If you saw our Lexington bra sewing inspiration blog post, you already know that there are so many fun ways to sew up our newest bra pattern! Today I’m going to show you how to turn the Lexington bra into a lounge bralette without foam. This version is also a delight to cut and sew because it simplifies both the cutting and sewing.
Bonus – depending on the firmness of the stretch in your fabric, this variation could even be used for practicing yoga or another low-impact exercise!
The original Lexington pattern has different pieces for the different materials used for the cups. For this foam-free version, you only need to use fabric cup pieces for both layers of the cups. If you are using stretch fabrics (as recommended in the pattern), cut one set of cup pieces with the stretch line as indicated on the pattern and another set of cup pieces with the direction of greatest stretch in the opposite direction to help stabilize the cups.
For this lounge version we altered the band to remove the hook and eye closure for a slip on/slip off style bra.
Here’s how to do this:
1. Measuring ½” from the top point of the center back, draw a line that is parallel to the side seam. This is your center back line.
2. From this new center back line, draw 2 perpendicular lines towards the side seam. This is an important step because center back will now be a fold line, so if the top and bottom are not at 90 degrees, you will end up with an unflattering V shape at center back after you cut it out.
3. Blend the perpendicular lines from step 2 into the original pattern cutting lines. Don’t forget to add the notches to the top of the band about 3” from the center back.
4. Cut 1 of the new band of piece on the center back fold line.
Now that we have covered the pattern alterations, let’s take a look at the construction process.
Once the cup and bridge sub-assemblies are sewn together per the instructions, sew on the front crisscross elastics before attaching the back band piece at the side seams (as opposed to after, as instructed in the pattern).
Once the front cross elastics are attached to the cup assembly, sew the band to both sides and sew in the boning casing as described in the pattern instructions. For this version, I opted to keep the boning casing at the side seams for some added stability but skipped the actual boning to keep the bra extra light and comfortable. If you feel like you need extra support you can insert the boning as instructed.
Since the back is now one piece, the rest of the elastics sew on a bit differently. For the bottom elastic, it is easiest to start and stop at a side seam, overlapping the edges of the elastic about ¼” and then zigzagging over the cut ends to finish and secure. The important thing is to not stretch out the elastic too much.
The elastic calculation for the top and strap is also different with the pull over style. To figure out how much strap elastic to cut for the top and strap elastics, mark 16” from one end (for one standard strap amount) on the strap elastic, then measure out the sewn part of the elastic by aligning the marked point with the top of one armhole point and walking the elastic around the armhole, back and opposite armhole. Then mark that point on the elastic and add an additional 16” for the other strap and cut the elastic. Don’t be alarmed; it will seem like a lot of elastic!
The straps must also be made a bit differently. Both ends of the elastic must be finished with rings and sliders before attaching it to the bra. One end gets the ring and slider attached according to the pattern instructions. The other end is a bit of a mind-bender but it’s a great trick to have in your bra sewing arsenal. Here’s how to do it (shown on a smaller piece of elastic below):
1. Thread the elastic, shiny side up, through the center bar of the slider then and add the ring.
2. Pull a few inches of elastic up and away from the center bar of the slider then, coming from underneath the slider, carefully pull the cut end of elastic end up through the rear opening of the slider.
3. Now pull the cut end of the elastic over the center bar and through the front opening of the slider and pull the extra elastic on top of the slider down along with the cut end of elastic.
4. Pull enough elastic toward the ring out of the way so you can stitch the cut end down to the elastic just below the slider. Then stitch the cut end of the elastic to the top layer of elastic to complete the doubled ended strap.
To finish, align the marked points on the strap with the top of the armholes and attach the elastic along the top of the bra and back as instructed in the pattern. The back straps are also attached to the band as instructed in the pattern.
Enjoy your new lounge-y version of the Lexington and don’t forget to tag #lexingtonbra and #orangelingerie to share it with me!
Thank you all for your lovely response to our newest bra pattern, Lexington! I am so excited to be able to offer you this bold and unique style, and I can’t wait to see all your versions of it!
While very few bras on the market currently offer the same combination of supportive cups without a wire and a strong graphic look, I’ve put together a few images that offer jumping off points to spark your inspiration – and I am loving this all black & powdered pink line-up as we move toward Halloween!
