Bra-making Sew Along: A Trial Run

a trial bra

Yay, the light came out today! My friend came over and we squeezed in some good photos and an instructive fitting session.

So these are my super purdy “bra muslins”. Or bra toiles, what have you! Cute, huh? One for my friend and one for myself, since I’m trying out a new cup.

trial bras

If you’d like to try a fitting bra, here’s one way to approach it. I make a very quick bra using some leftover bra materials and scrap. And no elastic. If this is your first bra, you can get some practice on those curvy seams without the pressure!

Some suggestions for the cups: If you can spare some of your cup fabric for a test run, perfect! If not, try using some woven scraps like cotton muslin or quilting cotton. But testing your cups in a stable woven will obviously only work if you’re making your bra from a stable fabric. If your chosen cup fabric stretches–including stretch lace or any type of fabric with spandex/lycra–and you don’t plan on lining the entire cup, the fit will be different. The closer you can get to testing your cups in the same or similar fabric to your actual bra materials, the better. Make sense?

tester cup, band & cradle fabric

For my bras, I cut the cups from leftover Duoplex. I think I have eeked out about eight tester bras from one Bra-makers Supply kit. You may have enough of your cup fabric to do a test run, too! I cut the cradle (or bridge) from muslin scrap, since that needs to be stable. I cut the band from the lycra and powermesh I plan to use. Every band fabric behaves differently and I often need to take in some fabrics depending on stretch. I’ve unbasted the bands and re-used them if they fit!

I won’t get into construction details until we make our bras, but here’s how I put it all together.

Sew the cups together. I added a seam to the center front of the bridge in case I need to adjust the spacing.

sewing cups together & cradle

Then sew the cradle to the band. Some patterns have a side seam, some don’t. And now you get to sew those cups into the cradle. This part is tricksy at first but don’t be shy! I’ll have some tips for you down the road.

cup, cradle & band fabric

And this is the really fun part. To get this to fit, find a way to get the underwire on that cradle seam. It will help pull the cup to the right position. You could baste in some of your channeling to the cup/cradle seam allowance with a long stitch. This is what I do. It doesn’t have to be perfect and you can re-use the channeling later. (Cut it a little bit longer if you want to save it.) Alternatively, you could try sewing a tiny tunnel right on your seam allowance. (Thanks Katherine, for a genius idea!)

tester cup underwires

Baste in the hook and eye. I do this pretty loosely. To simulate straps I baste in ribbon or seam tape in the back.

basting in the strap and hook

That’s it! I took some photos on my friend today and I’ll be posting these by the weekend in the Flickr group. I’ll be brave and post mine, too!

How is everybody doing? Have you sorted out your size and pattern? And don’t forget, Norma is here so if you have a burning bra-making question for her, don’t hesitate to ask! (And you are welcome to email me if it feels hard to ask here.)

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