Ultimate Sports Bra Pattern, an essential piece in your workout wardrobe

sports bra patternAs most of our readers would know, I'm not a fan of gyms as I explained in my post on creating A New Workout Wardrobe: My New Year Resolution.  But I actually would love to own a sports bra that gives me not only support but comfort.  I think this particular item of clothing is the “unicorn” in our wardrobe.  Almost like a myth, it seems to be a never-ending search for that one bra that will give me comfort while securing the girls during a vigorous workout.  However, look no further….. the Ultimate Sports Bra Pattern does exist –although you may have to make it yourself.

This project is for making a racer back sports bra pattern with a front facing for extra comfort and the ability to insert pads.  There's also a 1″ under-chest band for maximum support.

sports bra patternA sports bra is designed to compress your chest.  If there's too much compression you'll end up feeling like you want to take the bra off while driving home from the gym –or at least that is how I feel.  It's the reason I carry a huge gym bag so I can shower and change from that awful squeeze which can be like being hugged by that smelly old uncle who you can't wait to get away from.  Well, I'm trying to change that with this design, which will give you the support without excess compression.

sports bra patternWhich brings me to the point of choosing the right fabric.  The best fabric for the job is called Supplex if you can find it (I am still looking).  There is another fabric and this holy grail of sportswear is trademarked COOLMAX.  You'll see it on many high-end sports brands, but you need to buy a lot it as it's not commonly sold at retail.

Thankfully, however, there are many good alternatives that are more readily available.  The best option is to use a 4-ways stretch knit or cotton 80%/lycra 20% content.  Here are some specific fabric suggestions that should work well for this project:

Fabric Selection


Video Tutorial

How to cut and sew the sports bra pattern

Sewing stretch fabrics can be a bit tricky.  The ideal way to sew a sports bra would be to use a cover stitch and a flatlock machine.  Sadly, I possess neither of these machines but you can make do with a normal machine and a serger would help as well.

I have drafted the pattern pieces on fold, but you will have to draw the other side on a large piece of paper because the best way to cut this type of fabric is by using a rotary cutter and you should never cut knits on a fold.

It is possible to make this bra without a serger/overlocker.  This is why in the material list I have given you a special kind of elastic.  All you have to do is use a ballpoint needle, a medium zigzag stitch (3.0 to 3.5) and a small (1.0 to 2.0) zigzag stitch to sew the main pieces.  I am using a universal Singer ball point needle this time. I will also show you how a normal needle will sew to answer some of the questions I get from beginners who ask about using a normal needle and no walking foot.

If using a serger/overlocker, do not use the knife to cut the fabric because the seam allowance for this sports bra is only 1/4″.

When cutting the elastic, measure the armhole and cut the elastic 1″ smaller.  You need to stretch the elastic while sewing.

When sewing the band to the hem, use a small zigzag first then the serger/overlocker if you're using one.  This is because you have to stretch the fabric and by sewing a small zigzag first it will make it easier to distribute the fabric evenly without making any pleats.  This is a mistake beginners make frequently.

I will be showing you three different types of fabrics: spandex nylon, cotton lycra and rayon/lycra knit although I only finished two bras.  A very important point I want to add is that this pattern is unsuitable for stripes.  Prints are OK, but stripes will not line up correctly because of the stretch.

Materials:

Tools:

  • Rotary cutter (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Serger/Overlocker (optional)
  • walking foot (optional)

Pattern Layout:

Sport bra

Finished Measurements

Size Finished Chest Measurement (inches)
M 30-34
L 34-38
XL 38-42
2XL 42-46
3XL 46-50

Pattern Download

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Download the Free Pattern

You can download theĀ pattern for the Ultimate Sports Bra from our account at Craftsy.

For help downloading and printing PDF patterns, please CLICK HERE.

Step One:  Sew the back

The back has a curve and if you have never sewn on a curve before, you need to take your time with this.  There are no special considerations with it, just do not pull any of the pieces at all.  Let the pattern slowly take its shape.

Place both the back/side (piece #3/4) and the back (piece #2/4) right side down.  Pin and sew at 1/4″.

This is showing the 80% cotton/Lycra 20%.  In the picture, it appears gathered but it is the nature of the zigzag and the normal needle.  I actually did not like the look, so I ripped it out and sewed with the ball point needle.  See picture below for the look of the small zigzag with a ballpoint.

sport braStep Two: Sew the front and sides

Sew the front and the sides.  You could use your serger straight into it, but I found the fabric moving too much so I sewed a tiny zigzag first.    I used the serger because I want to improve the durability of the sports bra and increase the support. sport bra

Step Three:  Apply the facing

Place the facing wrong side down.  The right side of the facing will face out aligning with the scooped neck and the armhole.  Then use a small zigzag about number 2.5 to 3 to sew the sides.

Align the edge of the facing with the needle so the zigzag will attach it without leaving a space. sport braHere it is in a different fabric for you to see how the facing is placed.  This particular fabric is Rayon 60% / Lycra 20% / bamboo 20%. 

