Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits

bra 1 of 21 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits
bra 2 of 21 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits

I finally have it! I finally have a bra pattern that fits me perfectly! Well, almost perfectly (nothing in this world is one hundred percent perfect, right?). It has taken me many readings of Norma and Beverly’s books/manuals to wrap my head around the concepts of bra making. Silly as it may seem, I also made flashcards so that I’d remember what the point of most strain is and how to reduce cup volume on a dime. Through all the treachery (bra making is tough!), I am happy that I stuck with it and foraged on. Also, a huge thank you to Norma and Amy for answering all my questions!

I’m still trying to find a conservative yet creative way to debut my bra as I want to show me wearing it rather than the bra lying flat, but until then, I thought I’d share the steps I took to get to today’s pattern. The key to achieving this pattern was correcting each fitting error one by one and then measuring the cross cup seam and total cup volume after each pattern correction. Why did I do this? Because when it comes to bras, and especially the cups, one correction will affect another one. An example – during my first fitting, I needed to reduce the cup volume and cross cup seam. But when I reduced the curve of the cup (reducing volume), this also reduced the cross cup seam. So once I reduced the cup volume, I needed to reduce the cross cup seam by less than pinned out in my first fitting.

Putting this into practice: for a good fit, my cup volume needed to be approximately 4” inches and my cross cup seam needed to be approximately 6”. The cup volume of my initial pattern was 5” and the cross cup seam was 7” – so I needed to reduce each my 1” in order to achieve my ideal pattern. When I reduced the cup volume by 1”, this act also reduced the cross cup seam by ½”. So, instead of subtracting 1” from the cross cup seam, only ½” was needed. Again, it was only because I measured the cup volume and cross cup seam after the first pattern alteration, which was reducing the cup volume, that I discovered that I only needed to reduce the cross cup seam by less than what I initially pinned out (1/2” instead of 1”).

A couple of things to note:

I used Beverly Johnson’s bra as a starting point and this bra to obtain the measurements I wanted for my ideal bra.

Whenever possible, I slashed and opened/closed at or as close to the apex.

As I posted here, tester cups should be made and bridge width should be tested before making the actual bra. This is done so that when the real thing is sewn, minimal corrections will be needed. The corrections that I outline below are for the actual bras I made – prior to this, I tested the cups and bridge width.

With each tester bra, I kept the fabric and lining the same. I know you’ve seen this fabric a thousand times around the blogosphere before, and on many of my previous bras, but because the fit of a bra relies heavily on the fabric choice, I kept it consistent.

bra steps 1 31 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits

STEP1 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits There was too much depth in both the upper and lower cup, which manifested itself as excess fabric at the cross cup seam. The wire line was in the right position, but there was excess fabric in the cups.

First, I marked the amount that needed to be reduced at the apex, which was 3/4″, and then I blended to nothing at the CF and the underarm

STEP2 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That FitsI made the same correction as in step 1. But you might ask, how did I decide to take 3/4″ from lower cup and 1/4″ from the upper cup? When pinning during the fitting, I made sure to pin on either side of the cross cup seam (not pinning equally at the seam) to ensure that the seam still hit my apex.

STEP3 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That FitsAfter reducing the curve of the upper cup in step 2, I measured the cross cup seam and realized that the upper cup was longer than the lower cup. So that the cross cup seam of the upper and lower cup would equal, I slash from apex to mid-neckline edge, and overlapping the required amount.

bra steps 4 61 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits

STEP4 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits After I made corrections 1, 2, and 3, I measured the cross cup seam again to see how it compared to my ideal bra and 1/2″ still needed to be taken out. So, on both the upper and lower cup, I slashed from apex to mid-neckline/wireline, overlapped the required amount, and blended to nothing at CF and underarm.

STEP5 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits See step 4

STEP6 Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits There were no stress wrinkles running across the neckline edge, which would indicate that I needed to move the straps out, but the location of the strap points on my ideal bra were 1/2″ out. To prevent straps from falling, Beverly advises that strap points be just outside apex and extend to mid-shoulder, but to be honest, this looks out of date, at least to me. She also says that this is a be-all-end-all rule and that if the straps don’t fall off when placed farther out, that’s okay.

Parallel to the DOGS (and also the neckline edge), I drew a line just below the strap extension. Cutting through this line, I slide the strap extension up and away from CF the required distance (1/2″ for both). Last, I blended the new strap point to nothing at cross cup seam and mid-neckline edge and changed the strap extension to support a strap elastic instead of a fabric strap.

 

post footer pattern making Bra Making: Finally, A Bra Pattern That Fits

tags: Fashon, Pattern Making Comments: 18

18 Comments
  1. hannah

    Congrats on the perfect fit! When you do your pattern alterations, do you redraw it by hand or use illustrator?

    Reply
      • hannah

        Good call. I just mention it since I’ve found it’s much faster to true curved pattern lines in illustrator (and I just lose everything if I don’t keep a copy on my computer).

        Reply
  2. F K

    The bra in the picture is so pretty!

    Reply
  3. Norma

    Congrats Maddie! I am so happy to hear about your successful project!

    Reply
    • Maddie Flanigan

      I wouldn’t have reached this point without your help, so thank you!

      Reply
  4. anto

    Yay, congratulations!!! All your hard work has paid off, as I knew it would. It’s so pretty and, I am going to sound like such a nerd but, the seams are beautiful!

    Reply
  5. Lola Del Rey

    try wearing the bra under a white tissue jersey, or a semi-sheer fabric. it should be conservatish enough to display the bra without bearing it all.

    Reply
  6. Cirque Du Bebe

    Just so lovely. And clever. Bra making is up there with perfect fitting jeans for me. Maybe you could photograph it on someone else….

    Reply
    • Maddie Flanigan

      The thing about sewing your own bras is their unique to you. Basically, it won’t fit anyone else except me. I have a really cool idea on how to photograph is conservatively, so that the focus is on the construction and fit.Stay tuned!

      Reply
  7. Natasha Estrada

    Congratulations. Now you must PM your tata’s and ask them not to change one single bit ;0

    Reply
  8. melrosemiss

    This is just wonderful. The fabric is great and reminds me of a set I had back in the 60s., in the days when we bought all undies matching if possible. Is that a stretch satin and one that is just for lingerie? Thank you for all the great tips. I will save this post definitely.

    Reply
  9. melrosemiss

    Would you please share where you found the fabulous fabric you used?

    Reply
  10. melrosemiss

    I did not know Parsons was other than a school. For those of us who might consider attempting, what kind of fabric should we look for? Does it have a particular name? Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Maddie Flanigan

      It’s not Parsons the school, but Parons the fabric store (below is the link). There are so many fabrics you can use for making a bra, but my rule of thumb is that the bridge and lower cup must be stabilized and the band must have stretch (to allow for breathing/moving).

      Reply
  11. Amy

    Yay! Like all fitting, it’s so worth the effort and time and congrats on getting there! It’s a great idea to stick with the same fabric, too.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *