Confused by our wire codes? We have regular shaped underwires R1 and R2. R1 is 10mm longer in the front than R2.R = Regular. But both are still considered to be regular length wires. Our HFLA wires are 5mm shorter than the R2 but also 5mm narrower. It flares in 5mm at the arm which is a nice alternative to a vertical wire which are also on their way. These are all nylon coated.
So from shortest to longest is goes Plunge, Demi, LFHA1, HFLA, R2, R1. I hope this isn’t terribly confusing. We needed to keep something close to our internal skus to make sure you get the right wire but wanted to dispense with fanciful names since we will be stock dozens of different underwire styles to give you the variety you need to create the bras of your dreams. Because we are all just a little bit different and so are our boobs.
EDIT: We’ve since added many new styles since this original post which can be found here. https://bramaking.supplies/bra-underwires/
Ever wanted to sew your own bra but was confused by all the special notions required. You’ve got your pattern and your fabric and are all ready to go but it requires stuff you’ve never heard of and you can’t find at your local Joann’s. Luckily at Arte Crafts Bra Making Supplies we stock everything you need. Let me run down what you need and why and how much you’d need for the average underwire bra.
For a bra, you need 2 different types of elastic. One is called plush back finishing elastic and it has one side that is plush like velvet that goes against your skin and the other that is plain. It usually has a picot edge but can also have a plain or scalloped edge. You use this type of elastic for the bottom band of your bra and the underarm. You need 1-1.5 yards of a 1/2″ or 3/4″ plush back finishing elastic for the bottom band and about 1.5 yards of 3/8″ or 1/2″ for the underarm area. You can also use this elastic for finishing the neckline edge.
The other kind of elastic needed for an average bra is called plush back strap elastic. This can have a matte or satin finish and can have a plain or decorative edge. It is similar to finishing elastic in that it has a plush back that goes against your skin for comfort but it is much firmer to provide support. It is used to make the shoulder straps of the bra. Finishing elastic and strap elastic are not interchangeable. If you use finishing elastic for straps alone they will stretch out and if you use strap elastic for the band of your bra it will be uncomfortable as it will not stretch enough so you can comfortably breathe. One yard of strap elastic is enough for the average bra.
If you want to make your straps adjustable like store bought bras you will need rings and sliders. You will need 2 rings and 2 sliders. They come in several different materials from dyeable nylon plastic to nylon coated metal that comes in a variety of colors or premium metals with silver, gold, copper or bronze finishes. Nickel free rings and sliders are ideal if you have metal sensitivities.
If you are going to put an underwire into your bra your going to need underwire channeling. This is a soft woven tube 3/8″ that comes in a variety of colors. It is plush on one side and plain woven on the other. The plush side goes against your body for comfort. You sew it around the cup of your bra and insert an underwire into it. 1 yard is sufficient for most bras.
Of course, then you’ll need an underwire to put into. The average bra uses what is called a regular length underwire which is a round shape with the wire being slightly shorter in the front. There are many variations on the basic underwire which I will cover in another post but for your first bra start with a regular wire. See this post for more information on choosing the correct size wire.
The final thing you will need is a set of hook and eye closures OR a length of hook and eye tape. I prefer the prefinished kind. They have 2-3 rows of hooks and a plush back for comfort. They come in a variety of widths and colors You need one set in the size indicated by your pattern.
Hopefully this simple article with help you pick the right materials for your next bra project without the stress of getting the wrong thing. Everything I source for Arte Crafts is RTW (ready to wear) quality to help you create bras that are as good if not better than what you can buy. What the industry uses is what I stock and I get from the same suppliers as some of the biggest names in lingerie.
This monday my inspiration is just one style which I plan to make my own pattern for (eventually). I actually did end up ordering this bra but returned it because while it fit ok and I liked the style the matching panties were not my friend and it seems a waste not to have a matching set. Of course I did take notes and photos. This style did have a slight choking effect which could be remedied by making the halter parts a big longer. I tried the 36D. It had interesting details like a single dart cup and elastic on the inside of the cup that cupped the top of the breast and gave it shape. The halter and cup are separate pattern pieces and the join is hidden by this elastic and the lace on the outside. Also an internal sling panel made out of non stretch cup lining. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
No Bra-spiration Monday this week because I wanted to do a quick first impression review on the PGM Lingerie Form I just purchased. This is a new product for PGM, a dress form manufacturer based here in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve own PGM forms before I had a regular dress form from them which I used during my program at FIDM. Back then they had a student special for $99 not sure if they still offer it quite that cheap but they still have discounts for qualified students. I remember wheeling it many blocks through downtown LA back to the parking garage. It wasn’t the most expensive dress form on the market but it did its job well. After that I got a used full body bipedal by Wolf Forms which are a premium professional dress form maker. Unfortunately it did not have defined separate breasts so I sold it a couple of years ago.
