Build a Better Bra

WE HAVE MADE IT TO BRA BUILDING ONE OH ONE!

I’m so excited to share this with you all and have been mulling and marinating what to say and how to approach it so you all get the most out of it!

A few things right off the bat please know- this is absolutely NOT the only way to do a bra. This just the way *I* do my bras through trial and error and research and what works for MY body so if you find something doesn’t work for you-feel free to make adjustments and do what works. As long as it looks finished and polished and all the straps are covered and then it is secure and you’re not spilling out-you’re okay.

The top two things that people care about for costuming- DOES IT FIT- and DOES IT LOOK LIKE LINGERIE!?!?!
Informal poll shows peoples “top issues” vary- but across the board- basic fit and finish are important.

I have found almost everything else falls into varying levels of passable (depending on your level of performance and the goal) as long as you aren’t falling out- or gapping badly- AND you have taken steps to cover or remove the lingerie straps from the bra- transforming- underwear to fashionable dance outerwear.

So keep that sort of in your head as you move forward with your costuming- you don’t have to go as crazy as this in terms of reinforcing- but covering/replacing straps and it well fitting are MUSTS.

On to my process!

So step one for me is a well fitted bra -this is more of an issue than you think. When I first started making bras- my bras were too small- but I didn’t really know since the elastic band on the side was hiding the fact the cup wasn’t big enough.   When I took the straps off and replaced them with not stretching straps- suddenly I couldn’t get all of me into my bra cups and I was constantly feeling like I was spilling out. I went up a cup size(or even 3 or 4 depending on what I’m doing) I found I had a lot more consistent success.

This is the bra I’m working with today,in advance before things start getting Frankensteined!  as you can see it’s a LITTLE bit big for me, this is because I prefer to trim it down to get the shape I want followed by I personally prefer padding to give my tissue something to sit in to help fill out the top.

But I’m not squeezing at the sides  or rolling out the top: both super important things to look for in a bra!

and you’ll note- bewbs are not even- I have more space on one than the other. That’s normal. Most people don’t have evenly spaced bewbs. If they are exactly perfect- GREAT! if not GREAT! – You’re a normal human being!

Once I establish the bra that fits for the project I make a minimum of 4 straps- 2 neck straps and straps to replace the bands. I usually make my strap decision up front (wide, narrow, extra smaller straps- triangular shapes?) and cut those out of interfacing and gross grain ribbon. I’m pretty boring and I like them to be straight most of the time.  So I take my 7/8″ ribbon and I put it on the interfacing and attach one end- mark out the along the length with pen then connect the dots with a ruler.

Once the straps are cut, I head over to the machine and sew the gross grain ribbon to the interfacing and then they are ready to be covered.

The next step is to chop everything off the bra (this is that whole remove the straps thing).  One thing I learned was to leave just a little tab of the band in place so I could figure out where the original location of the attachments were- this helps me get in the ball park of where the straps should go- you think you’d notice but sometimes you do just way to good of a job and cut all the signs of where it might have been off! I trim this off later!

Quick side note- this bra didn’t have that side 1.5″ tab with boning on the band off the side of the cup.. Personally- if I have a bra that has that boning on the side – I leave it in place. I really need that and like that- I prefer my bras to have that- but this one didn’t.

I also take a look at the cup and look at trimming off extra to create the shape I want. I like a more demi look with a plunge- so I usually trim the top off of these and also trim down toward the underwire.  Also- the gore (the small fabric connecting the two cups- which is wildly important for fit)- I pinch in just a little bit and reinforce when I cut the bras like this.

I sketch the shape, and mark the angle of tension off the strap on both sides to help place the new reinforced bra strap in the most optimal location then trim. I take the trimmed peice and flipped it mirror image to the other side so I keep the shape as close as possible.

Then the other thing I like to do is reinforce my cups with interfacing. This helps support the top edge of the cup in a seamless and unobtrusive manner.

I sketch this shape just by eyeballing it and then cut a little big and trim down to fit the cup. Then lather, rinse, repeat on the other side.

Then I attach them by sewing them down.

After that I cut the fabric for the straps, and cover them.

