The Mock Orange Bra
During this year's European Lingerie Tour, I treated myself to some lace.
This scrunched up ball of blue looks pretty bland, but unfurled and unfolded it shows itself to be quite fabulous!
Apparently handmade in Calais and in a most beautiful shade of blue - I just had to have it. Of course, something as lovely as this doesn't come free with a Happy Meal. I'm sure my heart skipped several valuable and life-shortening beats when I heard the price per metre but was able to stretch to just 1 metre of loveliness nevertheless.
It had been sitting on my desk back in Calgary ever since. I couldn't cut into it until it had very clearly told me what it wanted to be, and all during April and May, it wasn't talking.
I really wanted something super lacy, light and delicate - to match the fabric. Something as glamorous as Sarrieri, pictured in the top right in the photo below. Except as the bottom left picture shows, that particular style looks awful on me. But in order to be light and delicate, I didn't want to make a diagonally seamed bra (as in the bottom right photo) as this would interrupt the pattern and ruin the flow.
So I asked the bra sewing ladies in my Braphoria group to give me their thoughts - and they did!! And they were really helpful and inspiring.
I grabbed some scraps of stretch lace in this orangey coral shade. This colour isn't the best on me but I had just over half a metre of it kicking about and I figured it would do to test my theory - as long as I didn't worry about pattern matching, I'd be fine.
The main problem with the Sarrieri bra is that, although beautiful, it has a vertical seam. This always makes my breasts look like they have somehow been wedged between two invisible book ends. My fuller, rounder breasts don't like being squished into this shape. Additionally, this style of bra is also often more of a demi or balconette which leaves me prone to falling out. This is not a good look ;)
However, my Lavender & Lace Bra uses a 3 piece foam cup construction with a satin overlay and I wondered if I could get away with ditching the foam and using just the lace with some sheer cup lining underneath.
All throughout my bra maker training, I had been told that a seam MUST go through the nipple on a fabric cup bra. And although a number of bra sewers out there who had purchased my Lavender & Lace online class were having success with just the fabric, I had always been careful about recommending that course of action.
Until the Tour that is, when I discovered that London, Paris and Amsterdam were full of Lavender & Lace style 3 piece cups without the foam. So if the industry was doing it, I figured I'd take the plunge too.
One afternoon with a 3 hour window to sew for me, I set to work. I quickly drafted a new cup pattern for my post hsyto boobs, grabbed some leftover sheer cup, ivory power net and some random ends of ivory elastic and literally threw this bra together - in the full expectation that I wouldn't be wanting to wear this anyway, as it was just a mock up.
I didn't stop to consider pattern matching, didn't bother to stabilize the straps and you won't find a 3 step zig-zag anywhere on this bra.
So imagine my surprise when I popped it on, channeling still open, threads still dangling to find my breasts heave a sigh of relief as they dropped into their new lacey cage. This felt GOOD.
The bra is unreasonably lightweight, gives fabulous lift, support and rounding and is beyond comfortable. I'm not a big fan of the bits of lace I put at the side seam, but hey, I was being frugal with fabric and trying to make that last half metre of orange lace go as far as possible.
The 2 vertical seams (yes, there really are 2 there somewhere!) allow the uninterrupted flow of scallops along the top edge without a horizontal or diagonal line to cut the breasts in half optically. And considering I didn't stop to pattern match, you can't really tell.
Not only did I prove to myself that 2 vertical seams work, I have ended up with a bra that I love to wear... now that's what I call a result!
So all that's left to do now is cut into that beautiful blue lace and repeat the process with a little more care and attention to detail...