Shopping for bras can be frustrating. The size that fits well in one brand and style doesn’t fit well in another. Department stores and shopping centres have lower prices but don’t have well trained staff to help you find the best fitting, most flattering styles. Bra boutiques have knowledgeable staff but their bras are more expensive. Sewing your own, custom fit bra may be the best of both worlds. In this post I review Pin-up Girls Bra patterns.
I purchased my Pin-up Girls patterns from Bra-makers Supply. Pin-up Girls bra patterns include full band styles, partial band styles, molded-cup bras, and sport bras.
While Pin-up Girls patterns are for personal use only, garments made using the patterns may be kept for personal use, given as gifts, or sold as ready-to-wear.
For the purposes of my review, I’m going to summarize the steps, tell you what I did differently (if anything) and share my general thoughts about sewing the bras.
Let’s Get Started
The specific bra sewing steps will vary according to which pattern you’re using. I purchased five Pin-up Girls bra patterns. Each Pin-up Girl bra pattern contains several sizes and at least two style options. Each pattern begins with an overview of the included options, information for determining your size and how to layout your pattern pieces on your fabric. For a proper fit you need to align the “direction of greatest stretch” lines on the pattern pieces with the direction of greatest stretch of your fabric. This is equivalent to matching grain lines on your pattern and fabric when sewing woven fabrics. A tip that appears in some of my Pin-up Girls bra patterns is the direction of greatest stretch for both Powernet and Duoplex is parallel to the selvage. The seam allowance and recommended stitch information are covered next.
Step 0 Gather Materials
Duoplex (or other low stretch knits), Powernet (or other very firm stretch knits), stretch lace, and spandex blends are appropriate fabrics for this project. You will also need elastic and may need pre-molded cups, cut-and-sew foam, underwires, sheer fabric and bra hardware.
I purchased some bra kits, underwires, foam cups, zippers and wicking fabric from Bra-makers Supply. I reserved some nylon spandex and polyester spandex fabrics from my underwear making project to make sport bras. Prior to cutting, I hand washed and air-dried all of my new bra fabrics.
I also purchased some ball point sewing machine needles for this project. Their rounded points push aside the fabric’s fibers rather than cutting through them the way a standard needle does. A stretch needle could also be used.
Step 1 Sew Cups
Bra cups may be either fabric (or fabric and lace), or fabric and foam. Techniques include piecing together a fabric cup, piecing together a foam and fabric cup and covering a pre-molded foam cup with fabric. Pin-up Girls bra cup sizes differ from ready-to-wear bra sizes so it’s important to measure yourself carefully. If you’re still not confident regarding your cup size, sew a sample cup and compare it to your best-fitting fabric bra. Remember that your sample cups need to be big enough to include a seam allowance. I sewed sample cups for the bras that didn’t use pre-molded cups.
Step 2 Sew Band
The bra band consists of two back panels and the bridge panel which holds the cups. The back panels are stretchy and the bridge panel is firm. I used my Teflon presser foot to avoid skipped stitches when sewing stretchy materials. My measurements were exactly between two of the band sizes in the patterns so I drew my own custom pattern pieces for the bra bands.
Step 3 Sew Cups To Band
It’s important to match up the cup and band marks as you’re sewing a curve to another curve. I used lots of pins. Depending upon the pattern steps 3 and 4 may be reversed.
Step 4 Sew Elastic
Elastic is sewn along the entire bottom edge of the bra and along the top edges of the back band pieces. For patterns the strap edges are finished with elastic so the straps are sewn to the cups in step 3. The elastic is sewn on in two steps in order to hide the raw edges of the fabric.
Step 5 Sew Hardware and Straps
Bra hardware includes the back/front closure and the rings and sliders for the straps. Bra straps may either be a combination of fabric and elastic or all elastic. I measured the minimum and maximum lengths of the straps of my some of store-bought bras to get an estimate of how long my to make my Pin-up Girls bra strap elastics.
That’s it! There are five main steps!
Here’s a brief overview of each style of bra I sewed. I’ll outline style features, if I deviated from the instructions, my overall thoughts of each project and include photos of my finished bras.
Classic Full Band Bra
This full band bra features a two piece or three piece fabric cup and may be sewn with or without an underwire. The pattern includes options for lace. The same cup style is also available in a partial bra and a front closure bra.
I sewed the fabric cup version of this bra and included an underwire. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly and easily this bra came together. The neckline trim really makes this bra look fancy and the wide straps enhance the comfort. It fits well.
Ruby Full Band Bra
This full band bra features either a foam cup or a fabric cup with offset vertical seams and can be sewn with or without an underwire. The same cup style is also available in a partial band bra and as a lace band bra.
