February 17, 2013

Bra-making Supply List

If you are a first time bra-maker, you need to know what materials you need to get started. Let's go through the necessary bits for your first bra one by one.  

PATTERNS - The pattern I recommend for your first bra is a Classic Full Band Bra. A full band bra always has a band that runs under the cups. Full band bras can go without underwires. Just for your information, a Partial band bra, on the other hand, must use wires, as there is no band running under the cup, so the wire is needed for support. Our most popular bra patterns are the ones from Pin-up Girls. They fit well and they have a range of 90 sizes!

Pin-up Girls Classic Full Band Bra Pattern with optional wires is available in four size ranges, with 90 unique bra sizes in all. Each size range has its own colour envelope, with the Pink containing 30 sizes and the others each containing 20 sizes.


 1230 (Pink) is a full band bra sizes 30-38 AAA - D
1235 (Yellow) is a full band bra sizes 30-38 E - H
1240 (Blue) is a full band bra sizes 40-48 A - D
1245 (Purple)  is a full band bra sizes 40-48 E - H

KITS - we have kits containing the fabrics, elastics and other findings enough to make one bra (sometimes 2 depending on your size) available in seven colours, which makes shopping a lot easier the first time around! The colours are White, Ivory, Pink, Red, Beige, Brown and Black. Everything is in the kit except the underwires.

Here is a list of what you need if you aren't buying a pre-packaged kit.

BAND FABRIC - the band needs to go around the body and hook up in the back so the band fabric needs to have stretch. If it is too stretchy, the band will ride up, so choose band fabrics that are a firm stretch, such as a power net or firm stretch spandex. There are several options and your choice will depend on your size, or colours that are available.

CUP FABRIC - The cup fabric on the other hand, has no need to stretch, and is actually more supportive without it. So choose the cup fabric from no-stretch or low-stretch fabrics, such as Duoplex or the Simplex type of jersey knits. They do not contain spandex, and have only "mechanical give" which is a bit of give resulting from the knitting of the fabric. Once you get the fit of your bra perfected, you can experiment with different fabrics.

BAND ELASTICS -   two elastics are used for the band - one for the bottom of the band and one for the top at the underarm edge. The bottom band elastic is the one that provides the support for the cups, so that one is usually wider than the top one. Larger bra cups can use 3/4" elastic, medium cups can use 5/8" or 1/2" and smaller cups can easily use 3/8" elastic for the bottom band. The top band elastic is usually 3/8" wide but if you have larger cups, there's no reason why you can't use 1/2" at the top.

STRAPPING - There are literally dozens of combinations of materials for straps. Some are all elastic, some are totally non-stretch and some are a bit of both. You will find the best combination for you after you make a few. Here's what I recommend and what is included in the Classic bra pattern. The fabric from the cups (the non-stretch fabric) will make the front part of the strap which attaches to the front of the bra. The strap elastic will be at the back and it will include sliders and rings which will allow the straps to be lengthened or shortened.  Straps that are wider or padded are great for large bra cups (3/4"or wider), while a 1/2"-5/8" strap is good for medium cups. The smaller cups can use the 3/8" or spaghetti straps. 

WIRES AND WIRE CASING - Even if you don't use wires, you should use wire casing around the cup, to keep the bias edges from stretching out. Wire casing is also called 'channelling' or 'wire tubing', and it really is a tube. You always slide the wire inside the tube. If the wire is between the casing and the fabric, the wire will pop through the fabric. What wire size is the right one? Read the previous post for more information about wires.

HOOKS & EYES -   Hooks and eyes are sold as pre-cut sets or as a continuous strip (such as found in a bustier). Each format has its own merits. We name the hooks and eyes by their number of vertical (up and down) hooks by the number of eyes available for adjusting.  So a 2 x 3 hook and eye set is two hooks high and 3 eyes wide. Small cups can use 1 x 3, medium cups can use 2 x 3 and larger cups will feel supported in a 3 x 3 set. Some women want 4 x 3 hooks and eyes and that is their choice.

NECKLINE TRIM - The neckline trim goes on the uppermost edge of the bra, the decollete, if you will. The neckline trim finishes off the raw edge and if a narrow strip of stabilizer is stitched in under the trim, it will keep that edge from stretching out, which is absolutely necessary for the larger cups. The neckline is an area to show off some pretty trim, too.

THE ADORNMENT - Yes, the bow! That's the finishing touch that makes the bra look like you just bought it. But it's there for more than just pretty. It also hides the stitching for the closing of the wire casing. 

Here's a list of the quantities you need

·     PATTERN - one in your size
·     CUP FABRIC (Duoplex/Simplex)- .5 metres will usually make 2 or 3 sets of bra cups, the front straps, and the front band
·     BAND FABRIC (Power Net) - .3 metres will do between 3 and 5 bras
·     BOTTOM BAND ELASTIC - measure around your body, you won't need more than that. Usually 1 metre unless you have a large frame
·     TOP BAND ELASTIC - usually takes 1.5 metres per bra to do the underarm edge and up the outer edges of the fabric strap
·     STRAP ELASTIC - .5 metre will do the two straps (10" for each side)
·     SLIDERS & RINGS - you need 2 sliders and 2 rings in a size to match the strap elastic
·     WIRE CASING - 1 metre is enough, unless you have very large cups, then 1.2 metres is lots.
·     WIRES - Check our printable wire chart to compare your wires with our sizes.
·     HOOKS & EYES - You need one set, either 2 x 3 or 3 x 3. If you want continuous tape, choose the number vertically that you need, either 2 or 3.
·     NECKLINE TRIM - 1.25 metres is usually enough to go around the neckline and up the inner edge of the front straps.
·     THE BOW - just one!

