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.
In the last post I shared some of my favorite lingerie inspired looks that you can create starting with the Esplanade bra sewing pattern. In this post I will show you how to alter the pattern so you can get the look!
These looks are largely the result of shortening or lengthening the Esplanade bra and in the case of the bra on the bottom left, altering the cup shape.
Before you get started, remember, all pattern changes are made from the seam or trim line (the dashed line) on the pattern pieces.
How to Shorten the Bra
To shorten the height of the bra, simply draw a new seam line parallel to the bottom trim line of the bridge, frame, and band pattern pieces. Make sure the distance to the original line is consistent throughout the pieces. Do not forget to add the new cut line as well!If you want to be absolutely sure of the way the alteration will look on your body before cutting into your final fabric, you can make a toile, and mark the exact location you would like the bra to end on the body and then transfer those changes to the pattern.
Note: Decreasing the height of the bra decreases the support of the bra and the ability of the bra to stay put on the body, so I would only consider this an option for A to C cup sizes.
How to Lengthen the Bra
While decreasing the height of the bra is relatively straightforward, lengthening it requires that you test out the modified pattern on a toile first to make sure that the garment conforms to your body shape the entire span of its new length. Remember, you should only be able to get two fingers underneath the back of a well fitting bra. This is especially important for strapless bras that really rely on support from the band.
The easiest way to lengthen the band is to start by creating new rough pattern pieces by extending the existing seam lines of the original bridge to frame seam line and squaring out and extending the frame to band lines. Extend the center back following the existing seam line.
This alteration will intentionally make the band too wide, so that it is possible to remove fabric AT THE SIDE SEAM to get to the perfect fit. Remember, it is always easier to subtract fabric rather than trying to add fabric that isn’t there in the first place!
For now, copy the shape of the bottom of the original pieces. All your extensions should come roughly to the same bottom line, (easy to check by putting them side by side as in the diagram below), but you will redraw the final bottom edge later. Also be sure to mark the original side seam line on the garment to act as your guide for achieving a nice angle on the side seam.
Once you have cut your fabric from the modified pattern and basted your toile together, try it on, pinching and pinning the fabric at the original seam mark to get a close fit. Remember to pinch symmetrically on your left and right, in order to remove the same amount of fabric on each side.
When you are happy with the fit, transfer the new side seam to the pattern pieces and create a smooth line all around the base of the bra.
How to Change the Shape of the Bra Cups
When changing the upper cup shape be sure keep the height of the upper cup at the wire line. As a strapless bra, it is important for the Esplanade bra to use longer underwires. If you have read my Anatomy of a Bra article in Seamwork Magazine, you know that underwires are key to providing support.
Because the upper cup of the Esplanade bra is fairly narrow and nearly straight across, it is not possible to decrease its height. You can, however, increase the height of the upper cup or change its shape. Just mark your shape changes from the “fold over foam” line on the upper cup fabric pattern pieces and directly to the top of the foam pattern pieces.
I highly recommend making a toile to test the new shape to be sure it conforms to your body!
How to add Straps to the Bra
Another great and simple modification for the Esplanade bra is to add straps. For detachable straps, you can read my tutorial on how to add detachable bra straps to the Esplanade bra, Part 1 and Part 2.
If you want to make the straps permanent, simply bar tack the straps to the bra in the desired location once you have completed sewing the garment. If you prefer, with advance planning you can conceal the strap attachment under the band elastic as well as under the cup covering.
To conceal the strap attachment on the front of the bra, stitch the strap between the cup covering and foam cup attachment seam. Conceal the final strap attachment bar tack by sewing through the foam cup and the cup covering seam allowance, keeping the cup covering free. Once you flip the cup covering over the foam, the strap join is hidden.
To conceal the strap attachment on the back of the bra, follow the back strap instructions in Part 2 of the detachable straps tutorial post.
In terms of placement, as a rule of thumb start by placing the front straps at the external edge of the cup seam. This will read as a continuation of the underarm curve up along the shoulder, for a harmonious look.
If you feel the need to adjust strap placement, check out my blog post on How to move straps for a better fitting bra.
There are so many great options for transforming the Esplanade bra, which one do you want to try first?
Once again, we have teamed up with Tailor Made Shop to create bra making kits, this time for the Berkeley bra sewing pattern! We looked through hundreds of stretch laces to select materials for these new kits.
My favorite part of the bra kit development process has to be sewing up the samples. I love the reveal of what each kit looks like when it is all sewn up into the final garment! I hope you love each color-way as much as I do!
Pictured in turn below is a pale beige pink, a white and black lace (available with black or white findings), a gorgeous navy with red, and finally, the one you all asked for, the white and pink that I shared when the pattern was released!
We do not have a lot of these kits, so order your favorites from Tailor Made Shop now!
I can’t wait to see your version of the Berkeley bra! Be sure to tag your make with #BerkeleyBra and #OrangeLingeriexTMS so we can find yours!
By committing to launder your lingerie while traveling, you are not only freeing up valuable suitcase space but you are also ensuring your lingerie looks great and has a long life. Don’t worry, laundering your delicates on the road is really easy and takes hardly any time at all!
If you have read my post about how to care for your lingerie you know that you should only wear a bra twice before laundering. In short, it helps preserve the life of the elastics. Underwear should be washed after a single wearing.
Just like at home, bras and underwear are hand washed and air dried. Let’s go through the process step-by-step.
Fill sink with lukewarm water along with a travel packet of Soak laundry wash.
I travel with a sink stopper, just in case the one in my room does not work properly — it happens more than you think! A versatile stopper also ensures that I can do laundry in any sink or tub. Laundry must soak to get truly clean so a stopper is pretty crucial. In terms of the soap, I like Soak since it does not require rinsing which is a nice time saver.
