Getting Into the Swim of Things

Summer is coming!

Join me over at the SwimAlong 2013 to read my post on how to add support to your swimsuit. It is far easier than you think!

Where to Find Bra Making Supplies in New York

When I was creating a list of lingerie supply sources for my book I focused on online suppliers. Interestingly, I end up buying many of my bra making supplies in New York. For those lucky enough to be in New York City, you will be happy to know that you can find all the necessary supplies readily available within the span of a few blocks in the garment district.

First let’s review the materials and notions you need to make a bra. You can find additional details on each item below as well as the recommended sewing supplies used for bra making in my book.

Fabrics: band fabric, cup fabric, frame and/or bridge fabric, stabilizer and/or lining fabric

Notions: band elastic, underarm elastic, neckline elastic or trim, strap elastic, underwires, underwire casing, hook and eye closure, rings and sliders

The list of bra making supplies may look long but you only need to hit 2 or 3 stores to get everything you need. When you go shopping take a list of the materials you need along with the necessary yardage, widths, etc. from your pattern, a tape measure for stretch testing and swatches of any laces or trims you want to use.

In terms of a shopping strategy, I suggest starting with the fabrics. If you can’t find coordinating notions you always have the option of dyeing them to match. For things like underwires, underwire casing, hook and eye closures and rings and sliders, I buy in bulk so I always have some on hand. It is also much more economical if you plan on making a lot of bras.

Now on to the shops! Following are the shops (presented in alphabetical order) that I visit for bra making supplies as well as what I buy at each store when I visit the New York.

B&J Fabrics at 525 7th Ave., 2nd Floor

B&J carries an off white as well as a black 60” wide nylon tricot for $5.95 a yard that can be used for cup lining and stabilizer. You can find these on bolts in the stretch fabric aisle. Note, nylon dyes well so the off white works for just about anything.

Chic Fabrics at 225 W 39th St. # 11

This store has some of the best prices I have ever found for silk charmeuse and silk organza in the far right corner of the store (prices vary slightly by visit).

Daytona Trim at 251 W 39th St.

Toward the back of the store on the right wall is a nice selection of lingerie and fold over elastics. I end up looking for different strap and neckline trim ideas here as well. I visit this store if I can’t find what I need at Pacific Trimming (details below).

Fabrics and Fabrics (formerly Lace Star) at 270 West 38th St., 3rd Floor

They have an amazing selection of laces. Since they moved to this location and changed their name the stock is much better organized and much more accessible.

Pacific Trimming at 218 W 38th St.

My first stop for elastics since they stock several colors of fold over and lingerie elastic as well as clear and gripper elastics. I often find fun bra strap options here as well. If you don’t want to make a trip to Steinlauf & Stoller (details below) you can see if they have your size underwires from a limited supply on a bookshelf unit to the right of the registers. They also have plush underwire casing, boning and boning casing.

Spandex World at 228 W 38th St.

A great selection of Powernets in a variety of weights and colors. They also have stretch satins and other fabrics suitable for bra cups as bra bands in the $5 to $12 a yard range.

SIL Thread at 257 W 38th St. # 1

They stock a limited selection of underwires, packaged plastic boning, rings and sliders and hook and eye tape. I usually buy all these things at Steinlauf and Stoller (details below) but if you like to browse for your supplies, you can do that here. They also have basic sewing supplies with a nice selection of Clover tools.

Steinlauf and Stoller at 239 W 39th St.

They stock underwires in a variety of shapes and sizes, underwire casing, boning and boning casing, rings and sliders, hook and eye tape as well as general sewing tools and notions. Know what you want before you shop here – as in have a list of what you need with the sizes and quantities. They always have the sizes of underwires and boning that I need along with my other basics plus I love their speed and efficiency. If you want to browse for your supplies, visit SIL Thread instead (details above).

The only bra making supply that I like to use that is in short supply in New York are stretch laces. For stretch laces, Etsy is the place to hunt. There are also Etsy stores that sell bra making kits that have everything you need to make a bra.

