I spent the evening watching "Field of Dreams" and sewing maxi dress BWOF 7-09 #124B to demonstrate how I made the shelf bra. I am sew in love with this pattern! I know I do not need a closetful of maxi dresses, especially not with halter necklines, but this dress is so comfortable. I used a poly knit that was left over from a Maggie London twist dress I made a couple years ago. So on to the tutorial.
First I cut out the front of the dress
The next thing I did was take measurements for the shelf bra. I looked at several different shelf bras in RTW garments. The type of fabric used for the bras varied depending on the purpose of the garment. My exercise tops had shelf bras constructed with powernet. Some had bra cups, others not. For this dress I chose to use a Lycra jersey with a small amount of spandex. There is a little stretch across the grain, but along the grain is stable. The two measurements I took were from the top of the bodice to the bottom of my bust. The other measurement I took was side to side measurement below my bust. This measurement is a skin tight measure because you want the shelf bran to hug your body and support the girls.
Next I cut out the shelf bra using the shape of the bodice and the top of bodice to below bust measurement. I added 1 inch to allow for the casing that would be turned under for the tie.
I then cut 1/2" off both side seams. I did not grade the armscye as this portion will be smaller by virtue of the side seam grading. The curve is on the bias of the shelf bra so it eases in nicely. At this time you could add bra cups if you choose. Next I add the elastic to the bottom of the shelf bra. I use the side to side measurement minus 1" for the elastic. I used a nice non-roll 1" elastic. Next I attached the elastic to the bottom of the shelf bra using a coverstitch. It will be smaller than the shelf bra so you need to hold tension on the elastic to evenly gather the fabric as you sew it on. You can also use a triple stitch zig-zag if you don't have a coverstitch machine (I sometimes do that when I'm too lazy to change from serged seams to coverstitch) Either way gives you a nice finish.
Baste the shelf bra to the top of the bodice with the finished side of the shelf bra towards the body. Next I sewed the side seams catching the shelf bra in the seams. I finished the armscye and back by turning under and coverstitching along the edge. I attached the ties and finished the sides of the wrap in the same manner. Lastly I turned under the halter casing and stitched with coverstitch and finished the hem. Here's what the finished shelf bra looks like.
Here's the finished dress. I think I will retire this pattern for awhile.
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