Beginner and Shelley Bra Classes

I recently saw a notice from Central Sewing Machines for a Beginner Bra-making Class. Well, I know how to sew a bra, but… There was one part of the ad that stood out – the instructor would draft a pattern to fit me.Oh, a pattern drafted for me? Yes! I was interested. I signed up right away.

Jeanette, of Sew Uplifting Bras, was the class instructor. During the two-day class, she was giving tips and tricks on how to sew the bra. There were some new bra-making gems in there too. I’m not sure how many times I blurted out, “That’s brilliant!” A pattern drafted for me, and new techniques to incorporate into my bra-sewing? The class was totally worth it!

First Bra

The first bra, a Pin-up Girls Classic pattern with a split lower cup, came together with no problems. However, it still needed a couple of adjustments.Although this first bra didn’t fit perfectly, I was so happy with it. Let me show you why.

For me, this is the most exciting part of of the whole class – the cups fit perfectly into the frame!

Jeanette adjusted my pattern for my Omega shape and it fits perfectly in the frame. There are no puckers. No gathering along the seam line either. Just a cup and cradle that fit perfectly together. Oh, it’s so pretty! Do you see how the cup meets the cradle and they’re both the same length? I haven’t had that happen in a bra since my second or third bra when I found out I had an Omega shape. I am so excited about that.

The back is pretty basic. Jeanette uses sliders only for joining the fabric straps to the strap elastic. It makes for a very neat joining. Don’t ask me why, but it did throw me during the class. I had to really think how to sew them together, and it’s not that hard.Overall, even though I could already sew a bra, I’m so glad I took the beginner class.


Right after the Beginner class, Central was holding a Shelley class. My hubby said to sign up. I was over-the-top excited.

We took my drafted-for-me pattern and converted it into a Shelley pattern. I’ve done this before too, but Jeanette was sharing more brilliant tips along the way. Again, totally worth taking the class.

 Here’s my lovely fuchsia Shelley bra.On this bra, we’ve lowered the bridge, adjusted the cups for the lowered bridge, and adjusted for my Omega shape. I also added a Gothic arch, but that wasn’t part of the class. However, as a class, we thinned the band.

The side again – with its perfectly matching cup and cradle. I’m not going to get tired of this at all.Another lovely feature that shows in the side view is the power bar. It’s an S-shape. That was a first for me. It’s so pretty.

   And the back.Again, on this bra I’ve used sliders only rather than rings and sliders. It does give a neater line on the back, but I have a lot of rings and sliders in my stash, so I will be using those still.

So, after taking these classes am I giving up on drafting my own bra? No way! I’ve been busy drawing away, and incorporating the new knowledge I’ve gained. In fact, later this year, Jeanette will be teaching a Drafting course at Central Sewing. I’m already saving up for it.

 Happy creating!

Etsy Sale

I heard some good news this morning. Etsy is having a sale. The sale is starting today and goes until the 29th.

Merckwaerdigh’s shop is participating in the sale too. Patterns are 25% off, and kits are 10% off. Some items are 50% off.

I’m going to look right now. Happy shopping!

Sashiko Mending

Mending isn’t my favorite sewing-related thing to do. I love sewing for the creative aspect of it. Making something new. I don’t love doing repairs.

However, I’m still asked to do repairs.

Recently, I found something that makes mending look a lot more exciting. Marsha mentioned it and I had to go look at what it was.


I’ve been collecting ideas on Pinterest for fun mending projects – all visible and creative! If you want to see more of these ideas, take a look at my Pinterest page. There’s a link in the photo.

A Little Rain

  There was a little rain on my parade when I got all excited to do some mending for Em, my son’s girlfriend. She said she didn’t want it to show too much. She has to wear her jeans for work.

‘But it can show a little?’ Yes. It could show a little.

Great!I was using a darning method I found. I’m surprised how few of the stitches are showing up. I was spacing the lines of stitching about 2 mm apart, and catching the cotton fabric underneath five or six times per row. That’s not going to move, but I did think it would show more.

Still I enjoyed trying it, and making it not too visible. I would have loved to do something more fun, but I had a chance to try this method and practice a bit.

