One of the reasons I rarely wear my first version of Vogue 1174 is the fact it makes me look completely flat. Not just not busty, but super flat. The foundation and boning is so stiff, it presses everything flat as a board. So it looks great from the front, but from the side – not good at all! I know I’m not the most well-endowed girl, but I still want to feel comfortable and pretty in the dresses I wear.
So, this time around, I padded the bust! I made padded bust cups out of cotton batting, attached them to a layer of cotton batting, and sewed it into the muslin bodice lining. It’s not quite a push-up bra, but it rounds out the silhouette nicely. The best part? I’ll show you how!
- your front bodice constructed of cotton batting, like we made in this post
- cotton batting, at least 1/4″ yard
- hand-sewing needle and thread
- paper and pencil, about one letter-size sheet will do!
I’ll show you what I did, step by step. Depending on the dress pattern you use, you might need to make a few modifications, but the general theory will be the same. Ask if you have questions!
First, you’ll need to make a layer of your front bodice in cotton batting. Sew the cotton batting using butted seams – see how in more detail here!
Next, we’ll take that padded bodice layer, and lay it down on a scrap piece of paper. Trace around your bodice layer on the piece of paper.
Now, in the middle of the traced bodice, draw a circle where the centre of the bust is likely to fall. It doesn’t have to be super accurate, just a general circle in the middle of the bodice is fine.
Cut out the circle, smoothing the edges as you cut if the lines you drew are sketchy and rough.
Let’s check our circle against the bodice, and see how it looks. This circle is the shape of our bust pad, and the shape of the layer we’ll start building our pad on. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for, as this was my first attempt at making bust padding. Mine fills out the hollow, while fitting inside the seam allowances. (Which I have not cut off the padded bodice layer yet – just a note!)
Take this circle template, and cut two circles of cotton batting. This is the fun part, we’re going to make a tower of circles on top of this first layer. Each circle will be slightly smaller than the last one.
Cut another set of circles, a little bit smaller than the first two:
Keep on building more layers of padding. I stopped at five, but looking back I wish I’d piled my stacks a little higher! I compared my circles to a padded bra insert, but the cotton batting does compress itself once the pads are sewn in. So I’d go for a little bit more than you think you need.
You can arrange the circles on top of each other, or angle the circles slightly to one side. I layered mine so the bottom would have the most padding – again, based on the shape of the bra insert pad. It’s thicker at the bottom, I suppose to push things upwards and make the most of what you’ve got!
This is what the thickness looked like, from the side view:
Now, we’ll do something called feathering the padding layers. Take your fingernail, and scrape the ridge of each layer downwards, smoothing it out.
Here’s a side-angle shot. The top layers are not feathered, and you can see the ridges. The bottom layers are feathered, and the padding softly transitions from layer to layer.
Compare the padded bra cups, side by side. Can you tell which one has been feathered?
Can you tell now?
This seems pretty advanced, I know! It’s not hard to do, it just takes time to put these together. What we’ll do next is tack the layers together. Thread a hand-sewing needle, and stab the needle through all of the layers. Make small stitches (called stab-stitches, how appropriate!) tacking the padding in place. Kind of like a shoulder pad!
You’ll stab-stitch in a circular motion, more or less. The point is to secure all of the layers together, it doesn’t have to be pretty. Here’s what it looks like from the wrong side:
Keep going until all of the layers are tacked together. Repeat with the other pad.
Now, we’ll place these bra cups into the padded bodice layer. Pin them in place, and ‘try on’ the padded bodice layer as best as you can. I pinned the whole thing to the dress, and tried it on to get the placement closer to the right place.
You can hand-sew it into place if you like. I machine zigzagged around the edges of the outermost layer to hold my cups in place.
Another thought: instead of sewing the padded cups into the bodice, you could cover them with muslin and make them removable! It would be like a shoulder-pad. You could make a pocket to tuck them into, pin them into place, or add snaps. Or Velcro if you wanted.
What I did next, was make a muslin lining for the bodice, and attached the padded layer to the muslin. I also added boning to the muslin lining, which I’ll show you as well.
What do you think: are these inner-workings interesting to see? Is this something you’d ever try on future projects, or is this way too complex for your style of sewing?