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NETTIE SEWALONG PT 7: ADDING A SHELF BRA AND FOAM CUPS


Part 7_FOAM CUPS

PART 7 HEADER

Before I get into today’s tutorial, Mari from Seamster Patterns just posted a conversation we had for Sewing Indie Month on her blog. I don’t often talk much about the business end of Closet Case Files, so it was nice to explain how I came to start releasing patterns and what my process is like. We also talked a little about body image and “sexiness”; I think sewing is the best for learning to love and appreciate your body and it was nice to expound upon that a little bit.

Now, on to foam-cupped lady-bit business. Today’s agenda:

  • Basting side seams to test fit
  • Finding the best spot for your cups
  • Sewing cups into place
  • Inserting elastic

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I think it’s easier to insert the cups if we take a little time to insert them now rather than waiting till the end like I direct in the instructions.

If you are making the low back variation, you have no choice but to secure your shelf bra in the side seam. This means you will have a little tugging where the elastic is inserted. You can minimize this by using lightweight elastic or by not adding much stretch, but you may sacrifice a teeny bit of support (not that a piece of fabric and elastic really buoy up the lassies all that much, but still). I haven’t been able to McGyver a solution to prevent this. If any of you have any suggestions for keeping that side seam secure while it’s being pulled in by a piece of under-bust elastic, please chime in.

If you would like to add a shelf bra to the high or medium back variations, you can avoid this seam pullage by making your shelf bra two sided. Simply trace off or fold your back bodice piece to match the length of the side seam of your front lining piece. Insert the elastic all the way around the edge of the bra/lining so the elastic is not attached to the side seams at all. Similar to what I did for my Fehr Trade XYT dress:

adding cups2

I also came across this interesting tutorial for inserting a sort of make-shift bra with straps into tight fighting tops by Daughter Fish on Burdastyle. I haven’t had a chance to try this method, but it seems like it would give a little more support than just zigzagging cups to your lining. If anyone has any success with this method, please let me know!!

BASTING SEAMS TO TEST FIT

Now that your neckline is finished, we can baste the side and crotch seams closed. Use a long basting stitch so it’s easier to remove later. Now we can try on our Nettie and find the best place for the cups.

PINNING CUPS INTO PLACE

I put my suit on inside out since my cups can flip in on themselves, but you if you are using thick padded cups this may not be an option for you. Now that you’ve got it on, mark on the lining where you would like to attach the elastic. I left the bra lining on the long side to be careful (or to be used as a guide for a bikini or crop top) so chances are you’ll want to take a little off the length.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-14

Tuck the cups in between the bra lining and the bodice and pin them into place once you’ve found the right location.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-16

Carefully take your Nettie off and unpick your basting stitches on the side and crotch seams.  If you are going to remove some length from the lining, draw a horizontal line where you would like your elastic to go. You want to cut off about a half inch below that line so you have room to flip the elastic up once it’s sewn down.

We want to sew the cups down on the wrong side of the lining, so you will have to move your pins over to the other side of the fabric. Carefully hold your cup in place and move the pins. You also want to make sure the fabric is slightly scooping into the cup. You can do this by flattening the cup down and repinning as necessary. Below is a picture before and after I moved my pins to the other side of the lining.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-17

SEWING CUPS TO THE LINING

Once you’ve got your cups pinned well, go to your sewing machine and start sewing with a wide zig zag stitch around the circumference of the cup. When you get to a corner, put your needle down, raise your pressure foot up, and pivot the cup. Move the pressure foot down again and continue sewing.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-18

Nettie neckline and adding cups-19

You will have to gently stretch the fabric as you go to make sure you don’t get any weird folds. Take your time and stay close to the edge. Once you’re done you will have something that looks like this on the wrong side of your lining:

Nettie neckline and adding cups-20

INSERTING SHELF BRA ELASTIC

Now that our cups are sewn down, we can insert our elastic. The tightness of your elastic is really up to you. Hold a piece under your ribcage and try stretching it to find something that feels comfortable. I like a ratio of 85-90% of the length of the shelf bra seam but it really depends on the weight and stretchiness of your elastic. The one I am using here is quite stiff, so I used a little less stretch than usual.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-21

Nettie neckline and adding cups-22

Once you’ve cut your elastic, stretch it to match the length of the shelf bra and pin into place. At your sewing machine, sew a few stitches using a wide zig zag stitch to anchor the elastic to the wrong side of the fabric. Gently stretch your elastic to match the length of your lining and continue to sew till you get to the end.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-23

Nettie neckline and adding cups-26

Turn your elastic under and zigzag again, taking time to gently stretch your fabric so you don’t sew over any ripples.

Nettie neckline and adding cups-27

When you’re all done, it will look something like this:

Nettie neckline and adding cups-28

And that’s it for the shelf bra. This weekend I’ll be back with a post on inserting your sleeves and closing your side seams. Until then, my friends!

 

  • StaceyMade

    That Daughter Fish tutorial was really interesting, thanks! I’m just watching this sewalong because I’m debating about getting this pattern just for the low back option alone. My concern is that I’m quite busty though narrow in the back (Aussie bra size = 8/10 DD) and was worried about the shelf bra construction and support. Do you reckon foam cups and elastic will give enough support or could you also consider adding underwire too? Or would that show through the knit fabric? I’m dreaming of some sexy high necked but low backed garments but don’t want to my girls to look worse for wear hehe!! This is a fab looking pattern – I might have to buy it anyway, such a great basic can’t be ignored!

    • I guess it depends on how “high” your breasts are. I know some big busted gals who don’t need a ton of support. I’m a D cup and I find the shelf bra is enough for me but I can’t say for sure… You could always do the medium back. It still shows some skin but would let you wear a bra. Alternatively, they make these bras that let you wear super low backs but it would be an additional purchase.

      • StaceyMade

        Hey, good to hear the shelf bra is enough for a D cup – hopefully this means it will work for me. I do also love the medium back – I had a top just like this and it literally wore out because I loved it so much! Thanks for the advice, this is one of those parts of a pattern when hearing about people’s own experiences is most helpful. I have some gorgeous bright red stretch knit fabric that would be perfect for a Nettie dress – you can’t go wrong with a sexy little red number!Thanks again, I think Nettie will be joining my pattern stash 😉

      • This is reassuring – I’ve been waiting to see how others have tackled this before diving in. Might just need to try it and see how it goes. One thought I had was to use a a thicker knit, or a fabric with little less stretch for the lining to hold things in place. I’m dying to make this work, that low back is divine!

  • Lauren

    Is it possible to make the shelf bra as just a shelf? I’m on the smaller busted side and don’t necessarily need the support, and I find that foam cups often give me a weird shape. I’m hoping the extra layer of fabric and the elastic will give me more of a bralette thing going on.

    • Totally! My first few bodysuits I did just that. Most foam cups are super padded and gross so I get not wanting to use them. I scored these great thin ones that don’t really shape anything as much as provide a nip shield.

      • Lauren

        Awesome, thanks. I’ve had a look around for thinner ones, but can’t find any on my regular haunts. A bit of nip shield is all I want!

    • juliana calado

      i’m having the same doubts here, thinking if I let the lining as long as the pattern it should appear on the outside. so, thinking about cutting it below my bust (as where my normal bra would “end”) and putting elastic to close it and give some support.
      Heather Lou, do you think it works?

      • That would work perfectly! Just baste it together first to see where you would like to put the elastic!

        • juliana calado

          thankyou!! :)

        • juliana calado

          were it a cropped top, you would just make it double layered? or do you think this elastic below the bust would give a minimum and welcomed support?