Altering the Patterns

I have been working on making a few bras with my patterns and its come to my attention that I need to add a little clarity to the specifics of the pattern. First, the seam between the lower and upper cup falls above the apex. I did this to help with lift for those of us who need it. Second, the pattern may not be suited to be sewn with a woven fabric without alterations. Because I raised the seam, it leaves some of the lower cup shaping out.

My conclusions are that to use the pattern as is, I would recommend using a stretch fabric (preferable 2 layers and crossing the grainlines – meaning one on the straight grain and one on the cross grain). Smaller busted individuals can get away with one layer if the fabric is stable.

To use this pattern successfully with a woven fabric, one can either lower the top seam or one can add a dart. I chose to add a dart and I’ve chronicled my journey to do so.

First draw a line from the notch through the cup. This line can vary a bit, but only a test cup will tell you if you have an appropriate line through the apex.

Next I cut off the top line of the cup and slashed up from the bottom of the cup to the notch, but not cutting through it.

Now you want to open up the cup to create the dart. This amount varies based on the cup size. If you are an A cup, open it 1/4″. B cup 1/2″, etc. Increasing the amount by 1/4″ for each cup. For my cup, I’m the I cup, so its 9 sizes up, making it 2 1/4″.

Next you need to round out the top of the cup to be a smooth curve.

From the notch point on the new outside edge, mark in 1/4″ for the seam allowance, then measure down the center of the dart 1/8″ for each cup size. I moved it 1 1/8″. This marks the bust point.

Draw in the dart from that point to both sides of the original pattern.

Draw in your 1/4″ seam allowance.

Cut out the dart and the remaining pattern piece and voila- a darted cup that is appropriate for the bust size.

I may add this cup to the downloadables, but it takes a bit to grade all the patterns.

How to Measure for a Bra

I often wonder why people find it so difficult to measure for your bra size. There is a simple formula, but the downfall is that if you are wearing the wrong size bra initially, the measurements will be wrong. Let me explain.

When we wear the proper bra, our bust sits so the bust point (very nice way to say nipple) at the center of our breast. If you are wearing a cup size too small or a cup that stretches too much, you will have “droopy boobs.” When the breasts are droopy, the bust measurement will measure smaller than it should.

This is also the problem is you are wearing the wrong size band. The band will make everything sit lower on the body, hence wrong measurements.

For my sew-a-longs, you can refer to these sizing charts (please note that the bras in my book might be off and I will be working on updating them by the end of the year). These directions work for most American brand bras and will also work for my 3 piece cup bra.

The Band Size

Once you have the correct band size, then you can start trying to figure out the cup size. But first, grab your tape measure and take two measurements. You want to take a snug measurement under your bust at the rib cage. Round to the nearest whole number. Write this down.

The second measurement you need to take is the over bust measurement. Also take this measurement snug. This is above all the breast tissue on the chest. Write this measurement down again rounding to the nearest whole number.

Refer to the following chart and use both the measurements you took to find your band size. If you prefer to just do the math, add the two numbers together and divide by 2. The nearest even number is your band size.

The Cup Size

The next measurement is the bust measurement. This amount will change as you may not be wearing the right size currently, but its a place to start. Try to measure over the bust point around the body.

You can use the following chart to compare the band size to the bust size and determine the cup size.

According to my sizes, I should be wearing a 36J. I cut all the pieces out for the cup in muslin. (You should be using a woven fabric for this pattern.)

All the bra pieces have 1/4″ seam allowance, so an easy way to figure out where 1/4″ sits on your sewing machine is to measure from the needle out on the foot to see where 1/4″ falls. On my machine, the 1/4″ is half way through my foot (mine has a big foot).

First you need to sew the top and bottom cup together. The notches should line up, but if they don’t, don’t stress about making them match perfectly.

Press the seam open. I used my fancy bra ham to iron around the curve. (And yes, I will be making these available as soon as I can figure out an inexpensive alternative to the wood block my husband had to cut out with his fancy tools).

