Saturday, September 6, 2014

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra Pattern DONE + Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction by Norma Loehr

This summer I got for a birthday present the new print version of Norma Loehr's bra making book Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction.  So of course I had to snag up her very first bra pattern, the Marlborough Bra.  This will blog entry is about both the book and my finished, very wearable muslin.  Update- Sept 24, 2014: Read about Versions 2 & 3 of this pattern here.



First off let's talk about her book Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction.  It originally was only available for Kindle and what not.  I don't do e-books really, so I was thrilled it's now in print.  The print copy appears to be an on-demand printed style book.  The layout looks basically identical to the Kindle version you can look inside on Amazon.  I do wish it were wire-bound to make it easier to lay flat as I use the book while sewing and altering-- but I imagine this would be more expensive to do.

There are NO PATTERNS in the book.  Demystifying is meant to hold your hand through the process of making your bra from the very basics of understanding the anatomy of a bra, what supplies you need, altering an existing pattern, fitting issues with solutions and the actual sewing process.  I have sewn so many bras in the past several years so I blew through the basics and headed to Norma's directions on alterations for the best fit along with using her construction sequence and details on what stitches to use.   The info in the book is very user-friendly and easy to follow along.  The photos make each step easy to understand.  The printing quality is not amazing, so the photos are not 100% crisp and perfect, but that does not change or effect the quality of the info shared.

There are several ways to measure your body to get your bra size.  There is no standardized way to do so and every RTW bra manufacturer and bra pattern will have different ideas on this.  I've tried all of them.  Norma makes a point saying any measuring is purely a starting point.  Your size may not be precisely what you get initially.  Norma's technique is to measure the underbust then add 4-5" to get your band size.  This does NOT work for me.  I need way more support then a bra band that large.  But she makes a point saying this method is likely better for smaller busts (that would be me... but I have  an unruly, not at all youthful, massive weight loss and recently nursed a baby sorta bewbies that need much of the same support and attention that larger busts traditionally need.)  Her technique to get your cup size: measure you full bust (with a well fitting bra on) and then the upper bust-- the difference in measurements is your cup size: 1"=A, 2"=B, 3"=C, etc.  This again has proven inaccurate for me as well.  Using her technique I could be a 42C.  This is much to large for me indeed.  The most accurate bra size calculator I've personally have used can be found here.  But it's all just a starting point, I still need to alter bra patterns to fit my figure.


  
PDF sewing pattern for an underwire bra engineered for great shaping and support by Orange Lingerie - Marlborough Bra

I used the book as a companion to sewing up my first Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra.  It comes in sizes 30A-40DD, so not for bigger busts really.  There are a zillion pages in the pattern but you have to print 9 pages of directions and 2 more pages for your bra size.  Each size comes on it's own page, no taping or anything.  Plus you can print it on card stock to make the pattern pieces last and for easier handling as your cut your fabrics.  The bra is so pretty and lovely and it's about 85% perfectly fitted!  I made a size 38B.  My problem: the cup size is too large and I will go down one size in my next go round.  If I bought this bra as a RTW one, the cup would be passable.



The cups of the pattern is meant for little to no stretch tricot and laces, the band is supposed to have powernet.  I used this gorgeous vanilla toned lace exclusively.  It's a very firm, substantial lace and has maybe 10-15% stretch.  I don't have any nylon sheer at the moment, I should have lined the cups with it to make it zero stretch... next time!


I am head over heels excited about my bridge alteration!  I used the book to make this change. It shows exactly how to take your pattern piece and make it fit your shape.  You can see in the picture about how my bridge was changed to fit me.  I had to slash and open it at a slight angle-- this follows the shape of my figure exactly now! Woo hoo!!


Like I said, I've sewn up many a bra already.  One of the popular bras we all seem to be sewing up right now is the Pin Up Girls Classic Full Band Bra (here's one of mine.)  I laid my frame and band pattern  pieces together for both the Marlborough Bra and the Pin Up Girls Bra just for comparison sake (the white paper is the Marlborough, the outlined in red tracing paper pieces are the Pin Up Girls.)  Both have that nice full band and the area on the band where you attach the bra strap is a nice rounded dip... both elements for great support.  I like how the Marlborough is more shaped in the band, the Pin Up one is all straight lines.  The cup itself (not pictured... I don't post pics on me in bras on the internet, no thanks.): the Marlborough bra is a more rounded shape and the Pin Up one is a bit on the pointy side.


