Introducing the Harriet Bra Pattern

introducing the harriet bra pattern | Cloth Habit

It’s here! I’m pleased to introduce you to Harriet, my newest bra pattern.

You may have heard me whisper or squeak about this pattern in the last year or so. It’s been a lonnng time in the making! Two years ago I drafted my very first version in order to make a special set for Valentine’s Day and it couldn’t be a better month to finally share it with you.

In my own bra wearing I try a lot of different styles and moods. I have casual days and super form-fitting days, grey days and neon days, and sometimes I just want to drape myself in chantilly lace. My goal was to design a pattern that straddles that line between sensuousness and practicality, and the Harriet has been a template for my many moods.

I designed the Harriet bra to become a truly foundational style, which meant a bra that can work for a wide range of shapes and sizes. And it brought together all the best things I’ve learned about bra fit. More importantly, I wanted to create a style with a certain point of view but keep it simple enough to encourage your creativity. I’m a designer but I’m also a tinkerer! And I love that you like to tinker, too.

introducing the harriet bra pattern | Cloth Habit

sizes

For the Harriet I revamped my sizes and worked on drafting and fitting larger and smaller cups in separate groups. I’m happy to say I’ve was able to create a fairly large range, starting from 28A up to 42H! You can choose between two groups: A to E cups or E to F cups, depending on your needs.

This pattern is different from my previous pattern, the Watson, in that it uses UK cup sizes, which means that the cups progress like this: A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, FF, G, GG, H. I’ll explain more about fit/sizing in a future post but the pattern has some good guidance for you in measuring! I’ve also published an approximate conversion chart if you want to know how this kind of lettering compares with other size systems.

Edited to add: The size section in my shop listing now includes links to the pattern’s measuring guide and wire charts. I drafted Harriet around regular length wires from Bra-makers Supply. The wire guide should help you compare wires from other suppliers if you choose to use different wires.

the details

Harriet features a 3-piece cup with a balconette neckline. The straps are wide enough to reveal a lovely sweetheart decolletage without pushing the straps too far apart. (I went through a lot of versions in different sizes to find that sweet spot!)

Harriet bra pattern | Cloth Habit

The cup has a classic seam design that is quite popular in ready-to-wear wired bras and for good reason. It creates a fantastic silhouette! The combination of the slightly diagonal bottom seam and the outer cup piece that extends into the shoulder strap helps push those bosoms inward.

The band is a full frame design with a u-back strap. This is my personal favorite style of band and in my opinion the most versatile. A full frame bra tends to anchor and lift just a bit better than a frameless bra, especially in larger sizes. Combined with the u-back strap style, it’s super comfortable and makes it easy to adjust the band width without needing to change the hook & eye.

introducing the harriet bra pattern | Cloth Habit

Views and Fabric Choices

There are 3 different views which you can mix and match depending on your fabrics. (View the technical illustration here)

Views A and B are unlined and you have the choice of a folded or scalloped lace neckline. Both of these require supportive bra fabrics for good fit and support.

If your fabrics are lighter or you want to use lace, you can choose View C which uses my favorite method of lining the cradle and the cups. I made the three samples in this post from View C with a supportive lining beneath the laces.

As is a tradition with my patterns, I included an extra section with tips on fabric choices and substitution. I like my patterns to be mini-booklets in bra making!

the name

The Harriet’s namesake is inspired by one of my favorite childhood literary heroines, Harriet the Spy!

Just like Watson before her, Harriet is an empathetic soul, a keen observer and a detective in her own right. Harriet the Spy is a story about the power of observation and convinced me that I was either going to be a spy or a writer when I grew up. Seriously, I wanted to be a spy. (And write all my top-secret observations in a composition notebook just like her.) It’s a great young-adult book with an old soul, and still a favorite read when I’m in need of a cheeky heroine.

I hope you love my new pattern! Please feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Happy Valentine’s month! Let love rule.

Buy the Harriet here.

56 comments

  1. Eve says:

    This is absolutely stunning, and any tiny hesitation I may have had about buying another pattern was instantly removed when I saw that you’re donating profits to refugee assistance programs. Thank you, thank you, thank you; both for a beautiful pattern and your generosity. Going to purchase right now!

    • Amy says:

      Thank you, Eva. What started out as a desire a year ago became a very important mission. I’ll be writing more about how this came about soon. 🙂

    • Becca says:

      I had the exact reaction. Really nervous about making a fully structured bra, but so please to support such a good cause. Thank you.

    • Toya says:

      Exact same reaction. I try not to buy patterns to save money (drafting myself or sourcing cheap ones), but this is a beautiful design and by donating profits to such an important cause removes my hesitation. thanks – I can’t wait to try it.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Yey! This is beautiful! I have been longing for a bra pattern in this style for the longest time! I’m ready to but it! Just trying to figure of what size range to buy.

  3. Kiran says:

    This is gorgeous! I’m excited to make it.
    What style of underwires does the Harriet bra take? The pattern doesn’t specify, but it looks like it takes demi underwires, not the normal ones?
    Thanks!

