Community Blog | My First Full Bust Adjustment with Stine

Editor’s Note: I’m excited about today’s post, because Stine is reflecting for us on how their first full bust adjustment went, a few years ago. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

I have a large bust and a small underbust. My back is also small.

If I choose size based on my bust measurement, I have so much extra fabric billowing out below my bust. If I choose size based on my torso, the garment is to small at my bust.

Enter FBA.

I own a book of sewing patterns, ‘Sew Many Dresses, So Little Time‘. It is unique in that you yourself combine the various elements which make up a dress, to make you own dress.

It also advises on how to make an FBA, Full Bust Adjustment, and this was the first dress I made an FBA on.

I was initially a bit scared of FBAs, I thought they seemed rather complicated.

But I followed the instructions closely: Mark bust points. Measure 2 cm from the bust point. Draw lines outwards and downwards. Cut and spread.

And that was it … was that all there was to it? And it looked right!

Then just to tape pattern paper under the spread areas. It was so much simpler than I thought.

I also made a swayback adjustment and a high round back adjustment (HRBA).

But if course the real test was if the fit in the final dress was good.

The dress underway.

The final dress fit so well (in the photo I twist my body slightly). Very happy with loosing the underbust billowing.

I very much appreciate being able to “build” my own unique dresses. No more bad fit.

– Bodice: Basic.
– Neckline: Scoop.
– Sleeves: Cap sleeve.
– Skirt: 3/4 circle.
Fabric: 100% cotton from Stoff & Stil (2016)
Size: Bodice and sleeves size 5, skirt size 6. These sizes roughly corresponds to size M and L.

 FBA, Full Bust Adjustment.
– Swayback adjustment.
– High round back adjustment.
– Adjustment for short shoulder to waist length

Stine L. Larsen is a 41 year-old Dane, barefoot shoe geek, and mom. Lifelong crafter, and avid sewist and upcycler since 2010 when they stopped buying new clothes. You can see more of Stine’s makes on instagram @barefootsaga or on their blog: (under reconstruction).

Community Blog | July’s Monthly Sewing Challenge with Christine

Editor’s Note: I’m so excited that for the month of July, Sew Busty will be teaming up with my dear friend Christine (@HouseOfMorozin) for her Sew Monthly challenge! This month’s Sew Busty + House of Morozin Sew Monthly Challenge will be to make a summer dress! You’ll have until August 2 to post on social media using #SewBustyChallenge and #SewMonthlywithHOM, and you’ll be entered to win some swag!

The year is … I don’t actually remember, like most people who have been sewing since they were younger. I am Christine from House of Morozin. My sewing journey was started in the early years. For as long as I can remember my mother had a sewing machine in the house. I was fascinated with trips to JoAnn’s and Walmart, back when they had a huge sewing center. 

Flash forward to my twenties and sewing had become a more intermittent hobby. Until one day in 2018, I decided “Hey let’s bring my machine to my house and sew something”. This was the moment I truly became a sewist! 

Come 2021 and I am a professional seamstress who has sewn for two brands with plans for my own. I have a background in lingerie and high knowledge of working with stretch fabric. Fun Fact: my favorite brand to sew on is Pfaff!

Shot of Christine from Madalynne Intimates modeling shoot

I have a busy life, which pushes my hobbies to the side. My love of going fabric shopping did not get any dimmer. And so my stash grew and grew. 

I recently had an opportunity to become a seamstress and sew for a living! With that, I met IRL sewing friends. After helping with the great Lady Bird jeans workshop, we decided to work on the Ginger Jeans by Closet Core pattern together. Over the next month we worked at our own pace asking questions about the others experience during a sewing section and cheering each other on. 

In progress photo from jeans sewing

*SPARK* This was so fun! I want to do a project like this every month! Suddenly I had the idea for the Sew Monthly with House of Morozin Challenge. It is a challenge that has no daily requirements, loose pattern specifications, and a community of helpful individuals. 

As a busy sewist, I found myself failing at challenges like Me Made May because I forget to post every day, or have no time. It was hard mentally to keep up even if I was wearing self made clothes. I knew I wanted to start something where one could feel accomplished and not bogged down. We can do that in May! (Which I love to see all your makes during!)

Everyone and every body is different. We like to sew different things from different pattern companies. I didn’t want to keep the form of you sew this specific pattern for those reasons. You get to choose what works for you, your sewing skills, and your comfort level. This will also broaden your known database of known pattern companies as different suggestions come through.

The community input on Sew Monthly is one of the top reasons I wanted to create this challenge. Already, we have suggestions for fabric sourcing that I’ve personally never heard of, patterns that are multiple people’s TNT, and a encouragement to get over some scary moments like sewing swim elastic for the first time. 

Christine at a bralette workshop

This sewing challenge has basic instructions. Find a pattern you like in the loose parameters for the month and sew it up within the month The monthly breakdown is as follows:

June: Swimwear
July: Summer Dress 
August: The one you’ve been eyeing
September: Pants
October: Jacket /  Coat
November: Holiday Outfit
December: Pjs
January: Lingerie Set 
February: The one you’ve been avoiding
March: Jeans
April: Jumpsuit / Faux Jumpsuit
May: Favorite Fabric

For example: in June we just completed the Swimwear challenge. Sewers participated by sewing a swimsuit, any pattern they wanted. The challenge was met by many. We talked about different ways to find your starting point, different ways to add elastic, and other difficulties sewers met along the way. 

Sew Monthly with House of Morozin is an open to everyone challenge. The year has a lot in store for us. Let’s sew together! 

Christine Morozin is a professional seamstress, specializing in lingerie. She is the creative mind behind House of Morozin and the Sew Monthly Challenge. You can find her on Instagram @HouseOfMorozin

Bra Month | Community Blog | Fitting Considerations for Large Bra Cups with Carla

Editor’s Note: I’m excited to attend the Great Bra Sewing Bee here in about a month, and I’m excited to have Carla, one of the fantastic instructors for the Bee, on the blog today to talk about fitting bras for big boobies. The timing is especially fantastic as we wrap up bra month! As we get nearer to the GBSB, promo code SEWBUSTY will get you 10% off the Josey, Josey Plus, and Ingrid kits. Even better, for those new to bra sewing, you can go from following Sew Busty’s Jet Set Sew Along to learning EVEN more about bra making at GBSB’s Beginner Bee day!

