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That initial blog post sparked a lot of interest in how I created a built-in shelf bra for my rashie. So today’s tutorial is dedicated to showing you my exact steps for doing that!
How to Add a Padded Shelf Bra
- Jalie Valerie Rashguards, CA$12.98/PDF Download
- Assortment of Nylon/Spandex Tricot: Phee Fabrics, $11.50/yd
This tutorial uses the Jalie Valerie pattern, but you can adapt the steps to your preferred form fitting rashguard pattern.
Determine the location of your bust line and where it corresponds on the pattern. From my previous experience sewing up the Jalie Valerie and using my petite alterations protocol for appropriate adjustments, my bust line falls 1.5″ below the end point of the front panel’s armscye. Draw a straight line through the front panel to mark your bust line.
Mark the pattern’s seam allowances.
Overlap the front panel and the side panel along the seam allowance lines. Following the curvature of the front panel piece is optional.
Determine the distance between your bust line and where you want the upper edge of your lower band to fall. For me, this distance is 3.5″. Draw this line through both the front panel piece and the side panel piece.
Draw a line from the upper edge of the lower band that accounts for your lower elastic band. If you choose to use 3/8″ elastic to fold over, then the distance from your upper edge line (from Step 4) will be 3/4″. If you choose to use exposed 1″ elastic (without folding it over and as shown in my Jalie one piece swimsuit), then the distance from your upper edge line (from Step 4) will be 1″.
Trace out your pattern piece using the boundary created in Step 5. Make sure to transfer the bust line and the upper edge of the lower band line onto your new pattern piece. Then, cut your pattern out of the lining fabric (along the center front fold) and transfer your markings to your lining piece.
Determine the apex-to-apex distance between your breasts (i.e. distance between the nipples). On your new lining piece, mark half that distance from the center front along the bust line.
Align your swimwear cup with the bust point. The apex of the cup corresponds with the bust point.
Pin your cups to your lining piece.
Zig-zag stitch the cups to your lining piece 1/8″ away from the perimeter of the cup.
After stitching both cups all the way around, turn your assembly over and trim away the lining on the concave side of the cups. Trim close to the zig-zag stitches, but be careful to not snip a stitch. I like to use duck-billed applique scissors for this step.
Note: The concave side of the assembly will be the side that touches your body.
On the concave side, align your elastic with the bottom edge of your lining piece. If you are using 1″ elastic, align the lower edge of the elastic with the bottom edge of the lining piece. Attach the elastic using a very wide zig-zag stitch, three step zig-zag stitch, or a serpentine stitch.
Stretching the elastic is not necessary, but feel free to stretch as needed if you prefer a tighter fit along the lower band for more support.
Finally, sew this into your rash guard pattern as if it was just an extra piece of lining. In other words, assemble your pattern as given in the instructions.
I did not add 1″ band elastic for my rashie, but I did use it for a Jalie one piece swimsuit:
I used two rows of serpentine stitches to attach the elastic to the lower edge of my shelf bra.
When applying this method, just remember to be assertive when you manipulate the cups. You do not have to treat the cups delicately.
I’ll talk to you soon!