Sewy Isabell

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Sewy, they are a German lingerie pattern designer and lingerie shop. The patterns do not include seam allowances. While I found the shape of the cups much more modern than most other patterns, I do not recommend them to most people just starting out in bramaking because like the website, the instructions are written entirely in German.

The Sewy Isabell is a three-section cup bra with a diagonal seam and split lower cup. The upper cup is unlined stretch lace, and the instructions appear to call for the lower cups to be lined with powernet.

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Screen shot 2015-04-20 at 11.21.04 AM isabell_z3

I found the style and shaping of this bra was very similar to the Panache Andorra 5676 plunge bra. The appearance is lifted yet natural, the stretch lace upper cup gives a very smooth fit. As I mentioned in my introductory paragraph I find the shape more modern than most other cut-and-sew bra patterns. While some people like a very projected, pointy look, I am not a fan because it looks old-fashioned, doesn’t do much for my smaller bust, and it makes clothes drafted to modern standards fit very oddly.

While I am a smaller size, I still have a lot of trouble buying a well-fitting RTW bra. I need the lower cup depth and wire of a 32C/D but the upper cup depth of a 32B/C. (So far the Panache Andorra is the best-fitting RTW option I’ve found.)  So when trying out this pattern I went with a 70D and underlined with non-stretch cup lining. Instead of the band included with the pattern I used my TNT Make Bra DL01 band. While I was very pleased with how my first version was out-of-the-envelope, that did not mean that I didn’t make changes for subsequent versions!

Here’s my first version. The band/bridge were actually from another project where I experimented with some cup shaping tweaks. I was unhappy with how they came out, so I ripped out the cups and reused the band for this project, just setting the new Sewy Isabell cups into the band and re-attaching the channeling and foldover elastic. (Good thing I saved the extra fabric/stretch lace left over from the Merckwaerdigh kit!)

As I noted in my Instagram caption, the shaping was very good, as was the overall volume. I could have left it as-is, but I wanted to reposition things to make it fully customized to my figure. (I’ve noticed that if the cup depth is too shallow, even by as little as 1/4″, it makes the bra ride up during the day.) After making three more wearable muslins I finally settled on my alterations enough to make this one:

All-lace Sewy Isabell #bramaking   A photo posted by @clothingengineer on Apr 19, 2015 at 4:21pm PDT

Few more views, since this lace is gorgeous…

I used the extra channeling left over to make boning casings. For the boning I used 7 3/8″ white cable ties from Harbor Freight. They’re thinner and more flexible than the plastic boning from Joann’s. Not to mention really cheap – about $2 for a package of 100, which is enough for 50 bra bands! (I think I picked up this tip from Kenneth King.)

For this bra I used a Merckwaerdigh kit. After getting a couple of kits lately that included elastics with poor recovery, I was pleased to see that the stretch lace and elastics in this particular kit were top-notch. (Too bad Kantje Boord is in Europe. Normally I love the convenience and selection of buying fabric online, but elastics are the one thing I would LOVE to be able to handle in person before buying.)

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Because the lining included in the kit was nylon sheer (which has mechanical two-way stretch) rather than non-stretch cup lining, I used some non-stretch sheer cup lining from Bramaker’s Supply instead for the cups and bridge. (I did not line the upper cup.) I used the heavyweight nude powernet from Spandex World for the band underlining.

Here’s a side profile shot of it worn under a thin, drapey rayon/lycra tee. You can see how the upper cup is extremely smooth.

With my changes to the upper cup depth, the neckline is also low enough to wear under my Marfy 2733 dress. The shape of the cup also works really well with this dress, and pretty much all of my woven garments with darts and princess seams.

