Is there anything more gorgeous than an all lace bra?
Orange Lingerie just released its latest sewing pattern, the Berkeley Bra and, of course, I purchased it right away. The pattern is only available as a PDF download and prints easily on a home printer. Because bra pattern pieces are small, I only taped one pattern piece together. If only all PDF patterns were so easy to assemble!
The Berkeley is my second Orange Lingerie bra pattern. I’m hopelessly devoted to the Marlborough Bra, a great starter bra pattern that I’ve made in stretch lace several times. (Read my pattern review here.)
If you’ve made the Marlborough, the Berkeley is constructed similarly and is an easy sew. So far, I’ve made two versions of the Berkeley. The first was sewn exactly as drafted and the second includes my fit modifications. Details on each and how the pattern measures up to my beloved Marlboroughs are below.
Berkeley No. 1
Pattern Cost: $16.99
Materials Cost: $25.00 (kit) & $2.50 (underwires)
The Berkeley Bra accommodates cup sizes A-DD and band sizes 30-40. I sewed up a 34DD. This is the same size I wear in the Marlborough. For reference, when I bought bras, I usually purchased a 36B.
I used an underwire bra kit from Tailor Made Shop. The kit included everything I needed with the exception of underwires. Those I purchased from Sweet Cups Bra Supply. I use regular wires in a size 40.
There are several pages of detailed instructions with line drawings illustrating each constructions step. They are clear and consistent with the construction process of the Marlborough. If you’ve sewn a Marlborough, you will be feel very comfortable sewing a Berkeley.
Sewing the bra was quick and problem-free. For someone with a little bra sewing experience, the Berkeley can be completed in a few hours.
The only modification to the pattern I made for this version was elongating the bra band. Although my underbust measurement is 34 inches, I often find size 34 bands too tight around my ribcage. This is consistent across RTW and bras I sew for myself. I checked the length of the band pattern piece against the length of a bra band that I currently wear and find comfortable. The pattern piece was quite a bit shorter. I split the band pattern piece and added about an inch.
Adding this length meant the bra strap needed to be moved from its original position in order to fit well. I moved it towards the clasp of the bra by about 1/2 inch.
My favorite construction detail is the criss-cross elastic at the bottom of the band. It looks so pretty inside the bra.
In order to achieve clean seam lines on the outside of the bra, the power bar is located inside the bra cups and is not sewn down along its innermost edge. I am skeptical that it’s doing much structurally when I wear the bra.
I don’t expect any lingerie pattern to fit perfectly straight out of the envelope. I think that’s unrealistic. Because everyone’s body is so different and bras require such a precise fit, I take it as a given that some adjustments will need to be made.
Surprisingly, the Berkeley pattern produced a pretty decent fit with only my slight band and bra strap modifications. I only had two fit issues:
- The top cup gaped and pulled where it attached to the strap.
- The side of the bra rose up too high into my armpit.
In the past, my initial attempts at bra patterns have not made it into my lingerie drawer, but this one is a decent enough fit to put into regular rotation. I will take a little tuck in the top cup to eliminate the gaping. It won’t be perfect, but it will be wearable.
Berkeley No. 2
Pattern Cost: None! Already purchased.
Materials Cost: $2.50 (underwires) & $16.00 (bra findings kit)
I sewed up a 34DD again.
Style wise, I went in a completely different direction for this Berkeley. I love leopard and binge on leopard clothing, fabric, and accessories each fall. It’s basically a neutral, right? I went all out leopard with this sexy feline-inspired lace!
I used some leftover lace from a kit purchased from Sweet Cups Bra Making Supplies. They still have the fabric kit in stock here ($18.00). You can also purchase the lace separately here for $6.95/meter. A findings kit and underwires from Sweet Cups were also used. If you decide to sew the Berkeley using the finding kit from Sweet Cups, be aware of the fact there is not enough bra strap elastic in the kit for this pattern. Luckily, I had a second kit and stole the bra strap elastic out of it for this make.
I made two adjustments.
- I pinched about an inch out of the top of the bra cups.
- I redrew the line of the bra where it lies under my arm. To do this, I used the directions in Orange Lingerie’s book. Everything seemed to fit back together, so I think I did it right!
My second Berkeley fits well, but there is still some pulling at the straps. I’m going to do some bra-making research and see how it might be eliminated.
The bust line this bra creates isn’t quite as round and perky as my Marlboroughs. I think the insertion of the power bar inside the upper and lower cups gives less support on the sides of the breast. The result is a slightly flat silhouette. Not terrible, but not the curvy perfection I’ve gotten used to in my other me-mades.
I was surprised this bra fit pretty well sewn as drafted.
Although it’s close, the fit still isn’t exactly where I want it. I’ll make at least one more version with some additional tweaks to the fit focusing on the top cups.
Overall, it fits better than RTW and I love the way it shows off lace. The Marlborough is still my favorite, but the Berkeley is a solid addition to my lingerie wardrobe.