One of the most common questions we get about our patterns is whether or not it is possible to use our Sophie Swimsuit to make a bra. The answer is 100% yes, and I have a very pretty example here to prove it. If you have the pattern, you are only a very few simple modifications away from making your own Sophie bra.
I’ve had plans for this hack for a while and have been slowly collecting notions for it. I wanted to make a romantic tone-on-tone light blush number using some of the leftover yardage from our original swim kits (I also used this fabric for the sample of the bustier style one piece sample). This stuff is seriously amazing; it has a super hefty, satisfying weight, and I love the print in a contrasting matte/satin brocade floral.
I’ve had the strap and band elastics for a while, and managed to eke out the powernet band with a tiny scrap from my bra making fabric box (I can’t remember where it came from… the beauty of being a full-on bra-making hoarder). I also chose some gold hardware to offset the warmth of the blush fabric. Unfortunately I only had nude bra closures in my kit – it doesn’t quite match but I ordered some matching ones form Bramaker’s Supply if I ever decide to unpick it and reinstall.
As much as I love this fabric, it can be challenging to sew since it shows every single tiny mistake, and it’s a real jerk to unpick. But this is the beauty of making under-garments, amiright?
For the inside I went nude for the cups, lining, seam tape and channelling.
The only sad thing is that this bra is currently too small for me! I used the same pattern pieces for all the personal Sophie swimsuits I made last year but as I’ve mentioned in my recent bra-making post here, I’ve gone up an entire cup and underwire size this year. Right now this is hanging up on our sample rack giving me baleful eyes… hopefully one day I can actually wear it without totally spilling out.
HOW TO MAKE A SOPHIE BRA
You only need to make a few subtle changes to the bridge and band to turn your bikini top into a bra. The pieces affected are the cradle and the band; here is how they appear in the pattern as drafted.
You’ll want to modify your pieces more or less like I explain below:
CRADLE: Adding a little curved scoop under the bottom cradle seam is flattering and a classic bra drafting detail. The bottom of the new line should be about 1/2″ higher than the existing and should softly curve into the side seams.
BAND: Unless you are sewing the bra straps straight down along the width of the band, you’ll want to scoop out the top narrow edge of the band to accommodate a bra strap. You can see in the image below how the strap is integrated into the back band construction. You can shorten the band a bit since it won’t be as long with the added width of the hook and eye tape. I eyeballed this (also adding a bit of a curve to the bottom seam), but you can trace off an existing pattern or copy a well fitting bra. I don’t think it’s really necessary to muslin this as long as you leave the band a tiny bit longer than you think you need; you can baste on the hook and eye and see if it needs to be trimmed or not. The final width of the seam along center back should be the width of your hook and eye tape once the elastic has been installed.
CHANGES TO SEWING CONSTRUCTION
A lot of the construction stays the same, the biggest change being the way the elastic is inserted. In the swimsuit, it is enclosed in the fabric. With a bra, it is sewn to the right side first, folded over and topstitched into place so you can see the decorative edge of the elastic. Once the channelling was sewn closed, I folded the elastic as neatly as possible over the channelling before zig zagging it down into place to secure.
I also enclosed the foam cup seams with bra lining seam tape; it’s a much finer finish than leaving the zig zagging stitches in place. To do this I folded strips of bra lining into thirds, and then topstitched them on either side of the zigzagged seam to enclose it (this could be a very pretty detail in a contrasting lining). For the bra straps, I folded over a little bit of elastic with a ring and then topstitched it the cup, but I also like this tutorial from Orange Lingerie to create a completely invisible strap hook.
Hopefully this all makes sense! It’s not a difficult modification and it’s a simple way to take a well fitting pattern and create another application for it.
If you’re intimidated by sewing an underwired garment, you might want to sign up for my Sophie Swimsuit class this spring. I walk you through the entire construction of an underwired swimsuit from start to finish, and most of the skills taught easily apply to bra-making.
Have you made a Sophie bra yet? Any other questions about constructing this lady?