My Custom-Drafted Bras!

PicMonkey Collage front

Ta-da! My new comfiest bra, courtesy of my custom-drafted pattern by Emerald Erin.

Of course, it fits me better than it fits my dress form – she’s set to have the same full bust, but my underbust is at least 6″ smaller. You get the idea though!

For my pattern, I chose a three-piece cup, which I’ve sewn up here with a double-layer power bar. It’s quite full coverage, which I like for an everyday bra. At some point, I’d like to work on a plunge or demi cup version for when I want to wear a lower neckline.

PicMonkey Collage back

I’m still working out my favourite strap style and dimensions. This one was made with a large findings kit from Erin, which I like for the wide band elastic, but I think next time I’ll buy narrower strap elastic. I like my band super snug, so the straps aren’t actually bearing much weight and don’t need to be so substantial!

PicMonkey Collage wires

Check out the vertical “Bliss” wires! They are narrower and more u-shaped than the standard bra wires I’ve been using, and I quite like the front-and-centre effect. It’s not at all a push-up bra style, it just keeps things from migrating under my arms!

PicMonkey Collage fabric

The fabric is really what makes the bra, though. It’s a wicking knit which is stable enough to give good support, but has just enough give to allow a natural shape. It’s holy-sh*t-comfortable compared to the duoplex I’ve been using, and doesn’t flatten my upper cup the way duoplex does. I’ll be making a lot of bras in this fabric, including a red version inspired by this bra of Erin’s!

One thing I do notice is that in this fabric, the front bra frame (is that what it’s called?) needed more stabilization. It’s cut with the least stretch going horizontally, which means it does have a bit of vertical stretch… and although the cups went in beautifully, I think the whole thing stretched a bit during sewing. As a result, the wires come perfectly to the top of the cups in centre front, but are almost an inch short of the top under the arms. I’m choosing to think of it as “extra fabric to scoop in underarm tissue” as opposed to “the wires are too short”…since after all, the wires themselves are the same length! It’s just that the bra turned out taller. The wires fit perfectly in my duoplex version, so next time I’ll make sure that I stabilise the frame with another layer of fabric.

Below is the duoplex muslin I sewed as we worked on fit. (Duoplex, if you don’t know, is the kind of super-sturdy, unforgiving fabric that will survive the apocolypse. It will lift and support boobs of any size, but on it’s own it’s a bit utilitarian for my taste!)

PicMonkey Collage muslin front

Basically, I sewed up the first version of our pattern, and it was too large in the upper cup… Erin redrafted it, and it ended up a bit too small! Version 3 was just right. It was awfully nice not to have to make the tweaks myself – the thing about bra fitting is that there are so many ways you could adjust for each fit issue. (For example, my instinct when the upper cup was too big was to take a vertical wedge out, but her’s was to rotate it out horizontally.)

PicMonkey Collage muslin cups

For each alteration Erin scanned and emailed new pattern pieces as a pdf, and I’d rip out the old cups and put in new ones. As you can see, the sewing is sloppy… but on the up side, I got a lot quicker as slapping a bra together! I don’t use a single pin any more, which is just how I like it. The overall shape in duoplex is more lifted and slightly pointed, compared to the wicking version. I’m going to try sewing it up in bra tulle, and then maybe I’ll to pictures wearing each version under a t-shirt to see if I can capture the difference in shape.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Erin on this pattern (Ok, she did all the work!). Each version of the pattern lined up effortlessly, and there was never any need to stretch or ease things to make them fit together. (I’m looking at you, Pin Up Girls Classic!) She was a great cheerleader and worked really quickly. If you ever happen to be in southern Ontario, I’d highly recommend her! (And local sewists, what do you say we make a trip to Belleville this summer?)


47 thoughts on “My Custom-Drafted Bras!

  1. Amazing experience and beautiful bra! I can’t wait to see your tulle bra. That’s my next one. Belleville trip! 😀 I can’t wait. 😀


    1. Have you sewn your tulle yet? I’m not looking forward to all the layers, though I’m sure it won’t be any worse than sewing lace over duoplex….


