I sewed up my first bra just over two years ago. It was a long-line bralette made with the Watson pattern by Cloth Habit. It still gets occasional wear, but after a two-year hiatus, I was ready to jump back in and try again, this time with a “real bra” complete with underwire.
What really sparked my motivation to try out bra making again was receiving an email with a gift for a free Craftsy class.I never figured out who sent it to me (it was under my dad’s name, but he denied it), but I was happy to receive it. Thank you, whoever you are! I had been eyeing a bra-making class: Sewing Bras: Construction and Fit with Beverly Johnson. In this class, Beverly walks you step-by-step through making a bra with her own pattern, including how to choose appropriate fabrics, something I’ve found a little daunting. My one complaint about the class is that the pattern that is meant to go along with it, the Pinup Girl’s Classic Full Band Bra is rather expensive. I paid $20 for the pattern, and an additional $7.30 for shipping.
In my experience, even though I’ve only used kits, gathering all of the right materials is the most difficult part of bra making. There’s no one store in my area that covers it all. In fact, I think I would have to order at least some of the supplies online to make any bra with an underwire. For this go-round I made it easy on myself and bought a bra kit online, hoping to minimize the number of notions I would have to hunt down.
After much deliberation, I decided to go with one of the few US-based companies that supplies bra kits, and bought the Tricot Bra Kit from Bravo Bella Bras in Storm. On the listing, the exact same measurements of fabric and elastics are provided for both the bra kit and the bra + panty kit. I contacted the shop about this, and was assured that the bra + panty kit actually comes with more material and elastic. I wasn’t interested in paying extra, though, so I bought the bra kit and hoped that I would have enough fabric leftover to make some matching bottoms. That worked out just fine. I was disappointed in a few other things about the kit, though, which I probably could have predicted with a more careful reading of the contents and inspection of the photo. First, the hook and eye that was provided is cut off of a strip of hook and eye tape. This means that the top and bottom edges of it do not have a clean finish. This might work fine for some patterns(?), but for this pattern it would have looked awful. I ended up using a different hook and eye set that I already had in my stash. The kit also did not come with enough elastic or bra strapping to complete this pattern. If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll see that I used black elastic around the neckline and black bra strapping in the back. These were from my stash because there wasn’t enough of either in the kit for this particular pattern. I’m wondering if that is a common problem, or if it is unique to this pattern. If I had to guess, I would say it’s probably pretty common with the elastic at least because I made one of the smallest possible sizes. One good thing about this kit is that it comes with underwires in a variety of sizes for you to choose from.
Once I had figured out everything I needed for the bra, it was pretty smooth sailing. Beverly’s class deviates in some cases from the written instructions with the pattern (which she wrote). This could be confusing to a beginner, but either set of instructions would work out just fine. I appreciated her revisions throughout the video to make things more intuitive, and she did explain her logic behind changing the instructions.
Ok, enough critique. Maybe grad school is rubbing off on other areas of my life as well… The good news is that this bra actually fits! Next time I think I will make one size larger in the cups, but this is totally wearable. After I make that fitting adjustment next time, I’d like to try making a bra with foam cups, more akin to what I would buy in a store.
That turned out to be a very long post. I know that this is a very popular bra pattern for beginners, so feel to ask me if you have any questions about my process. I haven’t seen too many critical reviews of it, or bra kits, online, so I wanted to add my honest two cents.
Pattern: Pinup Girl’s Classic Full Band Bra in 30b, Watson Bikini in S
Fabric: Tricot Bra Kit from Bravo Bella Bras in Storm
Notions: underwires, underwire casing, hook and eye closure, elastics
Cost: $18 bra kit + extra elastic, hook and eye closure, and bra strapping from stash = $18.00 ($45.30 if you count the cost of the pattern)
Time: 10 hours (many spent watching the videos)