You may recall that this is the kit I'll use to make the set - or just the bra if I cannot perfect the fit. I don't wear unmatched undies:
I intend to make a modified version (info to follow) of this pattern. Interestingly, it's from the same vendor from whom I purchased the kit (though I've had the bra pattern for a long while).
I've made the bra before. It was a fit failure. Every bra I've ever made has been a fit failure for the following reasons (women of fuller bust, who want to make their own lingerie, take heed):
- The materials were inferior - specifically the wires but really many of the materials are not up to the same standards as high-quality RTW bra materials. Materials available for home use tend to have too much stretch and are not designed, necessarily, to work together in the same bra.
- My sewing skills may have been lacking - I say "may" because I've made many bras at many stages of sewing ability and I don't think that this is the case in recent bra-making. Sewing bras is not difficult, but it's finicky. It requires patience and a steady stitch. The ability of one's machine to sew through many layers equally well is pivotal.
- I've been making bras designed for a bust of a different shape than the one I have. Sure, in the time of my pattern purchasing, I've moved more towards bras that work on a larger, deeper bust, but Ladies, they are far and few between at a certain cup size. Add in the variables provided by material ease and it's a very tricky proposition. There's a good argument to be made that I should draft bras from my own stash (I've actually done this before, and it wasn't successful - not that it wouldn't be in the future). I'd say, till you've made a few bras from a pattern, and you learn the steps / how the seam allowances must be added, it's tricky to make your own pattern. It's very easy to miss a step.
For purposes of being able to picture this, here's a nice 3-piece, seamed bra:
|Y'all know this is my fave bra, the Empreinte Roxane. Honestly, the curve of the side cup where it meets the strap is JUST gorgeous on this style - I may adapt my pattern further if I can ever get it to fit.|
Depending on the construction of a bra and, presumably many other features - some of which I may not be aware of - the best way to add depth is by increasing the amount of fabric where the 2 lower cups adjoin at the centre of the cup unit (aka the full bra cup). If you add the extra fabric to the outer lower cups, where they join the band, you'll just screw with band dimensions and actually find yourself making a shallower bra than that defined by the pattern you started out with. Ask me how I know.
If you increase the length of the top cup - and you're not also aiming to widen the bra / you do not have full on top breasts - you'll get gaping.
With this in mind, here are the many adjustments I've made to this version of CUPL16, may the lingerie goddess be with me:
- I shortened the gore by 1/2 inch. Now it's at 3.5 inches in height - at the upper limit of height on my frame and given my preferences.
- I narrowed the gore at the band base by 1 inch and tapered to nothing at the top of the gore. This is a risk, but the original version was so unnaturally wide at the base. It didn't suit my shape and it was clumsy looking. I also sense it leads to a shallower cup shape, though I can't describe how.
- I stayed with the original back size pattern piece I'd cut for a previous version (80) because the side cup height is good with that band size and I didn't want to have to redraft every piece. Instead, I chopped 2 inches off the back band (1 inch which will apply to each side) and graded the curve towards the closure areas. Depending on how firm I'm able to make the band - Seraphinalina gave me some great Powernet that's very firm so I'm hopeful - I may have to cut more.
- *I cut half an inch off of the top cup piece at the centre front (to match the amount I shortened the gore) and tapered to 1 inch at the side cup because, really, the top cup was too much bra for me. (See below for an update on this - turns out I didn't stop here...)
- Keeping in mind what I said, above, I increased 1/2 inch on each lower piece where it joins at the centre of the cup - that is to say I increased an inch in total at the vertical seam that runs towards the nipple. I presume this will increase the cup depth by an inch, without widening the cup, so the extra fabric can be taken up by the volume of my centre and lower bust.
- Updated: OK, it has occurred to me, while all of these alterations swirl in my mind, that by deepening the centre of the cup as per the bullet point above, I will also need to increase the length of the part of the cup that attaches to the upper sides of the lower cups aka the part where the upper cup is seamed to the lower pieces. I did a little bit of seam checking by 1. pinning the 1" deepened lower cup pieces together and then 2. walking the upper cup seam (that attaches to the lower pieces) along the length of the pinned lower cup pieces - effectively I pinned it together as I'll sew it. And, as I suspected, the upper cup piece was about an inch too short. It makes sense. However, I don't want to increase the upper cup at the top of that cup (the part that supports the upper breast in the cup) because, as stated above*, I don't want too much fullness there, or any additional height. The solution I've come up with is to vertically slash the upper cup piece where it meets the vertical seam of the lower pieces (about half way along its length) all the way up to the top, leaving a little hinge (you know, like you do with an FBA). I'll spread the slash by 1" and tape some paper behind that wedge. Then, I'll tape some more paper to the top of the pattern piece (which will be distorted by the creation of the wedge on the lower side) so that it regains the original shape. This alteration, added to the initial upper piece alteration*, will give me the depth in the centre of the cup, without adding any fabric or additional volume to the top of it. At least that's my theory right now.
- Updated: I decided to take the plunge (no pun intended!) and to adjust the side lower piece so that the strap will affix to it, and not to the floating upper piece. I looked at my Roxane and tried to approximate the lines. Then I added .25" seam allowances to the new cut line (cuz I will have to attach the side lower piece to the upper cup piece, albeit in a new place. I really hope I did this right.
Additionally, I intend to make the band as firm as I can (with new materials) and I'm going to use wires reclaimed from an RTW bra. I've got stretch-free underlining I could use for all cups, including the upper cup I'll make from stretch lace. It's really not a problem for me to have stretch in the upper cup, as long as the lower cups fit perfectly and the strap attaches to the outer, lower cup. In this instance, depending on how I attach the strap, I may need to reduce the stretchability of the upper cup.
So, there you go. I haven't cut anything (but the new pattern pieces). I'm hoping that, if any of you have thoughts or advice about what I've written, that you might provide some useful additional info I can take into the process.
Today's questions: Bra-makers - have you ever successfully added depth to a 3-piece cup (not width) and, if yes, how did you accomplish it? Everyone: Given that bras like the Roxane already exist in the world, and the manufacturers of said bras have access to all the best materials and machines, do you think I'm insane to pursue bra-making, yet again? Feel free to be honest!