Plunge bra set
Lately I have been feeling very inspired after finished watching the latest Beverly Johnson’s class on Craftsy, ‘Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace, and Beyond’. If you are interested in bra making, I really recommend this class, along with Beverly Johnson’s first and second classes: Sewing Bras: Construction & Fit and Sewing Bras: Designer Techniques.
Actually I have bought her first two classes sometime ago, but only recently managed to watch them all. I got bored easily when watching video classes, then I found out that I can avoid boredom if I watch these classes on 2X speed! I’m very happy that I can watch these valuable classes now. A little fact: I am diagnosed with mild ADD.
Anyway! I also have several books on bra and lingerie pattern drafting such as The Bra-makers Manual 2 by Beverly Johnson, Patternmaking for Underwear Design by Kristina Shin, and Become a Pattern drafter: Women’s Underwear by Najah Ouahab Rassas.
Now it is time to try all the new techniques that I have learned. I decided to draft a bra that have the following:
- diagonal seam
- lowered bridge
- pockets on lower cups for removable ‘cookies’
- very narrow bridge (about the width of the channeling under the cups)
- gothic arch on center front seam
- back strap extension
On the right, you can see my drafting for the cup with diagonal seam. After drafting the pattern, I made a muslin bra from scraps. I have a box of used straps, hook and eye, and fabric scraps that is used for making muslin.
The cups are cut and sew foam, finished with foldover elastic on top. The lower part of the cups have pockets made with knit lining. The removable cookie is made with foam lining, it has layers of smaller foam pieces inside. Making your own removable cookie is great since you can adjust the thickness and the shape. My right breast is slightly smaller than the left, so I only need a thin pad on the right side. Technically I don’t need pocket on the left cup, but I made it anyway so the cups look even.
The bra has very narrow bridge, about the width of the channeling (1 cm) under the cups. The elastics under the cups have to be trimmed a bit to allow the channeling to be stitched over them.
The center front has an upside down V shape, or also known as ‘gothic arc’. The elastic is not stitched as continuous line but overlapped on top of each other in this area. I find that the gothic arc, in combination with the narrow bridge, is very comfortable.
The back band has back strap extension that curved over to keep the straps from falling off the shoulder. The dummy has wider body than mine so it looks that the back strap is placed too far to the side.
Here is the plunge bra on me. The back strap placement is right on this picture. I naturally have almost no space between the breasts. Interestingly, it is something that I just noticed after I started to learn making my own bra. Making your own clothes is really a way to know your body better.
The panties are made with Merckwaerdigh low rider pattern. Merckwaerdigh has recently launched several PDF patterns, and it is such a great news because I like PDF patterns. Bra and panties pattern pieces are usually small so printing the PDF patterns don’t waste too much paper.
So I’m not very happy to find that Merckwaerdigh don’t place all the pattern pieces close to each other. This low rider panties have four pattern pieces, each is placed in different page with instructions next to the pattern. Maybe the patternmaker meant that these pages are to be kept as they are, and the pattern pieces have to be traced before being used. But I’d rather printed the pattern pieces only and read the instructions on the computer. So I traced the size S of the pattern on Illustrator, added the seam allowances and placed them so they can be printed on two A4 paper.
The pattern itself is lovely. It sits very low on the hip, the front and back is connected with a little bar on the side. You can make lots of variation with this pattern, or even make a swimwear bottom with it. I use soft powernet as the main fabric, and placed scraps of lace on side edges of the front and back pieces. Instead of side bars, I used pieces of wide elastics on the side.
Overall, I’m very happy with this set, an especially with what I have learned while making it!
My second self-drafted set! This one is a bra with partial band, or hook-up bra as it is called in Kristina Shin’s ‘Patternmaking for Underwear Design’ book. The panties pattern is also self-drafted using the same book, the same pattern as the ones from my white set.
The fabric is mesh fabric with floral print in muted color, part of a Merckwaerdigh kit. The kit actually comes with stretch lace but I only used the mesh fabric. The cups are lined with tricot mesh while the band is lined with powernet. To keep the delicate look, I don’t use foam lining for this bra.
The bra pattern is drafted using the underwired bra that I drafted previously as a base. I couldn’t be happier with the fit! I’m very satisfied with all the things that I’ve drafted from this book so I want to draft everything!
As I delved more into pattern drafting, I also use this opportunity to learn to use computer software for pattern drafting. In the past I used CorelDraw to draw vectors, but this software is for Windows only. Nowadays I don’t use Windows, so I wanted to learn using Adobe Illustrator.