Multi-Functioning Knob

 While I had been searching Sashiko, I also found a few pins on darning. The joke in our home is if something needs darning, we say ‘Darn it.’ while tossing it in the trash. Hmm, maybe we won’t do that anymore.

A darning egg, or mushroom is commonly used under the material that is being darned.  Here’s a set I found on Etsy. There’s a link in the photo if you want to see more.However, looking at these, I thought I already have the perfect darning tool. for the job I was doing – my knob!I bought this knob at Bra-makers Supply when I first started sewing bras. I still use it, and now it has another great function!

Here it is behind the jeans, holding everything in place perfectly so I can use both my hands.

It worked great!

Just one week after I mended these, the other thigh decided it wanted an updated look too! Em brought them back to me for another fix.

Not only that, but one of my favorite pairs of pants decided to join the sashiko mending club. I had more mending to do. Mine is an embroidered mend. I love hearts, so decided on a heart, with some cotton Lycra behind the small hole. I’m glad my favorite casual pants will continue to be enjoyed sans the hole.

Happy creating!

A Pretty Ivory Bra

Just before I heard about the Bra-Makers Supply’s Challenge that started in January, I was finishing up some touches on my bra draft. So this post is actually a make that’s a few months old now. The challenge created so many posts, but I didn’t want to leave this make out.

Here’s my draft again.I wanted to change the cups on this to make them a little rounder. I also wasn’t completely happy with my power bar. Something seemed a little bit off where the strap tab and the underarm were meeting. I also changed the band to a downward hike, but it needed work too. More on that later in the post.

All Those Details

 Before the BMS Challenge, the last number of bras I’d made had been slapped together. No top-stitching, no taking time with details. It was so nice to take my time and focus on some of those details again.

One detail was which sheer cup lining I wanted to use behind the lace. I have both white and beige. Hmm. There’s really very little difference between these two, but I decided to use the white. Seeing as my lace is a little bit darker than the ivory duoplex I’m using, I thought the white behind it brightened it up a bit. I even enjoyed taking my time with all the top-stitching. I was only finished the cups in the above photo, but they were so pretty I had to take a photo.

 My New Bra  

My bra looks perkier on the clear display form, and less East-West looking too. Catherine’s days as a bra display may be numbered! Especially now I have a display I can use for bras and panties.

Oh, but Catherine is my only display that is pinnable. She’ll still be getting use.

Do you see the upper band on this bra is a little slack? It’s that way on me too.

I used this band again on my red bra for the February Challenge after looking at all my measurements. This should have fit. The only thing I could think of was the I didn’t pull on the upper band elastic for this one. On the red one, I pulled on the elastic and it fits just fine.

Happy creating!

Cloned Panties

As a second pair of panties to go with my make for the Bra-makers Supply February Challenge, I decided to clone a favorite discontinued style. I’d saved one pair of these for years to do just this. Just look at this side feature. This is why I wanted to clone these.

Finishing the Fold-Over Elastic

I cut them apart and traced my pattern. I was still saving the panties though. I wanted the bits that were left to study how they’d been put together. Sadly, someone else saw them, thought they were garbage, and threw them out.

I had to do my best from memory to put these together. Here’s what I did.

First, I marked each piece of fold-over elastic.Next, putting right sides together, I matched up the elastics with their counter-part. I pinned the elastics right sides together while they were still open, or unfolded.I sewed them along the line I marked.I trimmed them. so there wouldn’t be a lot of material in the fold.Next, I folded them. That little bit in the middle did make them a bit bulky. They kept opening, so I pinned away.Lastly, I sewed along that length of fold over elastic that was now joining the front and back, both at the waist and the hip.

Second Set

  Here are my panties and my Satin bra for the February Challenge. The panties are cotton Lycra and fold-over elastic. Not using satin on them, I didn’t submit these for the challenge.I love this view below. It shows both the upper cup and the panty side. The fold-over elastic finish on the upper cup goes so well with the fold-over elastic detail on the panties.
And here’s the back.I’m really pleased with how these turned out. I think they’re a charming match for my February Challenge make.

Happy creating!

Bra-Makers Challenge – February

As soon as I saw the Bra-Makers Ultimate Challenge, I decided it was something I wanted to do. For most of January and February, I’ve been turning things down. No, I don’t want to do that, try that, or join that. However, the Challenge fit with what I wanted to do – focus on building my skills.

