It’s 2017! What a great way to start off a year. I am so very proud of this as I’ve been working on drafting my own bra pattern for almost a year now. This is the first finished bra I’ve made with it since I completed drafting and digitizing the final pattern early December. You don’t need to go to design school to draft bra patterns!
The knowledge I needed to draft this bra didn’t cost me a penny. I learned to draft bras using the following resources:
- the Foundations Revealed “How to Make a Bra” series
- my previous experience constructing bras from knowledge gained from the Bra Making Forum
- Merckwaerdigh and her pattern blog
- AFI and her Maya bra
- Cloth Habit‘s bra sew-along
- Porcelynne’s Youtube channel
- Beverly Johnson‘s second bra-making Craftsy class that I got for free during a promotion
- previous flat pattern-making skills that I learned from my dear teacher Buthayna
- university library books and journal articles such as Pattern Making by the Flat Pattern Method and Patternmaking for the Underwired Bra by Kristina Shin
When I first started bra-making and showed interest in drafting my own pattern, I felt like I was trying to join the Illuminati. The industry is so secretive and no one wants to part knowledge on how to actually draft a bra; not just construct one from a pattern. I want to share my process with you all and show you how I drafted my first bra pattern, from scratch, if you are curious. Please leave a comment below if y0u are interested in blog posts on the flat-drafting methods I used to develop my pattern… for free.
(Edit: I have indeed drafted soft bras and bralettes before, but this is my first fully-framed, underwired bra with accurate cup measurements.)
I will part my first piece of advice now: Go to Foundations Revealed, read the first two free parts of the bra articles, and draft the darted bra shown there. No matter how ill-fitting or ugly it is, if you want to draft your own pattern, finish drafting one from the instructions there. This will provide the base for your bra and make your life easier later.
(Edit: All four parts of the FR “How to Make a Bra” series are now FREE! Only the first part of the Soft Bras series is free and the rest is paid.)
Now, on to the specifications of my bra, I drafted this bra specifically for use with Arte Crafts’ Shallow Demi Cup Wires. Natasha ordered these for us after I expressed interest in them. They are great for women who hate getting stabbed by their wires all the time. Of course, I have rather small breasts, so these wires may not offer enough support for women with larger breasts. This is not a problem, though, because you can easily alter a pattern to work for any wire shape. If you are interested in learning how to do this, let me know!
The bridge, frame, and band are slightly wider than those of a typical full-frame pattern because I wanted to use this thick, three-fourth-inch band elastic. I ordered a bunch of this on accident once and wanted to use it up.
The cup design is quite unique, as you can see from the photo of the pattern pieces I included above. It gives the appearance of a fabric strap extension, but the long top is actually a part of the cup itself. The side is also straight, giving the underarm an angular appearance that I quite like. The inner cup’s edge is also straight for use with scalloped lace. Honestly, I don’t think I thought the construction through before I made this pattern. This was the trickiest bra I’ve ever made, but in the end I figured out how to construct it. You may have already noticed that if I simply sewed the cups together, the upper half of the outer cup would have a raw edge. For this reason, I used the typical sew-flip-sew method to sew elastic on the top half of the edge reaching to just after where the inner cup would begin, but didn’t flip. I then sewed the inner cup, making sure the edge of the elastic was hidden, then flipped and top stitched the seam and elastic. Although a bit complicated, I like this cup design because it’s only two pieces and reduces the amount of strap elastic needed.
I am not a hundred percent happy with the construction since the newness of the pattern made it a little messy. For example, one of the wire casings is off and oddly shaped for reasons unbeknownst to me. They were the same length and I sewed them both the same way, but one was perfect and the other ended up behaving really weirdly, turning inward sometimes and scrunching up other times. Oh well, what can you do?
Another mistake I made was with the band. The measurements were perfect initially, but for some reason I decided to trim some of it off last minute and ended up making the bra slightly too tight, even on the last hook. I also forgot to stabilize the lace edge of the cups with elastic – big mistake and one that I make all too often.
There were stylistic choices I regret too, like the decision to use the thicker elastic. It made the band even more tight since it doesn’t have as much give as thinner elastic and frankly looks a bit ugly on the inside. I’ve been seeing bras with pleats or gathers on the band where the hooks start and thought it was cute, so I wanted to try it too. Nope. It just looks ugly.
Overall, I am really happy with the pattern. The next bra I make with it will be much more successful. I haven’t talked about the fit much, but other than the slight tightness in the band (which isn’t a problem with the pattern itself), it is absolutely amazing. Since I developed the pattern specifically for my shape and size, the cups feel like bliss on me. They fit flawlessly and give me the perfect amount of lift. I was a bit worried about the shape due to the uncommon seam design, but I love it!
That said, would you guys be interested in me posting the pattern as a free download? This one is 32C/34B. Perhaps if there’s enough interest, I could grade it up and down a few sizes and offer it on my patterns page. To be transparent, I would not want to grade it too much for fear that the pattern would get distorted. I also am not yet experienced in developing patterns for bigger breasts, so I don’t want to offer something that would not work or fit for large sizes. Fret not, however, as the rest of my family is very well-endowed and has been graciously assisting me in this learning process.
Finally, I also sewed a matching thong using my upcoming “Blossom” Thong pattern, which will be released very soon. I had to use scrap lace, so there are a few seams in some unseemly places (hehe), but it fits and I like it!
“Never, never, never give up.”
– Winston Churchill