DIY lingerie.

DIY Bralette + Panties, From Mesh Top

DIY Style

Ever pull something out of your closet and find that it’s been sunbleached? No? Well, my closet has a window and the sun decided to work its magic on my favorite going-out top. But we’ll let bygones be bygones with the sun because it gave me the opportunity to refashion my top into a DIY bralette and pantie set, bringing a little luxury into my eco-friendly world. And if you follow this tutorial now, you can definitely finish your own lingerie set in time for Valentine’s Day! 

Black mesh bralette on wood hanger, part of a DIY lingerie set.

I originally bought this mesh top at a resale shop while visiting my hometown for a wedding. I immediately liked the ribbon detailing, and it was the perfect thing to wear to my friend’s rehearsal dinner. That top was a staple in my wardrobe for years. It was instantly versatile, the kind of thing you could wear to work and then go out in. We had the perfect relationship, this top and I, but little did I know the sun would ruin everything.

DIY bralette and panties surrounded by flowers, candles, lipstick and perfume.

I’ve never had the sun bleach my synthetic clothing before, but as you can see, the sun exposure on this top is proof that not even synthetics can withstand the power of UV rays. When I pulled the top out of my closet to wear it, I felt an immediate mix of sadness and excitement. I was sad that my favorite top was ruined, but instantly knew I wanted to make a DIY bralette out of it. This is a huge part of my creative process, as well as living a lifestyle where I don’t really buy new things. When something doesn’t work anymore, I ask myself what I can make with it. 

Black mesh top with ribbon detail on wood hanger.

Sun bleaching on black mesh shirt sleeve.

I don’t wear a lot of matching lingerie, but now that I’ve made this set, however, I’m starting to change my tune. Nothing makes one feel more instantly chic than a matching bra and panties. Because I don’t buy a lot of new things, lingerie was pretty low on my list and most people don’t want used lingerie…right? Way more pertinent, I’d been wanting to try bralettes as an alternative to full-on bras for everyday lounging and errand running. 

I was shopping with a friend a few months ago and found out that she never wears bras. “Ever?” I asked. “Never.” She said. It sounded liberating. Now, to be perfectly honest, this friend and I aren’t the busiest of people, and I totally get that women with larger top-halves might take comfort in more support. On the flip side, I find bras typically impossible, constraining, annoying, and almost always too big. There are some exceptions, but most of the time I’d rather just not. 

Except I’m a woman who lives in a society that sexualizes body parts deemed feminine, so going outside the house without anything there is usually not an option. Enter- the bralette. It has the coverage of a bra without all the restrictions. I’ve been converted. 

Wearing DIY bralette, covered by ivory cardigan, holding light green mug.    Woman looking down and facing right, wearing black DIY bralette and off-white cardigan, holding mug.

It’s too bad I don’t have any other lingerie-ready shirts with sun stains laying around because I’d love another DIY bralette. When making this one, I was really inspired by the cut of this Anthropologie set, including the cute cut-out. I figured it would be pretty easy to copy, and it turns out it is! Because I believe that even single people should get to enjoy Valentines Day, I hope you all make some fun lingerie, even if you have no one to wear it for but yourself. 

Tips for Making DIY Bralette and Panties Set 

Red carnations in rose gold vase with blurred woman wearing black DIY bralette in background.

If you fit into the shirt that you’re making a bralette and panties from, you’ll probably have enough fabric to make both items from one shirt. Depending on your measurements, you might want to invest in some contrasting stretch material, just in case you need more fabric. 

You can make the bralette and panties with ANY material that’s stretchy. For an extra glam factor, you could upcycle a top that’s mesh or stretch lace, but you can make both items from a plain high-stretch t-shirt as well. The sky is the limit on how you want to customize your lingerie. 

I used a zig-zag stitch and a stretch needle on my sewing machine for the whole project. 

How To Make The DIY Panties

Black mesh and lace panties, one half of DIY lingerie set.

Remember when I showed you how to make your own underwear from a t-shirt you already own? To make the panties in my lingerie set, I used the same techniques, but I cut from the bottom half of my shirt. I changed a few things as follows: 

  • Used stretchy lace trim for the waistband. To sew, simply place the lace over the edge of your underwear and sew down using a zig-zag stitch. Stretch a little as you sew. 
  • I cut my underwear to be high-waisted this time. 
  • I used organic cotton to line the crotch. 

How To Make The DIY Bralette

Black mesh and lace DIY bralette, one half of a DIY lingerie set.

  • Top half of shirt 
  • 1 yard or so picot edged elastic 
  • 1 yard or so fold-over elastic or bra strapping. 
  • Enough 1.5 inch stretch lace trim to fit around your rib cage
  • Sewing machine 
  • Scissors 
  • Measuring tape (optional) 
  • Thread 
  • Stretch needle 

Black mess shirt top folded in half with hand holding it down.   Bralette shape cut out of black mesh shirt.

1. Cut the front of your top away from the back of your top along the seams. Fold in half length-wise. Cut out your front bralette shape. I eyeballed this part, but my measurements were about 6 inches deep, 5 inches on the side and 2 inches for the cut-out. 

Cut out middle of bralette shape.

Front bralette piece cut out.

2. Next, cut out the back bralette shape. To do this, fold your back piece in half. Cut your back piece with a slight curve, so the middle is a shorter length than the sides. The side should be the same length as the front piece sides. 

Cutting back bralette piece out.

3. Pin your picot elastic to the front of your cut out with the picots facing up. Sew down using a zig-zag stitch. 

Pinning elastic to cut-out on bralette.

4. Turn the edge with the elastic under, so the picot part shows along the edge. Top-stitch using a zig-zag stitch. Fold your bra in half, lengthwise and sew down the center, along the edge right through the elastic. Your cut out will now have a triangular shape! 

Turning elastic under on cut out.

Sewing up the middle of the bralette.   Bralette front with elastic turned under, sewn up the middle.

5. Sew the front piece to the back piece, along the sides, right sides together. 

6. Measure out where you want your lace band to sit. I ended up placing mine about 1 inch above the bottom edge. Pin, and sew down using a zig-zag stitch, very gently stretching the lace as you go. Sew down where the edges meet. Trim off the excess material inside.  

Adding stretch lace band to bottom of bralette.

This is a great place to try on your bralette to make sure it’s fitting how you want it to. 

7. Sew your picot elastic down on the top edge of your bralette and gently stretch as you go. I sewed mine down about 3/4″ down as I wanted a lower cut. I then trimmed the excess material off. 

Sew picot elastic to edge of bralette.

8. Just like you did with the cut-out, fold your edge under so the picot part of the elastic shows, and top stitch along the edge. I found this part really hard with the embellishments of my fabric! Go show and have patience. 

9. Measure and sew on your straps, and that’s it! You now have your own DIY bralette! 

Finished black mesh  DIY bralette and panties.

So what do you think? Do you enjoy wearing bralettes, real bras, or both? And do you think you’ll make your own lingerie for Valentine’s Day this year? 

DIY bralette & panties from a shirt.

More Refashioning Ideas 

DIY Underwear From A T-Shirt

My Refashioned Wedding Dress, Nothing is Wasted

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  • Jennifer | Honey Rule
    January 25, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    this tutorial is *so* cool and totally makes me want to re-up my sewing skills (or lack thereof haha). and yes bras are the worst… i’ve totally been lusting after the underwire-free bras that instagram and facebook keeps showing me.

    • elana
      January 25, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      I’m so glad you like it and I hope you do re-up your sewing skills! It’s such a great way to reuse what’s around you and get creative. And right? Why do they make bras so uncomfortable?