Polka Dotty Lingerie

dotted knit foam bra

Over the summer, Katherine of Blooms Endless Summer and I exchanged a few lingerie patterns we had drafted. It’s been wonderful finding online sewing friends with whom to chat about patternmaking experiments, and we both share a genuine love of pattern analysis. She was gracious to share the pattern she drafted for her Daisy bra, which I had some time to finish over the weekend.

A few moons ago I bought this comfy soft dotted rayon jersey for some Ladyshorts and, well, a lady has to have a bra to match!

dotted lingerie set

Katherine drafted her bra using Patternmaking for Underwear Design by Kristina Shin, a book I’ve since bought and used as a reference in some of my own drafting. Because Katherine’s a different size than me and the book does not demonstrate drafting in measurements other than a 34B, I used my own bra blocks to adjust and grade the size and fit. In her post about this bra (linked at the top), she also included an illustration showing how she adjusted the original draft to fit her particular shape. This may help some who have have less volume on top and need to visualize what cup pieces could look like. As so many of you have figured out in the sew-along, bra fit is such a subtle thing. We all have different shapes, or a shape we’d like to be!

In this bra, the lining is the structural layer, a three-piece foam cup which allows for the shaping and support. The outside is only a two-piece cup meant to be made from lycra, or possibly a jersey as I used, to shape smoothly over the foam.

dotted knit foam bra

dotted knit bra, inside

In these type of bras, the foam is usually joined by a zig-zag or triple zig-zag, then covered with seam tape. I have made them both with and without covering tape and it doesn’t seem to affect the feel or strength. But of course I like neat finishes! For this one I used a soft 1/4″ cotton twill tape and stitched a straight stitch on either side.

dotted knit bra, inside

To stabilize the cradle and bridge I used a fusible knit interfacing. On top of that I stitched a lightweight tricot lining to the bridge so I could clean finish the clever little ā€œvā€. I like this part of the design, which follows the neckline of the cups to a point. I have some space to work with in my bridge so little style changes like this one are easy to incorporate.

You might be wondering, do I wear all these bras I make? Yes! Yes, all of them, and I’m nearly at the point where I have phased out store bras except for a couple of investment lingerie pieces which I splurge on for my own luxury. My first couple of handmade bras fit fairly well and while they may have not been my favorite fabrics, style or fit they still work when everything else is in the laundry! Another thing to remember is that no bra lasts forever. Elastic can age very quickly with two- or three-times-a-week wear. And it particularly does in a climate like mine, where sheer body heat breaks down highly elastic clothing. I have to replace my workout clothes once or twice a year! I’m very particular about handwashing my delicates. I lightly wash after two wears to rinse out body oils, I don’t wring, I use a very mild detergent made for lingerie in small doses. But even with that care, some bras don’t last more than a year. I too have been guilty of wearing bras way past their point of usefulness!

This is one of a few foam style bras I have made for some comfy whatever days and since I work from home I have more of those than I care to admit!

dotted knit bra

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Comments

  1. Jaime Tanis February 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    Wow- I am always in awe of handmade undergarments. I absolutely love your fabric- where did you get it! Super cute :)

    • Amy February 12, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Hi Jaime! The rayon jersey is from marcytilton.com. I bought it over the summer but she may have some left–she always sells really nice quality jerseys.

  2. Emily February 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    One day I may have to start making bras too as I am having to really shop around to find anything that fits even OK. But, as that is the story with all clothes I might need to get more skilled with the out layers before delving further ;). This is lovely though. Are you enjoying wearing your new ‘smalls’?

    • Amy February 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      Oh, a new word! Smalls! (Underwear?) Are you in New Zealand? My husband just landed in Auckland an hour ago for a wedding. Sniff, I had to stay home on the other side of the world. I really enjoy wearing all my lingerie. It *really* makes me happy and feeling strangely confident and luxurious.

  3. Katherine February 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    This is a really sweet set! Love those polka dots.

    Elastics don’t last very well in my climate either. I have mostly hand-made bras, but a few RTW as well, and I find I always reach for the hand-made ones first. I think they are more comfortable. Not sure that it is just a fit thing. I wonder if the quality of materials in the RTW bras are not as comfortable as those stocked by the places where I buy bra supplies?

