Lingerie Friday: Where Do You Find Your Fabrics?

Over the last year I’ve gotten many great emails with all sorts of questions about bra and lingerie making. Some readers have asked about techniques, and others about patterns and fitting. I love getting these kinds of emails and if I don’t know the answer, I hunt for it. So I thought it was about time I started to dedicate some regular posts to your questions.

Your #1 question, by leaps and bounds: Where do you find your bra and lingerie fabrics? To which I often reply, all over the place! There are some tips in this post of the Bra-making Sew Along, and I often include my sources at the bottom of my sewing projects, but I have never centralized it all in one place. So today I published a new page on my site to make your research a bit easier.

Lingerie Friday: Where to Find Bra Supplies | Cloth Habit

Click above to visit the new page! For the rest of today’s post I’ll share a few shopping tips along with some of my personal favorites.

Where Do I Start?

If you are brand new to bra-making, I highly recommend starting out with a bra-making kit. You may not like the colors or the fabrics in a particular kit, but it’s a very good way to get used to all the little tidbits you need, especially while you experiment with construction and fitting. After a bra or two you will get a feel for the fabrics and notions you prefer and need. On the supplies page, I noted all the stores which sell bra-making kits. Some of these kits are specifically designed for making a company’s particular patterns. I’m able to use most of a kit in my own self-drafted bras and what I don’t like I stash away for “bra muslins”.

Annnd, because I’m a rather small size, I’m often able to get two or even three bras out of one kit.

My Personal Favorites For Basics

I buy most of my basic bra supplies from Fabric Depot Co. in Texas and Merckwaerdigh in Netherlands. I stash several basics in white and dye them. This practice works for me because I love to dye and I’m a bit of a perfectionist with color!

From Fabric Depot Co.: strap elastic, plush band elastic, tricot linings, medium weight powernet for firmer bands. All of these things are top quality but in limited colors. Most of her elastics are nylon-based and not polyester so I am able to dye them. For strong, supportive bra cups, I buy the “opaque stabilized tricot”. This is very much like the Duoplex that Bra-makers Supply uses in their kits, and it takes nylon dye beautifully!

From Merckwaerdigh: hook & eyes, neckline elastic (for the stabilizing the top of a lace cup), underwire channeling. I love her channeling. She sells a ton of colors of these products but I usually buy white!

Underwires: I buy my personal bra wires from Sew Sassy, as I like their wider shape. For larger cup bras, my favorites come from Sewing Chest UK. Most of their wires are very firm gauge steel, which means they hold their shape well, and come in a great range of shapes and lengths.

Laces: I’ve turned into a bonafide lace huntress. These days I trawl Etsy and Ebay for both stretch laces and non-stretch “tulle” laces for for more supportive cups. On my resources page I mentioned some of my favorite shops and some search tips.

Gold and silver hardware: Sewing Chest UK and Bra-makers Supply. As some of you have discovered, dyeing the nylon-coated rings and sliders isn’t the easiest thing in the world–some dye colors take to them better than others. While you can find pre-colored nylon rings, I just pass in favor of silver and gold. They are a bit more expensive but such a lovely extra touch on a bra. Clear plastic is always a neutral option but I just don’t like plastic. I also rescue the hardware from old bras.

Lingerie Friday: Where to Find Bra Supplies | Cloth Habit

It never hurts to ask: Many of the shops that specialize in bra, lingerie or corsetmaking are one-woman run businesses. And they often have product in their inventory that they don’t list online or in their catalogs. If you are having trouble finding something close to your favorite underwire, or want a different color of something, or more or less of a certain fabric, call or email them. I have found some great products this way, and all of the women behind these shops are super friendly.

Swatches are My Best Friends

When I was first learning about bra fabrics, I collected swatches. This was a great way to get a feel for a fabric before committing to yardage. I recommend swatches before purchasing just about any type of tricot or powernet/stretch mesh. The quality, weight, stretch and drape of these fabrics vary wildly, and oh, how I wish sellers would include gram or ounce weights in their descriptions. (Hint, hint–I know you’re reading!)

But I’d love to help you navigate. I look forward to doing just that in an upcoming series of posts that will help demystify lingerie fabrics. Next week, I’m going to talk foam, foam, foam.

Is there a fabric or notion you have had trouble finding? Or is there a fabric in one of your favorite store bras you wish you could find?

12 comments

  1. Barbara says:

    Thank you for the recommendations of places to buy bra/lingerie fabric and supplies. !! Bra making is new to me and I found that the local fabric stores have “Zilch” in Lingerie fabric .
    Barbara

  2. Anne says:

    I love Merckwaerdigh! Something about her kits just thrills my creativity, and I have always found her very responsive. I used to buy quite a bit from Elingeria before they closed shop.

    I found a new online place last fall called Bra Essentials, which is in the NYC area. They have a large selection of reasonably priced underwires (including strapless and plastic) and the gold rings/sliders you mentioned in your post.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Anne, she makes such pretty little kits, doesn’t she? I really love what you do with them, too. I’m waiting for the day Kanjte Boord to offer online shopping and then I’ll be in trouble!

      And thanks for the tip on Bra Essentials–will add to the list.

  3. K-Line says:

    Thank you so much for the new page and this post – what a great resource. A huge part of the problem is that there are so many optional lingerie fabrics – some of the same sort which have different names (as you point out). It’s almost impossible to know what you’re getting before it arrives. And if it doesn’t work, that’s an expensive mistake…

    • Amy says:

      Thanks, girl. You’re right, it’s difficult to choose from the fabric names alone. I learned the hard way to swatch first when I could, and email/ask about the fiber content, which is often not listed.

  4. Becky Miller says:

    You’re super, you know? Thank you for all the help you give us. I only dabble in bra making and don’t have the time to do the sort of research you’ve done so I really appreciate you sharing.

  5. Jo says:

    Thank you Amy for all your very informative posts!! Your sew-along inspired me to try out bra making and finally last weekend I went to a day long course here in Sydney (Australia) at Booby Traps and made my first one – yay! So now I am feeling a little more confident, I am back reading all your posts with a better understanding of what is what.
    I am on a mission to make my second bra this evening and wondering if I can safely eliminate seams in the frame pattern under the cup and at the side – they don’t seem to have much purpose (except perhaps fitting the pattern on a smaller piece of fabric?) so I am going to give it a go 🙂

    • Amy says:

      Hi Joanne, congrats on making your first bra! It’s really fun. I’m not sure what you mean by eliminate seams… do you mean use smaller seam allowances? I use 1/4″ (6mm) seams on the cups and the seam into which they go on the frame/cradle. On the bottom/hem of the frame I use 1/2″–whatever that is, you need enough width to stitch in your hem elastic and fold it back so that the elastic doesn’t end up in the cup. I always find it helpful to mark in the seamlines on my patterns because it is easy to chop off a couple of mms here and there, which might not be a big deal in other garments but for bras can add up and really change the fit.

  6. Sophie-Lee says:

    For any readers that are based in New Zealand, “Made on Marion”, a craft shop in Wellington, sells all the fine notions (hook and eyes, rings and sliders, underwires). They don’t have an online shop yet but are very happy to take phone orders.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *