Let’s make a bra: supplies
Get the pattern
The Maya bra is a supportive full-band underwire bra, with a 3-piece cup and a T-back strap attachment.
You can download the PDF pattern directly from the AFI Atelier website, and you can choose from EU, UK, or US sizing systems.
1. upper cup; 2. lower side cup; 3. lower front cup; 4. cradle; 5. back band
Tip: I found it helpful to mark all the cup pattern pieces with extra labels to help me orient them properly (wireline, center seam, upper seam, underarm edge, neckline, front piece, side piece, etc.)
This pattern has 8mm seam allowances, and provides two versions of the cradle and band pieces (H and B), to fit either a 2x3 or 3x3 hook & eye closure. There are also pattern pieces for foam cups if you want to make a foam bra later on.
DOGS stands for Direction Of Greatest Stretch, a term coined by Beverly Johnson. It usually goes opposite to the fabric grain, but we should always check to make sure. Mesh fabrics should be cut with the DOGS going along the direction of the holes, so they get longer and not rounder.
Which bra size?
Bra sizing is confusing and differs a lot depending on which system is used. If you already have a well-fitting bra, you can probably just download the same size in this pattern.
If your size isn’t listed, you can try downloading a sister size, or the closest available size and make adjustments.
If you don’t (yet) have a well-fitting bra, you can use the AFI Atelier size calculator that is linked on the pattern page – it doesn’t work well for all bodies though (it said I was outside the measurement range covered).
If you don’t get results with the AFI calculator, you can measure yourself using any of the UK, US or EU sizing systems. I used this fitting calculator with some degree of success – it takes breast shape into account which I found helpful. I got a similar result with another calculator, which takes standing, leaning and lying bust measurements.
Print the given size and maybe one or two above/below, then make a quick assessment of fit: cut off seam allowances on the cradle and cup pieces, tape the cup pieces together, and hold them up to your body in front of a mirror to see which ones look like the best starting point.
Which wire size?
Each pattern size has a recommended wire size that goes with it – you can see this information on the size calculator page.
The wire size is super important – wires shouldn’t dig in or slide around, but fit comfortably around the breast tissue. The perfect wire shouldn’t even really be felt much at all.
The best cup and cradle for you might not be from the same size – in my case, I needed a 32D for the cradle/wireline/lower cup, grading the cups to a 32B above the apex for my volume and shape. Experimenting with scrap toiles on this saved me money!
Buy fabric and notions
Bra making requires specific supplies. Your favourite fabric shop might stock all these items, but otherwise there are some great online shops specialised in lingerie materials (search on Etsy or see the lists compiled by Cloth Habit and Tailor Made). So far I’ve bought all my supplies from B.Wear, who are based in Europe.
Most of these specialist shops sell kits, which come with everything you need for one bra, except for lining fabric and wires, which need to be purchased separately. You can also buy all the supplies separately, using the list below as a guide:
|Stable fabric for cups and cradle (eg. Duoplex)||40x150cm|
|Sheer cup lining (non-stretch)||40x150cm|
|Stretchy fabric for back band (eg. Power net)||30x50cm|
|picot plush elastic for band (12mm)||1m|
|picot plush elastic for underarm (10mm)||1m|
|strap elastic (12mm, 15mm, or 18mm)||1m|
|rings and sliders to fit the strap elastic||1 set|
|hook and eye closure (2x3 or 3x3)||1 set|
|wires that fit your pattern size||1 set|
|sewing machine needles (eg. 75/11 stretch needles)|
You’ll probably need to make 2 or more bras to achieve a good fit, so you may want to order enough supplies to make a second bra. Depending on your size, you might be able to cut 2 or 3 bras from the above yardage, and just need to add extra elastics and hardware.
1. Duoplex; 2. Power net; 3. channeling; 4. hook & eye closure; 5. wires; 6. rings and sliders; 7. strap elastic; 8. underarm picot elastic; 9. band picot elastic