Monday, May 18, 2009

Bra band tutorial!

Finally, huh?
This tutorial is how I make the lower bottom edge fit a bit better under the cups. It also gives the illusion of a partial band bra. Okay, I have a combination of large heavy breasts and a protruding belly. Nice. This can make wearing bras pretty uncomfortable when the band is too wide under the cups. The tummy pushes up against the breasts and underwires and it can rub somethin' awful. When the band is too wide it flips out or sometimes in and is often really painful, causing rashing and other yuckies. I have found using this method relieves a lot of it. There are also several women out there that like the look of a partial band bra but hate wearing wires and wires aren't necessary in a full band bra. I suggest using a really good channeling, though. The stuff I'm using for this bra is from Sew Sassy and it's friggin' awesome! It's the #922.

Okay, seriously, I'm not the greatest tutorial maker. I've only done one other. If you ever have any questions regarding this or bra-making in general please leave me a comment and I'll get back with you.

On to the good stuff!
First things first: Trace your pattern on to tissue or whatever you use. Now, I mostly use European bra patterns and they do not include seam allowances (I'm using my custom Danglez DB3) . If this is the case for you too add your normal seam allowance to all edges except the lower edge on your band. If you're using a Kwik Sew pattern or another company that includes seam allowances you might find it beneficial to just draw them in real quick for future reference.
Normally, I place my elastic on the bottom of my tracing to find my seam allowance:

So, pretending that my pattern below is the fabric, when sewn it will look like this:

With the picot edge peaking out and a nice wide band.

Instead, we want it to look a bit more like this when finished:

With the picot edge essentially peeking out from the bottom of the cup.

My band pattern is in 2 pieces. To get my tracing I butt them together.

I want my elastic to finish where my finger is pointing in the picture above.
I lay my elastic on the pattern, flipping it over and lining it up to that point:

Below, I made a mark where the elastic ended. I moved it up a little so you can see better.

Usually, I use my handy dandy attachment on my rotary cutter to make my seam allowances:

As you can see, the narrowest I can get it is too wide so I can't do that this time.
I measure the mark and get about a 1/4" (6 mm) seam allowance.

Using my ruler I mark my seam allowance all along the bottom.

Now, cut!

Here's the finished band pattern:

Now it's time to cut out your fabric and sew the cups and band together following the pattern's instructions:

Place your elastic along the bottom, lining up the edges.

Line the fabric and elastic up so the needle enters just outside the left edge. When you start sewing grasp the threads and gently pull them while you start stitching. This will help get everything moving along smoothy. (shown above)
sew, sew, sew

Your elastic should look something like this:

I trim my seam allowances. Not absolutely necessary.

Measure down about 3/8" from the top of the band and start sewing on the channeling:

Trim seam allowance.

Lay the bra right side down on your table and flip the elastic to the inside. I pin the elastic down close to the cup/band seam allowance and use my fingers to feel the seam.

Now for the part that sort of gave me a heart attack the first time I did it. Grab your scissors and *GASP* cut the elastic (!) trimming it to fit along the seam. Do this for both sides.
Below, you can see my trimmed elastic and on the table the little piece I cut out:

Move everything over to your machine and start stitching down the elastic as you normally would. I use a 3-step zig-zag.

When you get to the elastic under the cup narrow your stitches to fit and be sure you don't catch the cup or channeling :

Begin stitching down the channeling with a straight stitch:

When you get to the bottom of the cups just stitch right over the elastic. This encloses the raw edge so your elastic will not ravel. Now go sew the channeling down on the other side.

Oooo... that looks nice!

You can see how the elastic/channeling just barely peeks out from underneath the cup. Stitching the channeling down over the elastic it helps it to not flip up, too.

Below is the oustside with wires inside the channeling:

Here's the inside view:

Finish up your bra per the instructions and VOILA! You have a GOR.GE.OUS new bra!


Sigrid said...

Wow, beautiful tutorial. I think it's very clear and helpful.

Debbie Cook said...

Nice tutorial!

I have a little hint for you ... take off the rotary guide tool and flip it over. It will then slide up right next to the blade and you can cut smaller seam allowances. When you're done, flip it back over.

Lisa said...

Nice tutorial. I am sure it will be helpful when I get to actually "sewing" my new bra.

I am also in the lingerie sew along. And I am in SW Kansas, in Garden City. Can't believe someone else is here who likes to sew!

My email is We can chat about our favorite sewing stores here on the prairie!


Heather M said...

Thank you all so much!!
Thanks for the tip Debbie!

kbenco said...

OOh, this is such a nice tutorial. I will be using this one for sure. Thank you

Daisy said...

Great tutorial! BTW, which bra pattern did you use?

Heather M said...

Hi Daisy, thanks so much for your comment! I used Danglez DB3. You can find Danglez patterns at or

jacigh said...

My name is Jaci
It's great to find another lingerie fanatic! I sew because I love pretty lace and colorful undergarments that are NOT out there for the larger figure or just plain don't fit right. If RTW had a clue or cared to draft the larger figure correctly I'd be out of a job!
Your tutorial was very well done. I have been trying to make this correction for my daughter's bra and just found the Danglez patterns. I have a very patient daughter who is letting me use her as a fit model in the hopes she will someday have a bra that fits without pinching but still adds support.
She has always challenged my sewing skills and pushed me to learn new ones.
Then there are my boys who love Aname costumes. That's fun too.

Anonymous said...

My Name is Elizabeth. I speak spanish, I am from Nicaragua. I know a Little english.

Can you teach me, how to make a Brasier pattern?

Heather said...

Hi Elizabeth! I'm sorry, I don't know how to draft bra patterns. I just use commercial patterns. You might try They have a lot of information! Best wishes!

jnetti said...

Hi Heather,

Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I am making a bra pattern and an actual bra for my neighbor to learn how to make a large busted bras. I am fairly small and everything is easy for me but with her size it is daunting. This is a great way to work the elastic under the wires. I plan to try it.

Elizabeth would find great directions to make a bra pattern from a book titled "Patternmaking for Underwear Design" found on I have found this book to be easier in some ways than Patternschool. I have used both and they are complicated but if she stays with it and works through the process she could do her bra pattern.

Justbecauseitmakesmesmile said...

Great tutorial!
What fabric did you use for the band (wings)? Was it powernet?
It's very pretty!

Heather said...

Thank you so much! And, Yes! It is a floral print powernet that I got from Kathy's Lace and Elastic Outlet. She usually has it for sale by the pound.


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