Self Assembly Required

DIY dressmaking + crafts with Emily

The Simplicity X Madalynne 8229 bra

Bra making is not something I do very often. In fact I haven’t done any  since I did a lingerie making course at Morley College 5 years ago! 

I was never that enamoured with the results of my work – they fitted OK but they never gave me the lift I wanted from my bras – so I never continued to make them. Plus drafting lingerie is HARD. I felt I could only make the patterns available and frankly, they just weren’t that great. 

That being said I thought I’d try the 8229 Madalynne X Simplicity pattern that I got as part of my prize package from the Simplicity Sewing Challenge last year. (Yes, it’s taken me this long to get round to making it!)

It’s a simple underwire bra with a full band. The cups are made from 2 pieces and offer pretty decent coverage if that’s what you’re looking for. All in all, it’s pretty basic as bras go. 

So of course I threw out the instructions as soon as I started! LOL. I really wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you know what you’re doing. I remembered enough about sewing bras that I could pretty just do it from memory without referring to the instructions at all. Plus I decided to use some creative license to use the scalloped edge of my lace on the lower border as is which meant that I wouldn’t have been able to follow them that much anyway. 

It all went together really quickly and easily considering how rusty I am at this!

My main concern was how the underwire would fit but it seemed fine with the wire I picked. 

There isn’t much guidance on choosing an underwire. Underwires come in all shapes and sizes and unfortunately it’s up to you to pick what you think is best. I went with this wire (style 14/ size W36) from the Sewing Chest which is a great UK supplier of all bra and corset related notions. The Sewing Chest provides guides on the shapes of the different styles they sell as well as a guide for choosing a size (and converting worldwide sizing too). It’s always recommended to buy a few wires in different sizes to try out for fit. 

FYI I got most of my bra findings from there and the lace and straps were from my stash – I’ve had them so long I don’t remember where I got them all from!

(Sorry, no photos of me in the bra itself! I don’t think the internet is ready for that!! πŸ˜‚)

There’s something really satisfying about making underwear. I think it’s to do with being really precise on a much smaller scale than I normally work on. 

In terms of fitting bras, you can only really fit them once you’ve actually finished sewing it up. Which means making lots of toiles before making one that fits really well. As it is, I think the band fits well on me. The cups seem a little small to me and I think I would size up a cup for my next one. That would at least allow me the possibility of taking it in if I’m between cup sizes. 

It’s supportive in a flattening not lifting kind of way which I find a bit frustrating (as with all bra patterns I’ve found so far). Looking on social media and blogs it looks like the more successful DIY bra makers possibly have smaller chests than me and that, I think, would make it a lot easier to make good bras with enough support. 

I’m thinking I should remake it in power mesh, or at least layer power mesh with lace, to see if that gives it a bit more lift. Has anyone tried that yet?

I also made the matching briefs in a black cotton jersey. Simple in design and simple to make, these basic briefs are great for beginners. I wasn’t a huge fan of the rise on these though – I’d rather have had full high waisted ones –  but I’ve been thinking about getting a pair of giant plain black undies (to wear under skirts and dresses that have a tendency to blow up) and these fit the bill!

If anyone has any tips or tricks to making really good bras, please share!

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  1. Your bra looks fab! Well done on the underwire πŸ’ͺ🏼 I’ve been making a lot of the Watsons recently, purely because I’m fed up of being uncomfortable in underwires and being limited to boring bras in shops like Marks and Spencer. Next on my list though is some comfy high waisted bottoms – I’m still undecided though whether they are going to look hideous on me! I’m making a velvet bra ATM and really want to make some matching velvet high waisted knickers!

  2. I just had to comment – I’ve been making bras for a while now – still haven’t perfected them but getting there . I use power mesh behind all my bands/bridges and use a nylon tricot to line the cups of all my bras to give my the lift and support I need (I have a DDD or above chest). And I need a really strong elastic for the band – with those three things and the underwire I can definitely make bras that give bot list and support (and also prettiness).

    1. I definitely need to try a power mesh version! I did line the cups with tricot in this case but it’s not enough by itself I think!
      Thanks for commenting – you’ve definitely given me hope that I can make a more supportive bra next time!

  3. This looks super pretty and delicate! I know what you mean about supportive in a flattening way, I had the same issues with the first few bra patterns I tried. I want for more lift from my bra and I’ve found Make Bra DL04 and Cloth Habit Harriet to be the best for that.

    1. I didn’t expect the Watson bra to be so lifting! I’ll have to try that one next – I love it’s long line band. I’ve not heard of Make Bra. Will definitely need to check them out!

  4. Oh Emily, what a beautiful bra! Sad that the fit and support isn’t as nice as you would have liked. I’m way too busty for Madalynne’s patterns, though I bought them all and I’ve used them for friends (who don’t need much support). I find that Beverly Johnson’s Pin-Up Girl patterns are far more supportive (Beverly has designed bras for RTW for decades, and really knows her stuff) and seem somehow more structured. They can look a little basic sometimes, but are truly a fantastic base for hacking. I also think that Amy Chapman’s very lovely Harriet Bra is modern, super supportive and has such a pretty cup shape (plus she’s donating all proceeds from sales to refugee aiding charities). And I completely agree — fitting bra patterns is a chore! Hope to see you make more though — thoughts from a lingerie sewing addict here LOL!

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