Back in the Game (Fenway bra by Orange Lingerie)

Something new and actually made in 2017!  Not only that, it was made recently.  As in I’ve started sewing again!  I realize that this news is not actually cause for joy for others (or maybe you’re really happy to not have to listen to me complain about not sewing), but I’m just so glad to be out of that rut!

So it all started when I accidentally watched 15 minutes of the horror movie Oculus.  I don’t know what I was thinking, I was just flipping channels.  That night, while I lay awake in my bed at 4 am, bedside lamp on to ward off evil spirits, I pulled out my computer and started browsing the internet.  That’s when I came across the Fenway bra by Orange Lingerie.

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I’d seen the release of this pattern already, but I hadn’t really paid attention to it for some reason.  Probably because I hadn’t been sewing bras for a while.  Anyway, while I was avoiding staring into the mirror at the foot of my bed (are there any stories of haunted IKEA mirrors???!!! please say no), I realized that the Fenway had some pretty great details: full coverage, rounded shape, straps that are all elastic, and a partial band.  Plus I just loved the use of a sheer fabric for the upper cup!  I bought it, downloaded it, and then fantasized about bra-making as I fell asleep.

I usually stick to my ready-to-wear size when making my own bras, but that has always lead to a lot of cup alterations.  So this time I decided to try the pattern’s measurement method to choose my size.  I normally vary between a 36 C and D (in RTW), but for this pattern I measured a 38 DD.  Woweewow!  The pieces seemed too big, but I figured I’d give it a shot and see what happens.  And to prevent too much heartache over wasted lace, I made a muslin in some blue tricot I got in a grab bag from Sew Sassy.  After cutting it out, I fell in love with the cool-looking pattern pieces.  They look very futuristic, don’t they?

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Yep, I’ve got Star Trek patches.  I’m searching for the right pattern to put them on.  Thinking either a button-down or sweatshirt.

The sewing itself was pretty easy; if you have sewn any other underwire bra, you can sew this one.  While I’m not a huge fan of FOE (I find it kind of skimpy for larger sizes, especially without foam cups), I did like the method for applying it in the instructions: baste with a long straight stitch, fold over, narrow zig-zag through both layers, and remove basting.  And even though I made sure not to stretch the fabric or elastic while sewing, I’m pretty sure I stretched out the cup edges (so much gaping!).  When I compared the finished upper cup to the pattern piece, I measured that it had grown by about 1/2″ on the inside and outside neckline edges.

Norma mentioned in a blog post that it would be easy to switch to regular picot elastic simply by adding in the seam allowances on the edges that need them.  I’ll probably be doing this on my next version.

I also like that recommended stitch lengths and widths are given for applying the FOE and band elastic.  This wasn’t in the Boylston bra instructions, but I find it very helpful.

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One unique feature, in terms of supplies, is that this pattern requires four rings, instead of the usual two.  Two rings to attach the straps to the front/cups, and two to attach the straps to the back band.  This might be important to know in case you are using a bra kit, which usually only comes with two rings and two sliders.  If you are short on rings, though, I think you could probably get away with attaching the strap directly to the back band.

Ok, now the fit.  The band is very comfortable, and I’m glad I sized up if only to get that great fit across the front.  In the back it fits perfectly at the smallest hook, which means I probably need to take about a half inch out of the back band piece. (The band is actually a little more snug on my dress form than on my body.)

I got a lot of gaping at the edges of the cups, at both the neckline and underarm areas.  I marked a couple wedges in both areas, indicating the amount of length I want to take out.  I also wonder if some of the length/gaping is due to the stretchiness of the tricot.  I don’t think there’s any lycra in it, but it has quite a bit of mechanical give.  Much more than the duoplex I used for my first ever bra, or any of the sheer cup linings I’ve used.  I guess I’ll find out in my next (non-stretchy) version!

Finally, I felt the bra cups were too “long” or “tall” in general, so I redrew the horizontal seam a little lower. I think this will give the lower cup just the right amount of coverage if I use a sheer upper cup (or – gasp! – NO upper cup).  I also thought that the bridge came up slightly too high, so I may lower it about 1/4″ – 3/8″.

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I need to pad out my dress form, so this doesn’t really show you how it fits on my body all that well.  Not going to model it myself, though!

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When I see it on the form, I also notice just how long the cups look.  Of course, my cleavage fills it out and pulls down on the cups a bit (dress form’s bewbs are quite smaller than mine), but I’d like to get it looking more in proportion to the product images.

So now all that’s left to do is to update my pattern pieces and plan my “real” version!  Norma posted some great inspiration on her blog.  I just looooove the black strappy version!  I think I need to recreate it.  I’ve included that image, and some more bras with similar style lines that might be replicated with the Fenway.  Apparently I’m in a black mood.

Clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

She also has a tutorial up on how to use lace on the cups, which is making me think I’ll be falling down a bra-making rabbit hole pretty soon.

Anyone else sewing up the Fenway?  Or doing any bra sewing at all?

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5 thoughts on “Back in the Game (Fenway bra by Orange Lingerie)

  1. I’m so intrigued! Your inspiration bras are drool-worthy! I’m outside the cup size range, but I have a Fenway cut out for a friend. Just need to sew it up soon! I definitely have a love/hate relationship with FOE!

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    • Ahh I can’t wait to see what you make with this pattern! FOE is definitely not my fave, although it does go on super quickly. I was just thinking that most bra patterns suggest wider elastic for bigger sizes, so maybe it’s the standard 5/8″ width that’s the problem? I’ve only used the wider (1″) FOE with foam cup bras, but I might give it a try here!

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  2. Day off today – I’m planning to get to the Cloth Habit Harriet! I do like the Fenway back, though. It’s similar to some of my RTW favourites. Happy to see you’re inspired to sew again!

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