When it comes to bra making, regardless of the cup size, we need to define a good fit before we can determine if a bra fits poorly. This is specifically for underwired bras.

A well-fitting bra should provide coverage without spillage of breast tissue on the side, over the top, or from underneath. It should shape, lift, and corral the breasts according to the silhouette of the bra. Underwires should always fit in the inframammary crease under the breast and hug the side of the breast tissue. The straps should not slide off the shoulders, nor should the back ride up.

I have just a couple other nuggets to share before we discuss fit.

Your first bra will probably not fit. If you have large cups, your first few bras will probably not fit. Don’t’ be discouraged. This is normal.

A bra is the most structured article of clothing and must be made to fit a variety of bodies.  As a pattern maker, I can tell you it is impossible to design a 36G cup pattern that will fit every 36G cup perfectly. We are all uniquely shaped, so of course we will all have different issues with fitting.

Additionally, and I can’t stress this enough, you must use your “final” fabric in all your bra making. You will never be able to get the same fit using cotton muslin that you will with a highly technical fabric. Bra fabric is unique and can’t be found at your local fabric store. Thankfully online vendors, such as, have made bra fabric shopping easy.

Now we can talk about what may be causing your bra not to fit.


Having the right underwire shape for your breast root is one of the most important, yet overlooked factors in bra making.

Editor’s note: For more info on underwire fit, check out the Sew Busty guide to underwires and performing a breast root trace here as well as this post from our underwire bra making guide, which goes into even more detail on wire alterations.

The underwire should fit precisely in your inframammary crease on the bottom and fit right next to your breast tissue on the side. The wire should not go wandering towards your back, past your breast tissue, nor should it sit on top of your breast tissue.

To find your breast root, get a flexible ruler and form it around your breast. Start from the side, go under the crease and around to the center. Without bending the ruler, take it over to a piece of paper and trace the inside curve. Then choose an underwire that most closely resembles that shape. Keep in mind the underwires will come in a variety of gauges and will splay open when the bra is worn. The underwire should never be wider at the top when compared with your breast root trace.

A diagram of a breast root trace, showing a flexible ruler starting at the outside of the breast root, curving around the IMF under the breast, and ending

Center Gore or Bridge

This goes along with the underwires. The gore needs to be the same shape as the space between your breasts. If you have wide set breasts and a narrow gore, the underwire will not be encasing your breasts correctly. You may need to widen the gore at the bottom center. On the other hand, if you have narrow set breasts, you may need to lessen the width at the top center.

A diagram showing a center gore of a bra being

Direction of Stretch

Is the stretch in the correct direction? The stretch should go around the body and be directed toward the apex. If it’s not, that will create some distinctive warping in the cup shape.


Is the band tight enough? It should fit snugly, but still be comfortable. If it rides up, it could be because the band is too loose and will not support the weight of the breasts. The band is responsible for about 80% of the support. Without a snug band, your breasts will sag, and you will feel this right away.

Another issue with the band that you will not feel right away is when the back straps are set too close to the center back. If the band is snug but it still rides up after a few minutes of wear, you may need to adjust the pattern to move the straps farther out. This will be discussed in further detail by Apparel Intimates in the class called Pattern Adjustments for Size Inclusivity at the Great Bra Sewing Bee.

Editor’s Note: Also check out the blog on July 6 for a post all about making what we call a fitting band, which helps ensure perfect band fit!


Are the straps adjusted properly? They should not be so tight that they are causing an indentation in your shoulders, but they should not be so loose that your breasts are sagging. See if your straps are too long or too short and adjust accordingly.

Cup Size

Sometimes you may just need to go up or down a size or half a size. I see many ladies taking darts here and there. If you have to take a half-inch dart or more, then I would suggest you just go down a cup size. Taking out darts can change the intended shaping.

A note of caution: if you’ve already found your correct size underwire, it may not fit with the cup that usually goes with that size. In that case you will need to adjust your cup at the wire line to fit your size underwire. When the bust diameter at its fullest point is wider than the underwire, you will need to make the Omega adjustment, which you can learn more in my Making the Josey Bra online course or during the “All things Omega Boobs” class at the Great Bra Sewing Bee.

If your breast does not fall into the bottom of the cup, then you will need to add more volume. If the bottom cup is one piece, you can split the cup vertically, add a slight curve, and add 1/4” seam allowance. The curve will allow the breast more room to drop into the cup. Or you may need to increase the curve of an already two-piece bottom cup.

If the top cup is just a little too small and you have a slight cutting-in at the top (otherwise known as “quad boob”), you can just add 1/4”. Do this by cutting the pattern piece all the way to the edge without cutting it completely. Open it up the desired amount, then tape open and redraw the lines, similar to the gore procedure pictured earlier.

Want to learn more about fitting large bra cups? The Great Bra Sewing Bee is coming up August 4-8, 2021, and La Bella Coppia and Apparel Intimates will be some of the many teachers with sessions all about fitting. When it comes to fitting large cup sizes, you can never have enough patience and persistence. Don’t be discouraged if the fit isn’t just right. I started back when only a handful of bra patterns were available. It took me 33 tries to get the right fit. The great news is that once I got the right fit, I never went back to ready-to-wear bras again. You can do it. Just keep sewing. 🙂

By the way, if you are curious about my bra-making journey, join me during the “Beginner Bee” where I will be sharing my story.

Carla Musarra-Leonard is a custom bra maker and lingerie designer. She also makes large cup bras to order under her own label, La Bella Coppia Lingerie. She is the designer of the Josey and Josey Plus bra patterns. This post was written in collaboration with Evyone Credle and Margarita Sheflyand of Apparel Intimates, LLC.

