Jade Marlborough Bra

I’ve gone mad with power! I’ve made a bra!

Marlborough Bra

And it fits fairly well, which is impressive for a wearable muslin. This is definitely the most technically difficult thing I’ve made on my own (I had lots of help with the corset I made). I’m suuuuper pleased right now – no more $70 bras!

The whole process was a lot less fiddly than I expected, especially given how long the corset took me. I ordered the Shelley bra from Pin Up Girls' patterns, but I was getting impatient, so just downloaded the Marlborough Bra from Orange lingerie. I also spent a while reading Norma’s book Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. I’ve been coveting the pattern for a while – I love the look of the lace on the upper cups, and the power bar on the sides. The pattern didn’t disappoint – the instructions were very detailed and easy to read. I’ve never sewn a bra before, so it was great to have both the book and the pattern to refer to. I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to sew in the underwire channels, but that’s probably because I was working on this at 4 AM. The book had detailed photos of how the pieces fit together, and the exact steps of construction, which saved me. Having a RTW bra on hand also helped me visualize how the pieces fit together. It doesn’t have to be a similar bra at all! They’re all put together about the same.

I kind of jumped the gun on this bra, though! I haven’t really done all the research I thought I needed to (watching the Craftsy class I bought; reading and finishing the book). I wouldn’t let that deter you, though – the bra came together fairly easily anyway. (And this from someone who’s never sewn with knits/stretch materials before!) The book does have a lot of great information about sewing techniques and all the little details of bra construction, though, so I do recommend getting it as a secondary resource for the pattern. The tiny tiny 1/4" seams weren’t as terrifying as they seemed at first – Lauren of Lladybird suggested gently pulling the thread tails as you start a seam, which worked like a charm.

My materials are from Hooks and Wires. The kit’s lovely, and very well-priced – with shipping, it came to $24, all told. A note: the kits come with bra strapping, which is ~barely enough for this pattern. I shortened the amount the straps overlap on the back band, and I also have freakishly narrow/tiny shoulders, so it worked for me. The materials aren’t quite right for the Marlborough bra, though; the pattern was designed for a fabric with no stretch, and all the fabrics in this kit are slightly stretchy. That said, I think all the fabric in the kit is stable enough to work with the Marlborough bra, since the stretch isn’t that high. I stabilized the fabric in places, either by doubling, underlining (the frame is powernet underlined with the slightly stretchy cup mesh), or interfacing (the bridge is interfaced powernet), and it came out lovely! I’m not a very small size (30F in RTW, 32DD in the Marlborough), and the bra is perfectly supportive.

Speaking of sizing – based on my measurements, I initially cut a 32D. I wear a 30F in RTW, so I didn’t quite believe this. A quick mock-up in leftover fabric scraps confirmed this, so I went up a cup size. I also ended up lengthening the back bands by ~3/4" each, after comparing the pattern’s band to my favorite RTW bra. The fit was still kind of a gamble, since the muslin fabrics don’t have the same stretch or mechanical give that my fashion fabrics do. That said, the fit is pretty fantastic – there’s a minimal amount of gapping on the sides of the cup, but it’s perfect otherwise! The stretch materials probably helped with that a tiny bit, though. :) I’m also happy with the way it fits under clothes – since the fabric is fairly thick, it’s somewhere between a lace bra and a foam-dome one.

I’m pretty hooked (heh) on making these! I think it’s probably the one item of clothing where the RTW price ($100) to the effort and materials it takes to make ($20 + 5 hours) makes handmade definitely worth it. I love Summerset’s Hooks and Wires kits, and definitely want more. I think she’s out on vacation until October 2015, though, which is really sad. :(

I just bought a kit at Grey’s Fabric today, which was meant for the Marlborough bra. I’m excited for round 2!