It is always thrilling to offer a new sewing pattern and today I am super excited to introduce you to our newest bra sewing pattern, the Lexington!
I have been wanting to add a wireless bra to our collection for a while now, but getting support and shaping without underwires is quite the challenge! Of course I love a good challenge and after much testing and fitting, the Lexington is everything I wanted it to be! How did we do it?! Without the ability to use underwires we switched to two other methods to gain support and shaping: cut-and-sew foam and side seam boning.
The cut-and-sew foam adds shaping and support to the cups with the extra added benefit of expanding the universe of fabric choices. With the cup structure that foam provides you are not limited to a low to no stretch fabric like most of our cut-and-sew bras (though those fabrics work just fine). In fact, this bra works best if you use a stretch material for the cup cover and cup lining. Hello jersey prints! (You can even use jersey over the power net band, but that is another post!)
Of course, this bra can also be made without the cut-and-sew foam for a more relaxed garment. We have even been playing around with making sports bras from this design in the studio and we can’t wait to share that tutorial!
The side seam boning is a nice addition in this bra, especially for D and DD cup sizes. It helps keep the breasts directed forward, away from the underarm, something that is an issue with most bralettes and wire-free bras.
The strapping trim on the Lexington bra was inspired by the “Cross Your Heart” bras in the 1970s and brought to the modern era by making them a design feature. They are bold, graphic and functional all at once.
As always, the pattern material includes the clear fully illustrated instructions you have come to expect from Orange Lingerie and each size is presented separately with the seam lines.
Given the design, the Lexington bra pattern will only be available for A to DD cups in size 30 to 40 bands. As with all of our bra patterns, I had the pattern graded up and then tried that sample on our size 34H fit model. It was immediately clear to both of us that this style was not going to work for the larger volumes.
I hope you enjoy the Lexington bra pattern as much as I do! Be sure to tag your makes with #LexingtonBra and/or #OrangeLingerie so I can find them all. I love seeing everyone’s unique version of our sewing patterns!
I prefer making lingerie bows myself largely because pre-made bows always seem a bit “off”. Either they are tied strangely or are just not quite the right color. I also feel that making my own bow adds that extra special touch that elevates the finish of the garment. Of course, once I realized how much fun it is to shop for ribbon, well, that was it for me!
To make a bow you can use a ribbon, as shown in this tutorial, or you can follow my perfect spaghetti strap tutorial to create a thin tube of fabric to tie into a bow. So many choices when we make our own! Don’t you just love sewing?!
To help me tie perfect tiny little bows every time, I use this handy tool called “Bow Easy”. There are several different size bows you can make using this super simple tool. I generally use the 1 ¼” bow template with ¼” ribbon for most bra bows, but you might experiment with different sizes based on the width of your ribbon.
Here are the steps!
1. To determine how much ribbon to cut to make a bow, multiply the finished bow size by 8. For a 1¼” ” bow I cut 10” of ribbon (1.25 x 8 = 10).
2. Working from left to right, wrap the ribbon around the template leaving ¼” – ½” extra ribbon on top. Wrap the ribbon near the bottom of the template, as shown, to facilitate later steps. Hold the end down with your left thumb on the template.
3. Continue to wrap the ribbon around the template so that it wraps back around to the top. Hold that loop, along with the original ribbon end, with your left thumb.
4. Bring the tail of the ribbon through the top of the center channel without twisting the ribbon. This should form a loop on top of the template.
5. Wrap the tail of the ribbon around the center channel, and, still working from left to right, bring it up through the loop you just formed.
6. Pull to make a snug knot.
7. Push the tail end through the top of the center channel again to flatten the knot a bit and slide the completed bow off the template.
8. Trim the ends to your preferred length. I like them when the bow legs are about the same length as the loops, but sometimes it’s fun to play with the bow’s proportions!
Here is an animated summary of the steps to give you an idea of the overall movement.
8. Finally, seal the cut edges of the bow ends, lightly bring the raw ribbon edge to a flame from a lighter or candle to melt any frayed threads together. The flame should just kiss the ribbon edge. Please handle any flames carefully! I recommend doing this over a sink with some water in it for added safety. Fray check is another alternative to keep the ends of your new bow tidy through wash and wear.
Now you can attach the bow to your bra or other lingerie! Here we added the orange bow to our Boylston bra.
Fun tip: you can make two-colored bows, using the exact same method but with a double layer of ribbon!