Bra Month | Community Blog | Using Scuba for Bra Making with Jeannie

A ready-to-wear look easy enough for Beginner bra makers??

It’s easier than you think to have the look and feel of a custom or high-end retail bra, even for beginner bra makers. The answer is found in scuba print fabrics!

What is scuba bra making fabric?

Scuba fabric is a double-knit fabric made with finely spun polyester fibers to create a smooth hand with a low luster sheen and a full-bodied drape.  While named after the material used in scuba suits, this is not thick neoprene.  

Instead, the scubas we select for bra making have a slight spongy feel like ready-to-wear, a medium to medium-light hand so they will drape well with some stretch.  Scuba is printed on one side with a very soft back.  The Gigi’s Bra Supply exclusive scuba prints include both animal prints and floral prints.  Because the scuba print fabric has a stretch of 10% to 25%, we would back the scuba with either sheer cup lining, duoplex or cut-and-sew foam to give it the stability you need for cups.

Additionally, scuba print fabric is absolutely gorgeous!  

Using a backing fabric provides the freedom to ignore the DOGS (degree of greatest stretch) of the scuba fabric, allowing us to position our pattern pieces in any place and any direction to give the perfect printed pattern matching between the left and right cups.

The technique that makes this so approachable for a beginner is called “fussy cutting”.

With fussy cutting we add one additional step – just one step!

Fussy cutting is a term often used in quilting to feature a special part of the fabric, for example, you might want to feature a certain flower or color you especially like.  Fussy cutting is a great way to customize the scuba to feature any of the design elements … for this Bluebells and Roses scuba, I would have the bluebells face inward toward the center front, which means the fabric would be mirroring (the Left Cup bluebells will face toward the Right Cup, and the Right Cup bluebells will face toward the Left Cup at the center front).

This Pin Up Girls Bralette pattern has a prominent center front so I would use the ¼ inch seam line to match up the center front…remember, you are stitching these together so you’re matching at the seam line, not at the edge of the fabric.  Other patterns might have cleavage in the front … in that case, you might want to match up or mirror the design on a different part of the cup.

We will prepare our pattern pieces for the cups as normal, and then add ¼ inch seam lines at the spot where you want the scuba fabric to intersect … either at the center front, or at another match point.  The cups are curved so you’ll have to choose a spot you want to feature, and not try to match up the entire cup.  Next, place the pattern pieces on cardstock or heavy paper to trace a Left Cup and Right cup.  Cut out the pattern piece and you’ve created a cardstock window to use on the scuba.  Cut out a Left Cup and a Right Cup frame so you can see how each cup will intersect at either a match point or the center front.

Next, we lay out the scuba print fabric on the cutting table and use the cardstock window frames to frame the floral or print exactly how we would like it to appear.  Remember, because we are lining the scuba print with a stable fabric like sheer cup lining, duoplex or cut-and-sew foam, we do not need to worry about direction at all.

Once we have the design we want lined up in the window frame, mark on the paper frame any details. Then use a fabric marking pen to transfer the pattern onto the fabric, and be sure to transfer match points onto the fabric. (You can put them on the back or front in the seam line, but you will need them to make sure your pieces line up correctly.)  Once you’ve traced the pattern piece onto the fabric, use a small rotary cutter or good sharp scissors to “extract” the fabric piece that is exactly the size, shape and print pattern that we desire!

When our scuba pieces are cut out we will place them on top of the corresponding pieces of sheer cup lining, duoplex or cut-and-sew foam (remember, with the duoplex and cut-and-sew foam, we do follow the direction of greatest stretch, as shown on the pattern, as normal).  We can use fusible webbing to secure the two pieces of fabric together, or we can use a wash-out glue stick to temporarily connect them.  By using either method, we make it easier to sew because it is as if we are working with one combined fabric, instead of messing with keeping two fabrics in alignment.

We’ve already looked at the mirroring of the bluebells.  Now take a look at the animal print fabric.  This print has a darker section and a lighter section of the design.  I’ve used the window to put the darker designs toward the center front.

The grey and red scuba bralette features another way line up the scuba – notice how the leaf design continues from one side of the center front to the other.

Whether you are mirroring a design, or matching, the ¼ inch seam line marks will show you where the fabric pieces will intersect … those ¼ inch seam lines will be your best buddies as you sew the cups.

Now sew the fabric pieces and enjoy your gorgeous new bra!! 

Here are the steps for bra making scuba success:

  1. Decide which parts of the beautiful scuba you want to feature
  2. Add ¼ inch seam lines to the pattern pieces in the areas where you want to match the design, or mirror the design.
  3. Make a Fussy Cut Frame by tracing the pattern pieces onto cardstock.  Make a Left Cup frame and a Right Cup frame ensuring that the center fronts are faced the correct direction.
  4. Use the Fussy Cut Frame on the fabric to “frame” the bra cup pieces to highlight your preferred designs on the fabric.  Trace the pattern onto the fabric.  Keep the pattern pieces handy and to transfer all match points and ¼ inch seam lines.
  5. Place/adhere the scuba fabric piece onto a backing fabric (sheer cup lining, duoplex or cut-and-sew foam)
  6. Sew the fabric pieces as directed in the pattern.
  7. Wear your gorgeous new bra!!

Give yourself some grace the first few times you try matching or mirroring.  It might take a few tries for your eyes to “see” how the pieces will come together.  Even if the design doesn’t line up exactly as you planned, you’ll still have a gorgeous new bra!

