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Wondering how to adjust your under band pattern pieces to get the perfect fit? Well, today’s quick tip is for you.
New blog post reviewing these two ladies coming soon.
Take your underbust measurement and calculate 10-15% of this measurement. What % you choose will depend on how firm your Powernet is and how tight you like the band. I prefer to subtract the whole 15%. Subtract this from your underbust measurement. You then must also subtract 2″/5cm for the hook and eye. However, if you are making a front closure bra you would subtract only the width of that closure.
Example for a 36 band with an actual underbust measurement of 32″
32″/ 81.2cm x 0.15 = 4.8″ / 12.18cm
32″/ 81.2cm – 4.8″ / 12.18cm = 27.2″ / 69.02cm
27.2″ / 69.02cm – 2″ / 5cm = 25.2″ / 64.02cm
Once you have calculated the finished length of your under band you need to compare it to your flat pattern. Since most patterns only cover half the bra you may want to divide this value by two. In my case that would be 12.6″ or 34.5cm. How this value gets distributed between the frame and band will depend on your pattern. You could take a second measurement across the front only from where you would like your side seams to be placed and use this to adjust the frame.
This is only a basic formula based on my education and experience in bra pattern making. Your results may vary but it’s a good method to use to avoid having to make random adjustments. This is an adjustment you could make to your pattern before the first fitting.
Hope this helps.
The simplified formula for this is 0.85x – 5cm with x = your underbust measurement. This is when you’re subtracting 15% for negative ease only.
This is a review that has taken me awhile to compile because I had some issues with this pattern that I wasn’t expecting based on the initial feedback the Harriet has received on the Bra Making Forum. So it took me a little while to investigate the whys and the analysis will hopefully help others fine tune the fit on their Harriet. The construction process for this pattern went smoothly, all the notches lined up and all the seam lengths matched. Aside from twisting one of the straps while sewing the Harriet, there were no construction issues to mention. So this review will focus primarily on the fit and grading.
The pattern used was the Cloth Habit 1003 Harriet in the size range 28-42 A-E. I used the latest version to be released. It features a 3 piece bra cup with a leotard style back. I used a kit from my store Arte Crafts featuring a pink stretch lace and gray bra tulle with pink and gray findings. I chose to use 2 sliders per strap rather than the traditional ring and slider.
I cut a 34B to fit both the mannequin I would be photographing on. I chose to cut the RTW size rather than follow the pattern sizing instructions for a few reasons. On the Bra Making Forum one of the most commonly asked questions about a pattern is how does the sizing compare to RTW sizing. Since I am making this sample for the sole purpose of this review then it makes sense to cut the RTW for my standardized dress form. It fits a 34B consistently in multiple brands so it’s a good measure of how a pattern compares to RTW sizing. The second reason is I know this form fits a size 34 underwire perfectly. The sizing guide for the Harriet recommended I cut a 30DDD/E which according to the wire chart provide by the pattern would mean using a size 36 wire since 30DDD/E is not a sister size of 34B. The wire I used matches the wire size chart in the pattern instructions to the millimeter. It fit into the bra without requiring any adjustments.
For future technical reviews, I will be using either my new 36B or 34C forms which were specifically developed for brassieres. My current PGM is a lingerie form also but the new forms have a better shape and are specifically sized for bras.
The issues I did have with this pattern were with the band and frame. The cups fit fairly true to size and the shape was quite pleasing though slightly pointy. I did get a little bubbling around where the upper cup attaches to the two lower cups. This is common in this style of cup and can be attributed to slight pointiness of the cup and the lack of fullness of the dress form’s breasts. The bridge is wider than my personal preference but fits ok on this size form.
The band is slightly loose and the side seam wraps almost all the way around to the back. The distance between the wire line and the side seam is very long and out of proportion for a bra this size. I would move the side seam at least 1cm closer to the center front for aesthetics and support. The side seam generally shouldn’t be right at the side seam of the mannequin but set slightly forward. You can see from the side view the wire has not been sprung into place.
