From January 2010.
First on the Materials List for making a bra is the pattern. There aren’t all that many to choose from, as a Google search will tell you. I chose to go to Sew Sassy Fabrics since they came up in the most searches and I chose Elan #511 as my first test pattern. The pattern comes in many sizes and my copy is printed on thick paper (newer patterns are on the usual thin paper,) making it necessary to trace out your size – a good practice to use for any pattern that you may use again. The instructions are pretty well written, but they do assume that you know a bit about sewing and that you’ve worked with stretch materials.
Being unfamiliar with lingerie fabrics in general I also ordered a bra kit so that I could get a good idea of quantities of fabric and notions as well as exactly what kind of fabrics would work best. Small amounts of scalloped stretch lace, tricot, spandex, and channeling make up the fabric parts of the bra, while plush elastic is needed to go all around and elastic straps which you can buy assembled or as parts (elastic, slider and rings.) Also needed is a back closure and underwires. $10.00 for a kit is a very reasonable price to pay, IMHO, for this little experiment.
After cutting out the bra in my size it became clear that the kit came with enough fabric to make several bras. Obviously there was only one set of notions (channeling, hook closures, strap assemblies, elastic, wires) so I ordered enough additional notions to make a few more bras. In for a penny, in for a pound. Problem was, I ordered a kit with black fabric, so I had to round out my order with an equal amount of fittings/fabric/elastic in white and nude to balance out what I picture as my perfect bra wardrobe. I may have lost my mind just a little. For a brief moment. I might also have picked up some dye, but that’s another post.
There are a few reviews of Elan 511 on PatternReview but they vary so widely that I felt I couldn’t trust them and went looking elsewhere for info. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a tutorial for this very pattern at Hooks and Wires, a blog written by the very popular Sommerset of Pins and Needles. Step by step instructions along with a couple of warnings about the pattern. What could be better?
:: Sommerset also offers hand dyed bra kits for sale in her Etsy store ::
I also found this page with links to lingerie tutorials by some big internet blogging talent. All of my questions were answered and the only thing that remained was to get cutting and sewing up a prototype to see just how close the pattern would come to fitting ME right out of the envelope. I had high hopes, I tell ya, high hopes.