Picture of Patternmaking tips for Bras
some patternmaking & sewing suggestions to help guide you through your first underwire experience
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Step 1: Breast basics

Picture of breast basics
before getting started, it is useful to review some basic breast physiology. you may have your own method for brushing up on this, but to aid in your research at home, here are one or two facts:
+each breast is 90% water, can weigh 200/800 gms, sits on the chest wall between the 2nd and 6th rib,

+statistically, left breasts are often slightly larger than right ones, (up to 2 cup sizes!) though i encourage anyone to challenge this by submitting your own research on the topic.

+breasts have no internal support structure and rely almost totally on skin tension for their shape. this is where the bra comes in.

Step 2: Making your pattern

Picture of making your pattern
you can do this however you like- above are some basic pattern shapes for a simple balcony bra (ive graded it for sizes 34 and 36B)

as with many things, the best way to learn is by taking a good bra apart. (its also possible just to reproduce the measurements of your current favorite bra . be exact; its deceptively easy shave off a few millimeters here and there and come out with a very odd looking bosom.)

Step 3: The underband

Picture of the underband
here is a picture of an ineffective underband.
the underband of your bra is critical for fit, support and comfort; it cantilevers the weight of the breast into the lower back, making a secure platform for the weight of the breast.

(keep in mind the length of the bra underband is smaller than the natural rib cage measurement of the wearer-- a common underband length for a 34 band bra is 24.5". The formula fit for a 34 band size has a 29/30 rib cage measurement-- therefore the underband has to stretch from 24.5"-29" when worn.

Step 4: Underwire

Picture of Underwire
your underwire should not sit straight in the x-y axis of the cradle, but should be offset by 5mm; when it is on it shifts back into place. basic wire length is 196mm, and when making your pattern, trace around the wire and extend the shape by 8mm at each end.

Step 5: Center front tape

Picture of center front tape
the key to getting that angle and uplift, this tiny piece of fabric between the cups is what determines how much cleavage is produced. it took a team of designers 6 months to work out the magic of the wonderbra (still the most popular bra style in the world), and the secret is in the angle at which the centerfront tape is cut. will i tell you the angles? go measure for yourself!

Step 6: Fabric & other components

Picture of fabric & other components
stretch fabric is preferable, obviously. even a silk that has 5% lycra works nicely. in general, you want the stretch in the cups to go horizontally so that the cup does not move up or down, or can be tilted a few degrees.

it can be tricky to find lycra lace in the color you like. dying fabric is, in my opinion, super fun. use hot water dye for anything with synthetics in it. i am particularly fond of dying lace in shades of cherry.

(i recommend the marche st pierre in the 18th arrondissement for the best european fabrics. its conveniently close to the moulin rouge, too, if you want additional inspiration. living next to that revered establishment resulted in a number of feathered bras and thongs.
or if you're in london, broadwick silks has a really spectacular taste and selection, and its just down the street from agent provocateur!)

in any case, you'll need your fabric, straps, clasp, additional elastic, and anything else you choose to add.

Step 7: Cutting & Sewing

trace your pattern onto selected fabric, and cut delicately. (alternatively, a laser cutter might work brilliantly, especially for slippery silks that you have to cut on the bias)

if using rare or expensive fabric, it is worth your time to make a toile (using a cheap but similar material) to work with the fit, before cutting and sewing the final.

once you're done, you can wear your new bra in a whole panoply of contexts. my favorite is lounging on a lazy and hot summer afternoon with a close friend, sharing secrets, sipping tea or a vodka tonic, and trying on underwear!

Step 8:

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zzhappy3 years ago
Great.That is amazing.I like this Bras.
deneicer14 years ago

Here is the page for the free bra pattern! It is on the Burda site...and you might have to read in the comments to figure out which pattern size you will need!

I wear a 34GG and I had to get pattern #5. I will have to alter it a bit down from the 36....but is pretty darn close!

I am excited to give it a try soon!

I will probably start some personal sewing after my daughter gets back to school from holiday.