I sewed the fabric cup version with an underwire. I used non-stretch materials but you could also use stretchy material lined with sheer cup lining. The pattern states that you made need one cup size larger than your measurements suggest, so sewing a sample cup is important. I used the same cup and band size as I did for the Classic. I noticed the Ruby has a shorter and narrower band, much narrower straps and slightly shallower cups. Do go up 1 cup size if you’re using non-stretch materials for a better fit with deeper cups. It took about the same amount of time to sew as the Classic. I’ll update this post after I sew a Ruby with foam cups.
Ingrid Non-wired Bra
This non-wired bra features an integrated bridge pattern and a split lower cup with optional front closure and bottom band. It’s described as being both comfortable enough for everyday wear and supportive enough for sports.
I sewed the single closure, standard bottom band version. While this bra has quite a lot of seams, it took about the same amount of time to sew as the Classic and Ruby. A little washable glue helped with the foam straps and fold-over-elastic. I used the same cup and band sizes as I did for the Classic and Ruby but this bra has a shorter band. The band is a little more snug than I like so I’ll be making it a little longer next time. The cups fit equally well as the Classic and Ruby cups. With the extra side panel, this bra fits so much better than simply removing the underwires from a full band bra.
Ingrid Non-wired Sport Bra
The Ingrid Non-wired Bra reminds me of a sport bra I used to wear that featured wicking/antibacterial fabric. I added some wicking/antibacterial fabric panels to my second Ingrid bra to make it into a sport bra. With this extra layer of fabric, this version of the Ingrid Bra offers firmer support. It’s more than enough for the low impact aerobics and weight training that I do.
Allie Sport Bra
This sport bra features pre-molded foam cups and an optional front closure. Another dedicated sport bra features darted-sari styling and is made without pre-molded foam cups.
I sewed the zippered front closure and racer back version. This bra has less than half the number of steps of the other Pin-up Girls bra patterns that I purchased and sewing it went quickly. I hand basted my foam cups in place prior to sewing them. My waistband elastic kept slipping off my spandex so I ended up hand basting it too. I learned the hard way that your hand basting thread color should match the color of your waistband elastic. A touch of glue helps with sewing the fold-over-elastic.
The foam cups I ordered were one size smaller than the pattern sizing suggests but overall this sport bra fits well. I may order larger cups for more central coverage of my cleavage. The Allie offers just the right amount of support for the low impact aerobics and weight training that I do.
T-shirt Bra PB-1014
This bra features pre-molded foam cups with either a fabric cover or a lace cover and requires an underwire. The same cup style with extended lace panels is also available.
I sewed the fabric cup version of this bra. This bra took the longest to sew. I had a lot of trouble sewing the stretchy cup fabric to the pre-molded cups along the neckline and underarm seams. I ended up hand basting the cups together prior to machine sewing. The band and straps are narrower than the Classic but wider than the Ruby and, the band is a similar length to the Ruby’s band.
This pattern has a smaller range of cup sizes than the Classic, Ruby or Ingrid. There was less information about selecting your size compared to the other patterns. I regret selecting this as my first bra sewing project. Unfortunately I didn’t allow for the seam allowance when I selected my pre-molded foam cups and as a result, the cups of my first t-shirt bra were too small. Fortunately, this t-shirt bra matched my Mom’s measurements. I’ll update this post after I sew a T-shirt bra that fits me.
This was the first time I’ve sewn bras. I found the Pin-up Girls bra patterns easy to use. Determining my size for most patterns was clear and concise. I highly recommend sewing a sample cup just to be sure. The sewing instructions are well illustrated. My Pin-up Girls bras fit great. I think sewing my own bras is a great alternative to buying boutique bras. I’m glad I purchased these patterns and I look forward to using them to sew more bras in the future.
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Update May 1, 2021:
Ruby Full Band Bra with Foam Cups
For my second Ruby Bra, I sewed the foam cup version and used a large findings kit. Stretchy fabric is used to cover the cut-and-sew foam cups. My first attempt at sewing the foam didn’t go well as there were many skipped stitches. Sewing with a wider stitch didn’t help but changing to a Teflon presser foot did. The foam cup version does take a little longer to sew than the fabric cup version. I was surprised by how much larger the cups were compared to the fabric-only version of this bra. The foam cups provide as much coverage as the Classic and Ingrid and fits really well.
T-shirt Bra PB-1014
For my second attempt at this t-shirt bra, I used the correct foam cup for my size and a large findings kit. While the band is almost the same length as the band on the Classic bra, the strap width is midway between the Classic and Ruby strap widths. Even after having sewn several cut-and-sew foam bras, I still found the pre-formed foam cups challenging to work with. I hand-basted the fabric to the foam cup along both the neckline and wireline seams prior to machine sewing. This bra fits well. As with other t-short bras, the seamless cup looks great under a variety of tops.