1 – TRANSPARENCIES
While this Playtex Perfect Silhouette Bra has a different construction to our Lexington bra, it is visually comparable with the horizontal cup seam and strong upper cup trim statement. I love the idea of using a lightweight tulle or mesh for the upper cup. I think this works best with fabrics that are tonally similar but I could be convinced otherwise with the right mix of colors!
2 – COLOR BLOCKING
The beautiful Rasa bra, under Aritzia’s Community brand, is a great example of how you can play with color contrasts by using elastic of different shades. I love the width of the straps here – they give a contemporary feel to the bra, which, along with the simplicity of the lines & textures, make it very wearable on its own. You can check their different colors online by doing a quick search, so many ways to have fun making this bra!
3 – TEXTURES
I can’t wait to make a sweet version of the Lexington bra with lace cups, like this Playtex Non-Wired Bra. I love the swiss dot mesh bridge too! There are so many beautiful laces out there, I’m excited to play with the scale of the lace repeats. For larger sized cups, you’ll want to make sure your lace is wide enough.
4 – CUT-OUTS
This Dita Von Teese Madame X Bra has so many possibilities! I love the peek-a-boo bridge area and will definitely make one like this by cutting away the bridge fabric after the elastic is sewn on. You could also use a skin tone tulle in the bridge to get the same effect without disrupting the stability of the bra. I’m also itching to try the echo stitching on the cups. It’s purely decorative but I think it adds so much sophistication to this bra!
Have fun sewing this bra and don’t forget to hashtag with #LexingtonBra and #OrangeLingerie so I can find all your lovely makes!
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! ☺
You know the feeling; you are sitting in an important meeting and suddenly you feel a bra strap slide down your shoulder. There are a few reasons why this might be happening and depending on the cause, there are concrete steps you can take to prevent strap slip.
Let’s back up and just quickly refresh on the role of the straps in the bra. The most important thing to know is that they are not responsible for support! The role of bra straps is to keep the bra in the correct position on the body. If the straps are slipping off the shoulders, they won’t be able to do their job and the bra will start to sag. We don’t want that!
There are several things that can cause bra straps to fall. Let’s take a look at the main causes and how to fix each one.
The first and most common cause is that the bra is worn out and stretched out so the elastic no longer expands and contracts. One sign this is the cause is that you have the strap tightened as far it can go, and it still falls off your shoulder. The best solution here is to replace the bra. A bra with “dead” elastics can no longer do its job to support and shape your body. It is time to make a new bra!
Another reason straps slip is that they are not adjusted properly. I see this happen a lot with new bras fresh off the machine. In the excitement to try on the bra, the strap is not adjusted to the correct length. In this case, you just need to adjust the straps so they fit more snuggly to the body.
One cause of strap slippage is not very obvious. The straps may be slipping through the sliders and out of where you want them set. This means that the sliders may be too wide for the strap elastic. If you have different rings and sliders sizes in the right color for your bra and a desire to unpick some stitching, you can re-make the straps (it is fiddly but doable). A simpler solution is to be sure when you are making your next bra that the strap elastic is secure when threaded through the slider. The elastic should not move very easily through the slider.
Strap slippage can also be caused by the strap position on the bra. If straps are placed too far out on your shoulder they are predisposed to slipping. There are a couple of ways to fix this but both adjustments should be made to the pattern before you cut out the bra.
When adjusting the bra strap location, you can move the straps in toward the center of the body on the front, back or on both sides of the bra. Where you decide to make the change depends on the style and the look of the bra.
To move the straps on the front of the bra, start by marking the outer edge of the desired front strap location. Do this by placing the strap on the pattern and marking the outer edge where the strap meets the upper cup.
Then redraw the underarm curve on the upper cup to smoothly transition into the outer edge of the strap in its new location.
To make the change in the back of the bra, redraw the scoop on the back band with the topmost point of the band corresponding to the desired strap location. Moving the back straps is where I start to adjust strap placement if the bra looks beautiful and proportional on the front of the body.
In the above tutorial I used the Boylston bra to illustrate the pattern changes. To find out how to make these changes with the Marlborough bra, see this tutorial. For moving the straps on the Devonshire bra, you can read more here.
Happy bra making!
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!
