I’d apologise for the terrible play on words in the title of this post, but I’m not sorry at all.
I finally did it! I present to you, with much pride and delight, my first me-made underwire bra!I made up Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough bra in size 32DD, from pink milliskin from my Grey’s Fabric Watson Kit (man, I must have gotten about $200 value from that kit by now!). And I am so delighted with it! It might not be perfect, but it’s a good-looking, reasonably well-fitting, wonderfully supportive bra MADE BY ME.
The sizing in the pattern is something I’ve seen mixed reviews about. Some have found it too small, some too big, others just about perfect right out of the box. I made it without any alterations, to see what the drafted fit was like – and I’ve found it runs a little small for me. The pattern only goes up to a DD cup, so I made the sister size to my usual 8E size, 32DD, which should have fit in the cups and been a little loose in the band. However, the band is very snug – wearable, but definitely not a lounging around bra – and the cups are just a *tad* small. I’ve heard them described as “shallow”, and I think that’s fair – a perfect fit around the base, but I’m ever so slightly spilling out of the top. It’s definitely just as good a fit at 99% of the RTW bras I own though! The measuring instructions also didn’t quite work for me; according the three-measurement method given, I should’ve made a 30C. Boy am I glad I didn’t! I think that method of underbust-full-bust-high-bust just doesn’t work for my proportions. But at least I know and am confident in my size.
The instructions for the pattern were clear, and I found the line illustrations quite helpful. I referred to the Watson instructions for stitch length and width suggestions though, as they’re not included in the Marlborough instructions. It was also very helpful to have Norma Loehr’s book Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction on hand too; it has good instructions for shortening underwires, which I did need to do. I tipped the ends with heat-shrink tubing, which worked like a charm (I am thinking about doing a tutorial on this – let me know if you’d find it helpful/interesting!). It’s also good to know that I have my underwire size right, especially given that I bought 12 pairs from at almost wholesale price. Now I know they can be put to good use!My previous experience in bra-sewing served me well; I didn’t run into any major stumbling blocks in construction. The only new skill was sewing in the underwire channelling, but I imagine if you’ve ever sewn in any kind of channelling before you’ll be fine; the instructions are very clear, and Norma’s book provides further clarification if you need it. Amy from Cloth Habit ran a bra-making sew-a-long a couple of years ago, which has a good post on it with very helpful pictures (and tips for all the other construction steps too!). I underlined the pink milliskin with white tricot lining, as the cups and frame in this pattern are designed to be non-stretch. I didn’t bother finishing or enclosing any of the seams for this one, mostly because I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to fit (it seemed so small whilst I was sewing it!). For my next bra though, I may experiment with instead fully lining the cup, as whilst unfinished seams don’t bother me a whole lot, it would be nice to have a professional look inside and out.
As you can see, I ended up with an overlap in the underwire channelling at the centre front – which for me is great! It’s now the only bra I have where the bridge sits flush to my sternum, and in my opinion is the best part of the fit.
I can also report on wearability – I wore it all day today and it was brilliant. The band loosened up slightly with wear to a comfortable tightness, and I definitely felt like it was carrying the weight – no strap marks on my shoulders! I definitely like the three hook closure back, too – I think it makes a real difference in larger cup sizes. The underwires didn’t dig in at all, and while the cups are a little small, they don’t cut in. I have a feeling I’ll be wearing this one a lot.
The shaping…I’m not sure about yet. It is a little pointy, which is fine – I’m one for the retro look so not at all adverse to it! – but I feel like the point is a little low on me. Maybe this will be rectified with some adjustments? I’m thinking for my next version, I’ll keep the frame, bridge, lower cup and powerbar as-is, as I don’t think they’re where the fit issues lie. I might experiment adding to the upper cup volume a little (I might compare with the 34DD pieces), and adding a little length to the band (not much though, given that it’s not all that uncomfortable). But I’m tossing up just putting the 34DD cup in the 32DD band. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Matching sets are, of course, my jam – so I’m glad my lace-trimmed Rosy Ladyshorts coordinate so well! And do you like the little rose at centre front? I love this kind of pretty detailing…and it hides my very messy closure of the underwire channelling 😉 (I’m sure I’ll get neater with practice!)
So what’s next on the cards? Well, Merckwaedigh MIX30 should be arriving in my mail box this week, and I look forward to trying it and cracking into the gorgeous kits I’ve bought from her. I’ve also got Pin Up Girl’s Classic Bra to try…but I’m tempted to wait until I can get a beige Bra Maker’s Supply kit from Sew Squirrel (because sadly, I do need some bras which are not hot pink/lacy/show through light shirts). And of course, I’ve liked the Marlborough pattern enough that I’ll be attempting some alterations and hopefully – the perfect fit.
- Milliskin and underarm elastic – Grey’s Fabric Watson Kit
- Strap and band elastics, back closure, gold rings/sliders, and white tricot lining – Booby Traps
- Lace – J&K lace
- Little rose trim – this random eBay store (you get 100 of them in various colours and it was honestly the best $5 I’ve ever spent)
I know lingerie fabrics and findings can be hard to track down, especially in the Southern Hemisphere – if you’d like to check out some of my favourite suppliers, I keep a list on the Resources page!
Until next time,
Miss Maddy xx