Easter is my favourite time of year, but with the nationwide lockdown in place I was more than a little worried about wasting it. Four days off in a row is usually my idea of sewing heaven, so why was I feeling so uninspired?
Unsure how long we are going to be trapped indoors for, I wanted to be sparing with my stash. With no just nipping to the market to buy buttons I wanted I was going to have to be as resourceful as possible.
In my printed PDF patterns folder I came across the Barrett Bralette - another free download from Madalynne that I'd forgotten I'd actually downloaded. Win! The pattern is a softcup bra with cute little cutaway, made from just three pattern pieces and some elastics. The download also includes a super handy walkthrough with really clear instructions.
I had an array of stretch fabric leftovers in my stash, I was concerned that my elastic supplies wouldn't make the cut- but I'd completely overlooked this picot-edge plush elastic that I'd bought in a bundle from Abakhan ages ago. I was excited to find it didn't look too naff against my black and gold lycra. In fact it served well to make my fabric look more cute and slightly less... gangstery! The yellow seemed a good choice for Easter weekend. My supply of powermesh is slowly depleting but I figured there would be enough for this pattern- It's only 3 pieces after all... Come on let's sew!
Madalynne is a great advocate of using adhesive spray to attach your fabric to your lining. Sadly there are no such luxuries here during lockdown! I tacked the inside and outside together using big hand stitches. You only need to do the centre front cups as you will need to sew the side cups and back band separately in order to sandwich the seam allowances inside the bra.
The instructions are put together sooo perfectly, so I don't really have to extra-explain any of it for my future self. I did make the back band 2 inches shorter as it seemed a little loose around the back at first try on. Next time I will take this extra length equally from the front and back so that the side seams are exactly at the sides! Obviously this extra fabric was also taken off of the lining piece before sewing. I also decided to topstitch the cup seams, just because I always like the finish this gives on bras.
I would like to remind future me to really pay attention when sewing that centre front though. The seam is only a couple of cm long but you must stop sewing before you get to the edges to ensure you have room to sew your picot elastic to the top of the cups and the edge of the cut away.
Stitching the elastic is both the fun part and the infuriating part! The elastic is sewn to the front and then flipped over to the back and secured with a second row of zigzag stitching. I didn't stretch out any of the elastic as I sewed, however when trying on the bra I realised the elastic could be a bit more body hugging at the underarm.... Would you believe if I'd read the instructions all the way through that's exactly what they suggested! Doh! I unpicked and re-stitched, applying extra tension to the elastic at the underarm only.
I guess you can sew it however you want- but the pattern suggests attaching the bottom band directly onto the bottom of the bra instead of stitching then flipping it to the inside. You need a bit of careful consideration when manoeuvring around the cut out. The gap should measure 2 1/4" (I made a size 12, if you make smaller then it should be around 2"). I pinned the elastic on, starting from just before the cut out and then marked 2 1/4" on the elastic so I could be sure to be accurate. I then continued to pin all the way round as suggested in the pattern and tried on. I did a bit of jiggling at the centre front- I found I needed to take the curve off of the underbust area on the front panels for the elastic to sit without gaping. Must be something to do with being a bit flat I think, but I'm cool with that.
In my bid to be resourceful I salvaged some straps off of an old bra. This also saved me the fiddly bit of sewing my own straps and weaving all the ends through the sliders.. Always confuses me! I used quite big rings to attach the straps to the front (the same shape and style used for the centre back of my Noelle bras) as regular bra loops were a little too small to fit all the elastic bulk through comfortably.
I really enjoyed using plush elastic as the stretchy black lace I usually use for finishing isn't quite as robust. I have some pink and blue from the same bag that I just need to team with some appropriate stretch fabric and we'll have another Barratt on the way!
For the briefs I used the same FREE pattern from 'So Zo' blog that I always use. I adore it but I will encourage myself to step out of my comfort zone and try a different pattern next time I make kickers.
I made my usual front panel hack to give myself opportunity to use all the fabrics I'd used on my Barrett Bra to make it match, as well as using the same two elastics. The only other thing I needed was a tiny bit of t-shirt Jersey for the gusset.
I used the same 'sandwiching' method to encase the seam allowance between the fabric and lining of the front panel. Doing the second side can be a bit fiddly as you have to kind of twist it back on itself to get inside. Its only a short seam though, so once its sewn you can fold it back to the inside and your seam allowance is hidden!
I then tack the lining and the fabric together so I can treat it as one when attaching the leg elastic.
Besides that it's pretty plain sailing! I loved using matching fabrics and notions to my Barratt Bra, I feel super sassy in this matching set. I love the sexy gold meets cute yellow! I'm pleased lockdown has forced me to dream up up this combo... Perfect lockdown lounge-wear!
Location: Halifax Hall Memorial Gardens, Sheffield
Currently Listening to: Do You Remember The First Time?, Pulp