The Quest of Designing a Sports Bra

In my quest to find my new identity as a designer I decided to start with a sport bra. I have been very uncomfortable in traditional bras for over a year, and find it virtually impossible to find one that fits, this was my natural first choice.

I started with a quick drawing of a styled design and dove head first to create my design. The one thing I neglected to do first was to make sure I had a really good fit before refining the design. That realization came around sample 4 or 5.

My first sample was a wrap bra, but I couldn’t get it on because I kept falling out from under it (the beauty of post baby). I scratched the idea of a wrap and altered it immediately to try to test the fit by sewing it at the side seams. The waistline was very loose, so I sewed it in 3 places to take it in. (Note that these are boring photos so I added some fun filters to them to spice this up a bit.)

This alteration made me think I needed to change the shape of the waistline to be curved, but I kept the elastic straight. Here is sample two. It actually fit well, but the elastic looked funny.

I decided to straighten the waistline at the bottom and curved the top part of it. I had to double layer the elastic in the front with my 1 1/2″ elastic and a 3″ elastic just to support the center front. The armhole of the last sample was cutting into my underarm, so I changed the armhole shape. I also added more room for the bust with some gathers under the bust.

This was probably my most uncomfortable sample, mainly because the elastic was too small. After I double layered it, the stretch of the elastic was restricted. The armhole was too far in the wrong direction, but it supported me!

I made the armhole bigger, basically undoing that change from the last sample. I also changed the waistband to be a little bigger. I was struggling with some upper back/shoulder area pain, so I played around with the strap placement. I stitched a second set of straps on to it. It actually ended up adding more pain.

I decided to scratch the seam detail at the front and digitized my pattern to make changes easier to make. I made some pretty big pattern changes. I wanted to test in my good fabric but I was unfortunately out at this point, so I had to resort to spandex, which honestly was too stretchy and the strap placement on the back was still hurting me.

I played around with the strap placement for two samples. I finally realized having the two separate layers in the back was the biggest problem for my lack of breast support. I made some minor adjustments then headed back to the computer to grade the pattern.

I finally decided to remove the curved bit on the front because I couldn’t expect people to have 10″ of 3″ wide elastic to make the curve. I ended up keeping the angle of the curve, which ended in this overlapped waistband at the front, which actually turned into a cool feature. Sorry the orientation is sideways. I must have had my phone tilted when I shot this.

I discovered that the main root of the upper back/shoulder pain was that my strap elastic was too stretchy, which caused my breast weight to put strain on the shoulders. The sports bra graveyard in my studio.

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