A Review of Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace & Beyond

Hello! Welcome to my stop on the Canada Cups – Cross Your Heart Relay blog tour, 2016.

banner-improvedYou’ll see in my sidebar menu, I’m an affiliate with Craftsy. I decided to do this because I can do it without any compromise. I really do think they’re great. In fact, I love the whole concept: You buy a class that never expires; you can watch it anytime; the instructors answer your questions. From sewing to cooking to gardening and more, they have classes. They really are great!

I’m reviewing Beverly Johnson’s Sewing Bras Foam, Lace & Beyond class and so is Rachelle from That’s Sew Venice. Have you seen Rachelle’s blog? She has some great posts on her blog, and I think you’ll love what she does. Any blogger who falls in love with making lingerie is my kind of blogger too.

Here’s my review: The first thing Beverly Johnson, suggests in this class is that you take Sewing Bras Construction & Fit, which is another great class. I have that first class, and go back to review my notes again and again. I still find it valuable.

So, once we have that foundation on making bras, Beverly now takes us into the gorgeous world of lace bras. Oh, so much lace! And oh so pretty. I love lace. But as the name of the class implies, it’s not just lace. It’s Foam, and Lace, and more.

Here is some of what Beverly covers:

What lace to use

Lace on the upper cup

Full lace bras

Lace partial-band bras, and lace full-band bras

Lace and foam

Making Demi cups

Making Balconettes

Preformed foam cups

Cut & Sew foam cups

And there’s more. This class really covers a lot.

Here’s a screen shot from the class of a beautiful lace-covered full-band bra.
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Isn’t that lovely?

Here’s another sample from the class:

partial band

Isn’t this gorgeous? Just wow. Beverly not only makes everything look amazing, she really instills confidence that we can do this too.

Here’s one more example from the class:

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The bras Beverly makes and teaches in this class rival any Ready-to-Wear bra – anytime. Every time.

Both my Eastern partner, Rachelle, and I both made a bra to go along with what we were learning from the class. Rachelle used the Pin-Up Girls Classic pattern to make a Demi cup bra. I’m starting with the same pattern, but just wait until you see how different our makes are!

The bra I chose to make is from this class and Beverly’s first class (Construction & Fit): the Heather bra.

In Beverly’s first class, her model, Heather, was wearing a RTW bra that became a Craftsy hit! Everyone wanted to learn how to make this bra, and naturally attributed this beauty to Beverly.

Heather

Here’s another screen shot of Beverly measuring Heather wearing her lovely bra. I was going along with the crowd on this one – I loved that bra too.

In this class, Beverly takes us through the steps to make our own Heather bra.

Heather on Ashley smaller

Here’s Beverly’s Heather bra. It’s gorgeous!

The first thing Beverly shows us is how to change the seams on our bra pattern. She takes about a minute and a half to show this, and she draws it all out and cuts it. It took me… longer than that… and a break for lunch, and two cups of tea to do mine.

IMG_0665Once the pattern was done, it was time to cut the bra out. I’m always amazed at how little fabric goes into a bra. This little pile is about to become something very pretty.

Do you remember my teaser post? Now you’ll see just what I made with this lovely tulle.

Polka Dots

Here’s my Heather bra:

Front

A few of the alterations I made to my Heather to make her fit me are: I lower my bridge, so my bra has more of a plunge look to it. (All my bras do.) I also used a smaller cradle and wire (Omega shape), and shortened the underarm of the bra. Those are my personal fitting alterations.

The last change I made was to  use polka dot tulle and sheer cup lining under my lace. The Heather bra usually only uses sheer cup lining.

Here’s where it all starts. Remember, go see what Rachelle from That’s Sew Venice is making – we’re both starting with this pattern. The Classic Pattern or ‘Linda’.

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You can see by comparing the photo of my bra front to the pattern, the cross cup seams are different. Where the straps join is different as well. Beverly shows how to change both of these in the class. There are also some pattern pieces included in the Materials of the class, so you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.

Now for a few more features of my bra.

Front bow

On this close-up of the front you can see I made my bows out of the polka dot tulle. Just peeking out from behind that bow you can see a Gothic arch. Those are so comfortable.

Bow

Here’s another little bow. Both straps have bows covering the seams where the upper cup and strap are sewn together. Another change I made was to have the trim that’s along the upper cup go all the way up the strap.

The polka dot tulle continues up the straps as well. And around the bra band for a delicate polka dot look to the whole bra.

Band

I love polka dots.

This class was really something I’d wanted for a long time. Since I first saw the Heather bra, I knew I wanted to make one too. There is so much more in this class as well. Don’t forget to pop over to Rachelle’s post to see what she made using the Pin-Up Girls Classic pattern, and read her review.

