So You Want To Sew Your Own Bra
Congratulations! You are going to love sewing your own lingerie! Even though it looks intimidating, it isn't hard to sew a bra. If you can sew a straight stitch, a zig zag and put curved seams together, you can make a bra. Panties are even easier! Don't worry -- you've got this!
There are so many reasons to sew your own. For many women, it's a matter of fit. Lingerie manufacturers make a limited set of sizes since they have to make thousands of the same style and size bra for it to make sense. Women with figure types which are not in the big part of the bell curve are left without a well fitting bra. This is particularly troubling for the women in the "small band/large cup" population. In order to get enough cup, they have to purchase a bra with a band which is too big. They end up with underwires which are under their arms, a back band which arches up, and neck and shoulder troubles since the bra isn't doing the job it's supposed to be doing. They can even end up in surgery.
|Liz has a large cup and a small band, and made this bra based on the Lusamine pattern.|
The other end of the fit spectrum is also poorly served. I know of several women who can only find sports bras to fit their figures. They have a large frame but a small cup, so if they get enough band then they have too much cup. These women want to wear a beautiful, sexy, underwired lace bra, but they have no options -- unless they make it themselves!
||A different Liz has a small cup and a large band, and made this bra based on the Black Beauty pattern.|
Finally, there's the cost element of it all. For many women, they can get 2 bras made for $35 rather than purchasing one for $75 or more. The quality of the materials is much higher than what you'll be finding in ready to wear, even at the most expensive stores. And the style and color options are limited only by your imagination when you make your own. What's not to like?
Even though a bra looks like a complicated garment to sew, it really isn't. If you can sew a straight seam, a curved seam and zig zag, you can sew a bra. There are a few places where you'll need to be accurate, so it might help to brush up on sewing a nice, even seam allowance. There is no need for a serger or for any other special equipment. You do need a sewing machine though. Some bra fabrics can be tricky to puncture with a needle.
You might not be familiar with the materials that you need to sew a bra, which is why purchasing a kit can be a great way to start. Some gals always buy kits -- this ensures that they have all the bits and bobs that they need. To start, you just need something basic and simple. Our Beginning Bra Builder Bundle has enough fabric and findings to make about 3 bras. We also include water soluble thread. You can't really fit your bra until it's pretty much sewn, so using the water soluble thread in the bobbin allows you to re-use your materials as you work through your fit. Bras are highly fitted garments, so check out the International Bra Sewing Bee for all sorts of fitting classes.
Next, let's talk patterns. Yes, there are oodles of patterns for lingerie! Most of them are from independent designers, and many are very well done. There are several steps you can take to build your skills and ease into your fit. I call this the Bra Building On-Ramp!
A great first project in lingerie is underwear. You'll be delighted with how much more comfortable your me-made undies are, and they are simple to fit. You'll get some nice elastics skills through making undies, and some practice with curves. My favorite undies are made from our oh-so-soft bamboo jersey, but other women like our solid undie fabrics. Microlycra is full bodied and liquid -- it makes a luxurious pair of undies. Microlycra Air is light and breezy while still being smooth, soft and opaque. Stretch Mesh is even more breezy, and is a bit translucent. They are all supremely soft and lovely to work with. We also have a wide range of underwear lace and elastic, so you can try them all out and find your favorites.
If you want to jump right into bras or if you're ready to take that next step, it's time to try a simple bra. For gals who don't need as much support, you can try the BJ's Bralette, which you can find right here. This is a fun first project, and you can use it as a tank top or summertime base layer. A next step after the BJ Bralette is the Daisy Bralette from Stitch Love Studio or the Sahaara wireless bra pattern. There are more support features and fabrics in a Sahaara, but it's still relatively simple to fit and it will give you great experience. Both of these garments have a vertical seam that helps with shaping on the bust. There are many gals who make entire wardrobes of Sahaara bras, so that might be your experience also!
When you're ready to try an underwired bra, you might want to start with the Cambia pattern, which is basically a fitting band with a lace overlay. It's a great idea to start your fit with the band. Once that fits nicely, you can work on getting the cups to fit. The Labellum bra is a nice underwired bra for larger cups, and it uses the same band as the Cambia. If you're in a smaller cup you can use the Lusamine if you want to stay with the same pattern line. This pattern goes down to an A cup, and it's super cute. All these patterns are from Lilypad Designs, and Lily has a great Facebook group with lots of advice.
For the gals who prefer a wireless bra, you can try the Lanai pattern, also from Lilypad designs. There are lots of women who love this pattern. It's pretty similar to a wired pattern except that it doesn't have the wires installed. Speaking of wires, it makes sense to get a set of all our wires in the Underwire Sizing Kit. For our Flex Wires, you only need to worry about overall length. With rigid wires, you need to worry about the shape much more. Once again, I'm going to point you to the International Bra Sewing Bee for all sorts of information about wires and fit. The Bee is an amazing experience, and there is so much information there! You can purchase access to the content at any time, and you can also enjoy the live event on the first weekend in August every year.
Once you've completed this on-ramp, you're good to go to play with all sorts of patterns and projects. We carry the Gravity by Grandy patterns to help you branch out on the style front. Many women love the Black Beauty pattern from Emerald Erin, and others love the stylish looks of the Orange Lingerie patterns. Another favorite is Madalynne Intimates. Her patterns are modern and fresh. These patterns are all really cute, and incorporate things like monowires. So fun!
Some of us just want a pattern that fits, and then we riff it dozens of ways. Some are more interested in support than style, and for those the Bravo Bra #2 is a great pattern. Monica is the absolute best functional designer out there, and hundreds of women have found their bra home in her pattern. The Willowdale from Cashmerette is a great pattern for many, and the instructions are great. This pattern has a very broad size range, including sizes for larger band circumferences. I can recommend the Greenstyle sports bras for those who want to branch out into that arm of bra sewing. And don't get me started on undies -- there are just so many great designers and patterns out there.
The short answer is a resounding YES, you can sew your own bra! We're delighted that you found us, and we're happy to do our best to help you along the way. Happy sewing!