Jeannie New is the owner of Gigi’s Bra Supply, an online bra supply store featuring professional quality fabrics, elastics, findings, and patterns for bra making…and USA distributor of Bra Makers Supply, Canada.  We’ve helped thousands of customers finally get a supportive, beautiful, comfortable bra.  We love our customers…and we love comfy curves! ™  

Bra Month | Community Blog | Bullet Bra with Cesca

A broken leg, lockdown and lecture strikes led to me putting my university course on hold; in a desperate need to fill my time (to prevent me driving my mum crazy) I returned to sewing. I’d outgrown my clothes again, my cup size growing “disproportionately” to RTW clothing. Once I had a few garments under my belt – and obsessed with period murder mysteries during third lockdown – I fell in love with vintage fashion, the sexy allure of foundational garments. I grew a burning desire to buy some, especially bullet bras (or as I prefer, torpedo titties). Sadly, my new bra size fell just outside of most vintage bra companies, and I could hardly afford a custom make. 

Filled with grandiose plans and optimism I scoured the internet for a cheap pattern. How hard could making a bra without wires be?  Thankfully, I found a free pattern by VaVoomVintage, complete with an easy 4 day sew along. (Reader, it took me far longer due to exams and coursework.) Still on my few days off, I cut out the DD pattern, added an inch to the cups and retrieved my torn cotton pyjama trousers. I cut my pieces, basted the cups together in an attempt to check the fit (difficult because of my short roots and pendulous breasts). I forged ahead with sheer determination.

I do like a French seam (and I lack good pinking shears) so I used this in almost all seams, except when I forgot to leave enough seam or simply got confused and stitched right sides together anyway. 

Spiral stitching. I procrastinated, scared of catching a finger; I watched VaVoomVintage’s video, and searched for other blogs by those who made her pattern. Luckily, as I raided my local library for sewing books, I found “Lingerie Design: A Complete Course.”

I took the plunge without marking my circles: a mistake. I recommend grabbing a compass or a circular object to mark concentric circles on the cups either separately before seaming together, or pressing down the fabric after stitching the seams, or – probably neatest – fill the cup and draw circles on the 3D shape. Then slowly stitch in separate circles/semi circles or a spiral, gently pulling the fabric away as you go. Contrasting threads and different patterns also would look wonderful as VaVoomVintage points out.

The rest of the sew along is straightforward, although before assembling everything think about the unfinished edges. I folded mine twice and stitched on the sewing machine for an untidy result. A trim added at the end might work better or a rolled hem foot.

I ploughed on, making bra straps from the carefully unpicked and resewn ex-cuffs of my trousers, attaching by hand. The underband was 10cm too large on me, so I folded in the excess on each side before adding the hook and eyes by hand. For a final flourish I added buttons to the front from the original placket that I had saved. 

The fit is difficult to tell without sewing the entire bra. I had to shorten my side bands again but could not lengthen the height, so I added in an extra piece between the armhole and the bra strap for more support. The band is still too big! Next time I would squash the side band and lengthen the height so that it keeps everything in when attached to the cups. Elastic straps are probably far more comfortable. The cups fit well, although I wish I had marked my circles particularly the bust apex, where the centre of the circles should be.

This pattern was easy enough to make though and a very fun foray into lingerie sewing without faffing over underwires (the enemy of my sticky-outy rib cage). I also liked how simple it was although the instructions were a little sparse. I have made up my own instructions which can be found and saved from my Instagram @lemonysews

I’m a mathematician who likes to sew vintage garments. I’m interested in the history of fashion, especially Wartime Britain, and the topology & geometry of garments. See all of Cesca’s makes on insta @lemonysews

Bra Month | Community Blog | Lingerie Books Review with Cyndel

I am a process person. The more intricate and detailed something is, the greater interest I have in it. So, when I started sewing lingerie I was hooked. Every quarter inch, the arch of every curve, mattered. My brain was happy and wanted more. So, I did what every other obsessive nerd would do and I went book shopping 🤓

Since my initial book purchase, my lingerie sewing and construction book collection has grown to have several books. I quickly became known in the bra making community as the person with the books. I read them all (probably more than twice), took notes, and shared what I was learning on my Instagram. My followers would frequently ask about the books and which one(s) they should get, which led me to film a YouTube video breaking down the most utilized books in my collection and their pros and cons. This article is that video in text. 

Prefer video format? Check out Cyndel’s video:

Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction by Norma Loehr (Orange Lingerie)

This was the first book that I bought when I started sewing lingerie and it is the one that I recommend the most to anyone getting started in lingerie sewing. This book, as the title would suggest, is all about sewing bras and getting the perfect fit. This book does not contain information about drafting bra patterns. 

What I love about it:

  • Clear and easy to read
  • Lots of photos (though at times there could be more)
  • Troubleshooting guide by bra part (cup, cradle, etc.)
  • Pro tips throughout the book – these really helped up my lingerie sewing game from the start!

To be honest, there isn’t anything I don’t love about this book. It is super handy for its intended purposes. If you are advanced in your bra making, I think most of the information in this book would be familiar to you – so that would be my only caution. 

A lovely floral pink bra, currently available in Cyndel’s shop!

Bra Pattern Drafting (Pt. 1 & 2) by Merkwaerdigh 

Sewing bras for me quickly evolved into sewing bras for others. Ethically, I knew it was important to me to learn how to draft my own patterns – which led me to purchase this digital book from Etsy. I think it is important to know that prior to learning to draft bra patterns, I did have limited pattern drafting experience – enough to know the lingo and very *slowly* bust out a draft. 

The thing that I think is coolest about the Merkwaerdig method of bra pattern drafting is that literally anyone can do it. In many ways, learning how to draft a bra pattern this way would be a good stepping stone into another method if you’ve never drafted patterns before. You can absolutely create a solid master bra for yourself with this pattern. I will say though, this design will take more tweaking to get an accurate, fitting bra for yourself. Though clear measurements are provided, this method uses an even grading system that assumes the body grows equally between sizes and uses two sizes (36B and 46B) as the “mother size” of all sizes. In my experience, that means there is a lot of room for human error in grading that leads to sizes fitting more poorly as they move further from the mother size, but if your intention is only to create a pattern for yourself, this method would be more than sufficient.

