Bra Making · Sewing

Disasters In Bra Making

I have this dream where I have an amazing lingerie wardrobe, and the best part is that many are made by me. Also in this dream they are beautifully displayed and I appear to have fixed my nasty habit of being a complete slob. Alas, despite my efforts to achieve the bra part of this dream, its been complete and utter nightmare.

Having a rather larger cup I decided to steer away from the beloved Watson bra and jump into wired bras. I started with Kwik sews pattern but it wasn’t what I wanted so I moved on Bare Essentials. This book was meant to be my holy grail; it covered grading, drafting, it had patterns as well as the basics of bra making. It was not the solution I was looking for, although it still may be.

The most recent bra pattern I used, its a combination of all the redrafting I’ve done, yet it’s still not right.

The basic instructions on how to make a bra are fantastic and the diagrams are clear, there are no faults there. The problem came with the patterns, judging from my measurements and my experiences with RTW bras I should have been a 30E, but it simply didn’t fit. The cups were completely the wrong shape and gaped at the top. The band was also off. Despite fiddling with all these things I gave up and abandoned bra making for several months.

A bra attempt.

On returning I’d learned so much about bra fit, I now knew I was really a 30F/32E and bottom heavy. Using a RTW bra I copied the band as it fit me perfectly. I cut a 32F made a muslin and took a lot in from the sides of the cup. I checked that the cups still fit making a quick muslin out of kitchen paper. This was it! This was my bra pattern!

bra pink.jpg
Another bra attempt, on the left you can see pins where I pinched out the excess fabric.

With delight at finding solving Fermat’s last theorem I took out some lovely lace that had a slight stretch out and began to make what was sure to be my best work, what could go wrong?

Everything. Everything could go wrong (I can’t bear to look at the mess I made in lace so sadly there are no pictures). Lace is a nightmare to sew with, but I was handling it so well until I checked the fit. The cups were completely too small and the bridge far too wide. I reacted perfectly rationally by fling the bra across the room. Then I packed all my bra making materials into a biscuit tin and put in on the shelf.

bra 1.jpg
The inside of the cup…at least my stitching isn’t very untidy…

I won’t lie, this is so disheartening for me but I still haven’t given up. I am going to start from scratch. I will buy a bra making kit and make the Watson bra, I hope to god I have some success with this. After that the plan is to make a Boylston bra from Orange Lingerie, and hopefully someday have a perfectly fitting bra. I plan to use Bare Essentials advice on fit with the Boylston bra and a new RTW bra that fits me perfectly to get a good fit. Let’s hope there are pretty bras in my future!

So, have any of you attempted bra making? If so how did you get on? If any of you have any advice PLEASE give it to me, clearly I need it!


8 thoughts on “Disasters In Bra Making

    1. Absolutely.
      Aside from the sewing and the extra materials pattern design is essential and very difficult.
      There was a great article on this in The Lingerie Addict a while back that really covered this better.
      Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I can’t imagine how challenging this must be- sewing bras seems incredibly intimidating. Kudos to you for trying and being persistent. I’m sure you’ll get there!


  2. I’ve actually given up on bra making for the time being as well because I broke my machine while trying to wrangle a tricky seam on the Florence bra from Seamwork. I was able to fix the machine, so it wasn’t a complete catastrophe, but it has made me a bit shy about diving back in. More honestly, though, I realized I have quite a few other sewing priorities right now.

    So I’m not ruling out giving it another try in the future. And I hope you don’t get too discouraged because it looks like you’re getting there — you’re figuring out the size and shaping you need, and you’re tackling some tricky fabrics. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for your next try 🙂


    1. That is so sweet of you, thank you! I really want a self made bra, so I’m super motivated!

      You broke your machine! Yeah, I would avoid bras for a while after that! Mind you, the amount of needles I’ve broken on bra wires/corset boning is sadly quite a lot.


      1. The machine broke because a piece of thread got jammed inside — it had to be taken apart and cleaned inside before it would kindly agree to work again. Luckily, no parts needed replacing but sewing wasn’t possible until the thread was removed.

        I’m definitely putting bras off for now in favor of making myself a decent pair of pants (that aren’t pajama pants ;-)).


        1. That’s terrifying! It’s amazing how occasionally these machines can be so fickle and other times so sturdy (I’ve dropped needles into mine and traveled in aeroplanes!).

          Best of luck with the trousers, I myself am slowly dipping my toes in that water (meaning I’ve bought fabric, made a muslin then looked at many pretty pictures!), so watch this space!

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