Creating an all lace bra and think your stuck with either having to choose a partial band style or forced to chop the edge off in order to use a full band style? Well as I showed you in my lipstick red Marlborough you can have a full band style and still show off that pretty lace edges.
It’s a fairly simple adjustment and this tutorial will show you how to do it with both the pivot and the slash and spread method. Both give very similar results. This is my first time photographing a pattern and it’s been a learning process figuring out how to set it up so it makes sense in picture format. There was a lot of climbing on and off the photography stepstool and adjusting lighting. It wasn’t my most precise pattern-making but I’m a neat freak when it comes to patterns. Let me know if this is useful for you.
The first thing you want to do is take your frame, bridge and band pattern (not pictured) and remove the seam allowance from the bottom edge. Because the lace will be finishing the bottom edge of our bra we no longer need it. I also for simplicity removed ALL of the seam allowances from the entire pattern and for all steps I will be working with no seam allowances.
In order for the lace to be mirrored on the right and left side and to also maintain the curve of the frame, we want to move the seam between the frame and bridge from under the cups to center front. You want to find the center of your bridge pattern and cut it in half along the vertical axis. Discard the other half.
You want to trace around both the frame and the remaining half of the bridge to create a new pattern piece. This is what we will be using for both the pivot and the slash and spread method. I like to transfer to a new oaktag piece to make it easier to trace around. If you don’t have oaktag the pattern pieces are small enough that you can use a manilla folder.
Ok, I know what your thinking. We just trace the pattern piece and draw a straight line across averaging out the curves and we are done. Well, you could do that and it would be moderately successful especially if you used a dramatically scalloped lace. However just drawing a straight line doesn’t change how the cup and cradle relate to each other so the lace edge won’t wrap around the cup to create a nice curved edge. You’d just get a v shape which is also pretty but that would be a design change. Now the frame pattern I’m using above has a fairly U-shaped cradle so you would get a small amount of curving but not as much as the original design. So what we want to do is adjust the cradle at the same time we changing the bottom of the frame to a straight line. I know this makes you nervous because you assume changing the shape of the cradle will change the fit but the shape of the cradle is defined by the shape of the cups, the channeling, and the underwire. Also, the bottom of the band is a critical line of fit meaning changing the length of it can change the fit of your bra.
Before we start changing anything we need to setup our system of checks and balances. We need to measure the cradle seamline so we can recheck after we’ve altered our pattern to make sure it remains the same length so our cups will still fit. Mine was 25.5cm long. I also measured along the bottom, side seam and underarm area. This will come in useful later to correct and errors that might be introduced to your pattern.
We’ll start first with the pivot method. You want to start by drawing a line across your patternmaking paper. I use alpha-numeric marker making paper but any paper is fine. If you feel confident you can just trace straight onto oaktag.
You want to start by lining up the bottom of the band with the line you’ve just drawn. The basic idea is to draw around the pattern piece which constantly pivoting the pattern piece so the curved bottom of the band stays on the line. This is best done in one continuous movement. I kept on having to jump onto a box to photograph each step so my result was not as precise as it would be if I had done it in one fluid motion.
I’ve marked this first step in blue marker to clarify what you’re actually doing. You want to look and see what portion of the pattern sites on that line and mark and draw around the pattern until you are just above that point. Then you pivot the pattern and line up the next portion of the band with the straight line and trace around the top until you are just above that point. Depending on your curve you might find you are only tracing a few mm before having to pivot again. This is where doing this in one movement comes in handy.
Blurry but done. These seem like it takes a long time but in reality, once you’re used to this method it takes about 5-10 seconds to complete. If your Adobe Illustrator savvy you can use this method to do this pattern manipulation digitally. I’m not that confident with Adobe so prefer to work with pencil and paper.
The original pattern piece vs our new pattern piece. You can see the side seam and the underarm looks a little off. This occurred because the pattern piece moved when I was taking photos. If you were doing it all in one movement you’d have a firm grip on your pattern piece so it wouldn’t shift. However, this is an easy fix by using the original pattern piece as a template.
All fixed. I used the measurements I took before I started tracing the piece to adjust the band line to exactly the same length that way the fit is not affected.
You then want to transfer your pattern piece to another piece of oaktag. You can re-add seam allowances again at this point or leave it without as I have done with the above example. The kind of oaktag I like to use is green on the reverse side. This is useful for patternmaking if you want to make sure you don’t accidentally flip a pattern piece. But I’ve used the reverse side so you can compare the two shapes. You can see how the cradle seam has flattened and opened out.
You can see the difference better when the patterns are traced on top of each other. The original pattern used did not have an extreme curve, to begin with so the reshaping is subtle but like most things in bra making the subtle differences are very important.
Another method of doing this alteration which you may be more familiar with is the slash and spread method. The first step is to trace out your original pattern piece without all the seam allowances. This is important for this method. With the pivot method, you can leave the seam allowances intact and only remove the elastic allowance from the bottom.
For illustration purposes, I’ve drawn in the slash lines so you can visualize where you will cut. You need to cut out the pattern piece and then you cut along these lines. The purpose of this is to allow the bottom band edge to expand and contract to follow a straight line.
You should take another piece of pattern making paper and draw a guideline. You then will line up the bottom band edge with this line. Where the curve would be above the line you’ll need to spread the pattern piece apart and where the curve would be below the line you’ll need to overlap the pattern pieces. When you are happy that everything is lined up you will tape all the tiny pieces down making sure the length of the bottom line matches the original pattern piece.
Comparing the two methods the results are exactly the same. The oaktag needed ironing so the pattern piece curled up during the photo but the two pattern pieces are identical. Which method you use will depend on your preference. I hope this tutorial was useful and you could understand it despite my verbose style.
You can use the same method to convert the wing part of the band to a straight edge or you can cut the wing out of powernet as usual. I’ll post a tutorial on how to sew the elastic on a mixed powernet/lace bra soon.