Sewing Projects


I have piles and piles of new handmade things to show you, but the light and weather have confounded me at every turn (no shivering for me out in 2 feet of snow, thank you). Thankfully bras are easy to throw on the dress form, even if it is overcast out and you’re starting to actually worry about Vitamin D deficiency. Apparently this is a real thing I need to get myself checked for, since the only bit of skin exposed to the sun lately is whatever is not concealed by my big parka hood (are you tired of hearing me complain about winter in Montreal yet? Well don’t worry, it’s only going to last for four more months.)

Whining aside: on to my New Year Boobolutions! This here is another addition to my sad and neglected lingerie drawer: the Boylston Bra from Orange Lingerie.

Boylston Bra in Liberty Print Tana Lawn // Closet Case Patterns Boylston Bra in Liberty Print Tana Lawn // Closet Case Patterns

This pattern has been on my hit list for a while. I absolutely love the cut and style lines (it’s got a vintage vibe, but with soft round shaping instead of dreaded 50s cone boobs), and I was very keen to try using a non-traditional bra-making fabric since I’ve seen many versions in lightweight wovens. I also thought it was a good excuse to dip my toe in the Liberty pond; in general their prints are not for me, but I think this small scale floral is perfect for this application (nabbed at Gather Here in Boston last year).

Everything they say about Tana lawn is true; it’s dreamy stuff and works surprisingly well for a bra. It’s a little more crisp and structured than traditional bra knits,  which means it doesn’t glide over the body as smoothly. You really need to make sure the fit is spot on before playing around with a woven. Cue sad trombone.

Boylston Bra in Liberty Print Tana Lawn // Closet Case PatternsBoylston Bra in Liberty Print Tana Lawn // Balconette cup bra // Closet Case PatternsBoylston Bra in Liberty Print Tana Lawn // Bra strap // Closet Case Patterns

So… my secret size shame. Did I get a quick fitting with Norma herself? Yes. Did I listen to her and make the size she recommended? Why no, no I didn’t. For some reason, even though we decided that I was decidedly a 36D in the Marlborough, I stubbornly stuck to my traditional bra size for this make and it shows. I widened the bridge slightly (my ladies are very far apart), but unfortunately I get some major under armpit fat spillage (enticing!) since I don’t have enough room for my breast tissue and it’s basically trying to make a run for it in every other direction. Alas, the cup is a little too small, and the band a little too tight.

Now, I would have just assumed that Norma’s sizing is a little different than what I’m used to, but wouldn’t you know, Amy at Cloth Habit sent me her beautiful soon to be released underwired bra pattern and I have the exact same cup issue! I think I have to acknowledge that the ten or so pounds I’ve put on since figuring out my bra size a few years ago is having a real effect on fit for me. I absolutely adore this style so I will be resolutely making another in the size Norma suggested from the beginning.

Boylston Bra in Liberty Print Tana Lawn // Bra back // Closet Case Patterns Boylston Bra in Liberty Print Tana Lawn // Closet Case Patterns


Minor nitpicking about not-quite-perfect-fit aside, this bra makes me happy. It’s just so pretty, especially with the straps and rose gold sliders salvaged from a previous Tailor Made kit. I love how it looks inside and out, and I know what to tweak for my next crack at it. It’s definitely wearable, but I’m excited to give the girls a little more room the next go round. I’m also very curious to compare the shape between the Bolyston and the Sophie Swimsuit bra I’ve been working on. Sophie has a different neckline and a rounder shape; it might be fun to do some side by side fit comparisons since they are both 3 piece balconette styles, albeit with different design intents and purposes.

In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for stretch poly charmeuse; my favourite colour way sold out in the recent Tailor Made sale, so please let me know if you know a good source for prints! I love how romantic this pattern is in satin charmeuse.

Has anyone else sewn a Bolyston, or experimented with using a woven like Tana lawn? Please tell me how it went!

  • Its very pretty! Shame about the size but at least it is still wearable. I’m halfway through making a Boylston myself, must finish it off this weekend! It looks such a versatile pattern for different fabrics.

  • sewlajupe

    This is so pretty!! I really need to step out of my comfort zone and learn how to make lingerie! Thank you for the motivation 🙂

    • The first bra will probably be a hot mess (mine was!) but it’s so fun to see yourself getting better at each one, and honestly they’re one of my favourite things to make now since they are pretty quick and satisfying to crank out in a night.