If buying this tool isn’t in your budget but you’d still like to make your own bows, you can get away with using a large dinner fork instead! Just hold the fork with the tines pointing down and use the tines as the template. It won’t be quite as easy but with a little practice the results will be almost the same.
Just a word of warning: bow tying is addictive! ☺
One of the most common questions I am asked is “How often should I wash my bra?” and every time I answer, I am greeted with a shocked response.
So here it is: If you want your bras to perform at their best and last as long as possible, you need to wash your bra after wearing it once, or maximally twice. If you need to wear your bras twice before washing, you should give the bra a day off in between wearings. The elastic needs time to recover and to go back to a neutral position.
It is pretty easy to understand why this is the case. The bra is worn directly against your body, so it collects body oils and skin cells. Elastic, a key component of the bra band and straps, does not respond well to either substance. When these materials get into the elastic its ability to stretch and contract is decreased. It takes a proper wash to remove these substances so the elastic can go back to doing its job of keeping the bra snug against the body.
This begs the follow up question, “How do you wash a bra?”
Let’s start with what you do not do: do not put your bra in the washing machine. I know you want to because it is so easy. But on behalf of your bra, I beg you not to do it!
Bras are a delicate and carefully engineered garment. As part of its supportive structure, many bras have wires encased under each bra cup. Those wires do important support work in your bra. They need to keep their shape and stay put. In the washer (yes even in the delicate cycle), the water pressure and the pressure of clothing around the bra (even in a lingerie bag) could cause the wire to twist and lose its shape. Think about your other clothes too. Those bra hooks can catch on whatever else you have in the washer or the lingerie bag (yes, even if you fasten them before you put them in the wash).
What about the dryer, you ask? I’ll be blunt: the dryer will ruin the elastic. I don’t care what temperature you use. Elastic is key to the bra’s function, and, as outlined above, elastic needs to be cared for properly.
All of this means one thing: hand washing and air-drying are the way to clean the bra. To wash a bra, use lukewarm water and a gentle detergent. Gentle is the operative word. I like Soak wash since it is widely available in even comes in handy travel packets.
To clean your bras, separate by color then soak for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the soap and water to work their cleaning magic.
Then rinse the soap from the bras in lukewarm water. To gently extract the excess water from a bra without squeezing it, lay the bra inside a towel and gently press down on the towel.
Then lay the bra flat on a towel to dry. This soak-and-press technique is actually quite easy and does not require much active time at all. My strategy is to clean bras weekly, letting them soak while I take an extra-long and luxurious weekend shower.
The overall life of your bra, that is how long it will provide meaningful support and shaping, depends on the quality of the bra (materials and construction), cup size, frequency of wear and how the bra is cared for. The care of your bra is one of the factors that is completely within your control and we all want our beautiful handmade bras to last as long as possible!
This month our Marlborough bra sewing pattern celebrates its five-year anniversary. It is hard to believe that five years have passed since we published our first sewing pattern! Since 2014 we have published over one dozen lingerie sewing patterns, including two underwear patterns (the Kingston thong and the Montgomery brief) that I created just so I could have a matching Marlborough bra and underwear set!
While the Marlborough pattern was our first pattern, based on pattern reviews and makes, it remains one of your favorites (mine too!). To celebrate its five-year anniversary, we decided to update the pattern instructions for all sizes to include even more information to help you make your own beautiful and professional looking lingerie. The sewing pattern itself, a time-tested classic, remains unchanged.
Let’s talk about what we updated. First of all, we invest a great deal of time and effort in our instructions to make it as easy as possible for you to make your own lingerie and our unique, detailed illustrations are a big part of that. For the updated instructions, we wanted to make the the illustrations larger, so it was even easier to see the all the construction detail for each step.
We also wanted to include elements that we have added to our other bra patterns over the years including more information on materials, cutting instructions and construction layout diagrams.
Finally, after teaching the Marlborough bra workshop for nearly as long as the pattern has been around, I wanted to streamline the instruction flow and add some extra helpful steps.
If you have already purchased this pattern, the update is available at no additional cost. If you purchased the Marlborough bra pattern through our website, you will receive an email with instructions on how to access the updated file.
If you purchased the pattern through Etsy, you will need to message us via Etsy referencing your order number and provide your email address so that we can get a fresh copy of the pattern to you. This process is necessary because Etsy does not have the ability to push out updated files.
