My sensible sewing challenge continued with some bra making. Annele from MakeBra gave me this balconette bra pattern MakeBra DL03 and a bra making kit to try out her method of bra making. Thank you so much, Annele! This is the first time I dealt with cut and sew foam. (I know, I was planning to make DL01 or DL04 but I changed my mind and made this instead…)
This pattern comes in sizes from 70B to 95C. I got the pattern in the size 75A. I normally wear the size 70B but as 75A is the sister size it can easily be adjusted by shortening the band.
The basic kit from MakeBra contained cut and sew foam, lycra, fold-over elastic, band elastic, bra strap elastic, stabilizer fabric, hook-and-eye tape, wire casing plus rings and adjusters. There is enough material for at least two bras, maybe more if you are small in size. The only things I had to add were the underwires that I already had in storage in my size. The instructions suggested adding a separate cup cover fabric but I decided to see how simple lycra would work. I did, however, add a tiny bit of lace to the bridge of the bra and a small ribbon bow.
I have learned that I cannot wear bras with normal underwires, so I had to change the pattern slightly to work with my short underwires. First, I shortened the centre of the bra by 15 mm. Then I shaped the upper edge of the cup so that I removed 15 mm from the inner edge of the cup tapering into nothing at the top of the cup. I also shaved a tiny bit off from the sides after inserting the underwires and seeing how far up they reached at the side end.
After making two bras this wasn’t difficult make for me. The cut and sew foam was easy to work with. I did not follow all the instructions very carefully so I ended up making the centre front part differently. Instead of finishing the centre front with the FOE tape I sewed the band together with the stabilizer and turned the seam allowances in. This caused me a little problem when I realised that I needed to have the FOE between the cup and the band before I was ready to sew the FOE over the seam line at the other end of the cup seam. I finally solved it by sandwiching the end of the FOE between the cup and the band at the middle of the bra leaving the FOE hanging loose. I then finished the upper edge with the FOE after the cup was sewn on.
The stretch needle was a must to prevent skipped stitches and that there is a right technique on how to handle the FOE. I would recommend using a cotton jersey instead of lycra as the cup cover fabric especially if you are a beginner and/or don’t have a walking foot. The slippery lycra otherwise causes the FOE to slide away from the edge and makes sewing more difficult than it needs to be.
Above is the bra from the back. I did botch the right-hand side of the hook and eye tape a bit. I’m not sure what I did but the seam looks awful. I will probably fix it the next time I have white threads in my sewing machine.
The finished bra
My trusty dressform models my bra below. The fit is very good. I even tried dropping the shoulder straps and twisting and jumping up and down and the bra stayed put. This pattern would thus work very well as a strapless bra and I will definitely try making one in the future! I just need to get some grip elastic to add some extra security.
What is a difference between the MakeBra pattern and the ones at Bra Maker’s supply that I have tried previously? I like that the MakeBra patterns take into consideration the fact that it is not easy to get specialised fabrics. You do not need to search for fabrics like powernet or duoplex. Instead, lycra is used to provide stretch to the band and you can use almost whatever fabric you want for the cup covers as the cut & sew foam stabilises the cups.
Another thing that is different is, that with MakeBra method you do not have to worry about grainlines or DOGS (= direction of the greatest stretch) at all. The only thing you need to pay attention to is that you cut the mirror image pieces in the same direction. This means that you will save a lot of fabric and that you can concentrate on choosing the most beautiful patterns for your cups.
The Finnish sewists are also happy that MakeBra is a Finnish company and thus the instructions are available not only in English but also in Finnish!
My sewing has been a bit slow lately. Finland has been under a heat wave and I’m just trying to survive without air conditioning that our house doesn’t have. My laptop heats up a bit when it’s on and just that little amount of extra heat makes me super uncomfortable as I’m already sweating (it has been about 32 degrees Celsius for about a week now), so even blogging my already finished makes is difficult. Luckily it’s going to cool down for a few degrees next week! In the meantime, enjoy your summer and your sewing!