Making a bra pattern

Bra rub off can sound dirty, it’s when you make a sewing pattern off an already constructed piece of clothing. I haven’t tried to do this with currently wearable bras, but I hear it is totally doable. This is about is about when good underwires go bad. As a skilled seamstress I know working on a pattern could take anywhere from three to five makes to get the fit right. With a RTW one that already fit well I knew that number could be reduced.

Bra cup closeup

Just as I got up from the couch to get another glass of water I heard a snap. The underwire in one of my best fitting bras had broken in half. Now I have a handful of bra sewing patterns, some have been more successful than others but all have needed multiple alterations to fit my bust, this is just a fact of fitting one of our most variable body parts. They change after childbirth even if you don’t breast feed, they swell at your time of the month, one might be larger than the other (apparently asymmetry is natural and vital to our heart development, but I digress). Boobs, fun bags, breasts, tatas whatever you call the “girls” they are a tricky thing to fit, and if you are like me they have to be supported with an underwire.

Oh it’s a sad day when your vanilla boob safety blanket bites the dust, as a seamstress this was only a momentary loss.

Full bra partial band

I took the broken ready to wear bra up to the sewing room and got to ripping, seam ripping. The cups were multiple piece and I labeled them with blue painters’ tape to show right side up and what position in the cup it was. Then I traced the pieces on to an old file folder, I like oak tag for Tried and True patterns because it holds up to multiple makes. I added a tiny quarter inch to add to the little bit left in the bra pieces I traced. I also made notes of where there was fold over elastic and scallop lace edges.

I was surprised to see little bits of fold over elastic used in some interesting places.

Once the pattern was traced off and the pattern pieces had notes on them I had to examine the bra cup that wasn’t ripped apart and make construction notes. How do I add band elastic? Was it before or after the underwire channeling? Did the bridge have any extra foundation to strengthen it? Then I had to make a list of all the different elastics, picot edge band elastic, picot edged cup elastic, fold over elastic for the back sides and strap elastic were all part of the RTW bra.

Elastic is a “use it or loose it” material.

Once I had my instruction and list of materials, I began digging for my first franken bra. I call it that because I am not trying to match materials all that much in color and style, but structure. I want to make a bra that will be as similar to what my finished material make-up will be but if that means I am using old straps or mismatching hardware that is ok. My first iteration FIT! There were some notes taken, like how I needed to add tension to the bottom band elastic to curve around the cups or how open weave lace needs more stable backing like power mesh, but it’s in my wearable rotation, it’s just not burlesque show quality. Here is my latest matching set with my bra rub off pattern that fits me fabulously, don’t wait till the good underwire goes bad, give it a try.