If you have not purchased the Marlborough bra pattern yet, now is a great time to give it a try!
It is hard to believe that I have been writing about how to make your own beautiful and professional looking lingerie for over 9 years! With so many sewists focused on bra making this month with the “#BRAugust” Instagram photo challenge, I thought it would be helpful to share some my top tips from the archive to help you achieve bra making success!
This is one of our most popular posts and with good reason! I walk you through the materials to make a bra, their properties, qualities and how to shop for them all.
Because I like fabric variety, I show you how to manipulate fabric so it can be used for bra making. This usually means stabilizing or otherwise beefing up a fabric that would not work well on its own.
Bra making generally requires several materials in addition to just the fabric and that can be confusing for new bra makers. This popular post that explains all the notions and supplies you need to make an underwire bra and, like the posts on materials, I also cover what to look for when shopping for your own supplies.
Good preparation really helps set you up for success. This post talks about helpful sewing notions including needles and thread as well as good workroom practices.
In line with preparing for success, this post shows you the most accurate way to cut out your bra pattern. To take this a step further, I also wrote about how to look at print placement in the cutting process.
Never snip those notches when making a bra! This post shows you the right way to mark your project for easy and efficient sewing at the machine.
Sometimes it is hard to tell how all those little bra pieces fit together. This post from last week provides an approach to getting everything put together properly. I have been teaching this technique in my bra making workshops and construction errors are nearing zero, so I just had to share!
There is a lot of information in the Orange Lingerie sewing pattern instructions about the machine stitches we prefer to use in the Orange Lingerie studio and earlier this month we boiled it all down into a clear, concise blog post with all the settings and photos of the most commonly used stitches for bra making.
Bra making requires precision to get the proper fit and support. This post tells you how to get the correct seams for your bra making project.
I would love to hear from you, what is your favorite bra making tip?
If there was one technique I wish for every sewist to use, it is this one! It works like a charm when sewing any garment but I find it particularly valuable when it comes to bra making. This method has reduced student construction errors in my bra making workshops to almost zero.
What is this method you ask? Dots! Specifically using colored dots to indicate which pieces are to be sewn together. Using dots is especially useful for bra making where the orientation of all those tiny pieces is sometimes, well, a bit puzzling.
I think the best way to describe how to use dots for sewing is to show you! Below I have used a variety of dots and dot colors to indicate the areas that match up for sewing for our Boylston bra.
To follow this method, start by laying out the pattern pieces as they will be sewn together. Then apply color dots to the pattern pieces at the points where they connect. For example, all the red points on the left hand side of the picture above will come together. There are already notches at these points, but color coding makes it easier to be sure the pieces are correctly lined up properly for sewing.
Notice that those same points are marked with true blue dots on the right hand side of the picture above. That makes it really clear which lower cup piece will get joined to which upper cup so the right sides and wrong sides of the garment do not get mixed up when sewing.
The above diagram also uses dots also for where the upper cup will be positioned on the bridge (the green dots) as well as the correct band to frame orientation (yellow dots on the left and purple dots on the right). You can even use dots to indicate how the straps are attached as I did above with the sky blue (left) and orange dots (right).
Don’t want to use so many dots? No problem. Below are what I have found to be the most critical dot markers for bra making.
Once you have all the pattern pieces dotted up, you will want to copy that, dot for dot and color for color on your fabric pieces.
Not only does this method improve your accuracy but it also increases sewing speed because you no longer need to go back and forth between your fabric pieces and your pattern pieces to insure your construction is accurate.
Happy bra making!
The Devonshire love continues! This week I have a tutorial for converting the cup from using lace to using fabric. This conversion allows you to carry through your fabric print (or solid) through the entire front of the bra like the scuba fabric Devonshire pictured above. This alteration is also a great workaround for when you are using an allover lace that does not have a scallop edge.
Before we dive in, remember all pattern changes are from the seam or trim lines and then the cutting line is established by adding your seam or trim allowance. Also, be sure to label your pattern pieces. You need to know what those pieces are for, especially if you are interrupted and need to set your project aside.
Now the overall approach to convert the cup to use fabric, is to add a trim allowance to allow you to stabilize and neatly finish the cup in the absence of a lace scallop edge.
Begin by taping both cup pieces to some tracing or pattern paper. Now, measure up the width of the trim elastic you use for the underarm. That same trim can be used to finish the upper cup. I really like this approach since it does not require any additional materials.
