achievement unlocked: Bluebird bra & undies

I am a bit behind on writing about my sewing projects here. I’ve definitely been doing more sewing than photographing & blogging recently.

First things first, I entered two bras I made (the Vintage Valentine bra I wrote about last week, & the set I’m writing up today) into the “one pattern, two ways” challenge over at the Monthly Stitch. They were both made with the Shelley pattern from Pin-Up Girls, but are very distinct from one another. Finalists were announced this morning, & I am among them! Again! My rose print Swiss dot Marigold dress was also a finalist for the first challenge (“new to me”), & was announced as a winner yesterday! So let’s keep the streak going. Head on over & vote for me!


On to the bra. The fabrics used in this one are all from Bramaker’s Supply. I bought them last year as part of a fabric trio kit. They were sold out of the lace that was originally included in the kit, so they called me up & let me make a substitution. I actually can’t remember what the original lace was. Maybe something white with blue accents? I chose this pale yellow lace with pink accents & even the woman on the phone was impressed by how well the fabrics went together.

For some reason, my camera chose to saturate the blue color in every photo. It looks really bright, but is a quieter Wedgewood blue color in reality. I was thrilled when I received the kit because the lace looked especially beautiful layered over the blue. & yet, the direction I took with this bra hardly takes advantage of that fact at all. If I’d had more lace, I would have covered the entire frame with it, but since I’ve already made a couple of lace frame bras, I decided to do something different with this once & concentrate the lace on the back band.


I cut a 40D with my usual fit alterations:

  • added 1/2″ of width to the back band
  • added 1/2″ of width to the frame
  • raised the neckline 1/2″
  • raised the underarm 1/2″

I also cut the frame into a Gothic arch, which is a really simple change to make to any full-frame bra pattern. I just drew a little line angling from the undercup to the center of the bridge. Construction is more challenging than drafting in the change, because the elastic is sewn in two pieces & my elastic was not thrilled about turning under at the center point. This was my first experiment with a Gothic arch. I think construction will be easier next time. & there will definitely be a next time. Like a lot of women, the center of my bras sometimes presses down on my chest wall at the center bottom, but raising that area up into an arch or a point takes the pressure off & is a lot more comfortable.


I use 3/4″ elastic in my bra bands, so I did have to trim that down a bit to get it to fit where the arch starts under the cups. But it wasn’t really a big deal.

I also added a bit of lace to the lower cup, just so I would have the lace overlapping the Duoplex somewhere on the bra, but it’s kind of obscured in the wearing. I also took care to match my thread to the fabrics I was sewing, even if it meant switching out thread halfway through a seam. You can see in the photo below where the thread disappears into the lace on the left & the blue Duoplex on the right.


Design-wise, I cut the upper cup with a little extension over the bridge, & the cut the bridge shorter, so I could join the upper cups together & make it look like a continuous piece of lace. This isn’t really “proper,” because it eliminates the uppermost wire seamline, & therefore, the very top of the bridge isn’t flush against the chest wall, but whatevs. It’s a design feature.


I also experimented with the straps. I hand-basted lace to sheer, stable cup lining & finished the edges with strips of Duoplex that I cut on the straight grain & ran through my bias tape maker. The finished effect is fairly subtle, but you better believe it was a TON of work. I mean, just imagine hand-basting these narrow little strips of fabric that are so lightweight, you can barely even hold on to them. They kept snagging on my cuticles, not because I have horrifying shark hands, but just because they are so delicate. & the lace is stretch, so I had to be really careful not to pull it out of shape as I basted. But the finished result is really pretty & surprisingly comfortable.


I barely had any lace left over with which to decorate my matching undies, so I had to be economical. I used my usual Butterick 6031 pattern & altered it to make side panels out of pale pink sheer nylon. The main pieces were cut from jersey that is a fairly close match for the blue Duoplex used in the bra. I sewed a strip of the lace used in the bra across the front & covered the edge with pink satin ribbon. I used a slightly wider ribbon in the same color to cover the seamlines where the nylon panels meet the jersey. I was really thrilled to find stretch lace for the waistband & legbands that exactly matched the yellow lace. It was billed as “cream,” but it’s definitely pale yellow.


So that’s that! Technically, it wasn’t quite the feat of sewing mastery that some of my other bras have been, but it’s definitely one of my favorite sets, just from a comfort level. I’ve nailed the fit at this point–I honestly forget I am wearing it, which is not something I’ve ever been able to say about a RTW bra, & not something most people would expect from a lacy underwire bra.


Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

6 thoughts on “achievement unlocked: Bluebird bra & undies

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