Bramaking!

Oh my gosh, guys: I’m in love with bramaking! I’ve always thought it would be difficult and too precise for me, but nope, turns out I’m pretty good at it and it’s really fun! (“Good” is relative, of course, but I did somehow finish 4 hours before anyone else in my class. Most of theme were quilters, and I think all my sewing with curves, knits and elastics put me in good stead.)

Ok, back to the start: I took a 2 day class at Bra Makers Supply in Hamilton, just an hour from where I live. It was taught by Denise, one of the store employees, but owner and “Fairy Bra Mother” Beverly (who teaches two bra courses on Craftsy) was there for the fittings.

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To start off, you try on different sizes of bras, until you get a reasonable fit, then Beverly makes notes on your individualized fitting changes. Here’s mine:

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It’s all very fast and efficient! Next, we traced our size and Denise made all our flat pattern changes for us, and Beverly checked them over. A lot of these changes were covered in the 2nd Craftsy class, but it was great to be able to ask questions while watching someone make just the right changes for me. Here’s how my pattern ended up:

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Finally you get to cut and sew! What surprised me is that not one of the steps was hard – it was just a lot of little steps, then BLAM! A bra! I told myself all along that it was just a muslin, and not too lose heart if it didn’t fit well – but hot damn, IT FIT! Every single on of the 7 women in my class loved the fit first time. That’s pretty amazing!

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The class was based on sewing up Beverly’s own pattern, the Pin-Up Girls Classic Bra. It’s a very full-coverage granny bra (when made in plain white) but I have to say, I really like the fit! It’s got very firm lift and support, with a shape you might find a bit pointy if you are used to “grapefruit” shaped RTW foam bras. What I really love is that through the class (or through the Craftsy classes, which are great), you can change that one pattern into LOTS of different styles. I love the idea that I can adapt this one pattern into many bras, instead of starting from scratch with fitting a new pattern every time!

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For my second bra, I tightened the band and lowered the bridge for a demi-cup style. This was so even more fun to sew! Way less waiting around to be told what to do next, and way more actual sewing. I also decided to use fewer pins and eyeball the seam allowances, because let’s be honest, that’s how I sew! I got it about 2/3 done during the class, and finished it off at home. No unpicking, baby! (I’m jinxing myself there, and I’m sure I’ll be unpicking tons on my next one!)

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Now, I have to be honest: #2 does not fit as well as #1. Even though we adjusted for my larger side in the original alterations, it pillows a bit in #2. Either it’s because the band is tighter, or maybe I pulled the cup elastic a bit tight… or maybe I need more space in the cup! I can see how much trial and error and guess work is going to be involved in perfecting the fit. In the mean time though, it’s perfectly wearable and oh-so-pretty!   

I’ve got materials for one more bra on hand – pink with purple lace! I”m hoping to make the straps wider set and lower the top edge of the cup – my first two bras come up so high they aren’t wearable with half my clothes! (More than half, honestly.) Gotta work on that! 

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Now, cost. The course cost $275 for two days, and that’s a lot of money. My sister and my husband both chipped in as my birthday gift, but I know it’s a really luxury to attend. Fo me, though, it was totally worth it. The materials for my pink and turquoise bras came to $87 including tax and thread, and if I bought more elastics, wires and findings I could easily get 2 more bras from the fabric leftover. Given that my RTW bras cost between $90-130, that’s really a good price! It feels good to have challenged myself technically, and I would certainly pick sewing a bra over shopping for one any day. 

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If you are interested in bramaking, here’s my best advice: 

1. DO IT! Just do it. It’s not that hard!

2. The kits from Bra Maker’s Supply are really good. Generous amounts of fabric, quality materials that give solid support, dyed-to-match notions in lots of colours. I know the website is archaic, but the product is good!

3. The Craftsy classes are a deal! The first one is how to sew a bra, and the second one shows you how to take that pattern and make all kinds of styles. (Rumour has it a third will be out in the fall!😉 I have trouble learning from Craftsy courses sometimes, but I found Bev’s teaching very easy to understand!

Have you been bitten by the lingerie bug? There’s still time left in the Sewcialist Lingerie Month if you are looking for some extra motivation!😉 We’ve had some really amazing posts by custom lingerie makers, pattern designers, authors and enthusiastic sewists!


41 thoughts on “Bramaking!

  1. Sounds like the class was really fun. What a luxury to have samples to try on and experts to help adjust the pattern. I’ve dipped my toes in with a watson bra & will definitely keep trying.

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    1. I’ve got a copy of Watson too, but haven’t tried it yet. It always seems to work well in all the blog posts I’ve seen about it though! Good luck!

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    1. Suddenly I find myself thinking, “If only I’d made my shoes, too…!”
      How is Florida? Are you getting settled?

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  2. I registered for the beginner’s course on Craftsy a while back, but have been so busy, I haven’t even looked at it! I plan on buying the kits through the website…thanks for the favourable review! And lovely makes, by the way!

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    1. Isn’t it exciting that Canada has the best retailer, for once? Not that I imagine shipping is any cheaper – I know Blackbird’s shipping to Ontario is crazy expensive!

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  3. I love her class-and I agree, the sewing of it isn’t bad, but the fitting…. Ugh. I temporarily gave up, 8 months ago (oops – that long???) Just checked and its only a 10 hour drive straight north…. Maybe next summer!!