Over the summer I shared a lot of my favorite pro tips for bra making. As I was putting those posts together, I thought of even more tips to help you make your own beautiful and professional looking lingerie! Below I capture a few of my favorites.
Sewing Small Pieces
Sewing small pieces can be tricky. If you are having difficulty you can always sew from the middle outwards. No one ever said you have sew from end to end! This can make it easier to control those tiny and sometimes slippery bits of fabric in a bra making project.
Another way to sew small and/or slippery pieces is to start your seam with a small fabric leader or piece of paper at the beginning of a seam. A fabric leader also helps if your machine wants to eat the fabric at the start of the seam.
Chain sewing where you sew continuously from one seam to another is another great technique and saves construction time overall as well.
Working with Shifty Fabrics
When sewing power net (or power mesh) to another fabric on a conventional sewing machine, such as when you attach the frame to the band, sew with the power net on the bed of the machine and the other fabric on top. With this method the power mesh seamline does not get stretched and you get a nice flat straight seam. Of course, you could also overlock this seam on your serger!
Working with Bra Kits
Before you cut out your pattern, check trim and elastic sizes on your pattern and compare them to what you plan to use. On Orange Lingerie bra sewing patterns these lines are all clearly marked on each pattern piece for easy reference.
This tip is especially important if you are using a bra making kit where the trim and elastic widths vary and may be different from the pattern allowances. It is so much easier to make any necessary adjustments before you cut out your garment.
Add to the Band
I have students add 1 ¼” to the band, regardless of the size they are making, to account for the different properties of various Power Net fabrics and elastics. This adjustment (tutorial here) gives you some breathing room (literally) to account for different materials.
This is especially important for the A to DD size ranges for the Marlborough and Boylston bras since those bands were drafted to be firm using a fairly stretchy power mesh and a soft and stretchy band elastic.
Over the years bra kits have evolved to include firmer power net and firmer elastic. This is great for support but using the kit materials without first increasing the band could lead to a bra that is too tight! It is super easy to make a band smaller if it turns out to be too big, but it is difficult to make a band larger!
That is why for insurance, and to avoid a lot of extra work with stretch calculations, I just add 1 ¼” to the band. You can read the tutorial here.
Check the Closure Height
I teach this adjustment in all of my workshops and have been adding this to our bra patterns as well as a reminder to check the closure height of the bra and to adjust as necessary to precisely fit your hook and eye closure. You can read the tutorial here.
Track Your Changes
Take notes while you sew! Write down the settings on your machine like your sightline/guide you use on your presser foot, and your preferred presser foot for topstitching.
Also write down the date of any pattern changes along with what you changed and what you want to alter next time. I also recommend taking pictures of each version of the garment on the body and storing all the information your preferred note taking app. I cannot even begin to tell you how important my notes are to the design and pattern making process!
Add your bra making tips to the comments below!
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!
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!
I am super excited to introduce you to our newest underwire bra sewing pattern, the Devonshire bra!
For the Devonshire bra I wanted to create beautiful uplift with delicate lace. The first thing I think of for uplift from a bra are the cup seams and the underwire. Vertical seams are great for uplift since they direct the breast tissue upward.
From there, I designed the upper edge of the cup for a lace edge. The combination of the vertical seam with the lace scallop edge is just gorgeous.
The vertical seams provide such great uplift that I decided on a balconette style cup. I also love that with the single vertical seam, the cup height can be easily lowered toward a demi cup if you wish!
A fun feature of the Devonshire are the fabric straps. I really wanted to have many straps options, especially for spring and summer when straps are more visible. There are so many fun fabric straps variations and I can’t wait to show you some them!
As always, the pattern material includes the clear fully illustrated instructions you have come to expect from Orange Lingerie and each size is presented with the seam and trim lines.
As of today, the Devonshire bra pattern is available for A to DD cups in size 30 to 40 bands. If you love this style but are outside of that range, we have some good news! We are working on an extended size range for this pattern. If all goes well (and early indications are positive!) we will release the DDD to J size range later this year.
I hope you enjoy the Devonshire bra pattern as much as I do! Be sure to tag your makes with #DevonshireBra and/or #OrangeLingerie so I can find them all. I love seeing everyone’s unique version of our sewing patterns!