Bra Making - Overview

by Kellie Riccardo

Making a Bra

Firstly you need to decide what type of bra you want to make and acquire a suitable pattern. The sizes of bras and patterns are a bit of a minefield so be prepared to make a trial run (toile). When you fit your bra, go for a good fitting cup, the bra back is easy to alter, simply shorten it and adjust the strap position. If you find your straps are always coming down consider moving the strap position further towards the back. If the back section is shaped, you can simply straighten it, you would need to taper it, or get a wider bra back fastener. Remember seam allowances are usually only 6mm!

Fabrics Used in Bra Making.

Top bra cup

This can be made of the same fabric as the bottom cups, or you may want to use an embroidered lace, a little stretch is fine, though you may want to add a line of clear elastic or folded seam tape behind the top edge to prevent the top cup from bagging. A paired lace tulle or twin lace offers a professional finish enabling the top cups to be made symmetrical (mirror image) to one another. Ours is sold as both sides together, so if you order 1m you get 1m of each side, you will also see some pre-cut lengths in the 'Pieces' section. You can also use a twin galloon lace, when cut down the middle (or if you lay your pieces on opposite edges you will get a matching pair of cups

Bottom bra cup

For a supportive bra this needs to be a non-stretch fabric, usually an overall lace, tricot or satin etc. Many bra cup fabrics are of a knit construction, so although they have no elastic content, hence are not stretchy, they have Give, which enables them to follow the curves better and with no wrinkling provided they are constructed correctly. If the fabric you have is stretchy, you can eliminate the stretch by using a sheer liner, the opaque ones are a little heavier so go for this if you need more support. Laminated fabric is sometimes available this is a pieces of fabric with the sheer rigid nylon bonded to it, which makes it a firm fabric and easy to sew without the need for pinning two fabrics together. If you are lucky enough not to require any support and simply want a bra for dignity then you can choose stretch fabric!

Bra Cradle

This is the centre piece that joins the two cups and often runs beneath the cups. In small sizes without the bottom cradle sometimes a small strip of fabric is all that holds the two cups together, but in larger sizes, those with more support and sports bra, a cradle runs the full length below and between the cups. Usually a piece of the same fabric with one or two layers of sheer rigid liner are used to prevent stretch and make sure that this piece will not tear! Laminated fabric can also be used.

Bra Wings

There are many suitable fabrics used for the wings, powernet being the most frequent. You can use any stretch fabric but if the stretch isn’t going to bounce back, then line it with a powernet just to make sure.

Bra back fastener

These come in various widths, the wider the width the further down the bra back will be. For example flimsy bras will use a 19mm, where a support bra will perhaps use a 57mm.Each one comes with an adjustment, one row of hooks gives no adjustment, which is fine if you have made the correct sized bra and it doesn’t stretch! Two rows gives a second row of hooks if your bra has stretched etc. If you are making a longline bra use the hook and eye tape (use the search facility type in: hook eye tape).

Elastics/Tapes

Plush elastic – this is the soft fuzzy backed elastic which is used for the underband and underarm elastication. The fuzzy side goes next to the skin, so although this is described as the back it is actually the bit that you will see!Lots have fancy edges which can be left to peek below the bra, giving a finished look.

Non-slip - Various elastics and tapes are available with a silicon bead applied to them, this is to prevent slippage on the skin and is useful for strapless bras. Extra wide plush elastic can be used for the tops of hold-up stockings or to keep girdles and long line bras from rolling.

Bra strap elastic - This comes in all manner of patterns and widths. Sliders are used to make the straps more adjustable. You need four sliders or two rings and two sliders per pair of straps. If you choose a 10mm strap, use a 10mm slider/ring. If you are making your own bras you can make sure they are just right and not bother with the adjustment!
All rings, sliders, bikini clasps etc are sized according to the aperture - that is the strap size they will take. The rings do not normally go above 16mm, if you are using a 19 or 20mm strap, you use 19mm sliders, but a 16mm ring (or a 19mm link), or if you wish use a slider in place of the ring. This may seem strange, but a 20mm ring is rather large and would look very odd. Ready made straps are also available, full length ones are ready to attach, short straps are useful when making a padded strap which then needs to have some adjustment by adding a length of strap to them. Hook on straps are available to replace lost ones, or where you want to make a bra with removable straps. Spaghetti/rouleau strap is used for more decorative straps or those on smaller sizes.

