Apologies to all that are sick to death of reading about bra sewing. **Cough Aleah cough** but I bought a huge supply of laces and underwires from a sale at Rimmon Fabrics, a store in west LA which had bought out some supplies from a local lingerie designer. So I'm sorry to say, this won't be the last lingerie post!
I don't seem to be able to make the same pattern more than a few times before my eye starts wandering, and I want to see what's up with all the other shiny options out there. A while back I wanted to order some of the famous kits from Merckwaerdigh, and took the opportunity to get some of her patterns too, including E BHS-10. I've now made 3 out of the 5 views of. 5 views! This is a very good value pattern!
I started with View A which is a very simple soft bra.
I made this mainly to get an idea of the sizing because I've never made anything by this company before. It was a super quick sew, and I was very surprised by how it was actually fairly supportive, and did give a pretty nice shape. The fabric is a really nice cotton/lycra/acetate mix from The Fabric Store. It seems like very good stuff for lingerie because it has a pretty firm stretch to it.
I might have moved straight to View D, except I had recently found some fabric in the Michael Levine loft that I was sure would make a great sports bra. It looks like normal cotton in this picture, but it feels like it has a lot of lycra, and it's really beefy.
Unfortunately it wasn't beefy enough. I added seam allowance to the neckline when I traced it, so I could line it with some stretch mesh. I inserted the picot elastic in the way you would insert piping in to a seam. Even with the lining, it's not nearly supportive enough for vigorous exercise, certainly not running. Ho Hum, it's also very comfortable. No major loss.
So on to the last version. Time for a proper review
View / Size used: View D, size 34D which was according to my measurements. Unfortunately the band is too big and the cups are to small. If it existed, I would likely be a 32DD or E, but it doesn't. Sad face.
Fabric/Notions Used: With bras, there's a lot of bits and pieces and the supplies are always one of the major sticking points. Because I tend to pick up supplies here and there, I've made myself a post-it note for each pattern with a list of all the stuff required so I can tick them off until I've made myself a 'kit'. I'm pretty sure I got this idea from the Sewaholic blog, but I can't find the post it was mentioned. Here is where all this stuff came from:
Stretch lace: Rimmon fabric in West LA
Cuplining (non-stretch lining for center front): Silk organza
Wide Picot Elastic: 1/2" plush back elastic from the huge roll I got in the LA garment district
Picot elastic: 1/2" elastic, but much lighter 'knicker' elastic from a huge roll as above
Cup elastic: I used the same elastic as the "Picot elastic" but I cut the picots off
Shoulder elastic: Sorry, can't remember where it came from
Rings and sliders: Stolen from a RTW bra
Hook and eye: Probably the new closed Elingeria
Channeling: Bramakers supply - hand delivered to me by my bra sewing neighbor!! Thanks Pam!
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Were the instructions easy to follow?
If you have made bras before, you'll have no problem at all. If you haven't they won't be enough. Sigrid has actually done a very in depth bra making tutorial using this pattern, but her own construction techniques. I did follow the order of construction as laid out, but I got confused about how to deal with the channelling at the center front where there's a 'V' shape. You can see that I messed it up a little. Otherwise it came together easily.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Here's the thing about this pattern. I actually think if you were to teach a course in bra making, this would be the absolute perfect pattern. If you start at View A and work your way down, they get steadily more complex adding one new idea at a time. First adding lace, then lace with the bra back, then underwire, finally underwire and padding. But the instructions are not great. Someone should use this bra for a class!
I don't know if I like quite this much lace in my brassieres. I'm not usually a lacy person at all, but there's something about making my own stuff that makes me want to make things that look 'real' and lace does seem to sell 'real bra'. I can't tell if I like the silhouette yet because it doesn't fit me that well.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the finished garment?
The center front doesn't sit flush against my skin, so I do need a bigger cup, but somehow it's still comfortable and I've worn it plenty now without trouble. I think it might be because I know my underwire size, and I have to think that's the biggest factor when it comes to comfort.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I might, but I was disappointed to find that I fall between the sizes available in this pattern, but my size is also not covered in the other pattern I bought. When I was buying the patterns, I did exchange emails with the designer / shop owner, but I didn't know exactly what size I was, so it was hard for her to advise. To the second question, I would certainly recommend the pattern.
[ETA] Construction Notes:
Totally forgot to add any construction notes when I was writing this first! Sometimes I write a post so much in my head I forget to actually, you know, write it!
I underlined the the cups in a light mesh. For the side cup piece I only extended the mesh up to where it turns in to the strap. I sewed the cup seams on the featherweight, but did serge it after using wooly nylon in one of the loopers. I don't trust my accuracy on the serger for the cup seams, but I do like the neat seam allowances. Having said that, my accuracy attaching the side cup to the other cup pieces was likely not very good. It's hard to keep track of where the seam lines should be with the scallops getting in the way. I'll have to figure out a way to mark this better next time.
I used the same light mesh on the band, but as Anne points out in the comments, I might have got a better fit with a heavier power mesh. It's such a narrow back, that it needs all the support I can provide. In fact in any future versions, I'll likely widen the back to a 3 hook closure.
I've always had trouble getting the hook and eyes on nicely, for this bra I actually used a little fabric glue stick to keep them in place, did a straight stitch first, and then finally zig zagged them. It seemed to go more smoothly than usual.
I have to say I was skeptical that my flimsy knicker elastic would be enough support for the lace portion of the straps, but there are two rows of elastic on the strap in the end, and it seems to be holding up just fine.
Machines / settings used:
I don't have any settings for View D, but for View A I used my serger with wooly nylon in the top looper, so that it was next to my skin when the seam was topstitched down. It worked pretty well.
Brother 1034D serger
Differential Feed: 2
Stitch Length: 3
Stitch Width: 7
Tensions: Left Needle: 4.5, Right Needle: 3.8, Upper Looper: 3.3, Lower Looper: 4.2