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    1. 10 hours for good bras – totally worth it? For what it’s worth, they send out a list of hotels when you register, and they apparently have lots of Americans come up for the classes!

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  4. Yay! Let’s get more people making bras! I had a really hard time with the fitting, but I think I have it sorted now, so I’m looking forward to making more. As an aside, I do NOT think that non-foam cups have to be pointy. That is how a lot of bra patterns are, but none of my RTW seamed bras have the problem.

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    1. I totally agree – and I did get their help to make a more rounded cup pattern, as well. It counts as a “minimizer” adjustment though, which somehow throws me off – minimizing is not my goal! I actually quite like the pointyish shape of this bra – makes clothing hang nicely on me!

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  5. Heh, heh, welcome to the dark side! I took the one week ‘boob camp’ last July and haven’t stopped bra making since! In fact, I’m back at the end of September for the one week fitting and alterations class. As I’m nearly three and a half thousand kms away . . . . . it makes sense to to stay for a bit longer! I got both the Craftsy classes and have used the second one to make a partial band bra (comfiest ever) as well as making the adjustment to stop the straps falling down. I love making bras – so satisfying, and as you say, not at all difficult once you know the steps.

    So answer your question, I have been bitten by the lingerie bug! Oh yes, indeed!

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  6. Your two bras are looking so good! I like the colours very much and I think they are very YOU. I have attended a local class of bra making and I have made a Shelley bra looking at the craftsy course1 and have got a Shelley bra pattern that fits quite well. A tip for sewing exacly: there are patchwork feet with guide (e.g. Bernina 57) which make it easy to gard the seam allowance! Only straight stitches, though! I am eager to see your pink bra!

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    1. I wish I had a 1/4″ foot! I might look into getting one – I also really want a pair of duck-billed scissors for trimming. Ohh the things I could spend money on!😉

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  7. gillian!!! holy cow say goodbye to 130 dollar bras! (or maybe say hello to bespoke handmade 130 dollar bras😉

    your work looks delicious. did you stitch the lace to the cups? beautiful!

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    1. Oh man, just think of the bras you could make, lady! Truth: I glued the lace on then stitched it into place! Keeping it klassy.

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  8. I’m so glad you loved the class!😀😀 Denise was my instructor, too. She’s really fabulous. I can’t wait to see more of what you make!❤ The turquoise bra is just gorgeous.

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  9. Wow fantastic! Classes are so much fun, and you always leave with so many pretty things and ideas🙂 You are going to be a pro bra-maker in no time! Can’t wait to see more of your makes!!

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    1. This was the first sewing class I’ve ever taken! It was the perfect time to buck up and pay for instruction though – hands on help was so good. Now to stop myself from buying ALL THE MATERIALS for far too many bras. Restraint, Gillian!

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  10. I love that even your bras match your color palette! It sounds like it was a great class. I have some other craftsy classes that I still need to work through, but it does sound like the bra-making ones could be good to try sometime.

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    1. Gotta match from head to toe, right?😉
      Maybe you and the babe can learn to sew bras together, while he’s got you pinned down!

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  11. So cool, Gillian! As a flatter-chested gal, I never considered the cost of supportive bras – yowza. Congrats on your new skills (and how neatly they fit in with your other sewing skills!)

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    1. I honestly cried when I went from a DD to an F – the cost of bras more than quadrupled from what I had been paying! Stupid weight gain giving me stupid bigger boobs. Now if I could looks the extra pounds and keep the boobs in customs bras, I’d be thrilled!😉

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      1. Holy cow! I can’t believe that cost increase – doesn’t seem reasonable because the labor would be the same and the fabric requirements wouldn’t be much greater, right?

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  12. Good on you! I’m in your pre-bra-sewing mindset at the moment.. it’ll be too hard, too many fiddly pieces, i can’t be bothered… I even have a Watson kit ready to go, but can’t bring myself to get started. Grrr!

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    1. Truth you would love it. There is so much scope for creativity and pattern alteration, which i think you would enjoy. Who teaches bra sewing in the UK?

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  13. Okay I really need to get down to it! I have felt the same as you did – it just seems to fiddly and complicated, but now I am excited to give it a shot!! I’m so happy you got to learn with the master and how lucky as you that you can shop at the store?!? Looking forward to hearing more as your bramaking journey progresses!

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    1. Do you need a sewing dare? (Oh god, do you think anyone cares that I haven’t done a wrap up for those? I feel bad but I also don’t really want to spend hours on it. Ya know? I could be sewing!😉
      For what it’s worth, she does seem to teach at some Saskachewan sewing conference every year! A little closer to home for you?

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  14. Such lovely bras Gillian! I can only imagine that over time the fitting and the construction will become second nature. You lucky Canadians! There is a lady in Kansas who teaches bramaking, but she hasn’t made it to CO since they’ve restructured (for the worse) our sew expo here. Someday I’ll dive in…someday. In the meantime, I love seeing other people’s work. They’re just beautiful!

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  15. I’m so glad you had such a good time! I’m taking a bra making class here in TO starting next week and I’m really looking forward to having a well fitting base to play around with. Love your fun colours, you are so colour coordinated.

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  16. That bra pattern sounds the buzz. I love the slightly pointy vintage bullet bra shapes but finding them in my size is near impossible. Your bras look lovely. The colours are superb. Really must give this a go.🙂 Xx

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