17 January 2015

Lingerie: Long line strapless black bra

This was supposed to be my last finished project for 2014, but alas with a constant stream of visitors through my house during Christmas and New Year, two children home for school holidays, and being away for a week, it didn't leave much time for sneaking away to my studio for a bit of quiet, uninterrupted sewing time. So instead, this has become my first completed project for 2015. That also makes it, quite unintentionally, fit with the January stashbusting theme of Renewing Sewing.

This is my second attempt at making this particular bra, after my failed effort that turned into a regular black bra. The result on this one was much more successful too!

I went back to the drawing board for the pattern for the bra cups, and using my previous bra pattern for my hand dyed bra, I took a few darts out of the upper cup to give it a closer fit at the top of the cup, along with a few other minor cosmetic changes to the style. For the bra band, I used the pattern that I had originally made for the long line bra. The band measures approx 5cm long across the front, just long enough to go to the bottom of my ribs. My post baby shape starts to widen again below that, so your standard long line bra, or bustier bra, is generally too long for me and won't fit comfortably.

I used some of my black supplies that I bought at Metro Fabrics, and, of course, the more recent findings that I had sent from Bra Makers Supply in Canada with my new books! For ease of working out my costings (below), I haven't included any of the postage costs to these supplies. In my head, I've allocated all of that to the cost of acquiring the books themselves!

I used grip elastic along the top and bottom edges of the bra. Rather than read up on how to sew it in (I'm more of a work it out yourself person anyway), I just winged it, thinking to do a narrow row of zig zag stitching top and bottom, to avoid sewing over the silicone bead across the middle. This worked fine, except for one thing. The silicone grips onto more than just your skin. It stuck to the presser foot, and caused bunching in the elastic. Unpicking ensued. What I did then, was use some tear away interfacing (tissue paper would have worked just the same), made a fold near the edge to give a nice crisp line, and placed that over the silicone on the elastic. Mostly the stitching missed the tear away, but where I did stitch it, I just pulled it free. That worked a treat!

As with my last black bra, I used foldover elastic along the top of the bra cups. I had planned on not stretching the FOE it as I sewed it in, as it seemed to pull in too tight on the last bra, but when I tried this bra on, it seemed to gape too much, so I did some unpicking and took 2cm of elastic out of each side. Isn't it annoying that you can't get a feel for how a bra is going to fit until you've almost finished it? I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing until I had finished it off with the underwires, elastic and back closure. Worked fine.

Based on the disastrous fitting of my previous black bra, I used a stretch lace that was wide enough to cover the powernet on the back band. This is the second of my lace camisoles that I repurposed from my lingerie drawer, (the first pale blue one I used on my blue lace bra) and have now put to good use. This added stability to the back, as did the plastic boning that I added straight down from the centre of each bra cup, and on a slight angle at each side.

For the casing on the boning, rather than use the padded underwire casing as I have read, I cut a bias strip from my black silk, and sewed it in before the elastic. I also read that you should put the boning on after the elastic, but I didn't want the ends of the boning to have any chance of sticking into me, like another bra that I have, so thought it best to have the elastic between me and the boning.

The hooks and eyes I bought by the metre, and worked out how many hooks I was going to use before I cut everything out, to make sure that the sizes matched. Instructions on how to use it say that the cut edge doesn't need to be finished. I usually use a narrow zig zag down each edge of my hook and eye closures anyway, so did the same here, but went down and back, as it is still a raw edge, and in my opinion did still need to be finished off properly.

I only made my removable straps when everything else was done. I used another piece of strap elastic to make my loops, and cut the straps long enough so that I can wear the straps crossed over or straight.

Another use for scraps of tear away, is to put under your sliders and hooks when you're sewing them in place.

See how the slider on the right has scratches on it? This was caused by the feed dogs on my machine. Oopsie! To stop that happening again, I used tear away interfacing underneath so that the feed dogs were gripping into the interfacing rather than my sliders!


Interfacing, silk, lace, plastic boning and powernet - stash / gifted to me
$0.64    Bra wadding
$0.77    Tricot
$0.66    Underwires
$1.20    Underwire casing
$0.07    Fold Over Elastic
$2.45    Grip Elastic
$2.80    Strap elastic
$2.39    G-Hooks and sliders
$2.67     Hook and eye tape
$0.68    Thread (rough estimate)

Grand Total  $14.32

(All costs are in Australian Dollars)

That makes this my most expensive bra to date, and doesn't even include the value of the silk, lace, powernet or boning! It's still so much cheaper than buying a bra though, and it fits me, and suits my body shape.

The fit. I quite surprised myself by how comfortable this bra is. I had been expecting it to be uncomfortable, or dig in around my ribs, but it doesn't do that at all, and I really like it! The grip elastic makes sure that the bra doesn't move at all! I keep feeling that I need to adjust it, but I think that's because I'm not used to having a bra sitting so far down on my ribs.

Although I don't feel like I'm going to fall out of the cups at all, they don't feel as secure when I wear it without the straps (which I have so far done for all of half an hour?) Do all strapless bras feel like that? I honestly can't remember, as the last time I wore a strapless bra was easily five years ago, and it hasn't fitted me for a long time. It may be worth investigating how to turn my pattern into a push up bra which I think may solve the problem. Anyway, as I have nothing to wear that would actually require the bra to be worn strapless, it isn't really an issue. I pretty much made this bra just to show that I could. And I did.

Apologies for the less than clear photos, but black isn't the easiest colour to take photos of. I didn't want to try and take more, as the bra is now all wrinkled from having been worn for the rest of the day since I finished it, and I just wanted to get this blog post finished!

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