Making the Sahaara Bra for the 2024 Bra Bee Conference

by Estelle Puleston
My Rubies Sahaara bra for International Bra Sewing Bee

This article is sponsored by International Bra Sewing Bee.

Did you know that there’s an annual online conference for bra-makers and wannabe bra-makers? I didn’t, until International Bra Sewing Bee contacted me and suggested I might like to try one of their online classes. And I thought that sounded super fun!

For those of you who don’t know, I used to make and sell lingerie on a small scale, so I’m not entirely new to this. But I am very much out of practice. My sewing nowadays is mostly limited to repairs, or tailoring things I buy such as shortening hems and taking in waistbands. I think the last time I created anything entirely from scratch was when I upcycled our old dining room tablecloth into a groceries bag, almost exactly one year ago; I don’t even recall when I last sewed lingerie, or any type of clothing for that matter.

I just don’t have much time for it any more. But if I did, sewing would absolutely be one my hobbies. I love the feeling of starting with a sheet of fabric and slowly watching it transform into a 3D garment, and of ending up with something that you know is truly one of a kind. So, I was glad to ‘have’ to sew some lingerie once again, and to have the opportunity to refresh my skills and maybe even pick up some new ones.

Making the Rubies Bras Sahaara bra on my sewing machine

About the Bra Bee conference

Running from April 13th to May 18th, the 2024 Bra Bee Conference gives you access to three pre-recorded ‘sew alongs’, a full day of live classes, and multiple other events. Over the five weeks, you’ll learn things like how to adapt patterns, pick the ideal underwires for your body, nail the perfect band fit and sew the perfect ruffle, plus have access to the conference’s online community where you can chat to other beginner or more advanced bra makers.

If you’ve never sewn a bra before, there’s a special Beginner Experience for $30 extra which starts a little earlier on March 30th, and gives you full access to the conference plus guides you through making the Sahaara bralette, which is the one I’ve made here. There’ll be a live class on getting the right materials, plus weekly group check-ins where you can get feedback and advice as you progress through the project.

Interested in taking part? You can use my affiliate links below to get your tickets now:

(For either one, use code 24ESTY5 to save $5!)

Making the Sahaara bra

The sewing pattern

The Sahaara bra pattern was designed by Rubies Bras, and covers US sizes 24AA to 46F (UK 24AA to 46E). It’s a wirefree bralette and can be cut out in a choice of three lengths, depending on whether you want to trim the band with fold-over elastic, trim it with wider elastic (as I have done), or create an elastic-free longline.

Bra Sewing Bee Beginner Experience - Sahaara bra materials

The materials

Although the video tutorial recommends using stretch satin, duplex or microduplex which are all solid fabrics, I remembered I had 2m of this fabulously sparkly, ‘old gold’ coloured lace already and couldn’t resist. I think I originally bought it for a babydoll that never got made, and it happened to have just the right level of stretch.

The powernet, elastics, hardware pieces and thread came from a mixture of raiding my sewing stash (I may not sew lingerie anymore, but I still have a cupboard full of materials for it!) and online shopping, hence they are not a perfect colour match but I think I managed to pull together a fairly cohesive selection. In hindsight though, I do wish I’d made the effort to find a thread in the same shade as the elastics instead of just using the closest thing I had.

Sewing the Rubies Bras Sahaara bralette - finished cups

Sewing the cups

Using the guide in the video, I started out by measuring myself as a 30D (more on that later!) which is one cup size down from my usual. After printing out the relevant pages from the pattern and cutting out my materials, it was time to start with the bra cups. There’s not much to say here – these were the easiest part of the Sahaara bra, and I think they turned out quite nicely.

Sewing the band

The first hurdle I ran into was attaching my newly-made bra cups to the cradle. Once the first cup was on, getting the second cup to line up perfectly was tricky; I ended up with a slightly wonky centre-front, but it wasn’t the end of the world since I was already planning to add a decorative charm here that would detract attention from it. It was small though, so I took another look through my sewing stash and found a much larger gold-tone decoration that completely hid this section.

I couldn’t make my mind up between the two, since I’m intending to make a matching knicker and the larger charm (I had two of them) would be a bit bulky there. But I asked my Instagram audience for advice and the poll results were a clear 82% in favour of the larger option, so big charm detail it was!

Sahaara bra make front panel with two decoration options
My imperfect centre-front and the two charm options to disguise the uneveness.