 February’s Challenge

Here’s the challenge for February:

February –  Love yourself – make any bra, bralette or panties using red stretch satin. There were a few more guidelines on the BMS website.

Isn’t this a sumptuous color? Just click on the link or the photo to go to the BMS website and see it for yourself. I’ve never worked with stretch satin before. But I’m game.


 While I’m trying some of these new fabrics and patterns, I’m going to incorporate ideas I’ve picked up along the way. One of those ideas is to try the ‘better Shelley strap extension‘. Beverly wrote a tutorial on how to make an extended strap attachment.This photo is from the BMS blog. You can read the post here. I thought this looked lovely when I first saw it.

Here’s was my sketch trying to decide what to make for February. Did I want to add lace over satin for the power bar? I even entertained using red mesh finished with fold over elastic instead of lace on the upper cup.

All I had decided for sure was to add sheer cup lining to the cups as the satin is a stretch material.

I also drew some new panty ideas for the challenge.I planned to use my mashed-up Aphrodite pattern, but I wasn’t as happy with it as I hoped. I didn’t like my mash-up. The original pattern is so lovely. Unfortunately, I don’t like elastic at the waist and leg openings.

Putting Plans into Action

I ended up using my drafted panty pattern. These are stretch satin and cotton Lycra. Then finished with stretch lace at the waist and leg openings. I’m loving these!

I added a lace garment tag to the side. I’ve added these tags to panties I’ve made in the past.Here’s the side view.  And the back. I was almost out of cotton Lycra, so had to make these with a seam in the back.I love these! Next I made a the bra to match.

Matchy Matchy

There are so many things I love about this bra! Well, let me show you.The whole bra cup and cradle is stretch satin. I’ve lined the cup and cradle with beige sheer cup lining. That little part on the upper cup that looks like there’s nothing there? That’s sheer cup lining. It disappears against the skin.

A Few Features

The pattern I used for this bra is cloned from a RTW bra. I loved how the cups fit, but there are a few elements about the bra that are uncomfortable and don’t fit.

So, I lowered the bridge and the underarm to help make this more comfortable than the original.

Another change was for design only –  to split the upper cup. The lower half of the upper cup is stretch satin and sheer cup lining. The upper half of the upper cup is sheer cup lining alone, then finished with fold-over elastic.

Lastly, I extended the strap as per Beverly’s instructions in this blog post.

Below you can see I only pulled on the elastic in the underarm area where it’s usually pulled. I marked on the strap extension where the power bar ended and the extension began and made sure not to pull the elastic beyond that point.

Here’s the side view:Do you see those puckers where I gathered the cup to fit into the cradle? I don’t like that! Those puckers aren’t so noticeable when I’ve used duoplex. That made me sad.

Here’s the back:Oh, the back looks perfect! The red power net really matches the stretch satin well. I debated using the satin for the band too, but had some red power net in my stash, so went with that.

  What I Love

 I’ve shared with you what I don’t like (those puckers). However, when it’s on me the cup is more filled out than on the display. (I still don’t like them.)

So now, how about something I love about this bra? I love the upper cup!I love this sheer cup lining detail. It turned out better than I had hoped.

I did make a second pair of panties to go with this bra. I’ll share those next week.

Happy creating!

What is a Tester Frame

A few posts back I’d shared a recent draft. I also mentioned using a tester frame for my bra. Let me share a little about tester frames here in this post.

First Impressions

I first read about a tester frame in the Bra Makers Manual Vol. 2. I remember I made one and tried it. I also made a note in the manual. I found it hard to sew the cups into that frame, and I didn’t try it again for quite a long time.

Yes, my manuals are filled with my thoughts in the margins alongside the actual instructions.

My note may say ‘fit’, but I was meaning it’s awkward to sew the cups into the frames. However difficult I found it to sew the cups into the frame after the channeling and wire have been added, it’s still a great way to check and see, first, if your frame is going to fit. And once you have your frame, if the cups fit.

I just had an idea to take the wires out for sewing and it might make it easier to sew in the cups. I’ll have to try it.

