A Vintage Mood Silk Bra

Just when I thought I was done with purple silk, I was inspired to scour through the scraps for a new project. I try not to keep saving miniscule remnants of fabric but they keep piling up and now I have yet another reason than “oh, this one-inch selvage might make a cool bow thingy some day”: bras!

This is a little project I’ve been refining in bits and pieces over the last few months. Since the spring I’ve been filling a notebook with little lingerie design ideas and sort of immersed in learning whatever I can about bra construction and design. I’ve gone crazy thinking about bra patterns! I sometimes fall asleep thinking about them, thinking in abstract shapes. I’d hoped to test this particular design in a stretch silk so the charmeuse from my shorts was absolutely perfect. It all came together because I happened to have the right notions and elastic stashed for a future project. I love it when a plan comes together.

Shall I do a bit of show and tell?

(I wish I could give you a better view of the back, but my dress form is like two sizes bigger than moi.)

Fabric: “Majesty Purple” stretch silk charmeuse from Mood Fabrics, nylon/lycra (“lingerie lycra”) from e-lingeria for the band.

Notions: metal rings/sliders and picot elastic from e-lingeria, closure and piping elastic (I love this!) from Sew Sassy.

This bra started with me having a bit of an crush on vintage-inspired longline bras, and particularly these soft longlines from Fortnight Lingerie. Back when they had a shop on Etsy last fall, I almost almost ordered one but was far too taken with the idea of drafting something like it myself. My first challenge was to draft a vertically-seamed cup on which I could build other patterns. I really this kind of seaming but it seems difficult to find in bra and bustier sewing patterns.

From there I came up with soft triangle-cup bra that plunges at the center front. Because it doesn’t have a bridge, underwires won’t work in this kind of style but it surprisingly holds its shape without them. (And it doesn’t really need them either with such a supportive band.) You can see I also split the front band because I didn’t have enough fabric for a single piece, but I think this adds a nice visual line with the cups. And just in case you’re wondering, do silk and bras mix? I think so. I have a couple of silk bras, one with quite a bit of structure and and underwired soft bra, and they wear and wash very well. I’ve fused my silk with a soft interfacing both to keep shape, reduce some of the stretch and also make an extra little layer of smoothness.

I’m so excited to have gotten this far on a bra design. I made my first sample out of non-stretch Duoplex and powernet, then adjusted the pattern to work with a stretch woven like silk, and I have another pattern which I’ve adjusted even further to make the cups and front band from a nylon/lycra jersey much like the Fortnight bra. That means 3 separate cup patterns! The more the stretch, the more the cup needs to be reduced in some way. (You would think I could apply that understanding to my other projects.)

Just for kicks, while I had all the remnants out, I tried out the OhLuLu Betty pattern for matching knickers, which I won back in May from A Good Wardrobe. They’ll need a bit of work to fit properly and I already had to chop off two inches so they didn’t reach up to my bra band, but I’m still deciding if I can do this style. It’d be more tempting if it had some mystery svelt-ing material to hold in my figure. I can just hear Bridget Jones: However, chances of reaching crucial moment greatly increased by wearing these… scary-stomach-holding-in panties very popular with grannies the world over… tricky… very tricky…

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Comments

  1. Heather Lou August 12, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    I’m blown away. I can just imagine how your hubby feels (A-OOOO-GA!!) So special and beautiful… I’ve SO wanted to get on the lingerie tip cuz lord knows I can’t afford the pricey French shit I love but most of the bras I’ve seen from fellow bloggers have been pretty matronly. Which is the fault of the bra patterns we’re working with. But drafting your own incredible pattern? So brilliant. And purple silk! HELLO LUXURY.

    • Amy August 15, 2012 at 12:44 am #

      That purple screams luxury to me as well. Bravo Amy!

  2. Lena Merrin August 12, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    Love the bra! I have also been obsessing with bras lately, exactly as you describe. My machine does a really crappy zigzag though and my bras end up looking very “happy hands at home”.

  3. poppykettle August 12, 2012 at 3:15 am #

    This is a really gorgeous underthing! I’m really taken with the idea of a soft long-line bra – it appears to be something very comfortable to wear – so nice to have this confirmed by you. I’ve just hopped on the bra bandwagon… although I’m still in the research phase. I hoard all my scraps of silk, so I’m hoping to convert them into something small and wearable.
    Gorgeous work!

  4. Marty August 12, 2012 at 6:40 am #

    Absolutely stunning. Why do you like the vertical seaming in the cup rather than the horizontal? What’s the advantage for you?

    • Amy August 13, 2012 at 12:20 am #

      I just prefer it visually, that’s all. Most of the bras i find at the store have a vertical seam or dart (unless they’re one of those seamless tshirt bras). I’m guessing that most of the more popular commercial bra patterns were developed in the 90s and bra cup styles have since changed a bit ;)

  5. Ginger August 12, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Wowzers! This set is gorgeous! I really want to try my hand at lingerie making, but it’s just so damn scary!