 OTHER ESSENTIALS

Thread -Regular polyester threads work fine! We carry mara 120 Guterman Industrial quality thread on 1000 spools. Great thread for making fine stitches at a great price.

Machine - A zigzag machine is a must, and one that is capable of a three-step zigzag is desirable. If a three-step zigzag is not available, regular zigzag will do.

Needle - Treat your machine to a new Schmetz needle. Use a ballpoint 70 on Simplex or jersey jacquard, or Duoplex (or other fabrics that are knitted but do not have spandex in them). If you have a problem with skipped stitches especially on Power net, switch the needle to a Universal 14. On spandex blend fabrics such as Raschels or tricots, you should always use the Stretch needle.

Determine the Wire Size

On our website at www.bramakers.com, we have a complete set of all our wires, drawn out to their actual size, complete with measurements around the perimeter from tip to tip.

If you print off these wire charts, you can match up a wire from your collection to see what size it is. If you don’t have a wire that fits and you aren’t sure what wire size you would use,  you can print off the wire page and paste the page on stiff cardboard or pattern paper.  You will have a circular template of the actual wire size and shape. Place the template around the breast. The wire should fit against the chest wall with no gaps under or around the breast, when the arm is raised. Sometimes the breast looks larger at the base than it is, and that can lead to choosing an incorrect wire size.

A SECOND METHOD
If you know your bra pattern size, you can use the chart below to find the wire size associated with that bra size. The wires listed in the cells below represent the wire sizes that the Pin-up Girls Patterns use. The patterns will usually accept one wire size lower or higher than the chart suggests. Please note that AAA, AA and A take the same size underwire.

The wire SIZE actually represents the diameter of the breast.

BAND
AAA
A
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
32
30
30
30
32
34
36
38
40
42
44
34
32
32
32
34
36
38
40
42
44
46
36
34
34
34
36
38
40
42
44
46
48
38
36
36
36
38
40
42
44
46
48
50
40
38
38
38
40
42
44
46
48
50
52
42
40
40
40
42
44
46
48
50
52
54
44
42
42
42
44
46
48
50
52
54
56
46
44
44
44
46
48
50
52
54
56
58
48
46
46
46
48
50
52
54
56
58
60
Once you know the wire size, you will need to know what length in the font you would like to have. Wires are available in a variety of front arm heights, either high or low or anything in between and can be shaped differently in order to encourage the breast forward or back according to its final use.  

The most common wire is the LONG wire, so that is the one I’ve used in most of the bra patterns from Pin-up Girls. That is not to say that you can’t use a Short wire or a Super Long wire but alterations need to be made to the pattern in order to accommodate the changed length.

Determine your Bra pattern Size

Measuring for a bra should be done with your best-fitting bra on, but not a foam cup bra as this will not be accurate. If you don’t have a bra that fits, the measurement will not be totally accurate since the breast tissue will be compressed. Hold the tape measure level and not twisted.

BAND SIZE
To determine your size using the Pin-up Girls bra patterns, you need only two measurements. It doesn’t matter if you use inches or centimeters, just as long as you use the same for both measurements. Measure the high bust, pulling the tape snug against the skin but not tight.


The high bust measurement determines your band size. The chart below should help determine your band size.

If your High Bust Measures
Use this Band Size
29 - 31” (73.5 cm – 78.5 cm)
30
31 - 33” (78.5 cm -83.5 cm
32
33 - 35” (83.5 cm – 89)
34
35 - 37” (89 cm – 94 cm)
36
37 - 39” (94 cm – 99 cm)
38
39 - 41” (99 cm – 104 cm)
40
41 - 43” (104 cm – 109 cm)
42
43 - 45” (109 cm – 114.5 cm)
44
45 - 47” (114.5 cm – 119.5 cm)
46
47 - 49” (119.5 cm – 124.5 cm)
48


CUP SIZE
Now measure over the fullest part of the bust, but do not pull the tape snug, just tight enough to keep it from sliding down. This is the full bust measurement.


To determine the cup size, subtract the high bust from the full bust measurement. The difference determines the cup size

If the Difference is
Use this Cup Size
0 - 1/2” (0 - 12 mm)
AAA
1/2 – 3/4” (12 - 20 mm)
AA
3/4 – 1 3/4” (2 – 4.5 cm)
A
1 3/4 – 2 3/4” (4.5 cm – 7 cm)
B
2 3/4 – 3 3/4” (7 cm – 9.5 cm)
C
3 3/4 – 4 3/4” (9.5 cm – 12 cm)
D
4 3/4 – 5 3/4” (12 cm – 14.5 cm)
E
5 3/4 – 6 3/4” (14.5 cm – 17 cm)
F
6 3/4 – 7 3/4” (17 cm – 19.5 cm)
G
7 3/4 – 8 3/4” (19.5 cm – 22.5 cm)
H

If the chart size is greatly different from your ready-to-wear bra size, and that size fits you, make a trial bra in your ready-to-wear size and assess the fit. Getting the right fit in the cups is the most important thing. If the cups fit but the band doesn’t, the band is easy to adjust.

If the band fits but the cups are too small, go up one cup size
If the band fits but the cups are too large, go down one cup size

If the cups fit, but the band is too short – lengthen the band
If the cups fit, but the band is too long – shorten the band

For individual fitting alterations, please consult The Bra-makers Manual the complete guide to bra design, draft, fit and construction, available at www.bramakers.com.