Hope you all post great pics!
go to amazon/books/ hobbies and crafts/sewing. and type in underwear. there are a lot of them. I tried to post a link but it didn't show up as a link.
JenXer4 years ago
"here is a picture of an ineffective underband." LOL!! :D
you are great.
neffk4 years ago
Looks like good information but I wish I could find a set of patterns that had various sizes. Reverse engineering every piece of clothing I want to make takes a lot of time.
very helpful, thanks millons
fineline8 years ago
Great information - thank you for sharing ! Now lets see if I can make a 36G.
nehmah fineline5 years ago
good morning fineline; If you goto: www.burdastyle.com and check out the "free patterns" member fiefje has posted bra patterns and basic directions. There are, at last count, three styles, and I lost count of how many individual sizes. But, G was one of them. You do have to register to download patterns. It is still free, and not full of spam. Cordially, Nehmah
hi I couldnt seem to find the pattern could you post a link? thanks Stephanie
Hi Stephanie, I'll try but am lousy at linkage. There are two sites to cover. About both, you must be registered to download any pattern. It's free and the spam was minimal. Also, at the "old" site, the Sept.closing date is for real. If you want any of the free patterns best to download now. Many of these never made it to the new beta site. Here they are: http://old.burdastyle.com/patterns?filter=115&mostrecent and http://www.burdastyle.com/patterns/green-and-blue-lace-lingerie-set-5 for the others, change number from 1 to 6. Now, let's see if I got it right. Cordially, Nehmah
nehmah nehmah5 years ago
The second link to the new site may not work, due to registration restrictions. If you goto: http://www.burdastyle.com you get there, (on my username(?) oh well, as long as you get there. I hope that you find the site(s) they are useful. Cordially, Nehmah
nehmah nehmah5 years ago
NOTE: The "old.burdastyle.com" will be unavailable after September 30, 2009. If you want to download any of these patterns, get them now. They may not all be transferred over to the beta site. There are some super patterns on there that are still free. Cordially, Nehmah
Hi thanks going there now Stephanie
Thank you so much for the information. I have had many years of unfit, overpriced bras...and now I will make me some.
BoxOfAshes6 years ago
Sounds fun!! =]
Jollyrgr8 years ago
Actually the breasts do not rely on skin for support. Breasts are supported by Cooper's Ligaments. Ligaments stretch over time but do not rebound. Hence this will eventually lead to sagging if the breasts are not supported by some other means (i.e. a bra, corset, etc.)
I remembered reading from many places though, that bras actually contribute to sagging...
I'll also note It doesn't really matter if the breasts are supported. The ligaments weaken and stretch naturally, not because the breasts were unsupported, so they'll sag either way. Wearing a braw is more about keeping them shapely now, not so much preventing the sag later.
Breasts are going to sag anyways.. exercise can help but it's like other parts of the female and male anatomy... after a while nature takes its course downward with gravity
Looking for a patternmaker to help get a nursing bra biz up and going! Anyone up for a challenge with exciting possibilites?
akinich6 years ago
the first picture in which the bra and the person is in who is it can you paste more like that
Hey there, would you happend to have, or know where i can find info about underware grading?
karossii6 years ago
Of course every statistic has its exceptions, but my wife's right breast is the one which is larger... about half a cup size, though not quite.
kevinnjanet6 years ago
I need help I have a step daughter that has just gone beyond all things puchasable I cant sew is there anywhere or a maker that can make me a HHH or better bra please email me at kevinnjanethenry@aol.com she needs a bathing suit that hlods her in also I cant do it I cant even make a pattern of her body well too jerry springer she is 16 and I am dad just too well you know any help would be nice even fig leves doest have anything for her anymore would a taylor do this ? I cant find anything in my area at all please help picture this dolly parton without a bra yikes
sonisonali7 years ago
Dear jenna, extremely good information. will be very helpfull for my students.thanks. sonali
bumpus7 years ago
woah thats intresting, the left breast can be bigger than the other...wierd
CARLAELANE7 years ago
I´m pattermaking, I study about bras. Please Can I get the email of who did this? Dou you know some books it. Thanks carlaelane@ig.com.br carlaelane@hotmail.com
CARLAELANE7 years ago
step 4. I love it! Please,Can I get the email of who did this. carlaelane@ig.com.br carlaelane@hotmail.com
Wow, I had no idea one could make bras that look so good! That is amazing. Would you consider doing any um, challenging, custom work? (That sounded dirty - not what I meant) I'd love to hear from you if you have time: india_claire@msn.com -elise
CARLAELANE7 years ago
inquisitive7 years ago
Way to support the girls! I was a certified bra fitter for years {known in some circles as "The Bra Guru"} and really think the information you included on the physiology and engineering of the proper bra really quite superb! One thing I would remind makers is that it is all-too-common for women to wear bands too big and their cups too small. A good fitting can change your life!
Darkshot7 years ago
cool <):D
Delkaetre8 years ago
Very useful... the left/right imbalance in size holds true for me, so if I can make my own bra I can make sure that I've actually got support for both instead of feeling oddly lopsided! Now... to find some way of making a similarly accommodating steel-boned corset...
Austringer8 years ago
Mrs. Austringer wants to know where one can get underwires? I suggested that they could be forged from old box springs but she seems resistant to the idea.
One useful source is old worn-out bras. Any time I throw out a bra, I first cut out the underwires. The metal lasts a lot longer than the fabric!
dchall88 years ago
First of all, how the heck did I end up linking to THIS Instructable. The last thing I remember I was looking at a Universal Nut Sheller!?!?! Secondly, aren't you missing a few elements of the design? Maybe if I was more of a seamstress (or seamster), it would follow logically to the conclusion, but I need more drawings at least. Thirdly, I'm imagining Kathleen Turner's breathy voice saying, "my favorite is lounging on a lazy and hot summer afternoon with a close friend, sharing secrets, sipping tea or a vodka tonic, and trying on underwear!" and finally, I'm really a girl who wants to make a bra and I live near you, too. Maybe we can meet...and bring your friend Josefina.
Nilu8 years ago
Great. I learnt a lot. Thanks Jenna. Can I know more info on this.
TIP: Instead of real wire, I have used junk mail papers. Roll it, dunk it in decoupage-type medium, then shape when wet. Let dry and voila! Boob Tube.
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