For such a small, but essential item of clothing, a bra can be a bit of a minefield from choosing your preferred style, the fabrics, elastics & fasteners.  I spent some time reviewing designs & videos on bra making before deciding on my preferred pattern & the materials I would need.

I chose the Lana Bra by Made for Mermaids as there were larger cup sizes available and many video tutorials, from measuring and choosing which size to cut to all of the construction processes.  There are also videos explaining the pros and cons of different materials. I didn’t want to use lace for my first bra and chose a fabric which I have used in the past and enjoy working with.  One of my favourite fabrics is Art Gallery jersey and Minerva have many lovely designs to choose from.  I picked Bows in Silence, a cotton spandex jersey knit, for my bra.

The materials I needed included the main cup and lining fabric with an additional, and optional, layer of power net, strap elastic (ideally plush backed), with a pair of the same size connectors, plush band elasticpicot elastic and a set of bra fasteners.

Choosing your bra size is relatively straight forward and uses your actual under bust measurement for the band size, although if you are between sizes you need to use your judgement as to whether to size up or down.  The cup size is worked out by using the upper bust measurement subtracted from the full bust and compared on the chart to determine the cup size.  The designer points out that your sewing cup size may be smaller than your ready to wear bra size.

Minerva offer a thread matching service and, in hindsight, I should’ve used this as the shade of fabric is unusual and I had none in my stock.  I decided to use white which worked quite well and doesn’t stand out too much top stitching.

After having a practice with the pattern using an old t shirt for technique and sizing, I marked my pattern pieces top, bottom, centre front, side seam and apex seam and ensured I marked all the notches.  Side cup and front cup pieces can easily be mixed up and marking centre front helped me easily use the correct pieces.  

The pattern on the fabric had an obvious direction and I originally was going with horizonal.  It would be difficult to distinguish main and lining cup pieces, because I was using the same fabric to line the bra, so I cut the lining with the pattern running vertically. I actually preferred the vertical pattern direction so swapped the lining for the main pieces.  Placement of the different layers of cup fabric does require some concentration the first time you do it, but the instructions are clear after reading a couple of times and this ensures the seam is enclosed.

The instructions suggest grading the cup seams, but I left them unlayered and used it as a bit more support under the cups rather than adding a further channel, which is an optional extra.

What was unusual with this project was that my husband doesn’t usually comment until I’ve finished making something and ask him to take some photos.  On this occasion, he was very interested to help me get the fit right!

I wanted to make sure there was adequate support and added a layer of power net in the cups, back band and frame.  The pattern recommends cutting the band elastic 1 inch shorter than the band to incorporate slight tension, but I actually took off double this in the end, totalling 2 inches.

I used picot elastic along all of the edges and also added band elastic to the inside for additional strength as I dislike bands that move up when wearing.  I felt that picot elastic may not have been quite strong enough on its own.  I top stitched the picot along the band along with the plush band elastic and then added one further row of top stitching to secure the band.

Fitting the bra fastener and the strap adjusters is straight forward by following the instructions.

Once I’d ascertained the correct size & the method, the construction was pretty straight forward and my next bra will be even quicker.  It is very comfortable to wear and offers medium support made with jersey fabric.  I will make another using scuba which should provide more support and the designer recommends going up one cup size for scuba fabric that has slightly less stretch.

I’m really pleased with the fit and for my bras in the future will make sure to -

- write down the stitches, size & width for each area e.g. construction, elastic and top stitching and leave it on a post-it on the machine

- test and retest cup sizes

- possibly a wider fastener, 3 rather than 2 hooks and eyes

- stitch the picot closer to the edge

I’ve a new love of picot for a simple and effective finish and especially love Art Gallery cotton spandex jersey and have enough left to make another Lana Bra.  For more support there are also instructions on adding foam cups.

I definitely recommend The Lana Bra, with all the helpful video tutorials especially if it is your first time making a bra, and for beautifully soft lingerie I’d go with Art Gallery jersey every time.  I think this is my favourite, and most satisfying, project to date.

Thank you for reading and to Minerva for the beautiful kit.