What I love about it:

  • Anyone can draft a bra using this method
  • Measurements and clear directions are provided with diagrams showing the drafting process 
  • Clear grading instructions are given to size up or down
  • Fairly short in comparison to other drafting books
  • Great way to learn terms and tools of pattern drafting

Some things for consideration:

  • It’s not as accurate as other methods, but if you’re willing to make some test bras and figure it our, this method could be great for you
  • Though the grading instructions are clear, I personally do not love the even grade system or the idea of mother sizes – I also am not confident you could apply the grade rules to the master pattern that you have made alterations to, I think you would have to make adjustments to each individual draft
Cyndel recently made this quilted ice blue bra with champagne lace bra as part of a weekly bra sewing challenge.

Bare Essentials: Bras by Jennifer Lynne Matthews-Fairbanks (Porcelynne)

This is the second drafting book that I purchased. The first half of the book is about bra fit and construction and the second half is about drafting and grading. If you think you have long term interest in bra pattern drafting but are just getting into lingerie sewing – this may be the book for you! It is the best of both worlds. 

From a construction standpoint, this book teaches you all you need to know about basic construction *plus* how to make some tricky alterations to hone in on a perfect fit, but unlike the first book mentioned it does not have a trouble shooting guide per say.

From a drafting standpoint, this method is deadly accurate. I have never made a more well fitted bra on a first pass than I have with this method. It uses some pretty specific measurements from your body in addition to your preferred underwire size. For my needs, this method was too specific for me to make a wide variety of sizes as I would have no way to procure the specific measurements needed (fun fact: there really is no standardization in bra sizes, but if you’ve ever worn bras before you probably could have guessed this). That being said, if you’re looking to make a bra pattern for yourself or loved ones, this method is worth the time and effort it takes as you will have less frustration with the fitting and final outcome.

What I love about it:

  • Best bang for your buck – in depth construction, fitting, and drafting/grading information
  • Most accurate method for drafting bra patterns
  • Teaches fit alterations that can be otherwise tricky 
  • Clear and well written with lots of step-by-step diagrams
  • Instructions for both drafting and grading by hand OR digitally

Some things for consideration:

  • From a drafting standpoint, I would say it would be beneficial to have some experience drafting patterns to utilize this method, otherwise it may be confusing
  • Though this drafting method is the most accurate, it can be time consuming (though you’ll likely have less trouble down the road) 
  • If you are looking to use this method to draft a wide variety of sizes, you’ll really need to consider how you will procure or standardize the measurements needed to do so
Both of these bras – a pink bra with a strawberry design and an ivory bra with a pink floral design – are currently available in Cyndel’s shop.

The Bra Makers Manual (Volume I & II) by Beverly Johnson (Bra Makers Supply)

If you have been around my Instagram, it is no shock to you to see these books on this list. For me, they have been the most practical in my bra pattern drafting journey. I basically carry Volume II with me at all times. Like other books on the list, you’ll find information on construction and fit (even the bra throughout history) as well as drafting and grading – though I would recommend these books more for their drafting information than construction.

This construction method is a happy medium between the Bare Essentials and Merkwaerdig Method in that it is detailed, but not too specific. All of the information you need is in the book – which means if you are hoping to draft for a wide variety of sizes, Volume II is a practical start. One of the biggest differences in this book compared to others is it uses an uneven grading system which assumes the body does not grow evenly between sizes (and actually makes a lot of sense when you read it). 

What I love about it:

  • It’s written like a guidebook, just flip to the section you need and go from there
  • Best method for drafting a variety of sizes with accuracy
  • Step-by-step diagrams throughout the book
  • Easy to read and understand
  • All the information you need is in the book

Some things for consideration:

  • As with the Bare Essentials drafting method, some previous pattern drafting experience would be beneficial for all the same reasons
  • This book does not contain clear information on grading – it does on grade rules – but not on the actual process of grading 
This ivory bee bra is another that Cyndel made as part of her weekly bra challenge. Isn’t it fab?!

In conclusion, every book in my collection has advanced my lingerie sewing skills or knowledge in some way. I think having these different books with similar but slightly different perspectives has given me an in depth understanding of lingerie design and construction I would not have if I just read one book. And of course, these are just my thoughts and opinions which are based on how I think and understand the world – the books I have found the most helpful may not be your favorite, or vice versa for the books that have been less helpful for me, they may be the best for you. Everyone learns differently so it is great that there are so many resources out there for us to utilize. My hope is if you are looking to purchase a lingerie sewing construction and design book you can take some of the guesswork out of the process and pick a book that will meet your needs!

And finally, I love to be a friendly face in this community. Sometimes it can feel as though lingerie sewing information is gatekept which can be very frustrating. I try to answer all questions that I get to my inbox regarding bra design, fit, and construction (I will even send you videos). I share my process in my stories frequently and love to learn from my followers as well. I hope you’ll connect with me @WednesdayLingerie.

Cyndel is the sewist and creative behind Wednesday Lingerie, her small handmade-to-order lingerie shop. She is a passionate designer and educator.

^Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Sew Busty will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain Cyndel’s.

Bra Month | Community Blog | Why I Love Vintage Bras with Kerry

Editor’s Note: Since we’re making the Firebrand Jet Set Natural bra this month’s sew along (use code SEWBUSTY for 20% off her patterns through the end of July!), I thought it only appropriate to hear more from Kerry – the designer behind Firebrand Lingerie – about where her love for vintage lingerie comes from. Throughout this post, you’ll see pictures of Kerry’s vintage lingerie collection. Let’s dive in!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a lover of lingerie. For my 13th birthday I asked for a delicate pink lacy teddy. Much to my surprise, my Mom actually bought it for me! Sort of scandalous if I think about it now! From then on I chose to wear the most pretty, feminine lingerie I could find.

At age 17 I went to work in the lingerie department of The Jones Store, a longtime staple of Kansas City department stores. There I really fell in love with bras. This is where I learned how to fit. I loved being able to put a person into the correct bra size and see how their whole attitude changed. I felt like I was changing the world, one bra at a time.

