Bra-making Sew Along

In 2013 I hosted the Bra-making Sew Along, and it has remained a popular resource for bra-making! The sew along ran for a little over three weeks, during which I walked through the basic process of fitting and sewing your own bra pattern.

During this sew-along, we worked with patterns with a full frame (also known as a “full band” bra). Some of the patterns I used for demonstration are no longer in production but since then many new patterns have come on the market, including my own line of bra patterns! With a little imagination, many of the steps in this sew-along can apply to any bra pattern.

No matter what pattern you try, bras require some time to fit and shape to your specific needs, so keep at it!

Week One: Prep

Bramaking Sew-Along Prep: Pattern Choices

Pattern suggestions for basic underwired bra patterns. Read more

Bramaking Sew-Along Prep: Materials and Supplies

Materials checklist and descriptions for bra-making. Read more

Interview with Norma of Orange Lingerie

Interview with a custom bra-maker taking part in the Bra-making Sew Along! Read more

Week Two: Measuring and Testing Your Pattern

Bra-making Sew Along: Measuring for Fit

Find your starting size in a bra pattern. Read more

Bra-making Sew Along: Pattern Tracing

Tracing and adding the seam allowances to a bra pattern. Read more

Bra-making Sew Along: A Trial Run

How to make a simple muslin/toile to test the fit of a bra pattern. Read more

Learn how to make common adjustments to a bra band and bridge for an underwired bra pattern | Bra-making Sew Along

Bra-making Sew Along: Band & Frame Adjustments

Fitting adjustments for the band and frame of a bra pattern. Read more

Week Three: Fitting & Style Changes

bra cup adjustments | Bra-making Sew Along at Cloth Habit

Bra-making Sew Along: Cup Adjustments

Learn some common bra cup-fitting alterations for volume or shape. Read more

Ask the Expert: Questions for Norma!

Tips on bra pattern fitting from Norma of Orange Lingerie. Read more

How to make simple style alterations to a bra pattern, from the Bra-making Sew Along | Cloth Habit

Bra-making Sew Along: Hack Your Bra #1

Bra pattern alterations for style: includes tips for changing band width and neckline shape, and adding a third seam to a cup. Read more

Adding a vertical seam to a lower cup or through an entire cup | Bra-making Sew Along at Cloth Habit

Bra-making Sew Along: Vertical Seam Variation

Bra style alterations: changing a cup pattern from a horizontal seam to a vertical seam. Read more

Week Four: Sewing Your Bra

How to cut a bra pattern, from the Bra-making Sew Along at Cloth Habit

Bra-making Sew Along: Cutting

Cutting out a bra pattern, including some tips on cutting with lace. Read more

Bra-making Sew Along: Sewing the Cups

Sewing the cups together with some tips on neckline finishing. Read more

Bra-making Sew Along: Band & Cup Construction

Assembling the band and inserting the cups. Read more

How to Sew Bra Straps

Make your own bra straps–all elastic or spaghetti-style, front or back closure. Read more

Bra-making Sew-Along: Elastic, Channeling and Finish!

Time for all the finishing bits! Read more

Bra-making Sew Along: Grand Finale!

Highlights from the bra-making sew alongers. Read more

FAQs

Note: When shopping for underwires, buy more than one size! For insurance. See also: Fitting an Underwire.

Where can I buy lingerie supplies?
This prep post has some information on basic supplies and traditional bra-making fabrics. For more ideas, visit my Lingerie Resources page.

Where do I sign up or enroll? Do you have a website where I can join?
The sew-along was be posted as a series of tutorials over a period of three weeks. It’s finished now, but the posts will always be here for you to follow at your leisure!

What kind of sewing experience do I need?
Making a bra requires some basic sewing experience, because you will be working with a lot of elastic and tiny, very curved seams. The great thing about making a bra is that it helps with your sewing accuracy and creativity in so many other areas!

What pattern should I use?
During this sew-along, we worked with patterns with a full frame (also known as a “full band” bra). Many of the steps here can apply to any bra pattern. No matter what pattern you try, bras require some time to fit and shape to your specific needs, so keep at it!

Can I make a foam bra?
Well, sure! But this sew along won’t show you how. For more information on types of foam bras and adapting underwired patterns to use foam linings, see my series Make a Foam Cup Bra.

35 comments

    • Amy says:

      Hi Judy, nope you haven’t missed anything. Anything I’ve posted is linked above in the schedule… keep checking back on my home page to see if it’s been updated!

  1. debm says:

    Hi! I just learned about the bra-making sew along from the message board on Pattern Review. I’ve been planning to tackle lingerie for over a year, so this is perfect timing (especially since I’m already doing the sewing for a year challenge and it’s time to restock lingerie without the option of shopping!).

    I have a Kwik Sew KP 3300 underwire pattern, plus an Élan pattern (not sure of the model number). I have tricot, stretch lace, lingerie elastic, lingerie straps, power net, even an assortment of underwires in my stash, just waiting for my mojo to engage. Thank you for the help and guidance!

  2. Sharon says:

    I’ve learnt about this from a couple of Australian bloggers, Carolyn and Robyn and between them they have made me realise that I need to learn to sew my own bras, so please count me in. I have a Booby Traps patterns B003 (Australian company) and also plan to purchase the KS3300.

    I am really looking forward to this and appreciate all your help and guidance.

