Third time lucky – Harriet Bra

Hi all,

It’s day 10 of #BRAugust2019 , a month-long instagram challenge for Bra makers. Every day has got it’s own prompt, and the tenth prompt is ‘most worn’. Preparing for the challenge, I realised I never even showed the bra that would become my most worn, so today I wanted to tell you about the third bra I ever made! You can read my experiences on making my first and second bra here. For this third bra I built a lot on what I did in those first two attempts, so you might want to read them in full to read exactly how I got here, but as a summary: my first attempt was a great experience to get to grips with the techniques of bra making and to get a feel for all the bits and pieces and how a bra comes together… but it did not fit at all. My second attempt was a lot better, and was actually wearable but definitely still needed some fine-tuning to get a better fit.

I stuck with the same pattern that I used for my first two bras: the Harriet bra by Cloth Habbit. I used stretch lace as outer fabric and sheer cup lining to line the cups, bridge and outer bridge. My preference is for lining in a matching colour to the lace, but this pale beige was what I had on hand and in the end I think it looks pretty neat.

The changes I made from my first yellow bra to the second red bra were all changes in line with the provided pattern, but for this third bra I knew I had to start drafting some adjustments to the actual pattern pieces. This a bit daunting but also exciting! Before I did this I did quite a bit of reading online on pattern adjustments for bras and I leaned heavily on Cloth Habit’s Bra Making Sew Along. This sew along doesn’t follow a pattern but instead is a general sew along for wired bras and covers some of common adjustments for bra patterns.


By going up two cup sizes for my previous bra I pretty much got those to fit perfectly but I wasn’t happy with the fit of the bridge. As in, it fits flat against my chest (the key to a well fitting bridge/bra) but it is really too narrow for the amount of space I have there. Consequently, my most important adjustment was to alter the bridge.

I did this by cutting the bridge pattern piece in half and then adding some space in the middle. I added even width across the entirety of the bridge, although you could also make it wider at the bottom and keep the width at the top the same. I looked at some of my other bra’s to make a sort of educated guess as to how much I wanted to add. The bridge width varies a lot with bras and it was good to look at what I had and make a real assessment as to what my preferences are. In the end I added quite a bit and the bridge I ended up with is wider than both bras I made previously. Looking at the photographs  of the red and yellow bra you see some overlap of the wire channelling, whereas with this bra you see there is some room to spare in-between the channelling.

Another adjustment I made is to add a bit of length to the band. It wasn’t terrible in my red bra, but it was tight enough to get a bit uncomfortable when wearing for a longer time. I again cut the band pattern piece in the middle (you can’t just lengthen the piece at one of the ends, because you want those proportions to stay the same). So I just cut it in the middle and then spread the two pieces and then traced a new pattern piece. I kind of eyeballed the new length, again by looking at some of my other bras.

Another experiment I did for this bra was using different bra wires for the two cups. I wasn’t going to mention it here, because society has created this weirdness about things that are off from its imposed standard, particularly regarding women’s bodies, and I am not immune to that. But maybe that is precisely why I should talk about it? For myself there are a lot of things which I wish someone had told me about breasts before I figured it out myself. I remember the first time I saw an anatomical drawing of the mammary gland and thought it was wild that I had never seen one in my biology lessons at school.

Turns out that a size difference between a person’s breasts is pretty common, or to be more precise every woman has it, though not for everyone it’s to a point that you actually notice. When I researched this on the net I didn’t find much. The things I did find only focussed on how to camouflage unevenness or how you could remove it altogether (via surgery). In the bra making world I haven’t seen much solid info about it either. I have seen one bra on instagram that was made for a client whose breast had a height difference and where uneven, and it honestly is one of the most radically empowering things I’ve seen on the internet. So that inspired me to experiment with using two different wire sizes in one bra.

My initial thoughts on this experiment were very positive, as the result seemed almost perfect when trying on the finished bra, but after wearing it more and for longer time periods the smaller wire starts to dig more into my skin and it becomes a tad uncomfortable. So for my next bra I’ll use the bigger wires on both cups again and see how how that wears for longer time periods. In any case, it was great learning experiment and I might go back and redo the wire on the one cup if that turns out to be the better way forward.

The fit
After all that you’ll be wondering if the fit is indeed any better than in my previous bras and the answer is a resounding yes. I think this might actually be the perfect fit or as close as perfect fit as I’m going to get (for now at least, it’s crazy how much and how fast bust changes!). I’m particularly pleased with the bridge fit, and I think my experiment with wire sizes is easily repaired without having to redo the whole bra. Before I’m making any definite conclusions I want to wear her for a bit longer yet, but for now it’s suffices to say that I’m pleased as a punch that the best fitting bra I’ve ever owned is handmade by me.

It took me three bras to get there and I got some comments about that from people feeling sorry that my efforts weren’t rewarded with my previous two attempts. I wanted to address that briefly, first and foremost I definitely get and appreciate the sentiment and message behind it. These are my first attempts at bra making though, and I really never had any expectations of my first effort being perfect. I learned a ton and  it feels like I did a crash course in bra making and fitting and these are things I can use further along the road when I try other patterns. So really don’t feel sorry for me, I definitely don’t feel sorry for myself!

Photo Woes

Continuing my series of documenting my photography woes here is the latest instalment. So at my previous place I had these wooden ceiling beams, where I hung my handmade bra’s to photograph them, my new place doesn’t have this so I had to figure out a new way to photograph them. I first tried to photograph them by hanging them on a cord spanned between my fridge and my cat’s scratching posts. Those photo’s didn’t look like anything. Then I tried some more flatlays but I wasn’t really feeling those either. I left it for a few days to think it over for a bit.

My last attempt was hanging the bra on the hook of my curtain rail in my balcony door opening while I was standing on a chair to photograph it. Yes, really. I undoubtedly made a stellar impression on the new neighbours! I’m still not super happy with the photos but I guess I just have to accept that I never really am with any of my bra photos.

What’s next for me

My plan beforehand was sticking with a pattern until I nailed the fit. Now that I’ve done so I’m torn between making a couple of more to supplement my lacking bra drawer, or test the water by trying some other bra patterns. I want to do the latter at some point anyway, because I want to try different style lines, bra shapes and fit to get a feel of my preferences. Because of my bust size, a lot of patterns aren’t of use to me. They either aren’t supportive enough and/or don’t come in my size. It was great to see Emerald Erin release the Black Beauty Bra in a wider size range and also see Orange Lingerie state their intent to release an extended size range for their new bra pattern later in the year, after not having done so for a couple of their bra patterns. Apart from these, I’m also interested in trying the Boylston Bra and Marlborough bra. I think the latter might be the most popular bra pattern for home sewists and I’m interested to see how it will compare to the Harriet bra. I will probably take a middle of the road approach and do a bit of both.

Further down the road I also want to experiment more with different fabrics for bras. My first attempt at making a bra was with lycra, and it was a complete disaster. That attempt got binned not far in the process, but I want to try working with lycra again once I’ve had some more experience with bra making.

So, that’s it for now on the bra making front here. Thanks for reading this humdinger of a post! I hope this posts and seeing my progress from first to last third bra will be of some use to other bra makers. On a final note I’ll also say that so far in I found bra making hugely empowering and liberating, more so than I expected it to be. It might not be the case for everyone, but if you are a maker that has similarly struggled with finding bras you both liked and fit well than it might be worth a shot taking a chance on making your own!

See you all later,

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