Bralettes offer a comfortable and casual alternative to a regular bra. For the home sewer, they are easy to make, and they offer many variations in design and style.
A bralette is an unstructured, underwire-free bra. The style was once mainly worn as loungewear. Bralettes were invented as a comfortable alternative to structured underwire bras and were mostly ignored by fashion retailers. Today, however, they are no longer intended solely for at-home wear. Bralettes are worn under any garment and, in some cases, have become fashion garments in their own right. A bralette is quick to create and requires only basic sewing and fitting skills, so it is a great introduction to sewing lingerie.
A common misconception is that bralettes are intended only for smaller busts. It is true that most commercial bralette patterns are sized as generic small, medium, or large. This can cause fit issues, as generic sizes cater only to a single cup size, typically somewhere between an A and D cup. However, some patternmakers, including myself, design bralettes with many cup and band sizes. My Sweet Sixteen bralette pattern, used for this article, contains a dozen cup sizes and six band sizes. It’s worth having a look at independent patterns for some fresh bralette ideas.
Bralettes can have as many style variations as any other garment. Not only can basic bralettes be made entirely of stretch lace, they can also be made with scuba knits or even sheer fabric with lace appliqués. This article focuses on stretch lace bralettes, which are versatile and simple to make.