    • Becca says:

      I just came to ask this also! Demi cup or full cup? Actually can you offer a underwire supplier recommendation! I’m so excited to give this a go!

      • Amy says:

        Hi Becca, I’d say neither! But those terms are really open to interpretation ;).

        I wrote a response to Kiran that you might find helpful and also updated my post to mention which wires I used.

        As for recommendations, Bra makers Supply has really great quality wires and I use them in my classes. They are stronger which is a boon for larger cups. I’ll work on some suggestions for my fitting post with suitable brands and substititions if you don’t want to order the ones I used.
        Whenever you change wires you just have to make sure the wire is no longer than the length in the chart for your size—or you’ll need to alter the pattern or cut the wire.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Kiran!

      Good question! The pattern includes two wire charts. One has drawings of all the wires and the other lists the wires and exact lengths used for each size. The wires I drafted around were Bra-makers Supply regular length wires.

      As for “demi” I often hesitate to use that term since it means so many different things to different people. I wrote a whole post about this and how I distinguish these terms and neckline styles: https://clothhabit.com/demi-balconette-full-cup/

      I think this wire sits in a really nice spot, not too high, not too low and just right for that balconette shape I was trying to create. A great everyday wear kind of style.

      I hope that helps!

    • Amy says:

      Hi LIsa!

      I have adapted it for foam linings several times for my own bras, but the pattern doesn’t include foam cutting or lining instructions. Hopefully that was clear. View C uses a lining in the lower cup but it is a fabric lining.
      But good news, I am working on a separate pdf/tutorial for foam Harriets!

      • Lisa says:

        Thanks for answering. I figured that was the case, but wanted to double check. I’m excited that you are also working on a foam option. This one is so, so beautiful…I just feel more comfortable if people can’t tell when I’m cold. 😉

  4. Jodi says:

    This pattern looks beautiful, Amy! Do you happen to have any pictures of it made up in the larger sizes? Thanks for your thoughtful gesture of donating the proceeds to refugees — that’s both generous and something I can get behind.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Jodi,

      I wish I did! I had some 34FF and 36G samples I’d used for fitting, but the color I chose was hard to photograph and just didn’t turn out well. I gave up after an hour of editing so I’ll have to have another go with a different fabric at some point. I know pictures are a thousand words but even my busty dress form (not the one in this post) doesn’t do justice to how it looked on my live fitting. 😉

      • Jodi says:

        Thanks for the reply, Amy! I’m looking forward to seeing them when you get there. If I get mine done before you do, I’ll send you a picture!

  5. Bella says:

    Really excited about this! I haven’t ventured out of bralette territory before but I think that with this bra I’ll get into underwires, finally. Thank you for your generous and kind donation to the refugee cause.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Katherine! Isn’t it funny how it comes and goes? I have been so busy with projects that I wasn’t making many bras for myself and I went on a happy sewing binge when I finished this. Was so nice to have a few new pretties!

  6. Lynsey says:

    Harriet looks amazing and is utterly perfect timing for me, I’ve been ready to dip my toes in to bra making and have spent ages trying to decide which pattern to choose, I have fallen for Harriet, beautiful, your size chart matches my current bra (I’m in uk) which is reassuring, the wire chart is sooo helpful and the above comment that you will do a tutorial for foam ticks all my boxes. I’m so excited and can’t wait to get started!! Thank you.

  7. Sheron says:

    It looks like this style would tend for the straps to fall off the shoulders for a person with narrow shoulders. How would you deal with this problem with this bra? Thanks so much.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Sheron,

      Great question! So far I haven’t had this problem fitting those with narrow shoulders. The bra in the top photo looks wide on the dress form but isn’t that far apart on my shoulders which are 4.5” long. Of course strap-falling can definitely happen on any bra style that isn’t a triangle-ish cup. Where the straps actually sit will depend on the relationship between the size you make to your chest width and how sloped your shoulders are. You’ll only know how that works out if you make a bra and then adjust from there.

      All that said, the strap distance in the back was drafted to be closer together than the average pattern (including my previous pattern the Watson) and I did this for a reason—it really helps keep those straps anchored in a comfortable spot. And I’ll definitely put strap alterations on the list for a possible fitting post!

      • Rita Holladay says:

        Would love to see that stap alteration fitting post coming soon. Soo many on the Facebook groups have had to move their straps in toward the central front. I am certain that I will do the same.

      • Amy says:

        HI Rita! I am working on a few posts to answer common questions in the next month. In the meantime I do suggest you try it as it is without alteration and see what you think! As I mentioned in previous comment the sample is not as wide on me as it is on the mannequin. Some bra makers may be used to a more centered strap position (such as the strap in Pin-up Girls patterns), but the Harriet isn’t meant to to have the straps centered over the breast.

  8. KS Sews says:

    I’ve never considered bra making but really like this one. It’s gorgeous and the shaping looks perfect.

    When making fitting posts would you consider a tutorial for a narrow shoulder adjustment? It looks like it sits a bit wide.