    So exciting to see my pattern made up by somebody else!

    • Amy February 12, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

      Thanks again, Katherine! So fun to exchange bra notes with you. I have a few comfy rtw bras, so it’s hard to say. I used to buy so many foam bras that making my own has really changed how I feel about fit and comfort. Ah, isn’t that the case with so much sewing… how it changes your aesthetic or eye… I really love the soft seamed bras a lot. My friend for whom I made the sew-along bra had never worn a cup like that and she said it was the most comfortable thing she’d worn. (It looked really pretty on her, too–I was so happy!)

  4. merche February 12, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    Hi Amy. Once more you inspire me!
    Done with Carnival stuff and back on the lingerie saddle!
    Lovely , lovely set!

    • Amy February 12, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

      Thank you Merche. I must’ve been channeling your carnival!

  5. Zrinka February 12, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    I am very impressed! I never thought one could make underthings that look so well. I am still a bit afraid of working with stretchy fabrics and lace and all those things that go into making these thingies. I have not yet attempted any lingerie sewing, but I just might. You make it seem very easy. Maybe I should try your ladyshorts? Thanks for all the info…

  6. Lena Merrin February 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    Lovely bra! May I ask what that white tape is on the inside of your cup? Did you zigzag the pieces and then stitched that tape on top? Is it a functional piece or decorative?

    • Sharon February 12, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      Lena it is the channeling for the wires, you can get it from Metro Textiles at Tempe.

    • Amy February 12, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

      Oops, I meant to include that in the post so I’ll update it with a little info. It’s a soft cotton twill tape, 1/4″.

  7. Sharon February 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    Another gorgeous set and I think us Aussies also can call our lingerie “smalls”. I need to get back to my test bra, too many other distraction until I look at the poor state of my bras.

    • Amy February 12, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

      I like smalls. A bunch of my girlfriends and I were joking about lingerie terms a few weeks ago. We’re different generations and cultures, a couple of them English friends living in the U.S., and when it comes to underwear the conversation gets so very funny! I grew up calling it all “underpants”. Maybe that’s regional? Or from the 70s?

  8. Novita February 13, 2013 at 2:54 am #

    Soooo pretty! They look so comfortable! I also love how the top of the bra is so clean looking.
    I’ve never sewn with foam padding before, but I want to try making a strapless bra with them. Where did you get the foam padding? I’ve tried looking locally with no success.

    • Amy February 15, 2013 at 12:51 am #

      Hi Novita, thanks! This foam is from sewsassy.com. I have also seen it at Bra-makers Supply and Spandex World. I know those aren’t close to you, but I hope you are able to find some!

  9. Norma February 13, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Another beautiful bra!
    Your posts always inspire women to make their own “smalls”!

  10. maddie February 13, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    You have delved into the world of foam cups. You slut!

    I also have been guilty of wearing my bras WAY past their death but sometimes it is hard to party with such pretty things :)

    • Amy February 15, 2013 at 12:48 am #

      So true! It’s hard for me to part with a lot of things.

  11. Carolyn February 14, 2013 at 2:31 am #

    Absolutely beautiful work Amy!! I just love the polka dots too :)
    I haven’t worn rtw underwear for about six months now… only exclusively my own handmade bras and undies; and I’ve never looked back! I love the things I’ve made myself, they’re far more special and personal.

  12. Gail February 16, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    Recently stumbled upon your blog and am enjoying reading. Your lingerie skills are first rate.

  13. Kazz February 16, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    Fashionably late to the bra making party as usual… I’m with Novita, the finish on your bra’s are impeccable, this is where I want to be, you really inspire me to concentrate on neatening up my sewing, especially on the insides of my bra’s. I’m getting there, slowly. I need to get me some seam tape and perhaps sew a tad slower and neaten up the stitching on my channeling. Great job Amy, I just love your lingerie sewing, you inspire me.

  14. Vicki February 17, 2013 at 5:39 am #

    this is a gorgeous set! I like the shape foam cups give.

    • Amy February 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

      Thanks!

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