I've been going back and forth about bra-making for a while now. On one hand, wanting to delve into lingerie sewing and bramaking to hopefully find a unicorn bra that fits well and is comfy. On the other hand, I've also been intimidated by all the specialty findings and do-dads you need for this activity...
I've had some fits and starts, but this year I'm inspired by the Sewcialists #AllChestsWelcome month, #Braugust2020, and the fact that I just cannot tolerate my RTW underwire bras in this work from home world where I've gained weight and they are digging in and driving me crazy. Get ready for a long blog post!
House Morrighan is one of the few lingerie sewing pattern designers with a wider size range (up to under bust 50.6" and full bust 61.7"), and I was really attracted to their Poppy bralette, shape-wise. So many beautiful versions and good reviews of this pattern on the interwebs, too, particularly from curvy and fat sewists!
The Poppy is "a vintage-look non-wired bra featuring a two-piece cup which can be easily altered to fit a multitude of cup sizes." It has no closures, pulls over your head, and is finished with picot elastic.
I'm 5 bras into this Poppy bralette journey and there may be more iterations! Here's how it went (and please excuse my weird splotchy tan lines, left over from when Tim did a crap job of applying the sunscreen before a SUP trip):
Size-wide, I am forever an in-betweeny. For my first bra, I ended up going with the smaller size range, which I had in my stash from when I originally purchased the Poppy a couple years back. I cut 16 C/D, which seemed to correspond with my measurements.
I went with a full power mesh lining and used some scraps of athletic fabric for the outer. The scraps are left over from these Avery leggings. I added the optional 1/4 inch elastic on the underbust seam for additional support, and used picot elastics from Emerald Erin's shop for the bottom and around the edges.
However, after making the bra, I found it more than a little bit difficult to get on and off and definitely quite snug in both the band and the cups, so no photos of this bra here on my body- it's just too tight.
Also, yes, my rings and sliders don't match my straps and elastic. I clicked on the wrong color when ordering, apparently! People tell me you can use nail polish to fix the color on your sliders. I can't be bothered personally, but it's a good tip!
I decided to size up for this one, which involved buying the larger size range, which runs from 14 C/D to 24 H/I. So I'm really committed now! I love the Poppy's shape, though, so it's worth it. The second version was a size 18 C/D, pictured here. I did the same fabric/power mesh combo I used on my first Poppy, same elastic in underbust seam.
Now, in retrospect, playing around with both bras, I think I may have cut the power mesh in the wrong direction for the first bra, because it has less stretch around the body than my second bra.
In any case, I'm quite happy with my second Poppy, the 18 C/D. My main beef is that I find the long-line band rolls up at the bottom when I sit or bend over and my stomach pushes it up. You can see that in the photo below. That seems to be just how it goes for me and long-line bralettes.
To ameliorate the issues with Bra #2, I made the 18 C/D again, but used self-lining instead of the power mesh. And to fix the rolling up band, I lopped 2 inches off the bottom of the band in the front and back. Kept the elastic in the underbust seam.
Hurrah! This one is definitely my favorite- near perfect I'd say! No rolling, super soft and comfy with no digging in and a supportive but not constrictive fit.
It's definitely not perfect, though, because you'll notice my understitching on the cups ended up on the outside here. With the outer and lining fabric the same, I got confused and attached my elastics on the wrong side. I couldn't be bothered to unpick them.
With the success of Bra #3, I dug into my swimsuit fabric stash and found a bunch of suitable scraps. These scraps are leftover from this swimsuit I made several years back, which is now faded and stretched out (RIP, swimsuit!).
Otherwise same as Bra #3: self-lined, band shortened 2 inches, elastic in underbust seam.
Same as Bras #3 and #4, but with swimsuit fabric leftover from this swimsuit, which never got much wear because it didn't feel secure in the crotch region. This fabric is the thinnest, least supportive of the bunch. I'm finding the seam at the top of the cups is flipping outward for some reason. This isn't the case with the thicker/firmer fabrics.
This bra is the same as Bras #3 and #4: self-lined, band shortened 2 inches, elastic in underbust seam.
The instructions in the pattern were pretty good, although as a beginner lingerie sewist I could have used a bit more advice on things like proper stitch choice for different steps such as seaming, first pass on elastic, second pass on elastic, attaching the strap hardware, etc. There is a sewalong in the House Morrighan Makers Lounge Facebook group (click on "Events" and you'll find it) that helped a bit.
I really love that the Poppy is cleverly constructed so there are no exposed seams, except oddly at the center front. For Bra #2 and all bras after, I played around with construction to get rid of that one last exposed seam. Although it doesn't really touch my body or feel itchy, it's the one I see when I look down, so I needed it to be neater.
I also recommend basting the outer and lining together around the edges before sewing the elastic on. It's hard to properly stretch the elastic to fit while also trying to ensure 2 slippery layers of fabric stay together. I found my elastic application was much neater and more even on the last two bras, when I had basted first with a long, narrow zig-zag stitch.
There are several helpful notches on the pattern already, but I would also recommend notching the center of the front and back bands at the bottom, which will help when it comes to applying your quartered elastic band.
And also, there are notches on the top of the back band that suggest where the straps should be attached. I found that when I cut them as notches, the notches were subsumed by the elastic. I recommend marking those notches with a long line of chalk on the lining so that you can still see them after the elastic is applied.
Although the pattern went together really well for the most part, I did find that when I sewed the back band to the front of the bra, I ended up with some extra little triangles at the side seam that needed to be clipped off. Not sure if that is user error, or an untrued pattern piece, but it's easily fixed so I am not stressing about it.
Something to note: the larger sizes call for wider elastics and bigger sliders and rings. I had purchased my findings when I thought I was using the smaller size range, but I found they worked fine for my bras made from the larger size range, too.
All in all, I'm really pumped about my Poppy bralettes! They are so comfortable and super cute. I was trying to explain the gravity of a well-fitting, comfy bra to Tim. I told him "This will make me 5% less crabby on a daily basis." He said he wished it was 10%, but understood that this will really be a great life improvement for me.
Now to get myself some real lingerie fabric, because although these swimsuit fabric bras are cute, they're not super practical under a light colored top!