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.
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:
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:
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!
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!
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!)
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!
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.
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!