For my bra patterns the trim allowance for the underarm area is ⅜” for A to C cups and ½” for cup sizes D and greater. These are always marked on all our bra patterns so you can clearly see the trim allowance allowed and understand where to alter the pattern.
Now if you want to get fancy, you can take this a step further and reshape the upper cup. Without lace, we no longer need that straight line at the top of the cup and that allows us to add some contouring.
To get the curvy inner upper cup below, I measured the total width of the inner lower cup pattern piece along the upper edge (the solid black line at the top of the cup in between the seam lines). I then measured 75% of the distance away from the center of the overall cup and marked a point ¼” above the top edge of the cup.
To get the new curved line, I drew a smooth arcing convex line from the non-notched side of the inner cup (where it attaches to the bridge) and transitioned the line to a concave line toward the notched side of the inner cup (where it attaches to the outer cup).
You could even curve the top of the outer cup down a tiny bit (I used ⅛” below) as you move to the center of that pattern piece, bringing the line back up the existing top edge of the upper cup as you get to the underarm.
If you do decide to get fancy and add this kind of contouring to your cup, check your upper cup curve to be sure it is continuous and smooth all the way across by putting the cup pieces together along the top edge as if they were sewn.
When you go to sew the bra, apply elastic to finish the upper cup as directed for the underarm area. This application is made to the top of the completed upper cup and lining combination.
Yet another great option for your next Devonshire bra!
Unique to our bra styles, our new Devonshire bra has a two-piece vertically seamed cup to provide beautiful uplift. With this new style I thought it would be helpful to post the most common pattern alterations that you can use to customize the fit of your Devonshire.
Like our Boylston bra, the Devonshire bra is a balconette style. For balconette styles, the straps are purposely positioned out fairly far on the shoulder. This strap placement is to allow for the display of the maximum décolletage.
Because all bodies are different, this strap placement does not work for every body. Luckily it is simple to move the straps in toward the center of the body. The easiest way to do this is move the strap in toward the center of the body, we will remove the excess material from the underarm area.
Start by measuring the amount that you want to move the straps in by pinching out unwanted length from the upper cup near the strap. Another method is to roll the strap over (right side of strap to right side of cup) and measure the amount of the material folded over the bra.
Next, lay out the outside cup, frame and band matching them at the seamlines and mark the amount that you are moving in the strap on the cup. Then draw a new trim line (the dotted line in the underarm area) that smoothly connects from your marked point to where the cup attaches to the frame. Finally, add back your cutting line (the solid line). The orange lines show the alteration.
I recommend laying out the pieces as shown above to be sure you have a nice smooth line all along the top of the bra.
Another possibility with a balconette bra is that the straps are in the right place, but the upper cup is too large, that is, the cup stands away from the body. To decrease the upper cup, we will remove excess fabric using the cup seam.
Start by determining how much you want to decrease the cup by pinching out the excess material along the top of the upper cup from your toile (a.k.a. muslin or mock up). I recommend pinching out a dart, not just a tuck at the top, so you can have greater accuracy on the decrease and how deep to extend the decrease down the cup.
Now, measure in ½ the amount of the decrease from the top of the cup at the center seam line on each cup piece and redraw that center cup seam on both cup pieces tapering the decrease to zero at the existing seam line. Finally, draw in your new seam allowances to get your new cutting line.
If you need to increase the upper cup, that is the upper cup is too tight on the body, you will add to the center seam of the upper cup.
Start by estimating the amount you want to increase to the upper cup. To estimate it is helpful to determine how far you would need to move the upper edge of the cup in from the underarm for the fit to be smooth along the upper cup.
To make the alteration, start by taping the cup pattern pieces to some tracing or pattern paper then measure out ½ the amount of the increase from the top of the upper cup at the center seam line on each cup piece and redraw those center cup seams, tapering the decrease to zero at the existing seam line. Finish by adding in your new seam allowances to get your new cutting line.
Want more upper cup adjustments and strap moving tutorials!? We have got you covered! Here is our tutorial for moving the Marlborough straps, our tutorial for moving the Boylston straps, and our tutorial on upper cup adjustments.
Happy bra making!!
Thank you for your enthusiastic response to our new Devonshire bra sewing pattern! I am thrilled with the reception and can’t wait to see all the Devonshire bras that you all make!
Today I wanted to share some of my favorite looks that you can create using the Devonshire pattern. There are so many beautiful options!
