Happy Valentine's Day! I'm back! Again! I know I promised to show off my version of the Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie like...forever ago. An embarrassingly long time ago. Just after I made it, I wore it a bunch of times (because it fits so freaking well! Hurrah!) but because I sewed the channeling down from the outside, I didn't catch it just right in certain places. So I wanted to fix that before taking photos. Also, the ribbon bow I made was kind of janky. I was not happy with it. So, you know, I did what I'm so terrible at doing...I put it aside and said to myself "Imma fix this later". I am no longer allowed to do that. Fix it now, Shona! Always fix it now or you will never fix it!
So I finally did. And I replaced that wonky bow with a new one made with smaller black ribbon. Did you know that you can make a perfect small ribbon bow using a fork? A fork! I found this video and it blew my mind. Pretty bows forever!
Last year I attempted making a couple of different bra patterns, and each time the fit was horrible. I tried the Make Bra Petite pattern using cut and sew foam, I sewed a few test versions of the bra pattern included in the Bare Essentials: Bras book, and I tried Ralph Pink's Balconnet Bra to no avail. I won't go into details on those right now because that could be an entirely separate, lengthy post of its own.
Just when I was feeling like giving up, I just happened to be reading some of Norma from Orange Lingerie's advice on bra making, somehow wound up on her Etsy shop, and there it was - the Marlborough Bra pattern. Just sitting there, ready to buy, before she had even officially blogged about it! I'd been eagerly awaiting this pattern release ever since she announced that it was happening. So I snatched that up right then...probably at 2 in the morning. Then I proceeded to wring my hands over what materials to buy.
I made a mock-up in 30B using some scrap cotton fabric cut on the bias. Which, by the way, doesn't really work very well! That tester was way too small, but mostly because I was dumb and used the same fabric for the upper cup thinking it would be about the same as "rigid lace". Nope! But I sliced into that upper piece enough to tell that going one size up could potentially fit me in the lower areas. The band was really tight on me, even on the loosest hook, so I decided that going up to a 32B would probably do the trick - it's one band size up and has more volume in the cup than a 30B (yes, even though the letters are the same. See #3 on the A Bra That Fits FAQ for an explanation if that doesn't make sense).
I wanted to use the exact same fabric that Norma used in her samples, and she was kind enough to tell me that it was Duoplex from Bra Maker's Supply. I cringed at the price, then remembered my pile of failed bras, and finally decided on a kit that comes with matching Duoplex, stretch fabric for the band, and lace. I got the Black Cherry Trio on this page. Ermagherd. So pretty!
I really, really love the "Double Knit Power Net" that came with this for the band. It's soooo smooth and soft and just lovely to work with. It feels great on too!
My best advice if you are going to make this bra pattern, or ANY bra pattern, is to first buy Norma's e-book, Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction. There is a bit in there about altering the bridge that, as another reviewer put it, "is worth the price of the book alone". Basically, you take the bridge part of your pattern in two halves, hold it up to your body, and rotate it until it fits your curves. Then you transfer that to your pattern and voila - a perfectly fitting bridge and an underwire line that actually sits where it's supposed to! This makes sense because everyone's boobs are different even if they are the same size - different spacing, different shapes. Altering the bridge is the key to getting a great fit!
I was a little alarmed at first because this made my bridge quite wide - but it works because my boobs are farther apart than most bras account for.
Here is a view of the inside. I used clear elastic to stabilize the stretch lace at the top. The pattern suggests rigid lace, and I think that would have worked better. I wanted to use what came with my kit, though. In retrospect, I should have lined the lace with a rigid mesh fabric.
I knew that the bridge was supposed to be stabilized with something, but I couldn't figure out what to use. I didn't want it to have any movement there, so that eliminated using the Duoplex. I read that a firm nylon fabric is usually used there, but wasn't sure exactly what kind. I used some chiffon I had in the scrap bin. In hindsight, I wouldn't really recommend that. Understitching would have helped keep it from peeking over the top, but aside from that it was pretty difficult to work with. I wound up spray basting it to my outer fabric after stitching them together at the top. Maybe I could have gotten away with just using the Duoplex?
Fellow bra makers, I'd love to know what works for you! I'd hate for my bra to stretch out of whack after a few wears, as all my store bought bras tend to do.
I wound up taking the band in by about 1/2" on each side, so I probably would have been better off making a 30C instead (same cup volume as a 32B, but with a slightly smaller band. This is the size I usually buy in RTW now). Because of that, however, the closures wound up being too short to fit correctly at the ends so you can see that they're gathered in a bit.
And here we go...the fit pic. I never thought I'd have any hesitation posting one of these - I mean, it's basically like a swimsuit top. I don't really see how that's offensive or inappropriate, but then I don't really see how the natural body is offensive or inappropriate either. But, just in case you're browsing at work (tsk tsk!) or in a family setting where pictures of ladies in bras would be frowned upon...stop scrolling! Now! NSFW ahoy!
Ok, you have been warned.
Look at how lovely that fits! I'm super happy with it. It's really comfortable to wear, and it just looks so classy. It's a real, proper, grown up, sexy bra - and that's hard to find in my size!
This picture was taken before I fixed the bow, so you can (sort of) see my first attempt at a bow there. I pretty much just folded some ribbon over and then gathered the crap out of it in the center with some thread.
I highly recommend this pattern! A huge thank you to Norma for releasing it and doing such an awesome job answering questions and providing bra making education. You're one of my sewing heroes!
Labels: bras, sewing