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!!
Over the last 5 years I have taught hundreds of sewists how to fit and sew their own custom Marlborough bra in our classic two-day bra making workshop. With a mission to get every sewist making their own beautiful and professional looking lingerie, I feel like with every workshop I move Orange Lingerie one step closer to fulfilling that goal!
As you may know, our classic two-day in-person workshop is exclusively focused on teaching the skills to fit and sew the Marlborough bra (you can read more about this workshop here and here). Of course, there are SO many more styles, materials AND techniques that I want to teach students. That is why I am launching our Boylston bra making workshop!
In our new two-day, in-person workshop, I am teaching sewists how to make their own custom fit Boylston bra! The Boylston bra is our three piece, demi cup bra that uses a fabric strap to create a super flattering neckline. I actually first wrote about his bra in Threads Issue #174 (subscription required to access article) back in 2014(!!)
To teach as many techniques as possible, in this new workshop we will be using cut-and-sew foam to make the bra cups. Using foam makes it easy to use a wider variety of materials for bra making and even allows for an easy conversion to a beautifully supportive bikini top! Like the Marlborough bra, the Boylston bra is also available in cup sizes A to J for band sizes 30 to 40 (plus the sister sizes) to accommodate as many people as possible.
You can join me for one of our new Boylston bra workshops this Spring:
May 18-19, 2019 at Pintuck & Purl in North Hampton, NH (a one-hour drive from Boston).
June 15-16, 2019 at Three Little Birds Sewing Co. in Hyattsville, MD (Washington D.C. area).
If you would like to learn the ins and outs of the Marlborough bra, there are still a few seats for our classic workshop at Drop, Forge & Tool in Hudson, NY, April 13-14, 2019.
I am looking forward to seeing you soon!
Once again Orange Lingerie has teamed up with Tailor Made Shop to create bra making kits! This time we put together kits for the Lansdowne bra, the classic Marlborough bra and the Fenway bra sewing patterns. This release is a combination of your favorites as well as some stunning new combinations.
We were finally able to get hold of more of this popular peach charmeuse fabric. This kit makes a lovely Marlborough bra (as pictured above) as well as a Lansdowne bra.
We are also re-issuing the peach and black swiss dot Fenway bra kits. The fabric in these kits is super easy to work with and this bra is so much fun to sew!
To see the two new bra kit combinations, just click over to the shop!
The pre-sale for these bra kits starts today and goes through January 25. Tailor Made Shop will be shipping orders between February 4 – 8. As always, there are only limited quantities of each kit so grab your favorites while you can!
Since our new Mystic bra sewing pattern requires some different materials than our other bra patterns, I thought a post on sourcing the materials was in order! In this post I will review the materials used to make the Mystic bra and tell you where you can find them online.
At the core of this pattern are seamless, pre-formed foam cups. When looking for foam cups, you are looking for a cup with enough structure so that they instantly spring back to shape when pressed and do not collapse under the weight of a mobile phone when placed on top of the domed cup.
You want to avoid any sort of cup “insert” or cups marketed as “sew in cups”. These inserts are often not a complete bra cup and do not have the necessary structure to form a bra cup on their own.
I like to use the “angled” foam cups from Bra-makers Supply. I also like their “push up angled” foam cups. They really do give you a boost! Both of these polyester foam cups are firm yet soft so they do not require a lining and they hold up well to washing and wearing. They are also easy to cover with your fabric of choice as directed in the sewing pattern instructions.
Both angled bra cups are sized by the underwire. For example, if you wear a 34B, that size takes a 34 wire and uses a 34 cup. You can use our sister size chart on our sizing page to determine your foam cup size. Just find your size in the table, then look to the first column on the left to find your wire size which is the same as your foam cup size.
The Mystic bra has a beautiful low cut center front. You know from reading my prior post about underwires that I generally like to buy them in bulk, in a longer length, and then cut them as necessary to the exact length that I need for a given style.
Often times, you can avoid cutting the underwires if you are willing to raise (or lower) the center front and height of the upper cup. However, raising the height is not an option when using pre-formed foam cups and lowering the center front is inadvisable. Luckily, I found that the “Plunge” underwires from Emerald Erin Bra Shop fit perfectly into the Mystic Bra, no alterations required! I actually ended up ordering a half dozen pairs for my personal use!
For a smooth and seamless cup cover, I recommend a smooth 4-way stretch fabric such as lightweight jersey or swimwear fabric that has around 50% stretch in both directions. The stretchier the fabric, the easier it is to work with to get a completely smooth and seamless result.
