Final set of measurements for the custom draft

I had intentions of getting this video done on Monday, but my shop was a disaster and I had to work on cleaning my desk off. I finally completed clearing my desk off yesterday, so here is the promised video. Please disregard my difficulty in holding my wires for measurements. Please measure in front of a mirror and not in front of a camera.

These directions are what you will need for your custom drafted sloper. I’ll begin recording the drafting tomorrow, but they might not be available until next week.

Another reason I have been slow to post is that I’ve been working on grading a new pattern for my website and in the process, I recorded the steps with the software on how I did it. Those won’t be available until after I complete the drafting directions, so know I have some goodies coming soon.

I make a mistake in the video when I’m talking about the wire size I’m using. See if you can find it.

Preliminary steps for drafting your own bra

I made a couple “raw” videos on measuring. These are just the first steps. There will an additional measuring video once we begin our draft. I will be filming the draft in many steps and will so shorter 5-8 minute videos of each step so its easier to keep up. But for now, this first video is a basic how to measure for your “standard” bra size. I put standard into quotes, because no body actually really fits a standard size.

The standard size measure is to find your starting point. In this video I measured 37 under and 41 over and chose the 38 band to work with. One thing I didn’t mention is that if I were to try on a ready to wear bra, I might also try the 40 band, but step down to the I cup.

Bras are complicated and there is really no one right way to do it. So take a deep breath and forget the numbers and letters you are coming up with and just go with the flow.

This second video is to help you determine which wires to try out when ordering. The larger the cup, the more challenges you might have, so you might need a wider range of wires to test. If you are smaller, meaning you are less than a G cup, you can probably try the suggested wire and then go up and down a size to test too. Bra making in its initial steps is going to be expensive, but once you have the hang of it, you will be creating beautiful bras and at a fraction of the price you’d be buying them in the fancy stores.

UPDATE: Before watching the following video- print this following chart out. I published the wrong size chart in both the video and the first printing of the book. I just updated it, so any new book purchases after 11-1-2016 should have the correct chart.

Remember that most places you order wires from do have a return policy, so extra wires can always be returned, but as a small business I need to express – you will be responsible for shipping costs for returns whether the wires you order fit you or not. And I know this goes for all the other bra wire suppliers out there too. Wires do not come in a one size fits all package. There can be hundreds to choose from, including demi, short, long, etc. The draft we will be working on is a full coverage “block.”

This means that this draft can be manipulated into other shapes and sizes, so your initial draft might not be the best shape for you. We will get to that after our draft. See you soon for our draft.

Drafting a Bra Sling Tutorial

I created this lower cup sling idea about a month ago when I was having issues with my cups pulling out of shape on my bras. I mostly use woven fabrics with no stretch, but when you have a lot of weight hitting the bias of the fabrics, it made funny creases on my bra that were visible on the outside of my clothes.

I drafted this cup by thinking of the engineering of a bra and also the engineering of life. I though that if I could distribute the weight across the inside of the cup with a sling (like a hammock) it might take some weight off the cup itself. Anyway, I’m a J cup and this actually did the trick for me. I can’t say everyone will have the same results as me, but I had a lot of requests for me to post directions on how to do it.

Since I’m trying this whole video thing, I decided to film it instead of me trying to photograph the steps then write it all down. Video is so much easier. Here is your video.

Adjusting strap placement

In this sample we are moving the strap placement.

Step 1: Draw in your seam allowance at 1/4″

Step 2: Take your two patterns pieces and overlap the seam line and tape down.

Step 3: Use the french ruler and reshape the strap position

Step 4: Cut off change and tape down to the new position.

Step 5: Separate the two pattern pieces.

Grading a 3 piece cup – Part 2

I really thought this would be an easy process for grading a single bust diameter into different bands. Boy was I mistaken. Because its 3 pieces and not 2, I couldn’t even really refer to my book, except for how much the circumference of the cup changes.

I have now officially spend 7 hours on this today! And I found a little mistake from yesterday’s grading, but it was only in the notch placement on the top cup. The walking and walking and measuring and measuring is about to drive me mad.

My only fear at this point is sewing one of each size. I am planning to create a full range of sizes from 28A through 50something. I figure I’ll make up to what I have underwires for. If I have a need for larger sizes, I’ll have to have some new underwires made.

I am seriously exhausted, but in the mean time I spent 5 minute breaks throughout the day setting up my new computer. Oh yeah, I got a new computer.

Its a touch screen one, but I am still having trouble figuring it out. I’m just opting right now to use the touchpad. And don’t get me started on Windows 8. All I can say “What the hell were they thinking?”

Luckily I was able to get my student/teacher version of CS4 running on the new computer even though I had installed one of the programs previously on my other laptop. Maybe it reported to Adobe that I uninstalled it from the other laptop. Lets hope. I loaded the program and it accepted my key code, so I’m crossing my fingers for no issues.

Anyway, here are images of what I did today with my illustrator grade rules.

Grading the 3 piece cup

I have spent the better part of 2 full days figuring out the grading for my 3 piece bra cup. I graded one band size for 4 cup sizes by hand last week. I spend most of yesterday determining that my measurements were not exact enough. I finished yesterday thinking I had corrected everything.

I had walked the interior seams of the cup and they all matched after many many changes. I realized when I left work that I had neglected the walk the outer seams with the band. Duh! Well, that took another 8 hours today. I am finally satisfied with my grade “rules” that I will begin grading other band sizes this week.

