Once again I find myself preferring to make patterns from existing RTW and add a couple of tweaks rather than try to work with an existing pattern. RTW often has more interesting design lines and a better fit. (Example: I’ve never had the crotch of RTW panties be too wide, but this is a very common problem with home sewing patterns. There’s a Kwik Sew panty pattern that was notorious for this – I think every person that reviewed it had to shave off at least 1″ in width!)
I used to dread the thought of taking apart expensive RTW lingerie, but when I think about how much I’ve wasted in materials (and time) trying to get the fit of a lot of patterns correct it suddenly seems like a good deal. Instead of cutting it apart I very carefully pick everything apart at the seams. Lingerie tends to have very subtle curves and shaping, and I’ve found that I don’t get the same accuracy when I cut it apart at the seams and then add seam allowances back in.
I really hesitated taking apart my RTW bra, but the 30DD I bought was just too small in the band. (I have since bought a 32D and it is much more comfortable.) The method of “pin tracing” where you place it on a piece of cardboard and pin around the seams, then connect the holes created by the pins, can sometimes lead to a little distortion if you are working with a stretch fabric. I wanted to make sure I got the pieces perfectly copied so I carefully picked them apart, pressed the pieces, then used my lightbox to trace them onto card stock. I posted what the pieces looked like on Instagram. (Note: the little lace strap attachment piece was accidentally flipped the wrong way in the photo.)
I only copied the cup pieces. The band was pretty close to a 75C Make Bra DL01 band so I just used that pattern piece instead. The Make Bra band is wider, but I prefer wider bands. The one issue I had was that I forgot to add seam allowances to the upper edge, and as a result I had to resort to a Bra Essentials demi instead of classic length underwire.
The components of this bra are:
- Stretch lace upper cup (with an upper edge that wasn’t stabilized)
- rigid lower cup
- internal side sling, which consisted of a piece of non-stretch cup lining folded in half and sewn at the sides. The folded edge was left free.
- the upper strap lace was pieced to the upper cup lace, and secured to the internal side sling
You can see how the internal side sling looks and functions:
I wanted to get this test run finished as quickly (and cheaply) as possible, so instead of fussing with a Merckwaerdigh kit or dyeing I used plain white Duoplex for the lower cup pieces as well as the front band. The lace and back closure are from Elingeria. (Recognize the lace? So sad Elingeria went out of business. She used to have the best stuff.) I used nude non-stretch cup lining from Bramaker’s Supply for the powerbar and that little lace strap attachment. I stabilized the back band with some white heavyweight powernet from Spandex World. I cut the back band as a 75 rather than a 70 for extra fit insurance. It is easy to cut down a back band to make it smaller, but not nearly as easy or graceful to make a too-small band bigger. I always err on the side of too-large when it comes to cutting out bands because there’s so much variation in the stretch of the materials I use. I ended up removing a total of 3/4″ width from the center back, and reshaped the back strap placement to fit. The elastics and findings are from Fabric Depot.
The bra fits very slightly smaller than the RTW one, but it actually works because the 32D was very slightly large in the upper cup. I love the shaping it gives – very centered, shapely, and lifted. There’s projection, but it isn’t too pointy. Here is how the profile looks under my silk jersey wrap dress:
Half an hour after I finished the bra I had these done:
The Maidenform Hip Fit boyshorts have excellent reviews. I first started wearing them about six months ago, and I really like them. They give good coverage, are very comfortable, and the 1″ stretch lace is very smooth and doesn’t bind around my legs. They are low-to-mid rise, but the stretch lace waistband prevents them from making a bulge like elastic does. Under tight pants they are almost as invisible as a thong. The fabric is very thin, with 50-60% stretch. Surprisingly, the stretch of the fabric is not placed perpendicular to the center front and center back seams.
Even though I really liked them they had issues. The center back dipped down too low, and the front leg openings tended to roll during the course of the day. (Both of these are really common issues for me.) I was also not a fan of the crotch – it was the type where the lining is left loose at the front rather than being enclosed in a seam, and I find that the front edge tends to roll after they’re washed for the first time.
The nice thing about making my own from a rub-off is that I could correct these issues, save some money, and have them look however I want.
Here’s the changes I made:
- Added a 2″ (!) wedge to the center back. Normally I would make something closer to a 1″ wedge. I can’t believe I had to add so much to get it horizontal…
- Curved the front leg openings upward 1/2″
- Changed the crotch from being loose in the front to being completely enclosed. In the process of doing this I adjusted the front and back pieces, ending the center front and center back seaming directly above the crotch rather than joining together in the middle of the crotch lining. So the crotch lining is like a gusset now instead of just sitting on top of two intersecting seams. Doing this also saved fabric.
- Removed a little wedge – maybe 1/4″ – at the upper center front edge.
Here’s what the pattern pieces looked like when I was done:
I used the lightweight Supplex from Spandex World as my fashion fabric, and the cotton/lycra jersey from Dharma Trading for the crotch lining. I finished the edges with a white scalloped stretch lace I had in my stash from Sew Sassy. I kept the lace edges even with the fabric edge and trimmed away the fabric after I attached the lace.
The fabric is a little more firm and the lace slightly less stretchy than than the materials used by Maidenform so the fit is a little smaller. It is possible they will ride up if not worn with tights, but it will be a few more months before it is warm enough to find out!