Maybe it was all the Gatsby craze in the air. Or the Krypton set designs in Man of Steel. Blink and you’ll miss it, but I think there was an homage to the Spirit of Detroit statue–one of my favorite hometown attractions–in the “history of Krypton” scene. The rest of the movie bored me to pieces, but at least those set designs were cool. Neo-futuristic art deco. I can just hear the design team storyboarding: steel, industry, pittsburgh, steel, crumbling, detroit in the 20s…
Don’t you love how I manage to pitch Detroit hallmarks in some of my posts? It’s a part of my childhood.
Anyway, I love art deco and its mix of strong geometric symmetry with organic forms. Back in the spring, I scored some groovy rayon jersey with gold and black organic lines with no particular thought as to what it would be, but eventually it kept screaming art deco.
So I drew out an idea for a bra.
It’s been a long time since I’ve drawn or sketched figures or fashion ideas, but there was a time I really enjoyed it. I took a few semesters of fashion illustration many years ago, but I’ve just never gotten that fast at it, and really get frustrated with colored pencils. If only I was better at watercolor…
Jersey doesn’t always work so well as an underwired cup fabric so I decided it was time to pull out foam cups. I’ve had these in my stash since I bought my very first bra-making kit.
They are an unusual shape from what I’m accustomed to wearing, but I thought it was time I played around with them. For the cups, I wanted a two-piece cup cover with silk banding along the neckline. It is possible to drape a four-way stretch fabric completely over a cup without any darts or seams, but not only did I want to use two fabrics, both of them had limited two-way stretch. So I needed to make shaped cup pieces:
To come with these pieces, I did a little draping experiment with some scraps of my fabric. Starting from the bottom of the cup, I pinned and smoothed the fabric, going upward until it wouldn’t lay flat anymore. Once pinned in place, I used a thin marker to draw around the cup edge and the line where the cup fabric stopped being smooth. This gave me the bottom piece. Then I did the same for the top piece, pinning from the neckline down. Once I had these two pieces, I traced the cut fabric shapes to paper and smoothed the lines out a bit till the seamlines matched. In words that probably sounds complicated but it really wasn’t! It’s just like draping, except on a really small and easy scale.
I started with my own frame and band and then figured out how to rotate the cups into the cradle. That part can be a bit of a puzzle at first. I pinned and repinned until I found the center bottom.
I took lots of construction photos because I thought some would be curious about the process. But I think it’s a bit more fun to look at finished! I went for a little bit of bling in the form of gold hardware and silk accents…
The bottoms are a simple high-waisted shorty that I’ve made a few times now, but for this one I’ve added a ruching detail with to the back. I think I was a bit conservative in the ruching–I might go for even more in the next pair.
Speaking of foam cup bras, many moons ago I promised a tutorial on how to use cut foam with a bra pattern. (And now it’s here!) And some of you have kindly written me and asked, whatever happened to that?. I promise, I haven’t forgotten! I learned so much from running the sew-along about what steps to cover, what I actually have time to do, what I still don’t know about bra-making (because there is always more to know!) and so on, that I had to scrap my original tutorial. And guess what? I’ve just finished writing up a new one with lots of photos of the process. This time I got a friend to help me photograph because it’s really hard to sew and stop and shoot, over and over, by myself. (I end up unpicking a lot of seams when I do.)
UPDATE: Check out the tutorial series How to Make a Foam Cup Bra.
Main fabrics: Rayon jersey (Stitched Austin), stretch silk charmeuse (Dharma Trading)
Powermesh: local Joann’s
Foam cups: Bra-makers Supply
Dye for silk ribbon and charmeuse: Jacquard Acid Dye, Jet Black
Trims, tricot lining and other notions: mostly Fabric Depot Co.
Would you like tips and inspiration in the craft of lingerie sewing? Sign up for my weekly eletter The Lingerie Maker.