Friday, 17 January 2014

Structured Bra Making class

Recently, I took a one-week course at the London College of Fashion: Structured Bra Making. I've been intrigued by lingerie-making for a long time but so far I've made only two bras. Sewing a bra represents a lot of meticulous work and precision which scares me away since I am not always good at paying attention to details.

In the beginning, I was tempted by the class which Stephanie took in London, but having researched other opportunities, I finally settled on the London College of Fashion because of its reputation for high standards of teaching and the duration of the course.

The course focused on cutting and constructing three types of bra: a darted wired bra, a padded wired bra and a non-wired lace bra. It did not include information about taking measurements and fitting.

The pattern we worked with was a size 34B which happened to be my size but only one of the three bras fits me perfectly: the darted bra. The other two need to be fitted due to the asymmetry of my cup sizes.

We also were provided with all the materials necessary for the three bras.

Darted wired bra
Padded wired bra
Non-wired lace bra
Overall, I was quite satisfied with the class. If, like me, you are at the beginning of your bra-making journey, this class is quite relevant. My only concern for the class was that, despite being advertised for intermediate/advance seamstresses, it included a couple of people who had never used a sewing machine or a rotary cutter before.

What really excited me about this course me was the chance to use industrial sewing machines. To make the bras, we used four different machines, each of them performing a single function: lockstitch stitching, zig-zag stitching, inserting channeling and making tucks. Later this year, I plan to purchase an industrial sewing machine and the course was a great training platform. It was not easy to control the machines: a slight touch to the pedal was like starting a rocket engine!

From the learning point of view, the biggest revelation for me was... stay tape! It had never crossed my mind that bras, like any other garments, require stay tape to prevent them from stretching! Silly billy! I also don't remember reading about it. Did you know about it?

One of the books recommended in the class was Bare Essentials: Bras: construction and pattern drafting for lingerie design. I could not recommend this book enough because it has EVERYTHING, starting from step-by-step sewing instructions and ending with pattern manipulation for a strapless bra!

The book also contains a basic bra pattern and offers pattern manipulation advice for all skill levels.

Previously praised by The Perfect Nose (why didn't I get the book back then), it deserves a place on your bookshelf, especially if you are into bra-making.


  1. Silvia - Sewing Princess18 January 2014 at 00:34

    impressive Inna! these are like store bought. perfect! i wanted to try making a bra... but it will be more a bralette than a proper bra like yours. so great you found a good class

  2. Inna, your bras look great! And I'm so jealous you were able to take the class. I wish Philly had something similar.

    May I ask you a question? Where did you use the stay tape? At the armhole and neck edge?

  3. Bravo! I should look for a class near me. And, thanks for the tip on the book. Something to consider adding to my sewing library once things settle down a bit. Enjoy your new found knowledge!

  4. Fascinating stuff. Whilst it didn't include fitting and sizes... the construction methods are surely half the battle won! The three bra's you've got here are gorgeous. Wish we had classes of this level available to me here, because I'd so be there. I'd be curious to know if the instructors covered anything on the differences (I'm assuming there is) between constructing a 34B bra to that of a much larger size?
    I'm with you all the way on the industrial machine though - it's something I'd love to have one day. That 'one day' is probably still a long way away for me, though ;)

  5. They turned out beautifully! I have been wanting to make my own bras for a very long time. If only there was a course like that near me! I already have all my supplies, and was going to just unpick one of my old bras and start from there. I might need to see if I can get my hands on a copy of that book first though. Thanks for the tips!

  6. They came out great!! Having the correct materials and machine is key.

  7. Thank you, Silvia! It was such a good platform to learn about the bra construction! I would like to see your bralette :)

  8. I was so glad to discover bra-making classes in London because in Tokyo I was unable to find any. Another advantage of a real-time class was the ability to ask question, so I was bombarding with them our teacher. There is no difference in bra construction of larger sizes; it is essentially a matter of fitting.

    Do you think you could put an industrial machine on your wedding list? :)

  9. The course was amazing and I have already planned to tackle a strapless bra!

    I am still unsure about London, but I'll give it another couple of months to decide whether I want to stay here or go somewhere else. The world is so big! :)

  10. Unpicking a bra is a very good learning experience! We also did it during the course. If your bra fits perfectly you can use its parts to create your own pattern. And since you already have all supplies ready, I think you should go for it!

  11. It depends on the type of bra:

    *non-wired lace bra: we added stay tape on top of the seam joining the upper and the lower cup, along the lower cup and on the side seams,

    *padded bra: we used stay tape on the seam joining cop parts and at the neck edge as well because there is no elastic,

    *darted wired bra: none.

    In most bras elastic and channeling work as stays. So whenever they are omitted, we replace them with stay.

    That's what I've retained from the bra stays. I think they are also used in other places depending on the design.

    I hope my explanation was clear enough ٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶If not, please let me know.

  12. Thanks Inna! Your explanation definitely made sense.

  13. I received a flyer a couple of weeks ago with all the UAL short courses and when I saw 'Lingerie and swimwear' I got so excited because I want to make a bra since forever but I am a bit scared. But most of the classes are during the day and I have so many plans this year , I don't know if I will be able to get a week off for this. Maybe later in the year, still better than nothing. Thank you for the review, Inna!

  14. Wow! These bras look amazing! What a great learning opportunity!

  15. Your bras look beautiful. That is the benefit of living in a big city - the range of courses! Very jealous. Fingers crosse still for you and London, although you know you could always move to Australia if London doesn't work out :)

  16. Oh, wow, your bras look really nice! Yes, the fit of bra is tricky. I find it trickier than the actual making up of bras. Still working on that :) Looking forward to seeing more bras from you (what a weird sentence...;)

  17. Candy Store Frock30 January 2014 at 17:59

    I am so happy to have found your blog, Inna! I love all the tid bits on here, and I myself have been meaning to take a swing at making a bra, but I know it will try my patience, so this was good to see, thanks!

  18. Bra making is like a meditation! I think you should try it!

  19. Candy Store Frock6 February 2014 at 07:09

    I definitely will try be trying it, I have nothing to lose, thanks again!