sewing

Bra inspiration reality check for large band/ large cup sizes.

7 March, 2017

My bra making has been put on hold for a little while since I’ve made a few bras I can wear. They don’t fit perfectly but are very wearable and comfortable; my main concern is the bridge not tacking to my chest but I have to ponder on that issue for a while. I can’t go up a cup size because it’s too big all over, so I’ve drafted a four piece pattern (from the original two piece of the Classic bra pattern!) and now there’s ample room for small alterations to adjust the fit. I suspect I need more room on the inner cups, but that’s for another month when I have the mental clarity to deal with it.

This bra uses my newest 4 piece pattern and features a strange grey/ rose 15 denier that was not blush, as the product detail suggested. I have used it under black 15 denier on the sides (power bars) and frame, and on the upper and lower cup pieces I’ve used a black lace. It has elastic straps rather than half fabric straps because I wanted it to be a little more delicate.

Bra making, or engineering, for a large band and cup size is different. Many bra makers can get away with using narrower straps and more delicate details. For me? I have to use minimum 16mm straps and ideally the half fabric straps of the Classic. The above photo was taken when I’d put placeholder elastic strapping on, and it was like bungee cord. I’ve since replaced it with 19mm wide strapping and it’s much more supportive. I’ve found that widening the back band and drafting a strap extension has done wonders for my comfort, and instead of the back band settling into my various bumps, it now embraces them and hugs me firmly.

The Wacoal bra features a back strap extension.

I also have to think carefully about fabrication. If I use duoplex, I don’t have to worry about lining. Duoplex is a polyester non-stretch fabric that is brilliant to work with, but sadly quite expensive. I have used more affordable regular nylon tricot and even though the tricots I’ve used do not have spandex, they do have a degree of stretch and thus must be lined with a 15 denier fabric. The grey bra I made uses two layers of 15 denier for the frame and power bars. In the future I may even do three layers. A great deal of support needs to be in the frame (and back band, for which I use powernet), and the power bar helps project the bust forward away from under my arms.

The Agent Provocateur Joan bra features red microfibre cups and band (microfibre tricot is the devil and my machines can’t sew it!) with black elastic strap detailing and cut outs.
The strappy suspender and brief combo is far too busy for my liking! Just focus on the bra, friends.

This Bordelle softcup bra looks like it uses powernet for the cups and band and has a cream strapping detail that I love! However it has no underwire, and even though powernet is mighty powerful, I suspect I will need a wire for cantilevered engineering magic. The double strapping will help with lift, but I kind of hate the slide adjusters on the other straps?

I see lots of lovely delicate bras with cut out detailing and even though I long for such a bra, I know it wouldn’t be comfortable for me. So I’ve got a plan for a future bra to use a skin colour 15 denier in the “cut out” pieces. The Agent Provocateur site doesn’t show a close up photo of the red bra, but it says the cut outs are lined? I can’t see it from here.

Erin’s black bra features a double strap, double layered bra tulle cups and an external power bar – which looks like it is four layers all up, nice and supportive I bet.

Another modification I will make to emulate the strappy designs I so love, is to use a very firm double strapping elastic. I love this bra by Emerald Erin a lot! Again I will need to use 15 denier under the sheer black tulle or 15 denier. I just love the external power bar with what I think is fold over elastic stitched over the top. Erin’s bra straps are placed further out than mine need to be, I’ve found I had to move my strap towards the centre by about 2.5cm or else it gets caught under my arm.

So there are my musings on adapting current bra trends for large band/ large cup bras. Once I fiddle with my pattern and give it a go I’ll present my results. Maybe I’ll work on my bra photography… maybe I won’t.

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  • You could try fusing cup lining or 15 denier together with wonder under. It’s similar to the lamination process used in the factory.