The Bra That Cured Me: Emerald Erin - Black Beauty Bra

by - 2/21/2020

Well here's a post I never thought I'd be writing! I'll start with a little of my history with sewing bras, as I think it's in context to this make. I studied Contour Fashion at uni, which is lingerie, swimwear and corsetry design. So I'm no stranger to sewing bras (of many kinds) and I am very familiar with all the supplies that go into the bra, the kind of pattern pieces to expect and what a good fit means.

My main piece of advice for anyone wanting to sew a bra is that you need to know your size. You can't expect to sew a bra that will fit you if you've been wearing the same two bras for five years. Go and get refitted (Marks and Spencer, Bravissimo, Boux Avenue and Debenhams among others offer the service) or try fitting yourself (check THIS, THIS & THIS guide on how), you might be surprised. Even if you think you're fine, its a free service, just check and try on! A woman's breast size changes throughout her lifetime. I refit myself last year after I noticed I was wearing the few same bras on rotation because they were my 'comfy' ones. I refit myself and went to go try on that bra size in a shop and voila! It fit like a dream and I felt like a right plonker for avoiding it.

It is SO important to wear good fitting bras, especially when you're not the standard size like me. Essentially, I went into this bra project knowing what my size is and knowing what a good fit means, so hoped that this pattern's specifications would match up (much like clothing, there is no size standardisation in the bra industry).

Anyway, bra size lecture over, lets get into this pattern review... Towards the end of my degree, the life was sucked out of me a bit and I would have sworn I'd never sew an underwired bra again, let alone one to fit myself. But I've been seeing the Black Beauty Bra pattern by Emerald Erin pop up a lot on Instagram and I love the look of it SO much. It's a style if I'd see in a shop, I'd buy and I just thought 'to hell with it' and bought the pattern.

Here's a peek at the pattern:

For reference, I'm sewing version A (the top one) in a 34F. I've used THIS beautiful red lace as the main component of my bra. I find it quite hard to take a decent flat-lay photo of a bra when you're making a larger size, but hopefully you can see all the details...

Well after a few years away from bra sewing, it all came back to me! It all felt so familiar cutting out these bra pieces and lining up all the elastics and findings and honestly I kind of loved it. I kept my expectations low and had in my head this would be a toile. But damn, that first try on floored me!

I didn't expect to enjoy the sewing process as much as I did and coming out of it with a wearable bra I feel good in is amazing. There are certainly a couple of bumpy sewing spots, but now I'm familiar with the pattern and how it goes together (and that it fits me), I know my next one will be a higher standard in terms of sewing.

I thought to review this pattern I would share my usually Sewing Summary I include in all my pattern reviews, but I'll answer in more detail to break down each aspect...

Sewing Summary:

Pattern: Black Beauty Bra pattern by Emerald Erin (PDF download)

Lace (gifted)
Satin from my stash

Fold Over Elastic  (gifted)
Everything else I found at Sewing Chest

Sewing time: A couple of hours. But I'm very used to sewing bras and I'm a speedy sewist anyway.

Modifications: As the lace I used was a little hole-y and I needed some stabilisation, I used a firm satin fabric I had in my stash to back the bottom cups and the cradle. To do this I just cut out the pattern pieces in the satin and tacked them in place with a long stitch on my machine.

Cups: Really good. I like a full coverage cup and this fits really well. My underwires sit round my breast root and feel comfortable and supportive. Under the arm has regular coverage and when I compare this bra overall to my favourite shop bought ones, they are very similar.

Straps: I like a firm strap and I was worried I wouldn't like these are they are mostly made from fold over elastic which isn't the firmest elastic. You do use a stay tape in the FOE, but I'm on the fence as to whether it's enough for me. I think the elastic and hoops and sliders I used at the back of the bra perhaps don't work well with each other. Next time I would get a firmer elastic for this strap section and shorten them in general as I have a short body.

Under band: This fit here is really good. But I'm not happy with my under band elastic as a style. It's firmer than I expected it to be and would be better suited to straps. I couldn't find a red picot edge under band elastic in the wider width so used what I thought was closet. Next time I would work around whatever colour I can find in the specific elastic type. But its still super comfy and fits.

Difficulty: I think anyone could have a go at this bra if you know your way around a sewing machine. You never know unless you try after all! What I like about bra sewing is that the pattern pieces are nice and small and manageable, and the stages for sewing are very broken down. Like with anything, take it step by step and you'll get there!

Making yourself familiar with all the components that go into a bra will be helpful and make sure to pay attention to stretch lines and the types of supplies you need as there are no short cuts in bra sewing.

Watch out for: There's a lot to look out for when bra sewing as there is so little room for error. But don't be intimidated. I know I have experience with bras but I'd much rather sew a bra that do an invisible zip or cuff plackets!

Make Again?: Yes. I thought that this project would be a 'oh well I tried' experience, but I already got some fabric to make another! I think me and this pattern will be seeing a lot of each other...

Overall, I surprised myself with this one! I didn't expect to come out of this project excited to sew myself more bras. I am over the moon with the fit and will absolutely wear this bra. There are some things I would tweak for next time, for example I would have overlocked or used seam tape on the bust seams and I would buy a stronger elastic/smaller sliders for the straps to make that bit firmer. But there's nothing that won't stop me from enjoying this awesome bra!

Would you ever sew a bra? If you're thinking about sewing this one, I would definitely check out the Instagram hashtag #blackbeautybra to see some amazing versions, in a whole host of sizes. I saved so many photos for inspiration.

Thanks for reading!
Abi xo

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  1. Thanks for this post Abi, I’m addicted to your YouTube channel so when I came across this post while deciding whether to give bra making a go I knew it would be a good read. You’ve inspired me a lot on my sewing journey and you’ve well and truly pushed me off the fence on bra making, off I go to make one!