These were my final alterations:

  • Repositioned the vertical seam of the lower cups 1/2″ inward. This is a very, very common alteration for me, with both bras and tops/dresses with darts and princess seams. (I think the typical apex-to-apex width is 8″ and mine is more like 7″.) I had to make the same alteration to the Cloth Habit Watson.
  • Raised the cup depth 1/4″ by curving the apex of the seam upward. I need a lot of lower cup depth, and this alteration put it more on par with the Panache Andorra.
  • After moving the seam and raising the cup depth, I removed 3/8″-1/2″ of depth from the upper cup. I took out most of it from the apex outward, tapering to nothing where the strap starts to curve upward. (I didn’t make any changes to the depth at the center front.) This makes the upper cup proportionally smaller than the lower cup, which is just what I need.
  • Omitted the elastic stabilizing the upper edge. I know elastic is supposed to work as a stabilizer, but the Panache Andorra bras don’t stabilize the upper edge and they have such an incredibly smooth look to the upper edge – no quad-boob or gaping at all. I’m not very rounded at all above the apex so maybe that’s why this works for me.
  • Decreased the bridge width from 3/4″ to 1/2″ for my final version.
  • For this particular lace version I shortened the strap extension 1/2″, making the neckline slightly less of a V-shaped plunge. I did not make this a permanent pattern change though.

18 thoughts on “Sewy Isabell

  1. Gosh Anne, what an exquisite bra — swooning for that pretty lace! Thanks for the terrific tip about using cable ties as boning. I’m really looking forward to your Sewy navigation post as I’ve wanted to buy patterns from there forever but can’t really figure out how to do that.

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  2. Anne, I love both versions. I agree, the lace on the ivory/green one is so beautiful! Really lovely! The Isobel is also very similar to a Fanatasie bra I cloned, and although I’ve already sewn that one up, I’d love English instructions for Isobel.

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    1. Rumor has it that the instructions aren’t the greatest, even in their native German. I’m mostly interested in a good translation of the material requirements.

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      1. Hmmm, that makes me wonder if the original instructions for the Sewy Rebecca were the same, and thus the ElingeriA English instructions aren’t that great as a result. Yes, a good translation of the materials would be great to have.

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      2. They probably aren’t. I only heard this secondhand.

        I find that a lot of instructions, even when written in English, are very vague about material requirements. That’s what I really liked about the Cloth Habit Watson. She is VERY specific about amount and type of stretch, which is rare.

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  3. Oh I wanted to say also, that I’ve just found Panache bras here (at Big Girls Don’t Cry in Brisbane) and my final size was 30F (8F). I have never been able to find a band that fit me properly and have always had to make do with a 32 (10). This does look similar to the style I bought. I only bough the ones on sale as i just can’t afford the $100 it would cost at the normal price.

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    1. Panache seems to have deeper cups than other brands – at least the styles I tried. Maybe that’s why the Andorra worked so well for me when others didn’t.

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  4. What a lovely bra did you make!
    I think there’s a small mix up. Merckwaerdigh and Kantje Boord are not the same, both are based in the Netherlands, but there two different companies. I’m still starting sewing lingerie and bra’s and find it very difficult to buy bra making supplys online. Kantje Boord also has a lot more in their brick store than online.

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    1. I am aware that Merckwaerdigh and Kantje Boord are separate entities. As far as I know Merckwaerdigh is online-only, and while Kantje Boord’s online offerings are rather slim I have heard their retail shop is THE place to go for lingerie supplies.

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  5. Okay – still learning how to post comments – the other remark was supposed to answer Ginny’s question regarding “how to order from them”
    And here is what I found about material requirements for the Isabell bra:
    Lace (elastic or non-elastic) for upper cups
    bi-elastic lingerie fabric for all other parts
    Powernet to line back of bra band and cups
    non-elastic lining for – how do you call the front half of the bra band?

    Personally, I don’t like powernet in the cups – it makes the seams so thick. But that is what they ask for at least in the instructions of the Rebecca and the Isabell. And that is what they include as cup lining in their kits.

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    1. Thank you again, Tanja, for your translation! It is very helpful.

      The front half of the bra band is called the bridge (or sometimes the gore). I prefer the non-stretch cup lining, at least for the lower cup section, because it is extremely thin and makes the fit more predictable. It also gives better lift and support than a stretchy fabric like powernet.

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  6. Anne, yur bras are lovely as always. Thanks for the detailed information on the alterations… I would love to see photos of the altered pattern pieces. I have similar fit issues in a larger size. I ordered the Isabell as soon as I discovered it, but working on the Bravo 2 of late since I have a good fit and comfort with it… but I still want to try this one, too. 🙂

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