Friday, August 30, 2013

Building bridges

Bra bridges, that is.  Both Beverley Johnson and Norma Loehr recommend starting with the bridge.

So of course I followed their instructions, sort of.  In fact I did dutifully make the cardboard bridge they both talk about, but then I kind of did my own thing with my fitting bra which involved starting with the bridge pattern from my pink bra that doesn't really fit properly (top), narrowing it at the top for better fit and lengthening it (I forget why - middle), and finally accepting reality and also widening the base of the bridge substantially for better fit (bottom).

Guess what?  The last bridge is extremely close to my cardboard version.

Since swapping out these bridges involves unpicking the channel for the wires and the stitching that attaches the bridge to the cups, and taking out the line of stitches above the channeling at the CF that prevents the wires from poking out in the wrong place, and reinserting the wires, making the new bridge, sewing it in, re-sewing the channels, and trying the whole thing on again (times three), it would have been quite a bit faster to just follow the learned authors' instructions.

So here is my fitting bra.  It's single layer, made out of some lycra fabric I have a lot of, and basted together in pretty rudimentary fashion.

It fits me a lot better than my DTD, but this is all I'm willing to show the world.

In the next picture, I've highlighted some of the haute couture construction information, but also the problems that also appear when I put this beauty on. I've not highlighted the problems, such as the rippling cup seam, that disappear when it's me wearing it.

Questions for you experienced bra makers (or others with opinions):

  • Should I be worried about the fact that there is a flattish area of the lower cup near the bridge, below the pink dotted lines?  It is less pronounced on me than on the DTD, which is why I'm even asking this question instead of being sure that the answer is to change something to fix this.  My logic for doing nothing is that angling the lower bridge so it is even wider will just push the wires up into my under arm area.  Further, the bra looks good and on a try on it feels pretty comfortable.  The wires are sitting nicely where they are supposed to. 
  • If I was going to fix this, what should I do?  It occurs to me that maybe the wires I have are too long and/or too small, and the cup is too deep?  But I'd also have to make the bridge wider at the base, right?  The bra might look pretty wonky if I did that...
  • Should I be worried about the vertical wrinkles below where the strap attaches?  There is no elastic at the arm edge of the cup, and my thinking is that if that was stabilized and snugged in somewhat, these wrinkles may go away.  
  • If I was going to fix this, what should I do?  

I am already very grateful for the advice in the comments on my last post!  I have taken Liana's advice and for now I'm working on a mashup of my pink bra (which was already a mashup of an ancient Burda WOF (as it then was) swimsuit pattern and a PinUp Girls bra pattern...).  So weigh in and give me your best ideas and advice!


  1. I am wondering about a few things...

    1. Did you remove the corresponding amount of fabric from the inner lower cups when you widened the lower bridge? That might just fix the cup volume issues...

    2. I also wonder if you fit in a category of the more "omega" shaped breast where the breadth is slightly less than expected for the breast projection... that might explain why there is a bit of excess cup fabric near the edges without wrinkling at the cup seam... that suggests to me that you do not need a shallower cup.

    1. I did not take any fabric out of the cups, but rather rotated them away from the wider base of the bridge.

      I'm not sure I follow your second comment. It seems there is a whole new and unfamiliar vocabulary to master, along with the geometry and engineering...

    2. I think I understand what she means. It could be you need underwires a size smaller than what your cup size would indicate because your breast projection is more than average for your underwire size. I'm the opposite - I fit into a 32B cup but sometimes need a 34B underwire.

      Sigrid is an omega shape and if you look at her bras she will use the underwire that best fits her and ease in the extra cup length via very small gathers. The omega shape is mostly common in small band/large cup sizes.

      If the overall width of the underwire feels good but it is poking you in the underarm you can just cut the end of the underwire off, file off the sharp edge a little, and dip the end in some of that rubber stuff they use for tool handles (you can get it in hardware stores).

  2. I had the same problem in the lower cup when I started making bras and the solution for me was INCREASING the size of the lower cup. The logic behind this is that the lower cup does not have enough room for your beast to sit properly into it. I did this by cutting slits into the lower edge of the lower cup up to just beneath the top edge of the lower cup, then spreading the whole thing slightly. Also the gathers under the arm do not really go away with elastic, although a bit might go away. It really just bunches up under your arm. You are better off to remove some of the excess fabric here with maybe a wedge shape. Hope this helps. Have you seen the bra sew along on Amy's blog 'Cloth Habit'?

  3. This is all interesting. I haven't made a bra - too scared I think. So much can go wrong. Good luck!

  4. Do your books include info on where the wire should set? I would think they do. The wire should be comfortable. If it's too long, cut it to the size you need! My opinion (and that's all it is!) is that the wire should set directly beneath the breast. If the wire at the bridge isn't at your breast, then I think the bridge needs to be wider. I had to make very dramatic width adjustments to the Elan 645 bridge, and I know others in the sew along did also, so I don't think it's necessarily unusual to do so.

    Also, the wires have a purpose, and I'm not sure they'll fully accomplish that as shown above. If the wires you're using aren't the right size or shape, then get others. I've heard of the omega shape mentioned in a previous comment, but I'm not totally sure of what it is. I do know that there are differently-shaped wires available for the omega shape. Beverley probably sells them.

    I wouldn't worry about the other stuff until you get the bridge and wire size and placement nailed down.