Playing Around With the Versatile Jackie Sports Bra

Guest Post by Ree of Fiery Darts

First things first—it’s the initial step that I sew, and the foremost thing that deserves a mention: the straps on the Jackie sports bra are amazing. These are definitely straps that I am going to hack into any other pattern that I can. They incorporate two different fabrics as well as strap elastic, so they are visually striking and give you a chance to continue design choices in an area of the make that is sometimes taken for granted. They are adjustable, and they are padded. A layer of foam padding is suggested, and if you have findings large enough to accommodate the foam, I highly recommend it! But even if your straps are thinner and only stabilized with non-stretch fabric (I used quilting cotton on one of mine), the cushion of fabric layers on the shoulders, and for me, my bony clavicle, is worth the extra effort.

Now more broadly, a sewing pattern is an investment: time, energy, materials, and purchase cost. It’s great when that investment pays off. Some patterns are quick and simple, and so a little victory makes a small investment worthwhile. The Jackie Sports Bra is a larger time investment than some other patterns, and requires a few more materials than other patterns might, but the investment pays big dividends because this sports bra has so many options and extra features. If some of the techniques involved are new to you, then your payoff is doubled: you’ve developed new skills and created a versatile, functional, and comfortable sports bra!

The options with the Jackie are many, and the fact that Porcelynne’s sports bra collection is interchangeable really expands those possibilities. I had the opportunity to test this pattern, and I made four different versions of the Jackie, and I still have more combinations that I want to try. For me, it worked well to “level up” gradually. My first make was an over-the-head version where I omitted the central zipper and treated the cut line in the middle piece as a fold line. I followed Jennifer’s blog post where she outlines this version, and I recommend doing so if you are in the mood for a pull-over Jackie, as some of the construction steps are different than in the main pattern. This is because in the main Jackie style, we use the opening between the main and lining layers at the zipper to turn the work inside out. I used a simple cotton jersey for my main fabric and my lining, and this worked well for me, since I don’t need a huge amount of support.

For my next make, I put in the zipper front, and this main feature of the Jackie will be a welcome option for many people who struggle to pull tight sports bras over their heads, or who just don’t like to do so. I used a scuba lined with stretch net, and I sewed the zipper shield option. This is the option I will return to next time I make a straight-forward Jackie. The zipper shield is an easy construction, gives a smooth inner layer of protection, and is flexible.

This was my first time shortening a zipper, and I was a bit nervous at the outset. I had watched all of Jennifer’s tutorial videos, which I highly recommend doing, so I knew what to expect. I was worried that I was going to break or ruin something, but once I dove in, the process went smoothly and snipping the zipper teeth was surprisingly therapeutic. For this step, you will need to make sure to have all the needed materials. I had some zipper stops to add to the zipper once I cut it down, some pliers and snippers, and something to carefully melt the nylon to keep it from fraying. Having the right kind of zipper is important here; the instructions call for molded plastic or resin teeth. A metal or coil zipper would have been difficult to deal with.

Once I had completed a successful zipper front, I was ready to try the hook-and-eye tape option. I also upgraded my fabric on this one, using some of the nylon spandex athletic fabric available in the Porcelynne shop (this fabric was provided for me). The hook-and-eye tape option will be really useful for many people, as it allows the bra to hold in position while the zipper is secured. It turns out for me, though, and likely for some others in my (smaller) size range, the zipper tape isn’t necessary. I barely had room for two hooks, and the construction is more difficult in my opinion than the shield. Here is another point where knowing what works best for you will guide which option you select. The Jackie sports bra is thoughtfully constructed so that there are plenty of possibilities to customize according to your needs, and for many people, the added security and stability of the hook and eye will be worth the extra effort.

I had to be meticulous working with this fabric, but I definitely felt that effort was worthwhile. It is lightweight, but strong and supportive and feels great.

After having worked through the standard construction options, and three different fabric combinations, I felt ready to play with the pattern. The Porcelynne sports bra patterns are drafted to all be compatible with each other, which means you can take one front style, another band style or strap or back style, and mix them up. There is also a tankini add-on which works with all the sports bras in place of the band. For my mash up, I used the Jackie front with the zipper, and of course the Jackie straps, but then I used the back from the Laurel pattern, and added the tankini. I used some nylon spandex (holographic silver!) and some swim fabric and lined the top with an athletic mesh (bright orange!).

I decided to hack the tankini to take my zipper all the way down, and then decided that the zipper shield going the full length of my torso was more bulky than I wanted, so I ended up taking out the shield. The zipper on it’s own is totally fine for me, but I do think that next time I will try adding a little tab and snap at the top.

There are a few reasons why there are more tankini hacks in my future: first, the style lines of the Jackie are interesting enough that I don’t necessarily want them covered up, but I’m not one for an exposed stomach. Also, this tankini add-on has pockets! They are inconspicuous, covered and deep enough that I could slide in a driver’s licence, a key, or a credit card and go for a jog or out to a waterpark. It would be easy to add an interior snap or some sort of further security if I planned to swim, since the tankini portion is a somewhat loose fit on me. Knowing that there are still more styles to try, more fabrics to use, and more details to perfect makes my time investment in the Jackie sports bra certainly worthwhile.

Fiery Darts is a special needs parent who finds respite and therapy in sewing and collecting vintage sewing machines. She has been sewing for over twenty-five years and loves that there is still so much more to learn and explore.