At the same time, I became a lover of vintage clothes, especially the 1940s and 1950s. This was a time when women got dressed, even when just running out to the grocery store or to the hairdresser. In my teen years I would scour the racks at the thrift store for vintage dresses, which were pretty easy to come by at the time. This is where my love of vintage lingerie began. I loved the simple femininity of bras from the 1940s, which gave way to the astounding architecture of bras from the 1950s. By the time I was an adult, I became a collector of vintage underthings.

I’ve been collecting vintage lingerie for years now. It started with vintage stockings. I amassed a collection of over 1000 pairs. Along the way I also collected corsets, girdles, and bras. My focus shifted to bras more recently, especially since I am still amazed by their construction.

When I decided to merge my love of vintage bras with my love of sewing and patternmaking, I came up with the idea for Firebrand Lingerie. The first pattern I released was the Jet Set Bullet, a true bullet bra in the 1950s tradition. It, along with the rounder but still vintage inspired Jet Set Natural, have been the cornerstones of my little pattern company.

Along the way, my bra collection has grown. I still seek out the most unusual bras I can find, mostly from the 1930s to the 1950s. The oldest bra in my collection is a delicate lace bandeau from the 1920s.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of collecting vintage lingerie. I like to photograph my collection and share it on Instagram @firebrandlingerie. In addition, I’m working on releasing new patterns in true vintage style, with inspiration from my collection. I certainly hope you find vintage lingerie as alluring as I do. Thanks to Lindsie at Sew Busty for allowing me to share one of my greatest passions with you. I hope you find a little inspiration from my words! Have fun, and happy sewing!

Want to hear more from Kerry? Join our Jet Set Bra sew along live chat on Sunday! More info here! Not on Facebook? No worries. Click here to join directly via Google Meet on June 27 at 3 PM EDT.

Kerry Phillips is a lover and collector of vintage lingerie, especially bras. She started Firebrand Lingerie to fill a niche for sewists who love vintage lingerie as much as she does. You can find her designs at and @firebrandlingerie on instagram.

Bra Month | Community Blog | Bra Making Journey with Emma

I like to think it was my lucky day when I stumbled across a bra sewing pattern!  Before I began sewing bras, I’d never owned a bra that was very comfortable or fit the way I wanted.  I’d spent valuable time and money trying to find a comfortable, well-fitting bra and typically settled for one with a “good enough” fit.  I have a small to medium size frame, large top-heavy breasts, and encounter the typical fit issues with RTW bras such as quad-boob and ill-fitting bands.  I somehow came across bra sewing on Pinterest and before that moment, it had never occurred to me that I could sew my own bra. I figured that if I could sew clothes, I could probably sew a bra.  Without hesitation I purchased the pattern, the Marlborough Bra from Orange Lingerie, and I was off!

A collection of Marlborough bras by Emma

Sewing my first bra took many hours of sewing, ripping, and re-sewing pieces together with tons of trial and error.  The pattern directions were foreign to me as I had never sewn anything like this before.  Sewing the bra took google searches, lots of cussing and head scratching, but once I was done, I was so proud!  And holy shit, the bra kind of fit and it was kind of comfortable.  It wasn’t pretty from all the seam ripping, repeated sewing, and crooked top stitching but I loved it.  I ran to show my husband, wearing the wonky bra like I was wearing a prize bra made out of gold!  This bra while not perfect, fit better than any RTW I had ever owned.  I was hooked!

Emma’s first bra, scrapped for parts!

With my first bra under my belt, I felt like I could sew another one but wanted to focus on the fit.  Fitting a bra is a whole other can of beans and has been the hardest aspect of bra sewing for me.  A bra may fit well enough to stay on your body but it may not fit correctly, for example, it may be too loose in the upper cup or the band may dig in. My first bra was too small in the cups and I began altering pattern pieces just like I would with a clothing pattern.  I would search online for tutorials and blogs on how to fit a bra from a pattern and would find many different ideologies as to what order to make pattern adjustments and how to go about making each adjustment.  I would spend a lot of time making these alterations and my final outcome would be better, but was still not the fit I was going for.

When searching for bra pattern alterations, I came across a YouTube video on how to draft a custom bra. Thanks again, internet!  Bra drafting is when you take your body measurements such as full bust, high bust and under bust and use them to create a bra pattern that is custom to your body.  I was hoping that by starting with my own measurements I would have better luck at fitting a bra with less alterations.  Bra drafting is similar to drafting a bodice sloper using lines and curves to create a close-fitting custom pattern.  

I draft by hand with pencil, paper, rulers, a compass, and erasers, lots and lots of erasers.  I use the Bare Essentials method from the book “Bare Essentials: Bras: Construction and Pattern Drafting for Lingerie Design” by Jennifer Lynne Matthews-Fairbanks (I also use the 2nd edition).  The book also offers instruction for creating a bra sewing block from the initial sewing pattern which means there is no limit to the styles of bra I can create.

What Emma’s table looks like when she’s drafting!

Drafting took a LOT of trial and error and I’m not embarrassed to say it took me at least 50 drafts to get anywhere near something that looked like a bra pattern.  I was constantly scratching my head and asking myself, “what am I doing wrong?” I would re-read directions and even had my husband try to draft to see if he could figure out what I was doing wrong.  I kept trying and failing, would take a break and then try again.  I found a “Support for Bare Essentials” Facebook group where I could see other people trying to draft with similar drafting issues as well as tips and tricks.  I eventually sewed a successful bra and with few alterations, I have a very well-fitting bra!

A self-drafted bra by Emma

Bra sewing and drafting can be exciting, frustrating, confusing, addicting, and I personally find it a whole lot of fun.  With each bra I’ve sewn and drafted, I’ve learned something new.  I encourage anyone reading this who may be on the fence about sewing or drafting a bra to go for it, you won’t be alone!! There are so many bra making forums and communities with people who want to share their knowledge about bra sewing!

Hi my name is Emma, I’m a craft obsessed woman who also loves sewing bras. I live with my awesome hubby John and our 2 sweet boys, Luke and Wade.

