Friday, March 13, 2009

Making Beautiful Bras for the rack'o'doom

I just received this book today, Making Beautiful Bras by Lee-Ann Burgess, and after reading the first half of it, it's no wonder women have such a difficult time finding bras that fit well. I bought the book because it tells how to take a bra that fits you well and draft a pattern from it. Not only that, it tells you the best way to put on your bra so that your breasts sit in the cups properly for the right amount of support, how to find the right cup size when searching for a bra, how to find the right band size, and more.
Unfortunately, as all too many of us have found, bra manufacturers don't compare notes on sizing, so the size that fits you in one style of bra may not fit in another style of bra even if it's the same brand/manufacturer. The fitting problem is increased when you add in different brands/manufacturers, none of whom rely on a sizing standard (which is definitely not news to those of us who have shopped unsuccessfully for years, looking for a bra that lifts, separates, and supports without cutting us in half or giving us the deep indentations on our shoulders). And since breast sizes/shapes can vary so much from woman to woman, I don't know if it's even possible to have standardized sizing charts for bras.
Since Goddess has quit carrying/making the only style of bra that I've found that even comes close to fitting my rack of doom, I'm going to take a shot at making my own bras. I have one that the cups are fine (they fit the way they're supposed to, according to what I've read in this book), the straps are fine, but the sides/back are totally stretched out of shape. That bra is going to be taken apart, and using the guidelines in this wonderful book, I'm going to attempt drafting a pattern and making a bra that finally does what it's supposed to do.
I don't have a clue what the book is going to end up costing me, as I ordered it from Australia with my debit card and that charge hasn't hit the bank yet (cost of the book and air mail came to $71.45 in Australian currency, don't know what that comes out to in American dollars, probably somewhere around $45 - $50). To tell you the truth, I don't care if it costs the same in American currency as it does in Australian currency. If it gives me the ability to make a bra that really fits, is comfortable, and supports the rack of doom, it's well-worth every damned penny and will definitely pay for itself just in the money I save by making my bras myself instead of having to travel to some big city in search of someone who can custom-fit bras and have them made for me (I can't afford $150 for a bra, and I know the custom-made bras can be much more expensive than that).
I will also have all kinds of options for colors/fabrics/prints/decorations/laces that I don't have now (my Goddess bras came in basic black, white, and nude, the leopard print was discontinued a couple of years ago in the style I really like).
I'll be able to make camisole bras with fancy lace inserts for those tops I'd like to buy but show too much cleavage. My options are only limited by my imagination. I'm excited, and can hardly wait until my check gets here and I can go looking for fabrics and notions and laces and more.
And on another sewing note, Butterick is carrying a line of patterns by Coni Crawford that go up to a 68" bust/72" hip. When I do my shopping for the bra-making supplies, I'll be looking for those patterns, as I've found several that I like. My biggest problem will be finding the fabrics I like in the colors/prints I like at a price I can afford. I'm looking forward to making slacks that actually fit the way they're supposed to (instead of having the waist in front hit me just under my bra band) and that I can add pockets to (have to have pockets for cell phone and car keys, I don't carry a purse very often).
Here are the pics of the patterns by Coni that I'm looking at purchasing (if there was a picture of the pattern made up and on a live model, I included it after the pattern picture):

My favorite thing about these patterns? The artist's conception drawing on the pattern may not be a fat woman, but the pictures on the website where I found the patterns are definitely fat women and that gives me a really good idea if these clothing items will look the way I want them to when I'm finished making them. Granted, not all of the patterns have fat models showing the finished item, but enough of them do, for now.
If you want to see more of Coni's patterns, they can be found here.


  1. I'm excited for you! Can't wait to hear how it goes.

    I hate trying to find bras. I have the dreaded permanent dents in my shoulders. I don't think I've ever had one that fits me right. I hate trying them on, looking for them and wearing them.

    I might just have to relearn to sew. I don't think I'll be making any bras but I'd love to make myself some tops and pants. I really like the top in the photo that is 3rd from the bottom. Great patterns. Seriously makes me want to start sewing!

  2. I'm sitting here right now ripping apart the one old bra I have that fits decently. I'm going to have make a few minor alterations to get it to fit better, but if I follow the directions in the book, I should be able to do it. I have tons of scrap fabric upstairs in the sewing room, so I'll make a trial run before I decide if the alterations will work and be permanent.
    I'm planning on doing some fabric shopping this week, and maybe next week, to get an idea of what kinds of fabrics are available and how much they cost. At any rate, it has to be cheaper than buying ready-made, and I'll get exactly what I want as far as pattern, color, fabric, print, and design details are concerned.

  3. I'm excited, too, to hear how the bras turn out. I love the idea of it! I love the "rack'o'doom" name, too. So funny!

    I have bought almost the whole line of Connie Crawford patterns. The Butterick site has awesome sales a few times a year. I believe they were on sale at $4/piece. And I found some on Ebay a while ago, too. (Just looked now, and several people are selling them for much less than standard prices.)

    Now, to just find time to do some sewing, so I can try them out. I'm really looking forward to sewing without having to alter every last seam from a size 22 pattern.

  4. I just found your blog today. I was searching for the book "Making Beautiful Bras" because I found it for sale at for $59.95 That's not something I can afford right now and my library doesn't have it.

    So how did it work? Does the book have enough information to actually help? I'm so disgusted with my options anymore that I've been thinking about figuring out a way to make my own bras, corsets, something. If I can just get something that works - fits well and is comfortable - then as you say, I'll be able to have whatever colors and fabrics I want. But mainly I won't be at the mercy of the industry.

  5. Martha - I got the book and it has all the information necessary to make your own bras. One of the things I did though, was to take an old bra that fit really well, take it apart and use it for a pattern. Finding all the notions is another matter though - the elastics, proper threads, bra back hook and eye sets, etc can entail visiting several fabric stores to find everything you need. But, once you find everything you need, you can always buy enough to make as many bras as you want and you're good for a while.

  6. Thanks. This book is definitely going on my wish list!


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