Underwire Casing/Wire Channel - A specially made tape to hold the bra wire, zig zag (bartack) over the cut ends to prevent the wire coming back out. Non-slip casing is sometimes available, and often used for strapless bras

Clear Elastics - zigzag onto the inside of the top cup (top edge) to prevent the top from bagging.

Fold-over Elastic - my favourite elastic - use to bind the top edges of cups, knicker legs, nightie necks (or even tops), it can be stretched as it is applied and even sewn on with a straight stitch!

Fabrics

Nylon Rigid Sheer Liner – use for lining bra cups, reinforcing fabrics and eliminating stretch. Despite it’s name it’s a soft fabric! Bra seam tape is ready cut strips of the Liner, used for covering cup seams etc.

Tricot – tricot is a knitted fabric, which has natural give, used in bra making, it comes in so many forms its impossible to describe. The above (Sheer) is often referred to as tricot, it is also possible to get tricot which has added lycra so is very stretchy. always click on the product item to get further info, and if you are still not sure, please email us.

Tulle – a net fabric which is often embroidered on to use for bra cups, it is preferable to back it/or line it with the sheer for those that are sensitive to prevent it being rough on the skin.Stretch tulle is often available, but the stretch will be reduced if the tulle is heavily embroidered.

Bra/Lingerie Satin

A soft light satin, often stretchy, one or both ways, can be used for cups (line out), and even for the bra wings (back with powernet).

Powernet

Stretch net fabric, generally used as a lining, in dresses, costumes etc, may be suitable to line bra wings made of another stretch fabric.

Bra Padding

A foam fabric which is generally sandwiched between two layers of matt or satin tricot. Use for extra boost, bottom cups etc. Overlay with another fabric.

Bra Cups

Ready made shaped cups of the above fabric.You can make your own cups, simply use your bra cup pattern, but eliminate the seam allowances from the pattern. Butt the seams together and use a zig zag and seam tape to cover the joins. Make your bra as normal, sliding the foam cup between the lining and outer fabric, or bind the raw top cup edge of the foam cup with fold-over elastic, and simply attach the outer fabric over the cup.

 


Making Your First Bra - Toile - Fitting

The very first time that you decide to make up a purchase bra pattern it is advisable to make a toile. You would not go into a store and expect the first bra that you picked up in your size to be the perfect fit would you?

When making a toile it should ideally be made from something similar to the finished product, but bra fabrics are expensive, so we have put together a toile pack to make a cheap bra. This pack will make a fully functioning bra, it will simply be a bit boring! If you are making your own bras to get the fit, then you might still want to make a few in the toile pack as basics for those days when a fancy bra is not needed!
Bra kits will now be re-categorised into Light, Regular & Super. You can always click on the title for the actual contents as sometimes (particularly in coloured bra kits) we have to use a narrower bra back fastener or slimmer strap then we might have liked just to get the colour match. If you find the strap is a bit slip, consider making a fabric strap, with the width tapering to the slimness of the elastic strap, you then add a short strap to the back to allow the adjustment.

Generally, LIGHT kits are for modesty bras, REGULAR for normal bras, and SUPER for a supportive bras. It doesnt matter what size you are, you may be small chested but wish to make a very supportive bra for sport, or be big chested and want a flimsy bra! The light ones will contain narrow elastics and lighter prowernet with a 19mm back fastener, the regular will have elastics around 12mm with a 28mm fastener and regular powernet, and the super will have a firmer powernet, wider back fastener (normally 38mm) and wider strapping 16-20mm.

The toile pack contains bra fabrics and elastics, but the top cup is also made from the bra fabric rather than using a lace, this makes it cheaper, but also quicker as there is no need to match up the lace.

to find our Toile kit, look under kits in the Bra Making Section, or use the quick find facility on the left of the home page and search the key words - BRA TOILE
NOTE: THE KITS DO NOT CONTAIN UNDERWIRES OR PATTERNS - THESE MUST BE PURCHASED SEPERATELY. These kits fly off the site so they are not always available, keep checking back


Bra Wire Sizing & Charts

We are making numerous changes to our bra wire stock. Please see the information section under Bra & Lingerie Making, Bra Wires - Information. Here you will find a basic chart to determine your size, and style sheets which show the different styles of bra wires.

This article was published on Thursday 28 January, 2016.
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