As promised, I am here with the strappy back bra hack! I first saw this RTW bra from Valleau Apparel while perusing Pinterest for active-wear inspiration for our new athletic fabric line. It was insta-love and I knew I had to recreate it!
For both of my versions, I used our Premium Athletic knits which can be found here. The fabric is so easy to sew with and provides a great amount of support. Okay, let's get to the fun part!
What you will need:
- Pneuma Tank pattern from Papercut Patterns
- 1/4 yard of outer fabric and 1/4 yard of lining fabric (I used 2 layers of the athletic fabric for the Vivacious Blossoms print and beige power mesh for the Pink Propulsion print)
- Approximately 1 yard of non-roll 1" elastic
Preparing the pattern:
Let's start with the front bra pattern piece. If you look at the RTW bra, the neckline is much lower than the pattern sample and the tabs, where the bra straps connect, are also a completely different shape. What we need to do is lower the neckline and reshape those tabs. While you are re-drawing these lines, you will not alter the side seam at all, you want to keep that seam allowance and height the same.
Here, is the shaping I have settled on after making a couple versions (the tab is actually a bit lower than the dark line on my pattern, that turned out to be a bit too high.) This is a bit of "trial and error" here so I recommend making a practice version to work out any kinks in the shaping here.
The back pattern piece is really simple. Instead of cutting our fabric on the fold like the pattern directs, we will be removing 1.5" off from that side. This is where the 3 horizontal straps will connect both sides of the bra. We will also shift the marking for the strap more to the right and closer to the other strap (1.5" away from the right notch on the pattern.) Next, we also need to mark where the horizontal bands will be sitting on the back piece. Each band will be 1" wide and have 1/4" spacing in between. Starting from the bottom make your first mark at 1" and continue your way up marking for a total of 3 straps.
You will need the following pieces:
- 2 front pieces; 1 from lining and 1 from you outer fabric
- 4 back pieces; 2 mirrored pieces from each your lining and outer fabrics
- 3 back bands, 3.5" wide by 2.5" tall (greatest stretch going width-wise)
- 1- 58" (or WOF) by 1.5" tall (greatest stretch going width-wise); this will be your bra strapping.
Our first step is to sew/serge our 3 back band pieces (along the 3.5" side) and the bra strapping, then turn them right side out and give it a little press with your iron (on the LOW heat or synthetic fabric setting and no steam). We are also going to sew the side seams of the outside and lining pieces.
Next, we are going to pin and baste the back bands in place using our back pattern piece to help with placement. Take it on over to the machine and using your longest straight stitch, baste these straps in place.
Now, we are going to figure out strap lengths. You can attempt to do this by yourself but it's much easier with help! So grab your significant other, and while holding the strapping to the bra front at the little peak, have them pull the strap across your back. When you feel comfortable with the resistance, measure the piece and cut 4 straps of the same length. Now we are going to pin and baste these straps in place but with a little weaving to make the fun criss-cross design. To better explain this, here is a video of the process.
After all the straps are basted, this is what your bra should look like.
Now we are going to take the lining and the outside bra and pin them right sides together with all the strapping sandwiched in between. Do this carefully to make sure the straps won't be tacked down in the top seam. Take it over to your sewing machine and using a stretch stitch sew from one end of the back to the other end of the back.
*** I strongly suggest sewing this part on your sewing machine opposed to serger because of the curves and extra layers.
Next, we need to enclose the the back bands in between the outside and lining pieces. To do this, you will work on each side one at a time and carefully clip/pin the layers together, then sew using your machines stretch stitch. Clip the corner at the top band to allow the corner to lay flat when turning it right side out. After both sides are completed, turn your bra right side out.
All we have left to do is add the elastic! Measure the bottom band of your bra and cut the elastic to that measurement. However, if your under bust is smaller than the bottom of the bra, you may need to make the elastic shorter. Be sure to account for the 3" back band gap. Now once you figure out the best elastic length, clip/pin it to the wrong side of the bottom of your bra and serge/sew it in place (if sewing, use a stretch stitch).
Next, we are going to fold it up and sew it in place. I used a wide zig-zag to sew it in place but you can also use your cover-stitch machine if you prefer. Then just tack down the open ends of the elastic casing and you are finished!
Wear it, test it out and then make a few more. If you make one from our tutorial, we would love to see it! Tag us on Instagram @surgefabricshop and/or share it in our Facebook group!