Eeek my first bra! Choosing the pattern and materials felt a bit like buying my first bra – not know the terminology nor really needing it. Yet possessing the desperate desire to enter the clique of bra wearing (now making) lasses. In the end I chose the Boylston Bra pattern from Orange Lingerie. And bought a kit from thebrashop on etsy. I’d really like to say here how helpful Alison from thebrashop was, answering my questions and adapting the kit to ensure it had everything I needed for the Boylston.
First step: establishing measurements. I was really careful taking my measurements, standing in front of mirror so I could make sure I was standing up straight and that the measuring take was parallel to the floor. My body circumference directly under bust is 30″, plus 4″ as per the directions and I have my band size: 34″. So far so good. Measurements at fullest part of bust 36″. Hmm not that can’t be right. Check again. Come back a week later and check again. Still 36″. Have I been measuring my full bust wrong all these years? Upper bust 34″, difference between full and upper bust – 2″ therefore I’m a B cup. 34B – exactly what I would buy in the shop (and to be fair fits just fine).
While the instructions are clear and straightforward, they require diligence and attention. I would have appreciated more details in the instructions and perhaps some more notches in the pattern pieces, which would indicate exactly what went where. And I was certainly challenged:
For example once I joined the lower cup pieces together, there is nothing to indicate which is the top and bottom – you have to rely on the pictures in the instructions (which I didn’t realize). As a result I proceeded to get myself quite muddled and having proceeded to attach and topstich the lower cup to the upper cup, I had to unpick it all because my lower cup was upside down. Ooops. Also although the pattern is designed to be used with soft foam, there aren’t any instructions for inserting these so this time I decided to skip the foam (although I did later find a useful tutorial on this over on Lladybird’s blog). In the end my cups looked pretty nice – both inside and out.
Sewing the bridge, frame and band together was straightforward and even attaching these to the cups was quite clear and straightforward. But I stumbled when I had to attach the casing for the underwire to the bra. To be honest I found the instructions for this and the accompanying image mind boggling confusing. In the end I refereed back to Lladybirds blog and from her pictures I thought I might know what they meant so just winged it. I think did it correctly. I also got quite confused and had to do alot of googling to learn what the hell a ‘pin stitch’ was, and in the end skipped that step and just top stitching around the casing on the bridge and frame.
The upside to buying a bra kit is also a downsize: I didn’t now what each of the notions required where and therefore struggled to identify everything in the kit. While I could refer back to the etsy listing and deduce what things were, it did mean that I used the leftover grey scallop edge underarm elastic for the bottom of the bra, while the kit actually contained some very pretty pink loopy bottom band elastic. But I wasn’t about to unpick all the zigzag stitch and risk wrecking my fabric for the sake of some pink trim. But the kit did come with a pretty little bow/flower.
Also the back of my bra wouldn’t nearly fit into the end of the eye attachment, so I put a dart in the ends of the back of the bra as that seemed to be the neatest way to make it fit.
I had a few issues with the straps. It wasn’t until I got to adding the elastic to the underarm and strap that I realised that I think I didn’t place the straps correctly. But I couldn’t think of a way to unstitch the top part of the cup to fix the placement. And later I found that the front strap was a tiny bit too wide for the ring on the back strap. So it’s a bit messy plus first time round, I got the strap turned around and twisted so had to unpick and do it again.
Fit wise its quite tight under the bust, I do bulge a bit under the arm, and I have to wear it on the last clasp. It’s much tighter than my RTW bras but that could be partially that all my RTW are old and probably quite stretch. Also I do POP out the top of the bra, that might partially be part down to design (it would look great with a plunging neckline) or it may be partly my poor construction or that I simply need to go a cup size up. Its hard to tell at this point.
All of that being said, I am immensely proud of having completed a wearable bra in a weekend. And I’m already planning my next one, having learned from all the above issues.