One of the elements of being a sewist that I love is figuring out how things are made. I find it empowering to understand how something is put together especially if it is something that I use or wear daily. I revel in discovering a technique or sewing detail that was thoughtfully invented that has gone unseen by me previously. Then to be able to learn and replicate those techniques feels empowering. When you are armed with this knowledge you have the opportunity to soar creatively.
I really love beautiful lingerie. My day to day wardrobe is fairly simple and small but there is something about having on something beautiful underneath that brings me pleasure though out the day. It might be symbolic of doing something nice for myself, and taking a sense of pride in my appearence. I’m not sure. I’ve been interested in learning about the construction of bras, and after having just finished a FIT tech design class, I wanted to learn how to make something new.
Madalynne or Madalynne Intimates has a really strong social media presence and I have followed her instagram for awhile. Everything she does is beautiful, thoughtful and stylized. I knew she sold bra kits, and when the barrett kit was introduced with a free pdf pattern I thought that this might be my easiest point of entry for bra making.
Ultimately I would like to get to the point where I could make a bra using sustainable fashion practices but I think there is a larger learning curve that I need to scale before that happens. I thought I would start as simple as I could.
When the kit arrived it was so beautifully packaged that it sat on my desk for awhile. I almost did not want to disrupt the contents in their perfectly organized state. When I finally had a clear head to sit down and make a bra I was happy to find fabric along with all of the good quality elastics and hardware you would need. I think sourcing the hardware had been a barrier for entry to me in this craft. But I can say that after just one kit I have a lot more knowledge and could easily do it on my own.
The PDF pattern comes with a digital packet with all of the instruction for getting started. I think if there was one thing that I wish were slightly different about this experience, it would be the layout of the instructions. Coming from an indie pattern sewist perspective, I like instructions to be organized by numbered steps with a corresponding picture or illustration. This packet reads more like a magazine, everything is beautifully laid out. I just found it hard to quickly go back and reference what I was doing and then find the corresponding picture. This may seem silly to bring this up, but I did find myself frustrated with it. That being said, there are so many helpful tips that she gives along the way for bra making in general. I also think that because I was learning how to construct a new type of garment I was following the instructions very carefully which made this issue more noticeable.
Thankfully she gives a very generous amount of fabric in relationship to the size of the pattern. This was so helpful as I had never sewn with the mesh fabric and it did take a couple passes through my machine to get the stitch size correct. Also fabric related, she suggests using a spray adhesive, at first I didn’t because I didn’t have it. However the fabric is slippery and I ended up using a water soluble glue stick and it probably was not as easy as spray but WOW did it make things way more efficient. I see a lot of glued slippery fabric in my future.
Some helpful tips that I found while working on the pattern if you are new to bra making like I was….
-Take your time to practice the stitching on the mesh and the the zig zag and bartacks on the elastic. There is a little wiggle room with the amount of elastic so I think it is safe to have a bit of practice.
-Take her advice and use the optional adhesive.
-I found that if I used pins in the elastic it would poke a hole or bring up a strand of elastic so I used these clips (below)
-Be as precise as possible with seam allowances, she says this but I think it is worth repeating. The front of mine is slightly wonky because I was just a little bit sloppy.
Pink glittery fabric is not normally my style, but I knew that when I ordered the kit. This is a personal preference and nothing to do with the actual kit. I wanted to work with that type of material vs. the other option which was something ribbed. I thought I would learn more. Just FYI, the glitter does tend to be unleashed on everything around where you are working. I haven’t washed it yet and wonder if that will tame the sparkle a bit.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a new pattern in terms of fit. Especially a bra pattern, which are notoriously hard garments to fit. The best part of this story is that when I went to try it on after I finished making it, I didn’t take it off for the rest of the day. There is something to be said for that! The fit was sooo good. It was just as good or better than other competing garments I had. I am small chested, so keep that in mind, but it was comfortable and supportive without being restrictive or rubbing.
I’m so happy that I have another garment type under my belt. (Pun intended) This was ultimately a very positive experience for me, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about bra making. I’m looking forward to doing my own interpretations of this pattern in the future.