My second attempt at a bra – fitting

Review of the Craftsy Class on Bra Making, Construction and Fit.  Adding lace and working on the perfect fit.So I made a bra from following along with the Bra Making: Construction and Fitting Class on Craftsy.  It looked amazing and I was SO happy with how it came together.  But no matter what it looks like, it only really works if it actually fits.  Did it fit?  No.  Sadly not.  It was actually a pretty good fit in most places, but the cups were far too small and I had some top overspill as well as feeling constrained.  It felt like my boobs were being pushed flat.

[Read part 1 of my class review and more about my first bra sewing experience here.]

The neckline edge of the cups was also too tight.  I almost always have this in store bras too and think I must be fuller in the upper chest than ‘average’ which is probably why the usual way of measuring to fit by comparing high bust to full bust gives me the wrong size too and suggested the B cup.  I should have thought of that when I picked my size.

Learn how to sew a bra, and make it fit you perfectly. Surprisingly easy!

I had measured according to the directions and came to a size 36B which seems reasonable because that’s the size I settle on most often in RTW bras, sometimes 36B, sometimes 34C or 36C depending on style and brand.

It really is the sort of thing that is near impossible to fit unless its finished and you can put it on properly so it all seemed OK as I sewed but when finished the cups were far too small and I was really disappointed.  But its not a real surprise.  I have the most difficult time buying ready made bras, and sometimes try on a dozen or more in a shop and still leave empty handed so the fact that my first self-made bra didn’t fit was disappointing but not altogether unexpected.

[Not safe for work alert!  Do you want to see pictures of what it fitted like?  Now I know that’s not something you would all like to see, some middle-aged woman in a badly fitting bra, but if you do want to see what it looks like on, then I’ve set up a separate page and you can click through to take a look.  If you would rather not, then you won’t be shocked and horrified by scrolling down through this article – no modeled shots on this page.]

The Fitting Process

There are two full lessons on fitting and how to make the adjustments necessary for small changes all over the structure of the bra, but of course she says right at the start that if the cups are just too small, there’s nothing to be done except start again and sew the larger size and then try again.  That’ll be me then!

Lesson 5 Fitting and Alterations 1

Topics and adjustments covered in Part 1

bra-1

  • The order of alterations
  • Straps lengthening and shortening
  • Alterations to the length of the back band
  • Altering the strap position on the back band
  • Altering the band shape for bands that roll or are too loose along the top edge
  • Altering the bridge – 4 different ways to suit your body

The pattern alterations all are small, slight and easy to understand.  If your fit is good and you just need a small alteration to make it perfect, I really think it could happen.  In terms of answering student questions, she is second to none!  Her explanations are clear, very thorough and she even will sketch you a picture of what she means or what alteration you need.  This truly is awesome teacher assistance in this class.

Lesson 6 Fitting and Alterations 2

Topics and adjustments covered in Part 2

bra-2

  • Altering the strap position to bring them closer to center or further apart  by adjusting the cup – good if you have a smaller or wider frame or shoulders
  • Altering the neckline edge
  • Rounding the crown of the cup if you want to change the shape
  • Moving the apex from pointing outwards to pointing straight ahead
  • If your lower cup is too flat at the bottom

I decided to simply go for the larger cup size in my second trial and see how that worked out.  I cut the 36C and was able to scavenge most of the parts from the first bra.  The kit I bought from her for the class actually contains enough fabric to cut of 2 full bras, and I still have quite a lot of the back band fabric left over – probably enough for another 2 bras all from the one kit!

What I wasn’t able to reclaim was the elastic so I had to open up my second kit to get the elastics out.  But I did unpick the hooks and eyes and reclaimed the strap hardware from the first trial, so in the end not much was lost.

Lesson 7 Embellishments and Design Inspiration

Now we don’t all just want to have a bra that fits, we want it to look pretty too.  So Lesson 7 introduces us to the use of lace on various elements of the bra including the cups, side panels and back scoop.