Then sew the side cup to the pieces you already sewed together. Make sure that where you sew (at 1/4″) the seams meet up as pictured. Again, press after sewing.

I sewed a sample cup of the 36J in muslin and discovered it was slightly too big. I attribute this to not taking the bust measurement snug enough.

I then sewed the 36I, one size smaller and it fit really well. I also sewed underwire channeling onto the edge of the cup so I could see how it fit with the correct underwire. When I sewed the channeling, I just sewed it at 1/4″ from the edge of the muslin.

It fit much better!

Here is a sneak preview of the fabrics I’ll be using for the first bra sew along. I’ll put together kits of this fabric selection when I release my sew along so if you want the same custom made bra for yourself, you can have one. Happy fitting!

Updated Tables for Bare Essentials: Bras

I have finally updated my charts for the book. I have on my agenda to update the full book by the end of the year. In the update for the digital books, I will update the existing files so they should be updated for those who already purchased the digital books. I will double check how that works to make sure that is the case.

Here are the updated tables for pages 22 through 25. I also realize that this means that my bra patterns (from the book) must be off by 2 sizes as well. I want to get this updated too, but again, I am just one person, balancing a toddler and a store.

Fixed tables for Bare Essentials: Bras

You will be happy to learn that I now have 2 employees to help with my work load and am in the process of getting someone full time. Yay me! I’m an employer!

For a quick update on my 3 piece bra cup patterns, I am formatting each file, but so far have finalized sizes 28A-J, 30A-J, 32A-L, 34A-L and 36A-L. I hope to finish these up in the next few days. I want to sew a few sizes together first on my side to just double check my work, so it might be another 2 weeks before I do my sew along. I will probably pull together a few kits for those who want to make the same bra as me.

I will be sending my testers the full pattern for their size and will finally do my sew along. If you wanted to test and didn’t get to, sorry you missed the chance, but I tested what I needed to test. I might do another pattern test again in the future, so keep checking back in.

Chart Changes to Bare Essentials: Bras

I’m so glad I have been using testers to help me determine the fit of my 3 piece cup. After collecting everyone’s data, I realized every person’s size was off by 2 cup sizes. I used the wire and cup size chart from my book and low and behold, I find a mistake.

I don’t think it would affect the drafting in the book, but I did discover that my numbers for the bust diameter is off by 1 full number. For example a diameter of 11.5 would actually be 12.5 on my chart. That could be causing people to be using the wrong wires or making the wrong size.

I just can’t believe it has taken me nearly 3 years to find this mistake. I don’t know how big of a difference that will make since many people had a hard time taking accurate measurements of that amount.

I will definitely be updating the book by the end of the year.

For all my testers, I’ll be sending you the updated patterns by the end of the weekend. I’m almost finished with the full pattern. I just have the back band to complete.

Bra book update now available

I have been pretty sick the last few days so I have taken advantage of all the couch time to make the changes to the book. I haven’t updated the ebook or physical book completely, but you can download this file. This incorporates all the major changes I have found that needed to be addressed.

If, in your own work, you have discovered other changes that you would recommend, please email me and let me know so I can review them and get those changes taken care of.

I am still working on the patterns. They take forever to do and I think I found another issue with the one I was grading, but thats because I didn’t use the correct file. Ahh!

Anyway, I really hope this sore throat goes away soon. It is driving me mad!

BTW- Emily started something really cute today. Well, maybe not cute, but I found it interesting. She spends most of her day crawling around playing with things on the floor. On 4 separate occasions, she has crawled up to me, cried, and when I picked her up, realized she was telling me her diaper needed changing. Too bad she doesn’t do that do David who is sitting across the room from me. And if she is, he must be ignoring her.

Experimenting with new directions

I can’t tell you how many samples I made of the bras as I was developing the book. I had them coming out of my ears and had nightmares about them. And I’m still making them.

