With the release of the Léa Swimsuit, I had lots of questions on how it actually supported the girls. Being a lady with some hefty melons, I feel you! So, I'm here to show you how to add a supportive "bra" into your swimsuit. I put "bra" in quotations because this isn't a standard bra but it does provide all the support you'll need to do the Baywatch run on the beach.
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To make this bra you'll need:
- A swimsuit pattern. I'll be using the Léa Swimsuit.
- 1 set of bra cups with seam allowance included. Because my cup is on the larger side, I've made my own cups using a self drafted bra. A lot of bra cups you can buy are really just covers instead of a cup, so you'll want to be sure it's the full cup and has seam allowance added. You can get bra cups here.
- 1 set of underwires that fit your breasts. I love getting my underwires at Bra Builders. Instead of the standard steel wires, they have flexible yet firm metal that fits your shape instead of you fitting into it. You can view more information on their website on how to measure yourself to find your underwire size.
- About 1 yd of plush underwire channeling
- About 1/2 yd of powernet fabric. (Not pictured) You can choose how firm you want to go but I like the extra firm for my shape.
First, we'll get the bra cups ready. I'll be using the Léa pattern specifically, but you can alter it to use on another swimsuit pattern.
Compare your bra cup to your pattern. You'll want to make sure you have plenty of room around the bra cup to account for the shape of the breast. If you have to trim down the top or sides of your cup to fit, you should do so now. I would caution against trimming too much at the sides because you'll be trimming off the seam allowance.
Once you've trimmed anything necessary, mark your bra cups at the inner edge to avoid placement confusion. Take your underwire channeling and lay it along the bottom curve of your bra cup. Leave about 1/8" space between the edge of the channeling and the bottom of the cup. You can pin if desired. You'll sew one edge of the channeling to the cup, then sew the other edge. Repeat with the second cup.
Insert your underwire into the channeling. If it doesn't fit, you'll need to trim and recap the ends to avoid it sticking out later. I like the Bravo Bella underwires specifically because you can replace the ends of the underwire instead of having to reseal them.
Once you'll gotten the underwire in the channeling, you can sew a satin stitch on each end to secure the placement.
On the Léa swimsuit, you can simply insert the cups into the bra cup pocket after you've sewn it up. If you're making a different suit, you may have to stitch the to edge into the lining. If you're doing that, be sure to measure the correct placement for the cups and take vertical stretch into account.
Now for the back. We're going to make a supportive strip in the back that will mimic the back clasp of a bra. (I'll be using computer drawn illustrations for these steps.)
Take the back pattern piece from the swimsuit and trace the top back and side line. Make the height about 1.5" or 2". Then you'll draw a horizontal line from the center back to the side seam.
Next, you'll take out about 1" from the center back to give it some negative ease.
After you've cut out all the fabric from the pattern, you'll attach the back support piece to the lining. Pin and baste it to the lining with a zigzag stitch. Be sure to stretch as you sew to account for the negative ease. It may look a little puckered on the piece but it won't show because the suit stretches to fit around your body.
The last thing you'll need to do is make sure there's support on the center front. For View A of the Léa, your support will be the lace panel. For View B, you'll need to add a little strip in the front to attach the two cups. If you're using a different swimsuit pattern, you might already have support on the front so you can finish sewing up your swimsuit.
You can do this simply by measuring the distance between the two cups of the suit. It will be different for every size. Cut a lining and main piece in the necessary width and approximately 1.5" high. With right sides together, pin and sew along the long edges. Turn it right side out.
You'll then attach it to the main cups on the neckline elastic area.
Once you've finished sewing up the swimsuit, you'll have a great supportive suit that you can feel confident in!
at the desired height before step 9. I would recommend a satin stitch for attaching the two ends.