Second Exposures

My second exposure to a tester frame was from Merckwaerdigh’s blog. This is her photo.  Margreet took us through the steps of designing a bra, and part of that was testing the cups in a frame. You can read about it here.

My Take on a Tester Frame

   For my second take on a tester frame, I had drafted my cradle, band, and cups and sewn up the bra. I knew the cradle and band would fit and they did. I didn’t expect the cups to fit, and they didn’t. They were too small. Yet I still sewed up the bra.

Let’s talk about those cups for a minute. The cups’ measurements were taken while wearing a RTW bra. That bra cups are made with stretch material. That gave me measurements that were too small because I wasn’t using  stretch material now; I was using duoplex. 

So why would I make a bra when I knew the cups wouldn’t work? Well, I knew the rest of the bra would be fine. I also knew I now had a bra that was more supportive which allowed me get new, better measurements.

Once I took my new measurements with this new bra, there was no use left for it. I could simply cut the hardware out of it, unpick all the elastics, and throw the rest away. I could donate it. Or I could use this frame for a tester frame.

Repurposing that Ill-Fitting Bra

If you have a bra that doesn’t fit the way you want it to fit, and want to make a tester frame, you have to remove the cups.

Here’s what I did.

On the bra, I measured from the seam along the bottom of the cup into the cup by a half-inch, Then I cut along that line.

See the black on the edges? That’s the 1/2-inch mark. That little bit of material sticking out is what is left of those too-small-cups that I’d cut out.

I also cut the seam where the strap joins the cup.

Now what’s left is a tester frame. It has straps, hooks and eyes, elastics, a bridge, the cradle for new cups. It has everything a bra has, except the cups.

What was left of the too-small cups I threw away. There was no use for them now.

Testing the Frame

I sewed up new cups and marked the 1/4-inch seam on those. In the photo above, you can see the bright pink line on the cups – that was going to be my seam line.

I got out some black thread and a needle and started sewing them into the frame by hand. Remember I found it hard to sew them in by machine. If you do try using your sewing machine, take the wires out, and move your needle over to the far right. Those two suggestions should make a difference. Oh, and use lots of pins!

Or sew the new cups in by hand.

I sewed the new cups in as closely as possible to the original seam in the cradle on the tester frame.It wasn’t pretty, but it was completely functional for its purpose – to see if these cups would fit. And they did.

Happy creating!

New Pattern Alert

I love when new patterns are released, especially new bra patterns. Emerald Erin has just released a couple of patterns today.

Not only is there the bralette, but there’s also a boyshort pattern.

I’m excited to see these boyshorts because Erin says there’s a one with an enclosed gusset. I want to see how she does that!

If you can’t decide which one to get, Erin offers a bit of a deal when you buy both.    It was going to be a drafting day, but I think I need to look at some new patterns first!

Just click on the images to take you to Erin’s Etsy shop to purchase any of these.

Congratulations, Erin!

A New Display Form or Two

My display form family is growing! I was recently asked if I wanted a couple of display forms. I didn’t have to think for even a minute.

My Display Form

My first display form is exactly like one I was using when I first started to blog. It wasn’t mine however. It was one in the boutique where I was working. It worked so well, my husband bought me one just like it. My oldest DS dubbed her Catherine. He said she looked like a Catherine. She’s been Catherine ever since. You can see I use her a lot, and she is still much-loved. But she doesn’t work the best for displaying bras because we’re not the same size. And because she doesn’t have any legs at all, she really doesn’t work for panties. However, she’s been all I had for a few years, and I made do with her.

So, back to the question, do I want a couple of displays? Wait. Here’s the best part… in my size. In my size? YES!

First New Display Forms

This was the photo I was sent. Ooh, does the pretty bra come with it? Wouldn’t that be fun?

These came from Kimberly of Kimtimates when she was doing a bit of a destash. Two displays… in my size! I’m thrilled to get them.

 Here’s a recent make of mine on the new display. That’s a good fit. No foam cups to fill out the cups. No bead-forms stuffed into the cups. It’s great! Thank you, Kimberly!I’ll share more on this bra soon.