Community Blog | Bra Month | Accidental Exposures to Complete Confidence – Swimwear Journey with Marisol

Editor’s note: So this isn’t *exactly* bra sewing, but Marisol used bra patterns for some of these swimsuits, so I thought it appropriate for Bra Month to show all the things you can do with bra patterns!

The sun is shining, temperatures rising, and you’re at the beach looking at the water that is calling out to you. You take off your tshirt to show your new store bought swimsuit – the one that you had to carefully arrange yourself into out of fear of accidentally exposing yourself – and begin taking those much anticipated steps towards the water. Each step in the sand causes your swimsuit to shift out of place, so you begin tugging on it to put it back where it belongs. When you are finally in the water, a wave comes crashing down on you. Instead of smiling and jumping into the very next wave, you look down at your bust to make sure that you haven’t accidentally become exposed. You’re safe, this time.

This was my experience every single time I went to the beach until I decided to change the story and make my own swimwear, while documenting it on YouTube in my Sew the Perfect Swimsuit Series.

Let me take you on my swimwear journey.

Reversible Sharon Swimsuit by Sirena Patterns

As you can probably imagine, I had a couple of swimsuit requirements. They included:

  • One piece with a low back neckline
  • Bust support
  • No accidental exposure

But, having never made swimwear before, I wanted a bit more hand holding. That’s why I decided that my first attempt at a swimsuit was going to be with the only swimsuit expert I knew, Sirena Patterns.  After taking a look at her swimsuit patterns, I decided to try something that felt a little on the sexier side for me: an 80’s inspired one piece with a low neckline, low back line, and a high (for me) leg rise – the Sharon Swimsuit. I also wanted my swimsuit to be reversible – more on that in a bit. I chose nylon/spandex and poly/spandex fabrics from my stash to get going.

The instructions for this pattern were so incredibly clear and comprehensive. After reading about the different types of stitches and how to sew this one piece up, I jumped right in to my pattern adjustment: grading the hips out an additional inch. Although the Sharon is a fully lined swimsuit with a shelf bra hidden between the layers, it isn’t fully reversible. To make my version reversible, I used the burrito method to sew it up.

There were points when doing the burrito rolls when I thought, “There is no possible way that this is going to work out!” and then just like magic it did! If the thought of making a reversible swimsuit hurts your head, here’s a simple tutorial for you. 

Now that my swimsuit was completed, it was time to take it for a test dive in the pool. That’s when I discovered a couple of things, with the most important lesson being that 4-way stretch percentages really matter when making a swimsuit. Although my swimsuit had the 50% required stretch horizontally, it didn’t have that much vertically. The lack of stretch resulted in a swimsuit that crept up my rear with every single step that I took. On the plus side, the shelf bra (underlined with a power mesh) did a decent job of supporting my bust and I never felt like I was at risk of exposing my bust. (My backside was a different story.)

The Pleasant Surprise: Secure Straps and Shelf Bra that made me feel supported and secure

The Lesson: 4-way stretch really does matter

Minute Maillot by Patterns for Pirates

Now that I was feeling empowered to sew swimwear, I decided that my second attempt would be using the Minute Maillot by Patterns for Pirates. I decided to move away from the Sharon because I wanted a pattern that had a full coverage bottom, and this one provided different coverage options for both the neckline and the bottom. I chose to do the full coverage bottom with the low front and back neckline.

A couple of things jumped out at me while I was making my first Minute Maillot. The first thing was that the they called for you to only pull the elastic around the butt portion of the leg hole while maintaining a 1:1 ratio along the front. This really helped to keep the bottom from going anywhere it shouldn’t. Second, the shelf bra was not sandwiched between the layers like the Sharon Swimsuit. It was hanging out on the inside against my skin. 

A quick dive in the pool gave me some additional information. I noticed that my straps felt like they were going to slip off my shoulders as I swam and the shelf bra floated up beyond the neckline. Version Number 2 of the Minute Maillot was definitely going to have that shelf bra between the layers.

In fact, for my next version I decided to make another reversible swimsuit and used shorter elastic, pulling it starting much higher around the back curve so that it could help keep the straps in place. Shortening the elastic did the trick.

The Pleasant Surprise: Pulling the elastic tighter around the bottom and the back neckline made it much more secure

The Lesson: The floating shelf bra needed to be secured into the side seams (like the Sharon swimsuit) between the main fabric and the lining and the elastic needed to be pulled tighter at the bottom of the shelf bra for any chance of support.

Hacked Minute Maillots 

Now that I’ve finally gotten my one piece to fit how I like it, it was time to play with some pattern hacks. I decided to use the same cut lines for both swimsuits, but you can see that it resulted in two very different looks. I walk you through the hacks here, but essentially I cut a triangle shape out of the waist and added seam allowance to all of the cut lines. 

For the black and white mesh version, I cut the full swimsuit out of my mesh and I top stitched my main fabric right onto it, omitting the triangle on the front and the top and triangle piece in the back. Because the black mesh was not very supportive, I lined it with a skin toned power mesh in the back that was significantly sturdier. It worked wonders and my swimsuit does not pull forward. 

For the swimsuit with the gathered center piece, I made the top and bottom pieces as if they were separates, making sure to apply elastic to the bottom of the top below the bust and to the waistline of the bottoms. For the center piece, I slashed and spread the pattern so that I could then gather it on both ends. I also attached elastic to both the top and bottom to help keep the wrong side from showing. When the center piece was completed, I attached it to the underside of my top and bottom pieces on the widest side. I’ll admit, this hacked swimsuit is tricky to get in and out of, but it is worth every bit of the extra effort! Plus, these hacks are starting to get really fun to do.

The Pleasant Surprise: Hacking swimsuits is surprisingly easy and the options are limitless. Just remember to add in seam allowance.

The Lesson: If you are going for a mesh back, you have to have some kind of support so that it doesn’t stretch to oblivion and risk exposing more than you’d like.

