Thanks to the ever-inspiring internet I happened upon a free bra pattern called the Maya Bra by Romanian blogger Ana at her blog AFI. Armed with a kit from Booby Traps (Sydney/online), and AFI instructions and more from Cloth Habit, I ventured in. And my first bra was quite a decent fit and quite comfortable! And a world of possibility opened in front of me (cue heavenly harps).....
|AFI Maya Bra pattern in Liberty 'Lady Zadie', other components from Booby Traps online|
One of the biggest revelations to me was that bras don't have to be made entirely of stretchy fabrics. In fact many require that at least some parts (cups and 'frame' at front) are non-stretch. And what fabric is very fine, very stable and very pretty? Liberty of London Tana Lawn!
|AFI Maya Bra pattern in Liberty 'Heads & Tails', other components from Booby Traps online|
While I was exploring Liberty bra-making I also discovered a knickers pattern suitable for Liberty fabrics.
The Maker's Journal is Melbourne-based, and came to my attention via The Handmakers' Factory who ran a knicker-making workshop. I highly recommend the 'Tried and True' pattern for bias-cut wovens. I'm gradually sewing myself a drawer full! (Beautiful printed pattern from Etsy store here.)
|The maker's Journal Tried and True knicker pattern in Liberty 'Heads & Tails'|
Alterations: I found the sizing extremely accurate but I did add a bit extra to the back rise for personal preference. Tightening up the waist elastic (cutting it about 5cm shorter than according to pattern) also helps the knickers stay where I want them. The online instructions to attach the elastic are good but do not mention how to portion out the elastic along the length of each edge. If you'd rather not wing it, I suggest stretching your elastic right along each edge and pinning it at the halfway point, or quarters or other points of your choice, to help it be evenly distributed.
Liberty Tana Lawn is the perfect fabric for the Tried and True knickers and it's such a delightful little luxurious treat to yourself. If you choose a non-directional print, and arranging carefully, you can cut a pair of any size (8-14) out of just a fat quarter. (You may even have enough scraps left to embellish a matching bra.)
Selflessly, I have also tried the pattern in seersucker so I can recommend that to you all. From a 55cm cut of this 110cm wide Japanese cotton seersucker you can make 2 pairs!
|Tried and True knickers in Japanese cotton seersucker|
You'll also need a tiny amount of cotton jersey for the gusset and between 1.5 - 2m of scalloped lingerie elastic per pair, now available at The Drapery. I am pleased to report that the elastic we have in stock (in cream) is the most firm and 'springy' of the lingerie elastics I have tried yet.
The second bra pattern I tried was the Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie. There are many beautiful versions of this bra to be seen on the internet. Very inspiring! Norma, the woman behind Orange Lingerie, is very responsive to questions about her patterns and shares lots of good information on her blog.
|Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra with Liberty 'Fairy Land'|
|Elise Patterns Chelsea Bra in Liberty 'Lodden' (personal stash)|
A few of the other places I have found useful underwear sewing information:
Measure Twice Cut Once blog
Emerald Erin blog
Marilla Walker Instagram
Life of a Fairy Bra Mother blog
How about you? Have you sewn underwear? Are you tempted? What's holding you back?
- Jane & Fiona xx