I wrote the book before having children and the directions worked and supposedly supported. Now nearly two years later I am realizing my directions and patterns aren’t great for the saggy boob. I am developing a set of slightly altered directions which should give a little more support for the ladies who need it.

I’ll beta test the directions here next week after I do a few samples for myself. I would love to get feedback on the changes. If they work a little better, I’ll work on updating the book for a second edition as well as updated patterns. Grading some 100 patterns take time, so don’t expect them to be done overnight.

I would also like to open up the conversation if there are any other changes I need to make to the book or sections to add.

I have a quick measurement comment about finding your correct bra size for sagging breasts. When measuring the bust diameter, it should actually be done au natural, sagging and all. Stand in front of the mirror, measure from the center where you start seeing the bust sag and measure straight across the chest until you reach the point on the other side where the breast starts to sag. That measurement on me matches the bra size I wear currently. I thought it was going to be difficult to figure out measurements for women post baby, but this worked on me. Does it work for you?

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Bra Pattern Making Modifications Part 2

I actually found a little time today to do some drafting. I really get things done when I follow my to-do list. I do have to admit that the first thing on today’s list was cleaning the store and the stock room and it took me a good 2+ hours to do. 1 1/2 hours into cleaning, I moved one of the fabric poles and smashed a light in the stock room. That led to the extensive cleaning session.

Anyway, on to the drafting. I decided to take tons of pictures, so this might get a little annoying. I documented all the steps from start to finish. I sewed half the bra today. I’ll finish up tomorrow with a picture of the finished product. This is a little tutorial of turning the 2 piece cup into a 3 piece cup with a little styling.

1. The first thing I did was make manila patterns of my base size in the 2 piece cup. I always use the 2 piece cup. That way it is easy to alter the cup to whatever design you wish.

2. Trace off the cup pieces on pattern paper using the grid of the paper to line up the cup grain lines.

3. Alter the strap placement before doing anything.

4. I altered the apex point to position the bust more front and center. I am making the 36H. If you are making a cup up to an F cup, you might not want to do this. This move is for the plus sized bust so it will position the bust more in the center of the body as opposed to closer to the armpit. I have a bra that does it closer to the armpit and my ladies get in the way when I reach up in the cabinet for things.

5. The next few steps I played around with adding the side panel. Its kind of hard to explain what I did, so here is the series of photos I took. In this first pic. I thought I knew where I wanted the line. What I did was draw in the seam allowance of 1/4″ and overlapped the seam line at both points. This removed some of the curve, but thats a good thing since you want more support here.

6. I changed my mind of where I wanted the seam line after I lined them up. I drew in the new line, but what happened was that the seam to the right no longer lined up on the seam line.

7. So I fixed it and moved the piece ever so slightly so the seam lines met.

8. I cut off the rest of the top cup and taped it back on the piece it originally came from. I separated the full side panel.

9. I reshaped the outer curve on the left side of the side cup. I made my markings in red. I also indicated where I would need to add seam allowance.

10. I decided to make a diagonal seam that goes through the apex. I cut off the piece on the top cup.

11. I basically need to merge these two pieces. I have one method in my book, but after reviewing it. It just is way too confusing.

12. So I flipped the piece over and basically added it to the bottom cup. I lined up the cut line to the seam line on the bottom cup and they match almost perfectly. Because I lined it up this way, the seam allowance is included on the top of this cut piece. If you are confused. Stop, think about it and wait for it to make sense. I had to do this, twice.

13. I then reshape the curve on the bottom cup and cut off a piece to add to the top cut. Don’t forget where the apex notch was. You should keep this.

14. I did the same thing on the top piece by flipping the pattern piece and taping it together. Basically this works because you need to incorporate the same volume you remove. Subtract from one piece, add to another.

15. Add seam allowance to the vertical seam only. I also added back my notches and added a notch to the side cup to line up the other two pieces. Voila- patterns for cup are finished. Now the true test whether I did good will be to make my sample.

Stay tuned to see the finished sample. Plus I’ll grade this pattern once I check that it fits right. I also want to do a little tutorial at some point about grading the cup when the seam does not go through the apex.

