My first bra: Pin-up Girls Amanda
I have made my first ever bra! As I told you before I bought the Pin-up Girls Amanda & Alyssa sewing pattern and the bra making kit. Then I spend a few days watching Beverly Johnson’s bra making videos on Craftsy Unlimited. I can warmly recommend them. If you are new to Craftsy Unlimited, you can take advantage of the free trial week, which is actually enough to watch every single bra making course! So, there is nothing that you can lose!
My Amanda pattern wasn’t one of the patterns used in those Craftsy courses but the courses helped me to understand the basic bra terminology, sewing stages, stitches and the materials. In fact, I think the courses are very useful no matter what bra pattern you use, as long as it is a proper bra and not a flimsy bralette with no support.
Constructing my bra
My bra was a seamless t-shirt bra with foam cups. This changed the sewing order slightly from the Craftsy courses but I still used the course to check every sewing stage as I went along.
The first thing to make was the bra band. The front band is made of duoplex and the back band is powernet. There was a slight difference between the pattern and the course here. The pattern said simply to stretch the bottom band elastic while sewing. On the Craftsy course, Beverly stretches the elastic only under the front band (there are a few special tricks she uses here). I decided to follow the Craftsy instructions since that told me exactly how much stretch I should add. The top band wasn’t stretched at all.
In the picture above, I am already fastening the hook and eye. This was very easy since both hooks and eyes have a little pocket into which the ends of the bra band are slid.
My favourite part was covering the bra cups. The fabric is pinned onto the foam cup and stretched so that it hugs the surface of the cup without any creases. The only thing you must watch is that you don’t pull too much. That may end up with your cup collapsing which is something that you don’t want.
After you get the shape, you then mark the fabric and then remove it, The cup covering is then sewn to the inside of the cup and flipped around. Then the underside of the cup covering is zigzagged on to the foam cup at wire line.
Then it was time to put everything together. The cups were sewn onto the band, the wire channel was added and the wires added. At that point, the instructions ended with the note of adding a little bow with some hands sewing. However, I still hadn’t attached the front straps to the back straps! I went through the instruction booklet and couldn’t find a stage that I had missed. So, they had forgotten to add this! Luckily there wasn’t anything too difficult in here to do. To be sure I checked Beverly’s Craftsy tutorial and the front straps are just threaded through the rings at the back straps and the ends are folded and sewn with a few back and forth stitches.
Trying it on
My trusted assistant that is pretty close my size is showing the fit of this bra. The cups fit nicely which was a relief! Especially since I went with a larger cup than what the measurements gave me. I had compared the wire lengths to my existing bras and come to the conclusion that 34 was the correct size.
Anyway, the band is a different thing. See how the back band rides up. The band was way too loose. Perhaps if I had stretched the elastic at the back band it might have been better. On the other hand, my RTW band size is 70 and not 75, so perhaps the size 76 on this bra was just too big. I did not like the fact that the shoulder straps are so close together at the back. I checked some of my RTW bras and I found two that had this “Leotard back”. However, the elastic on those was narrower which looks more balanced in a small bra.
As there were two things to correct at the back of the bra I could tackle them both at once. I ripped out the hooks and eyes and the back straps and changed the back band by making it shorter and moving the strap positions about 4 cm further away from each other.
The finished Pin-up Girls Amanda bra
After the changes I made the bra fits. The shoulder straps look nicer further apart, too. I haven’t had much time to wear this bra but I’m pretty sure that the shoulder straps stay in place.
I am quite happy with my sewing. Making a bra was much easier than I had thought. Here is the finished bra from the back with the insides of the cups showing:
The front looks quite nice. I think that no one can guess that this is a homemade bra!
Here is a detail of the hook and eye closure. Despite my ripping and restitching the result looks tidy.
All in all, I can recommend the Amanda pattern warmly but I do suggest taking the Craftsy course to make the sewing easier.
