I’ve always had a love of quality lingerie, however I find shopping for it quite vexing because I am either too large for the range’s largest cup size, or the larger cup size range is bland and boring. Seriously, they usually look like something your grandma would wear, unless you’re willing to fork out up to $100 for the higher end market. When you’re a mum with two kids, the higher end market is not something you can usually afford. I’d recently seen a longline bra for sale at Target through the linr, Lily Loves that I really loved, but they didn’t stock it in my size. So I decided, gosh darn it, I would track down a pattern and make my own. Us mum’s deserve sexy lingerie! In larger cup sizes! We nourished a baby (or several) with our bodies alone so by gum I was going to take sexy back by the horns and wrangle it back into my bedroom.
I’d heard about Orange Lingerie, Norma Loehr’s indie pattern brand through the sewing grapevine, so I decided to check out the patterns for sale there. The range is rather good, and lo and behold, there she was, the esplanade bra, the very long line bra I was looking for, and ranging up to a 40DD(E) cup, which is perfect for me (I’m a 34-36DD-F depending on which boob you ask and how long it’s been between breastfeeds). So naturally I purchased it immediately and waited (im)patiently for the download link. Now a note to Chrome users or anyone with a pop-up blocker, when you click the link, you must make sure that the pop-up blocker is switched off! I didn’t realise this and you only get to try the link 3 times. The download shows as a popup, so from my end it looked like nothing was happening. Switch that blocker off to get to downloady goodness! After contacting Norma, who got back to me very quickly, I was off and downloading again!
Another note: the pattern instructions are at the front and then all the different sizes start after the pattern instructions. Follow the measurement instructions and then print off the section for your pattern size. Don’t be a numpty like me and print the whole thing, as it runs to over 100 pages all up. My kids now have an amazing stack of scrap paper and have fun colouring in the boobies… ahem.
I haven’t talked about it before, but back in the day (late 90’s) I hung out with the goth crowd in Sydney. My tastes have always run between vintage/goth/Harley Quinn. So I saw this as a perfect opportunity to make some lingerie that is completely me. I did have a hard time narrowing down my selection of fabric. The best thing about The Esplanade Bra is that it uses foam cups that you make yourself, so you can use any fabric over the cup and frame, which makes the options endless!
In the end I decided to go with thr gold metallic skull fabric (a black poplin with a gold foil print).
The instructions are exceptional. With detailed diagrams, step by step instructions and tips on the best way to sew and which feet to use, what stitch length etc. I breezed through this pattern so much faster than I expected. The cups were so quick to sew.
I spent the most time on my print layout. A tip for using a print similar to mine, make sure the inner corners of the cup end up in a blank area of the print, otherwise it makes the whole front of the bra too busy.
Assembling the rest of the bra was a breeze, and way less fiddly than I expected.
Another tip, make sure your chosen elastic is not super stretchy. It needs to stretch, but it needs to be supportive and strong. I used the wrong type on the underarm area and it lost a lot of support where I needed it most (up the top!) so just watch for that when selecting the elastic.
As I only really get maybe 1-2 hours sewing time a day, I ended up finishing my bra over two days (that’s from cutting to finished). I was really happy with the result. Instead of powernet, I used a mesh that had a similar stretch to the powernet.
I did end up having to alter the back band, as I found that it wasn’t quite supportive enough, partly because I needed a smaller band, and partly because of the poor elastic choice on the top. But I posted this on Instagram and Norma responded with tips on how to fix it, which is just amazing!
All in all, if you want to make your own lingerie, I cannot recommend this pattern enough, and I cannot wait to make so many more of these. You can get your own copy of the esplanade bra pattern here: Esplanade Bra.