Put your dirty delicates into the soapy water.
Don’t forget to wash similar colors together! You will need to wash your pink sets separately from your black sets to avoid any potential color bleed.
Soak laundry for 15 to 20 minutes
I usually start the laundry process before I shower so the lingerie soaks while I am showering and I don’t lose valuable travel time waiting on my laundry.
Remove garments from sink and press out extra water.
You don’t want to wring or squeeze your bras or underwear. Just think of those delicate fabrics and laces! To get the extra water out of the garments press bras between layers of a microfiber towel. For underwear, roll them up in a microfiber towel.
Hang up garments and microfiber towel on a clothes line.
I want to be sure I have an easy way to hang up my garments so they can properly dry out so I travel with a clothes line that allows me to create a place to dry my clothes regardless of the location or layout of the space. I usually lie bras flat on a towel to dry at home but when traveling, I need them to dry faster so I put them on the line as well. To hang a bra on this clothes line (pictured below) I insert the hook or eye side into the line. That way I do not distort or stretch the straps or center front bridge of the bra.
That’s it! Freshly laundered bras and underwear will be dry and ready for deployment in 24 hours or less!
I love lace bras and I especially love the look of a lace scallop edge. Luckily it is simple to convert the upper cup of many bra patterns to use a lace scallop edge, even when that cup is made of foam.
This tutorial will show you how to covert the upper cup of the Esplanade bra to show off a lace scallop edge. You can use this same approach for the Boylston bra and this tutorial will help you understand how to use foam underneath the lace upper cup of the Marlborough bra.
The first step is to alter the upper cup pattern for both the foam and fabric pattern pieces. All you need to do is straighten the top edge for both pieces which you do by drawing a straight line from seam line to seam line as shown below.
When you modify the fabric pattern for lace, you lose the portion of the cup that folds over the foam. This is intentional and allows the lace scallop edge to remain visible in the final bra.
You will cut out your upper cup as you normally cut out lace upper cups, aligning the seam lines with the edge of the lace. Depending on your lace, it can take some experimentation to get the best cutting layout. The primary goal is to preserve the length of the seam lines, something that is particularly important with working with the small seam allowances and close fit of a bra. When covering foam, we also need to be sure we covering the foam cup as much as possible so it does not show through to the right side of the bra.
For this particular lace, the below layout works best:
To contrast, while the following layout preserves the lengthy of the seam lines, you can see there are several gaps created where the foam would be very visible. Something we definitely do not want!
In terms of putting it all together, assemble the cups as instructed in the pattern. When you get to step six of the Esplanade instructions, instead of sewing the fabric cup to the foam cup and flipping the fabric over the foam, put the wrong side of the lace cup to the right side of the foam cup, aligning the base of the lace scallops with the upper edge of the foam cup. Then sew a zigzag stitch across the top of the foam cup to join the two layers.
If you want to finish the upper edge of the foam with more than just a zigzag over the edge you could optionally finish the foam edge with some tricot tape prior to attaching the lace cup. Just be sure not to add any bulk to this area since we want it to lie flat on the body. A zigzag stitch helps to flatten out that upper edge of the foam cup without creating any ridges. I actually prefer the flatness I can achieve without any additional finishing along that upper edge.
Now you have beautiful lace scallop edge cups for you Esplanade bra and you can finish sewing the cups and bra as usual!
If your holidays are anything like mine, you are looking for last minute gifts. Right NOW! Preferably for things that will arrive before Christmas. Well, if you have a bra maker on your list, things just got easier for you! If you act fast, every item below will arrive before Sunday if you order in the next day or so. Easy, right?
If they want to learn how to make a bra:
- Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. Written by yours truly! I wrote this book to cover everything you need to know to sew and fit a bra. This book will get their bra making off to a great start.
- Bare Essentials: Bras – Construction and Pattern Drafting for Lingerie Design – Second Edition. This book is for the bra maker who wants to dive into drafting and modifying their own bra pattern. A starter pattern is included as well. This book is probably best for someone with some bra making experience.
- Pattern Making for Underwear Design: 2nd Edition. This book is all about drafting bras and other lingerie. This book is for the more advanced sewist who is very comfortable drafting patterns from scratch.
If they love sewing tools and gadgets, these items will make it easier to sew bras:
- Olfa 18mm Small Rotary Cutter. This is my favorite rotary cutter. So small and easy to handle, it is great for cutting out all those curves. Bonus, you can get replacement blades and/or a rotary cutting mat to go along with it! I keep a cutting mat next to my sewing machine for easy, last minute cutting.
- Gingher 6-Inch Applique Scissors. I use these for every bra I make. They are my favorite tool for trimming away extra fabric behind the first pass of elastic or for grading seams.
- Sulky Temporary Spray Adhesive. This air dissolvable temporary bonder is really helpful when working with multiple layers of fabric. I use this to temporarily bond lace over fabric so I can handle the two layers as one throughout the construction process. Definitely a must have for me.
If you just want to surprise them, get one of these fun extras:
- Clover Desk Needle Threader. I have become reliant on this needle threader to thread the Japanese hand sewing needles I love so much!
- Polar Notions Fabric Organizers. These have really helped me organize all my bra making fabrics. Just wind the fabric or lace around these plastic bolts and then stack or organize on a book shelf. Now I can see all my fabrics at a glance!
- Nippies Reusable Thin Silicone Nipple Cover Pasties. I like these for times when I want to keep my nipples invisible in a no-foam bra.
Now that a little bit more of your shopping is sorted you can relax and have a happy and healthy holiday season!
Disclosure: Please note that the links for books and equipment and supplies above are affiliate links. This means that I will be compensated if you choose to make a purchase after clicking through.