When you look at the side view your first instinct would be to take a wedge out at the cup to fix the wrinkles but the wrinkles are caused by the wire not being properly sprung open into position. This problem could be corrected in a couple of ways. Making the band from by removing some of the space between the side seam and the wire. Or do a downward hike alteration on the band to help lever the wire into place. However, neither of these solutions would completely solve the problem since both the frame and band are very straight and the cradle is very narrow.
Comparing the 34B cradle to the 34B wire shows something interesting that I did not expect. The regular R2 wire fits exactly into the wire line of the cradle with little to no wire spring/play. The distance between the inside of the wire and the wire is slightly less than 6mm. The wire itself is 2.5mm. The balance point of the wire appears not to have been moved back at all either. A wire cannot spring open further than the cradle will allow without placing stress on the fabric of the frame. If you weren’t familiar with wire spring you might think this is the perfect underwire fit. However, as I’ve written about before and will discuss in future underwire theory posts a wire that doesn’t spring open when worn is not desirable.
When you replace the regular style underwire with a vertical underwire of the same size you can see it fits better with approximately 15mm of wire spring which is standard though wire spring can vary from 15mm to 55mm depending on the size and style of the bra. However, this is not the wire recommended for this pattern nor (I assume) is it the wire the pattern was drafted around. This may explain however why bra makers who prefer a vertical style underwire instead of the recommended wire have achieved such a great fit.
Had I not seen several successful Harriet’s before I made this sample I would have just assumed that pattern was just had a narrow frame, a band that runs large, wide bridge and a side seam that was set too far back. However I had seen several examples of the Harriet that did have this issue and in fact had seen some examples where the bridge was too narrow or the band true to size. Other examples appeared to have the side seam in a more aesthetically pleasing place. So I compared size 34A through 34E to see if pattern grading could explain discrepancies in fit.
The total unstretched under band length for the 34B was 67.5cm not including the bra back closure. An under band length of 64cm is typical of a 34B in UK sizing. The flat pattern measurements show that 34A/B/C sizes all have an under band length of ~67.5cm but the 34D/DD/E have an under band length that is 2cm shorter at ~65.5cm despite all being 34 band size. The frame was ~38cm for all sizes and the band length for sizes 34A/B/C was ~29.5cm and ~27.5cm for sizes 34A/B/C
With the frame being the same length regardless of cup size explains why there is so much length between the wire line and the side seam as the wire would progressively take up more space as cup size increased. So this pattern piece would look more proportionate in a larger cup size. The longer band length in the smaller cup sizes explains why the band is so loose on my sample yet other makers have commented it felt true to size.
The bridge width measurements are as follows; 32mm for size 34A, 25mm for size 34B, 19mm for size 34C and 14mm for sizes 34D/DD/E. The instructions do mention that you may have to overlap the channeling in some sizes. Standard underwire channeling is 10mm wide and 20mm is a common bridge width found in RTW.
I feel these three issues were attempts by the pattern maker to address some common concerns faced by the bra making community. Larger cup sizes tend to prefer a firmer band. The use of vertical wires in a narrow frame and a narrow bridge is favored by those with omega shaped breast. So these pattern features make this pattern more suited to those with those particular fit needs. However, I think these variations does make it difficult to achieve a consistent fit across the size range and may cause problems for custom bra makers who have to make multiple sizes in the same pattern. It also means if you make a mockup in one size and decide to remake it in another size your adjustments based on your mockup may not work because the next size may be different.
I would recommend this pattern to those who prefer a vertical wire or a narrow frame and would recommend the band be shortened in sizes A-C with the length taken out of the frame at the side seam. In sizes D-E I would recommend the bridge width be increased to 20mm unless it’s absolutely necessary for it to be narrower. These recommendations are based primarily on the 34 band size but a quick look at the other sizes yeilds similar results.
If you would like to nominate a pattern for me to review next please leave it in the comments below.
This is the first post in a new series about the theory behind underwires. This series will cover several topics including wire types, wire spring/splay and choosing an underwire for your shape. This post will cover why underwires are used in bras and give a quick overview of their purpose. Other topics will be cover in depth in future posts.
In this conversation, I will be referring to classic U-shaped underwires.