So I was in the market for a new form specifically for my bra making needs. I had seen that PGM had recently released this one specifically marketed for lingerie/bridal. It is available in 3 configurations. The table top version which I purchased and two other options with a rolling stand either inserted in one leg or in the center of the form. The cost was $189 which is very reasonable compared to other professional dress form brands. I choose to purchase a size 8 as it’s advertised measurements were the closest to the standardized 34B that I was looking for in order to proceed with my Project Pattern Making: Bra Edition series. The forms are advertised as being a B cup though the company offers customization for larger breast sizes
The form itself is fairly lightweight which is useful for being able to pull it out and place it on a table. However it was a bit of a challenge to keep it upright while I was comparing the form to the measurements listed on the product website. I might consider weighting down the legs a little in the future. The form still comes with the mounting hole for a cast iron base so it can be converted to a regular stand at a later date. I currently don’t have room for a free-standing form so I choose the table top version rather than getting another full body form like my previous one. It is $50 cheaper to purchase the tabletop version.
This form does not have collapsible shoulders like you would find in a standard dressmakers form. However for the intended purpose of lingerie this is not necessary. The most important part is that it was separate and defined breasts. I would consider the shape semi-natural. Pretty good as far as dress forms go but not as anatomically correct as an Alvaform dress form would be but for 10% of the cost I’m happy with it. The form has a rather flattened rear end which is a little disappointing considering the regular forms from PGM tend to have a nicely shaped rear. However it is probably appropriate for the size of the form.
Aesthetics wise it’s pleasing to look at with an natural oatmeal colored fabric covering and a silver and gold topper and would add a nice touch to any studio. However the silver rim of the topper did come off easily so that’s a negative though easily fixed. This form doesn’t have the level of craftsmanship that my previous Wolf Form had but again for the price it’s a very acceptable alternative especially considering for most people ~$200 for a dress form is still a substantial investment. It’s only went compared to a Wolf ($1000 retail) or Alvanon ($2000 retail) that its seems to be a bargain. The fabric is easily pinnable though something to note with professional dress forms is that you pin at an angle into the fabric rather that into the form itself which is made from paper mache
Measurements wise this form has a 29.5″ underbust, 34″ upper bust and 36″ full bust which is very close to the advertised measurements with only the full bust being 0.5″ off but that maybe the inaccuracy of my measuring. I tested out a couple of underwire sizes against the breast root and while a 34 underwire fits ok I feel the 36 fits better. So this form might really be a 34C or at the very least a slightly larger B cup. I will do a breast root trace and compare. I tend to size based on the upper bust measurement rather than the underbust.
There are several schools of thought for calculating band size. Underbust plus 4″ or underbust plus 0″ or some combination thereof or upper bust plus 0″. This would size my dress form anywhere from the 34B as stated by the manufacturer to a 32F as suggested by one online calculator. Time will tell if I reclassify this lovely lady into a different size.
This is the form I will use for my next installment of my pattern making series and I will be starting with Mark Garbarczyk’s method as published in Foundation’s Revealed. If you don’t already belong to this website I highly recommend it especially since they offer a one month free trial. Mark was kind enough to email that he was following the series and made sure I had the sewing directions on how to put together his pattern as intended. I would like to encourage anyone who wants to join in to post their projects on the bra making forum.
I still haven’t settled on the fabrics I will use for the entire project but I’m thinking based on what will be available for most of my readers that I will use tricot with my non stretch bridge and cup lining and powernet. I want to keep the fabrication consistent from sample to sample. I did consider using duoplex which I believe is the suggest fabric for Bra Makers Manual method but I believe tricot with a non stretch lining will give a similar result though knowing my what if tendencies I may end up making multiple samples with different fabrics.
I got a lot of great feedback about the scope of this project and it was suggested that the project would be much better if I used a larger mannequin size. I do agree to an extent but I believe the first round needs to be with a more standardized size as “some” of the methods are intended to work with. However an excellent part two to this series could be with other sizes. Large band with large cups, small band with large cups and large band with small cups. If I can find larger forms to test this out with I certainly will endeavour to do so.
The question as to why I wouldn’t use my own breasts for this test? The reason is it wouldn’t be a fair test. I have fairly atypical breasts as the result of massive weight loss which is still a work in progress. My breast most likely won’t be the same shape or size at the start of the project as they will be in the end. Also I feel if I test the methods first under perfect circumstances then any issues can be accurately traced to either the method or the maker rather than some combination of odd fit issues.
So now to start gathering your pattern paper, protractors and flexi rulers for the games are about to start.