Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


A New First – Madalynne x Simplicity 8229 Bra

These days with sewing I don’t often get the opportunity to venture into completely new sewing territory. But lingerie is still a large unknown for me. My Mum bought me a Bra Making Kits from The New Craft House for my birthday last year and I finally got around to sewing it up.

I thought that it would be easier to start with a kit. My reasoning was that it’s difficult enough trying to order fabric on the internet, but trying to order bra-making stuff, when you don’t know what it’s called or what exactly it looks like, would be impossible! Also I liked the idea of having all the individual items tracked down for me, as in the UK bra-making accessories are not that easy to come by.

The kit I have is in white and it includes the following:

  • Madalynne x Simplicity 8229 bra pattern – includes sizes 32A – 42DD
  • French stretch lace
  • White mesh lining
  • Plush backed picot elastic
  • Channelling
  • Narrow elastic
  • White strap elastic
  • Gold rings and sliders
  • Hook and eye

The only thing I had to order and wasn’t included in the kit were the underwires. I ordered these from Elise Patterns. There is a handy guide on the website here for selecting your size.

When it comes to sizing, I measured myself according to the Simplicity pattern instructions. This made me one size bigger (in cup and band size) than I would have bought in the shops. I must admit I queried this and was tempted to disbelieve my measurements. But after looking at a few reviews online, others mentioned that the sizing ran a little small and I went with the suggested size.

The pattern suggests using a spray adhesive to glue the lace to the mesh lining and cutting these two layers together. I went for a cheaper option of a glue pen. I also thought that the pen would be useful for temporarily gluing knicker elastic or lace to fabric, and so get more use. The glue is a neon green when you first apply it, which is pretty alarming, but once it has dried it becomes colourless and doesn’t show at all. It apparently washes out as well.  The glue option probably made the cutting slightly more fiddly, but I succeeded nonetheless.

Glue pen for fabric

The construction wasn’t too difficult, although I wish I’d found this video online before I started, which shows Madalynne making the bra. There were some good tips in the video and it would have made the construction easier. I particularly regret not using the cup construction method which gives a much better finish than the inside of my cups. I have quite a visible seem inside my bra – I followed the instructions in the pattern. Still, this is only my first bra and I need to assure myself that perfection is not necessary!

Cup construction

I am pleased with the fit; in fact, I have been wondering if I have been wearing the wrong size of bra for years. Although, there are two things that bother me. Firstly, I cut the strap elastic as directed and once I’d tightened the elastic the rings were positioned awkwardly on the bony part of my shoulders. I think I will remedy this. On my bought bras, the slider and rings are positioned after adjustment about half-way up my back which is far more comfortable. Secondly, I think I would like the band a little tighter. At present I am using the tightest setting on the hook and eye. Given that it is summer, I suspect this may feel too loose once the colder weather arrives. All in all though, I believe that the fit is pretty much spot – a surprise for my any first make of a completely different garment.

Simplicity Bra 8229

I do have a little problem with the sides of the bra; they seem to wrinkle up when I wear it. I’m not sure if this is a fit problem or whether adding something in the channeling to stiffen this area might help. It doesn’t bother me when I wear it, but I have noticed that all of my shop-bought bras finish just below the cups, but this style is quite a bit longer. I wonder if anyone else has seen this too?

I was surprised how much I enjoyed making the bra as when I try to break new ground with sewing there are usually some tense moments. The rest of the Steely clan are accustomed to tip-toeing around me (and the growing, and potentially spiky mountain of fabric in the middle of the living room). I think it helped that the make was a small project both in terms of the fabric required and the time involved.

Simplicity Bra 8229

Simplicity Bra 8229

There are plans for more bras. I’d like to make some different colours – I’m a great believer in making underwear in just as many colours as outer clothing. I also would like to investigate making a t-shirt bra or a bra that uses foam lining (Need I remind my readers of how a thin t-shirt can look without adequate underwear?) Do you have any suggestions for a good bra that fits this description? Has anyone tried any of the Booby Traps patterns – there are a wide variety of styles and this one looks promising? Or the Boylston pattern from Orange Lingerie?



