Saturday, 5 March 2011

Undercover work

After the successful undie transformation of the what-was-I thinking-fabric, somehow I was inspired to re visit bra construction. This is not the first time I have flirted with the making of brassieres. In 1997, (that was not a typo), I purchased Lee-Ann Burgess' bra making book when I could not find any maternity bras in which I did not feel solely like a baby feeder.

Unfortunately, my maternity bra attempt was a dismal failure. IMO no woman with a nursing baby and a 2 year old should attempt bra sewing. That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.
About 18months ago ago, I was inspired to try again by Katherineh posting about her more modern sewing, with a clever use of fusible fleece to mimic the moulded cups and shaping that seem to be in a lot of lingerie. I ordered 2 kits from Booby Traps.
I joined Sigrid's lingerie sew along.
I did nothing.
Actually, that is a lie, I drafted a pattern to my measurements via Stuart's pattern school site, and even remodelled a set of underwires to fit me. Alas, my first toile was very ill fitting. I went back to knickers and nighties so as to fulfill my obligations to the sew-a-long. Bras were beating me.
However, Sigrid kept posting beautiful creations, Katherine posted about her success with luxurious YSL inspired items, surely I could manage a utilitarian t- shirt bra?
Today I tried cutting up an old bra and drawing a pattern from it.


Disastrous fitting resulted. I decided that the old bra had become malformed due to fabric failure, and was useless for pattern making.
Next I decided that Genevieve would help me.
Here she is allowing herself to be draped.
She is modelling the same type of Bereli bra that I cut up. I really like these bras, and they fit me well, but they cost $70 each, and the fabric quality and garment longevity is definitely going downhill. This brings out my barely not at all concealed tightwadedness ( last week's futile shopping trip may also have contributed to the urge to re-attempt bra construction) .
I used Katherine's fusible fleece method for the cup interlining.
I attached the pieces using bridging stitch, with the edges butted together, then fused it to the cup lining over a rolled towel, to keep the curve.
So far, so good. I constructed the bra (all the support is hidden from the front)
, very pleased that I was at last making use of my Leanne Burgess book, inserted my Sullivan size 12D wires, and discovered that these wires are completely the wrong shape for me. Ouch.
The bra did not flatter either - mysteriously flattening in the wrong places. I wonder if the fleece interlining works better for those with a more elegant and slender bosom? It is more likely that I lack skill in using this technique. Isn't it good that there is always something new to learn in sewing (tries to convince herself that developing new skills is a worthwhile endeavour)
The set looks nicely matchy-matchy so long as I am not wearing it.
(The Ottober 02-2001-20 shorties look even more like traditional Bonds Cottontails than the bikini bottoms.)
I am pleased to have practiced the tricky bra construction (continues to work on her attitude to sewing failures)

Step 3. I went back to the self drafted pattern and my personally clipped and adjusted underwires. I toiled over the toile.
It fits!
It took all day.
(Reflects very briefly on the considerable satisfaction obtained by chopping up the draped t-shirt bra to allegedly re-use the notions for the toile. Destruction of first bra was purely a side-effect)
I will make a bra tomorrow, or maybe next year.


Summer Flies said...

Gee I'm impressed. I really want to make a bra as I have a tiny back (size 8-10) and big fronts (E size - loosing 15 kgs would probably help here). I need to get a book or something too ... I just can't get how I would sew the casings for the wires.

Anyway the set looks fantastic... like those really funky ones I love but a) would never pay that price for
b) would never fit. I am also impressed that you have made yet another really inspire me.. but alas marketing projects are calling me (and I'm trying not to hear them!)

a little sewing said...

you've captured my feelings about sewing bras. I have invested a fair amount of time and effort, but the results have not yet reached it-was-worth-it status.
This is partially not the fault of the sewing aspect. During a recent shopping expedition, the salesperson convinced me that a proper fitting was a good idea. Lo and behold, my size had changed. She said it's a good idea to get fitted once a year - it is normal for the body to change. Since the newly fitted bra was so comfortable, I bought 3 and haven't looked back. For me, this is one area where I am still spending too much in the shops.
I still hold out hope that I've eventually master this and sew my own.

KID, MD said...

I laud your efforts and intrigued by the fusible fleece, as I like that aspect of RTW bras. I'm terrified of lingerie sewing, but also am tired of the all day milk bar bras. Fortunately you let me right of the hook - a newborn, 2 year old and 4 year old are not compatible with bra sewing!

Heather said...

I've been stressed lately about bra fitting too. It can be so difficult! I have Lee Anne's book and video, which I watched again recently, and it has fired me up again, sort of... lol! We'll see where it takes me.

sewing spots said...

I love your lingerie! Pretty use of this fabric. And you are now completely coordinated with the matching bra, undies, and shirt!

I was lucky enough to take a bra making class at the American Sewing Guild conference last year. I think I could've figured out the construction part, but not the fitting part. The ladies who did the workshop were great at bra fitting! That was a huge help--I can't imagine going it alone. You've done a terrific job!

Tanit-Isis said...

I can't even imagine attempting a bra (other than perhaps a sports bra).... Good on ya! A toile that fits is amazing progress

K.Line said...

Honey, I feel your pain. I'm on another hiatus, apparently. I'm starting to fear that handmade bras for me may not be in the cards. Of course, I could make them for others...

lizajane said...

You've really reached an impressive point in sewing when you make your own bra! I found a lingerie sewing book (by someone from Threads) at a used book store the other day, but haven't looked at the bra section yet. I'm not sure I'll attempt a bra.

Mary Nanna said...

First off, I never quite got around to commenting on the last post which was to say how I laughed out loud at your turning the tee into underpants. I rather liked the tee myself, but then taste is a highly personal thing.

My local Bernina shop ran a booby traps workshop last weekend. It was too cruel to ask my husband to look after our tearaway toddler all weekend so I bowed out. I was curious though.

I think I will be curious about lingerie making forever, admiring it hugely in others, but I would have a huge mental block to overcome if I was to make one for myself.

Gail said...

I am in awe of people who make bras. One day I will too, having tallied up the cost of buying bras for myself and two daughters. You could almost wear this set on the beach.

Imaan said...

If you are ever in Sydney, LMK; there is a Bonds factory outlet, that sells Berlei bras among other things, at 1/2 price and more. There are several outlets, the name escapes me, but I wear Berleis (and I have been pregnant/ breastfeeding for 6 years straight now, so totally relate!), and have not paid full price for a pair since I was first pregnant with DD1.

Good luck on the drafting though!

ACorgiHouse said...

This is impressive persistence, IMHO. I think the "took all day", plus the deconstruction of a not-perfect-but-servicable bra, plus cost of various bra notions would have done me in. If I were to get through the all day thing and get to a whip it out "TNT", maayybe. If I had one bigger than the other by a big margin and a serious RTW issue, yes. Otherwise, I applaud you who do this as I am just so lazy... But I love to see them and dream that someday I will pull it off. K

Carol said...

You are brave and slightly insane. I wish I had the courage to even try making a bra.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

I just cannot even picture what it takes to sew all the tiny, close together, fussy seams of a bra! I don't see myself doing it. Of course, I found my perfect bra at Target for $13, so I have little incentive to try bra making. Well, little financial incentive. Pretty bras would be nice. The Target bras are quite utilitarian.

Anonymous said...

Sadly I will soon find myself in the position of trying to nurse with a two year old nearby myself. I will take your word. It is dreadful that there aren't better options for supportive nursing bras. I guess bra sewing is a bit like building a better mousetrap.