      1. Not yet. I plan on sewing a lining with sheer cup lining, though. I haven’t decided how many layers of tulle I want. I guess I will decide when it comes to cutting it out. I think it definitely can’t be worse than lace over duoplex!


  2. I love how this one turned out! 🙂 Fabric can really make SO much difference in a bra. I find that duoplex is great for doing mock-ups and getting your pattern right, but I don’t actually like to wear duoplex bras myself.

    Also – I can’t wait for your visit in the summer!! Summer is a great call too- no snow, and then we can find a patio for drinks after class! 🙂


    1. I’ve been wearing my black bra and blue bra pretty much non-stop since I made them! Which clearly means I need to make more to put in the rotation… thanks for working through the fit with me! 🙂


  3. All I can say is, WOW! Jealous!! haha. The more I work on my bra fit, the more I’m like, WTF am I even doing??? I am eagerly awaiting my france underwires though, so there is more fitting in my future!


  4. You are so lucky Gillian! Your bras look awesome. I’m stuck right now when it comes to bra making. I’ve watched my Craftsy course and I feel really confident about sewing a bra….but THE FIT. That’s a whole ‘nuther story. I’m just realizing how unique fitting a bra is and I’m at a loss of where to start. It would be one expensive bra to fly to Ontario to see Erin as much as I’d love to, LOL. Unfortunately my favourite bra no longer fits me well so I can’t really use it as a template either. Did you start with the Shelley bra? Or is yours entirely custom?


  5. Thanks for the tip about Bliss wires. I’ll give them a try. They look like they should work better for full breasts set closely together on a smaller rib cage.


  6. Love the blue colour! It is clear that this bra has a professional quality. I’m more and more convinced that a made-to-measure bra making class would be a good investment.


  7. Thanks for sharing this. I love your blue bra! I would love to dip my toes into bra-making, but it sounds like the best way to avoid lots of frustration is to get a custom fitting or pattern by someone who knows what they’re doing. Any suggestions for those of us who live far from Ontario? (I’m in California.)


    1. I’d try doing a search for local custom bra-makers – I figure anyone who can make you a custom bra could also make you a pattern? Working from a normal bra pattern can work too – there’s a great Facebook group that can help with fitting, IF you are willing to put bra pics online! 😉


  8. Your bra is beautiful. I love that blue. How amazing to have one that is custom-fitted. It is a pity that Canada is so far away. Did you now that there are a lot of tutorials on Foundations Revealed for drafting a bra cup/bra? It is a pay-for site but there are two articles on how to make a bra. The series was great but I don’t have my subscription any more. It would almost be worth flying over to see Erin just to have a bra that actually fits. Xx


    1. Those articles sound interesting! I looked at some info on how to draf for myself, but I just can’t wrap my head around it! Hope you can find or make yourself a pattern that fits!


  9. Yeiii Gillian!
    How jealous I am to have Erin as a birthday gift! It’s pretty awesome you got her to help you with the alterations and it’s interesting to read how the fabric choices affected your final version.
    I’m definitely up for a trip to see Erin.


    1. I wish there were more detailed references about bra-fitting online – I feel like there are so many ways to accomplish each change!


  10. Sounds like a great experience! And very interesting about the fabric, I’ve made a couple of duoplex bras, but am not quite satisfied with the fit… wait, Belleville here we come?


  11. I love that narrow gore! And the U wires are great. Maybe Erin know where to get all of the good fabrics and notions that actually create a bra that works for the heavier breasts? All the more reason to get my butt to Belleville this summer. Maybe we can convince Andrea to join us. She does live there, after all.


  12. Very cool!! I’m glad you figured out a pattern that works well for you and I love hearing about the different fabrics. I must get on with making more bras! Have you made any with foam cups?


    1. I haven’t tried foam cups yet – but I’m looking forward to it! just waiting til I’m in Hamilton so I can buy the foam without paying shipping…


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