She talks about:

  • Mirroring vs balancing of lace designs
  • Finding the LOPOL of lace – the lowest point for establishing the edge
  • The beautiful Butterfly lace design and how to do it

bra-3

  • How to add lace to other areas of the bra such as the back scoop and the side seams
  • How to assemble lace onto the cups
  • Sewing the lace
  • Other designs of bras and inspiration of colorways, embellishments and lace overlays or cups.

Some of the other bras shown for design inspiration

PicMonkey Collage

My second attempt at bra making

I added just a little lace to my first trial so I wanted to experiment some more on this second one.  I added some to the back scoop here.  I think this is a really lovely touch and I’ll certainly use this again. (Modeled on Penelope my dress form.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then I added some into the side seams.  Nice idea too and really easy to do, as was the back scoop lace above.

Side lace

And some across the tops of the cups and into the bridge.  I’m not too excited about where I placed it across the top of the cups in the end, although it looks nicer on the body than it does here lying flat, because it appears to curve.  It’s all an experiment 🙂  Maybe I should try an all lace upper cup next time!  Saucy!

Top lace

Another really lovely looking bra.  But does it fit perfectly this time?  Ah, still not absolutely perfectly although much closer than the first one.  The cups are still a little bit too small, although I’m undecided if they are just too small overall and I need to go up a size, or just half a size, or if they are simple too small in the top of the cup and I should add some extra length to the neckline edge and volume only in the top of the cup (one of the alterations shown.)

I’ll ponder on it for a while, because I need to order some more elastics before making another and it’ll take a month or more to arrive from overseas.  My fitting class I took before would have me use the slash and spread method to see where I needed to add more, but its so pretty I don’t want to cut it apart!

It’s still totally wearable and hubby is very proud and says it looks amazing.  Praise indeed.

[Not safe for work alert!  If you want to check out the fit, then click through to this separate page so you can see me wearing it. ]

Anyone else here sewn their own bras?  What do YOU think about my next move?  Up a cup size or just increase the neckline edge and top volume?

Check out the earlier article on where you can buy your bra and lingerie sewing supplies.

Big list if suppliers for bra making and lingerie, fabrics, patterns and other materials

 

Opt In Image
Take the Bra sewing class

Want a bra that fits you properly? Or just ready to embrace the challenge of sewing your own undies - it's easier than you might think!  Sign up today and sew your own custom fit bras.

Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to My second attempt at a bra – fitting

  1. Heather says:

    Did You ask the instructor her opinion of the fit? She seems very knowledgable.

  2. Toya says:

    Looks like we had the same new year’s to try list. I have just finished my first bra (it looks like we’ve used the same pattern). I’m going it alone without a class or kit but have scoured the blog world for tips first. It is so frustrating that you really have no idea how it will fit until you’ve finished it all with no short cuts. Mine was also too tight along the neckline edge, but slightly gaping under the arms and overall has a bit of a minimising effect which wasn’t something I was after. I’m determined not to be discouraged though – it still probably fits almost as well as any shop bought ones I have and there is the promise of the next one being better. I’m undecided yet as to whether to alter the top cup piece and the side seams or whether shifting the strap placement round a bit might have the same effect.

  3. Aless says:

    Deby, your bras are beautiful !!
    I took a class years ago and gave the result (well made, but not fitting ME!!) to my sister-in-law!! I keep meaning to try again!!
    I found,through PatternReview(and Debbie Cook),that I have an ‘east/west’ bust shape….LOL!!! I always (except for the bra I mentioned in a comment above) have breast tissue bulging at the sides, and I have NEVER had any cleavage!! Knowing that there ARE different shapes of breasts helped me a lot.
    I have found that bras with a stretch lace upper section are great for that tiny bit of extra at the top.Even when I lost a bit of weight,and hence tissue there, I was able to ease in the top edge in with a section of clear elastic.Vice a versa, the stretch edge allows for too much extra tissue if it’s not too much.

  4. barbkeith says:

    You did a beautiful job! It must have been so frustrating to now have them fit.

  5. Betty says:

    The bras you made are very pretty. Thank you for sharing, makes me want to attempt to make my own also.

