Let’s make a bra: toile/muslin
Before using proper fabric, it can be helpful to sew a toile to get familiar with the pattern and do a first round of fit adjustments. You might want to make a toile with cups and band, or you might prefer to start with a fitting band and then work on cups separately. For a basic toile without elastics:
- Cut out pattern pieces from scrap fabric (stable for the cups and cradle, stretchy for the back band) – leaving a bigger seam allowance for adjustments.
- Baste the cup pieces together
- Lower pieces, matching notches
- Upper to lower pieces, matching notch to seam line
- Baste the band and cradle together.
- Baste the cups to the band, matching notches to seam lines.
- Baste the cup seam allowance towards the cradle (to create a kind of channel), and insert wires
- Baste straps and a hook and eye closure (you can reuse these later).
Try on the bra in front of a mirror and evaluate the fit of the band, the cradle, the cups…
I found these Cloth Habit articles about band adjustments and cup adjustments very helpful. This Liz Sews video about how she fit a pattern to herself is where I realised that bra patterns can be graded just like any other sewing pattern!
Examples of major adjustments:
- If the band is way too big or small: go down or up a band size and try again.
- If the cups are way too big or small: go up a cup size and try again.
- If the cup shape doesn’t match your natural shape: you might need to grade between two sizes:
Bra cup pattern pieces graded between a larger size along the wireline, and a smaller size above the apex.
Examples of minor adjustments:
- If some areas are too big or loose: pinch out the excess and adjust the pattern to match.
- If some areas are too small or tight: let out some of the seam allowance and re-baste to check again, then adjust the pattern to match.
My final toile with elastics, a dart in the bridge and upper cup, and my graded cup pieces.