Of course, if you want to shop for all your supplies online, you can take a peek at my resources page that I created for readers of my book here.

Reader Questions Answered

Before I dive into reader questions, I first want to thank everyone for making my book the #1 best selling sewing book! If you don’t have your copy yet, you can get it here.


Over the last week I have discovered that one of the best parts of publishing a book is interacting with its readers. I also received some questions about my book that I wanted to share since others may want to know the same things.

The number one most asked question was how to get my book if you don’t have a Kindle. That is an easy one!  Kindle books are instantly downloadable to your computer, IOS, Android, Windows or BlackBerry device using the free Kindle app available here.

The second most asked question was if there will be a print/hard copy of the book. I know there are many sewists who prefer a physical book, however the

costs of producing a beautiful print book with all the color photographs used to illustrate pattern adjustments and construction details would make the book much more expensive. A print book would also mean that the availability would be limited. For these reasons

I specifically chose to offer the book in an ebook format only so it could reach as many people as possible at a reasonable price point.

The next group of questions, about the content of the book, appear anonymized below. (I also took the liberty of making typographical and grammatical corrections.)

Hi Norma,

I wanted to know before I start on a bra sewing adventure if there is something I can substitute for the underwire. I can not use metal due to breast cancer, but other materials are okay. I am a D cup so do need good support. Thank you.


Hi C—–,

Thank you for your email. As an alternative to metal underwires in the cup, you could use plastic underwires and add plastic boning to the side seams of the bra. Your fabric choice for the band will also be important as is using a full frame bra style. My book explains how to apply boning to the side seams as well as how get the most support from the band.

Happy reading!



To elaborate on my response, while I don’t typically recommend plastic underwires given the degree to which they splay, they are better than going wireless. The support of the band can be augmented via the boning and careful band construction and fabrication. I explain how to do this in my book.

Hi Norma,

I was wondering if your book shows how to make a bra for a smaller person by adding foam.  My daughter loves the VS bras (don’t know style) that has padding underneath and gives her a 2 sizes larger look. We both took a bra making class before and they stuck to one style, which was not flattering, so we were a bit discouraged.

Thanks so much.


Hi V——-,

My book does not include anything regarding the use of foam to create or supplement cups. Perhaps my next book will dive into the world of working with foam!

Regarding the style, you can choose any pattern you wish to work with. My book is all about the techniques to fit and professionally construct bras.



While I generally dislike molded foam cups, judicious use of foam padding has a place in bra making and it is an interesting topic that I do plan to write more about. You can read my thoughts on molded foam cups in a prior blog post here.

I also received a few questions on pattern making topics that go beyond the scope of the book. These could very well become the basis for future blog posts. Stay tuned!

What are your bra making questions? I am looking forward to hearing from you!








Book Release April 15!

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Sewing By The Book

It may seem to have been quiet around here but I do actually have a couple of very good reasons.

First I have been hard at work on my upcoming book, “Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction”. After a lot of work, the book is nearly ready and it will be released this April. If you want to be alerted when my book is available, you can head over here and add yourself to the email list.

The second thing keeping me busy also has to do with the book. Over the last few weeks my book has undergone testing by an amazing group of sewists and as this lovely group was testing my book, so was I!

To test my book I worked through a selection of commercially available bra patterns to see what it was like to sew a bra from a beginning bra maker’s perspective. It was fun to work with some different styles but there were two main problems:

1. Bra pattern instructions leave out a lot of important construction details. In some cases they make construction more difficult or just don’t make sense. There is also a lot of missing information such as the fabric properties that the pattern was drafted for.

2. A beginning bra maker would not know how to adjust the pattern to get a good fit or to how fill in the missing instructions to get a professional looking result.

Now I truly understand why even intermediate to advanced sewists shy away from bra making.

Good news on point two: I think my book solves this problem since I wrote it from a beginning bra maker’s perspective. On point one, well, time will tell, though I have some ideas!