I also didn’t address walking the seams, because these all lined up fine.

Bra Pattern Making Modifications – Part 1

I have been working all week with a designer developing a lingerie collection. We made several samples of bras to see what size she actually wears. We have yet to find out which size. She came to me as a 34DDD or a 34F. We have tested sizes 34G, 34H, 34I and when those weren’t working, I took her measurements again and went straight to the 34L. Still none were working well.

The 34L was to big, but then again, the 2 piece cup isn’t meant to fit a lady that large. She has been wearing a 34F, so out of frustration, we took the 34G and made it into 3 pieces. But before we did that, we moved the apex point about 1/2″ – 5/8″ towards the center of the body.

This is a modification I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. I don’t think the smaller cups need this change, but the larger cups need a little repositioning. And please feel free to tell me if it doesn’t work for you.

For reference, we are using the basic pattern I have on my website. And I can’t reiterate this enough – This pattern is not meant to be used unmodified. It is a basic shape to manipulate into a cup of your own design. I can’t tell you how many people contact me to ask me why I don’t have a picture of the style on my website. I have to email them to tell them it is an ugly style that is meant to be altered. Maybe I shouldn’t phrase it that way, I lose the sale. But honestly I don’t want people just making a fashion bra straight from this pattern. It is UGLY.

I traced off the 34G. Repositioned the strap placement (which was the first correction I listed last year and you can find it on this blog). Then found the new point for the apex. Moving this over I was able to remove part of the curve on the side of the cup and add a little volume to the center front of the cup. I marked the new cup shape in red. You could potentially do a little more, but unfortunately, you will need to do a sample to test the fit.

I then converted it to a 3 piece cup. I’ll show those steps in the next entry. I neglected to take pictures because I have been racking my brain on another way to demonstrate it.

I can definitely tell you that removing all curve from the third piece on the side panel really helped the shape a lot. I will photograph steps today and get them posted tomorrow and we will even be grading the 3 piece cup, so I’ll take some pics of those too.

Until then, I have to drink some coffee, which I have none of, so I’ll be stopping at the Circle K at the bottom of the mountain again.

On another unrelated lingerie note, Emily, who is now 9 months old is going through bouts of sleep regression. I honestly think she wants and craves more solid food as her digestion has sped up with the milk and she wakes up hungry at night again. The issue with that is, I’m the only one who gives her solid food. David is slightly rejecting it and he’s had her all week while I’ve been training.

And yet again another note- I’m quite affordable these days for lingerie or any type of training. $30 an hour or a full day for $250.

Well, chat later tomorrow.

Top Cup Pattern Alteration

I just made myself a very pretty bra, but forgot to follow my own directions of testing the fit before actually cutting the good fabric. I discovered that the pattern for the top cup that I have included in my book may need to be altered. When I made my sample, the strap point on the front cut way to far to my arm.

To make a quick fix of the top cup, trace off the top cup onto another piece of paper. Fold the two ends towards each other. Crease the center clearly. Open it back up and take the side with the strap placement on it and fold it towards the center crease line. Line up the edge of the cup to the crease line and press the new fold line. This line marks the 1/4 point on the cup. From this point, begin your strap placement. I just altered the 34G and had to move the strap placement over by a full inch.

Sorry the image being sideways. I can’t figure how to rotate the image in Blogger.

Bare Essentials: Bras is done!

After laboring over this book for the last 6 months, it is finally done. Six months is a long time for me to complete a book. All my other books took me 3 months or less to write. Bras are a complicated creature to deal with. I feel like I need a vacation after giving birth to this baby. Or maybe just a glass of wine will suffice.

I think I’m going to go drill holes in the kitchen cabinets now. I want my kitchen remodel completed and I can only do that if I actually do things to it.

Other than the kitchen remodel, I am itching to make some clothes for myself and maybe for my business. I have a great sweater design in my head that I need to get down on to pattern paper.