Posts Tagged ‘bra


Custom nursing bra

My friend asked me a while ago to make her a new bra, both because she needed new ones, and because she was excited about the prospect of a custom bra. Her favorite ready-to-wear bra comes only in white. And white is fine some days, but not every single day. The bra I made was cloned from her old one for an identical fit, but in a beautiful black stretch satin. Even a nursing momma ought to get to be sexy!

VirginiaBraFrontClosed VirginiaBraFrontOpen VirginiaBraBack


The return of Aunt Bonnie!

This post is long, long overdue. I started the draft weeks ago and much has transpired since then, but since I haven’t yet taken photos of my progress I’ll start at the beginning.

Aunt Bonnie asked me to make her another dress. You all remember Aunt Bonnie, right? My stunning, talented, and delightful aunt who sings for Tampa Bay’s Horn Band, Late Night Brass? She asked me to make her a gown for their performance at the Christmas party of one of the large law firms here in Tampa. It’s one of the most formal gigs they’ll perform this year. The men will all wear tuxes with gold bow ties. And Bonnie as the lone gal on stage thought a gold gown was in order.

We started talking about her gold dress back in May, contemplating what pattern might workand what detail work would make the gown really POP. We settled on Vogue 3830, and, with the great advance planning, Bonnie was able to snag the pattern on sale back in June(?). We bought our fabric in July. And now it’s November and things are nearing completion (though I haven’t spent all of the past 3 1/2 months working on this dress; much of that time was spent sewing bras and other fun stuff).

Here’s the pattern envelope for Vogue 3830. For a change, we’re actually making the dress as the pattern intended (for the most part anyway), in View B. The empire waist is a great look for Bonnie, and the cut of this dress over all is very much her style. The back (below) cuts away except for a narrow band, so it’s a bit showier than the other dresses we’ve made, which is very much in keeping with the formal nature of this event.

Now the big busted seamstress in me looks at a stunning but narrow-strapped gown like this and thinks “we need to add some support.” And since I was merrily sewing up bra after bra while we were planning this, and since that band across the back even looks reminiscent of a bra, I suggested we sew a bra right into the dress, custom sized to fit the dress dimensions, custom dyed to match, and far more supportive than the dress on its own would be.

Bonnie agreed, and I got to put my bra-cloning skills to work again, making a draft bra (the stunning purple shown below) cloned from one of her well-fitting favorites. I wanted to be sure I had the fit of the bra right before making the gold bra, because, unlike several bras I’ve posted here before with contrasting black elastics and trims, the gold bra would have custom dyed-to-match gold elastics. And I didn’t want to dye twice. So here’s the original and test bras:

And that brings you up to speed with my progress as of about a month ago.

In the time since then, Bonnie has learned that Late Night Brass will play two formal charity balls this November, which pushed our time frame up from the first week of December to this coming Saturday. And also in that time, I have learned how very, very, very time consuming beadwork is. The endless sewing has kept me busy and I blame my enthusiasm as a seamstress for my slacking as a blogger. But photos, descriptions of my process, and many more posts will follow soon!

I hope. 🙂


A bust in need is a friend indeed!

I’m long overdue on my blog updates. Rest assured, it’s because I’ve been busy sewing MORE, not less. 🙂 Regarding the giveaway from my previous post, I’ve only gotten two responses so I plan to hold out a few more days before I decide. Sunday I’ll pick a winner.

And on to the sewing!

One of my good friends (we’ll call her “C”) has a BIG challenge when it comes to bras. She’s very large busted on a very small frame and there are almost no bra options for her on the market anywhere. Add to that the fact that she’s a dedicated nursing mother, and needs maternity bras, and the field is narrowed further. Prior to her current pregnancy, C tells me that she was wearing a size 30JJJ. She paid $90 for her bland ivory bra, and despite the fact that it’s the only nursing bra she’s ever find to fit her, it’s painful to wear. That was before her current (fifth) pregnancy. Now the bra is too small.

In actual fact, hearing C’s story was part of what prompted me to move from just thinking about bra making to actually DOING it. I complain about the challenges of finding clothes that fit me, but the truth is that on the whole I’m happy with my bust. It’s a good size for my somewhat overweight frame, and if anything helps to compensate for my belly. I may have to drive a bit further or pay a bit more to buy a bra that meets my ample needs (or, more recently, learn to make my own!), but I have always been able to find something in the end. 

On the other hand, C is at a point where her bust is actually impacting her quality of life. Her bras are so uncomfortable that she hates to wear them, and largely avoids leaving her house rather than have to deal with that discomfort.

So, once I’d made a few bras of my own, I offered to help C find a solution to her rather large challenge. To complicate matters just a tad, C and I live about a thousand miles apart. I am relying on C and her husband to provide me with good measurements and photos to even attempt a worthwhile custom fit! To start, she sent me one of her current bras (which is what you saw pictured above) to copy… figuring we could alter the pattern as needed and go from there.

Cloning a bra is easier than I’d expected. I stretched out the individual pieces of the cups and pinned them down along the seamlines, and then took the resulting shape, added seam allowances and elastic allowances, and used the resulting pattern pieces to sew up a bra! (Though, in C’s case, I lengthened the now-too-short band a bit, and added some extra depth to the now-too-small cups). You can see the original bra with the resulting pattern pieces here.

The resulting bra was remarkably similar to her original. While it fit a bit better in the band (and a bit too large in the cups) C told me the new bra was uncomfortable in much the same way as her current bras “It’s almost identical to the pain my other bras cause, so you can rest assured that you made a very close copy of a $90 bra!” And for all that it’s a much prettier color, pain is pain and we’re proceeding from here. 