  • What a shame about the sizing – it’s so beautiful and well made! I’ve never made a bra but I do have the Ohhh Lulu Grace undie pattern on my list as it uses a combination of knit fabric and woven cut on the bias if you’re looking for a pattern to make matching smalls.

    • I hate making underwear. I can only wear seamless styles because #booty and sewing stretch lace tape is my least favourite ever. So nothing matches ever but I do love my Soma undies so at least I’m comfy 😉

  • Quinn May

    As a fellow Canadian, I always say you should only complain about one season… if it’s the heat you hate, then go ahead and complain. If it’s the cold you hate, then have at ‘er in the winter… but no one wants to hear a person complain all year ’round. I personally chose winter as I very much dislike being cold.

    I purchased your Dream Jeans class, and my mom even said she may do it with me! I’m scared and nervous, but I’m trusting you when you told us that it is for any level of sewist and that you will help us get to the end with our heads still attached!

    I’m also now super inspired to try my own bra making! My problem is that I REALLY need a hands-on course in learning to make a pattern fit me specifically. I need someone there beside me to walk me through it. Ah… someday!

    • Mary

      The fairy bra mother has an on-line course available on etsy.

      • I feel the same way and try not to complain about summer. To be honest, I can generally get through winter but now that I have dogs it’s WAY more of a headache. I find myself much more conscious of weather now that I have the little guys to think about. Also I second Mary – you should take an online class with Beverly Johnson aka the Fairy Godmother – she’s a real guru!

  • That is pretty enough I think you can suffer the fit to wear it. Nice of me to volunteer you for that, huh?

    I think I’ve only used Liberty lawn for one (1) ONE ‘outside’ clothing item*. All the rest has been slips and tanks and camis and boxers (oh lord, they are soooooo pretty and soft) for me and others. So making a bra from this just seems so friggin obvious; of COURSE you’d make the cups, straps and band from the pretty stuff. Half that lingerie lace doesn’t stretch, or you’re controlling stretch in it to maintain structure..

    * that one shirt (used a Breuer chair print) really wants layering, or interlining for more body.

    • I can’t handle those prints on outside clothes. Too small and fussy but perfect perfect perfect for drawers!

  • The Bolyston runs very small. I made one in a woven with foam cup lining and the band measured 26″ on a size 38DD bra. So I couldn’t fit into (barely) until I lost 40 more pounds.

    • WOW! Good to know. That’s quite a difference!

  • Sad trombone? Maybe more like a plaintive trumpet solo from Mo’ Better Blues …
    Such a beautiful combo… do you have enough to do it again? Natasha knows bra sizing like crazy: if she says it fits small -it does… so don’t take the size personally, try again!

    • hahahaha! I totally have enough to make another so i’m not too sad. Just need to find a small boobed girlfriend to give it to!

  • This is so gorgeous! I have some Liberty print too and might steal your idea if I ever get around to finally making a bra. That and your Ginger jeans are on my to do list this year. Things are going great with the jeans so far. What a great pattern you have made there. Not sure why it’s taken me so long to get the nerve to sew some as it is much easier than I thought it would be!

    • I’m so happy to hear that! I think once you get over the initial hump it is a total blast.

  • I love sewing with tana lawn – and this is such a beautiful bra Heather! Love the lines of the Boylston pattern. Shame about the sizing… It’s such a close fit thing that slight fluctuations in weight can have a massive difference (ask me how I know!!! haha). Looking forward to reading about a well fitting bra that’s as pretty as this lovely x

    • It won’t be major work to get the fit right. And I need underwire bras badly right now. Everything I own is basically decomposing.

  • I have wondered about Sophie too – it looks like it would make a gorgeous well fitting bra. I’m excited to see a post about that. This bra is beautiful, you can’t really go wrong with Liberty, sorry it doesn’t fit.

  • Orange-Lingerie

    LOVE! This bra makes me SO happy! I am glad to hear that you have enough fabric to make another one in the recommended size 🙂

  • Nancy Karpen

    The experts do say to remeasure every year. It is a very pretty bra and I bet it’s gorgeously cool in the summer. Norma obviously knows how to figure sizes. I think from what I’ve been seeing, and Sigrid in the Netherlands has said that sewing a bra is quick, but getting the fit right? Like pants, rarely on the first try. Good luck on the next one.