Sewing your own bras can be a worthwhile endeavor. After all, the bra you wear can make a huge difference in the way your clothes fit or your comfort level throughout the day. But even if you are convinced you want a completely handmade wardrobe, from your skirt to your underthings, there’s still the question of how to sew bras that fit.
Here are some tips to sewing a great fitting bra
1. The first step is to get an accurate measurement of your band and cup size.
You can do this yourself or pop into a lingerie shop to get measured. Don’t be surprised if the resulting size is different from what’s currently in your underwear drawer. Your bra size can change, particularly if you’ve gained or lost weight.
2. Once you have your measurements, begin your pattern search.
Many of the major pattern companies have bra patterns, and you can also search online for patterns from independent designers (you might even stumble across a freebie).
You probably already have an idea of what style of bra is best for you (full-coverage vs. demi cup, underwire vs. non-underwire, etc.). But it’s also worth trying out other styles, as well (once you’ve made your first bra, you’ll find that others come together in a couple of hours, so time and money-wise you won’t be out too much on a bra you end up not liking).
3. Make a muslin.
Bra-making is definitely a “try on as you go” process. For your first bra, you’ll want to make a muslin, only you can’t actually use muslin since it doesn’t have any stretch to it. Test your bra pattern using the same materials you plan to use for the finished product. This is a key step in learning how to sew bras that fit. Fortunately, bras don’t use up too much fabric, so you won’t feel like you are wasting your resources when making your muslin.
5. Once you have the bra cups constructed, you’ll want to check them for fit before continuing.
If you’ve made the correct size, the cup will cover your entire breast (you’ll want to allow a tiny bit extra for seam allowances), with no spill-over at the top but no excess fabric, either. If you can pinch extra fabric, make note of how much so you can adjust the cup accordingly.
Be sure to check both breasts. Few women are symmetrical. If there’s a big difference, you might want to make separate pattern pieces for each side (one of the advantages to sewing your own bras!).
You’ll also want to check how the band fits, although you’re less likely to need major adjustments in this area. The band shouldn’t ride up in the back; if it does you might need a larger cup size. Lengthening or shortening the band length is an easy adjustment.
6. The final piece of the fit puzzle are the straps.
They shouldn’t dig into your shoulders or fall off. You don’t have to make the straps adjustable, like a ready-to-wear bra, if you prefer not to.
The advantage to making your own bra is achieving the perfect fit, so don’t give up until you get there! If you’re ready to dive in, don’t forget to check out this post on sewing with lingerie fabrics.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2013 and was updated in March 2018.