For the wings of the bra, the material needed to be powermesh (for a firmer fit and better support) but I wanted the lace to carry all the way through to the back. Especially because I didn’t have time to try to dye the powermesh to match. So I deviated from the tutorial a little, using the powermesh as a lining and cutting out a second piece in lace, which I tacked together before attaching them to the cradle.

Sahaara bra side panels in powermesh and stretch lace
My double back panels in powermesh and lace, which I basted together with red stitches so I could easily see the thread to remove it later.

After attaching the wings and finishing the upper edge with fold-over elastic, it was time to add the bottom edge elastic. I’d originally planned to use a wider one but since my bralette was already a mish-mash of a few different colours, I changed my mind and used the same 19mm wide elastic I’d bought for the straps.

I did make a mistake here, which was using the wrong stitch length on the first pass through the sewing machine – seen across the lower band here. I could have unpicked and redone it but decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. It’s still a secure row of stitching and I think it could pass for an aesthetic decision if you didn’t know better!

Finishing the Sahaara bra band with elastic

Sewing the straps

The most finnicky part of this whole bra make was the shoulder straps. The tutorial walks you through making straps that are fabric at the front but notes you can just use elastic for the entire strap. Initially, I’d planned to do that since this striped elastic I found is a pretty one. But right at the last minute, the idea of matching golden lace straps won out.

Since slightly-stretchy lace isn’t the strongest fabric and the straps needed to be sufficiently supportive, I first backed it with something else. After sewing the tubes you need to turn them inside out, and this is where I almost gave up and went back to the original plan; the video made it look so easy but, I guess due to the fabric difference, mine just weren’t having any of it. I actually ended up having to make a third strap, after one of the first two turned into a tangled ball of materials with a bent safety pin somewhere in the middle of it.

I got there in the end. They’re not the neatest, but I enjoy the additional lace (never too much lace, right?) so I’m glad I went through the effort this time. Next time I will stick to elastic!

The finished lace shoulder straps

The finished bra

The last stage was finishing up the back of the bra by attaching the strap elastic and adding the hook-and-eye closure. This was easy enough although I should have paid more attention to my powermesh lining – there was a section around 1cm long where it didn’t quite catch on the zig-zag stitch at the edge of the elastic, so rather than unpick and redo it I decided to add a second zig-zag stitch inside the first (visible on the back photo below) and call it a decorative detail.

Yes, I took a few liberties with the instructions, and made a few mistakes here and there, but I still ended up with something that’s perfectly wearable:

International Bra Sewing Bee - the final lace bra make
The back of the final lace bra make

The fit

After all that sewing, the moment of truth had arrived. Did this bralette fit? I tried it on and… reader, it was at this point that I realised I’d measured myself wrong at the very beginning. That was entirely my fault; the instructions are clear. All I can say in my defence is that I measured myself and popped out to get the pattern printed first thing in the morning on the day I began sewing, and I am very much not a morning person.

I should have made this in a 28D or even 26D, not a 30D. The cups fit great, the band a little looser than I’d ideally like. Which just goes to show that the Sahaara bra pattern would have been spot on had I cut out the right pieces of it! But I’d still give the fit of the bra I made an 8.5 out of 10, and will definitely wear it just as soon as I’ve made those matching knickers.

Final thoughts

Construction-wise, this isn’t the best bralette I’ve ever made; I’m too out of practice. But as someone whose last bra make was, oh, maybe five years ago? I think I did an okay job. And frankly, it was just fun to be creating lingerie again after so long. I’m already feeling inspired make another, perhaps using the longline version of this pattern since I have more of this gorgeous sparkly lace and it has a scalloped edge. And in the right size this time!

Are you feeling inspired to try making a Sahaara bra for yourself? Remember, if sign up for the Bra Bee Beginner Experience, you’ll get expert guidance all the way through the process, so hopefully yours can be 100% mistake-free even if it’s your first ever bra. And if you already have a few bra makes under your belt, you can still sign up for the main conference event to learn new techniques, refine your skills, and meet a community of likeminded bra-making enthusiasts.

($5 off either with code 24ESTY5)

Here’s someone else’s Sahaara bra in floral-embroidered tulle, which is just gorgeous. Which fabric and colour palette would you make this Sahaara bra in? And would you make this version of it, or the longline one?

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