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 race 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)

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 the 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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41 Responses to Ultimate Sports Bra Pattern, an essential piece in your workout wardrobe

  1. Jess says:

    Hi Myra, I look forward to making this but should I measure the fullest part of the bust or under the bust?

  2. jan says:

    thanks for the free patterns x

  3. Kat says:

    Some feedback from someone who tried the 3XL version of this pattern. This is the first stretch-fabric project I’ve made, but it seemed pretty easy to follow. Definitely glad I had a walking foot – stretch fabric is slippery stuff.

    As far as improvements for the larger sizes, three things stick out for me.

    1. 2 yards of elastic is not enough. I wound up needing close to 3 yards of elastic to cover the armholes and neckline.
    2. The amount of fabric coverage in the front is a little low… I could almost wear this bra with a Renaissance faire bodice, whereas I’m used to sports bras that cover the whole thing.
    3. The band probably needs some reinforcing for someone my size (or maybe fixing the top measurements would fix the issues with the band).

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks for the info Kat! I’m going to take your suggestions into account. I’m about to make this sports bra for the first time.

  4. Sandra says:

    thank you so much for the detailed instructions, hints and video

  5. Pilgrim Passing Thru says:

    Thank you so very much for this pattern, the video, and, particularly, the hints on how to cut and sew these fabrics. You have spent a lot of time on this project and it is appreciated. I can hardy wait to get started!

  6. Geertje says:

    Thank you for the Pattern! I have a question, is this with seamallowance?

  7. Danie Duchesne says:

    Thank you! I was able to find Supplex in a Club Tissu store in Montreal, Canada. They are not online yet but they are working on it. I bought a meter of red!

  8. Betty Parrott says:

    Just downloaded this pattern…Thank you very much! When putting the pattern together are we supposed to just butt the ends of the paper together and tape, or are we supposed to put one grey 1/2 circle on top of the grey 1/2 circle on the other page? I’m confused…Thanks Mayra!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Betty, the circles are there to help you alight the pattern. You might have to cut the margins of the paper to be able to align all the pages well. i will send you an email with an article with step by steps instructions on how to do handle pdf patterns, please check your email.

  9. Linda C. Fairbanks says:

    Thanks for the pattern! I may try to make it into a swimming suit as I like the coverage over the back. You mentioned sources for Coolmax and Supplex. These fabrics are online from a number of sources. My favorite is The Rainshed https://www.therainshed.com/ in Oregon. They are super fast and very nice. Swatches are available. I have been doing business with them for years.

  10. Yavanna says:

    I know that Fehrtrade did a whole blog post about where to find some of these high end stretch fabrics. You might want to take a look. She sourced for UK, Europe, and USA.

  11. Hoping for the video soon! Not sure about band.(measure “hem”? Do mean a tape measurement of chest? ) Also is seam allowance folded over to encase elastic in armholes?

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      HI Audrey, you need to know how wide is the sport bra at the bottom that is why I call it the hem. No you need to encase the end of the bra (hem) in the elastic.

  12. Judy Hayes says:

    I cut it out and have it almost done.
    I needed to add a 1/2 to side bust for me but otherwise it is a beautiful pattern. I used a swimwear top that I got and cut up, for very cheap at my thrift store. It’s a great place to find stretchy fabric. Thank you so much ?

  13. Sylvan says:

    Iwhat size should I use for a 38jj bra size pleas?

  14. Lee says:

    So exciting! I am going to give it a go, these kind of ‘crop’ tops also serve as a modesty measure under certain garments so I can test on some stretchy stash knit before purchasing the specific fabrics- I’m just checking that I will be folding the lower band in half to attach the two ‘raw’ edges to the hem, finishing the garment with a folded edge – you could explain this better than I

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Lee, the band will be attached, around the hem evenly distributed. i will post the video as soon as i finish editing.

  15. Bonnie Westrom says:

    Wonderful looking pattern. It’s great it will eliminate the squeeze! Thank you.

  16. swakins says:

    I might just give this one a try, never thought about making a bra, but this might be fun to try.

  17. Jules says:

    I appreciate that this pattern is available through Craftsy, which makes it easy to add to my pattern library, download now, and easily find again later if needed. Thank you for the tutorial. I’m looking forward to following your series on making a workout/fitness wardrobe.

  18. Marty says:

    So helpful; thanks!!

  19. judy hayes says:

    Can you sew in a cup between the facing and the fashion fabric? can’t wait to make this.thank you Judy

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Judi, you can the facing if exactly there for that purpose. I don’t think you need to sew it up because for the stretch but if you do sew it to the facing rather than the front.

  20. Lisa says:

    When stitching the seams, you could do a faux merrow stitch using the serger. The seam would be stronger and less bulky.
    Thanks for creating a flattering fit.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Now Lisa, you have taught me something I did not know, would be so kind to send in a picture of this technique and I will added it to the article please. I am sure many will appreciate the tip as I do. Thank you!

  21. wendyleesews says:

    Very nice. I want to try this. Do you get mixed fabric where you live? I live in the Caribbean but I’ve never asked the shops if fabric is sold that way here. I am new to sewing too.
    I enjoy wearing spandex-nylon or even when it’s mixed with lycra.
    I’ll do some research this week at the shops to see what I can find. Thank you again for another great pattern+post.

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      Hi Wendy, I live in Singapore, and I am able to purchase fabrics in a few places although the quality is not always fantastic, most of my fabrics I get from a store called http://www.spotlight.com.sg
      and on a street market. I should write a post about this.

  22. mccandlessquilts says:

    What is the cup range for this sports bra? Is it partially dependent on the fabric stretch? Would alterations be the same for a sports bra to increase the cup size? I want the snugness, don’t want to overflow out, or have it loose not providing any support.
    Thank you so much for all the assistance you have given us all! I have learned so much! Also, thank you for all the patterns!

    • Mayra at So Sew Easy says:

      It is not made with cup range in mind but rather your body measurement, measure your chest and find the size you can wear.

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