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.
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:
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.
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.
The upper cup pieces are above the cup and are ideal to be cut from something sheer, like lace or eyelet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What is a French Seam and how is it made? C’est simple! Learn how to sew a French Seam.
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.
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.
Cut notches from the seam allowance to reduce bulk and to allow the curve of the seam to lay flat.
Press the seam allowance toward the lining and pin in place.
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.
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!
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.
Want to add a little style to your seams? Learn how to sew decorative seam finishes to add even more sass to your bra.
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.
Sew the elastic to the bottom edge, stretching it to fit as you go, and keeping the lower edges aligned.
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.
On the inside of the bra, trim the seam allowance along the elastic down to about 1/8”.
Fold the elastic to the inside of the bra, keeping the trim on the outside of the bra and pin in place.
With a slightly wider and shorter zigzag stitch, stitch the elastic to the bottom band on the right side of the bra.
Cut the elastic and pin in place to the top edge of the upper band the same way you did for the lower band.
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.
Fold the elastic to the inside and pin in place. Stitch in place as you did for the lower elastic.
The outside now looks complete and the inside is fully lined. Yay!
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.
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.
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.
Take the other end of the elastic and feed it through the same adjustable hardware.
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.
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.
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!