Jackie: more than a sports bra

Guest Post by Emma – Instagram: @bean_box_sewing

Whilst I’d like to say I began sewing lingerie for fun, it was more a case of problem solving since store-bought items pinched, rubbed and ultimately lead to more time than I would like ending up braless.


3 rd December is International Person with Disabilities Day and that seems an appropriate day to hearn from a disabled sewist and how a sewing pattern has been useful in meeting particular needs. For me, my relevant health conditions here are Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME, also known as CFS), scoliosis and spina bifida. Amongst the disabled community, I have found I am one of many with sensory issues and difficulties with mobility. Exposed seams (including overlocked edges) can make clothes unwearable, slight pressure can cause pain (even when no mark is left) and seemingly soft fabrics can be too uncomfortable to wear.

First Impressions

When I saw a call for pattern testers for the Jackie Sports Bra, I was excited to join in. Before my chronic illness emerged, I was quite sporty and athletic wear made up a large proportion of my wardrobe, so I was sure I’d know a good sports bra, if I saw one. These days, my exercise is gentler and doesn’t stretch much beyond a need for a light compression sports bra, so I followed the instructions to make a more relaxed fit of the Jackie Sports Bra; leaving compression versions to other testers. It didn’t occur to me that a sports bra pattern would lend itself to be in my regular lingerie rotation – even for the days my chronic illness has me in bed all day and exercise is the last thing on my mind. As my friend said, upon trying on my first version (which I never got back…): “this pattern is GENIUS”. I totally agree.


First, I made a toile with the pullover hack in the instructions to check the fit – the only adjustment needed was to reduce the overall strap length by 2 inches. After that, I made the zipper front version and sat back to admire it.


Here I will outline some of the features of the Jackie Sports Bra and how it helps me with my health issues. Fully enclosed seams Many bras and bralettes have exposed edges somewhere on the fabric, be it the cups, side seams or strap attachment. To my skin, this can feel like the discomfort of sand in my underwear – no one wants that! The more advanced construction of the Jackie hides all of these edges, even protecting skin with the use of the zipper shield or hook and eye tape for front closure options.


Foam straps including adjustable portion

With a 32E bust, it is often suggested that I use wider straps such as 5/8” (approx. 16mm) for comfort, but this has still led to an uncomfortable pressure in my shoulders in even the best fitting bra. The Jackie design has a more complex strap attachment that uses a foam-covered fabric strap against the skin and a length of regular bra strap on top of this for adjustability. The softness of the foam and the distribution of pressure left me so comfortable that I fell asleep – this never happens with bras!

Front zip closure

As part of a bone abnormality, it is common for me to injure my back and have severely affected mobility for several weeks at a time. During these moments, I cannot wear pullover bras, nor reach behind my body to clasp a standard hook and eye. The front closure of the Jackie means it is possible for me to feel put together with a supported chest, even during those difficult times. For me, it is doable to fasten the zip without further support. Some may find this difficult to slightly stretch their bra around their bodies and connect the zipper teeth at the same time – the hook and eye tape that sits behind the zipper resolves this problem. Simply connect the hook and eye tape between the breasts and close the zipper over the top. Since I didn’t require this additional support, I used the optional zipper shield in the pattern.

Fabrics

For my yoga bra, I used a holographic nylon spandex. The instructions stated to go up a cup size if lining with scuba, so I did that and used a 32F instead of the 32E I measured at. Whilst this was suitable for the light impact movement I sometimes manage; I liked the shape so much I wondered if I could be altered to be a daily bra. Inspired by the other testers who have since been displaying their makes on a blog tour, I set about making a cozy and more feminine day (and it turns out, night) bra.


My choice of fabric for this next bra was a Tencel Modal spandex, lined in the same fabric. I realized the stretch percentage was greater, at least twice as much as the nylon spandex, so I would need to alter the size I used or the bra would be too big.

Aiming for a comfort bra with even less compression, I chose to go down a band and up a cup size, making the 30F. In a later version, I swapped the middle panel for lace, which lead to me altering the construction a little to accommodate the scallop edge.

My next steps

The only issue I have had is that I use slightly looser band elastic than suggested as I have flared ribs that are prominent under my bust and, on an unrelated note, sometimes suffer from heartburn, which can make tight-fitting clothes uncomfortable as they exacerbate this issue. Porcelynne have already thought of this. Like how in a regular bra, I have learned that a gothic arch solves this problem for me, there are mix and match options for Porcelynne’s other bras that include options in the Christina and the Laurel that involve designs of a shaped band in the front of the bra that resembles a gothic arch. This could make my lingerie drawer even happier and save me drafting my own. Since the other pattern pieces are also interchangeable with her other designs, it looks like I have great fun ahead of me. For now, the slightly looser band is working very well. Given that I fell asleep in my current rendition of what I call my “comfort” version in the tencel modal, and my friend has managed to commandeer two out of the five Jackies I have made, I’m sure that Porcelynne has made something extra special, I am on to great things with this fabric choice and will be continuing to experiment with these pattern pieces for pretty, comfortable, accessible bras that mean I no longer dread getting dressed.


Emma – Instagram: @bean_box_sewing

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.

Jackie Sports Bra For Beginners

Anticipated Pattern Release Date: Sunday November 21st 2021

I decided to create the Jackie Sports Bra pattern as a solution to a problem many of my customers often complain about – getting into a sports bra or getting out of a sports bra. Enter Jackie.

Jackie was designed for a front zipper closure with either a hook and eye or a zipper shield. The construction steps are far more complicated than a pull-over-your-head bra, such as my Christina or Laurel Sports Bras.

But not all people want to zip up their sports bras. The zipper can show through clothing making it more of an athletic bra rather than a every day sports bra. There is a solution for that too. I have seriously thought of everything here.

The pattern pieces of the Jackie can be mixed and matched with the Christina or Laurel Sports Bras, meaning that the seam lines make the sizing consistent and the pattern pieces interchangable. You can use the Jackie front with the Christina band with the Laurel back, and they all work with the Tankini Add-on.

The center front pattern piece of the Jackie can be cut on the fold for a pull over the head version or cut 2 for the zipper front closure. That also means that you can do the same thing to the fronts of the Christina and Laurel! They can all be zipped up.

For those who would like to make the Jackie as a pull-over-the-head sports bra, those steps are relatively easy. Now, understand that after I release each of my sports bras, I continue to make the construction cleaner and cleaner, meaning I have opted for a clean finished waistband on the inside. This might add a few steps of complication, but it makes for a very nice finish.

The first thing to do is make your straps. Now, I love how I created the straps for the Jackie and they are my new favorite straps. I will make all my future sports bras with these straps. They are fun and a bit decorative. You can follow the steps in the instruction, but I made a series of photos to document those steps for your convenience.

As you can see, one of my straps twisted, but once I put it together it fit fine. If you want to avoid the twisting, I recommend sewing from the same end down on both sides. I don’t think I did that on the twisted strap.

The next thing to do is to attach all the pieces together in the body. I like to topstitch my seam allowances down, but you don’t have to. If you decide to topstitch, topstitch each seam as you go. Complete both the self and the lining layers. I would recommend topstitching the seams of the lining in the opposite direction of the self.

After you sew the body pieces together, sew the waistband in a flat tube, attaching the side seams together. The with the waistband flat, sew one side of the waistband to the self then the other side of the waistband to the lining.

Pull the sports bra right side out and attach the waistband elastic to itself, overlapping the elastic edges. Place the elastic inside the waistband and pin the waistband around the waistband elastic, pinning the seam allowances together. Then zigzag the seam allowances of the waistband together, completely encasing the elastic.

The next part is a little tricky. You need to clean finish the front neckline, but you can’t just sew it and expect to turn it right side out (or you will have to seam rip – ask me how I know). You need to do a bit of a burrito roll to get the neckline attached. The best way to do this is the lay the sports bra with the right sides out, put your hand between the layers from under the arm area. With your hand between the layers, reach in and grap the two necklines, by folding them in then pin immediately so you don’t sew it wrong.

Phew, hopefully you followed that. Its too hard to photograph, mainly because I needed both hands to do it and I cannot opperate a camera with out hands.

With the front necklines pinned, sew carefully. You might want to baste stitch it first to make sure it will pull out correctly. Once you have confirmed it will be correct, attach the front necklines then do an understitch, stitching the seam allowance to the lining and make a corner on the side of the neckline so you get a nice crisp corner. You can snip into the corner to release the shape if needed.

You can then clean finish the front strap point and the underarm neckline in the same way, but you don’t need the understitch there. If you are using 1″ rings, make sure you narrow the front strap by 3/8″ or 10 mm. I would recommend the 1″ rings over the 35 mm slides. They have a tendency to shift on their sides and scrunch fabric unless you are using cut and sew foam on the fronts.

Once you have the underarm completed, then you can attach the straps.

The last thing to do is clean finish the back neckline. I like to attach elastic right on the inside catching both layers together, then I fold to the lining side and zigzag over the edge.

In that above picture, I show the rings attached already, so I missed taking a photo of that step, but once you have the straps attached to the back, you can loop the front strap points through the rings and top stitch.

And voila! The sports bra is completed. Now, I don’t like to photograph myself in my sports bras, but here is an exception. You can’t see that its me, except my identifying arm tattoo. I am asymmetrical, about a 2 cup size difference, but I generally just make the average, so the center always pulls to one side.