I used my regular sewing machine with a walking foot and stretch needle.  Here are all of my stitch sizes... these are stitches all needed for this pattern:
Zig Zag:  2.5 length, 2.0 width
3 step zig zag: 4.0 length, 1.5 width
Satin stitch: 2.0 width, .8 length
Straight stitch: 2.5-2.8 length depending on the thickness of the spot I'm on


It's so easy to get your lace to line up just right where it meets the elastic, pictured above.  Just place your seam line (where you will stitch your seam) directly on the low dip of the lace.  Happy dance when it all works out!

The lower cup does not have any notches to line it up with the upper cup.  This confused me a bit because the upper cup has a notch.  I mentioned this to Norma and she said that upper cup notch is to mark the apex.  I happened initially to mis-sew the lower cups, switching them around because of them not being marked.  I also found myself marking up all the pattern pieces to identify what edge is what.  It would have been nice if each pattern piece was marked with the pattern name... not a huge deal.


I used a white, narrow lacey elastic for the upper cup stabilizer.  The pattern suggests that 1/4" clear plastic elastic.  I am not a fan of that stuff and don't own any.


I love the fun contrasting orange elastics.  I wish I had the matching orange bra closure, but I had to use this white one. Ugh. And what's extra nifty about sewing this pattern?  The designer, Norma, is a real live person who quickly responds to any questions or comments I had... if you're on twitter like I am, just tweet her and get an almost instant response.  This may be the top reason to buy and use indie patterns-- you got the designer ready to address your issues and queries.  


I love the potential for so many fabric options.  The cup is in three pieces, I can really see some sassy prints!  Now on to a second one.

27 comments:

  1. Very pretty. I think I have that same lace! This sadly won't work in my size. But, happily the pattern I have on hand is fairly similar. For the upper cup, I like to use 1/8 inch elastic from easy. People sell it for baby headbands. It's thin, but easier to work with than clear and can be color coordinated. For the bridge, I use silk organza as my stabilizer. And in my embarrassingly large order from Bra Maker's supply, I bought the sheer to line the lower bust with. This is really really pretty. I also like how well it works with just one lace and a different color strapping ,etc.

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    1. I got the lace from Fashions Unlimited's warehouse sale last year, so you probably bought it, too. Silk organza... Why did I not think of that. Probably because it would have been to easy.

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  2. This is so pretty!!!!!!! I love everything about it!

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    1. Thanks! I wish the fit were perfect, it's too pretty.

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  3. I find this all pretty amazing!! I have never sewn a bra before, and yours is beautiful. I love how you tailored it to your shape, and I have the same unruly youthful bewbies (on a much smaller scale) : )

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    1. Thanks!! I am addicted to sewing lingerie. I wish I had enough $$ to buy anything and everything I wanted for bra sewing. My bewbies unfortunately have never had that "youthful" look, aahhh, but there are worse things in life... that's what a good bra is for!

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  4. This is so lovely! I'm not usually crazy about any kind of orange, but I really love this color combination. Thanks for the comprehensive reviews.of both the book and pattern. I've not ventured into bra sewing yet, but really need to as I constantly find the bridges in most RTW bras to be too wide for me. Hopefully it won't be much more difficult than underwear which I have found to get even easier with each successive pair.

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    1. Thanks, Nadine! The bridge seemed more narrow on the pattern then any of my RTW bras... but that doesn't matter a whole lot now that the secret is out on how to alter it. And once you start sewing bras, you'll be addicted. It's wacky how RTW a bra looks, even with my first one (it was PIn Up Girls Classsic Full Band). It's all in the fit, though.

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  5. How does a non-stretch bra work? How does the band fit and stay in place? This is so intruiging!

