If you have seen any of my sewing posts or makes I am well known having large natural breasts and with a full bust of 44.5″ to 47″ (depending on the support of the bra I am wearing at the time) and an under bust of 34.5″ I find it extremely hard to go bra shopping and find something that fits “OK”. I usually find myself purchasing a 38H or a 40H in the Cacique line through Lane Bryant and I feel socially acceptable meaning I am supported enough to not feel like a broken-down milk cow. In reality, I pop out of the top of a 38H when I bend over and the 40H is too big in the band so it shifts up in the back as well as the underwires fall to the side/back of my rib cage leaving uncomfortable rub spots.
I have been stalking the bra making forums and bra making pattern designers for almost a year now but there is A LOT of information out there! I have read articles and excerpts on how to draft a bra pattern based on measurements but with two small children and running the family commercial print company there is not a lot of time to wrap my head around a project like that. Then Melissa of Phee Fabrics says, “Hey, I am stocking bra kits, foam and underwires!” My first thought was … Shiiit, I’m really going to have to do this …
After many people with larger cup sizes recommended a designer I went ahead and messaged Orange Lingerie on Facebook. She was extremely helpful in pointing me to the right direction based on my measurements and what I needed in a bra: support and variety. At this point in my life the last PRETTY bra I was able to own was when I could squeeze into a 36F from Frederick’s of Hollywood! So I purchased the Orange Lingerie Boylston with a recommended size of 36J.
I was thinking I would just take you from pattern purchase to the grand finale but after having my hands on all of the different fabrics – some of which were entirely new to me in my over 25 years of sewing – I thought I would take you through this journey to perfecting MY bra in hopes you will join me!
From the top, clockwise, we have the poly-laminate foam, white Techsheen and white 40 denier Tricot. I could go on and on about these but the Phee website has already listed all the important info on the website. I will, however, point out that the foam is chlorine-safe! Meaning if you need/want custom swim cups this is PERFECT. If you are overwhelmed with all the notions, Phee Fabrics also has bra kits.
Before you really dive in to sewing your bra I would recommend sewing some test scraps with these fabrics and make notes, especially if you are new to them. By writing the stitch lengths, widths and tensions on the scraps, I will be able to toss these into my sewing bag for future reference.
The Boylston is not originally written for foam but it was was easy to convert using Cloth Habit’s series to make a foam cup bra from an existing pattern.
An extra item I used on this first round was double galloon lace as I followed the instructions from Orange Lingerie to make a lace upper cup based on an existing pattern. Something to remember that DOES NOT come in the bra kits are the underwires (refer to your pattern for the correct size and shape) and underwire casing – don’t ask me how I know *wink*. Another great thing is that you can return the underwires that don’t fit. If you forget these items, you will neeeed to place another Phee order – OH DARN! Here’s the inside view and as a first go-round with a real bra I am beyond pleased!
I have a few fit issues I need to work out. I feel the cup seams all meet at the right place over my nipples but once all of the breast tissue is in the cup I have a little extra over flow in the upper cup. I think I want to find a way to add more upper cup coverage and to see about what solutions there are to prevent slipping of the shoulder straps whether that is strap placement or addition of silicone. I know the slippage is due to having such developed neck/shoulder muscles from carrying so much breast weight over the years.
I am ecstatic that after one trial run I have a wearable muslin and the enthusiasm to try again (and again) with some adjustments. I already have dreams of all the pretty, custom-fitting bras I will have in my rotation instead of literally only 2 real, poor-fitting bras I wash repetitively. Here are my plans for a glorious pairing of Phee gorgeousness … the amethyst bra findings kit (don’t forget to add the amethyst underwire casing).
I hope you will join me as I continue on this crazy, scary, exciting bra making journey!!!
I agree you need a little more coverage up top for most garments, though this bra is gorgeous and would work well for maybe some daring evening wear. I am in awe that it’s your first bra. I’m going to get around to it!
You are now officially my inspiration!! I have been toying around with the thought of trying to make a bra. Last one I had “fit” at a bra store, I spent WAY to much on and I still can’t wear it, cause it’s too tight in the band. Well, maybe if I had someone to hood it for me I could wear it. And, I have always had trouble with the straps! You get the thing that hooks them together and then HOW may I ask, do you get into it? Really, is it muscles that keep the straps from staying up? I’m going to binge read your posts and probably stalk you to see if I can actually make something that will fit without killing me!
Congratulations on your first bra! Beautiful outcome and lovely pictures.
It looks lit you need a bigger cup for sure, so you may want to make a quick muslin to see see what cup size fits you best. The straps are slipping because on that style, the straps are wide set. It’s not you. 😉 They can be moved in, once you get the right cup fit. There are some very helpful bra making groups on Facebook you may want to check out.
If Orange Lingerie does not include a cup size to accommodate you, I have good luck with a couple others you might want to try. Porcelynne – great workout bra patterns and her underwires are made from carbon steel, they are unbendable, my go-to. My bra pattern favorite (I am also naturally well endowed and require support) is The Shelly Bra by Pin Up Girls from Bramakers Supply. The Shelly Bra with Porcelynne’s Long Vertical Underwires are my magic recipe.
There are many bra patterns out there these days, you will find what works well for you, even if you end up self drafting. 😉
Thank you for sharing your sewing adventure, and helping women struggling with the same issues.
The bra is gorgeous on you, and looks like a high-end couture bra.
Choosing the right sewing pattern is a challenge, and a matter of personal preference regarding the shape of the bra cups. Many bra patterns will have a very prononced forward projection (1950′ types), which is not the case for the Boylston bra which has a modern-looking round shape, similar to the Maya Bra (AFI Atelier) or the Harriet (Cloth Habit). Indeed, the shape of the cup could be modified to reduce the forward projection (see Cloth Habit blog). For example, you can reduce the forward projection Black Beauty (Emerald Erin) with a simple pinch out of the middle of the “dart” of the only cup seam; and since that modification reduce the cup volume, then the cup size has to be increased by 1 to 2 sizes (see cup sizes equivalence).
Indeed, the Boylston pattern could be modified if you wish so. You could make a testing bra with the 36 band, the 40 J cups, double the bra straps, put the bra straps a bit more toward the center back. As you increase the cup volume, the breast will separate at center front, the bridge will almost touch the skin, and the breasts will go more on the sides. Maybe there are many sizes that could have their advantages in specific situations.
Thank you again for sharing your projects.
Hi! I’m BRAND NEW to bra sewing, having just made my first one, but looking at the beauty you made, I think (maybe) you might need to move the straps just a touch closer to center in the back, and that may keep them from falling off. I’m helping my friend make this bra in like a 30J and may have questions!