Underwired Harriet bra by Cloth Habit

A while back (way before covid) New Craft House, who I follow on Instagram, posted pictures of amateurs making bras at a workshop they’d hosted using Cloth Habit’s Harriet bra. It got me thinking that this was a gap in my knowledge and if amateurs can make a bra, then I certainly could. But when I saw this post I was pregnant so didn’t really see the point making one until I was done with pregnancy.

A couple weeks ago, I finally finished breast feeding and I thought back to making one. I was drawn back to the Harriet bra because I like the shaping, it felt young and I find the balconette shaping more comfortable (I’m not a fan of plunge bras). So I took to instagram to see what other variations peoples had made and for inspiration. There was absolutely tones of women around the world making this bra.

Screen shot of instagram using #clothhabitharrietbra

I decided to use some navy Chantilly lace scraps I’ve had knocking about as a starting point. One of the recommended suppliers was fit2sew. When I started looking at the choices, it was mind boggling. So I opted for easiest option and just bought a navy bra findings kit. I decided to pair this with pink fabric underneath. As recommended in the pattern, I went for duoplex fabric for the front and powernet for the back.

I used the pattern’s measuring guide because I had no idea what size I am now and I haven’t a clue about how I will alter the bra if it doesn’t fit. I came up between sizes 32f and 34e so when for 32f as I like a tight band to feel secure. Once I downloaded my pattern, I printed off the pattern pieces I needed for my size, ALL 3 A4 pages of it and off I went!

Making the cradle

The cradle is simply constructed by sewing the bridge to outer frame for both the lace and duoplex. The back band powernet is then trapped between the layers and everything is basted on the front so that it’s ready for the cups.

Making the cups

The upper cup is finished with either lace edging or neckline elastic. As my lace is scraps I didn’t have edging but I think the neckline elastic looks really good.

Next, the inner and outer cup pieces in both the lace and duoplex are sewn together. The upper cup is then sandwiched between the layers and bagged out. All the seams are top stitched and the edges are basted together. The cups are then sewn into the cradle matching all the notches.

Finishing edges

Now all the bra findings in the handing pack come out to finish edges. First the underwire channeling is sewn to the under bust seam allowance. The underarm elastic and hem elastic are sewn on right side, flipped over and top stitched with a zigzag.

The wire channels are then top stitched down through all layers and finished at centre front to prevent the wires coming out. The wires are then inserted.

The straps

The straps are created by inserting strap elastic through the sliders which is secured with stitching. The other end is fed through a ring and then back through the slider.

The unfinished end is then attached to the back of the bra down the back neckline and into centre back with a zig zag.

I went slightly off the instructions. I felt a little uneasy about having the ring at the front making the slider come down the front. None of my bras in the drawer do this. So I cut a 7″ piece which I attached to the front with the ring on the shoulder to make it the same as most of my M&S bras. Now that I’ve finished, I see my error. I think it would be more comfortable to have the ring where the instructions say, so that the weight of my boobs don’t make the rings dig into my shoulder.

I’m going to change my bra, the simplest thing is to cut the elastic at the back where the strap starts and attach the ring there. I’ll have a join in the elastic on my shoulder but at least it’ll be more comfy. Next time I won’t be naughty and just do what I’m told! To complete the bra, the fasteners are attached at centre back ends with secure zigzag.

Finished, what’s my thoughts?

I relished making this, I love a new challenge and broadening my knowledge. The bra fits nicely but I’m not sharing photos of me in lingerie on the internet! I already have my next bra planned and fabric/findings on order.

There are some things I need to do differently next time. According to the measuring guide I came up between a 32f and 34e. I did the 32f and this is comfy and I feel secure however I have a bit of unattractive flabby skin overhanging the underarm. I think next time I’ll make a 34e but I’ll stretch the band elastic to 32 size proportions and hopefully the underarm won’t be so tight. Also you’re instructed to gently stretch the upper cup edging, this isn’t tight on me but it slightly alters the curve of my breast. Next time I’ll just attach this flat.

I bought regular wires as I didn’t know which ones to get. But I seems that underwires are a complete minefield! Different underwires can be used for different styles but also for different breast shapes. For my next bra I’ve bought long underwires as an experiment, this means that the centre vertical is a bit longer. We’ll see how this looks.

I’d also like to try with padding once I’ve got a bit more confidence. Cut and sew foam padding seems to use different techniques so I need to do some more research.

Anyway I feel bra making isn’t specialist, just the findings are specialist. They are constructed using simple techniques and amateurs can make beautiful bras. The instructions are thorough and include useful tips and hints.

I hope you enjoyed reading.

Rosie xx

2 thoughts on “Underwired Harriet bra by Cloth Habit

  1. Thank you – that was really interesting. I’ve often thought about making my own bras. It’s good to know that there are some good instructions with the pattern.

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  2. Wow Rosie that’s so clever, I’d ask you to make me one and pay you whatever you tell me, but don’t know size lol. I wear a sports bra comfy. And don’t know if you would. Stay safe xx

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