I’ve had a hankering for a while to make some bralettes… for those of you who haven’t heard that term before, it’s basically a “home bra”. Not quite an underwire, not quite a sports bra. Something you might have worn when your ta-tas were in their budding stage. Only of course now your ta-tas might be fully grown but you still want something comfortable and easy to wear. There are loads of patterns for these out there, but being of apparently Scottish descent (actually not at all, but 1/16th Irish, but whatever), I am cheap and don’t want to pay for one.
Over the Christmas holidays I had downloaded the Barrett Bralette pattern because I found a bathing suit tutorial that used this as the foundation. I traced out the pattern and started building it, but decided the cups were too small and abandoned it. I left the pattern pieces in my box o’ swimsuit things and found it again this weekend, though without the instructions. A few Google searches later, I was re-equipped.
I had actually redrawn cups to what I thought should be a C/D cup back in January, and I cut those out of my fabric and started piecing them together. After constructing the front piece, I held it up to my girls and chortled hard at what was billed as an “X-Large with D cup”… apparently they’re living in a different size universe than I am! So, I sliced and diced the pieces to attempt a FBA but then just tossed them all and redrew the cup pieces entirely. I added about 3/4” length and about 1” width while keeping the armhole curve roughly the same. Lots of eye-balling and French-curving went into the new pattern pieces. When I was done, I had significantly expanded the cups, and they’ve turned out just about right.
The instructions suggest to cut out the front centre cup pieces with the lining, in one go by spray-basting the fabric together and cutting in one stack. I did so, and then cut the side cup pieces separately. I had enough of my main fabric to cut the back band on the fold, but I’d run out of my lining fabric so I had to piece two segments with a centre back seam. No biggie – you can’t see it so it doesn’t matter.
The construction of the Bralette pieces is fairly straightforward with some ingenious methods for hiding seams written into the instructions. I did find the instructions a bit overly chatty and would have liked a different paragraph format. Maybe numbered paragraphs would be better?
I did not have access to picot elastic, but I did have some matching black fold-over elastic in 1/4” and 5/8” FOE sizes. I put these on without really reading the instructions, so I had to do some seam-rippage to get the tops of the cups set up properly for the strap rings. The 1/4” FOE on the front tucks into the 5/8” FOE used for the side/back upper edge, and it all looks remarkably professional (given how much cursing was going on).
I had ordered strap elastic, rings and sliders from The Makehouse and picked them up yesterday, so I was ready to go when it came to putting the straps on. It just took a little “figuring out” to get the assembly right, and then I accidentally sewed one of the straps as if it was going to be criss-cross. Whoops.
Sewing on the bottom elastic is where I really went down the rabbit hole, however. The pattern instructions have you sew the fabric to the elastic without a cover, but I wanted a fabric cover for comfort. Also, to hide the fairly ugly ancient elastic I was using in this (since it was a prototype). I initially wanted to use black stretch lining to cover the elastic and I tried a couple of methods to get the band attached to the rest of the Bralette, with the elastic encased. This is made somewhat more difficult by the design feature at the centre front – a gap where the band has to close in on itself. I won’t go into the ways I did this wrong but let’s just say I was cursing and seam-ripping for about two hours.
Finally, I took off my own sports bra and analyzed how it had been put on. OHHHHHHHHHHHH. Okay. I had to jettison the stretch lining, which by now was much worse for the wearing and seam-ripping. Fortunately I had some black nylon/spandex fabric in the stash and was able to cut off a strip for this use. I also lengthened my band elastic by about 5” because I was really struggling to fit it into the fashion fabric. I’m glad that I did this because the finished garment would have been really uncomfortable if I’d left the band so small. As it is now, it is snug and supportive. I sewed the band (in a circle) to the garment with a zig-zag stitch, then folded it around the elastic (also in a circle) and sewed the other side to the joint seam, also with a zigzag. This enclosed the band elastic without anchoring it to the bottom of the bra. The final step was to cover-stitch the seam allowance down towards the band, catching in the elastic. I had to stretch the elastic a little bit to fit, mostly under the cups for shaping. Across the front gap, the coverstitching closed up the band fabric over top of the elastic.
Finally, I attached the straps *properly* to the front and back, not in a cross, snipped and hid all my thread ends, and bob’s your uncle!
Ta-daaaa! I am definitely going to make this again, now that I know how to do it. I have white strap elastic and a few odd colours of FOE so this might be a bit of a menagerie of a project… but who’s looking anyways? It’s for wearing at home!