How to Make a Soft Bra

Hello, all!

Over a year ago, last May, I bought my first Real sewing machine. It was a Janome 2030, and I loved it. Still do, as a matter of fact, and now I’m confident enough in my sewing abilities to share some of that experience and teach whoever is interested on how to make a soft bra.

On my Instagram, I posted a photo of this set:

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I was then asked by a commentor how to make the set, and if I would do a tutorial. I delightfully agreed, and so here I am.

The pattern I’ll be using is the Ohhh Lulu Sews Jasmine bra pattern. However, I’ve seriously altered the pattern over a series of trial and errors to find the best fit for me. I lowered the centre part, made the peaks  of the cups higher, adjusted the cup curve, made the band narrower, and at times replace it altogether with a proper U-back design with powermesh. All this means is that you can do whatever you like to the pattern. Think of it as like a recipe; you can follow it to a T for the first time, and then once you’ve got the hang of it, you can alter it to suit you. There’s also a wonderful free pattern on madalynne.com that you an use.

What You’ll Need 

  • Half a yard of your choice of fabric (or fabrics, if you decide to do two)
  • Cotton Jersey in the color of your choosing
  • 1 yard underband elastic (you can use any thickness you want)
  • 1 yard foldover elastic
  • 2 yards of bra strap elastic
  • Sliders and rings (for the bra straps)
  • 1 Hook and eye closure
  • 1 cutting mat (optional)
  • 1 rotary cutter or fabric scissors
  • A pattern of your choice
  • An ironing board and iron
  • a serger (optional)
  • A soft measuring tape

20150710_141253Now, upon starting the photographs, I realized two things: 1. That  I was working out of a dorm room, and you would all see my sad little studio, and 2. That I was working with dark fabric and not-so-great lighting, so it was hard to see what I was doing at times. As a result of the second one, I decided to make a couple of bras using different fabric to show you what it would look like, and so that you could see the detail.

Start off by placing your pattern pieces on the fabric. Begin to cut, careful to get the exact shape.

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For the centre piece, if you’re choosing to use Ohhh Lulu’s multi-cup-piece bra (or any bra pattern that has more than two cup pieces), cut that fabric out:

20150710_142033My sequin fabric is from Fabricland, but you can get sequined fabric online from Etsy.

Once you’ve cut out your fabric pieces, get your cotton jersey and do the same thing. That will be your lining.

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Now that you’ve cut your fabric, take it to your machine and sew together the centre pieces, using half-inch seam allowances.

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Good sides facing each other, and start off slowly so that the fabric doesn’t get pulled down into the feeder dogs on your machine.

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Next, sew together the outer cup pieces. Good sides should be facing each other.

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Once you’ve done that, repeat those steps for the lining. For the colorful bra, I only partially lined it, leaving the lace section sheer:

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The lining and the front of the bra, left separate. Don’t attach the band yet!

Pressing the Seams and Serging 

Take both bra front and lining to your iron. Press the seams.

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Unpressed seams
Pressed seams (sort of).
Pressed seams (sort of).
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When the seams start to wrinkle, you might want to cut little triangles in the sides to allow the seam to lie flat.

I found the seams for the front of the bra didn’t press so well, so I just cut them off. I knew the fabric wouldn’t fray, so this worked out pretty well. If you want to do that, make sure that the fabric doesn’t fray. Normally, though, I would press the seams flat.

Now that you’ve done that, take the bra back to the sewing machine and attach the band pieces.

The bad sides should be facing each other when you attach the ban piece. Make sure the seams are still flat!
The bad sides should be facing each other when you attach the band piece. Make sure the seams are still flat!

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Now, serge the seams. If you’re only partially lining your bra, serge the middle seams and the side seams, and if you’ve fully lined it, then only serge the side seams. If you don’t have a serger,  you can zigzag stitch the seams. 
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Elastic Time

Now it’s ELASTIC TIME. Grab your band elastic and zigzag stitch it to the RIGHT SIDE of the bra, like so:

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Make sure the picot edge is facing upwards!

