If it’s free, maybe it’s NOT for me

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links, as noted. If you make a purchase using one of my affiliate links, it will cost you nothing extra, but will send a little “cha-ching!” my way. 🙂

I was SO EXCITED when I heard that Phee Fabrics (aff) was stocking bra-making supplies! I have always had a hard time finding ready-to-wear bras. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life, and my breasts are far from being firm and perky. Plus I’m now 45 and have had a child that I breast-fed for over a year, so…

Anyway…I thought, now that I have been sewing for myself for a few years, why not try making my own bra? I thought that I would start with something simple…a bralette..and a free one at that! I picked the Barrett Bralette from Madalynne Intimates. This free download comes in sizes XS-3XL, and it states in the pattern that it’s “generally intended for smaller sizes – cup sizes AA-C”.

I was excited to get started, and selected my supplies from Phee!


Affiliate links to supplies:

Note: You can also just buy a convenient Bra Kit (aff) and get everything you need!! (P.S. I ended up not using the hook and eye fastener.)

I had downloaded this pattern a while ago, and thought it so cute! I really should have paid attention to the fact that it looked cute on a mannequin that had pretty much no boobage.

I’m not even sure what size I am in ready-to-wear bras, as the last time I bought them (which was when I finally ditched my nursing bras 12 years ago), I ended up with some that were for a “range” of sizes. I wear the XS, which equates to a 32A-C, I think. Based on my measurements, I printed the size L in the Barrett. I cut out my pieces and got ready to get started.

Once I had the front/side cups and band sewn together, before adding any elastics, I tried it on, and thought it was a bit big through the back band. I thought maybe adding the elastics would tighten it up, so I just forged ahead. I should have gone with my instincts at that point, which were telling me to redo the back band and take out some of the excess, but, not being experienced in bra-making at all, I didn’t.

On to the elastic. Here is where the pattern failed me. There are no measurements given for the lengths, which was fine for the front neck and the little cut-out in the front, as they apparently should be 1-1. However, all the instructions say about the underarm/back elastic is that you should stretch it, but then in states “I didn’t use any calculation, and have developed a “feel” for how much to stretch, which you will too with practice ;)”. Um…thanks?

So, I was really just winging it from this point. I started pinning/clipping my elastic, stretching as I went, and hoped for the best. Sewing it was a nightmare…things kept shifting, and then weren’t caught with my zigzag, so I had to unpick and redo…multiple times.

Then came the underbust/band elastic. Again, no measurements given, so I went with 2″ less than my underbust measurement. Once I got it sewn, I tried it on, and wow…SO BIG. At this point, I was not going to take all the elastic off and redo the back band…I had already unpicked way too many times, so I went to my trusty serger and just serged off about 3″ on the back.

That was the only way to somewhat salvage this, but to be honest, this bralette is pretty much unwearable for me. There isn’t any real support, despite using the powernet for my lining layer, and it’s really hard to get on and off over my shoulders. I don’t think a bralette is for me. I need more support, so maybe I just need to find another pattern and try again. In this instance, “if it’s free, it’s for me!” was not the case!!

Here are the results…and I’m only smiling because my husband made me laugh commenting on my previous “grumpy face”. Which was caused by making this bra.


Some good points about this bralette – the seams are all fully-encased, which is nice, and the instructions are pretty good, except for adding the elastics. She recommends using a spray adhesive for the front cups, which I didn’t have, but used a glue stick. I would also either baste or glue the side cups/back band AFTER attaching them, as they really tried to shift on me while adding the elastics. Not fun.

In conclusion, I would NOT recommend this pattern for a beginner. Not unless you are prepared to start with scrap fabrics and maybe sacrifice some elastic as you go. I know I will not be making this pattern again. The fit and style are just not right for me. The only thing that made this project somewhat bearable was the amazing supplies from Phee! The lace and elastics are so comfortable, and I’m sorry now that I wasted them on this pattern. Oh, well. After a break, I hope to try another bra…but not until I’ve had a chance to recover from this one.




Bralettes for the Heavily Breasted

Hey all, its Nicki again, back with… can you guess?

That’s right, more pictures of my boobs! WOOOO!!

Last month we hacked the Christina sports bra to have a strappy back, while keeping all of the support that those gifted with large jugs need in the day to day. This month I wanted to talk a little bit more about how I utilize my  favorite Phee fabrics to get as much support as possible from all of the bralettes I make.

The secret to good support? It really is very simple, I layer. 

Layer my fabrics that is. The secret to good support is a layer of powernet, sometimes as the bralette lining itself and sometimes in-between the outer fabric and the lining, but I always use it. Always. Sometimes I even use two layers of powernet, one cut on the grain line and one cut against it, to get even more support in my me made bralettes, like in the black bralette above which is a layer of black powernet over a layer of bisque powernet. The result? A bralette that keeps my 34H , heavy sweater puppies up all day and in place.

I use the powernet in ALL pieces of all of my bralettes. Many patterns suggest only using it in the cups, but I have found using it in the back bands as well really helps eve out the weight of my breasts around my body, so it isn’t all on the straps.

But besides using powernet, There are a few design features I look for in the bralette patterns I choose to use to help me maximize possible support. I make sure to choose bralettes that have a “long-line” option like the Noelle Bralette pictured above which is made from grey circular knit, white stretch lace, and a powernet liner. This allows me to add a hidden, thick elastic under the bust, which helps to keep the bralette in place and stop it from riding up.

I also like to choose patterns that allow me to utilize adjustable straps, like traditional bras have. This is because all elastic stretches over time, especially elastic that is under the stress of holding up heavy breasts all day, and having adjustable straps allows me to tighten them throughout the day and keep the support from lessening over time.

And there you have it, three simple things to account for when trying to make supportive bralettes! Sewing lingerie is really not as hard as it may look to be and if you haven’t tried it yet I would highly recommend it! Lingerie sewing is rewarding on a whole new level than apparel sewing, especially when you can make such cute things that fit and give you what you need!

Patterns Used: House Morrighan Poppy Bralette and Madelynne Noelle Bralette, Frankie Panties