Wednesday 31 October 2012

The Flirtelle "Lucy": A Cinderella Story

At the same time that I was ordering the Curvy Kate Smoothie from Brastop, I noticed that they had some new Flirtelle bras. One of them was the “Lucy” in a couple of new colors, including this Silver shade:

Now, like a lot of Flirtelle’s new releases, this bra only starts at a 32 band. I also knew it was the same design as the Flirtelle Sublime, reviewed here, which had stiff fabric that I hated. What’s more, Flirtelle and Curvy Kate unpadded balconettes just don’t give the best shape on me, especially after a few hours, so I’ve mostly given up on them. (Apparently this is called an "upside down 7" look. I'm not sure who coined this phrase but I love it! I just got it from this Bratabase question and answer.)

Those are three good reasons why I could have overlooked the Flirtelle Lucy. (I really wish ever brand ever didn’t have a bra called Lucy, but I digress…) BUT—I have been seeking an unpadded gray bra for literally years. Options were slim, including Freya’s Lucy bra, which I never found:

Kalyani’s Natural Charm bra, which I was convinced would give a bad shape:

And the Fantasie Belle in Silver, a bra which I really dislike:

And that was just about all. So I knew I couldn’t let the Flirtelle Lucy get away as long as there was any slim chance that I would be able to alter it into submission. I ordered a 32H, sister size of my normal 30HH for Curvy Kate and Flirtelle.

When the Lucy arrived, I was unsurprised to find that the shape it gave on me was not great:

It’s not horrid, but it did make my boobs have a lot more projection than I prefer, and consequently there were wrinkles along the diagonal seam across the cup. You can see some of the empty space here:

Because of this, I knew I would be able to take in the center seam to make the shape more round, as I described in the tutorialin this post, “Making a Pointy Bra Round”:

I decided to try doing the alteration on my sewing machine this time. I was a little nervous that sewing such thick fabric would be impossible, but it worked just fine.

It was also EONS faster than the agonizing, painstaking process of hand-sewing something so thick (think thimbles and tweezers—I would probably have made faster progress with an awl).

Because I was machine-sewing, I also decided to pin the seam rather than taping it this time around. I just taped the very ends of the alteration to make sure that part was smooth.

Here’s the difference in shape, Before:

And after: 

Because the band was a 32 band, and the cups were angled in a very V-neck shape, going high up towards the straps, I decided to take in the center gore as well. This serves three functions—it takes some length out of the band; it “turns” the cups so the shape is less plunge-y and more half-cup-y; and it provides a little extra openness in the top of the cups, which I needed after taking in so much fabric from the cup.

I decided to do the alteration on the center gore on my sewing machine as well, which was a mistake as I almost broke my needle by hitting the underwire accidentally. I also did it rather off-center and sloppily as it is very hard to fit the center gore of a bra under the foot of a sewing machine. I’ll probably fix that later.

The one issue I expected would be really problematic, the bulk of the altered diagonal seam, wasn't as big of a problem as I expected. It does show through tops, especially a thin t-shirt like the one I'm wearing in the photos. 

But in my day-to-day life, I always wear a tight cami underneath my tops. With the cami-top combination, the seam blends in more, and although it still shows, it doesn't look bizarre.

The center gore doesn't lay perfectly flat, but overall I’m really pleased with the results of my alterations. I expected to feel as though I was fighting a losing battle or would never wear the bra. But it’s an unpadded gray bra! I’ve worn it repeatedly and I’m pleased to report that so far, the shape stays pretty good throughout the day. I even wore it to do yoga and nothing went horribly wrong.

Owning a gray bra is all that I hoped and more. I know some people consider it a plain or neutral color, but I’m a little obsessed. I think it’s an amazingly flattering color on brunettes and redheads especially. Wearing a gray bra with matching gray undies I got from Forever21, I feel a little extra boost of cheerfulness all day. I still maintain hope that Cleo’s Lucy bra will eventually come out in a gray color, but this Flirtelle Lucy will sustain me happily until that time. 


  1. The difference in shape is very nice! I didn't know Flirtelles were often starting at 32 bands now. Boo hoo! Thanks for this post!

    I did the same alteration by hand after reading your earlier tutorial about making a bra less pointy. It worked, but the two sides aren't quite altered the same amount, which bothers me a little. If I do the same alteration again on another bra, I'll have a professional with a sewing machine do it for me. I don't have a sewing machine or any sewing machine skills.

  2. I did manage to find a grey Lucy, but it took a lot of google searching!!!

  3. I think grey bras look great too (except the Fantasie Belle!) and I had noticed that model on brastop, but I was wondering about sizing. Compared to Panache for instance, would you say the cups are smaller?

  4. Thanks for sharing these photos of big bras. They are really fashionable. Are those still available? Where could I buy one? The purple one is lovely.

  5. I love the grey too. I'm afraid to try the alteration, I think. Although I don't have too many that need to be altered in that way the one I have that needs the gore taken in has other problems besides (I hate most bandless bras.)

    I agree that the Belle is pretty hideous.

  6. Another option for a grey bra is the new Ewa Michelak one. PL Stalówka. I've never ordered from them but their bras are gorgeous and they have just come out with this gorgeous grey one! So maybe this one will work better for you, though sadly not as cheap as others.

  7. I noticed that your tutorial recommended that you don't do the pointy-->round alteration on bras with lacy upper panels. Did you do anything differently for this alteration because of the lace upper panel? If not, what made you decide it was okay for this bra? I'm really hoping to do this for a Freya Luisa and Freya Pollyanna

    1. The main worry with a lace upper panel is that it will not hold a stitch firmly enough. There are definitely ways this could be countered, for instance, adding in a layer of backing or thin cloth. With the Flirtelle Lucy, I didn't worry as much about it because the mesh in the top panel is thick and has very small holes, as opposed to a bra like the Freya Arabella where the mesh is thin and has holes that might be bigger than a stitch you'd want to put in. I think sewing on a machine helps to counter any issues with a thin mesh, but other than that, using a thin backing might help a lot (and then you can trim off the part that is not in the stitch when you've finished).