STYLE 1: THE SWEETHEART
Can you believe how cute this is!? The fabric is a printed and reembroidered English lace with a scallop edge, paired with a matching double dose of croquet braid along the straps. English lace is a fabric with eyelet cutouts, which makes it stronger than regular lace yet still extremely charming. And yes! you can have fun with the criss-crossing of the ribbons for your center bows, here giving the bra a romantic / summer-in-the-countryside look.
STYLE 2: THE SEXY SPORTY
To me, the ultimate balcony bra is lace through and through. I love the the tone-on-tone; red lace, red straps, red elastic, red bow. Bright solid colors (up to neons!) add a splash of fun, giving the lace a contemporary and versatile look and a colorful reveal of the straps and edges of the bra under strategically layered tops.
STYLE 3: THE EXECUTIVE
For the lovers of streamlined looks, there is always the option to go slick and smooth by using solid tulles (they open up possibilities to play with transparencies) – and ribbon. I am also liking the solid, contrasting frame and band, which really highlights the cups.
STYLE 4: THE BAROQUE
A criss-crossed satin ribbon in the center and a gorgeous, transparent lace conjures up visions of 18th century French fashions. I especially like the layering of differently colored laces, and also how the fabric is climbing along the straps at an angle, creating a beautiful neckline reminiscent of a baroque dress.
STYLE 5: THE MERMAID
You can go retro by making wider straps, choosing poppy colors and bold prints or embroideries! Love how the cups here almost look like seashells – thanks to the stark scallop edge and stitching pattern. And let’s not forget the fun addition of the three contrasting bows.
STYLE 6: THE FOLKLORIC
Yes! The sky is the limit when it comes to fabrics and lace choices! Here the frame and straps are made of colorful brocade, a pattern reminiscent of the ones found in traditional Eastern European costumes. The lace matches the main background color, the bow picks up on the embroidery, and we have yet again a really interesting take on the straps, adorned with lace only on one side, which creates a beautifully soft neckline.
I can’t wait to see your Devonshire bra! Hashtag with #devonshirebra and #orangelingerie so I can find all of your beautiful versions!
Thank you all so much for the enthusiastic response to our new Lansdowne bra sewing pattern! There are so many beautiful bras that you can make with this new style and I wanted to share some of my favorite looks that you can create using this pattern.
STYLE 1: FLORAL CUPS WITH MATCHING LACE
Monni Plunge Push-Up by Etam (photo credit: unknown)
This look is so fresh and fun! Match your favorite boldly patterned fabric with a solid colored lace which echoes at least one of the colors of the fabric (in this case white, but there are many possibilities). Florals are a classic, but I can also see this with tropical and animal prints. You can also try matching the power net of the band with the lace color for a visually harmonious look.
STYLE 2: BRIGHT COLORED TONE-ON-TONE LACE
Cosmos Lace Plunge Push-Up by Etam (photo credit: unknown)
I love a bright and sunny bra, and this style will work with your favorite color as well. Simply use a lace that is exactly or just slightly off the color of your base fabric. Overlapping the two will create depth to the color thanks to the texture of the lace, and even more so if your base fabric is just slightly darker. For a more daring look, you can even try a neon colored lace over a brightly colored fabric of the same tone.
STYLE 3: POWDERED COLOR LACE OVER PALE FABRIC
Anais Plunge by Journelle (photo credit: unknown)
This time the base fabric has a lighter color than the lace, which highlights the lace pattern itself. Here the delicate floral lace motif seems to be delicately climbing over the fabric. Any pastel color will work as a base, as long as it is very light, and this is a great opportunity to use a subtly multicolored lace on top.
STYLE 4: ART DECO BLACK & GOLD WITH SATIN UPPER CUP
Pure Moon Push-Up by Etam (photo credit: unknown)
Geometric patterns can also make for sexy bras! Think 1920s style, with refined dark prints highlighted with a touch of warm gold or copper. I like how making a simple upper cup in a solid dark satin makes the print of the lower cup stand out – you could even say that the print gives the illusion of being lace! The very clean lines make for a coherent and slick Art Deco inspired bra.
Of course we also have some beautiful looks we made using the bra making kits that we created with Tailor Made shop! Today is the last day to pre-order your favorites!
As always, I cannot wait to see what each of you will make with the new Lansdowne bra pattern! Do not forget to tag #orangelingerie on social media if you would like to share your version.