Step Four:  Sew the elastic and the shoulder seams

It is important to remember to stretch the elastic while sewing.  To be successful at applying the elastic, the key is to divide both the opening and the elastic in four equal parts.  Pin at these four points and stretch in between the points.

Sew the shoulders at 1/4″ or use your serger/overlocker.  I apologized for my picture as is it rather dark.  I will use a different color thread when making the video. 

The amount of elastic will depend on your size.  Measure the armhole and cut the elastic 1″ shorter.  Sew the elastic ends at 1/4″.  You now have a band.  Divide the band into four equal parts.  Pin the elastic to the armhole which you would have to divide as well into four equal parts.  Match the points and pin the elastic.  Stretching in between the four points.  You want to stretch evenly while sewing or it will buckle and it will not look good.  Make sure you catch the facing.  Repeat the same procedure on the other armhole and on the neckline.

sport bra

Here is a shot of the facing where you need to leave the hole open to be able to insert the pad if you plan to do that.

Step Five: Making and sewing the band

Measure the hem (the circumference) and cut a rectangle that is the width(circumference) of the hem minus 1″ by 2.5″ height.  Sew the ends of the rectangle at 1/4″.  You have a band now.  Divide this band into four equal parts.  sport bra

Pin the seam of the band to the zigzag that attaches the facing.  Align and pin the remaining three points of the band with the three points of the bra and sew at 1/4″.  

I have to admit to you that I have not sewn this sports bra pattern in any other size than medium and large.  So when trying this pattern, make a sample first to test the fit.  I find it very comfortable because of the facing and where I would not go running a marathon with it, I think I have great multitasking garment.  I must say a prefer the cotton/lycra so far since in the tropics the use of 100% lycra is rather uncomfortable.

Please send me your comments.  I always look forward reading them.

 

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81 Responses to Ultimate Sports Bra Pattern, an essential piece in your workout wardrobe

  1. shellybrowne says:

    If you read about how to make these types of stretchy garments, I have had great success in just layering the inner and outer layers and then applying the elastic on the wrong side, and folding it over. Both times zig zag and stretching to match the elastic/fabric. The zig zag will pack in extra thread so you don’t need to stretching the whole thing unless it really has to stretch a LOT. Maybe the band… so much easier, even though your patterns are great, it hurts to see the struggle to sew with knits instead of taking advantage of the knowledge already out there for the past few generations of sewers. I started sewing the Stretch N Sew way at 15 and am 63 now… the principles really work. You can go so much farther so much easier with great professional looking results.

  2. Ruth says:

    Hello All,
    Here are some good sources for sewing athletic wear:
    Surge Fabrics ( Wisconsin , USA)
    The Fabric Fairy ( Wisconsin , USA)
    Phee Fabrics ( Boca Raton , USA
    I have purchased from them all and would do so again.Great customer service..
    .
    Also if you really want a lot of support, you can add a layer of powernet to front and front straps of your bra
    Be sure to read the fabric description carefully as there is also something called powermesh which is not as supportive .
    Have fun making your own custom gym clothes!
    Ruth

  3. tracy king says:

    Thank you for this awesome pattern!

  4. Natalie Rivener says:

    Thank you so much for this pattern! You guys are a godsend!

  5. livingsewinglaughing says:

    Thank you very much for the pattern and the directions. This is a very generous gift.

  6. Suzanne. says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this free pattern!!!! Because I have extremely sensitive skin and I perspire too much, most bras (and panties) are uncomfortable for me. So except when wearing something dressy, I always wear this type of bra and I make my own panties. But these can be difficult to find in a good quality cotton or cotton blend. The ones I can buy are poorly made and just wear out too fast. I can repair them, but often the extra stitching thickens them and irritates me (which obviously defeats the purpose). Now I can make my own. You are a gem!
    I’ve sewn many things with stretchy knitted fabric from underwear to bathing suits so I’m familiar with it’s idiosyncrasies, but I can always learn something new – your tutorial was wonderful and yes, I DID learn something new.
    It’s time to order some fabric and take my serger down off the shelf. Thank you again! I am very grateful.

    p.s. I almost forgot – you have a lovely voice and a darling accent.

  7. Pat says:

    It looks like a great pattern. What about putting a zipper down the front for those of that have trouble pulling it off and on?

    • Leigh Petersen says:

      Try pulling it up instead of pulling it down. If you put your feet in first, then pull it up it’s so easy. As for getting it off, pull one side down your arm, pull your arm out then pull it off over your head and off th either side. My shoulder still are painful and this is ho wi get in and out.

    • Ivlia Vespasia says:

      Will look for fabric to make. While this exact pattern is ok for my daughter I will cut and face the centre front seam then buttonhole and spiral lace. I do this to all my bras as I can no longer find front fadtefast Brad and restricted mobility means I otherwise need help dressing. Will let you know how it goes if I manage to find a fabric supplier. Problem is most don’t ship to Ireland but I think Minerva Crafts in the UK sell specialist fabrics like those mentioned here. They also ship to most places with very good shipping costs.

What do you think?