So far I’ve been having a great time learning Illustrator! I shared some of my learning experiences in my Instagram and everyone have been so kind offering their tips and tricks. Using computer for pattern drafting is so practical. I don’t have to use lots of space with long rulers and pencils around, everything is in the computer and I can do pattern drafting anywhere.
For now I’m only using the 30 days trial version and not thinking about subscribing. The subscription is about USD20/month -maybe not too expensive -, but I can’t justify subscribing since I will only be using it for my own needs.
There are some good and cheaper alternatives to Adobe products though. I’m using Pixelmator as a good Photoshop alternative and recently I found iDraw as an alternative for Illustrator. I’m still learning to use iDraw but so far it is quite promising. I’m about halfway through the Adobe trial period now, so 15 more days of fun!
Patterns are self-drafted.
I just found out that a bra is not called ‘a pair of bra’! My apology if I was being confusing by talking about ‘a pair of bra’ and ended up just posting one. Where’s the other?! There are a pair of shoes, a pair of pants, and bra has two identical things on it just like shoes and pants, so why isn’t it called a pair of bra?? English is confusing….
Anyway… I recently made a new bra and panties set. They may look plain without all the colorful fabric and lace like my previous ones, but I’m so happy with this set because I drafted the pattern myself. I feel like going a level up in lingerie making now!
I used the book ‘Patternmaking for Underwear Design’ by Kristina Shin to draft this pattern. Thank you to Melissa of Fehrtrade that have brought the book to my attention, you can also read her wonderful review of the book in her post. If you love pattern drafting you will love this book!
The book has drafting techniques for basic blocks for bodice, skirt, and T-shirt; 6 bra patterns, 4 corsetry patterns, 4 panty patterns, 5 sleepwear patterns, and the last chapter for camisole, bodysuit, and leggings patterns. All your needs are covered!
A note to remember though -and maybe the most important one-, the bra and corsetry patterns are drafted for size 34B. If you’re in size other than 34B and want to use this book, you have to be able to grade the pattern. I usually use size 28F or 30D which fortunately has the same cup size as 34B so I only have to grade (shorten) the band. The cups on size 34B has the same volume as the cups on size 36A, 32C, 30D, 28F, 26G.
The drafting techniques uses the underwire as a starting point. So basically you trace around the underwire and start drafting around it. I love this technique because it makes sure that my underwire wouldn’t be either too short or too long. For this set, I drafted the basic underwire bra and the brief patterns. The bra pattern will later be used as a base for the other bra patterns.
Here is a quick muslin that I made to test the fit of the bra. The foam lining of the bra is in 3 pieces while the outside layer is two pieces. After checking the fit, I narrowed the center bridge area, a common alteration for me. I notice mine are a close-set and bottom rounded pair.
I use foam lining from Makebra shop (my favorite foam lining!), and white lycra for the outer fabric. The band is power net and all other notions are from Merckwaerdigh store.
The inside seams on the foam cup are covered with strips of tricot binding. The outer layer has topstitching on either side of the seams. Initially I planned to make a plain white bra set but then I added a wide lace strips on the upper edge. Maybe plain white is too boring.
I love that the bra pattern creates a rounded shape that suits me, not as pointed as Pin-Up Girls patterns. But the beauty of drafting the pattern yourself is that you can create any shape that you want. Here is a washed out picture of the bra on me in case you’re wondering about the fit. Next time I will add some boning on the side seams.
The brief pattern creates a basic everyday panties that sits slighly below the waist and provides enough coverage around the back. Now I have two basic patterns that I can use as a base for the next ones!
Patterns are self-drafted.
Panache sports bra
I don’t usually do much sports but when I do, I wear a pair of Panache sports bra. This sports bra is quite wonderful. It is an encapsulated type, which means that each breast is supported individually. The bra is double layered so all the the seams are enclosed between the layers.
Since I only have one pair of sports bra, this pair deteriorated rather quickly although I only wear it for a short time about twice a week. I’ve ordered another one but I wonder if I can make myself a pair of decent sports bra.
I took apart my old Panache to see how it was constructed. So, what makes a bra a sports bra?
The outer layer has mesh fabric in the center front and stretchy wicking materials for the rest. This layer acts as a cover and attached to the inside layer along the outer edges.
All the seams are enclosed between the outer and inside layers. On the inside layer, the bridge and frame are made of absorbent jersey underlined with non stretch mesh. The back band is powernet, strengthened by the wicking material on the outer layer. The bra has foam cups, all the edges of the cups reinforced with a strip of interfacing. The underwires are enclosed in a wide casing that has silicone cushioning inside.