Being able to use fun stretchy fabrics for bra making is so liberating and it is truly one of the advantages of the Mystic bra! There are so many fun knit prints and colors. With a little fabric manipulation, you can even use the same stretchy fabric throughout the entire bra as pictured in the lead off for this blog post. See my post of fabric manipulation for the details.
To find the recommended cup covering fabric, I like to start by browsing the bra and lingerie making kits from Merckwaerdigh for fun print and color combinations. Be sure to read the kit description before purchasing, but so far every kit I have ever ordered from her has a “soft and supple stretch fabric” for the bra.
When using the Merckwaerdigh kits, I always use a firmer fabric underneath the stretch fabric for both the side band and bridge and a power net underneath for the band. While her kits do not include those fabrics, her kits do include bra making notions, usually (best for the A to C cup size range). Just add underwires to and your foam cups complete the bra.
Bra-makers Supply also has foam cup bra making kits in both solids and prints. Note, these kits contain only the fabrics and you will need to add on the proper size and color notions kit, underwires and foam cups to complete the bra.
Bra Side Band and Bridge, Lining
You need to use a low-to-no-movement fabric such as tricot for the bridge and side band. These areas need to remain stable and unmoving.
If you are using the stretchy cup covering fabric for the bridge and side band, you will need to stabilize it or layer it on top of a stable fabric. Fabric suitable for layering includes tricot and firm linings with no stretch. You can read our tutorial on manipulating fabric to change its properties here.
As with all our bra patterns, this band is designed for a power net with around 35% stretch. You can adapt the bra band as necessary to accommodate more or less stretch by decreasing and increasing the band respectively. For support, I recommend nothing greater than 50% stretch and for comfort, nothing less than 20%.
When layering a stretch lace or knit fabric on top of power net, be sure the material has more stretch than the power net and take care to align the direction of greatest stretch, so that they match.
I also highly recommend adding 2 inches to the band (add 1 inch to the band pattern piece) whenever you are layering fabrics in that area. Adding a layer of fabric decreases the stretch of the band and it is easy to remove any excess in the final stages of bra construction.
I am super excited to see all the beautiful Mystic bras! Be sure to tag them #mysticbra and/or #orangelingerie so I can find them!
Thank you all so much for the enthusiastic response to our new Mystic bra sewing pattern! I hope you love making your own T-shirt bras as much as I do! To help spark your creativity, in this post I share some of my favorite styles that you can make with our new pattern.
In this bold print bra by Victoria’s Secret, the same stretch fabric is used throughout the entire bra. I always seem to find such great jersey prints but I was never able to use them for bra making — until now! The ability to use stretchy fabric for the entire bra is definitely one of the key advantages of the Mystic bra.
For this plaid bra by Adore Me, the fabric does not have enough stretch to seamlessly cover the cups and therefore you see a dart. Yes, you can make a Mystic bra by essentially draping the fabric over the cup and adding a dart to the cup cover. Yes, a tutorial is coming up!
I love the color of this lace bra by Princesse Tam Tam. Here again we see a cup material that does not have enough stretch to seamlessly cover the cups. With lace, the cup covering process is a bit different in order to keep that lovely lace scallop edge for the top of the cup. We will certainly be sharing a tutorial so you can replicate this look too!
While this acid red bra from Victoria’s Secret may look a bit plain in comparison to the other styles in this post, this is a reminder that when you make your own T-shirt bra, you can use any color you want 🙂 I totally want to make an orange one!
Ready to start creating your own unique t-shirt bras?!
I am so excited to introduce you to the new Mystic bra sewing pattern! Whether I am fitting students in my workshops, walking through the gym locker room, or just walking down the street, this is the style I see most often in everyday life. It is no surprise that this style has consistently been one of our most requested patterns. I am also happy to say that with the release of the Mystic bra pattern, we give you the ability to make yet another bra wardrobe staple and move one step closer to an entirely handmade wardrobe.
Using pre-formed foam bra cups, the Mystic bra provides invisible shaping and support underneath even the most fitted garments. Finally, you can make your own beautiful seamless t-shirt bra!
To show you a new bra construction technique, we created this style as a frameless bra. Yes, you can make a frameless foam cup bra! As usual, the pattern contains all the step-by-step instructions with our detailed drawings to guide you through the process of making this style.
One big bonus with this frameless style is the ability to convert the bra to close in the front! Keep an eye out for news from us with the details on that conversion as well as more information on this style.
