In the really awesome comments to my Sewing Lingerie post, some of you were asking  if it would be less expensive to make my own bras. I’m always curious about the cost of handmade because we can all easily admit that it costs more…or does it?

I can’t compare one of my made to measure dresses to something I could get off the rack because that’s not quite apples to apples. I’d have to first and foremost compare to something made especially for me and my measurements. What are we talking about? $100? $200? I think a couple of people who make high quality custom garments could tell us if we’re warm.

That’s only talking about time. We haven’t counted materials and any other incidentals. With that mentality, let’s look at the cost of a bra I’ve bought in a store and compare to the materials first.

I’ve spent anywhere from $60-$80 on a bra and don’t get me started on the $40 I spent so my set would match. It just looks so cute! Anyway. Let’s stick to the higher end bra. The $80 one.

What do you need to make one bra? I’m going by the prices at Sew Sassy.

  • Pattern: about $10, depending on the pattern
  • Underwire: $1.10 a pair
  • Hook and Eye tape with 2 rows of eyes: 1/4 yard is $2.10
  • Half a yard of foam to make your own cups: $8.50 (depends on the style you’re making)
  • Fabric: Techsheen Fabric or Power Knit $11.98/yd
  • Bra Straps: 5/8″ wide $1.90/pair
  • Bra Strap rings: $1.45/dozen
  • Bra Strap slides: $1.40/dozen
  • Channeling: $1.20/yd and I’ll need at least a yard
  • Elastic: $.70 a yard or more, depending on the kind you want

Roughly, $40 plus shipping for one bra, though you’ll probably have extra fabric and extra rings and slides.

Conversely, a bra making kit from Bra Maker’s Supply is CAD $28 minus pattern and underwires, which you can get for about CAD $2.60 per pair of underwires and CAD $20 for a pattern. So, total, they sell the whole thing for about $50 plus shipping. Note that this kit doesn’t include the foam cups.

That’s the cost of materials. Let’s not add the time that it takes to make the first bra because it’ll take time to learn the bra making ropes. Let’s also allow the bra making process to go into the enjoyment category (once we get the hang of it) and not count our time. Plus, can we really use the full sale price on these materials when bra makers probably buy in bulk and get a discount? If I felt the desire, I could buy wholesale and cut down costs.

However, if we did count our time, we’d be looking at a more expensive bra. That would be when comparing to a mass produced bra like the ones I’ve bought, not from a custom made small batch bra maker who might charge $400 (and more likely more) for one bra. If you look at it from that perspective then the cost of materials and your time are completely and totally worth it.

How do you look at the costs of your handmades? Do you compare to Ready-to-Wear? Or to high ticket prices you might find at upscale shops? Do you know what a custom tailored jacket might cost? Did I add up the costs right? Am I missing something?