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.
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
I 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.
After 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.
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.
See step 4
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.