Basic necessities

Push-up longline bra
Push-up longline bra

I’ve often heard that flesh colored underwear is a staple in every women’s wardrobe, which unfortunately I didn’t have any. So this time I stayed clear of my colorful lycra stash and made a couple of basic stuff.

Merckwaerdigh PBH30

The first one was made with Merckwaerdigh PBH30. From the description in Merckwaerdigh’s store: “a lovely mix of an underwired bra, bustier, body and thong body, all with a deep cleavage and pushing the bust up. This pattern requires some experience in handmade lingerie.” 

I was inspired by Amy’s beautiful longline bra and modified this pattern to be a longline too. But instead of widening the band, I used the bustier pattern and shortened it. The lower cup is lined with lycra, it also has a pocket for inserting additional padding if needed. The upper cup is stretch lace finished with picot edge elastic.

Push up bra Push-up longline bra
Push-up longline bra Push-up longline bra

The bridge is also lined with non-stretch lining to completely stabilize it and the back band is strong powernet. All the seams are enclosed inside by sandwiching them between layers when sewing. The side seams have rigilene boning between the double topstitch. Initially I also added boning to the short seams under the cups but they made the bra too rigid and uncomfortable so I took them out.
Strapless bra
Strapless bra

Merckwaerdigh E-STRAP4

Actually I was going to make a matching panties for the bra when I came across this Merckwaerdigh pattern that I’ve never made yet, Merckwaerdigh Strap4. From the description in Merckwaerdigh’s store: “a lovely mix of strapless lingerie : a bra and a bustier – body – thongbody where the underwires are invisible at the outside. These designs can be worn as outer garments as well.” Well I didn’t have a strapless bra so it is time to make one!

Sewing cups for styrapless bra Sewing cups for styrapless bra
The construction of this bra needed padding which I didn’t have. I have tried looking for bra padding locally but never found it. Not to be discouraged, I tried making the padding myself using cotton batting lined with cotton jersey. The padding pieces were cut without seam allowance and basted to the cotton jersey before sewing. The pieces were then butted against each other and stitched together with 3 step zigzag stitch. I covered the seam using tulle strips and again stitched it down with 3 step zigzag stitch. I don’t think I should buy padding anymore!
Strapless bra Push up bra
The construction of the bridge and band are similar to the push-up bra above. The side seams also has rigilene boning between double topstitch. I didn’t have strapless underwires that are longer than regular ones so I lowered the center front for the shorter underwires. I found out that my DIY padding were a bit too thick so next time I should use thinner batting. Lesson learned!
Frankenbra. Muslin testing.

I usually have to shorten the band and narrow the bridge on Pin-Up Girls pattern, but I didn’t have to do them for both of these Merckwaerdigh patterns. Here’s my muslin for the push-up bra. I initially narrowed down the center front, thinking that I would need it. It turned out to be too narrow so I slashed down the center and added back the amount that I have taken. It fits perfectly! So I’m happy to say that I didn’t have to make too many fitting adjustments to both patterns.

I wish I can post a picture of me wearing these bras but you’ve just got to trust my husband who said that I looked spectacular in them! (I think he meant the push-up bra)

I was lucky to have an early preview of a book by Norma Loehr of Orange Lingerie that will be covering the basic of bra fitting and construction. She has also kindly sent me a bra making kit that I have made into these two bras. A lot of bra patterns are made with the assumption that the customer already has a bit of experience in lingerie making so the instructions are quite brief. A book who can cover the basic steps of bra making will be really helpful. I still can’t talk much about this upcoming book, so you will have to wait until Norma releases it, hopefully soon!

Push-up bra pattern is Merckwaerdigh PBH30 size 30D, altered to longline bra.
Strapless bra is Merckwaerdigh Strap4 size 30D, altered to longline bra.

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  • Love it – the combination of a plunge with a sightly longline band is perfect. I find I can’t wear balconies at all, so having a plunge with the support of a longline would be fab. I’ll have to give this pattern a go 🙂

  • Hi Novita – Thank you so much for your informative posts. I love your work! I have just bought this Merckwaerdigh PBH30 pattern to try. However i have just noticed it appears to only go up to C cup sizes. How did you make it into a 30D? Did you grade the pattern?
    Thank you


    • Hi Rosa,
      The cups on size 30D is the same as the cups on size 32C, 34B, 36A. The difference is only the band and sometimes the width of the center gore. So you can alter a 32C bra to 30D by shortening the band and reducing the width of the center gore (if necessary). Theoretically you can also alter 34B or 36A bra to 30D because the cups are the same, but band alteration usually works better if you only go down one size.

      For each band size down, you can shorten the band about 3-4 cm. Sometimes I reduce the width of center gore about 0.5 cm if I use Pin-up Girls pattern. I don’t have to reduce the center gore width for Merckwaerdigh pattern. Just like every bra company is different, bra pattern from different companies are too, so making a muslin first and altering the fit is important.

      Hope that helps and good luck with the bra making!

      • thank you so much Novita! My pattern arrived in the mail today, so i look forward to trying these. Your lingerie is always such an inspiration. Thank you so much for your generous tips and for sharing xx

  • Elizabeth

    I love looking at your lingerie, it’s so inspiring! I just purchased a bra kit for the Classic Pin-Up Girls pattern, and I can’t wait for it to get here so I can try making my first bra! I also placed myself on the list for Norma Loehr’s bra book a while ago, so it’s nice to hear that you’ve got an early copy and it might be available to the public soon, I can’t wait! So far I’ve been testing out drafting my own bra, but the two I’ve sewed so far (from muslin) have many fitting problems. 😛 Keep sewing awesome items!