Now if you have been following Orange Lingerie for a while, you may recall that in the past I expressed some skepticism on the utility of molded foam cup bras. I was more surprised than anyone when I found myself turning to this exact style to wear under some of my fitted knit tops (e.g. thin semi-transparent t-shirts) and for occasions where any transparency to my body could be inappropriate (e.g. dinner with the in-laws). After repeatedly encountering a selection of solid white, beige and black options in the shops, I knew I needed to create the Mystic bra pattern so I could make a more visually interesting selection of seamless bras, especially as we head into fall and winter.
As with our recent bra sewing patterns, the Mystic bra will only be available for A to DD cups in size 32 to 40 bands and B to DD cups for size 30 bands. See our chart of sister sizes if you are looking for additional sizes.
I hope you enjoy the Mystic bra pattern as much as I do! Be sure to tag your makes with #MysticBra and/or #OrangeLingerie so I can find them all. I love seeing everyone’s unique version of our sewing patterns!
Once again Orange Lingerie has teamed up with Tailor Made Shop to create bra making kits and once again we have some gorgeous silks and laces! This time we put together kits for the new Lansdowne bra, the classic Marlborough bra and the all lace Berkeley bra sewing patterns.
I am loving these luxe combinations!
There are three new kits in total. So far my favorite has to be the lace in the Marlborough and Berkeley bra kits. The subtle pink outline with the rich navy and black lace looks great – with both navy silk and black findings in the Marlborough kit (pictured above), and with pink findings in the Berkeley kit (pictured below).
Of course there is also this gorgeous burgundy silk which is just so perfect for Fall!
The pre-sale for the new kits starts today and goes through October 5th. Tailor Made Shop will be shipping orders between October 8 – 12. As always, there are only limited quantities of each kit so grab your favorites while you can!
My goal with the Lansdowne bra was to create a cleavage enhancing underwire bra. One of my favorite pattern modifications for this bra is to add a foam “cleavage cookie” to give the bust an extra boost! This post includes a tutorial showing you what you need to do to make this fun version of this bra.
Before I dive into the step-by-step instructions, as with any bra pattern modification, I strongly recommend making a toile (a.k.a. a muslin) to test it. Often when working with foam, it is necessary to go up a cup size to accommodate the extra volume that the foam adds to the cup.
Now let’s get started!
There are two parts to making a cleavage cookie. One is the cookie itself and the second is the pocket that will securely hold the cookie in place.
To make the cookie pocket you need to use a fabric that is thin and stretchy. The pocket must stretch to enable you to insert and remove the cookie and to allow the cookie some movement. I like to use a power net or mesh or a cup lining with stretch in at least one direction. I also like to choose a color that will not stand out in the interior of the bra.
To make the cleavage cookie you will use cut and sew foam. A fat quarter (approximately 18″ x 22″) is plenty for all sizes. Foam comes in many colors and you can use which ever color is the best match for your garment.
from left to right: power mesh, foam, lining
Using the outer cup pattern piece, draw a horizontal line that intersects with the underarm corner. Now trace that line and around the bottom of the pattern piece. Add ¼” hem line to the horizontal line and label this “Lansdowne Bra Pocket LOWER”. Note the shape of the hem allowance! It needs to completely span the piece when turned to the wrong side of the pocket.
Next, trace from the line around the upper part of the pattern piece. Add ½” to the horizontal line at the underarm and then draw in a ¼” hem line. Label this piece “Lansdowne Bra Pocket UPPER”. Again, note the shape of the hem allowance.
For each pattern piece, transfer the stretch arrow to be the same as for the outer cup fabric layer, add your size, the date and the instruction “cut 2 power net or lining”
To make the pattern for the cleavage cookie, trace an outer cup pattern piece and remove the seam allowances from all sides plus an additional ⅜” from the wire line and underarm areas. Label this “Lansdowne bra cookie outer layer”. To make the next layer, trace inside the outer layer piece by ⅜”. Repeat for additional foam layers. The number of layers depends on cup size you are working with and the effect you want to achieve. For this 34B sample, I was able to create 3 layers of padding.
For each foam layer pattern piece, transfer the stretch arrow to be the same as for the outer cup fabric layer, add your size, the date and the instruction “cut 2 foam”.
Cut pocket pieces as usual matching the stretch direction to that of the original outer cup.
For the cookie, foam has very little, if any movement but the stretch direction should also be matched to the original outer cup. Cut and mark the pieces as you usually do for bra making. See my post on accurate cutting and marking for more details.