Bikini from my Favorite Bra Pattern

My final swimsuit is a bikini! I hadn’t really planned on hacking a bikini for myself, but tat is indeed what happened. Originally I had purchased the Sophie Swimsuit by Closet Core, but after I made a toile using a sister size (because my bust size was off their charts) I decided that it just wasn’t going be worth the trouble of going through a ton of adjustments.

Instead, I turned to my favorite bra pattern that I knew fit well, the Marlborough bra by Orange Lingerie.  Because I still wanted something that had shaping similar to the Sophie, I decided to make several changes to my bra pattern.

  • Added significant height onto the upper cup pattern so that it could be reshaped
  • Removed the contouring on the bridge 
  • Lengthened the bottom of the band by  ½” 
  • Shortened the back of the band since my fabric had a lot of stretch
  • Narrowed the back band to fit into my clasp

Overall, I’d much rather make design changes to a bra that I know fits well instead of trying to figure out how to add the fullness to cups that are way too small for me. 

After I had all of the pieces shaped the way that I wanted, I sewed the bra cups and bands together making sure that all seams were encased and no raw edges were left out. I then added the straps and rubber elastics according to the Sophie Swimsuit instructions.  Friendly tip: DO NOT TRY THE TOP ON WHILE IT HAS PINS IN IT. Trust me on this and baste it first. Your breasts will thank you.

After the top was fully constructed, I noticed that one of the cups was pulling away from my body. I remedied this by removing the elastic along that edge and pulling it tighter. That little change solved the problem.

For the bottoms, I hacked my Minute Maillot pattern to include a front color blocked panel and added elastic to the waist.

The Pleasant Surprise: Using a well-fitting bra pattern for a bikini top was surprisingly easy and fun.

The Lesson Learned:  Two actually – pull your elastic across the top of the cups to help keep that rounded edge against your body and more importantly, DO NOT TURN YOUR BOOBS INTO PIN CUSHIONS! Remove all pins before trying it on for fit.

Reflecting On My Journey

I never would have imagined that I would have made so many swimsuits, but now that I have, I cannot believe that it took me this long.  I’ve never had swimsuits that fit me as well as all of these do and the style options are limitless. So go and make yourself a swimsuit of your own and revel in how well they fit. In fact, make several and rock that body of yours. 

Mari is a curvy sewist and vlogger who enjoys engaging with the vibrant sewing community by sharing her latest garments, DIY projects, hauls and sew alongs. She loves making people laugh while encouraging others to sew for their own beautiful and unique bodies. You can see all of Mari’s makes on Insta at @marisewsforcurves and on the Youtube channel Mari Sews.

Community Blog | Bra Month | Historical Foundations with Rosie

Editor’s note: For our first Community Blog post during Bra Month, I thought it was totally fitting to start with someone who was on one of her first forays into lingerie making! What I think is super special about this post that you often don’t see on a lot of sewing blogs is that things didn’t work out perfectly, ESPECIALLY when you start making lingerie. We’re just over here keepin’ it real at Sew Busty.

I’ve been sewing for about five years predominantly making dresses from true vintage patterns. I currently wear a 34E bra so I have become quite proficient at adapting those patterns to my figure. 

In pursuit of a more authentic look, I’ve focussed on the foundation garments worn underneath to create that correct period silhouette. There is a selection of ready-made reproductions bras for vintage enthusiasts like me. I have bought several but have yet to find one that meets all my requirements in terms of comfort and shaping. So I decided to make my own customised to me.

It was important to use an authentic 1950s pattern. I chose Depew Patterns #2001 which comes in bust sizes 32 – 44 inch. The pattern does not work to cup sizes and instead instructs you to choose your size by measuring the fullest part of the bust. I measured 41.5” so I decided to use the 42” pattern pieces. 

I chose version two which is a bra corselet which creates a smooth line down to the waist essential for those mid-century styles.

You need very little material for the bra corselet version I made and even less for the bra. I used small bits of leftovers from my stash so it was a great way to try the pattern out without committing to an initial fabric purchase. 

Even though the instructions are quite limited there is a link to photo tutorial provided. Mrs. Depew provides lots of instructional materials on her blog about sewing lingerie and using vintage undergarment patterns, if you are new to this type of sewing. I was new to this type of sewing and did not consult these before I started – as I found out to my cost!

You will need extra notions, such as strap elastic and a closure method, in this case hook and eye tape. These are inexpensive and you only need a small amount, so I have lots leftover for my next attempt. 

When it came to fitting, the bodice pieces came up far too large, which I was expecting given my larger cup size.  I kept taking those seams in until they fit. Once they were in the right place I chose to add lightweight feather boning for extra shape. I found some on white satin tape which adds to the vintage feel and is comfortable against the skin.  It was incredibly easy to work with and you can sew over it without damaging a needle.

The cups were much harder. They did not call for wires or pre-formed cups. I diligently did the top stitching as per the pattern and while it is giving me all 90s Madonna vibes, it doesn’t add to the shaping. 

I omitted the darts as per the instructions for the corselet version and this was a mistake. For larger cup sizes (D+) those darts are essential to create the cupped shape. I was too preoccupied with having enough fabric to cover me and prevent side boob escaping I didn’t realise this error until too late. 

As a result this corselet doesn’t deliver that pointed stereotypical 1950’s bust I was hoping for. It is actually very comfortable to wear and has an unintended minimising effect. There are occasions and outfits where this will be useful so I am keeping this version.  I also love how low the back comes down allowing it to be worn under items with a deep scoop back while still providing support.

Overall this project has really impressed upon me that sewing a bra for a full bust is a feat of engineering. Next time I’m going to be really clear on how that support will be achieved before I begin sewing.  I greatly enjoyed this introduction to lingerie making and look forward to attempting the pointier second version!

Rosie is a keen home sewist, who loves vintage sewing, based in Buckinghamshire, UK. When not at her machine she is busy collecting vintage patterns, pottering in the garden or sipping a cocktail planing her next project. You can find her makes on instagram at @rosie_sews_stuff.