WELCOME TO BRA WEEK! This week and next, the Autostraddle writers and some special guests will be giving you the scoop on over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders and otherwise-inclined chest-covering situations — fashion, history, feelings and so much more.
Kaitlyn and I decided to take a stab at making our own bras (of different styles and functions!) and showing you how it’s done. Let’s get to it!
Kaitlyn’s Sports Bra
Sports bras are one of those things that I know I need but feel silly spending a lot of money on. I wear them two or three times a week, primarily during activities where I end up covered in sweat, and I feel like the big bucks should be reserved for sexy lingerie or the perfect supportive, comfortable day-to-day bra. Making a sports bra out of old workout leggings, on the other hand, requires spending little-to-no money, and provides the added benefit of clearing things I never wear out of my dresser.
The key to this DIY is finding a pair of leggings with a waistband just a little smaller than your bra band size. Measure your bra band size directly under your breasts, making sure to hold the measuring tape horizontal all the way around your torso. The elastic waistband of your leggings will stretch, so I’d say that ideal size is an inch or two smaller than your bra band. (If your bra band is 32 inches, for example, you’ll want a waistband around 30 inches, depending on the stretchiness of the elastic.) You want the band to stay firm and do most of the heavy lifting, but not be so tight as to cut off circulation.
+ An old pair of leggings
+ measuring tape
+ a pencil or marker
+ a sports bra you like as a guide
+ foam pads from an old bathing suit (if you want extra coverage)
Step 1: Turn your leggings inside out and upside down and lay the sports bra even with the bottom of the waistband. You can use wither the front or the back of the leggings for the front of the bra, depending on your bust size; larger busts may benefit from the extra fabric in back. Trace loosely around the rest of the bra, adding a half-inch seam allowance. Cut off the legs and remove the guide bra.
Step 2: Cut out the pattern for your new bra. The most difficult part of this for me was the neckline, because I had to eyeball how much of the extra crotch fabric to cut out before I could lay it out flat and trace the real neckline. If you’re nervous about this, just cut right along the inseam, which will go more or less down the center. After you’ve cut it open and laid everything flat, you can adjust your neckline as needed.
Step 3: Hem the fabric all the way around by folding it in and sewing shut. I hand-sewed a back stitch because it creates a strong seam and a nice straight line on the exposed side, but whatever you prefer will work. This would have taken about a quarter of the time with a sewing machine, so if you have one, congratulations/a pox on you.
Step 4: Take your foam pads and pin them to the inside of the front of the bra. You can either eyeball the placement or hold it up to your chest to measure, but you’ll want to sew the bottom of the pad directly to the hem of the waistband if possible to keep the thread from showing through. I didn’t sew the top of the pad at all, but you can certainly do that if you want them a little more secure.
Step 5: Turn the bra right side out and put it on so you can measure the shoulder straps. Mark the line with pins, then take it off and sew the straps together. Trim any extra fabric or loose threads, and you’re all done!
Chelsey’s Wireless Lace Bra on next page