any at all in the shops they are usually of a style for teenagers - stars, stripes, polka dots, puppies - no thank you very much!
    Your finishing is excellent, I am in awe of your skills. xx

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  12. Well done :) I always enjoy the good humour in your posts - the paragraph about the underarm fat made me chuckle!

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  13. I think a bra must be the ultimate in made to measure. I think you are on a roll now Christina and will never buy a bra again.

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  14. I hate buying bras and never find them comfortable but don't think I would have your patience for making one. I am in awe of your sewing skills - that bra looks so professional. You are so clever... and funny!

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  15. Wow! I am impressed with your bra, Christine. It looks as if it was purchased in a shop. I think you are very clever. No, I don't think I will ever make one. After many years of trying on many, many bras I have found a design that I am happy with. I will leave bra making to the experts.

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  16. This totally enthralled me over my cereal on a Sunday morning before heading to work. I am a regular reader but don't often comment - so this is a sign of how your bra adventure has brightened my morning! Given that I can't use and have no desire ever to use a sewing machine I will not be making a bra, but I am so impressed by your project. I have a very small bust, which I am completely happy about. I share the general lack of joy at M&S bra fitters. I had one experience there which made me vow never to return, and now I am a John Lewis regular. Well, not all that regular, as I have added Lululemon soft yoga bras to my repertoire, as they really feel as if you're not wearing a bra but give enough support for the smaller (non-shooglie) bust.

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  17. Even though I have been sewing since I was 5 years old, I had never considered making my own bra....thank you for this post...I will definitely give this a try, especially since you have provided so much info... love your results.

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  18. Christina - your sewing skills are amazing! I am completely awed by the fact that you made your own bra. What a woman! Yes, as you said, somebody somewhere has to sew them, but it does seem like so many tiny and fastidious details, it doesn't look like fun. I am glad to hear that it was an educational and fun experience for you. (I hope your husband was suitably impressed!)

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  19. WOW! I am so impressed. I can't even imagine being able to sew this well. You are amazing.

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  20. Hey Christina,
    Echoing and adding to everyone else. Amazing skills my friend! It's a lovely colour too. I can no longer wear wired bras; I find them too uncomfortable. I can't wait to see what your next project will be!!
    Leanne xx

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  21. *C*O*N*G*R*A*T*U*L*A*T*I*O*N*S*!* for your bra making! I'm very impressed but must admit I would never even think of trying to sew something that complicated. I have to tell you that my husband read your blog post first and went on and on about how you made it and your humor in the telling. And you are not overweight.. you're just right. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  22. That is AMAZING!! I am so impressed..

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  23. OMG.It's Fantastic.What a clever lady you are.I HATE Bras and have Never had a comfortable one in my life.well done you.x

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  24. That looks gorgeous and so well made. It has to be said, you are very nifty with the sewing machine. Such a shame the BBC axed the Great British Sewing Bee. You'd have danced it.

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  25. That is wonderful and perfectly stitched, I made my first bra recently but I found taking one apart that fit me well was the way to go for me. I am not blessed in that area but do still like to have the boning in as they seem to give a bit of shape. I look forward to seeing your other kits made up. x

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  26. You are amazing! Making a bra seems so unbelievably complicated to me that I can't even get my head around it. But your bra looks really, really good. I hate bra shopping. My ridiculous size (32 g or 34 f depending on shop and fit) makes the prettiest ones unavailable - unless I spend £40 - and I usually feel like crying when I leave. Maybe I should learn how to make my own. X

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx