For the bralette of the Tropo Camisole, you can use any fabric that you use for body, but you also have other options. In this post we’ll talk about the pros and cons of the various fabric options. Before delving into bralette fabric, read the post on selecting fabric for the Tropo Camisole. The choices you make for your bralette fabric will greatly depend on how much support and coverage you want.
Fabric Options: The easiest choice for your bralette is to use the same fabric as the body of your camisole. Similar to when you’re choosing the main fabric, you’ll want to consider weight, stretch, and recovery. I’ve made the bralette for many of my Tropo Camisoles with interlock knit and I think it’s a great choice for me because it’s thick enough to offer some nipple coverage and it has recovery (I’ve found most all interlock knits to have synthetic content) so the bralette doesn’t get looser as the day goes on. It does make the camisole noticeably warmer so it’s not the best for hot weather wear. Support is minimal so it’s likely to appeal mostly to smaller busts or for sleepwear and not as a daily bra replacement for larger or heavier busts.
If you’re using a jersey, the lighter your fabric is, the more stretch it has and/or the less recovery it has, the less support it will provide. In other words, you may not want to use self-fabric for the bralette if your fabric is very lightweight, more stretchy than the pattern calls for, or if it has little recovery. You also want to pay attention to the surface of the fabric – embossed, printed, or painted fabrics may not feel good against your skin so you’ll need to sew them wrong side in.
If you want a bit more support you can shave a bit of your bralette fabric off at the side before sewing it together. This makes the bralette more compressive and can compensate for lightweight or very stretchy fabrics. The amount and shape of your “shave” can vary greatly depending on the fabric properties and your unique body shape. This wedge (about 1/2″ at the bottom for a total of 2″ removed between front and back) works well for my body with many fabric types though I have a very narrow rib cage at the bottom. You may need to experiment to figure out what is best for your body. Like a sports bra, the more compression you have the more supported you will be though you need to listen to your body and respect comfort limits for compression.
Power mesh make great camisole linings for hot weather wear or for exercise or for those who need air flow around their breasts. (This sample was one of the first Tropos I sewed so it’s a little worse for the wear at this point and you’ll note that this was before I figured out to put the bralette seam allowance facing away from the body). Other than the elastic band, it really doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a bra at all which I like! An alternative to this is bra tulle although it is likely to have less stretch so be careful it doesn’t become too compressive.
Sport lycras (typically 100% lycra or close to 100%) also make great bralettes. They wick away sweat and stay cool and, with a little bit of compression, provide some support. Another similar option is swimsuit lining fabric.
Elastic: You’ll notice that each of the examples above has different elastic as well. For elastic you’ll want to notice width and softness. The bottom is my favorite – it’s a waistband elastic so it is ever-so-slightly plush and extra gentle against my skin. The top two examples are just generic non-roll wide elastic though I find one of them to be much scratchier than the other, so you’ll want to rub your elastic against your skin and make sure it doesn’t scratch in any way before sewing it to your bralette. If your body is very sensitive to elastics, find a plush waistband elastic or make a casing for your elastic. Generally, the wider your elastic is the more supportive it will be because it distributes tension across a wider swath of your body. Generally, the more snug your elastic is the more supportive it will be, but be sure to listen to and respect the comfort limits of your body.