Last night I showed a preview of my latest bra, but let's go back to the beginning for this pattern (Danglez DB4).
This copper-colored bra is where I had last left the pattern. Looks good, no? Except after wearing it for an extended period of time, it drooped and the girls with it. Not so much from the cups, since they did contain everything within. It was the band that was failing. It just didn't want to stay in position, no matter how tight I made it.
So, back to the drawing board, as they say.
During the interim, I ordered this bra.
It arrived, I tried it on, I hated it. It's the next "model" of the bras I used to wear that fit perfectly. Once I found out that my beloved bra had been discontinued, I bought up every one I could find in my size, which is why I'd been off the bramaking bandwagon for some time. Sadly, even those finally wore out and I was desperate. And at that point, they were so worn out that cloning a pattern from one wasn't going to be a solution either.
So I kept trying on the hated new model wishing for it to fit, because it was so close. But the bridge and center front of the underwires felt like they were about to touch my chin and the straps felt way too short. As I said, I was desperate so I pushed the underwires downward into the channeling as far as they would go and sewed across the top. That solved the feeling that they were about to scrape my chin, but they still stuck out at the center front instead of laying flat. Horrible. I certainly don't need a third bump there. And the straps - they're nice and pretty and all, but the padded area ends right as it gets to my shoulder. Clearly, whoever graded this bra up into the larger sizes did not try it on real humans. If anything, I'm *short* between shoulder and bust point and straps are never too short for me.
The one fantastic thing about this bra, though, was the fit of the band. It was firm and comfortable and didn't ride up even with those short straps. So the brain kicked into gear and I decided to morph the RTW band onto the Danglez pattern and have another go.
This is the original Danglez band.
This is my morph of the RTW band with the Danglez pattern.
And these are the two pattern pieces:
The straight-across pattern is the original Danglez pattern piece. You can see how the RTW shape drastically curves downward in comparison. The reason this downward curve works so well is because that downward curve acts as a counter-balance to the weight of the heavy breast tissue in front. The other difference is that on the Danglez pattern, the greatest stretch is running around the body. This is a no-no for a bra band. You want a firm band, not one that has no resistance at all.
I already knew all this but had a brain spasm or something when I was tracing the original pattern to sew because I didn't even notice the potential problems. (But it was nice to have this confirmed by Beverly Johnson in her Bra Makers Manual, which I ordered a week and a half ago and which arrived yesterday. If you have this book, it shows how to alter a straight pattern into the downward curve. More on this book in a later post.)
While I was tweaking, I also decided to have one more go at the cups since I felt like the upper cup was still too wide and the straps were still not sitting exactly right. So I tried the copper bra on again and pinched and pulled. I took it off and pinned out the amount of the pinches at the center seam …
… and I pinned a "slash/overlap" into the top cup to bring the straps further inward.
These are the old and new pattern pieces. The original is on the top left. Not a huge amount of difference, but 1/4" goes a long way in a bra pattern.
I also decided I wanted a smidge more coverage near my underarm so I extended the sides of the upper and bottom-outer pieces. This is the bottom-outer piece below. The bottom-inner piece remained unchanged from the original.
Then I sewed up a bra with my new pattern changes. And had a meltdown when seeing the results. Arghhh!!
It technically fits fine, but there was just too much bulk at the center cup seam and the cups would not lay smooth no matter what. This is what I saw looking down. Not very pretty, is it? LOL!
And then work and home intervened and I had to stay out of the sewing room for a couple of weeks. But I finally finished this latest bra yesterday and it's a winner. This time, instead of double-layer lower cups, I made them single layer and this solved the bulk problem. But there's not quite as much support so …
… the last tweak I'm going to do is to add a "powerbar" (as Beverly Johnson calls it), which is a side panel on the outside of the cup which forces the girls more inward and center. The powerbar acts like if you took your hands to the sides of your breasts and pushed them together for mega cleavage, but less dramatic. Just a little more needed lifted, not mega cleavage. ;-)
I also traced off a pattern from the RTW bra for the padded straps and lengthened them so the padding actually hits the tops of my shoulders. I improvised with what I had here and used a layer of poly batting for the padding. I'll see how these straps come out of the wash before I decide if this was a good idea. But they look and feel pretty for now.
Mirror bra shots don't always tell the whole story since arms and shoulders are lifted just to take the pic, but this bra is 97% TNT now, and I'll definitely be wearing it until I get the next one made.