  3. Kbenco says:

    I’ve come here from Carolyn’s blog too, what a great sew a long. I have several bra patterns but have not made one I’m happy with yet. I need some prompting!

  4. Merche says:

    Hello! I´ve come here from Carolyn´s blog too! I´ve been planing to make underwear for some months, I have a kwicksew pattern that I think will do, some of the notions are tricky to find where I live but I can manage…can I join you?

  5. Nessie says:

    Hi Amy, I would like to join in, (from Carolyn’s blog also).
    I have just purchased the Elan pattern, so am awaiting its arrival in my mailbox.

  6. Atty says:

    Hi Amy I’m interested in making bras but I want to make ones with padded cups in them. Could you give me any tips on how to sew them in properly?

    • Amy says:

      Hi Atty, I didn’t cover foam cups in the sew-along but there are a few patterns that use them if you wanted to learn some techniques. I hope to post about some of my own experiments in foam bras soon, so keep checking back!

  7. Brenda says:

    I signed up for the bra making sew-along, but did not receive the first few lessons. Could you please email them to me? Thank you!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Brenda, the sew-along was posted as a series of entries on my blog. I don’t have a way of emailing them but each entry is listed under the heading “Schedule and Posts” on this page. You can click through the ones you missed.

      Another option is to subscribe to my blog via an RSS reader like Google Reader. It works a little bit like email and it’s the best way to subscribe to blogs so that you can view all past and current posts in one convenient spot.

      Hope that helps!
      Amy

  8. BikerGranny2 says:

    Just purchased the Danglez patterns. Got two as I wasn’t sure of my size & it seems they are quitting business! Of course, the 50% off was great. Thanks for sharing that.

  9. Lynda says:

    Is this still going on? I just found it and am wanting to build my own bras since store bought ones don’t fit.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Lynda – the sew-along ran in January, but all the posts will stay up so you are free to follow whatever you’d like to! The Flickr group is closed.

  10. Laura says:

    I am a little late to the party but I am going to be joining in soon!! Blogging about it on my website too… thanks for all the amazing advice, it’s quite fired me up!! xxx

  11. Colette says:

    Just out of curiosity, has anyone here ever tried making a bra (foam or non foam) sewing by hand as opposed to using a sewing machine? I never actually learned how to use a sewing machine and want to know how much more difficult it would be to do.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Colette, I would guess that depends on what kind of bra you want to make and your skills in various hand stitches. For a bra with elastics and elastic fabrics, such as those we made in this sew-along, you need to be able have a stretch-able stitch (zig zag). The stitches around the underwire and cup seams would need to be pretty secure and hard to do without a machine.

      But there are all sorts of bras–something like a soft cup bra made from non elastic material might be a better candidate for a hand-sewn bra. BTW, you don’t need an expensive or fancy machine to make a bra–I’ve made several on this inexpensive, simple machine. This would be very easy to learn on if you are interested in learning basic machine sewing.

      • Colette says:

        I do quite a bit of hand stitching (clothing repairs, drawstring bags for SCA stuff) so have some experience with zig-zag stitches. I guess it probably wouldn’t take much to learn how to operate and thread a machine, but I’ve always enjoyed hand sewing and it would mean I could make lingerie for photo shoots while I sit in Tafe lectures without disturbing anyone. I’ll definitely check out the Janome Mini though 🙂 And the fact that it goes slowly is probably a good thing for me 😉

        I think, based on your reply, that I might go ahead and give it a go, just to see whether it works out or not.

        Thanks 🙂

  12. Carol Roger says:

    Hi Amy thanks for sharing such wonderful bra making sew along. This sew along was easy to follow.

  13. Kitty says:

    Hey, this looks really neat. I also saw your tutorial for a strapless bra you made and it looks very beautiful and professional. The bras I have now are actually too small, and shopping for bras is very difficult, so when I saw your strapless, I began to think that making one myself might be the answer. One thing I’d like to know: what you have here all seem to be made with underwire. I don’t need any underwire or extra-thick padding for my bras. Is there anything on doing one without underwire?

    • Amy says:

      Hi Kitty, I know this is an old comment but I somehow missed it earlier. Soft bras are constructed using the same methods as underwired bra, except wires are not inserted at the end. So there isn’t any special construction to it! You may be interested in my Watson pattern which is not designed for wires at all.

      If you wish to make a strapless bra, I do suggest using wires. They are really crucial for a strapless bra to stay up. Without them, you don’t get any support and the bra cups will keep creeping down your chest… 😉

  14. cathryn says:

    hi! my daughters and I have very small frames. its hard to find bras size 30 DDD-EE and 32 F. can you assist me in picking out appropriate patterns?

    • Amy says:

      Hi Cathryn, you may want to look at my lingerie supplies page and investigate some of the pattern companies to see if their style/sizing fits your needs.

      I really believe that 90% of bra-making is fitting so it’s best to look for a size equivalent instead of exact sizes, and buy a pattern in your general size range. Also band size is totally dependent on fabric and how much stretch reduction the patternmaker used. So even if you can’t find a 30 band, a 32 could fit just like a 30 band in certain materials. Or you could simply make an adjustment to shorten the band. So instead of looking for a 30DDD, look for a 32DD which is the same cup volume on a different band. This isn’t a hard size to find.

      If you feel stuck on a pattern company’s sizing or fit, I also suggest writing the patternmaker. Most bra patternmakers are small businesspeople who are experienced in bra fit, and they’ll be the best at suggesting sizes from their own patterns.

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