The Esplanade bra – is it on your radar yet? I haven’t seen many out in the wild, so I think maybe for the first time ever, I’m sewing something pretty damn new. As opposed to checking out everyone elses versions before I commit, which is my usual MO.
Pattern: Esplanade Bra by Orange Lingerie
Main Fabric: Some poly goodness that I assume is vintage. John Kaldor on the selvedge. A little bit of stretch against the grain, none in the other direction. Got it from the op shop for the princely sum of $1.
Power Mesh: The Remnant Warehouse.
Wires, elastic, foam etc: Booby Traps.
This is the first time I’ve sewn with foam and to be honest, my machine didn’t love it. I used a new size 70 universal needle as per the instructions, but it was skipped stitch city and involved a few swears on my part. We got there in the end though.
I was a bit of a crap blogger and didn’t take any construction photos, mainly because I was sewing most of it last night and no one wants ugly night time images. However when I make my next one, I’ll share more of that stuff.
So as you’ve probably noticed by now, the Esplanade bra is a long line, strapless bra with foam cups and boning. It’s quite rad and pretty different to most of the bra patterns out there right now. I love sewing bras, I love the process and I love how it all comes together in the end.
I’m probably more proud of the guts of the bra than the outside. So pretty.
Every time I sew a bra, I get asked really similar questions – so I’m going to do a bit of a FAQ here, followed by some fitting images and info.
– Is it hard to sew a bra?
This is tough to answer because it depends on what you’re used to sewing. I think the biggest difference to sewing clothing is the seam allowance. In bra sewing it’s generally 1/4 inch, which feels tiny at first, but you get used to it quite quickly. You’re also sewing with some fabric that behaves quite differently to the usual wovens.
– You included wires?!
Of all the parts of bra sewing, people seem to balk the most at the wire part. It’s not that hard. In fact, even if you want a wireless bra, a lot of patterns will still add the casing as it covers raw edges and provides a bit of structure. Wires aren’t the devil, they’re actually pretty cool.
– How did you learn?
From Beverley Johnson’s Craftsy Class (affiliate link). I wouldn’t be sewing bras if I hadn’t watched that class. It is bloody excellent. My first ever bra was a Pin Up Girl Classic, which is demonstrated in that class. It’s my tried and true bra pattern and I love it like a child.
– Where do you get your supplies from?
I always blog where everything is from, but in Australia try:
Booby Traps (fabric, elastic, hardware and pretty much anything else bra related)
The Remnant Warehouse (fabric)
Pitt Trading (fabric)
Sew Squirrel (kits and patterns)
Measure Twice Cut Once (kits and patterns)
Kits are a really good idea for your first bra, then you’ll learn your strap elastic from your underwire casing.
Let’s talk fit. I don’t think sewing a bra is hard, but I do think fitting can be. Bras have far less room for error when compared to something like a dress. They have to be just right. And because we’re all individual little snowflakes with all sorts of boob sizes and shapes, this can be a bit tough. I honestly don’t know how RTW bras fit most of the population. I suspect they don’t and we settle for ‘good enough’. I’ve been pretty lucky with fitting, my bras have all been pretty spot on the first time, although I’ve always made slight tweaks to them all on the next round. Nothing has been so far off that it’s unwearable. I’ve watched some poor ladies in bra groups on Facebook make 6, 7 and 8 toiles. And the tough part about it is that you can’t try it on as you go, you have to make the WHOLE DAMN THING and out of the same fabric you intend to sew the final version in. Not for the faint hearted. But when you get it, angels descend from the heavens and you no longer find bras a torture device to be ripped off as soon as you get home. It’s worth it, I swear.
So this bra is probably my worst fit right off the bat. There’s gaping in the upper cups and the whole shebang is too long. The length is easily fixed next go, but the upper cup part will need a bit of extra tweaking. On the plus side, see how the bridge is flat against my chest wall? That’s sometimes a tough one to get right, so I scored there. Nevermind, it’s still wearable and I might even add straps to this version to eliminate a bit of that gape action.
There’s that pesky gap. Not enough fullness at the top of my boobs. That’s age, gravity, babies and probably genetics. You’ll note at this stage I hadn’t closed off the casing. The wires are the last thing that goes in so you can test the fit before committing to wire size. You do not want to ever have to unpick bar tacks from underwire casing. NO. Different bras require different wire lengths. I tend to trial and error from my stash until I find the best fit.
What about support? Strapless bras aren’t really known for it, are they? I think the support in this one is decent, would be better if that upper cup was the right size. Still, I’m not going jogging in this bad boy and I think expecting to is just unrealistic, because gravity, cup size and physics.
I’m very happy with this pattern though. It goes together really well, all my notches lined up and besides the foam troubles, there were minimal melt downs. Will make again and will also make a beach version from swim spandex. With straps though, because my sort of swimming involves waves.