  6. Sandra Hauger says:

    Debi, you did a wonderful job on sewing your bras. After looking at your fitting problems, I believe one of fitting problems is the style of bra you’re making. I think your style is a balconnet bra style. Check the internet for this style. Hope this gives
    you some ideas for fit.

    • You could be right. This would certainly help with that v-shaped neckline being to tight in the upper chest. I’ll need to source a new pattern for that, and more supplies. yay, another excuse to shop.

  7. Becky Parzek says:

    I think what you have made so far is just amazing! Do not give up. I think, in my non-professional opinion, that you need to go up a cup size. I also think that the back band does not fit properly. It may be corrected when increasing the cup size again. You are very inspiring to me with this project. Thank you very much for sharing. 🙂

  8. Karen says:

    Your bras look great. Can you take your first bra and slash the cups add more to see if more at the top only on larger size works?

    • Yes I did do that and it indicated I needed more all over, not just along the top edge, so that’s why I went up a full cup. But I wasn’t sure what difference a cup size would make, and it wasn’t quite enough. I may be best going up a cup size again fully, and then at least if it turns out a little big, I can see exactly where, pinch out the excess with a little dart and use that to alter the pattern. I think that will be my next move. Always easier to take things down than to add…

  9. Donna says:

    Hi Deby. Your bras look fantastic. I agree with Theresa about going up a cup. I think we often have preconceived ideas about our cup size and steer clear of the larger ones for some reason. My mother in law fitted bras too and was so experienced at it that she could get just come at you with two hands and and do the grab test and she’d have your size down to a T! Mind you that was a little confronting when I’d only just met her. She also used the idea of bending over to let the flesh fall in.
    I just started watching this class yesterday and thought the teacher was great. I still have to get some materials but I hope to do that soon. I live in Sydney, Australia and there is a shop for supplies close by called Booby Traps! ( I love the name

  10. Franni V says:

    When you think how difficult it is to get a rtw bra that fits, I reckon you can be really proud of what you’ve accomplished in your first two bras! Ok, there’s some fine tuning still to go, but you aren’t a million miles away! I think Theresa’s advice on sizing is the way to go. I’d recommend people inUK find a Bravissimo store if they would like good fitting advice and are beyond a B cup. Not a tape measure in sight, the fitters look at how well your existing bra does/doesn’t fit & do miracles!

  11. kajero says:

    Wow, your bras are beautiful. That’s how mine fit now! I guss I will have try your alterations when I finally get enough courate to make the bra! I am enrolled in the class but having looked at it yet.

  12. Kely Sews says:

    Looks nice, is it the bottom through the side, that you don’t like the fit of?
    Either way nice thanks for sharing

    • It’s a bit too tight across the top of the cup, as if I need to add a little more length along the top edge because it feels that it cuts in a little there. And I still feel its a little restrictive, pushing my fleshy parts backwards I suppose instead of lifting – if we had to be graphic about it! It’s all about how it feels I think even if it looks OK, a bit like a pair of shoes. Only the wearer can tell if they fit just right…

  13. Linda Kiefer says:

    Will follow your “trials” with great interest. I finally gave up on bras and made a corset! Lot to be said for them. They stay put, you don’t fall out, they don’t have to wear them so tight you can’t breathe to keep the back in place either. You also get great posture. They have their drawbacks however. Sitting in a car seat is awkward until you get used to it and not a hot weather garment. I think the myth of ladies fainting away because of tight lacing is just that. A myth. Like a lot of other things the average woman is, and always has been too busy to be that silly!

  14. Ena Hitt says:

    I have this class but havent made a bra yet. Recently lost weight so size is different but glad to hear that it is do-able.

  15. I spent a good portion of my retail management career in the lingerie department, where I taught my staff bra fitting.

    Upper chest has no relationship to bra size that I know of. correct fitting is a royal pain because not only do you need to have size in mind. Modern bras have more give than they used to so the old rule about going up 4 inches from your rib-cage/under bust measurement is NOT correct any more. Depending upon the stretch in the bra band your number size might be your actual rib cage size or maybe 2 inches more. All breast are not shaped the same, not every style fits every woman. Sometimes, a small oval pad placed in the cup helps.

