How to Sew Yourself a Sassy New Bra

Posted by on Aug 25, 2013 in Sewing | Comments


It might feel intimidating, but branching out into sewing your own lingerie can be much easier than one might think. It’s really satisfying to have the secret of a cute handmade bra under your dress. And because it takes such little fabric, it’s a wonderful way to use up some favorite scraps or to splurge on something pricy, since the projects require so little fabric.

Cotton Black and Pink Striped Bra

This is the first bra I’ve ever made, and it’s not quite a typical “bra” in that it is a bit softer and less supportive than a usual bra. Think of it more like a bralette. Perfect for under something not fitted, for lounging around the house, or for those with slightly smaller busts.

I used the Bambi Soft Bra by OhhhLulu. It’s adorable, vintage-inspired, and looked not too intimidating. I am thrilled with the final result and am officially bitten by the bra-sewing bug! I see many more in my future.

How to sew your own bra:

Bra Pattern Pieces Laying on Table

Step 1:

Download the pattern here. This pattern is a downloadable PDF pattern, so the first step is to print it out. Make sure the test square is the correct size, or else the whole pattern will be too big or too small.

Tape the pieces together and cut out your size. Fortunately there are very few pieces, so this step takes very little paper and very little time.

Pattern Piece Laying on Striped Pattern

Step 2:

You will need to decide if you want to do the outside pattern pieces in woven fabric or in knit fabric. If in knit, place the outside bra pieces on grain, but if in woven, place the pieces on the bias. Both grainlines are on the pattern pieces for you to follow. I chose to use a seersucker on the bias.

Pattern Piece Laying on Lace Fabric

Step 3:

The upper cup pieces are above the cup and are ideal to be cut from something sheer, like lace or eyelet.

For tips on sewing lace, view our post on sewing with lace

Pattern Pieces Laying on Fabric

Step 4:

Inside the cup pieces is a lining that should be cut from knit fabric. This will be up against your skin, so choosing something soft is ideal. I picked a scrap of charcoal gray knit that is buttery soft.

Iron Ironing Seams in Striped Fabric

Step 5:

Following the first steps of the instructions, sew the front cup pieces together, right sides facing and press open the seam allowances. These edges do not have to be finished since they will be fully lined. Press these curved seams over a pressing ham.

Iron Ironing Seams in Black Fabric

Step 6:

Repeat those steps with the knit lining for the inside of the cups. These seam allowances should be trimmed down to about a 1/4 inch to ease the bulk on the seam lines of the cups. Press the seams open flat on your pressing ham.

Lace Fabric Laying on Graded Board

Step 7:

The top band of the bra pieces are sewn with the right sides together, but note that this section is not lined, so if you’ve chosen something sheer, this is an ideal spot for French seams or any seam that is finished on the inside as well as on the outside.

Qu’est ce que c’est?

What is a French Seam and how is it made? C’est simple! Learn how to sew a French Seam.

Striped and Lace Fabric with Pins

Step 8:

Pin the upper band to the lower cup, right sides together. Line up the center seam of the upper band with the center seam of the lower cups, then line up each end and pin in place. Follow the curve of the lower up and pin the remainder of the upper band in place. Baste the upper band to the lower cups, keeping your stitch line just inside the 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Pinning Striped, Lace and Black Fabric Together

Step 9:

Place the right side of the knit lining on top of the lower cups, trapping the upper band in the middle. Line up the upper edge and pin in place. Stitch this seam, being careful not to pinch the upper band in the stitch line.

View of Fabric Sewn Together with Seam Cuts

Step 10:

Cut notches from the seam allowance to reduce bulk and to allow the curve of the seam to lay flat.

Iron Ironing Down Seams

Step 11:

Press the seam allowance toward the lining and pin in place.

Sewing Fabric with Sewing Machine

Step 12:

Understitch the seam sewn in Step 9 by stitching the seam allowance to the lining. Stitch just to the side of the seam on the right side of the lining.

Iron Ironing Bra

Step 13:

Press the seam and press the upper band away from the lower cup on your pressing ham to mold the curved seams over the curve of the ham.

At this point, it starts to look like a bra!

Pins in Side of Bra

Step 14:

Place the side band on the side of the front cup, right sides together, and stitch in place. Repeat on the opposite side. Finish these seams as you desire and press toward the side band.