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    1. Ha! I realize that I didn't clarify that the CUPS are meant to be sewn up in a non-stretch (but the band is supposed to be powernet.) I was in bra talk world and forgot to make that distinction. I fixed that in the blog entry. Geeez. Sorry for the confusion. Non-stretch band would be... a short corset?! :)

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  6. Really pretty bra! I'm just getting into bra making myself, and I'm really excited about working on perfecting fit.

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    1. Thanks! The secret of bra sewing is in the fit. The sewing part is easy if you already know how to sew.

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  7. I love this bra, thanks for the great review. I have lost a lot of weight and have a hard time finding a good fit. Now with the book and pattern, I can have a perfect fit.

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    1. Thanks!! Yeah, I had to go through a variety of sizes just a few years ago as a was losing weight. I had some pretty RTW ones before I started sewing bras when I was a larger size from L@ne Bry@nt that all had to be thrown out... actually I gave them away they were too nice.

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  8. It looks like I may need that book... thanks for the review! Your bra is gorgeous :)

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    1. I want so many bra sewing books, this one was the most economical of the bunch. It has lots of helpful tidbits for me.

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  9. May I rename your creation to Dreamsicle? Orange and vanilla, perfect match. I adore it!!

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    1. Ha! I would describe this shade of orange to be a bold shade of creamsicle orange. You're awwesome!

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  10. I bought her kindle book ages ago and struggled through it because the formatting came across choppy on my device (non kindle). I've been feeling pulled to re-read. Your post just reaffirms it.

    I just finished my 2nd bra (bravo bella) and know I need to adjust the bridge pretty similar to your alteration. Seeing your photos helped me a lot. I also have to make cup adjustments. My first one too large, 2nd too small. Those measurements are truly just a starting point. The most helpful thing, now that I've seen how 2 bras go together, is to measure my existing fav RTW bra.

    Have you had any trouble with rippling cups? When I leave the pattern as is or if I round the cups more (rather than pointy) they still are rippling unless I pull the bra super snug across body and really tight from straps. I don't believe I'm stretching them too much while sewing and I've clipped the cross cup seams to ease the curve. Thoughts?

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    1. Bra making is so awesome. Ain't it crazy how easy the actual construction is? Fitting, now that's another story. And I have had rippling cups, even when the cup seems to fit. When I made this bra (http://www.kathy-sews.com/2014/04/kwik-sew-3300-black-lacey-bra-with.html) I got some rippling on the inner cup, I think it was due to the fact that my polka dot fabric was too stretchy and needed to be stabilized with a lightweight iron on interfacing.

      I use a walking foot to ease the pressure of my sewing machine's foot. Often using a regular foot will create too much pressure and pull the fabric as you go. I've never used one, but a Teflon foot is supposed to smoothly feed fabric as well.

      One possibility for you is the fabric is too stretchy and needs to be stabilized. In the book, there is a section on how to use different fabrics... she says how to use an iron on interfacing (if appropriate for the fabric) or using nylon sheer (I think, check though... I just bought silk organza for my cups stabilizing today.)

      I was just reading a review by Sigrid for a new bra pattern I have. She had those wrinkles, too. She explains how she fixed it. http://sewing.patternreview.com/review/pattern/22305


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  11. Beautiful Bra! That lace is absolutely lovely and the color combination is so cool. Even though you'll make the next version a different size, I hope you can still wear this one because the construction is really impeccable.

    I'm so glad to find a bra drafted for non-stretch cups, that's the only kind I buy because I don't like foam, and stretchy cups are just not supportive enough. She doesn't cover my size (I'm above a DD) but I wonder if I could figure out how to grade it up a little?

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  12. Oh my goodness - that is SO beautiful! Someday I'd like to try this out, but until then I'll just admire yours :-)

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  13. Kathy, that bra is so awesome! And I bought Norma's book on Kindle (before print was available...now I want the print version but the cheapass within does not buy media in two different formats), but didn't realize she has a bra pattern now!

    Bras are on my "really want to try but kind of scared to eff up" list. I bought all of the supplies to make the classic Pin-Up Girls bra...over a year ago. I think seeing your wondrous creation might actually finally spur me to action!

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  14. Outstanding, bras are on my list. They intimidate me greatly but they are on my list. Yours are gorgeous. I love the lime green :O). I think I need to add this book to my amazon wish list!

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