This is the best photo you are going to see today of my Me-Made wear. I didn’t give close-ups because it’s a little rough, but not bad for a first go. And guess what? It seems to fit! I am very excited. I will report back after I have it on for a little while and let you know how it wears.
I made Merckwaerdigh CUPL16, using a basic fabric kit from Bravobella. I considered making this first bra to be a learning workshop, so I wasn’t afraid to try something knowing I might tear it out. I used inexpensive fabrics and materials, including some scavenged from other bras. I consider this experiement a success!
Merckwaerdigh is a great Etsy shop with a variety of bra, panty, corset, and swimsuit patterns, in a wider range of sizes than anything else I found. The styles are cute, and they fit great, based on my limited experience and comments I’ve read on other blogs. I was struggling with sizing, so I wrote Margreet and got a thoughtful response about my measurements, ready-to-wear sizing, and her best guess as to what size I should make. She was spot on!
Margreet usually does recommend the typical +4″ to the ribcage measurement, but she said for larger cup sizes, she recommends adding only 2″. For my 29.5″ ribcage, she recommended a 32″ band, so that’s what I made. This feels great to me. It is sitting low on my back, it’s not too tight, and it isn’t riding up at all. I am very happy.
Regarding the cups, she explained how her patterns are based on European sizing tables, and they run smaller than typical American bras. Looking at the pattern sheet, there seems to be very little difference from one cup size to the next. However, this is good! This means you can really get a great fit, and it means there are many more sizes in her range than what you see in RTW. If you have a question about your size, especially using Merkwaerdigh patterns, I would highly recommend dropping Margreet a line for her advice. The size she suggested is truly perfect.
The one downside to this pattern is the instructions are not very detailed, and there are no drawings to help you along. You must have sewing experience and common sense (ahem, ask me how I know) in order to make this bra. I had never made a bra before, so I don’t think it’s a prerequisite for this pattern, but do a little viewing online before you start.
Margreet also offers bra kits and elastic kits. These are very well priced compared to similar items I have seen on other sites. The kits include all the items (except underwires) you need for one bra and one matching panty for $24. Her elastic kits include wide and narrow picot elastic, bra straps with sliders, and bra closures — enough for one bra and one panty, for $7.50.
At the time I ordered my pattern, I didn’t really know what I was doing or I would have ordered a fabric or elastic kit from her as well. As it turns out, I did a ton of online research and found Bravobellabras.com had pretty good prices compared to other sites. I only wanted a small amount so I could decide if bramaking is for me, so other sites might be more economical if you plan to make more than one bra in the same color.
I bought the basic tricot kit in light pink. I also bought a fashion kit in teal for $2 more, which basically got me the basic kit plus some wide stretch lace. The kits include tricot fabric for the cups (outside and lining), Powernet for the back, underwire channelling, wide elastic for under the bust, narrow elastic for the top of the bra and armpit, the closure, and interfacing that they say is meant to be used for the straps.
Here is where I wish I had paid better attention. These kits do not include bra strap elastic, rings for attaching them to the bra, or sliders to adjust the strap length. Word to the wise. My pattern called for fashion fabric to be used on the strap portion that lies in front of the body, and an elastic ring/slide strap for the back of the body. I had a hell of a time finding this locally and finally resorted to cannibalizing a RTW bra that no longer fits. It’s not perfect, but it will do for a first time project.
The Bravobella kit also included two mystery things. First, a short length of twill tape, which I think is meant to stabilize the front bridge. I used a piece of organza instead. I have not seen how to use twill tape anywhere online or in my useless-bra stash, and didn’t feel like figuring it out. Second, a short length of very wide elastic, which I would have thought would be perfect for straps, except it was very much too short, and there were no rings or sliders. I’m still stumped.
I am not disappointed in the Bravobella kit, and now that I know the straps are not included, I can plan ahead for my next make. Also, I intend on following up with them to find out what these extra items are meant for.
The pattern was about $17 with $5 for shipping from the Netherlands. The kit was $14 plus $2.50 for shipping from California. In total, I spent a little less than $40 for this bra, with enough fabric left over to make a second bra or panty. I will surely use the pattern again, so the price per bra will go down considerably in the future. I learned a lot and could easily have spent $40 on a class alone! I just spent $60+ on one RTW bra, so I am pretty pleased with the value. I will document the making of the teal bra so I can put together a tutorial. Overall, I enjoyed the process. It was time-consuming the first time because I stopped often and viewed other online resources, studied and disassembled RTW bras, and wrongly guessed at parts of the instructions. However, this is not really as hard as you would think. If you have a hard time finding RTW bras that fit, or you just want something with your own flair, have a go!