The purpose of an underwire is to contour your natural breast shape by encompassing the tissue in its entirety. This helps them resist gravity and provides lift. Underwire bras are designed to bring the weight of the breast closer to the chest. Underwires also help create breast separation depending on the style used.
It achieves this via a cantilever effect which is a result of the combination of the wire, the band, the cups and to a lesser extent the straps. The underwire acts as the fulcrum or pivot point of the cantilever which is lifting the load which is the breasts. The cups, frame and the band of the bra form the lever. The straps help keep the breasts in the correct position to allow the lever to function. Their purpose is not to support the breasts. The straps should only provide 10-20% of the breast support.
Because the underwire is only part of the support system the breast will only be supported to the extent that the cups allow. A low cut cup will not provide the same support as a full coverage cup even if the same underwire is used.
The wire must be sprung open and this is achieved by the tension placed on the wire by the band and cradle. This allows the underwire to conform to the shape of the breast root and to hold the cup and frame into position. It also spreads the weight of the load over the entire wire.
If the tension exerted by the band is not enough to spring the wire open then all the weight will fall on one spot on the bottom of the wire. when this happens lift will not be achieved, the underwires will tilt forward and too much weight will be carried by the straps. A band that is too tight can cause distortion of the wire leading it to twist and snap.
* A cantilever is a horizontal beam or structure that is unsupported at its end.
Spring has sprung here in California and the wildflowers are blooming. So celebrate with us and use coupon code SPRINGHASSPRUNG to take 15% off your next order. Coupon code valid on both the website and the Arte Crafts Etsy Store. Offer expires April 17th, 2017
Offer applies to in stock items. Coupon code does not apply to wholesale orders. Coupon code does not apply to shipping costs. Free domestic shipping on orders over $35 available at https://bramaking.supplies and www.lingeriemakingsupplies.com only. $45 minimum purchase after discount required to qualify for the free domestic shipping option. Some exclusions apply.
A few months ago I made the Simplicity 8228 lace bralette out of some of the crochet style lace that I stock in my store Arte Crafts. I made view A, the halter bralette. It’s been a while since I made this. I don’t remember any issues with the construction process. The instructions were clear and the pattern walked correctly. I would make one change to the construction order, though. Instead of using channeling that overlaps I would make a binding out of the lining mesh. Sewn on in one continuous piece would give a nicer finish, be slightly easier to sew and not require a specialized notion.
However, the issue I had which seems to have also been vexing members of the Bra Making Forum is the sizing. It is most definitely not RTW for some sizes. The general consensus is that it runs small however if you are at the lower end of the size spectrum it fits almost spot on.
I currently wear a 34D in most brands. I was 33.5″ underbust 37.5″ overbust at the time I made this pattern and notes. For this pattern, I cut a 36DD. I almost always ignore the pattern recommendations for reviews because I like to compare sizing to RTW because that’s the way most people understand their bra size. Also, the pattern recommendations put me in a 38A which seemed inappropriate to me.
I cut view A from galloon stretch lace and lined with a light 100gsm Powernet as recommended by the pattern. The result was a bra that came nowhere close to fitting. The mannequin it is displayed on is a 34B and it fits that perfectly. The band fits a little snug for a 36 band. At first, I had to recheck that I had indeed cut a 36DD. The cups are very small for a DD cup when you factor in that a DD cup is supposed to have about 5″ of projection Also, the halter neck strap is very short. I couldn’t stand with my back straight and it put a lot of pressure on the back of my neck. While a stretchy fabric is a key to this design it can’t compensate for both the cups and the strap being too small.
Now you wouldn’t expect full coverage from a bra like this since it is very high cut on the sides but you would also expect it to contain most of your breast tissue. Here is an example of how a similar style from Free People fits. If I had cut the recommended size, a 38A which is the sister size of 36B, 3 full cup sizes smaller the finished bra would have been even smaller.
