Sunday, June 28, 2020

Strappy sports bras: Greenstyle Sports Power Bra

Ever since shelter-in place began, my usual spin and lift workouts have been out of the question, so I've gone back to running and yoga. Running is higher impact, and free at-home yoga involves looking at young, sleek youtube yoga instructors wearing the cute clothes of their sponsors. 

All of that had me looking sadly upon the section of my drawers devoted to the ill-fitting sports-bras of another era of my life. Bras are the one area of my wardrobe which I do allow myself to buy, so I did actually attempt to buy one. After spending hours hopelessly attempting to gage fit and style on a computer screen, I finally selected one, paid, and settled down to wait only to get an email from the company-- sorry, out of stock, order cancelled. I took that as a sign that I should just rise to the challenge of making my own. How hard can it be?

The Greenstyle Power Sports Bra struck me as the kind of strappy sports bra I was looking for, it has lots of great reviews. Many years ago I made the Greenstyle Sundance Jacket and it was a great pattern, I've been meaning to make another in a less flashy print. 

My usual measurements put me at a 36 band F cup, but then I realized it said to measure with a good-fitting sports bra on. Well, I don't have one of those, that's why I'm making the pattern! So I used my tape measure to estimate the kind of compression I wanted, and that put me at a D cup. 

Early version with  2 inch elastic that was far too tight.

I jumped right in with no muslin, and fortunately the fit on the bust was excellent. The fit on the band, however, was so tight that I couldn't breathe properly! For the 36" band size it has you cut a 30" piece of elastic, which seems rather tight. In my elastic it was unbearable. I'm not sure exactly how long my elastic was when I got it right, but it was more like 1-2 inches of negative ease, and I haven't had any problems with the elastic riding up. 

I also ended up swapping out the 2" elastic for a standard 1" elastic. I like the look of the 2" elastic, it gives it a sort of longline look, but it cuts into my round belly that starts right under my bust. 

There is no powermesh or any fancy support fabric in this bra, just clear elastic sewn into the seams. I've probably overthought the issue of support, having read all about different types of power mesh and how you can overlap them in different directions, etc, and that might well be very necessary for some people. However this bra is totally supportive for me, there is almost no unwanted movement while jogging. 

I made a couple construction changes. One is that the instructions have you sew on the band in such a way that it would leave an exposed seam under the bust, and that didn't sound very comfortable. I looked around for another method, and ended up using the method Jalie uses for the Coco Sports Bra. I haven't sewn the Coco, but it is next on my sportsbra list. It's hard to describe, but you basically sew the casing to the lining, then sew the elastic to the other side of the the casing. Then you roll the elastic up in the casing until it is covering the seam allowance of the outside fabric and top stitch it down. The Jalie instructions are available in the pattern listing. It worked really well for me, and the inside is seam-free. 

In fact, the inside finish is so clean on this bra that I put the pink one on inside out for these pictures! You can tell because the seam on the band doesn't look totally level, like it does on the right side of the bra, and also you can see the seamed side of the straps.

Speaking of the straps, that's another area where the instructions didn't work for me. If you are making skinny straps, you can use bra strapping, but I think it looks nice to make covered elastic straps that match my fabric perfectly. They use a method I've seen before, where you stitch the casing wrong sides together with the elastic lined up at the edge. However, I was thrown by the suggestion to use clear elastic (which is not what is shown in the photos in the pattern), and by the fact that a seam allowance is shown. It took me 4 tries to make a good strap, which was super frustrating. I ended up swapping clear elastic for swimwear elastic, and trimming the seam allowance before turning, because leaving it made an ugly, bumpy strap. Next time I'll just follow one of the many tutorials available on the web. 

The other area that didn't work for me was the suggestion to trip 1/4 off of the bottom of the lining. I understand the idea of trying to make the lining a tiny bit smaller so that seam allowances pull to the inside, but cutting it off of the bottom only made the whole thing sort of lumpy. The pink one was my second try, and I didn't cut anything off of my lining and it all lays much flatter. If I was doing a real contrast lining, I think I'd just trim a scant 1/8 off all edges of the lining instead. 

Anyhow, one could say that I ironed out my difficulties with my first run (the gray bray) and in the second try with the pink bra, and it all came together very quickly in a satisfying manner! I'm very pleased to finally have some new sports bras that fit perfectly, provide great support, and fulfill my desire to have cute strappy bras!

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