I Heart MakeBra: DL03, My New Favourite

Remember this post about three lingerie projects, where I mentioned I wanted to try another MakeBra pattern? I did, and I love it. This is my favourite bra of all the bras I’ve sewn to date. The pattern is DL03 and it’s a winner!

makebra dl03 foam cup bra in floral cotton-1

Why? Three main reasons:

  • The fit: it’s rounded, not pointy, not flattening. It looks good under clothes.
  • The fabric: you can use any fabric to cover the foam cups, it doesn’t have to be cut on grain, making it even easier to use scraps. This is a stretch cotton shirting, not your usual bra-making fabric!
  • The style: it’s so flattering! Balconettes are my bra style of choice. It’s modern, and closer to the rounded shape that today’s store-bought bras create.

In fact it’s so pretty, it’s a shame to cover it up! If I were a different person (more showy? more confident?) I’d wear it with a cardigan unbuttoned to the bra band.

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Here’s what it looks like under a knit top – rounded! smooth!

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I like that the trims and elastic are ivory, so I can wear it with basic ivory undies. That’s the only drawback to using a woven fabric, I don’t want to sew woven underwear. (I’ve made pairs before with woven and knit fabrics together, it’s okay but not my favourite.) From the back, it looks like a plain ivory bra.

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Here’s a look at the inside of the bra. I didn’t line the cups, but I’ve noticed some of my fancier store-bought bras have fabric lining inside the cups. It would be really easy to add for a future version.

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The cup pieces are simply zigzagged together. I read this post by Emerald Erin later, that she prefers to use a satin stitch instead for a smoother finish, which I might try.

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A look at the cup shape, with the bra band flat against the table:

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And from another angle:

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It’s very much a rounded half-sphere shape with a straight-across neckline. What’s nice about the straight neckline is that the entire top edge is finished at once! You apply elastic all the way across the back, the top edge of the cups, and the other side of the back in one step.

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Changes I Made:

Instead of zigzagging down the middle of the seams, I edgestitched on either side of the seam. It felt like a more suitable choice on a cotton fabric.

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I added a seamline in the band so I could have the back cut from powermesh, and the front from the floral cotton. The band in the pattern is all one piece, meant to be cut from lycra fabric.

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I didn’t make the fabric covered strap, but used strap elastic instead.

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I skipped the foldover elastic and used narrow picot elastic to finish the top edge. This means you’re turning under the foam edge, which is a bit annoying, so I trimmed as much of the foam out of the seam before the final zigzag. It also means the cups are about 1/4″ lower across the top edge, which I don’t mind. I might try it the proper way next time but the fit is excellent just as it is.

Tip of the day: save your old bra parts when the bra wears out! The bow I saved from an old ready-to-wear bra. I save rings and sliders, straps if they’re not stretched out, bows and embellishments. If you wanted you could save hooks and eyes, but that’s too much unpicking for me.

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The MakeBra website has instructions online for making the bra. The tip about pinning the cup cover to the foam cup starting at the seamline is a good one. I did a much better job covering my cups this time than when I made my first Makebra bra.

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The only modification I’d make is to move the straps closer to the centre front. I placed them way too far to the sides, because I wanted to avoid it looking like the Classic Bra with the straps centered over the cup. I overcompensated and now they’re not close enough! The instructions have you position the straps near the end, so you can put them in the right spot, but there’s no strap placement indicated on the pattern. I guessed and that’s where they ended up. Next time I’ll move them about 1/2″ towards centre.

Next up: either an adaptation of this bra to use stretch lace, with the scalloped edge along the lower edge of the band. I think that would be nice! Or maybe a playful version of this bra with ruffles across the top edge! Lots of possibilities. Even a plain solid-coloured spandex knit would work well for a smooth, versatile set.

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40 Responses to I Heart MakeBra: DL03, My New Favourite

  1. Gillian July 29, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    Oooh, that looks great! I’m just at the eginning of my bra-making ourney, and I’ve only made 2 classic bras so far (because I took a class with Beverly, and it’s the pattern you have to start with…) I do find the cups really matronly though, so I’m on the lookout for other bra patterns to try! Have you had much trouble with choosing the right size? That’s the part I’m scared of when I switch patterns!
    Also – my fan-girl heart is excited that you read Erin’s post on the Sewcialist site, which I run/organize. Yay!

    • Tasia July 29, 2015 at 11:14 am #

      I did the exact same thing – class in person using the Classic Bra pattern, and then started experimenting with other patterns and styles! I found the cups pointy on a small bust. Like things are already small enough, the pointed cup made them even less prominent. With sizing, I generally use the same size as what I was fitted for in the classic bra pattern. I also read Anne from the Clothing Engineer’s bra posts, because she sews a ton of different bra patterns and is pretty much my same size. It’s useful for the European size conversions – if she says she made a 70C for a 32C equivalent, I know it’s a good starting point. (That’s what I made here, 70C, and it fits really well.)
      I came across the lingerie post on the Sewcialist site after reading Erin’s comment on the Sewaholic blog, and going to her blog. It’s awesome that you are featuring lingerie sewing this month!