Further bra plans
This was just a sample bra and now I can really start making it into a bra I want. What I don’t like in this bra, is that the amount of support it provides goes a bit too far for a small busted person. The cups are quite big and rise all the way to my armpits. The wide straps look heavy and even the band might look better if it were made a bit lighter and narrower. I compared the bra I had just made to an existing RTW bra and I think that the next time I will lower the cup from the top just like I have drawn on the picture below:
I will also switch to 10 mm strap elastic and might eliminate the fabric straps completely. Or then I could make straps out of the cup fabric like in many of my RTW bras. I wonder how they are made? It feels like there is an elastic sewn into the straps but is it possible to sew it on the fabric straps along the strap or is the elastic just threaded through a long tube of fabric?
Then, of course, there are all the embellishments I could add. I have tons of gorgeous lace in several widths that are perfect for adding trims and even for covering cups. I have ordered more materials so that I can continue my bra making. And then I need to make matching undies since I like to have matching sets of underwear.
More patterns and materials
I have been browsing online to find even more bra patterns and supplies. First I found out that MakeBra has an English site. Little birds told me that they have an online course coming and that might be a good way of learning how to handle the cut & sew foam.
Then I found a free bra pattern called Maya bra by Afi atelier. There are a lot of reviews of this pattern and mixed opinions about the fit but everyone says that the instructions are very good. I think that there won’t be a pattern that doesn’t cause fit issues with someone, so that shouldn’t turn you off this free pattern.
Orange Lingerie has several good-looking patterns. I am very much tempted by the Berkeley bra, but try to stay away from buying patterns before I have got the maximum use out of this one I already have.
About materials… I found more good places to buy supplies for lingerie projects on Etsy. At least these four have a pretty good selection:
I have really excited about bra making. Compared to my usual sewing projects, bra making doesn’t take much space. In fact, you can just settle yourself comfortably in front of your sewing machine and lay everything you need at an arms reach. You don’t have to get up to find table (or floor) space for pinning large seams or move from sewing machine to the serger to the coverstitch machine. The project is ready in a couple of hours. The Pin-up Girls Amanda is as good pattern as any to be used as a first bra pattern.
The difficulties in bra making come mostly from finding good materials. Luckily there are more and more online shops that offer lingerie making supplies and kits.
I hope you liked this post and thank you for reading. Do consider subscribing to get notified on future blog posts. More bras and summer garments are coming soon! Happy sewing!
Very impressed with your creativity.
Thank you for your kind words!
Beautiful dress, and very flattering on you! I’m impressed with your forest of Lily of the Valley. (One side of my childhood home was filled with it, and I fondly remember the glorious scent when walking on that pathway!) A perfect setting for your vintage dress!
Thank you! The forest is really magical this time of year. I just found a little apple tree growing just something like 50 m from our home. I can’t understand why I haven’t noticed it before! I love the apple flowers and was lucky to see it in full bloom. Today I walked around the forest and it’s hard to understand that you are literally walking on the border between the two biggest cities in Finland! (At least if you can close your ears from the sounds of traffic and a building site nearby!)
I do think that the straps look very wide on this bra – I think the thinner straps will look nicer! I am really enjoyed all your posts on bra-making, particularly where to get supplies, as since moving to Finland from New Zealand I am a bit lost often when buying supplies!
I’m so impressed! Your bra turned out beautifully and if I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was store bought! Well done!!
Thank you! I can’t wait to sew another bra!
Thank you very much Katja for mentioning us! I agree with you that bra making is very satisfying and ocuppies less space compared to other sewing projects. I hope that you continue progressing on this area of sewing and I can tell you that it is a bit addictive. At least, for me 🙂 . Again, thank you for mentioning Costura Secret Shop. Have a nice day! Pilar
You are welcome! It’s great that there are shops that specialise in lingerie making supplies since most fabric shops don’t carry bra making supplies.
Thanks for the great post- found you on pattern review. I really want to make my own bra, I have only done bralettes. Your post has great info and I downloaded the free pattern for a try- Thanks for the helpful resources.
Thank you for the comment! Good luck with your first bra!
I have such a hard time finding bras that fit well and then they are so expensive. I’ve been thinking of making my own but was a little intimidated by the underwire and trying to find all the necessary parts. A kit sounds like a good way to start! Both of yours look great.