  • Novita, do you interface your lycra when you use it for cups? I’m about to cut my bra out and I was worried that it needs interfacing….

    • I interfaced the cups in these bras, but sometimes you can skip the interfacing when the Lycra is strong enough or the cup size is not too large.

  • These are so beautiful! I wear nude bras all the time so I can get away with wearing tops that don’t cover as much as they should. 🙂

  • Skin coloured and seamless bras are a constant in my wardrobe, but only on weekdays when work attire calls for things that don’t show through 🙂 On weekends though, it’s the complete opposite! I love this make of yours… in both forms. The lace is subtle and soft 🙂 I’d be awfully curious to know how the batting you made handles after washing? (I’m presuming you hand wash).

    • I am curious as well! Yes I handwash my lingerie, and I hope they will be okay as they are good quality (I initially bought them for Gertie’s bombshell dress – which is now UFO -_-) 🙂

  • Amy

    What a gorgeous plunge bra! I love how the front seams are diagonal like that and it looks so luxurious. It’s so fun to branch out and try styles. And wonderful to be inspired by each other. 🙂

    • Yes it is so wonderful Amy! Thank you so much! ♥♥♥

  • Beautiful Novita. Your skills are getting amazing and you are so adventurous, well done. I have been following your blog for a while and can see how you have widened out and I love what you do. You have also helped me with a puzzle that I had – I love to make the KwikSew3300 bra – it is so quick and easy [lazy!] but I really need a band for extra comfort and support. Looking at your latest bra – I can see how it can easily be adapted, and I will look at your progress shots too. Many thanks.

  • Jessica

    I just purchased two of her patterns to try, thank you for the inspiration!! Your work is beautiful!

  • Oh Novita they’re fantastic! I loved seeing the progress shots on Instagram too. Well done making your own padding, genius! and your longline is just perfect they’re so comfy. I love, love the wide bands (padded) they give the best support and look so classy on. Isn’t it great to have a draw full of well fitting bra’s and knickers that are handmade and didn’t cost the earth to make?

    I’m excited to read that Norma is releasing a book! Yay! I think I’ll need to add that to my growing library of sewing books. Can’t wait to hear more.

  • Gorgeous bras and now I think I need two new patterns. I has just dawned on me that I now know why I can’t wear a RTW strapless bra. Between you and Amy my knowledge based has grown considerably about lingerie.

  • Yes! I agree with everyone else – making lingerie seems so intimidating, and you make it look so easy 🙂 it’s inspiring…one day, one day I will try my hand at it. And, yes, skin-colored underwear is amazing at blending in. When I was young, I thought white bras would be best, until I wore it beneath a white shirt and to my horror, a friend pointed out how much it shows more!

  • Kelly

    ooh, so pretty! As others above have said, your handmade lingerie is really inspiring. I am a little scared to try it, but examples like yours and Amy’s really make me want to!

  • Once again, you did a great job. And the way you improvised with the padding – super clever.

    What?!?! Norma is coming out with a book? I’ll be the first one to buy and read it. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Thanks Maddie! I’m glad I tried o make my own padding now I don’t have to worry about finding resources for them!
      Norma’s book will be very helpful for anyone starting to learn bra making, I’m so excited!

  • Lovely, lovely bras — they’re both just so wonderfully pretty, feminine and well made! I haven’t been able to get the longline bra Amy made during the sewalong out of my head, so I believe I’ll be trying to make a similar bra soon as well.

    Novita, you’re the one who inspired me to try bra making when I saw your post on the floral set you made last year. I see a bit of that floral fabric playing a role in the Franken-fitter bra :D. It took me awhile to gather the necessary fabrics and notions, then Amy’s sewalong was the nudge I needed to get going :D.

    Good to know about the narrower bridge on the Merckwaerdigh pattern (in my collection, but not yet sewn) since I’ve found that I’ve needed to narrow the bridge on each of the 3 different Pin-Up patterns I’ve made so far.

    I’m super ansty for Norma’s book to be available and am pretty envious of your preview 😀

    • Ginny, thank you! I hope you will continue the journey in bra making.
      I’ve just learned from Amy’s sewalong that I can make muslin first before going for the real thing. If only I had done them earlier! So many fabrics and elastics to waste. Glad that I did it this time and found out about the bridge 😛

  • Really inspiring. The strapless bra looks amazing and they both look SO professional! You must be pleased with your skills now.

    • Of course there’s always the thought that I should have done this differently or that could have been done better. But I try to accept the little faults now. Thank you! 🙂

  • Novita, you are a lingerie-making star! I am very much inspired by your talent. The longline bras look very chic and they provide better support. Looking forward to reading more about the “secret” book!

    • Thank you Inna! I love longline bras, I think I will make all my bras longline from now on 😛
      Norma said the book is planned to launch in April!

  • Scruffy badger

    I am so amazed and awed that *you made* bras that look better than you can buy. I’ve not left a comment before, but have to say just how impressive your careful sewing, cutting and fitting skills must be to get something with so many little parts pieced together so professionally, neatly and prettily and that fits! It’s hard enough getting a shop bought one to fit ! ( but then that is the benefit I know if everything we sew…).
    So, fab, thank you so much for sharing

    • louise reynen

      …yes indeed…brava…i am absolutely in awe of your sewing/creating skills/knowledge…amazing!

    • Thank you! I find sewing is quite a meditative activities that’s why I like it so much 🙂
      As for store bought bras, I’ve never found any that fit right! So glad that finally I can have something that fit and look god at the same time. Yes that’s the benefit of making them yourself!