Do you have a favorite bra from one of Beverly’s Bra-making classes on Craftsy? I’d love to hear which one it is.

I want to thank Craftsy for donating this class to me to review.

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Tour Schedule Itinerary

Follow the magical tour to see what we all have under our clothes

Canada Cups Logo Draft

Wednesday, September 14

Every day I’m posting the day’s links. Want to see the whole blog tour schedule? The complete schedule will be available at the end of the tour.

We have such a wonderful group of bloggers on this tour! They’ve all done an incredible job. Thank you.

bloggers

 Happy creating!

A Red Rebecca

I knew when Erin from The Sewing and Life Adventures of Emerald Erin put out her Bra-a-Week Challenge, I wouldn’t be making a bra each week, but I have been trying to keep up with a submission every other week. And this week I have one.

My Red Sewy Rebecca.

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I can’t say enough how much I love sewing this bra. As the seams are coming together, they’re turned and then hidden between the lace and lining on the upper cup, or the duoplex and lining on the power bar. And the inside looks so very neat and tidy. It’s really a delight to sew.

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You can see here the inside of the upper and lower cup but there are no visible seams. Oh, that is such a nice touch.

The bra came together fairly easily, but I honestly think that’s because I have experience sewing bras. The instructions I have are the English instructions from ELingeriA and they’re not my favorite. I find I’m often looking at what they’re saying to do, and then ignoring it and following instructions from Beverly’s Craftsy class, or one of my Pin-Up Girls patterns.

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There are a couple of things I like about this pattern. One is the lower edge of the upper cup is quite straight. A straight bottom edge to the upper cup gives more lift. I do like that. Another thing I like is the underarm area is smaller and I don’t need to adjust it. The fewer adjustments, the better.

Again, on this bra, I gathered the cup to fit into the cradle. I had intended to adjust the pattern, but my week was going by quickly and I wanted to get sewing and forgot. Next time I’ll make some adjustments and show you what I do for that.

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The back of the bra is pretty basic. I do like the black findings kit with the red, and the red and black lace. All the materials came from Bra Makers Supply. I already plan to order more of that lace. It is so pretty. When I’d ordered the kit, I put it away for a little while and when I pulled it out again this week, I thought it was just black lace. So when I unpacked it, it was a treat to see those red flowers.

This photo is the inside of the bra. Look how neat that is! Here’s a close up:

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Love, love, love this!

Enclosing the cup seams would be quite easy to do on any bra, just use some lining material and ‘sandwich’ it when sewing. Let’s talk about that using the upper cup and lower cup. Place the two cup parts right sides together as you normally would. Then the lining material, which was cut from the upper cup pattern goes on the wrong side of its non-matching part – the lower cup. You make a sandwich of the cup pieces with the upper cup material and lining as the bread, and the lower cup as the filling. Sew, trim, and turn the matching upper cups pieces so they are now together. Press, top stitch and enjoy seeing those enclosed seams hidden neatly inside your upper cup.

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You can see here the seam is exposed still, but has been trimmed. The lining will fold over the seam to meet its matching upper cup and then press and top stitch. It is so neat and lovely.

It’s the same for the power bar. Place the power bar with the cup right sides together – just the same as when you’re sewing it without lining it. Place the power bar’s lining on the wrong side of the cup; sew, trim, press with the power bar and lining together, and top stitch and now your whole cup is so neat and enclosed!

Happy creating!

Could It Be?

That was pretty much how I was feeling. Could it be that I was one alteration away from my perfect fit? After all this time, and all these tries, could it be? I have to be honest, I was not hopeful at this point. I have wandered around close for so very long, I just thought I’d be close again. But… I got it!

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Here’s my perfectly fitting black and ivory bra. I used black and ivory because I didn’t have enough bits of either fabric for a bra in just one color. That’s how un-optimistic I was feeling. And I’m usually a the-glass-is-half-full kind of girl. Heck, if there’s water in the glass, why would anyone complain? But too many not perfects had worn me down a bit. So, I had some black duoplex and some ivory duoplex, power net, and lace (all from Bra Makers Supply), and I set out one more time.

You all know how it is, I had one alteration to make, so that really meant two, and if you’re making two, that’s really four. Every time you change one part of the pattern, you have to change the corresponding part. And every alteration I made, I feared I would mess up the fit completely.

But… IT FITS! I could just keep typing that over and over. IT FITS! IT FITS!…

I watched along with Beverly on the Craftsy class again. I love having her right there explaining and seeing how she does this or that. It’s much more fun than just pulling out the pattern instructions again.

One of the little tidbits she shows in the class is the Butterfly Effect done with lace. I decided I’d do that on this to pull together to two colors a little more.