Fancy it up

Want to add a little style to your seams? Learn how to sew decorative seam finishes to add even more sass to your bra.

Bra Laying on Graded Surface

Step 15:

Cut the lower elastic about 1-2” shorter in length than the distance of the lower edge of the bra. The level of snugness is a personal choice, and this can be cut shorter or longer than suggested. The shorter it is, the more the fabric will gather and the tighter it will fit against the body. I picked an elastic with a cute tricot edge that will peek out under the fabric when finished, but your pick can be as plain as you like it to be.

Fold the elastic in half and pin the center to the center of the lower cups through the lining as well. Pin the ends together and leave the rest unpinned. Pin the right side of the elastic to the right side of the bra, lining up the bottom edges.

Machine Sewing Edges of Bra

Step 16:

Sew the elastic to the bottom edge, stretching it to fit as you go, and keeping the lower edges aligned.

Close Up on Edge of Bra

Step 18:

The stitch should be a long and narrow zigzag stitch, placed up near the top edge of the elastic, which would place it just under the trimmed edge if your elastic has trimming.

Close Up on Seams in Side of Bra

Step 18:

On the inside of the bra, trim the seam allowance along the elastic down to about 1/8”.

Close Up on Pins in Bra

Step 19:

Fold the elastic to the inside of the bra, keeping the trim on the outside of the bra and pin in place.

View of Almost-Completed Bra

Step 20:

With a slightly wider and shorter zigzag stitch, stitch the elastic to the bottom band on the right side of the bra.

Pin Holding Elastic in Place on Bra

Step 21:

Cut the elastic and pin in place to the top edge of the upper band the same way you did for the lower band.

Machine Sewing Elastic onto Bra

Step 22:

Stretch the elastic and sew in place along the upper edge, keeping the raw edge of the fabric in line with the edge of the elastic.

Edges of Bra Being Sewn on Machine

Step 23:

Fold the elastic to the inside and pin in place. Stitch in place as you did for the lower elastic.

Bra Laying on Graded Table

View of Back of Bra

Step 24:

The outside now looks complete and the inside is fully lined. Yay!

View of Clips on Bra

Step 25:

Pin one end of the packaged bra clasp to one end of the side strap and zigzag in place. Repeat on the other end of the side strap. Press the seam allowance flat and finish the edge with a zigzag stitch.

Close Up of Straps Pinned to Bra

Step 26:

Cut the elastic for your straps as instructed, two 2” pieces and two 20” pieces. This can be a different elastic or the same that you’re using on the bra itself. Pin the short end to the bra, on either the front or back, depending on where you want the ring to be. Wrap the short piece around the ring and sew in place on the bra. Repeat with the other short piece. Feed the long piece through the same ring.

Close Up of Pin Being Stuck into Bra Strap

Step 27:

Take one end of the elastic and feed it into the adjustable end of the hardware. Pin in place about 1/2 inch after the hardware loop. Stitch in place with a zigzag stitch.

Close Up of Pin in Bra Strap

Step 28:

Take the other end of the elastic and feed it through the same adjustable hardware.

Pin Sticking in Bra Stap

Step 29:

Pin the end to the front of the bra and stitch in place with a zigzag stitch. It’s a good idea to try the bra on first before sewing the straps in place to ensure that they are placed in a comfortable position on your body. Repeat the stitching on the other side of the front of the bra.

Close Up of Pinning Bow into Front of Bra

Step 30:

If you’d like a little flourish on the front of your bra, you can hand sew a rosette or bow to the center front. I simply tied a little ribbon bow and hand-sewed it in place.

Close Up on Finished Bra

And then you’re done! I hope this demystifies the fear of sewing a bra for yourself. I am officially addicted and can see using all kinds of scraps for a whole wardrobe of handmade undergarments!

Comments

  1. Deby says:

    Dear Craftsy, Please please please can we have a bra sewing course? I so want to learn how to sew a properly fitted underwired bra. Thank you.

    1. B J says:

      I agree, Deby. A course in fitting an underwired bra would be to die for. Large breasts need the underwire for support along with fabric that is sturdy. That would be a great course.

