As I promised, I’m finally back with one of my recent DIY sewing projects. This is an intimate DIY project! Just so you know, I will not be modeling the undergarment. I have a special assistant who will be assisting me with that!
Over the many, many years, as my age climbed, my body type slowly changed to where I was having difficulty finding brassieres to fit my now “wider” (and always short-waisted) torso. In the past decade I found that bralettes worked the best for me. Though not perfect, they were easy to put on and take off and were very comfortable. I always liked and worn the front clasp bra style. Can’t tolerate back hook styles. The pull-over-the-head style is my favorite. And these bralettes are similar to sports bras.
A particular problem I’ve had since my teenage years when I was thin, the typical shoulder straps would always slide off my shoulders! It seemed that every few minutes or so I’d have to pull them up. So annoying! Then I discovered the t-strap or racer-back style, but they weren’t manufactured in abundance. There was always something I didn’t like or the fit wasn’t right.
Even the pull-over-the-head bralettes haven’t been perfect for me. The past several years I've been wearing ones with multi-crisscross straps that have slide adjustments that create bumps through my clothes. Not my favorite. Multiple skinny straps easily get tangled and twisted. But I have to have straps that don’t slip off the shoulders. Then, because of my short-waisted-ness, the back band always rolls up. Plus, I need to have some padding in the front for coverage, if you know what I mean.
So what does a girl do when store-bought undergarments don’t quite fit the bill or the body? Hmm….
1 - You look for bra patterns, but you can't find one that will truly work for your body type - because they're just like the ones in the stores.
2 - You realize you're in a bind now and decide to make your own! No store-bought pattern - just your worn-out bra to guide you!
Seriously…I could not find any bra or pattern that would work for me. I have a LOT of experience trying on bras that don’t fit right! I even ordered a custom-made organic fabric bra from an Etsy shop. I LOVED the style. It was unique. It was a pullover, but in the end her unique style of bra did not work with my body type. (tears of sadness!) That was after the shop owner and I mailed her bra back and forth a couple times for adjustments (including one of my own bralettes so she could see what I was wearing).
AND I sent her photos of myself so she could see how her bra looked on me. (Yikes! I still can't believe I actually did that!) Being short-waisted (and wide, aka extra-heavy) has its issues! Alas…I was stuck with the job of making my own! But I did relish the idea because I could make changes.
Is it scary to do this? Perhaps! But I was determined to wear the same style minus the awful skinny straps. I adjusted the height/length of the back piece so that the wide elastic straps didn’t need to cross and they wouldn’t slip off the shoulders.
This is not a tutorial, but if you are gifted with making clothes, I truly believe you can make undergarments with your own patterns by seeing the process of how I made my bralette from scratch. If that idea scares you, you can purchase a bra pattern instead of creating your own. Some companies have kits where all the supplies and instructions are included.
Here's what I did:
I made my own pattern from the bralette I was wearing. I did not need to cut up the bralette, though you can do that if you are making your own pattern. I took measurements from the bralette, drew two pattern pieces (front and back), added seam allowances, and cut out the front and back pieces from white stretch knit fabric.
This is what I was working with (and wearing for way too long!) - the front and back of two bralettes with the pads removed. You do not want to wear old undergarments just in case you get cut up in a train wreck! (my own translation of Anne Shirley's statement (Anne of Green Gables) when Anne was on her way to PEI to be adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert). Always wear your best underclothes! 😊
My new altered/adjusted bralette patterns - front and back. I folded the pattern pieces in half and pinned the patterns on the fold of the knit fabric for ease of cutting.
Here I am stitching the side edge. I cut out two fronts so I could insert the pads in between.
Here I have both front bralette pieces (inside and outside) together (double layer front). The turned edge on the right (underarm seam area) will not be stitched through to the outside front piece as the bra pad will need to be slipped into the side seam area. The pad needs to be removed when the bralette is washed.
Here's another view of the double layer front where the inner layer side edge is shorter and not stitched through to the outside layer. That's where the bra pad will be slipped through as I mentioned above.
This is the bralette front (double layer) showing the inside of the bralette. The two front pieces were stitched right sides together then turned right side out and pressed. The outside layer extends past the inner layer at the sides. Only the outside edges will be stitched to the bralette back piece to allow the bra pads to be inserted in between the front layers at the side seams. Am I confusing you yet? 😊
I didn't take photos of each step. Here's the finished bra without the pads inserted yet.
Not a typical elastic for straps, but I chose one-inch-wide fold-over elastic and I am pleased with that. No more tangled skinny straps! And they don’t slip off my shoulders. Except fold-over elastic is not good to use for the lower band because with my body type, it will fold over! Typically, fold-over elastic is used to finish/cover the edges of stretchy garments to give a nice clean look.
Here's a view of the inside of the bralette side seam area where the inner front layer is not attached to the outside front layer which allows a gap where the bra pad will slip through.
Another view of the inside showing the side seam area. Along with the wide elastic straps that I used for the lower band as well.
I still have issues with the back band rolling up, so after making two bralettes, I need to make adjustments to the back of the bralette. Possibly shorten the length of the back piece so the bottom sits higher on my back and won’t roll. Or add more width to the side seams near the band bottom edge. And not use fold-over elastic for that part.
Here's another photo of the finished bralette with the bra pads in place. They were inserted through the side seams on the inside of the bralette.
The photos are a mix from making two bralettes. The last photos show the bralette worn by my sewing assistant. 😊
Dolly - my sewing assistant - is smaller than me (sigh!) and so the bra band doesn't fit snug on her in the front. But it still looks good and I'm so delighted I have something to wear that fits much better than the store-bought ones with the skinny straps!
Back view. I love having a higher back and the wide straps. Feels very comfortable and the straps do not slip off!
I dressed her up in some lace for the last few views. Here's the side seam.
Back view again.
The final photo dressed up with her initial pendant. In case you're interested in one of these pendants, you can find them in my Etsy shop here!
I hope you enjoyed my undergarment sewing project and have been inspired to do something similar! As you know, my expertise is making bags as there are no fitting issues involved! (You can check out my bags HERE)
I’m getting more courageous and confident in making my own clothes. Making my own patterns from my clothing practically guarantees a well-fitting garment!
I will be showcasing soon another DIY pattern sewing project from an old piece of clothing. Plus a special embroidery project I entered in our church's Ladies County Fair in October. I do have a couple new recipes to share, as well. Something for cozy autumn and winter dining! YUM!
Stay tuned! Have a great weekend!