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!

BaretteBralette1

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.

BaretteBralette4

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.

 

 

 

Tips for Sewing a Lace Bralette

(Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)

Can I tell you a secret?

I was too afraid to cut into this lace! I remember browsing Phee’s website one late night. When I came across this lace, I was immediately captivated by its beauty. I HAD TO HAVE IT!

So I got it. And after holding it (and sniffing it because everything from Melissa smells like unicorns riding rainbows), I felt an overwhelming sense of intimidation.

Please tell me I’m not the only one that gets this way?

I wanted to choose a pattern that would maintain the elegance of the lace. I thought Madalynne’s free Sierra Bralette pattern fit that bill.

And after making the initial cut, I felt confident to continue with the project.

Although the pattern calls for powernet as a backing, I decided to use nude circular knit. I then used powernet to create pockets for inserts.

This project was my first time working with scalloped stretch lace. It definitely required finesse and delicacy, both with which my bumbling and clumsy hands struggled! lol

So, read on for some tips (and some lessons learned) for working with this beautiful lavender lace!

List of Materials

Fabrics:

Notions:

Note: I used 3/8″ picot elastic and strap elastic that I had in my personal stash.

Tips for Sewing Stretch Lace

First, use a small needle. When it comes to my swimwear, I pretty much use a Schmetz 90/14 needle throughout the entire project. For lace and thin pretty thangs, I recommend switching to 75/11.

Second, if you struggle with fabric slipping as it feeds through, use a walking foot. This really helped me with maintaining an even feed.

My third tip is more of a “wish list” thing:

I wish I had a second throat plate for sewing thin and delicate fabrics. My current throat plate has a wide eye (for zig zag stitches, moving the needle to the far left or far right, etc). But, what I would like is a throat plate with a small diameter eye for simple straight stitching. This would prevent fabric from being pushed into the machine and jamming everything up.

I didn’t have an issue with that, but if you do, you can feed your fabric through with paper or dissolvable stabilizer.

Tip No. 4: I don’t topstitch to secure the elastic; I bottom stitch (if that’s a thing). On the final pass for the elastic, try to zig-zag as closely to the elastic’s free edge as possible. This will prevent the elastic from flipping over to the front.

Also, I always use my standard presser foot when sewing elastics. It provides much more pressure than my walking foot. Finally, I switched to my 90/14 needle for this step, but that’s not necessary.

Something that I really struggled with was zig-zagging the scalloped edge to the circular knit. There were a bunch of twists and turns, which I wasn’t used to. When sewing the scalloped edge, I used my walking foot again. I was afraid of slippage. But, Madalynne’s pattern does recommend spray gluing your layers together (which I didn’t do because I didn’t have glue on hand), so I definitely think that would be the best route!

Last tip: Be very patient when you trim away the excess along the scalloped edge! And if you have duck-billed scissors, I highly recommend using them! If you’re not paying attention you can easily accidentally snip your lace.

Yes…I learned the hard way and immediately turned off Netflix after that one mishap. But, the beauty of this lace is that any mishap is easily camouflaged.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m happy with how my bralette turned out. There are a couple of changes that I will make to it once I am settled after my cross country move. One of those changes will be to make it a two-strap bralette rather than a halter bralette. There’s just too much tension around my neck with the way it is now. Also, I used strap elastic that I bought a long time ago from a Hancock’s out-of-business sale. I don’t like the ruching in the elastic. So I’m definitely going to get my hands on Phee’s strap elastic.

Other than that, this is a super comfy bralette that I’ll definitely be wearing! I’m usually in sports bras or bikinis. This is definitely a welcomed change! Makes my muscles and bitty boobies feel purdddyy lol

Talk to you later!

Monica