Finding a well fitting bra is even trickier than finding a well fitting pair of pants. Especially for larger bust sizes it is essential to wear a bra with a perfect fit unless you want you bust point to be in the approximate area of you belly button.
Ever since I am buying my lingerie in specialised shops I own a few bras with very good fit, but I wanted to sew my own bras for quite a long time, because it really would be great if I could make ALL my clothing on my own, including lingerie. I don’t want to use a regular pattern because I don’t think that I will be able to do all the necessary alterations for a good fit. With clothing I have enough experience to know where to alter what, but I have no experience whatsoever with bra fitting. And since the sewing of a bra is a time consuming process, I don’t want to go through numerous test runs before I get a wearable piece.
So I set out to take off a pattern from one of my favorite bras, using the same method as with the jeans. The whole thing was fiddlier than with the pants, because firstly the bra consists of many small pieces and secondly they are very three-dimensional and tiny. And in this case precision is really imporant, half a centimeter more or less can make a huge difference here.
There are a lot of tutorials on the internet how to copy the pattern of a bra, half of them tell you to pick apart the original garment. This is totally out of the question because I want to use a relatively new bra which is not beat up by wearing and washing. And my bras have all been really expensive, so I’d rather not sacrifice one for this project, thank you very much.
I used this tutorial from Brown Paper Patterns as a basis,only instead of organza I used my tried and trusted transparent foil.
Here we go
At first, take a look at your template: where are the seams, how many pattern pieces are there etc.
My cups consist of three pieces, the most suitable construction type for larger busts. Then there is the back part and the bridge in the center front – so I have to copy five pattern pieces in total.
Start pinning the foil along the first seam.
Hold the bra cup in your hand during the pinning process and smooth out the plastic sheet every now and then. You don’t want any wrinkles or puckers.
Then draw along the seamline with the marker. Please be careful not to get too close to the pinholes to avoid bleeding through – your template will be ruined. If you want to be on the safe side, use a soluble marker for this step and redraw the lines with a waterproof pen after the plastic sheet has been removed from the bra.
This is the blank of the side cup piece. Now you can complete the outline and add all other necessary information on the pattern piece.
Which side goes where? When sewing your bra you’ll realize that this is essential information because you’ll get to a state where all pieces look more or less the same and one get’s confused quickly.
Mark the direction of maximum stretch. This is important when cutting your fabric. Lingerie fabric normally has two-way stretch, but most of these fabrics still have one direction where the stretchability is larger, therefore it is important to know how to place the pattern piece on the fabric for cutting.
Add the seam allowance. I looked up my notes from a bra making class I took many years ago: the seam allowance was 0.6 mm, so this is what I’ll use here.
Proceed in the same manner with the rest of the pattern pieces. This is the complete pattern for my bra with three-part cups.
There are many shops that specialize in lingerie fabric and notions and there is a large selection of suitable fabric and elastic lace. For my trial model I decided not to use and lace or expensive lingerie fabric, I will use a firm rayon jersey from my stash.
Additionally, I bought different interfacings because a close inspection of my template bra showed that the individual pieces are reinforced with different types of interfacing:
Unfortunately I could not find Powernet in three strengths, I only got strong and soft. I will use the strong one instead of the medium for the back parts. It would have been great to have one of these shops close by to be able to touch and feel these special fabrics. Also I didn’t get all the interfacings in the same color, but hey, it’s the trial run and it’s going to be on the inside, so what?
For sewing I recommend this this excellent tutorial by Sigrid. But before sewing away I took one more look at my template: the cups are joined a little bit differently here.
The seam between the upper and lower cup is open and topstitched on both sides. The rayon jersey and the Powernet will not fray, so this is not a problem. The seam between the side cup and the other two cup pieces is turned over.
For the rest of the construction I can follow Sigrid tutorial.
And here is the current status – a bad picture, sorry. But at least you can recognize a certain similarity.
Sewing took me much longer than expected. I ripped out each seam at least twice because I was unhappy with my sewing precision. Handling of the jersey fabric together with the Powernet is fiddly. Even though I joined the fabrics with spray mount, the jersey still crawls away from the presser foot and wants to pucker. I am still not completely happy with the seams but since this is the trial piece I’ll content myself otherwise this will never be finished.
Unfortunately I cannot comment on the fit up to now, because I really can’t try it on without the closure, the wires and the straps and I’ll also not be finishing it in the next 1 or 2 weeks becaus I go to Palm Springs for a couture sewing class with Claire Shaeffer. But I’ll keep you posted.