The finished garment measurements are 70cm / 28″ under band including the hook and eye closure and 170mm across the fullest part of the cup excluding the scallops of the galloon lace. The flat pattern measurement of the band is 68cm without the hook and eye. The flat pattern measurement of the overbust without the seam allowance is 169mm. A typical measurement for a 34B overbust (from breast root to breast root over the fullest part of the breast) would be 185-195mm. A 34 band would have to stretch to ~75cm and a typical under band length exclusive of hook and eye would be 64cm. The hook and eye fully closed would add 2.5cm. So the band is close to being true to size for a 36 band but the cups have the volume of a 34B/36A cup.
To answer the reason why this pattern fits true to size on the smaller cup sizes but runs small in the large cups you need to take a look at the grading between sizes. For each cup pattern piece, there is only 3mm difference between each cup size for a total cup grade of 6mm. This is less than half of a typical A to B to C cup size grade which is 12.5mm. So for each cup size, you go up on this pattern you are getting the equivalent of less than half of a traditional cup increase. The increase from cup size to cup size is so small an error in cutting or sewing of a few mm could drop you down another size. Instead of this pattern having 5 full cup sizes it has 5 half cup sizes or 2-3 regular cup sizes.
The halter neck strap length does not change at all from size 32A to 42DD and is 34cm in length for each size. You would also expect this to increase by 12.5mm per size. See the Grading Supplement in the file section of the Bra Making Forum for more information about standard 50mm system bra grading. This was a document provided to the group by Dr. Kristina Shin author of Patternmaking for Underwear Design.
Courtesy of Kristina Shin, Ph.D. Supplement to Patternmaking for Underwear Design 1st Edition
The grade changes are as follows based on flat pattern measurements. Band size increases 63mm per size (2.5″) a greater increase than a standard 50mm step from 32-34-36 etc. The halter neck has 0 grade being the same for every size. The cup grade is 3mm per size both for letter increases (36B to 36C etc) but also between consecutive band sizes of the same cup size. Example 36D to 38D.
Based on this information if you are at the lower end of the size range (A or B cup) I would recommend making the pattern up as is perhaps shortening the band to fit. If you are a C cup or larger I would recommending increasing both the overbust seam at the fullest part of the cup. How much you need to add will depend on your actual measurements and the base size you have chosen. I have an overbust of 21cm which is a difference of 4cm over the flat pattern measurements. So I would add 2cm/20mm to each cup piece. If you have to add a significant amount to the overbust I would recommend adding it unevenly with more applied to the outer cup to prevent east-westing. This will keep the vertical seam closer to the center front. How much to add to the halter neck will also vary, but I would recommend at least 12.5mm per band size over 32.
I would recommend this as a quick fun project if you are a smaller cup size since you will not need to alter the pattern and it will provide adequate support. For larger cup sizes the halter neck might be uncomfortable and the alterations necessary for a correct fit complicates the process. It’s a popular RTW style but usually sold to fit only up to a 40″ bust. Coming soon to the blog more in-depth pattern reviews including the new Cloth Habit Harriet. If there is a pattern you’d like me to do an analysis for send me a message either through the blog or catch me on the Bra Making Forum.
Mistakes happen in bra making but that shouldn’t set you back. Often there is a simple fix. Today I’m going to cover how you can fix a twisted strap. Like this.
You’re so happy that you’ve finished your new bra and are rushing to put it on when OOPS you discover you’ve twisted the strap when attaching it to the back.
Your sweating just thinking about having to unpick this.
And THIS!!! But fear not there is a MUCH easier way of solving this problem than undoing all of your hard work. This can be fixed simply in 5 minutes.
First cut the bar tack that was attaching the strap to the adjustment slider.
Then you’ll need to loosen up the portion of the strap that is still running through the adjustment slider to give yourself the room you need to thread the cut end back through the inside of the slider.
Then you loop it back through the slider the way it originally was.
And now we take it to the sewing machine and sew as close as you can to the slider.
You might not be able to get a zig-zag in there like I did depending on what machine foot you use so a strong straight stitch will also work. This part of the bra gets hidden so all that matters is that it is secure.
Once you’ve done that trim the threads and the extra elastic off.
Now everything is back the way it should be and you’ve only lost about an inch of the bra strap total including the piece I cut off from before. This took about 5 minutes from start to finish to complete.