When I was digging out the picot-edge elastic for my nursing/sleeping tops, I re-discovered all my bra-making notions. I made a couple of bras about a year ago (59 weeks ago, according to Instagram), and had some success. Mostly I made really pretty bras (Merckwaerdigh bra kits, whatup) that were too small. I did finally make one that fit me really well, and basically stopped once I did that. No idea why.
Rediscovering the notions, though (and realizing I actually had a lot more left over than I thought I did), re-inspired me to jump back on that horse. It seriously wasn’t until this point in time that I realized how much I’d outgrown my one single bra-that-fit. =/ It’s just so gradual that you don’t really notice, I guess. I mean, I knew I’d grown. Just not that my bra was fitting so poorly. Idk, anyway, I definitely knew I needed to go up a couple of cup sizes.
My base pattern that I’m working with is Merckwaerdigh BHL15 (“for 2 Big Size Bras“–super flattering pattern name, right? haha). To be frank, though, I have absolutely no idea what size I am, and I’m perfectly happy not knowing a number-letter combo to label my breasticles. I labelled my pattern pieces based on the colors of the lines I was tracing (blue, purple, indigo, etc). I’ve then been modifying those pieces even further, so…no idea what numbers/letters I am. It’s perfectly fine for my own use, though it’ll probably sound weird when I start talking about “purple cradle with indigo volume” and whatnot. Bear with me.
Firstly, I found which underwire size I am. During my previous bra-making attempts, I just ordered a big range of wire sizes to start off with, and then bought more of the one that ended up fitting me. Not super economical, especially at Netherlands-to-Texas shipping rates & times, but also not too terribly expensive, and now I have a collection of try-on wires for if I ever make someone else a bra.
So, I had underwire size figured out from my previous bra-making attempts, but I wanted to verify that that hadn’t changed with the…growing. It hadn’t, and once I thought about it, it made perfect sense. My boobs got bigger, but the root, where they attach to my chest (check out K-Line’s blog post for further clarification) hadn’t gotten any bigger, and that’s what the underwire actually has to fit. So, I’m still an M100 in Merckwaerdigh’s wire size; that hadn’t changed at all. (Merckwaerdigh’s wires are the only ones I’ve ever tried, and I have no idea how they’ll translate in size to any other company’s wires. For now, I’m just sticking with what I know works. I swear I’m not affiliated in any way, shape, or form with her; I just really like what I’ve tried, so far.)
Next, I had to get a band that fit. I actually got this nailed down while making my earlier bras. I traced off the smallest band piece, and then shortened it 4 cm (according to the crazy instructions, it looks like that would make this a 38D in UK sizing/38C in US, but it’s really hard to tell). The cradle that I traced is also the smallest cradle piece in this pattern. It fits my underwire size pretty much perfectly, and I didn’t have to change anything since the underwire hadn’t changed. Bonus!
Now, my last bra (the one-that-fit) used the blue-colored pieces (they were one cup size more than the cradle, but I was able to ease them in), and I knew I wanted to try going up 3 cup sizes from there (seriously, I really had outgrown that poor little thing). So I laboriously* retraced the cup pieces (*not actually laborious at all–there are 3, and they’re tiny) in the indigo-colored lines, added my seam allowances, and cut them out.
Then I sat staring, racking my brain for how to make these pieces fit into that tiny (comparatively-speaking) cradle. I googled so many different variations of “big cup small underwire” and “large cup small cradle” and the like. I really couldn’t find anything that specifically addressed what my problem was (which is what prompted me to write about this; hopefully it helps someone else out there). I finally posted on Instagram, begging help from anyone I could think of that had made bras and might have answers/suggestions. The Green Violet* came to my rescue with the absolute perfect solution. (*I hadn’t known about the Green Violet before, but I started following her immediately, and between her and Gillian, I found out the Curvy Sewing Collective was doing Lingerie Month! I had no idea I was so in tune with the zeitgeist. Go me!)
So basically, she recommended that I go back to the smaller pattern pieces that were meant to fit the cradle I’d traced, and then slash-and-spread them to get the volume of the bigger pattern pieces. This worked out quite magnificently and was actually really easy since I had the indigo pieces already cut out to guide me in how much volume I was trying to add to my cup pieces. I just made certain that when I slashed and spread, I didn’t add to the seam line where each piece gets sewn to the cradle. That makes these pieces a little less than the indigo size, further confusing the whole “size” thing.
Now that my pieces all fit into the cradle, I was ready to rock ‘n’ roll!
I cranked out 3 bras in quick succession, modifying my pattern a little bit after each one.
I made the purple floral one first, followed by the silky white one, and then the blue polka dotted bra. I tried to take the artsy hanging-in-front-of-a-window picture that everyone always seems to take with lingerie, but I sort of failed. And by the way, what the hell is up with all the windows in my house having tint on one half of the glass?? I’ve noticed it before and been puzzled by it, but it really affects my artsy-picture-taking, yo. Makes no sense. ANYWAY.
At least with the flash, you can tell what the bras look like. =/
I’ll go into more detail on the bras themselves in a future post. I mainly wanted to document how to solve that large-cup-small-wire problem, in case I go another year without making a bra again. (Ha! So not happening–I’m in the middle of a lingerie-making spree!!)