Working With Bra Patterns

Every woman can attest to one fact: it’s hard to find the perfect bra. When you come to think of it, it makes sense—we’re all built differently, so buying off the rack will always be hit and miss. Those with money to spare can be professionally fitted and have custom-made innerwear, but for the rest, there’s another alternative: making your own.

Most people think it’s complicated, and it’s partly true—for one thing, you have to be more precise with your sizes than with pants or tops. But besides that, the steps are pretty simple. Most bra patterns are more or less alike, and you can safely change them up to accommodate your size. If you know your way around a sewing machine and a pair of scissors, you can make your own bra—the best you’ll ever own—in no time.

It starts with the right sizing. Measuring yourself for a bra is harder than it sounds, but certainly doable. First, measure under your bust and add four inches to the number. Some experts recommend rounding odd numbers up to the nearest even to make for easier measuring down the road. Next, you’ll need to measure your cup size. Take measurements around the biggest part of the bust and the part just above it, then use the difference as an indicator. A difference of one inch is an A cup, 2 inches is a B cup, and so on.

You can get to work with just these numbers, but if you want, you can take other measurements such as the distance between your breasts and your preferred strap length. Make sure to write everything down; you’d be surprised at how hard it is to remember when you start stitching away. Even so, you can adjust the distance between cups by just subtracting or adding from the middle of the pattern. Straps are usually added at the end, so there’s no use measuring beforehand—although you may want to mark off where the strap holders will be attached.

Don’t forget to stock up on materials besides the fabric, needle and thread. Use fiberfill to line the cups—one layer for a soft, light look and two to give it more shape. If you need a lot of support, double the outer fabric as well. Try it on once it’s usable; if you want, you can replace the nylon lace with a wide-stretch elastic—this usually fixes the problem.

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