    I am looking at the photos and see that you have breast tissue that has migrated back, and needs to be scooped forward. Plus the bridge isn’t flat against your chest. You definitely need a bigger cup.

    To measure around your full bust,(it helps to have another person measure) lean forward at the waist so your back is perpendicular to the floor. This way all the breast tissue is where it’s supposed to be. (This works better “unconfined”). When you are putting on a bra, lean forward and gently scoop the errant breast tissue forward.

    Take your under bust measurement and subtract it from your full bust. I am guessing you are more likely a 34 D and need higher sides. Also your straps may be too long but until you have a large enough cup you won’t know.

    This is a fabulous website on bra fitting http://www.herroom.com/bra-fitting-center,954,30.html I really recommend reading the FAQs and the pages on breast shape and fitting issues.

    I think the second bra is really pretty.

    regards,
    Theresa

    • Thank you so much for all your awesome tips Theresa – I had forgotten you worked in Lingerie. Yes, I agree, too many years of wearing an ill-fitting bra has caused things not to sit where they should and I have that dreaded front chub where the arm crease is. All that should be in the cup instead. I think too many years of being wrongly fitted into a B cup has migrated my fleshy parts to parts unknown. Too late to get it all back where it belongs? I’ll certainly try. Moore boobage instead of underarm chub would be welcomed.
      I’ll give my next one another cup size up as you suggest and that may also give me the extra length along the top of the cup edge that I need. Thank you so much for taking a look. And I’ll check out the link too.

  16. Cindy says:

    Does she cover padded bras as well, for those of us with the opposite fitting problem? Things have gone south, if you know what I mean. When I went for my last bra fitting at the store, the lovely young clerk measured me and brought me bras in a size WAY different than I had been wearing. I tried one on so I wouldn’t hurt her feelings, and lo and behold, it was the best fitting bra I ever had. Since I have a retail bra I can buy that fits well, I don’t need to take the class for fit, but it would be an interesting challenge to create my own, but it needs some padding. : )

    • This class doesn’t cover padded or foam cup bras, but I hear she is working right now on the next class so I hope that one will. I’m so used to wearing a padded too, to try to even my bust out with my hips!

      • Cindy says:

        I’ll hold out and see if her newer class covers them. While I am sure I would benefit from the techniques taught with this one, I wouldn’t likely wear the resulting project (without padding). I appreciate your class reviews. There are so many classes I want to take, but I have a collection of them already that I need to work on. I have watched all of them that I’ve purchased, but haven’t done the related projects on all of them. I know from experience that I gain a lot more from them when I actually get hands on with the projects. When Craftsy has a good sale though, I can’t resist.

  17. Miriam says:

    Congratulations Deby! I just saw you won Craftsy’s Best Sewing Tutorial I’m so pleased. You deserve it!!!

  18. Isha Chayil says:

    Hi,I was lucky, my second attempt fit perfectly (I had to go down a cup size). Looking at your photos, I think you must try the neckline adjustment first. Can’t wait to see the next one.

  19. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with this class. I too can go into a store and literally try on dozens of bras before walking out empty handed. I am really wide around, but don’t have a large cup size and my proportions just must be weird or something. I can rarely find bras that fit. This class has been sitting in my wish list in crafty for a while, but I’ve been a bit intimidated by it

    • It might take a few attempts to get a good fit if you are a size that isn’t easy to fit in the ready to wear – like me – but you’ll get there with some tweaks and trials and then you’ll have the perfect made to measure bra pattern! Will be so worth it for me.

    • Aless says:

      If you’re weird,Stephanie,then so am I !! I’ve always had a back that was exactly the same measurement as my front,even when I was MUCH smaller!! My breasts are small-ish in proportion to my overall ‘chest’ measurement. I have a lot of trouble finding bras that fit me because of this. When I get a good band length, the cups are usually between sizes…..I’ve only just found a bra style (ONE!) that fits me beautifully, but it is lacy and so no good under T-shirts etc.(It’s an Australian company.)

What do you think?