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This shows the Butterfly Effect up close. It’s a really pretty options for lace. And of course, if you’re going to have butterflies, then you need flowers not bows. So I added a little black rosette to the top of the bridge.

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I didn’t add the rosette until after I tried it on though. There must have been some hope somewhere inside because I did do all the top stitching on this bra. Oh, but after changing threads a few times, I’d had enough of that. I still wasn’t sure it was going to fit, so… ivory thread showing on black. I’m going to have to say it’s a design feature at this point. The strap trim is something I’ve been saving for a long time – just waiting to use. This seemed like the right time. The pins on the side are to help get the wrinkles out of the bra on Catherine.

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This shows the back, showing the hooks and eyes, strap elastic, findings and all the elastics that only peek out are all in black.

Another change I made was to go with the triple hook and eye rather than the double. It really does offer more support and I’m surprised how much more comfortable it is. I had wanted to do what I saw in the Prima Donna bras I’d purchases in the past, but don’t think I’ll do that anymore. I really prefer this. I just have to learn how to get in and out of it as easily as the double hooks I’ve always worn.

One of the alterations I made on this was the bridge… and it’s perfect! Simply perfect. It comes up high enough to offer good support, but not too high as to get in the way and push away from me.

All those really nice fabrics I’ve saved in my stash for that elusive day when I had my fit down… get ready! That day has come.

Happy creating!

One More Try

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but having to wear a bra every day, I really am motivated to get the fit right. So, I decided I needed one more try. And that one more try was just the trick.

Using the half-size right in between the size I’d been working with for so long, and the next size up that was too big was brilliant! I woke up at 4:30 that morning and came downstairs to work on my bra pattern. And I have to say, after 2 years of trying, I was not really as enthused as I was say a year and half ago. I’ve had too many bras that weren’t what I wanted. I’m still wearing them, but perfection felt beyond my reach.

All that changed this week. I’ve found my size! Oh what relief. I encourage you, if you are still struggling, don’t give up.

So, let me take you back to my process.

I had what I thought was going to be my size. But I felt rather defeated thinking of the alterations I would have to make to a new cup because I knew the wire and cup size still didn’t match. The good news was this cup size is only two sizes larger than the wire size I need, and one size smaller than what I’d been using.

That got me thinking again; I knew from reading the Bra Makers Manuals that we can go up or down one wire size without changing the cradle. Okay, I was going to go up one cradle size. I traced out a 40 cradle instead of a 38. This now meant the cup I needed, which corresponds to a 42 wire was only one size away. Oh, the relief of that realization! I cut everything out and sewed it up as is – no alterations.

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Here’s the Pin Up Girls Classic pattern, as is, except I split the lower cup. There are a couple of pins in there trying to (unsuccessfully) smooth things out and get rid of the wrinkles on Catherine. This is my best fit yet. There are only a couple of minor fitting issues at this point. If you’re dealing with an Omega shape, I strongly recommend doing this – go up one cradle size. It will really help as there will be fewer alterations to do, or the ones you still do need to do will be less drastic.

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This will be one alteration I make to the cup. It gaps a little at the underarm. A tuck in the pattern there will eliminate that for future bras.

And the second alteration I will make to the pattern is the bridge. I made this one bra without any alterations to the bridge – so I didn’t use my custom bridge and it’s just too wide (I knew that) and too high. But just how much too high was it? That led to my second brain wave this week. I took my custom bridge at the full bridge height and drew 1/2″ line down from the top. Then another 1/4″ down and a second 1/4″ down.

Here’s my custom bridge with the first 1/2″ cut off. And that’s the exact amount I need to shorten it.

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Here’s a closer up picture showing the markings I made on the top of the bridge:

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I’d already snipped off the first 1/2″, so now I know how much I need to lower my bridge.

There were a couple of other things I’d said in the past I’d share, so I took pictures as I was sewing my bra. Oh, and a side note here, I signed up for Beverly Johnson’s Bra class on Craftsy and I had her explaining the steps as I was sewing. That was such fun. It was almost like having her right here with me. Beverly is the author of the Bra Makers Manuals and the owner of Bra Makers Supply.

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You can see here the bottom band elastic coming up under where the channeling will be sewn on. This just fits, but if it didn’t, here’s how you fix that.

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Fold the channeling over the elastic so you can see how much you’ll need to trim away. See that pink dotted line? If I needed to trim, that would be my cutting line.

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And here with the channeling out of the way again. Follow the curve of the channeling when drawing your dotted line (better than I did here) and you’ll have your exact cutting line.

I’m off to make those changes to my pattern and cut out another bra.

Happy creating!