Panache sports bra, deconstructed
The bra has wide elastic (13 mm) on the bottom edges, the stitches that hold the elastic can only be seen from the inside. The upper edges are finished with foldover elastic. The straps are shaped and padded, connected to the 2 cm width back straps. The straps can also be hooked on the back to make it a racerback. The hook and eye parts are thicker with extra cushioning.
I think both layers are first constructed individually, then joined along the bottom edges with the wide elastic. The elastic then topstitched on the inside layer with zigzag stitches. The outer layer is folded up to cover the inside layer and basted along the top edges of the cups and band. The top edges of the front are finished with foldover elastic and the covered straps are then attached to the bra. Next, foldover elastics are applied along the padded straps and bra band.
In addition to the drafting, materials and construction techniques are very important in a sports bra. Some of these materials are somewhat difficult to find. I’ve never found the silicone cushioned underwire casing or the cushioned hook and eye parts. But I guess these can be eliminated or alternated by other materials. Otherwise I can reuse the parts of my Panache bra.
Making lines on foam muslin
The Panache bra has different drafting for the inside layer and the outer layer. The inside layer has cup seamlines and the outer layer is only a cover. I plan to make mine in the same way.
I started working on the outer layer by making a foam muslin with my Pin-Up Girls bra pattern. The Bra-makers Manual Volume 1 by Beverly Johnson has a chapter on drafting a sports bra using this manner.
After drawing my design lines on the foam muslin, I cut them up and traced the pieces to paper.
Cutting the lines
Tracing to paper, seam allowances added
This is my first muslin made with the paper pattern. The seam allowances are not trimmed yet, thus the cup wrinkles. I might move the straps a bit closer to the center front later but otherwise it looks quite good! In fact it can also work for a simple single layered sports bra without all the complicated things inside.
Sorry if this post has become quite lengthy and geeky! I really really love taking apart things to see how it looks inside. When I was little, I cut open my Barbie’s legs to see how the knee could bend like that (turned out it has metal hinge inside). Then I put away the body because I didnt want my mother to find the mutilated Barbie (-_-“)
Next I will continue perfecting the drafting and started to research some materials for the sports bra!
I was thinking of making a pair of shorts for summer and decided to make my own pattern as an exercise in pattern drafting. The shorts have shaped waistband, pleated fronts, front slant pocket, and darts on the back side. I also made cuffed legs and used button fly instead of zipper. The fabric is linen chambray with interesting texture that I’ve used a little for the top part of this dress. The pockets are lined with striped linen, also leftover from the same dress.
The result is still not too perfect. There were some (very) faint diagonal lines on the front, might be the results of the pocket lining pulling on the fabric. The front pleats are also a bit too close to the center front, I would move them a bit to the side if I make them again. The back seemed quite okay though. Maybe I should have made a muslin first, but these fabrics are leftover so I can say that these are very wearable muslin. Or maybe there’s nothing wrong with this pair of shorts at all and I was just too critical. You see, when you make your own pattern, you tend to get too critical of small things like these.
However, I really love the row of buttons and the shaped waistband! The waistband sits perfectly just they way I picture it to be. The shorts were also very comfortable to wear and this really helps me to overcome my initial reluctance to wear anything that define my waist.
Stylish Dress Book 3, Top R
I made a simple top to go with the pants. The fabric is nani IRO double gauze, leftover from my husband’s shirt. The pattern is top R from Stylish Dress Book 3 without all the ruffles. I use ready-made double gauze bias tape for the neckline and armhole since the nani IRO fabric was not enough.
I must say that I love this ensemble! It is a bit different that what I usually wear, my wardrobe is mostly consisted of dresses with not too many pants or skirts. But five to six years ago, I only wear jeans and fitted T-shirts, as you can see in this picture of me from 2006. Now I only have one or two fitted T-shirts that I only wear for layering. I guess one’s personal style is always evolving.
Several years ago, I suddenly thought that I didn’t look good wearing jeans, so I’ve been avoiding jeans and pants since then. But now I realize it was probably just bad fitting of store-bought pants. I’m quite small so store-bought pants usually have to be shortened for me and as a result, the fit is not quite right anymore. Since I make my own clothing now, I should be able to make something that really fits me. So I guess I’m starting to get back to wearing pants again!
Shorts pattern is self drafted.
Top pattern is top R from Stylish Dress Book 3.