My quest to make all my own clothes stops at nothing – not even at underclothes as you could see from my first post on the subject here. Meantime, I learnt a fantastic new skill – namely sewing with fold-over elastic. Fold-over elastic is an elastic band that can be used similar to binding.
If you look at the elastic band, you can see that it’s got a line in the middle of it. That’s the line it can be folded along. You can use it to bind stretchy fabrics, for instance.
I discovered the magical fold-over elastic when Pattydoo brought out another pattern, a shirt with spaghetti straps called Maya. And guess what the straps (and indeed the binding) are made of: fold-over elastic! You can view the German-language ‘how to’ video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2P49xcuby8.
I wasn’t so keen on making the shirt itself, but I thought that the fold-over elastic would work well when making a simple bra. And so it proved.
This was my first time trying to make a bra pattern from scratch. I drew a shape that vaguely approximated a bra that I already own on paper. I then used that template on an old t-shirt of mine to see whether it would work. The pattern required some changes and I discovered what darts are for!
The finalised paper pattern looks like this. Because I wanted to create a virtually seamless pattern, the fold is in the front/middle and the seam is at the back. I could have added proper bra fasteners but a) they’re uncomfortable & b) this is much easier to sew.
Following the video tutorial of the Maya shirt, I then added the fold-over elastic across the middle. Apparently you can simply use a straight stitch, but I erred on the side of caution and used a zigzag stitch.
After having sewn the binding to the middle, you simply add one long strip of binding to do everything else, including straps. I’m not sure how to describe it – have a look at the video. I also added a soft elastic to the bottom of the garment.
The straps are then either sewn to the back or you might add bra strap fasteners to make them extendable. For this first pair I simply sewed the straps on – it was easier & I wanted to road-test the pattern first before doing anything fancy with it.
And there we are…
And this is what it looks like with me in it.
The fold-over elastic keeps the bra in shape. The darts make it fit properly. I’ve now made two more and I don’t want to wear any other bra any more.
I realise that this simple pattern won’t suit every woman’s shape. There are no paddings, nothing to give ‘support’. But bras based on this kind of pattern are wonderfully comfortable. If you’re the kind of woman who hates underwired bras, bras that push or squeeze or cut into the skin, you’d love these.
Incidentally, Pattydoo have produced another shirt pattern for a tank top with a sporty look called Kate. Oooh, I can just see me making a sports bra with this pattern as a basis…