This is probably the quickest I’ve gone from making something to blogging about it but I was writing up a caption for my Instagram and realised, actually this was worth a blog post.
Let’s cut to the chase… I made a bra! I made this. Me! I did. I actually can’t believe it.
You may or may not know that the first (and last) time I made a bra was 5 years ago on The Great British Sewing Bee. I wouldn’t say it scarred me for life or put me off from making them again (although I don’t think I’ll ever forget it literally falling apart during the judging), but I had never really seen the need to sew myself a bra or any knickers.
But then earlier this year I started dabbling in underwear sewing and it made me think, maybe bra-making wasn’t such a wild idea? But honestly, I had no idea where to start. Thankfully Karu from Studio Costura sent me one of her bralette kits along with her patterns back in February*. I won’t lie, I opened this pack of delights up and was simultaneously excited by all the pretty fabric (I mean, look at it!) but also a bit overwhelmed by all the elastics. Then I got busy and just didn’t have the time to make it. Fast forward to this month and I finally took the plunge and oh my goodness, I can’t tell you how amazing this feels.
Post-partum most of my focus has been on my outer clothes- finding something that fitted my ever-changing body shape and new lifestyle was a priority (especially when very little of my pre-pregnancy wardrobe fit anymore). So those basic essentials fell to the wayside. Throughout pregnancy I had to buy multiple sets to take me through from 32A cup up to 36 bands and D cup, and then after R was born it was nursing bras. Then once that stage of life finished it was another set of bras for my now shrinking bust. Personally I found the whole thing emotionally draining. For one thing, bras are EXPENSIVE. This was costing me a lot and I couldn’t bring myself to splurge on ‘nice’ underwear which would potentially only last a few months/half a year. Then there was the fitting. Argh. I’ve been to fitters and I’ve measured myself. But like I said, it wasn’t long before the fit would be off and I’d be left with an ill-fitting bra again. And to be honest, I gave up caring. I lived in multipacks of bland underwear and made my peace.
Well, I say ‘peace’ but maybe that’s not so accurate. Let’s not forget the emotional journey of seeing your body change through pregnancy and beyond. If I’m honest, I’m still getting my head around my ‘new’ body shape. It’s not that I don’t love it, or appreciate all the things it has done- but it is something I wasn’t expecting to have to deal with (alongside new parenthood and all the challenges that come along with that). Three years down the line and I think I’m getting there, whatever ‘there’ might be. I’ve accepted that my hips are physically wider now and I’ve got a mum-tum my daughter calls my ‘jelly’. For nearly three years I had been trying to exercise to ‘lose weight’, starting and stopping various programmes, but it’s only since I just started working out for my own health that I’ve been working out consistently, 3x a week for over 6 months now. I’ve not lost a kilo but I can lift my 3 year old over my head and carry her on my shoulders- and to me that’s worth more than fitting back into my old clothes.
Fast forward to today, and I finally felt ready to accept my body as it is now and start treating myself to the luxury it deserves. So this week I made myself the Hanna Bralette…and I cannot tell you how emotional it felt to put it on once I stitched that last stitch. Apart from the ‘oh my goodness, this is so comfortable!’ (definitely not missing the digging-in of an underwire) but I was completely overwhelmed by how good it made me feel. It’s so pretty! It is gorgeous. The lace! The floral print jersey! The sheen of the elastic. The fit. Everything! It’s not perfectly made (I did get some puckers attach the hook to the main bra) but it is perfect for me. I know people say sewing is life-changing, and I’ve found that multiple times over my sewing-lifetime. And for me, this was another one of those moments. I felt beautiful in my underwear again, and that is no small thing for me.
Unsurprisingly, I quickly followed on by using some of the left over lace to make myself a pair of Stella ‘panties’ and now for the first time* in 3+ years I have a matchy-matchy set of underwear. (*Unless you count multi-pack plain cotton black underwear…which I don’t) and I’m honestly hooked. I’ve got enough jersey to make myself another set of knickers (with enough lace to add a trim/overlay) and I cannot wait. This has unlocked something in me and I don’t think I’ll be going back to my ‘meh-you’ll do’ bra purchases.
Now aside from the emotional journey this sewing project was, I’m sure you probably want a bit more detail on the actual sewing! So here’s a few notes on the making:
Being a complete newbie to this type of sewing I relied on the instructions a lot. But I didn’t need to worry, these were great! From the cutting layout (for the lace and jersey) to the instructions on how to sew the various elastics, everything was set out nice and clearly. The only place where I got a bit stuck was layering up the lace cup and jersey cups to be sewn together so that the seams were hidden. It took me a few attempts at pinning them before it ‘clicked’. I used my sewing machine for the bulk of the bra sewing (only using my overlocker for one seam), whereas for the knickers I sewed most of this on my overlocker and only used the sewing machine for the elastic. I found I had to experiment a little with the zigzag size and settled on a 3 width, 3 length for most of it (IDT on my Pfaff was a must, or a walking foot if you don’t have a Pfaff). The rest of the sewing was totally manageable (I will share on my Instagram my top tip for avoiding your lightweight jersey getting swallowed by the feed dogs!) and I found the sewing of lingerie elastic so much easier than fold over elastic (FOE). I preferred the method of ‘getting a feel’ for the elastic/stretching as needed rather than cutting to a fixed size. The pattern is impeccable and even my husband was surprised that I had made these myself. They really look that good! The great thing about sewing something this small is that the cutting out is so quick, you can spend the bulk of the project taking that extra time going slow with the stitching. The knickers were sewn in record time.
I would really recommend these patterns and the kit, if you are a beginner like me. The kits are actually such great value considering how much fabric you get and how much you can make out of them (around £30 minus delivery…which is from the EU- wah). I’m getting a bra (size: small) and two knickers (size: large) out of mine! But if you have a look at her Etsy store you can see the photos from other happy sewers (I’m 100% eyeing up the navy blue and purple sets!)
A note on sizing: My bust measurement put me in the “small” size for the Hanna bralette (it goes from 34″ to 43″- due to the bralette style Karu recommends it only for those up to a C-cup due to the lack of underwiring/support). I currently measure as a RTW 32C. For once I followed the instructions and made up a toile using some scrap jersey. I was so pleasantly surprised to find the fit was spot on. For the Stella knickers I made a size 42 (goes from 34″ to 46″ which I appreciate isn’t super size-inclusive). This time I was a bit naughty and just cut straight into the lace. But again, it fit like a glove (I had to piece the lace to create back but Karu talks you through how to do this if your lace is on the narrower side).
I am so in love with these and I know this is just the beginning. Let me know if you’ve tried your hand at bra sewing and if you know any good suppliers- bonus points if they’re UK based!
*Bralette kit was kindly gifted free of charge without obligation to make/post