Pull gently on the elastic as you do this, so it hugs your underbust once on. To give you an idea of how much you should be pulling, you can cut your elastic 15-20% shorter than the bra. However, this trick doesn’t usually work for me, so I keep the elastic attached to the roll until I’m done.

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Trim back any excess fabric
Trim back any excess fabric

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Once you’ve stitched on the elastic to the front of the bra, flip it underneath and zigzag stitch it. I prefer to do this step on the elastic, rather than the top of the bra. What this means is that you flip the elastic, and then sew directly onto the elastic rather than the reversed side, the top of the bra. It makes for a straighter stitch because you can follow the line of the elastic. And because I don’t think ahead, I forgot to take photos of what I mean, so instead I grabbed one of the bras that I’d already made and sewed along it to show you the technique I use:

Make sure that you’re pulling the fabric gently away from the elastic as you sew. This will ensure that you won’t have any excess fabric where the elastic is, and it’ll let the picot edge show nicely.

Grab your hook and eye closure and hold it up to the ends of the bra. Make sure it fits, and if it doesn’t trim down or cut any excess or lack of fabric. (Hint: if it’s too wide for your hook and eye, then trim it down to make it narrower. If it’s too narrow for your hook and eye, cut it just a little bit to shorten the band sightly and make it thicker). At this stage, it’s probably better for the hook and eye to be too wide for the bra, because the foldover elastic will add width to the band.

Take your foldover elastic and sew it to the wrong side of the garment.
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Use a wide zigzag stitch for this, pulling gently so it hugs your bust once you’re wearing it.

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Trim away any excess fabric.

Then, as the name suggests, fold your elastic over and topstich down.

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No need to pull for this part!

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Ta-da! You’re more than halfway done!

Hook and Eye Closure 

Now it’s time for the fun stuff. My favorite parts of bra-making: sewing on the hook and eye and straps.

I always sew the hook and eye closure on before the straps, so you can try on the bra beforehand because I’m an impatient child. You can sew the hook and eye and straps on in whatever order you’d like, though.

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For the eye, I like to do a tight zigzag stitch and then straight stitch it to lock it in place, backstitching for both stitches. You can also bartack it, or straight stitch, though I don’t know how well the latter will hold. For the hooks, I straight stitch to hold it in place, and then go over it with a zigzag stitch. You might find that your presser foot is too wide to allow the hooks to be sewn on, so you may want to switch to a narrower presser foot, or change the position of your needle.

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Strap time!

Take your strap elastic and a soft measuring tape. Cut 21 inches for each strap, and then an additional 6 inches. Cut the 6 inch strip in two. This will be the holding for the ring.

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Fold your 3-inch strap piece like this to hide the raw edges, and then sew it on. Make sure the plush side is facing up.

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Sew the top part of the 3-inch strap piece, with the ring in it.

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Lie the bra flat with the band pieces out. Take the strap elastic and slide it through the ring, plush side up, from the back of the ring. Don’t go through the front of the ring or your strap will be backwards (ask me how I know that).

Repeat this step for the other side.

Next, it’s time to make the straps. Take your slider and 21-inch strap piece:

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Step 1: Put the strap piece through the slider.
Step 1: Put the strap piece through the slider.
Step two: put the strap piece through the other section of the slider.
Step two: put the strap piece through the other section of the slider.
Fold it over like this.
Step 3: Pull it through and fold it over like this.
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Step four: Sew it in place.

Repeat these steps for the second 21-inch strap piece.

Then, take the strap pieces and put them into the rings, from the back. Ensure the plush side is facing up:

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Your bra should now look like this.

Now all you have to do is sew on the straps to the front using a bartack or tight zigzag.

Using the same technique we did to conceal the raw edge, sew the strap onto the front of the bra, lining it up with the seams:

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Hooray!

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Now cut off all of those pesky little threads, and sew on your choice of embellishment.

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Hooray!

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Tutorial 1

Tutorial 6

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Congratulations, you’re done!

I’d love to see all of your wonderful creations. Link me in the comments to a photo on Imgur, your blog, or email me with photos!

Next week is how to make the matching panties.

Is there anything you didn’t see in this tutorial that you’d like to? More photos? More videos? Let me know down below!

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Until next time,

AFILAL

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