#AskMaddie: Your Bra Making Questions Answered
If you tuned into Instagram this week, you’ll know that I took over Simplicity UK’s account this week (@simplicitynewlook), to promote my newest pattern, the 8624 high neck underwire bra. We thought it would be fun to turn it over to you one day, and let you ask me ANY lingerie sewing question. The Simplicity UK team rounded up their 3 favorites, and today, I’m answering your burning questions. Thanks everyone for following along!
@eatsleaves I am a beginner sewer and would like to try to sew my own lingerie but assume I need to be more experienced. How experienced/advanced do I need to be to start? Thanks!
Great things never come from staying in your comfort zone. Using another cheesy quote (but still true), those who dare to fail miserably can achieve. I am not implying that you’ll fail miserably, but I am implying that if you leave your comfort zone of making garments, I think you’ll find that sewing lingerie is not as hard as it seems. Sure, your first bra, bralette or pair of knickers may not be 100%. Mine wasn’t. You’ll get better though. You don’t need any crazy machinery – all you need is a sewing machine with a zig zag and straight stitch. Almost all beginner sewing machines have both. Pick a simple project (like the Barrett bralette), breath in, breath out… you got this!
@jillian_harry Elastic is definitely my grey area. It is very new to me. What is the best technique to sew elastic. I want to try doing a swimsuit but not confident about the elastic.
To stretch the elastic or to not stretch the elastic. That is the question. I don’t know why, but most newbie lingerie sewists, at least the ones who attend my bra workshops, think that they should stretch the heck out of elastic. In most cases, I set elastic flat in the same way you would a piping to a neckline. I don’t stretch it when sewing. Why not? To put it simply, in normal garments, there is what’s called “ease”, so the pattern measures more than your body measurements. In lingerie however, there is “negative ease”, so the pattern measures less than your body measurements. Why would you want to make it any smaller? The exception to this is when you want the bra to “hug” the body in certain areas, like around the armpit. For the Barrett bralette, I set all elastics flat except in the armpit area and at the top of the back band. Also to note, I don’t use any calculation, and have developed a “feel” for how much to stretch elastic, which you will too with practice ;)
@e_b_q I would like to know needle size. Do u prefer a certain brand? The same for thread and thread weight. Thanks
Good question! First thing to note, I’m a PFAFF girl through and through. Madalynne Studios is stocked with their Passport 2.0, Ambition Essential, Ambition 1.0 and Coverlock 4.0, which I use for all my personal sewing as well as workshops. On these machines, I use between a size 9-14 universal needle. If I’m sewing through a fine fabric, which in my case is usually the case, I’ll use between a size 9-12. I can use a size 12 when sewing through elastic, but a 14 would probably be better. Just a case of being lazy ;) PFAFF is the only machine I’ve sewn on that can sew stretchy fabrics with a universal needle however. Every other brand has required a ballpoint, microtex or stretch needle. My preferred brand of needles are Inspira.
For thread, I really like using Superior Threads Bottom Line thread, which I wrote about here. Another good option is Gutermann’s Mara 100 thread. The think to remember is that the thread must be polyester, not cotton. Polyester thread has a slight give, and cotton doesn’t.
Thank you #askmaddie for answering my question! Off to get the Barrett bralette pattern and give it a try :-)
I would love to try the Barrett, but it misses my full bust by about 7 inches,I wear a 36G or H – any suggestions, or should I forget trying?
Hi Laurel! My motto is ‘when there’s a will, there’s a way!” I don’t think you should give up.
Check out the blog post below. I rounded up a few Barrett bralettes that were shared on Instagram. One of the ladies was a 28G and gave her tips on fitting her full bust:
You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I love to chat all things lingerie ; )
I love looking at your patterns and styles. However, have you ever designed bras for those of us who have had a mastectomy. In my case because of other complications, I can’t use my arm to hook them in the back and not the strength to hook in the front and turn. So, a front hook, underwire design is what I’m looking for in the + sizes.
Love the looks and love reading all the information.
Great question, Terry! As someone who had a mother who had trouble finding a bra after her mastectomy, I understand. At this time, mastectomy bras is not my focus. I don’t want to leave you hanging, and suggest that you look at Ana Ono Intimates. Dana, its founder, is an inspiring woman I look up to. If you live close to Philly, check out Jay Ann Intimates in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. They have a ton of options!
Great post. I’d give this a try.