      • Gillian July 29, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

        Interesting that your size in the Classic bra seems to relate to your size in other patterns! That would sure be nice if it’s true for me too. I love Anne’s posts on all topics – she’s so obsessive and organised that every post is a goldmine!

        • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:34 am #

          Yes, I have found that the sizing is pretty much consistent for me across other patterns. That’s where I start, and make adjustments as needed. Sometimes I’ll reduce the cup size a little (along the cup seams) while keeping the underwire size the same dimensions, or reduce the back band if the fabric is really stretchy. I don’t know if it’s true for all people, but it does seem to be the case for me. (If I use the measurement charts for most patterns I come up as a smaller cup and bigger band, but then the underwire would be too small around the base, so I stick to my usual size.) And yes, I really enjoy Anne’s blog and detailed writing style!

  2. Shannon July 29, 2015 at 8:57 am #

    This is so pretty! I really want to try making some bras again, and I’m curious about making foam cup ones. I think I’ll start with some alterations to the Classic Bra pattern, but after that I’ll branch out and try some other patterns. I’ll add this one to my list!

    • Tasia July 29, 2015 at 11:08 am #

      I like the shape of the foam cups. It’s a nice middle ground in between a full padded foam cup from VS, and a completely unlined fabric cup bra. The Classic bra is a great starting point for bra construction, once you have that under your belt then you can branch out to different patterns!

  3. Michelle July 29, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    That’s lovely! Just adorable. I can see why you (almost) think it’s too pretty to cover up. I haven’t tried a MakeBra pattern yet. I might put it on the to-do list. Yours is so pretty.

    • Tasia July 29, 2015 at 11:04 am #

      Thanks! It’s so pretty I hope it shows. :) I like the Makebra patterns for the shape and the foam-cup construction. The instructions are online only which means you have to refer to your computer (or print them out) which isn’t my favourite, but if you’ve made a few bras the construction is the same.

  4. Linda July 29, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    Your bra is absolutely adorable! You could wear it as a top! I discovered MakeBra this year and I love their style and shape. There will be many more in my future too!
    I did try Erin’s satin stitch on a bra I recently made, and my machine did not do a great job. It bunched up in places and stretched in others. Or maybe it was me! I usually cover the seams with a strip of soft tricot if they are for someone else.
    I bet this bra would be cut with a longer band- like a crop top. Hmmmmm

    • Tasia July 29, 2015 at 11:03 am #

      I know right? It’s as cute as a top and in the cotton, seems as much like a top as lingerie. It would make a great swimsuit.
      Interesting to hear that the satin stitch didn’t work great for you. I’ll be sure to test on scrap before the real deal! I’ve covered the seams before with satin ribbon and it looks nice.

  5. Alicia July 29, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    I gasped when I saw this bra in my blog reader – I LOVE it. Definitely had to read this right away rather than making it wait for it’s proper place in the queue. I definitely like this pattern, I’ll have to try it out!

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:04 am #

      Thank you! That’s awesome that the photo made you want to read about it right away. :)

  6. Ashley July 29, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    I love this! Oddly enough, I’m working on the same pattern with most of the same mods right now too! I may have to try the picot elastic at the top of the cup, too. I’m not crazy about the FOE look. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:07 am #

      Oh what a coincidence! I don’t love the FOE either. I want to, it does make it easier to finish the edge without folding anything over, but I still prefer picot elastic. I’d love to see your version! If you remember come back and leave a comment so I can check it out.

  7. Jennifer July 29, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Tasia, where do you purchase your cut and sew foam? Do you have any sources that are in the US?

    • Ali August 4, 2015 at 8:43 am #

      Sew sassy fabrics is based in Alabama, and they sell foam by the yard. It’s very nice and soft on both sides and comes in a pale nude color.

      • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

        Thanks for posting a US source!

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:10 am #

      I bought this foam from Bra Makers Supply – https://www.bramakerssupply.com/ I tend not to buy from the US because of the duty and exchange rate, and we’re lucky to have a Canadian source for lingerie supplies! MakeBra sells foam as well and I remember reading that it was softer and nicer in quality but I can’t confirm from my own experience. I’ve also received two different kinds of foam from Bra-Makers – this one is a little rougher, the other type I’ve received is a little softer and lighter weight.

  8. Sophie-Lee July 29, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    Ooh, very nice! I’ve tried making a few bras – a Classic bra which didn’t work properly, I think I must have switched two of the cup pieces around! And a few Watson’s which I tend to wear most days. This one looks pretty interesting and I may look into it, although foam is a bit hard to find and I haven’t worn a foam bra in a LONG time!