And Yet Another Display Form

It wasn’t very long after I got these two, that a friend of mine posted a few photos. She’d picked up these display forms for her business.Right away I was asking her questions. Where did she get them, how much did they cost? Drop by her Facebook page: Farmer Dell and see what’s she’s selling. She makes some lovely knit items from the sheep she raises.

She’d picked these up at Sears when it was closing. When I asked about other displays, she posted these photos.I knew I had to go see for myself. I’ve really wanted a better way to display panties.

By time I got to the store, there weren’t as many as shown here. And it was an odd experience to see a whole floor with only display forms. There was one room of toddler forms, most of them without heads. The clerk working there said that room was a highlight for people to take a selfie. I didn’t feel any urge to do that. It was kind of creepy.

He also told me he often came into work and found the displays in “compromising” positions. I didn’t see anything inappropriate, but I did find a great display while I was there. You’ve probably seen it a few times in recent posts.

The Negotiations

  After picking out the display I liked best, I asked her price. He said $100. I didn’t say anything. Then he said everything was half price. So $50. I’m not entirely sure why he didn’t just say $50 to start.

I did realize $50 was a good price, but all the displays that were left had scratches on them, and we’d had a discussion about them all having scratches. The one I picked out has scratches on her too. I know me too well, and I’m going to want to find the right paint to fix her up, and not leave her scratched up. So, I still didn’t say anything.

Then he said, how about $35. I said that would be great.

Here she is decked out in my Craftsy t-shirt, a fun jacket, and a tie that needs mending.I’m happy to have a display for panties. Here are my self-drafted Hipster panties. Even though we’re not the same size, these look pretty great on her.Panties just never looked this good pinned onto the front of Catherine.

Here’s my most recent bra on her with the same panties. I’m still in the same situation of having to fill the cups, but I only needed the foam cups here. This display has a little more going on than Catherine.I’m thrilled to get all of these new displays!

Happy creating!

Aphrodite Slip Pattern

I recently saw a lovely panty pattern.

The Aphrodite slip by de Lingerie Academie. Here’s the image from their site. Oh, it’s so pretty!

Pleasant Surprises

I have tried so many panty patterns, buying them based on the measurements, only to find they don’t fit me. I was thinking these wouldn’t fit either. I still bought them.

My plan was to use my self-drafted pattern and alter it to have similar lines. That way I’d know they’d fit. Even though I’m using my pattern, if I’m going to copy someone else’s design so blatantly, I like to purchase it. I like to support these independent companies.

I did have a pleasant surprise when I laid my pattern over these. They were the same width. They are not the same length as mine however. It was still nice to find a pattern that was close.

Aphrodite Panties

Here is my version of the Aphrodite panties. I love the lace detail on these. It matches the bra I made for the Bra-Makers Supply January Challenge as well. Here’s my favorite part of them – the side view.Here they are from the back. It’s so pretty how the lace wraps around to the back.   The pattern is adorable. But, sadly, I’m not as in love with my version as I’d hoped.

What I Love and Don’t Love

  I really do love the look of the Aphrodite panties. I think the original design has a more elegant and classic look than mine. Using my draft for the base changed the leg opening, thus changed the look.


I changed the leg opening because I know I won’t like the leg opening on the original pattern. I know I won’t like it for two reasons: One. It’s too low for my comfort. And two. I really really don’t like elastic at the legs.

If you take another look at mine, you’ll see I didn’t use elastic for the legs. I finished them like boyshorts – I just turned under the seam and sewed it up. No elastic. To be truthful, I hate elastic at the leg!

I was tempted to use lace trim at the legs like I usually do, but wasn’t sure how it would look with this style. I thought it might take away from the design, so opted to do a boyshort-style finish.

 How about that elastic at the waist? Although I can’t say I hate elastic at the waist, it’s still a strong dislike in my books. I much prefer lace trim there too.

So, although they fit, these aren’t the hit I hoped they’d be.

Not Giving Up Yet

I won’t give up on a mash-up Aphrodite-inspired pattern. I have some plans to revisit it for my February BMS Challenge. I’ve drawn out a few ideas using the shape of my hipster.The first one illustration looks quite minimal. The second one looks pretty balanced. The third one just has too much going on. What I like about these is they show me I can add the lace trim to the waist and leg openings and still maintain the design I’m wanting.

Happy creating!