Sunday, 9 June 2013

Bra-making experiment

I have been quite frustrated by bras ever since I began to use them. I never feel like I can breathe properly when I have a bra on, in 15 years I have found only two (!) pairs with straps that didn't keep sliding off my shoulders all the time, and the cup sizes confuse me. I have bras with cup sizes ranging from C to E, and they all fit my breasts.

I go to work wearing one I bought after a fitting, and it's probably the best bra I have ever owned. It also cost an arm and a leg. It is highly structured and has underwires and while it doesn't slide around at all or ride up in the back, it does affect my breathing, which I find a bit scary.

At home I like to slip on a bralette which allows me to breathe freely while still giving some support. I used to have three of these, all the same model in different colours, with front closures and so soft and comfortable that I have slept in them without problems. I bought them in the USA many years ago and have never been able to find their equal at home.

But all good things must come to an end. They gave up the ghost one after the other, developing holes under the arms and going grungy on me. So I decided to make me some new ones.

I found some thick, soft stretch jersey at my new favourite fabric shop (which unfortunately is closing at the end of the month) and decided to experiment.

I took apart the less damaged of the two remaining bralettes and used that as a pattern. I also saved the hook- and eye closure to reuse, as the colours were close enough.

I first wrote down a description of the construction and as I took it apart, I noted down in which order things had to be done. I then set to work with scissors, fabric, thread and sewing machine and by the end of about an hour I had a bralette which I think is considerably prettier than the original:

I did change three things about the original design: 
  • I only used a single layer for the cups, instead of two, since the fabric is pretty thick.
  • I made the back in one piece because it was obvious that the centre seam was unnecessary.
  • The third change was unplanned but necessary: The original bralette had become stretched out of shape by heavy wear, which made the pattern unreliable, and to top this I couldn't find the walking foot for the sewing machine (a good thing to have when sewing stretch fabrics), so the edges got a bit stretched when I was doing the hemming. Therefore I found a bit of gaping in places along the upper edges, which I fixed by making dart seams, two in the back and two in the front. 

The new bralette is a pretty good fit, but the cups are a bit small. That's okay though: I have plenty more fabric and plan to make another with bigger cups. I even think that if I make it with a double layer of fabric in the cups, it may have enough hold for me to wear it outside the house.

Now I intend to begin my next experiment: To make my own panties. Just look at that fabric. I even found underwear elastic in matching colours:

Postscript, added June 10:
I wore it to work, and it hardly felt as if I was wearing one at all. However, when I went shopping during my lunch break both breasts popped out from under the bralette when I reached up to get down something I wanted to buy (thank goodness I was wearing a tunic and not a tight sweater). The next one will have a) bigger cups and b) stiffer elastic.

No comments: