How to Make a Bra – part 3, sewing your bra

So far this week, we’ve looked at how to draft a bra pattern, and fitting your bra pattern. Today, lets make up the pattern to sew a finished bra.

Your bra can be sewn by machine or by hand. I chose to sew by hand, as my machine has a push-button control that makes it hard to sew precisely, but machine sewing has the advantage of speed and a neater finish.

Most of the supplies you need can be either bought from a craft store or specialist supplier, or salvaged from an old bra. I managed to save wires, straps, hook-and-eye tape, and a small amount of powerknit fabric for the back band, from a past-its-best bra.

You’ll need:

  • non-stretch fabric for cups and (optionally) the front half of the band. A fat quarter is ample unless you are making a particularly large size.
  • stretch fabric (preferably ‘powerknit’ or similar) for either the whole of, or just the back half of, the band. For a half-band, about the size of a pocket hanky is plenty.
  • underwires
  • channelling – if you can’t find or salvage some underwire channelling, use knitted interfacing, folded double.
  • bra straps, or elastic and sliders to make straps.
  • 1-2cm wide elastic for bottom of band – up to 50cm (if elasticating the full band)
  • approx 0.5cm wide elastic or lingerie elastic for upper edge of band and arm edge of cup – around 1m
  • hooks and eyes – you can buy these loose or in tape form, or salvage from an old bra
  • ribbon, lace, or piping for top cup edge. This stabilises the edge and stops it stretching on the bias.
  • pattern
  • scissors, pins, needle and thread, etc.

The first step is cutting out – don’t forget to leave a seam allowance, and make sure your left and right cup pieces are aligned the same way on the grain of the fabric, to avoid odd cups due to the fabric stretching on the bias. For the cups, you’ll need to cut 8 lower cup sections (doubling the lower cup for added support) and two upper sections. For the band, you can either cut the entire band from stretch fabric, or cut the two of the front half (from side-seam to side-seam lines on your pattern) from non-stretch fabric, and two of the back section (from side-seam line to centre-back) from stretch fabric. Leave seam allowances at the top and bottom edges, but not at the side edges, as you need some negative ease in the band.

To assemble the cups, double the lower sections, so you are actually sewing four pieces together. Sew the centre seam, then press the seam allowances apart and topstitch bothe sides of the seam. Sew on the upper cup section, press all the seam allowances to the upper side of the seam, and topstitch the seam allowances into place.

If you’re making a half-band, sew the two layers together along the bottom edge, wrong-side-out, then turn right-side out, press and topstitch the seam. If you’re making a full stretch band, you only have one layer so you can skip this step.

You can now sew the cups into the band, taking care that they are both aligned the same way. You don’t need to topstitch this seam (yet) as it will be hidden and reinforced by the channelling seams.

Cut pieces of channelling (or doubled-over knit interfacing) about 3-4cm longer than the underwire. Baste into place along the outer edge of the cup seam, covering the seam allowances, then sew into place. Sew back-and-forth across the centre end of the channels several times, then thread the wires in through the underarm edge and sew over that end several times as well.

Measure your back elastic by holding or pinning the bra up to you, and then stretch the wide elastic across either from sideseam to sideseam (half-stretch band) or underwire-to-underwire (full stretch band), so that it is tensioned but not uncomfortably tight. You can then cut this length of elastic in half to get the right size piece for each side.

Pin the elastic to the band fabric at both ends, on the right side (start on the wrong side if using decorative elastic), then stretch so the elastic and fabric match and pin along the whole length. Us a stretchy whipstitch to sew the lower edge of the elastic to the fabric, then fold the elastic to the inside of the band and sew in place with a zigzag stitch or other elastic stitch. If you’re making a half-stretch band, you can now sew the sideseams once the lower elastic is in place.

Use the same technique to sew narrow elastic or lingerie elastic from the back strap point, under the arm, and up the armhole edge of the cup to the front strap point. Sew the strap across the centre back edge in the same way, as pictured.

Sew the fronts of the straps in place, and sew hooks-and-eyes to the ends of the band, aligning the hooks so that they won’t scratch when worn.

Finish by sewing lace or ribbon across the entire front top edge, and for the professional touch add a small bow between the cups.

Ta-daah!

27 thoughts on “How to Make a Bra – part 3, sewing your bra

  1. I found you through Under the Table. I have been wanting to learn how to make a bra for myself for the longest time! Thanks for the tutorial! I am so excited to try this out.

  2. This is so wonderful! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and taking the time to take pics and write this all up. I can’t wait to try!

    PS – found you through your post at Craftster, isn’t that place great?

  3. This looks amazing, and it’s wonderful to design one’s bra to own suiting and taste and also not having to spend a penny. :)
    Your tutorials are very useful and inspiring.
    I’m happy I have found you via SITS.

  4. Your sewing skills are amazing! That bra looks great!
    Thanks for linking to A Round Tuit!

    Have a lovely week.

    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  5. Pingback: sewingarama.com » Blog Archive » How to Make a Bra – Supplies and Materials

  6. Pingback: The Anatomy of a Bra | Idea Lingerie

  7. that bra lokks great.which elastic is prefered for making bra.I am lokking soft elastic.I dont know which brand is good.And tell me which fabric is good for making this type of bra.

  8. I’m afraid I couldn’t really tell you about brands of elastic – I used medium-soft elastic from the 100-yen store! I guess your best bet is to look for ‘lingerie elastic’.

  9. I love your tutorial. I used this bra making direction to draft a cup but it didn’t work so great. The band worked great. I am excited to see current stuff being written and used on the web. I would like to teach a bra making class at my local fabric shop. I am excited to have a pattern designed to use on students. You are so great to post all this information. Thanks so much. jnetti.

  10. thanks you so much for this pattern. I am one of those who has a hard time finding the right size. I am excited to try this!

  11. Pingback: Sütyen dikelim – Burn my bra | BilgiBaba.com

  12. I can’t wait to try and make one for myself. I’m an awkward size(skinnyish and busty) and can’t find bras that fit for less than 65 dollars. Thank you so much!

  13. This looks great! But I have a really important question! I love this pattern, and I wanted to make a bikini top out of it. How would things be different if I wanted to make a bikini top out of spandex? Please answer, because this is beautiful and I would love to use it for my bathing suit pattern!

  14. The only major difference I can think of is that, as spandex is a knit material, you should take extra care that your cup pattern pieces are lined up on the fabric in exactly the same way. This is because knit fabrics have more stretch in some directions than others, and you don’t want one cup to have more sideways stretch and the other more vertical stretch!
    You might also want to use some fusible interfacing inside the front band, to keep it lying firm and flat against your ribcage.

  15. Hi!
    I have been making bras for years and have always used stretchy fabric and you are right, the “stretchability” has to be different for the bottom and the top part of the cup. The lower cup had to be stretchier from top to bottom, where the upper cup has to stretch from side to side. When I saw that picture of your cotton bra, I just had to try it with my current pattern (which is the one I use for stretch fabric). I love the result! I am a 40D so it took a lot of material, but I had leftover from my last purse (so now they match {;) and I make my own channeling out of stretchy satin. This bra is wayyyyy more comfortable than I expected and very firm, so I think I could actually use it for a sport bra! Thank you for sharing! Here is a site that sells all you would need to make bras, from fabric to wires: http://www.bramakerssupply.com/ My teacher took her classes there.

  16. I have been looking for bra patterns or how to make your own because I have a large bust and am sick of paying huge amounts of money for bras. I just spent almost $200 for 3 bras and now they do not fit for some reason and my breasts haven’t changed at all so I really do not want to spend that kind of money for bras that won’t hold shape. So thank you so much for sharing you knowledge with us and blessing me with your skills!

  17. Thankyou for posting this information on bra making. I’m with Korryn. I cant afford to spend hundreds on bras. Since I’ve lost 75 pounds my bra size went from a 42 DD to a 32 DDD. And triple D bras arent cheap. So I made mine. Thankyou again!

  18. I’ve been thinking about making my own bras, and a couple of days ago, I came up with an idea that I think would give extra support–using shoulder pads!! I would put the flat edge (thicker) below the breast, with the rounded part (narrower) by the nipple. Has anyone tried this?

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