Bra Making: Fitting a Strapless Bra

Fitting Strapless Bra | Cloth Habit

A few weeks ago I reunited with my Juki, the machine I busted sewing in belt loops five months ago! It turns out there is one person in the whole country that can fix the gear I broke and he’s a very busy guy. I have an older Bernina on which I can sew lingerie and all its requisite zig-zags but the Juki is still my love, probably because it is the machine with which I’ve had the most daily relationship. We talk shorthand with each other, ya know? I missed it so much that I brought it home instead of the studio and have been on an elastic sewing marathon ever since.

Fitting Strapless Bra | Cloth Habit

I’ve been finishing up some lingerie sets this week but in the midst had a chance to work on my strapless pattern. I’m taking my time with it because I want it to be right. Which meant sewing up a few tester bras…

Fitting Strapless Bra | Cloth Habit

Truthfully, I’ve grown quite fond of sewing up bra muslins. It’s kind of an excuse to relax a little bit, and even practice a few techniques without worrying about things going wrong. And as you can see, a bra muslin doesn’t have to be all that jazz. I use scraps, and make sure to use the same band fabric I plan to use in the bra. I used to leave out the elastic but these days I always put it in because it changes the fit. Here I stitched it in the spot I want it to be, but without folding it under, and that is all you need for a quick test:

Fitting Strapless Bra | Cloth Habit

Anyway, after three fittings I’m feeling very happy with how it all fits and stays up. I drafted this from the bottom up, since I have gone up a cup size and it was time to do some refitting. I’m also testing my own method for drafting and grading bras, so anything that gives me an excuse to practice is a good thing.

The 3-piece cups are a pretty typical pattern for strapless and bustier-type bras and very similar to the bra I made in my foam cup tutorial. They have a top piece and a split lower cup. At first my cup was quite tall, as I was playing around with a longer wire. In the end I felt much more comfortable with a wire that had a bit of a regular length in front. The band is a little bit longer than a typical bra band and this is what took a couple of fittings to get right. I might share more about band adjustments in another post; perhaps they’d be useful for others wanting to adapt a regular band to a strapless one!

So that’s all for today. I’m off to collect materials–the fun part! I’ve got boning and some great satin lycra and want to dye a few things so it will all pull together, including a little bit of this lovely lace.

Fitting Strapless Bra | Cloth Habit

Happy weekend!

14 comments

  1. Sip says:

    Ok so you know I am stalking you and this bra right.. long as thats ok lol here we go! You you absolutely need boning when creating a strapless bra?

    Do you feel the three piece cup is the best?
    Should you draft your own cup versus using a pattern, if so which pattern have you found to work best for you?

    • Amy says:

      Hi Sip! so sorry I missed your question. Yes, I do feel the 3-piece cup is best. I did draft my own but if you already have a cup pattern that fits, you can make a few adjustments to the cup neckline. I don’t think you absolutely *need* boning, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a strapless bra without it. It’s very easy for the cup to fall down and the band to collapse and gather into itself without at least boning in the side seam. I really experimented with this and will definitely post back on what I came up with!

  2. Was it Elbert Shirley who fixed your gear? And was it the one that drives the hook? I am so curious, because that is what recently broke at the four year mark on my F600. Your bra muslins look so great!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Ripple, I don’t know if that was him? My local sewing shop handled the shipping and repair for me, but they said the U.S. Juki headquarter has one repairman. Yes, it was the plastic white gear that drives the hook. It’s the only plastic part in there but it snapped while I was really to force my needle over 3 layers of denim topstitching instead of just turning the handwheel. So I blame myself ;).

    • Amy says:

      I’ve experimented a lot with “bra muslins” and what I use really depends on what I need to know. For these muslins I used the same foam and powernet that I planned on for the final bra. For the cradle I used up some firm tricot that I stashed for custom work. (In a pinch I’ve used scraps of something that doesn’t stretch.)

  3. Rubina says:

    Hiii I am trying to find drafting Bra video over net but couldn’t make it, can you pls suggest me some videos of drafting a bra…

  4. Mimi says:

    Hello, I have just stumbled across your site and wanted to ask a quick question, for both this bra and the basic foam bra, did you add an underwire?

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