This is what my final graded 36 band looks like. If you can figure it out, go right ahead and be my guest to use my grade rules. I graded everything in Illustrator so I can make pdf patterns to print for classes.

I had started to write grading directions for this cup, but after the last 16 hours spent on this, someone would have to pay me lots of money to do that, or I would have to have a ridiculous amount of free time.

I don’t think either are happening anytime soon so here you go.

And I have a new draft!

I made a few more changes and I’m very happy with my new draft, but give it some time and I’ll hate it again. I made some modifications to the one I posted before, so I deleted that post. I will do my best to list most of the steps so people can try them out. I just don’t want to write the book on the blog.

I am going to make a 3 piece cup, now that the cups fit me well I shall see if I get a little more support with the third piece.

Then I have to test grading the pattern. Oh what fun!

First you need to know what band size, underwire/size you wear and what the diameter of your bust is. To get your band size, measure your under bust measurement. Then take your chest measurement (above bust). Take the average number of the two and round to the nearest even number. That is your band.

Then you need the bust measurement. If you want to do accurate, you need to measure each breast. Measure from your center front where the breast starts, measure across to the other side where the breast ends. I have discovered that it does not matter if you sag or don’t, this amount will not change. On a sagging breast, measure from the front (looking in the mirror) from where you start to see the breast definition (even if sagging), then measure straight across to the other side where you see the end of the breast definition.

Even with accurate measuring your bust size could vary as some women aren’t symmetrical. Try a sample in the side you choose and the size above what you are calculating. The charts below can get you some info.

You need to get your wire diameter too.

Band Draft

On paper, using a ruler and a compass, draw a circle the diameter of the wire. Draw a box around it. To the right, draw a parallel line 3/8″-3/4″. I used 3/8″.

At the right side center, mark up a line 3/4″ up on the line. If you use 3/4″, go to the right 1/8″ (as pictured- although I erased it in a step later because I used 3/8″), if you use smaller, keep the line where it is.

On the left, mark up 1″ from the center and over to the left by 1/4″. See Pic below.

I decided to split the ratio up on the band, so take your chest and under bust measurements and find 60% for the front and 40% for the back. (before I had just split it 50/50). Then take 1/2 of each measurement.

On the top line on your grid, mark from the far right out the front measurement in a straight line. On the bottom line, measure out the under bust front measurement. I had some complicated calculation in the book to figure this out and felt that could go away. Connect the two lines with a straight line.

Reduce your back measurements by multiplying the back amounts by .75. Square a line out from the top and bottom lines these amounts.

Then you just need to shape the neckline and waistline. At the side seam measure about 1/4″ up. Under the circle, measure down 3/8″ – 3/4″ (depends on the elastic you use). I used 1/2″. At the CF waistline, measure up 1/4″.

To find the top of the side seam, duplicate the height of the center front bridge as the side seam. Half way between the CB and the side seam crease and find the strap placement. Use your curves to make your band shape. The Cb depends on the hook and eye tape.

New cup draft

Take your ruler and compass and draw a circle the diameter of the bust. Divide the circle in 4 equal parts and cut the top from the bottom.

On the bottom piece, cut down the center line but keep it attached at the circle. Open the top of the circle 1 1/2″ and tape both sides down.

On the right side of the split lower it 10% of your bust diameter. Take your wire diameter, multiply it by Pi and divide by 4. Take that measurement and measure up the sides from the center slip with you flexible ruler.

On the left side, extend the line 10% of the diameter. On the lower right side, measure up 2.5% at the center point, on the left side, measure down 5% in the center and blend a curve from each point.

Before going further, measure from right tip to left tip to make sure it measrues the bust diameter. If it doesn’t adjust it.

On the top right line, mark up 2.5% at the half way point. On the left side, measure up 5%. Blend and curve.

Now for the top cup. Start the top cup just like you did on the lower cup. Split and open 1 1/2″. Leave the curve attached at the top. (The top and bottom have the same curve) Make sure to measure from point to  point to make sure it  matches the bust diameter.

Walk the lower cup into the band, then walk the top cup and mark where the cup hits the band.

Find the half way point from the far left side to the left side of the slit. Follow the half way point up from the curve 20% of the bust diameter and square across 1/2″ to 1″ depending on your strap size.

Blend and create your armhole and neckline shapes.


Test and try!

Three Piece Bra Cup

It really is amazing how much I can accomplish when I actually have a list and print it out. Keeping my list on my computer causes me to check Facebook way too often. And that sucks up a day.

I finished the bra sample, but before I get to that. I made an oops. I forgot to add the seam allowance to a small section of the side cup.


After the fix:

I also moved my notch. I must have been half asleep or distracted by my kiddo. The seams walked almost perfectly. I think there was about 1/16″ to 1/8″ difference, so I didn’t bother to fix it. I figure it worked itself out in my cutting and sewing.

Here is the finished bra. Yes, it looks like it could transport 2 large boulders, but then again, it does.

The apex of the cup seems a little pointy. It could be my sewing, but I’ll double check my pattern and maybe remove about 1/8″ off the apex point. I also wanted to try a different seam stitching over the cup seams. Instead of doing 2 straight stitches to stitch down the seam, I used a zigzag stitch instead.

I also discovered that one of my basic machines does a beautiful 3 step zigzag. I am now in love with this machine. I feel bad, because its not my grandmother’s Kenmore. It was probably someone else’s grandmother’s Kenmore. I love vintage machines. They will probably outlive me and I am much happier sewing on a 30+ year old machine.