    • K-Line August 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Ginger: It’s really not that hard. If you can make a top, you can make a bra. It’s just harder to source the materials (though not impossible). Bra-makers Supply can get you started.

    • Amy August 13, 2012 at 12:23 am #

      Once you make one it won’t seem so scary. Like all things sewing the harder part is the fit and being willing to make some fails to get there :). You can totally make one!

  6. K-Line August 12, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    So fabulous! I seriously wish I could crack the code with bras (which I’ve made many of). I can get them to fit, just not to be as supportive as they need to be. I’ve been lamenting the utter lack of materials (fabric, wires) that actually provide the architectural stability I require. Revel in this lovely set.

    • Amy August 13, 2012 at 12:32 am #

      I can certainly understand your dilemma! There are some fabrics that we can’t get… I have bras in the most beautiful microfiber which I’ll never find. But I wonder why you can’t find wires?

      • K-Line August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

        Oh, I have found them, they’re just so much flimsier than any of the ones in the Freya and other RTW bras I have purchased. Thing is, if you don’t have large breasts, you’re probably not familiar with the excellent – and seriously strong – materials good RTW companies have developed to support heavy chests. Smaller bras may look like they’re made of the same stuff, but they’re not.

  7. Lizz August 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    So stunning! I’ve been dreaming of making bras all year long but sourcing all the supplies is expensive and I need to use up the stash I have before I can justify the purchase. I hope you’ll keep making these beauties so I can live vicariously!

    • Amy August 13, 2012 at 12:37 am #

      Thanks Lizz! I finally figured out the key is to bulk buy. I do also like the kits and they’re inexpensive but once you decide to make up your own it all adds up. I definitely recommend sew sassy. They are the sweetest folks and good deals on elastic.

  8. Bernice August 12, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Your bra and knicker set is beautiful. I think the hours spent dreaming about bras has certainly paid off.

    • Amy August 13, 2012 at 12:45 am #

      Thanks!

  9. Katherine August 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    This is absolutely gorgeous! It looks just like your inspiration, only in a gorgeous purple colour. All my favourite bras have vertical seaming, so I am heading in that direction with my bra making. I only wished we lived closer so that we could do bra work shops together!

    • Amy August 13, 2012 at 12:38 am #

      That would be so fun! Seriously!

  10. Katherine August 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    I also wanted to ask you how you have adjusted the bra patterns for different stretch. Did you just make a mock up and see how much it needed to be altered or did you go about it more scientifically? Could I email you about this, if you don’t want to do a post on it?

    • Amy August 13, 2012 at 12:44 am #

      Hey Katherine – I’ll shoot you an email. I might try to do an illustration for others’ benefit too. I did one that guesstimated and I did another where I actually calculated the reduction. I’m experimenting ;)

  11. Norma August 13, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    I love the bra design you came up with. Very much in the spirit of Fortnight Lingerie. Well done!

    I have been making custom bras for clients for the last few years – perhaps I will start writing more about construction to demystify the process and remove the fear factor. The more bra sewing we all do, the more readily available the materials and supplies will become as demand increases.

  12. Sallie August 13, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    This is just gorgeous! I love how far you’ve come in your bra designs. Its so inspiring to have watched you start and see where you are now. I would love to have a pretty lingerie set like this!

  13. Stephanie August 13, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    Great looking, that’s wonderful you found a way to use the rest of the silk, it’s so pretty and soft. I’m always so impressed with your skills!

  14. lsaspacey August 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Wow, that is gorgeous! I have just treated myself to some new bras, more functional than pretty but oh what a difference!

  15. Daughter Fish August 14, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    This bra is totally gorgeous! I have a bunch of silk remnants laying around, and this inspires me to try something like this. Love the shape of the cups. I bought that panty pattern a couple months ago, but have yet to try it. The waist does look a little high for me, too, but I like the shape. I made a similar Burda pattern for a bathing suit recently and love the fit.

  16. Laurel February 24, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

    I LOVE this bra design! I was unable to join the Jan bra sew-along, but it was wonderful to enjoy the postings and shared experiences and wisdom. I have been hunting for a pattern similar to this… found one with Bella Hendrix, but no where near my size… I wear a 34F or G. I tried the Danglez vertical seam bra, but it acted like a minimizer on me and did not like that effect. I have drafted my own from scratch in the past… from paper tape breast mold… but cannot do that now due to a shoulder problem. I will probably next try the Pin Up Girls Shelly bra and move the straps inward. Keep up the great (and BEAUTIFUL) work!

    • Amy February 26, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

      Laurel, I think you will like the Shelley bra. It seems like it offers some nice shaping options for larger sizes. And thanks for your compliments on this bra. I can’t give anything way but you may get your wish for a pattern like it very soon!

  17. mokosha March 4, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    i’m in love with this set.. never made a bra in my life, but this is so beautiful, and i think i should give it a try.. i’ve made more than a few swimsuits, it can’t be too different right :) thanks for the inspiration :)

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