When I was creating a list of lingerie supply sources for my book I focused on online suppliers. Interestingly, I end up buying many of my bra making supplies in New York. For those lucky enough to be in New York City, you will be happy to know that you can find all the necessary supplies readily available within the span of a few blocks in the garment district.
First let’s review the materials and notions you need to make a bra. You can find additional details on each item below as well as the recommended sewing supplies used for bra making in my book.
Fabrics: band fabric, cup fabric, frame and/or bridge fabric, stabilizer and/or lining fabric
Notions: band elastic, underarm elastic, neckline elastic or trim, strap elastic, underwires, underwire casing, hook and eye closure, rings and sliders
The list of bra making supplies may look long but you only need to hit 2 or 3 stores to get everything you need. When you go shopping take a list of the materials you need along with the necessary yardage, widths, etc. from your pattern, a tape measure for stretch testing and swatches of any laces or trims you want to use.
In terms of a shopping strategy, I suggest starting with the fabrics. If you can’t find coordinating notions you always have the option of dyeing them to match. For things like underwires, underwire casing, hook and eye closures and rings and sliders, I buy in bulk so I always have some on hand. It is also much more economical if you plan on making a lot of bras.
Now on to the shops! Following are the shops (presented in alphabetical order) that I visit for bra making supplies as well as what I buy at each store when I visit the New York.
B&J Fabrics at 525 7th Ave., 2nd Floor
B&J carries an off white as well as a black 60” wide nylon tricot for $5.95 a yard that can be used for cup lining and stabilizer. You can find these on bolts in the stretch fabric aisle. Note, nylon dyes well so the off white works for just about anything.
Chic Fabrics at 225 W 39th St. # 11
This store has some of the best prices I have ever found for silk charmeuse and silk organza in the far right corner of the store (prices vary slightly by visit).
Daytona Trim at 251 W 39th St.
Toward the back of the store on the right wall is a nice selection of lingerie and fold over elastics. I end up looking for different strap and neckline trim ideas here as well. I visit this store if I can’t find what I need at Pacific Trimming (details below).
Fabrics and Fabrics (formerly Lace Star) at 270 West 38th St., 3rd Floor
They have an amazing selection of laces. Since they moved to this location and changed their name the stock is much better organized and much more accessible.
Pacific Trimming at 218 W 38th St.
My first stop for elastics since they stock several colors of fold over and lingerie elastic as well as clear and gripper elastics. I often find fun bra strap options here as well. If you don’t want to make a trip to Steinlauf & Stoller (details below) you can see if they have your size underwires from a limited supply on a bookshelf unit to the right of the registers. They also have plush underwire casing, boning and boning casing.
Spandex World at 228 W 38th St.
A great selection of Powernets in a variety of weights and colors. They also have stretch satins and other fabrics suitable for bra cups as bra bands in the $5 to $12 a yard range.
SIL Thread at 257 W 38th St. # 1
They stock a limited selection of underwires, packaged plastic boning, rings and sliders and hook and eye tape. I usually buy all these things at Steinlauf and Stoller (details below) but if you like to browse for your supplies, you can do that here. They also have basic sewing supplies with a nice selection of Clover tools.
Steinlauf and Stoller at 239 W 39th St.
They stock underwires in a variety of shapes and sizes, underwire casing, boning and boning casing, rings and sliders, hook and eye tape as well as general sewing tools and notions. Know what you want before you shop here – as in have a list of what you need with the sizes and quantities. They always have the sizes of underwires and boning that I need along with my other basics plus I love their speed and efficiency. If you want to browse for your supplies, visit SIL Thread instead (details above).
The only bra making supply that I like to use that is in short supply in New York are stretch laces. For stretch laces, Etsy is the place to hunt. There are also Etsy stores that sell bra making kits that have everything you need to make a bra.
Of course, if you want to shop for all your supplies online, you can take a peek at my resources page that I created for readers of my book here.