But first, the provisos:
- My freakin' camera has decided to act strange so, of all the pics I took yesterday (of the new black and blue bra) there is sadly not a one that isn't a blur. Amazingly, it took one clear photo of my next proposed (upper cup) alteration. The camera is still acting up so I'm going to have to use pics of the previous bra as a reference within this post. Please don't be confused. It will provide the necessary visual, I think.
- I did not go to school for pattern-drafting. I've been sewing for under 4 years. So please read this information critically - which is to say, if you know otherwise, do comment and let us know.
As you may know, during this iteration of bra-making, I've made 4 muslins. None of them has fit but, in each version, I have corrected many of my challenges.
I'm happy to say that, as of muslin 4, the band and lower cups seem to really hit the mark. The gore tacks perfectly at the centre bust. I've much to tell you about the hows and whats of this, but I'll leave that for another post. What I want to write about today is the one element that continues to elude me - the upper cup.
Meet Exhibit A:
I would ask you to note the distance between where the lace upper cup ends (attached to the lower outer cup) and where the lower outer cup attaches to the strap. There's a distance of about .75 of an inch, which is apparent if you biggen up the photo. The point is that the upper cup does not attach to the lower cup AND the strap.
Exhibit B is a pic of the pattern pieces that made up version 4:
The key pattern piece to consider in this photo is the upper cup shown at the top left. The far left part of that piece (the right angled part) is the bit that attaches to the centre gore (bridge). The right part of that piece is analogous to that upper cup attachment zone, referred to in Exhibit A, and that pointy bit is the part that attaches (in fabric terms) closest to the straps. Let's call it Point X.
I have found, in each of my recent muslins, that the upper cup is:
- too big (gapey along the entire top of the cup) - and getting more big with each muslin
- kind of floppy and untethered
The Attempted Fix (which has failed increasingly with each muslin):
I have attempted to resolve this 3 times by darting the upper cup (to diminish gape) while maintaining the length of the lower edge of the upper cup (which needs to attach to the lower cups and so cannot really be lengthened or shortened without substantively altering the part of the fit that actually works). Each time, after truing, the upper cup has got slenderer and longer towards Point X. I really don't know how. The net effect is that the piece has got oddly wider (left to right) and slimmer (top to bottom).
After pinching fabric on muslin 4 and pinning it out, and musing intensely over the pattern piece, a couple of big-time truisms occurred to me - things that may help you as a bra sewist OR as a bra buyer:
- The support of a bra comes from the (optimal tension of the) band and the underwires. However...
- The lift of a bra comes from the upper cup.
Point X is the nexus of lift on a bra.
Some things I've learned from my own fitting experience in the last 2 weeks:
- The farther the distance of Point X from the strap, the less lift the bra will provide. (This is less relevant to smaller and lighter breasts than to their denser and larger sisters'.)
- The farther the distance of Point X from the strap, the wider-set the straps will sit on the bra.
Let's think about it "engineer-style" for a second (and this is where I remind you of proviso 2, above). If your boobs point straight forward, a far distance, but don't flare "wide" on your frame - or high on your chest - the structural likelihood is that you don't need a wide upper cup. You need a tall upper cup.
Which brings me to exhibit C:
Exhibit C is a shoddy mock up (I refuse to make it pretty till I've got something that works!) which shows:
- Muslin 4 upper cup in black (same exact shape as that in Exhibit B) and
- Proposed muslin 5, drawn in green
- Make Point X higher (so that it will affix close to the part of the strap that meets the lower cup - like almost touching it).
- By altering the outer, lower, upper cup curve, I've also maintained the length of the lower raw edge of the upper cup so that it will attach, theoretically, to the lower cups without issue.
- The one other thing I've done is to alter the line of the cup where it meets the centre gore (bridge) - on the left side of the pic. In my original version, the line was angled in this way and I thought I had been inaccurate in my cloning process. However, as I continue to have too much volume at the upper inner cup, I'm beginning to believe that that line, which previously I thought was badly drawn, is actually correct. When the cups are sewn together, that line maintains the spherical shape of the lower cup unit. I mean, this alteration is a wild card, but it's not so extreme that I can't work around it in the muslin as necessary.
I realize that this post is unlikely to have appealed to a wide readership. I can barely proof-read it and I
If anyone has anything to add to this - either to corroborate my thoughts or to refine them - I would SO appreciate it.
Till next bra, Kxo