To make the cleavage cookie, start by overlocking the edges of each foam layer. If you do not have an overlocker, you can use a zigzag stitch or the overlock stitch on your sewing machine. This stitching finishes and flattens the edges of the cookie.
Once the edges are finished, hand tack the foam layers together, one layer at a time, working from the largest layer to the smallest inside layer so they there are no stitch dimples on the outer most layer. Set cookies aside. While you could also create a fabric cover for the cookie, I think it adds a bit of awkwardness and bulk and I tend to skip that.
To make the pocket, turn under ¼” along the horizontal line and stitch using a coverstitch hem or zigzag stitch to finish and stabilize the edges while keeping them stretchy. Next, overlap the pieces so you have a pocket that exactly matches the outer cup fabric piece and baste together.
To attach the pocket, during cup construction, sew the pocket to the outer cup by sandwiching the inner cup between the fabric and pocket layers sewing the cup seam.
Topstitch the seam on the outer cup side as usual then baste the pocket to the outer cup along the wire line and underarm area and treat the outer cup as one unit throughout the rest of construction.
Once the bra is complete, you can insert the cleavage cookies for an extra bust boost! Remember, you can always reduce the number of foam layers if the boost is too much.
With the second annual #BRAugust Instagram photo challenge hosted by Tailor Made Shop, August has become one of my favorite months. I am so blown away with all of your great Orange Lingerie makes that you posted as part of #BRAugust that I wanted to highlight some of my favorites. For each image we provide the Instagram user name, so you can get a closer look at the garment as well as each person’s other lingerie sewing. We also link to the sewing patterns that were used so you can make your own!
Because the season is just about over in the Western Hemisphere, I have to start by showing these amazing swim top versions made from our bra sewing patterns.
To get the swim top on the left, @workspacefads modified the Esplanade bra and on the right, @nelliejoans modified the Boylston bra. These bright colors really make me want to hold on to what is left of the summer weather and spend it poolside.
As with these swimwear examples, one of the joys of making your own lingerie is the ability to use whatever colors you want. Let us now bask in the glow of the bright colors!
Starting in the upper left hand corner is a super bright neon Boylston bra made by @lauren.leigh. It actually glows! The tropical Marlborough bra was made by @justsews. I love a good print and this one is great to keep summer close to you all year long.
Moving to the bottom row, I love the pink trim that @keri_sews used on the neon and black Marlborough bra! Such a great way to add a shot of color! The second bra on the bottom row, sewn by @madepael, is one of the earliest makes I have seen of our newest pattern, the Lansdowne bra! This all lace version is so pretty – and it is authentic French ‘dentelle de Calais’!
There were also some gorgeous rich jewel tones that I could not stop staring at and that had me thinking about fall color palettes.
On the upper left we is a gorgeously rich navy Berkeley bra from @imogenpruthi. The color is also incredible on the burgundy lace Marlborough bra that follows, sewn by @justsews. On the lower left, the print on the Marlborough bra by @2bees is stunning. I love that she made this bra using the remnants of another project. Finally, the trio of Marlborough bras sewn by @katiemakesadress! Her Instagram grid is filled with her beautiful lingerie makes.
We all need some neutrals in our bra drawer and these delicate beauties caught my eye!
From left to right starting at the upper left:
The upper left is one of my favorite Berkeley bras, this one sewn by @agentthimble. That lace! Then the beautiful light beige foam cup Boylston bra sewn by @sohinisarkar9. I love the effect of using of tulle for the frame and bridge for a lovely effect! I totally want to try this.
In the next row, @cha_mallow made such a beautiful split cup Marlborough bra. That lace is such a great choice! I love that it was used throughout the garment. Next is another great lace example in this Berkeley bra sewn by @du_fil_a_retors.
In the final row, this mixed lace Marlborough bra sewn by @rehgeschwister is just beautiful! White never needs to be boring. Then we have another of the beautiful bras sewn by @gabriella_kaikaina_handmade. I love the Fenway bra with pink lace and white tulle. So pretty!
Of course, there were also some amazing luxe sets! Both are great examples of what is possible when you make your own bras!
Appropriately named @all.the.lace made this beautiful Marlborough bra and Kingston thong set shown on the left using a raspberry lace over gold fabric. Just a reminder of the dramatic effect you can get when you layer fabric. On the right, @sophiesmakes made this stunning Marlborough bra and matching underwear for her mother!
These represent just a small sample of the many beautiful bras posted for #BRAugust! I hope you enjoyed August as much as I did!