Next step takes some patience and shenanigans- mostly just patience.  I attach the straps based on the road signs (the markings on the top- or at the point of connection where the stretchy band used to be) and pin everything in place. I also have pinched the gore together to tilt the cups in just a little- and added a single gore strap under that. I pin from the OUTSIDE of the cup. and all pointy edges are within the edges of the bra and nothing hangs over the edge sticking out. It’s REALLY easy to stab yourself if you go off the edge of the cup- so just… don’t. LMAO. Its a little thing- but will save you a lot of not getting stabbed.

and hopefully- if I got it right- it should look something like this! If I’m happy- I sew them down- if not- I adjust them till I’m happy- this used to take me the better part of 30 minutes or so if not longer- I’ve gotten better because I know what I like and I know how to get pretty close- so I’ve increased my success rate on the first try- but don’t get disappointed if you have to do it like 4-5 times. or 10. That’s totally normal.

Then I secure them through the cups with extra strong thread. One thing I’ve learned to sew deeper into the cup- and leave the edge alone.  This leaves space on the edge to turn the fashion fabric over the edge of for a nice clean look.

One of the things I’m complete obsessed with is this plunging deep bra line (one of the reasons I go slightly larger on cup size, to accommodate for this trimming) and to accomplish this I mark out a nice sweeping line to meet the bottom line and trim it up. Then flip the discarded piece over to mirror on the other side and outline and cut.

Once I’ve achieved optimal shape – I take some wire and twist it together to provide some reinforcement for the edge of the cup. You can see here I curlie qued the ends so I reduce the number of pokey bits sticking out to reduce the likelihood that I get stabbed in the future. I like to put a good dollop of glue on there to help prevent unwanted stabbings as well. Then I just whip stitch it just under the edge of the bra before I put the fashion fabric on top and cover it all up.

Now, covering the bra takes some fussing and fitzing and really just grab your binder clips and a bucket of patience. It’s not difficult really just a little fussy and takes patience.

For this project as you can see below- I underestimated the thinness of the fabric- the last few bras I did had thicker fabric- or full cup coverage- so my interface didn’t show. AT ALL. But here it does. WOMP.- top left- you can see that harsh ugly line. not good people- not good. Followed up by this is NOT a heavily covered bra- so it needs to be pretty smooth. Honestly because of the lightness of the costume- I could have skipped the reinforcing but I’m obsessive like that so let’s here it for #teamoverdoesit
You can see on the bottom left picture- the difference the black fabric makes (least to me) so I chose to go get something else to make this work. (I could have also removed the interfacing)

So I have to cover in felt or something. I tried using a black suede I had- but unfortunately the belt is done on a white base and the nude fabric shows a difference between the black under and the white- so off to walmart to get some felt. Also this super adorable gummy bear fabric that I got a yard of for fun.

I like to cut a square that’s about 3-4″ bigger than the bra in all sides and start at the top and smooth my way around. You’ll also have to start it- for the felt layer- I pinched- trimmed and cut off excess to create a smooth surface. It doesn’t have to be perfect- it’s going to get covered!
Also for the felt layer- I did NOT turn over the edges of the cup- I trimmed it off on the front- this helps reduce the bulk on the edges of the cup and keeps it looking nice and trim.

photo collage maker_nfjlrd1711906970..png

Fabric is a flat but flexible surface you’re putting over a generally very object so you are likely to have to put a dart or two in to get it completely right. This is normal and okay.

PRO TIP – if you’re using stretch fabric be sure you don’t cover the bra to tight in an effort to smooth the wrinkles – it will crush the bra cup and leave you with a less than satisfactory shape.

I’m not crazy still about what I’ve done so I knocked off with playing around with gathering/pleating on the bra to help distract. I’m still considering taking the felt off and starting over to make it nice and smooth. But I wanted to play with texture since it was going to be a little more simple of a bra.

20180708_082158642357035.jpg

And that’s where I have to knock off- I’ve didn’t get as much done this weekend as I had hoped- but I have a bra that’s actually a bra- and I can start making some fringe and decorating here shortly- so I am MUCH closer than I was- and getting this post written up was a big deal so I wanted to make sure I took some time with it!

Hopefully it was helpful for you all and you got something useful out of it it!
Till next time fearless costumers!!!

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