Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra

I have been tempted by bra making for a while now.  I was very impressed with Kathy's Marlborough bras and bought the pattern after seeing her success.   I had already made my first muslin when Craftsy released their Bra making class with Beverly Johnson.  I signed up immediately. 

I bought all of my supplies and fabric from  The fabric is called techsheen which is a satin powernet.  For the back band, I used swimwear powernet from my swimwear stash (purchased from

The Marlborough bra is from Orange Lingerie and is a pdf download available here.  I had a few questions about the bra and emailed Norma at Orange Lingerie, and she was kind enough to get right back to me.  (I love good customer service!)

Per the Orange Lingerie website:
The Marlborough is a pretty and supportive full frame underwire bra for everyday featuring:
◾• A three piece cup that allows for increased shaping and more ability to play with pattern prints and color combinations;
◾• A power bar that moves the breasts toward the front of the body for a slimming effect;
◾• A comfortable scoop back that lies smoothly under clothes and enhances support; and
◾• A lace upper cup to feel and look pretty everyday.

One great thing about this pattern is that the each size is grouped together and is printed on 2 sheets of paper so you can choose which pages to print which saves on printer ink.  There is also NO TAPING because the pieces fit on whole sheets of paper.  Woo Hoo!

The pattern comes in sizes 30A to 40DD.  The sizing was quite a bit different from RTW sizes.  Per my measurements I was directed to make a 38D (!!)  My ribcage measurement is 33", so the 38 really threw me for a loop.  But I plodded on and wouldn't you wasn't bad!  The cup size was great but I found the band to be too tight.

I really liked the shape of the cups.  It is a 3 piece cup with and upper cup, lower cup, and a powerbar along the side.  I thought this would provide nice shaping.  I have found that unpadded RTW bras with only a 2 piece cup tend to be pointy on me.  This was not the case with this one.

I made 2 test versions before this one.
I made the size 38D and the band was really tight.  My ribcage is 33".  I added 1" to the length of the band.

Finding the correct wire size took a little trial and error.  I used the printouts from the Craftsy class, transferred the most likely wire sizes to a cardboard template and checked the fit.  Since I wasn't ordering my wires from Bra Maker's Supply (Beverly Johnson's company) I needed to translate her wire sized to Sew Sassy's wires.  I measured the length, width and depth of the cardboard template that fit and searched for the best match on Sew Sassy's website.  I bought 2 different sizes whose main difference was the overall length, (same width and depth) and the shorter one was best.

This is how long the first set was:

I had flat spots in the lower cup above the underwire near the center of the bra.  According to Beverly Johnson's Bra making class on Craftsy, this happens when your breast is rounder than the bra will allow and you need more volume in the lower cup.  Per her instructions, I split the lower cup in 2 from the apex down and added 1/8" of width to each piece while keeping the seam lines the same.  Here are my before and after pattern pieces:

Photo doesn't show it, but I added seam allowances too!

I marked the seam lines, and using a French curve, made a new stitching line that curved out to a maximum of 1/8" from the original.  This gave me 1/4" more width/volume on the lower cup.  Don't forget to add seam allowances to this new seam line!  (My photo doesn't show them).  I then altered the Direction of Greatest Stretch (DoGS) as shown in the photo. 

The upper cup was a little loose, so I took out a small wedge from the pattern piece, near the power band seam line.

The most difficult part of the construction for me was topstitching the channeling.  It was hard to keep it neat, parallel, and wide enough for the wire to fit. 

Here is the final version:

While not perfect, it is perfectly wearable, and very comfortable!

The biggest change I will make next time is to use 1/2" elastic for the straps.  I only had 3/8" and I'd prefer the straps to be sturdier.

I can see how bra making can become quickly addictive.  There are only a few small pieces, so cutting them out is quick.  The seams are short, so sewing them is quick too.  I envision a lot more bra making in my future! 


  1. Great bras and progress! The split cup alteration looks so good and super fancy and RTW!!

  2. The bras are beautiful. You are such an inspiration to me to give it a try because I just cannot find RTW to fit, not because I am "generous": of size. No, because I am very broad of back in relation to cup size and the only cups that really fit are stretch ones. (Pregnancies and advancing age do terrible things to one's bust line). ON seeing your success,I think I am a bit closer to giving it a try. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hey hey! It looks great! Thanks for noting your fabrics, I'm probably going to put an order in at Sew Sassy soon and they do have very interesting fabrics. I think I'll have to make the exact same changes to my cups to make it suitable for non-stretch fabric, but it works for me as drafted with fabric that has a little stretch. Yes, bra sewing is addictive isn't it!

  4. This looks really good. I always thought bra making would be very difficult, but I am seeing more and more people having a go. You must be very proud of yourself. Well done.

  5. This is very helpful as I thought that bra pattern was really for smaller bust sizes. Bra making in the near future for me!

  6. Hi,
    Please forgive my leaving this in a comment, I couldn’t find an e-mail address for you.I recently made a list of bloggers who sew bras, in order to make them easier to find. You can find it at I hope you don’t mind being on it, please let me know if you want to be removed. Thank you!


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