It’s been full-on bra fever in my sewing corner lately – I just can’t seem to stop! One can’t have *too* many bras, right? 😛 At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. Anyhow, today I have yet another new bra style to share with you, the fantastic Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie. I’ll just go ahead and tell you now – this is my favorite bra pattern so far! It fits me the best of the underwire bras I’ve tried so far (more of those to come in another post), and the powerbar along the outer edges of the cup gives a nice lift and shape to my otherwise itsy bits.
So far I’ve made two, both using kits from Grey’s Fabric. A few people have noted that the Grey’s kits don’t give you real power mesh, but instead give a mid-weight mesh that doubles as the cup lining. For the black and beige kit, I simply swapped out my own black power mesh, but for the blue and white kit, I just doubled the mesh on the back band, and it worked great! So if you use one of their kits, or simply don’t have any power mesh on hand, I highly recommend using a double layer of lighter-weight fabrics for better stability.
Here they are!
Before making these, I read all of Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction by Norma Loehr, who designed the Marlborough. It was a fairly quick read and gave a lot of great tips, such as how to make a bra muslin – something I will always do from now on with a new pattern! Instead of sewing up a complete bra with all the elastics and finishings, she has you baste together the pieces, using stabilizer where the elastics would go. This way, you have a better chance of salvaging a well-fitting bra even if the initial test doesn’t fit.
Fit-wise, I made a 32B. I started off by doing a “bridge test,” as Norma suggests in the book – you hold up the bridge piece between your breasts to see if it needs to be widened or narrowed. I widened the bottom of mine about 1/4″. I altered the cups by shaving off a tiny bit (1/8″ or less) from the inner cup seam to alleviate the “bullet boob” look and decrease the volume just a bit. I also added about 1/4″ to the bottom edge of the frame where it meets the band. It turns out I have a rather wide lower ribcage, so I need a little more circumference at the bottom.
The underwires were another interesting fitting bit. Since I made a 32B, I should be using a 32 WR size wire. However, since my ribcage is so wide at the bottom, my breast tissue is more spread out at the bottom of the cups, so I actually need a bigger wire – I ended up using a 36 WR for the first one, and a 38 WS for the second. Of course, I had to trim the wire quite a bit, since i don’t need the volume provided by a larger wire, just the shallower cup curve. Bra fitting is such an interesting topic – and not actually that hard, once you get into it!
On the beige bra, I also fully lined the cups with mesh. I skipped this on the white – I honestly kind of hate that step, and feel like it makes the bra take twice as long. Do any of you bra makers line all of your cups? I’m starting to find that I don’t really need to if I’m using duplex, but for lace, it’s usually a must.
Support-wise, these are definitely beating out my Watsons for everyday use. It’s funny – I never thought I needed underwires until now, but they really do make a difference! For me, they provide shape more than support, since I’m a rather small size.
So, it’s definitely love-at-first-stitch with the Marlborough! There will be many more of these in my future :).