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:11 am #

      I remember in the bra class that it was easy to switch the cup pieces around! That would make for a strange cup shape I’m sure. It’s not thick foam, just a thin layer to give the cups a 3D shape.

  9. Be July 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Lovely! And it’s nice to see one that looks good under a knit top. I’d also be interested to hear where you get the foam, because this is a style I’d feel comfortable wearing out of the house!

  10. Ms. McCall July 29, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    Wow, what a pretty bra! It’s so cool you can use up tiny scraps and get something so lovely. I’m wondering why you didn’t just add seam allowance to the fabric, do the first pass of the top elastic on just the fabric, and then on the second pass, the fabric is folded over the foam. You would have to add seam allowance to the band too of course. I’m guessing it’s because the pattern called for FOE and you had cut it out before deciding to use picot elastic. Either way, the foam isn’t as bulky as I would have expected, you must have done a fantastic job trimming those seam allowances! I love balconettes, but haven’t found patterns in my size, I’m going to have to see if I can get this one to work for me. Thanks for the review!

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:14 am #

      I would have done exactly that, if I’d thought of it at the beginning! I had cut it out while planning to use white FOE but then when it came time to applying it, I changed my mind. I think what I’ll do is trace off the cup pieces WITH seam allowance, and keep the ones without, so I have both options at the beginning next time. I did trim the seam allowances very closely to reduce bulk! Glad you found the post helpful.

  11. Amy July 30, 2015 at 12:59 am #

    Absolutely gorgeous! Nicer than most RTW bras :-D

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:35 am #

      Thanks! It’s pretty exciting to make bras that looks just like the real deal :)

  12. Emerald Erin July 30, 2015 at 8:12 am #

    Wow- stunning bra- love your fabric choice, and I agree- great shape!! Maybe you could modify your next one into a long-line and wear it as a top- then you don’t have to be quite so brave! I’m so happy you referenced my post on Sewcialist- let me know how the stitch works for you! My machine does a beautiful job with it and I use it all the time :) Thanks for the great post! :)

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:36 am #

      I could do that! It would make a good long line style. I’m glad you commented the other day as it led me to your blog – so many great lingerie sewing posts! I’ll have to try the stitch next time and see how it works out, thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  13. francesca July 30, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    Love! I’m curious how the size compared to the size you used for the Watson? I’ve only made unwired bras till now but this is lovely.

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:37 am #

      I used the same size for the Watson Bra as for this bra (and same for the Classic Bra.)

  14. Marissa July 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    Such a great final product. And I love the fabric you chose!

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:38 am #


  15. Sue July 31, 2015 at 2:24 am #

    hi beautiful beautiful bra. The fabric print looks like a Liberty print to me. So awesome to see another successful bra in such a fabric. I am gradually finding them. My ultimate aim is to Make pretty bras from Liberty Tana Lawn a fine but firm silky feel cotton lawn. Well done Zhou.

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      Thanks Sue! It does look like a Liberty print doesn’t it? I saved my Liberty scraps from the shirt I made, they’d make a lovely bra! What a good idea. I was saving them for inner collars and cuffs, for another shirt project, but a bra would be really pretty instead!

  16. Annette July 31, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    i too would like to know

    “Jennifer July 29, 2015 at 1:20 pm #
    Tasia, where do you purchase your cut and sew foam? Do you have any sources that are in the US?”

    And very pretty, and well done too! TFS, Annette

  17. Ali August 4, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    Lovely bra. You did a beautiful job, and I love your website and your creations. I think you need to be careful using terms like “dowdy” however. I’m reasonably young, and I just finished making the classic bra you mentioned and I happen to love it particularly for the pointy shape. I’m very enthusiastic about vintage clothing and I have quite the collection, as are many young women these days, and bras like the classic bra provide the perfect authentic shape under vintage clothes. I really don’t like being made to feel “dowdy” or “matronly” and I’m sure I’m not alone. Thanks!

    • Tasia August 4, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

      Thanks Ali! My apologies if I’ve offended you with the word choice. I’ll update the post with something more appropriate, as that wasn’t my intention. (I’ve updated it to say “It’s modern, and closer to the rounded shape that today’s store-bought bras create.” That’s more what I meant to convey anyways!)
      The pointy shape of the Classic Bra would be a great match for vintage bodices while still using today’s fabrics like powermesh and duoplex. Though I suppose you could even make it in cotton if you wanted an even more vintage look! Thanks for the comment and sorry again for the poor choice of words.

      • Ali August 4, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

        Thanks for being sensitive Tasia! And thanks for inspiring me to make bras in the first place, I really love what you’ve done!