Hi sewing friends, Megan here, your unofficial CSC bra sewing ambassador!
When all the CSC editors were brainstorming for the Curvy Year of Sewing Extras and Accessories theme, I knew I wanted to do something bra related. Someone suggested reviewing a bralette pattern since they are so hot right now! My personal favorite bralette pattern is the Watson Bra, which has been serving me well as my everyday bra since I first tried the pattern out a few months ago. However, it has a sadly limited size range so I went on the hunt for a bralette pattern that was more accomodating. I settled on the Mood D’Arcy Bralette, which seemed like a real win as a free pattern claiming a size range up to a 58.5 inch bust. Spoiler alert: this pattern did not deliver as promised.
- Pattern name: Mood D’Arcy Bralette
- Size range:
This is the size chart as advertised on the pattern page. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the pattern and it only included pattern pieces to size 22! Also a surprise, it came in an A/B and C/D size range. Unfortunately, there is no guidance given in the instructions about how to choose your size or how to choose which size range to make. This really should have been enough to make me rethink my plan to sew this pattern, but stupidly I persisted.
- What size did you make?
Given that there was no guidance on sizing, I used my best judgement based on my measurements below and a cut the 18 A/B. This was about one size down from the measurement chart because I suspected my fabric had a little more stretch than the pattern was designed for. I say “suspected” because there was not much guidance on suggested fabrics or stretch percentages, so all I had to go on was that their example was sewn up in power mesh and stretch lace which the pattern instructions said each had about 30% stretch. I somehow missed this tidbit on my first (and all subsequent) read throughs of the instructions since it isn’t called out specifically in a separate section and is just mentioned in passing in the text. More details on appropriate fabrics and stretch percentages would have been helpful.
- What are your measurements, height, and body type?
Height: 5’7″, mostly in the legs
Full Bust: 45″
Bra Size: I haven’t bought a RTW bra in three or so years, and they never fit well when when I was wearing them (hence the sewing) so I’m still not sure what my “correct” bra size is. I started with the 40C pattern in the Watson bra, but that includes width added to the band and volume removed from the cup. I am aware that my measurements “should” make me a D cup, but believe me when I say that my bust is no where near that large, which I have learned from years of trial and error.
- What adjustments did you make and how long did they take?
I didn’t make any adjustments before sewing the pattern. I made a whole bunch of adjustments on the back end so that I could salvage something wearable.
I started with this athleisure fabric that I had leftover from my most recent pair of Avery Leggings. After doing the majority of construction, it became apparent that it was HUGE. I removed an inch at each side seam, resulting in 4″ total width reduction. That didn’t help much so I resorted to more drastic measures. I lined the back and underbust band in my firmest stretch mesh and lined the cups in a swimwear lining because I don’t personally like the feel of stretch mesh right in the cups. Well, that was still too large so I decided to line the cups in a pretty low stretch foam that I had in my lingerie stash. This whole process required a lot of creative sewing techniques, but it did result in something (mostly wearable). At that point I was SO OVER this bra and just wanted it to be done, so I decided to omit the extra “cage” strapping”, I didn’t want to waste any more of my precious lingerie stash on this disaster.
- What fabric did you use?
The main fabric is double faced “atheleisure” knit from Joanns (I’m pretty sure thats the one). I love it for leggings, but it was apparently way too stretchy for this pattern. I added stretch mesh, bra notions, and elastic from my stash.
- What was the construction process like? Did the instructions make sense to you?
My biggest complaint with this pattern was the instructions. I don’t think there was enough detail provided for anyone to get a well fitting or supportive bralette, as the pattern claims.
All seams are supposed to be finished by just folding and hemming. I added 1/2″ elastic to the underbust seam, but wish I had added extra length at the bottom so that I could finish it with 1″ elastic. I don’t understand how a bra can be supportive without some elastic in the underbust, there is nothing to stop the ladies from migrating downwards. I also added 1/2″ elastic at the top of the back band for a little extra support.
Additionally, all seam allowances were given as 1/2″, which in my experience is not standard for knits or for lingerie. I would expect 1/4″ or 3/8″ at the most. I trimmed them down before cutting.
The pattern instructions call for the majority of the construction to be done using french seams. I’m sorry, but WHAT? Do you really want a cup seam with two layers of fabric (including a textured stretch lace like they use in the example) to be finished with a bulky french seam? I serged, but since these stretch fabrics don’t fray you could easily use a small zig zag stitch too.
Since this pattern uses two layers of fabric, I can’t see any reason they didn’t just suggest that you use one of the many established techniques for lining a bra.
I added topstitching to keep my seam allowances laying flat. This was not suggested in the pattern.
- How do you like the pattern’s fit? Do you think the design works well for your particular body shape?
I’m not sure I can honestly speak to the fit of the pattern as designed, since I made so many modifications and there was no direction given on choosing a size. However, the foam I lined the cups with has a similar stretch percentage to the fabrics they used in their example, so I think the cups should be fitting as designed. In which case, they are incredibly flattening and not at all flattering. The cups don’t allow for hardly any projection. I have been wearing this bralette around the house a bit because I didn’t want to waste all those precious bra making supplies, but I would never wear it out in public because it doesn’t give a bust shape that I like.
Additionally, for me, the proportions are a bit off. The cup portion is too long and doesn’t sit well above the bust. The underbust band is too short and doesn’t provide any support.
- Will you make the pattern again? If so, what fit or design changes will you make?
I think its time to move on from this pattern. I would really like to find a fun bralette with some cup seaming that gives a nice shape AND has a great size range. For me, I think I may stick with hacking the Watson, but that isn’t very helpful for all my bustier friends. The search continues!
- Do you have any advice on this pattern for other curvy sewers? Are there any resources (blog posts, fitting books, tutorials) that helped you sew this piece up?
My advice is to NOT sew this pattern. Just kidding (sort of). I don’t think its necessarily poorly drafted, but the instructions and details aren’t thorough enough for many people to achieve a supportive bralette. I do think that if you are an experienced lingerie sewist, this pattern has the potential “making it work”. Its free, so it might be a good starting place for some hacks!
Pattern Rating (1-5, 1 is the lowest, 5 is the highest)
Size Range: 2 – It is not as large as advertised, but it does go up to size 22 which is a 48.5″ bust, its just unclear if that is for the A/B size or the C/D size. My guess is it will accommodate at least a 50″ bust if you use the larger cup size draft. I’ve deducted points because there are no details on how to figure out the correct size or which cup size draft goes with the measurement chart.
Instructions: 1 – I did not find the instructions to be detailed or to use the best lingerie making techniques
Construction Process: 2– The construction order makes sense, but the finishing techniques leave something to be desired.
Final Fit: 1 – I am not at all pleased with the final fit, and it took a lot of work to “make it work”
Overall Rating: 1.5- The search continues!