Shiny new underwear

I read once that a bra should be replaced every 6 months. I’m not sure how seriously I can take a comment like that, perhaps it was written by a bra manufacturer and they would love us to replace our underwear as often as possible?

However, I know that all my bras are rather old. I took an objective look at them today and I found out that actually they aren’t in bad shape, despite their age. I can see that there are only three bras that really should be binned. I suspect a combination of my size not changing for years and going for a particular style – underwired with soft cups may have helped with their longevity. I don’t have many bras with moulded cups and I suspect that this type of bra may last less well.

Underwear collection

1 2 3 4
Approximate age 15 years 10 years 10 years 12 years
Description Black, from Germany Black, soft Black, padded Pink, patterned
Is it on the tightest hook and still not tight enough? No No No No
Is the elastic is so stretched out that it doesn’t bounce back anymore? Yes No No No
Is it stained or “grey” looking? No No No No
Has it got any holes in it? No No No No
Is it the wrong size? No No No No
Have the moulded cups lost their shape? N/A N/A No N/A
Do the wires poke through the cup / channelling? No No No Yes
Are the hooks broken or missing? No No No No
Is it no longer supportive? No No No No


5 6 7 8
Approximate age 5 years 8 years 10 years 8 years
Description Dark blue Red White Mid Blue
Is it on the tightest hook and still not tight enough? No No No Yes
Is the elastic is so stretched out that it doesn’t bounce back anymore? No No No Yes
Is it stained or “grey” looking? No No Yes No
Has it got any holes in it? No No No No
Is it the wrong size? Although the same size as the others, this one has always felt a little smaller. No No No
Have the moulded cups lost their shape? N/A N/A No No
Do the wires poke through the cup / channelling? No No No No
Are the hooks broken or missing? No No No No
Is it no longer supportive? No No No No

Even though this selection has clearly served me well for many years, I think it is about time that I added to their number.

I decided to look, first of all, for an easy pattern on the internet. I have been following Madalynne’s blog for a while and she has a few free patterns. The Mallori Lane bralette particularly appealed to me. For underwear with a lot of coverage, it still looks alluring! Not sure why it’s called a bralette – thought -ette was a diminutive ending, so why is a bralette bigger than a bra?

Mallori Lane Bralette

I looked for a few different Mallori Lanes on the internet and loved the one that Lady Sewalot has made and decided to go for a similar look with the powernet as lining and lace on top. I already had some stretch lace in my stash, but I bought all the other items required for the project from Sewn Bristol. These include the picot elastic, elastic straps, powernet, and channelling in “Black Cherry” and gold-coloured rings and sliders . Sewn now has a brilliant selection of lingerie supplies in different colours. I didn’t get one of the kits as these are best suited to standard bras. Instead I bought a ridiculous amount of powernet, (I really hadn’t a clue how much I needed), which will probably last me an eternity, so expect more “Black Cherry” coloured lingerie on this blog!

Mallori Lane Bralette

I made the Mallori Lane in the Small (34”-35”) size, but I significantly increased the back width (a typical change for all my makes).

It wasn’t a particularly difficult make. The instructions were mostly fine to follow, except that the supplies list didn’t contain the channelling and I had to go back to Sewn to buy this about a week later. (Note to self: always read all the instructions first!). That said, the instructions are probably sufficient for most sewists who are familiar with sewing things other than lingerie. The only trouble I had was with how the straps were supposed to be threaded through the rings. I didn’t really understand what was going on and looked at one of my RTW bras to clarify how this was supposed to work. I assume I got it right as I can adjust the straps!

Mallori Lane Bralette

I’m wearing the bralette today and it is comfortable and supportive (at least for me). The pattern is specifically designed for the smaller-endowed (A and B cups). It’s different from my usual preferred underwear, but I think that it is good to try new things. I have always stuck to tried and tested underwear, but I’m learning that with the ability to make clothing my own size, I have more confidence to try new styles. Time to try some proper bras, with underwiring?

And now for a few photos wearing the bralette. It covers a lot so I think I can live with these pictures out there on the internet for all to see……

Mallori Lane Bralette