  2. Nita Ragan says:

    This sounds fun & cute….BUT, I’m a “BF Goodrich” kind of girl…I like push-ups & lower in center frount!!…lo lol …Altho, I may try this & see how I like it….maybe experiment & learn to alter & adjust to what I like—I’m aslso creative & like to learn & try NEW things!!….sssooo thx for this!!…..

  3. Evelyn Marshall says:

    What a great job and wonderful details on this bra. I’ve made them in the past and sometimes couldn’t find fabric or notions. I love your choices here, especially the elastic. You have inspired me!!!

  4. Starr Black says:

    Craftsy, you need to investigate Beverly Johnson of Bra Makers Supply in Hamilton, Ontario. She is the bra guru and has written several books on bra fitting and sewing. She teaches around the world, Canada, United States, Australia and is just finishing up another class in Switzerland. I’ve taken courses taught by those she taught and had the privilege of taking a course she taught at the Saskatchewan Stitches Conference this past June. She’s marvellous at fitting and instructing.

    1. Brooke says:

      Does this some in an I cup? LOL! I agree with Starr- you NEED to have a Beverly Johnson class!

  5. I notice the smallest this pattern gets is a 34-35 bust, and I’m more like a 31-32 bust. Would the pattern pieces be easy to adjust for this?

  6. What an excellent project! As a smaller busted woman my store bought bras always has empty cup at the top of the bra so it starts to fold in… not a great look

  7. Laura turner says:

    Love the bra tutorial…may now try to make one! Thanks!

  8. LadyRuna says:

    I’ve been sewing my own bras since 2009, after I took a bra-making class with Anne St. Clair at an ASG event. The bras fit me so much better than store-bought bras that I’ve never gone back. The bras I make for myself are custom fit so they don’t hurt me like store-bought bras. (This is mostly because with store-bought I was wearing the wrong size due to the fact that it’s nearly impossible to find my size in stores!). I strongly recommend that you try them out.

    Anne St Clair’s daughter sells bra kits and instructional DVDs on making bras. She also provides information on how to tell if your bra is properly fitted (hint: if you can stick your cellphone in the bra in the center, it’s the wrong size) http://www.bravobellabras.com/

  9. michele mcnamara says:

    Hi there im not that up with the play with computers but where is the download button for this pattern? thanks

  10. Angela m.perez says:

    i like to saw but my machine is not so good..love this tutorial, an webpage..

  11. Kathy says:

    could someone please help me, I counld not find the pattern to download, did I over look something, read over twice, .thank you in advance

  12. Chandell says:

    I’m not seeing the link to download the pattern.

  13. edie bleu says:

    I love this bra but at a 38h (UK) im guessing I’m going to look a bit bouncy?

  14. Trudy Lockhart says:

    For those of you that read this article from the UK, I took a bra making weekend course at
    http://www.englishcouture.co.uk/sewing-courses.htm
    who are based in Leicester. Classes are also run in Sheffield and can be taken on two different days. Highly recommend this course. You will learn the basics of how to make an under wired bra, also go on to do padded cups and insertion lace and you will receive a custom made pattern for a bra that is unique to you. Hope this helps, Trudy in Blackpool, UK

  15. Audrey says:

    Thank you so much for this. My daughter is 28 and is unable to find store bought bras with a small enough cup. I’ve been thinking I need to sew her something and now I have this pattern. :)

  16. Susan says:

    Tried the above links time and again, read all the pages 3 times through, still can’t find a way to download the pattern! What am I missing? Also, my bra size is a 41 barely A and I can’t find anything in any store or online for this size Bra. Can this pattern be tweaked to my size or is it geared for a larger size bust and smaller back?

    1. Karen Kelty says:

      Hi Susan! Sorry you’re having trouble. You can find the pattern here: http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/sewing/clothing/ohhh-lulu-1301-bambi-soft-bra/51855

  17. Bettina says:

    Dear Craftsy,
    If you’d do a bra making couse, I’d be the First to sign up!

  18. Nyi Nyi says:

    very easy and very useful method.thankyou very much.

  19. petra vayeos says:

    I use to buy brassiers for a long time. It fits me so well. The company discontinue that line and I found my self “braless”. In my desperation I try to make my own. So, I put apart one of my discontinue bra and it works great. I found difficult to find that type of pure cotton and you know what? That type of cotton is used to make men’s fine shirts. I made a couple with one of my husband’s shirts. I do not have to buy brassiers any more.