Friday, October 14, 2011

Lingerie Sew-Along: Finishing the Bra Band, Part 5

When we last left off, we had finished binding the top of the bra. Now we're going to finish facing the bra band.

The bra, inside out.
First turn your bra inside out so that the WRONG sides are on the outside. Start at one end and pin the bra band together RIGHT sides together.

The back bra band, RIGHT sides together.
Pin a few inches of the band at one end, then match up the center and pin that for a few inches, and do the same for the opposite end. Then pin the rest of those gaps. This helps to avoid strange bunches of fabric since the band is cut on the bias.

The bra, RIGHT sides together.
You'll want to leave a 2" gap in the band just under one of the cups for turning the bra right sides out again.

The gap, to be left open when sewing the bra bands together.
Your 2 inch gap for turning the bra RIGHT sides out.
When it comes time to sew near your 2" gap, back-stitch near both sides of the gap to keep your threads from pulling when you turn it.
The point of the bra band, center front.
 Before you turn the bra right sides out, you will want to clip the center front, right up to the stitching. To keep the bra band strong you will want to stitch over the point a few times to re-enforce it.
The center front band, clipped.

Clipped corners on the center  back of the bra band.
Also clip the corners at the center back on both sides of the bra band. This will help you have sharper corners once you've turned it.
The bra, right sides together, with the band stitched.
Turning your bra right sides out will go a bit slowly but be patient and it will come out. You can use a tailor's point, or I recommend a chopstick to turn the corners of your bra band.

The scissors point to the 2" gap for turning.
Once you've turned the bra right sides out, we'll need to deal with that 2" gap we created. This is where slip-stitching comes in handy. If you're unfamiliar with a slip stitch, it's one of the most useful skills a seamstress can have in her repertoire.
The gap.

my bra band was about 1 1/8" wide after stitching.
I started by measuring the finished width of my bra band a few inches from the gap. Then I marked the same width on the band near the gap with tailor's chalk to make my seam allowance really clear.

I'm going to use red thread here to give you a really good idea of how the stitches will look. Plus, I'm just that good.
Hiding the knot for starting your slip stitch.
I started by hiding the knot of my thread inside the seam allowance. As you can see above, the thread is coming out of the band just at the seam allowance line.

I have popped a stitch in red just to show you where we started.

Making your first stitch.
Start on the opposite side of where you anchored your knot and grab a small bit of fabric with your needle. Make sure you only grab the inside layer of fabric, and not the outer layer.
A Crisscross of slip stitches waiting to be tightened.
Go back and forth grabbing bits of fabric with your needle. Think of it as how laces would go through a corset, back and forth to pull the two ends closer together. Every four stitches or so, I pull and tighten my thread. This pulls your stitches together, closes a bit of the gap, and hides your stitches as you go.
The thread has just been knotted in the seam line remaining fold.
Now you can see that I have closed my gap and I'm ready to tie my knot. I leave myself less that 1/8" opening and knot my thread off. Then I slip the needle just down the crack of the seam, and about an inch away into the band, I pop my needle back to the surface.
pulling the knot into the seam allowance.
This is serving to pull the knot I just made down into the seam where it's hidden. Then I just pull hard on my thread to bunch up the band a bit, clip my thread right at fabric level, and that last bit of thread is sucked right back into the fabric when I let go.
Where the hell are my slip-stitches?!
That's right, not a red thread in sight from beginning to end!

Top-stitching: a good way to keep the band from bunching on the bias.
For an extra finishing touch, I also top stitched the bra band with a magenta thread that will coordinate with the ribbon I'll be using in the next post for my bra straps and closure.
Top stitching is also a good way to keep the bra band from stretching too much on the bias but this will depend on your fabric, and your personal preference.

Now I'm off to dig through my massive stash of vintage buttons for the perfect button set to close my bra and tap pants with.
A special thanks to my mom for keeping me well supplied with fantastic fabrics, ribbons, bias bindings and BUTTONS galore!

Vintage button stash, approx. 5% of my collection.
For our next post we'll add straps, a closure, and we'll be done with the bra!

Previous Posts:

Part 4 of Lingerie Sew-Along: Binding the top of the bra
Part 3 of Lingerie Sew-Along: Darts, Pressing, and Attaching the Bra Band

Part 2 of Lingerie Sew-Along: Resizing, Layout and Cutting your bra
Part 1 of Lingerie Sew Along: Printing the pattern, and adding seam allowance


  1. One of the neatest tricks I learned somewhere: When stitching a seam with an opening to turn the item right-side-out, stitch to the opening, then turn at a 90-degree angle to stitch off the edge of the seam allowance. On the other side of the gap, you can either stitch from the edge to the seam line and then turn 90-degrees to stitch the seam as normal or you can work the seam from the opposite end of the seam, get to the opening, turn 90-degrees and stitch off the edge. I've found this works better than backstitching at keeping the fabric from distorting when you turn the item right-side out. It also makes it easier to see where the seam allowance is when pressing.

  2. I've just started my bra today because I had exams but I should be able to catch up to where you're up to. I love vintage buttons. Those flower ones you have still on their button card are really cute.

  3. @T'Pel
    T'pel, Thanks for the tip, that sounds like a great idea! I'll have to give it a try next time.

  4. @Camelia Crinoline Camelia, it's funny, those are the buttons I decided to use! it was hard to separate them from their card but they will look so great when I'm done.