Sewalong: The Florence bra (Seamwork magazine)

Back in April, my wonderful sewing friend Kelly and I were chatting on an Instagram thread about sewing underwear. We had both thought about making our own bras, and we both had the Seamwork Florence pattern, but we’d never got round to doing it. So we decided to do it together, and give each other the push we needed to get on with it! It has been so much fun sewing a bra AND doing it with Kelly. You know how you meet someone on social media and wish you knew them in real life? That’s me with Kelly. She’s not only talented and creative, but also a truly lovely and generous person. We chose the start of June as our bra sewalong time, although we postponed by a couple of weeks so that Kelly’s supplies could arrive before we started. Once they arrived, we decided to do set stages each day, and send each other pictures of each completed stage so that despite the time zone difference we could still feel like we were doing it together.

 

In my head I was going to go for a nice classic bra, but somehow along with my white stretch lace I ended up ordering neon pink straps and elastic. So obviously the only thing to do for the contrast cup sections was go for a bright green floral. I did check on Instagram whether I needed to dial back the crazy, but the lovely community of IG sewists told me to go for it… so here is the story of the brightest bra I’ve ever owned!

 

It was easy to print and stick together the pattern, as there were so few pieces and they were small. I chose an XS as I am not well endowed, and even the measurements for the XS were a little large for me! The only issue with the pattern was a slightly wonky curve on the side cup. I checked all the other sizes and there was no wobble on those, so I guessed it was an accident and re-drew the curve, which made it fit perfectly with the corresponding front cup piece.

 

This was my first time making bra straps, and it was fun! The hardest part was just teasing the plush elastic back through the slider, so you can see that the sewing itself was pretty straightforward! The cups also went together easily. The pattern calls for a zigzag or a twin needle topstitch on the side cup, and I went for a zigzag as this is the stitch I see on my RTW bras.

 

The trickiest part was sewing the cups to the straps. I followed the instructions (right sides together, then flip the elastic to the back), but because of the angle of the cup, there was an ugly excess of the top point of the cup visible on the right side of the strap. I unpicked and tucked the top point under:

 

Then I got to use the triple-point zigzag stitch on my machine for the first time! (I’m not the only one who gets excited about using a new stitch, right?!) Because my side cup and my cup front were made from different colour fabrics, I did each bit separately with matching thread. It was worth that extra effort as the stitching blends really well into the bra. BUT… when I attached the cups to the bra, things started going less well.

 

Firstly, you sew each cup in from the side towards the middle, but there were no instructions for making that centre seam look neat when they meet in the middle. I did some careful pinning and got a centre point, which I then stitched in place with a bar tack so the seam didn’t peep out over my (admittedly not terribly impressive) cleavage. I also decided to topstitch the seams where the cups meet the bra, so that they too would stay in place.

 

Then the centre back seam is sewn (again, I topstitched to avoid bits of seam peeking out) and the straps are attached to the back of the bra. At this point I tried the bra on, and it wasn’t a happy moment. The straps flipped out at the sides, and the fit didn’t seem great. After long perusals and a chat online with Kelly, I concluded the cup fit in itself was fine, but it’s that centre meeting point that was pulling the cups in an odd way. I couldn’t fix that, but I could fix the straps with another line of topstitching. I compared with my RTW bras and found that the straps on those were only attached at the top of the cup – so I think it’s the fact of attaching a strap along the curved angle of a cup and then wanting it to sit flat that’s the problem. I don’t know if this would be an issue for larger cup sizes as you’d have more… er… filling out the bra and pushing against the straps to make them sit nicely. But for me and my XS cups… there wasn’t much my body could do to help it along!

The final stage was to sew the elastic along the bottom, and that did help cinch things in a bit. I can’t deny it’s a comfy bra, and I do like it but I just don’t love it. I had to do a lot of extra work to make it look as nice as it does, which takes it well beyond the quick sew it’s promoted as. I learnt a lot though, and I have another bra pattern waiting in the wings that I may try next…

This sewalong was so much fun! If you haven’t already read Kelly’s post, you can find it here, and marvel at her beautiful bra!

6 thoughts on “Sewalong: The Florence bra (Seamwork magazine)

  1. Kelly Casillas

    Helen you are too kind! You make me blush! I’m so glad we connected over IG even though real life would be a million times better! 🙂 You look stunning in this bra and I love your color choices. You mastered the issues with it like a pro and honestly you really make the bra look wonderful! Loved your thoughtful post and detailed photo. 🙂 Can’t wait to sew something up together again!

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Me too Kelly, maybe one day we’ll get to meet in person, but until then I’m so glad we connected too, and hope this is the start of many sewing projects together! Thanks for your generous comments about the bra – it was great to have you there on IG chat to talk through all the issues, instead of just tearing my hair out alone and giving up! I do like the colour combination too, although I know from my sneak peeks at yours that you made much classier choices!! Looking forward to reading your post too!

  2. Lynsey_makes

    It does look fab from the photos (who wants boring bras!!) and the next one will definitely be easier. I have on,y made the Harriet from Coth Habit and the instructions are fab but still had to tweak it to get right, I don’t wear my first two versions (should strip them to keep the supplies) look forward to seeing your next one 🙂

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      That’s so funny, I’m going to avoid “boring bras” from now on!! I do feel I learnt a lot from doing this, even though I wasn’t 100% happy with the finished result. I remember you mentioned your Harriet bra and I have made a mental note of it in case I start building a pattern library of bras! The other one I have is from the latest GBSB book and it might be fun to do as it was one of the pattern challenges in the last series. And, you know, you say “sewing challenge” and I’m right there 😉

  3. Diane G

    Well I’m totally in awe of anyone that makes bras. Ir is something thatcI would like to try at some point as I struggle to get bras that fit. You did a smashing job Helen and the fabrics are fab! Well done on working through the problems as you encountered them.

    1. valentineandstitch Post author

      Thanks Diane! It was a fun experience and I definitely feel more confident to tackle a more complex one now. For some reason I’ve never liked the idea of getting measured for RTW bras, but why not sew our own when we’re so used to taking those measurements ourselves?! And then make the bras that suit our taste (not that I ever thought that I would describe pink neon as “my taste”!!) 😉

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