Bra #2 is half finished and waiting on my cutting table now (I got as far as I could and had to pause to wait for a supply order). I’m trying something quite a bit different for this next one, to hopefully address each of the causes of discomfort C and I have identified. I’ll update with photos and feedback once it’s completed and sent to her!

And in the meantime, I’ll post about what I’ve been up to while waiting for UPS to deliver my elastic. 🙂


Bras, bras, and more bras

In case that all so clever title didn’t clue you in, I’ve been sewing more bras. And even though it’s been WEEKS since I came here to post about it, I have been very productive.

I received my copy of The Bra Maker’s Manual not long after I posted the purple bra, and it has been EXTREMELY helpful! (Though, if I’d known ahead of time how unsatisfactory the online ordering process would be, I would have paid a few dollars more to order the book from one of the domestic bra supply stores that carry it). The chapter on fittings alone brought me so very much closer to my goals! And, in addition to working towards a perfect fit, I have continued to experiment a bit w/ different styles and materials.

This, is my fifth bra. The band fits snugly but not too tightly, the bridge is actually a perfect size and shape to fit between my breasts, and my breasts fill the cups without gushing over at all. However, since it is no longer 1950, I think it’s a tad pointy for my comfort.

Bra number 6, shown below, is just about perfect. It lifts my breasts as high as they could reasonably be lifted, and creates a very flattering shape. The straps are wide and *padded* and the band sits right where it should. Plus LOOK how pretty! Pink satin. 🙂 How delightful.

With my own bosom in a good place now, I’m starting to work on some bras for other women, but I do believe I’ll post that separately. More soon!


Modelling a bra for you

That title is for Carrie. A bra on a model, rather than the floor… but NO not on me. 🙂

Sewing this bra was an experience, I have to tell you. I’ll back up a moment and explain. I decided to purchase some stretch satin to make a few bras, both for myself and for some others. JoAnn’s didn’t have any in store (at least not that I could find) but I found it on a couple of the websites I regularly shop for fabrics. Denver Fabrics had stretch satin for $4.75/yd and had it for $10.98/yd. Now I KNEW by the price tags alone that there was going to be a difference in quality… what I didn’t know was whether one of them would really be worth more than double the cost of the other! I could have ordered swatches, examined them, and then picked what I wanted. But I’m not that patient. I ordered a yard each of gold (for a specific project) and pink from, and a single yard of deep purple (which is coming out far bluer in my photos than in real life) from Denver Fabrics.

And then I waited. When the second of my two orders arrived four days later I eagerly ripped open the box to compare! The satin from is relatively lightweight and perhaps a tad stretchier than I *truly* want for a good supportive bra, but it’s soft, fine, and I think it will work great if it’s reinforced a bit. The considerably cheaper fabric was, let’s face it, cheaper. The purple satin was a heavier weight which is actually good for a bra to hold a gal like me, but it was also rubbery and almost plasticy. Still I wanted to give it a try!

Since the fabric was a gorgeous rich purple, I’d planned to dye white elastic, hooks, eyes, rings and slides to match. I went out and bought dye, got home, and realized I hadn’t ever ordered white bra elastic and only had black on hand (rats!) And again, I wasn’t patient enough to wait. Black goes with everything, right?

Moving right along I started sewing up this bra and the fabric was extremely annoying to work with. I had a brand new, lightweight needle in my machine, but really should have been using a stretch needle. And since I wasn’t (because, AGAIN, I wasn’t patient enough to wait for the needles I’d ordered to arrive), the fabric snagged multiple times, and looks pretty crappy now.

The whole time I was sewing, I was narrating this blog rant in my head and thinking about exactly which words I would use to complain about the experience. And then I put the bra on. Suddenly, I didn’t CARE one eensy little bit about the snaggles all over the place. I didn’t CARE that the texture of the fabric annoyed me and felt a bit being wrapped in plastic wrap. I didn’t even entirely care that I’d foolishly neglected to add some extra room to my bra cups to accomodate the less-stretchy fabric (impatience = foolish sometimes, and I’m really still learning what I’m doing here). ALL I cared about was how PREEEEEEEEETTTTTTY it was! Pretty, pretty, pretty. Purple. Shiny. Satiny. Ah yes! I have never before in my entire life owned a purple bra. What a delightful, gorgeous thing.

So in the end I have a poorly executed snaggly bra that doesn’t fit right, but renewed motivation. My stretch needles have arrived, my white elastic should get here tomorrow, and I’ll modify my cup pattern and give it another try. I WILL have my lovely purple bra. Rubbery though it may be.


Third time’s a charm!

At last a bra that fits! This one does almost everything it should. The band is snug but not too tight, and sits in place. I used a wide 3/4″ elastic for the bottom edge of the band and it lies flat without curling under and pinching. The cups are large enough. The straps are wide and don’t dig into my shoulders. It is very, very comfortable.

I am going to make a few final tweeks to the shape though. The apex isn’t in quite the right place, and the cups need a bit of reinforcing (probably padding in the lower half of the cups) for the shape and support I want. I’m confident I’ll be able to make these final alterations though, and in the meantime this is absolutely good enough to wear out in public.


Strike Two

Well my second bra making attempt clearly needed further revisions. You can’t tell in the photo here, but I definitely over compensated a bit. The band was a bit too tight and the cups a bit too low cut. Still the overall fit was considerably better than the first and closer to the goal.

Bra 3 is finished too and I’ll try to post it tomorrow.

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