  9. Sherry says:

    Hi Amy! This is a lovely design, congratulations! I’d love to give it a go as soon as I finish the one I’m currently making – which is my first!

  10. So so so love this pattern style, as soon as I saw it I bought it. I can’t wait to make it. I also love that you are donating proceeds to refugees…that is awesome. I am a size 34 FF by your pattern measuring so lets see how it goes…eeek!

  11. Nadja says:

    Love the look of the new pattern. What do you suggest to someone whose breasts differ quite considerable. After breastfeeding I ended up with a cup A on one side and a B or C on the other side. I’d love to sew my own bra to make it less noticeable but I’m also a bit intimidated.

    • Amy says:

      I’d suggest trying a pattern in what you think is the larger cup size and adjusting the smaller cup to fit. If you think the difference is more than one cup size, then you can make the smaller but you will need to adjust the smaller cup to fit into the larger wire/cradle.

  12. Hilde says:

    What a wonderful new pattern, it looks great! I especially like the blue version, so beautiful.
    I haven’t tried PDF bra patterns before, but I’m looking forward to, it seems the perfect thing for these small pattern pieces.
    I was wondering about the width of the bridge though, it seems wider than other bras. Is this because it’s a balconette? When I look at my own bras, the space at the top of the bridge is usually just the width of the two underwire casings right next to each other if you know what I mean. In the pictures, it seems there’s a lot of space between them.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Hilde!

      In the Harriet the bridge width varies with size. As cup sizes go up, the top of the bridge narrows and in all cups above a D is quite a bit narrower than the sample in this post. The sample was actually widened a bit. Making it wider/narrower is the easiest adjustment to make and I encourage you to adjust the spacing in any bra pattern to personal taste and fit.

      • Hilde says:

        Thanks for the reply! Very interesting, I never thought about bridge width in correlation to cup size.
        I just bought the pattern (hope I got the right size, I’m just on the edge of the smaller range with my EU70/75F), looking forward to making it!

  13. Liz says:

    This is just beautiful and do like many RTW bras that I own & love. So so tempted to find some time to make this up. Does it use stretch or wovens?

    • Amy says:

      Hi Lizz, the fabric recommendations are detailed in the pattern and I’ll be posting here with some ideas in case you are unfamiliar with bra fabrics. I don’t suggest wovens, and technically all the fabrics suggested for this bra are knits but not like most garment knits. It uses stable supportive knits for the unlined version and lace with a sheer bra lining on the inside. The band uses powernet. I have written about them before in my Bra-making Sew Along so you may want to check there for some ideas but I’ll be writing something specific for Harriet!

  14. Liz says:

    Oooooo I have been waiting for this ever since you announced it, so excited to start making this up. Thank you, thank you for the wide size range! I’ve been playing around with the Boylston trying to get something that works but no success. Can’t wait to try this one! Looking forward to the tutorials too.

  15. V says:

    This looks amazing! My only hesitation to buying it is being confident in which size range to get since I’m right in the middle. From the sizing chart, I’m around a 38 E-F, but I was a 40D for Watson. I’d also rather not need to rebuy the pattern if my size fluctuates a bit. Any advice? Alternately, would you consider releasing a mid-cup size (e.g. D-G) version?

    • Amy says:

      Hi V, I’d definitely go with the larger size pack. You’ll have plenty of smaller sizes to play with. The smallest size in that is a 28F, which is the same cup volume as a 30E/32DD/34D–which is a smaller cup than what I think you’d need. (The Watson is just so different and forgiving in fit with the fabric, so it’s hard to compare the two.)

  16. Sue says:

    I am loving this bra, but have noticed an error in your instructions. You give two lengths for the strap elastic – 20″ and 21cm. I think that the 21 cm should be 51cm!

  17. Ayo says:

    Definitely considering this as my first foray into bramaking. Just a question regarding the larger cup-sizes: The shoulder straps look quite narrow, compared to what I’m used to in RTW, and my shoulders are definitely not happy at the thought of a strap that narrow – I know that most of the weight should be supported by the band, but still. It’s inevitable for some weight to be put on the straps. Are they the same width across all sizes, and if so, would they be easy to adapt for a wider strap? I have absolutely no clue about this stuff… (yet)

    • Amy says:

      Hi Ayo, the pattern accommodates a 1/2″ elastic strap for all sizes. However, wider straps are definitely more comfortable and long-lasting especially for larger cups. So yes, go ahead and buy a 5/8″ or 3/4″ if you want even wider and sew it in following the instructions. Instead of a 1/2″ ring and slider you’ll need a wider ring and slider to accommodate the strap but you don’t need to do anything to the pattern–you’ll see!

  18. andrea says:

    Hi Amy, I have purchased my pattern and I am ready to go! However, I am a little confused about the fabrics. I understand that the band must stretch and the bridge must not. However, the cups should or shouldn’t? If I am using a stretch fabric for the cups then I line them with non-stretch lining? If that’s the case why not use woven for the cups? I imagine there are many possibilities, yet I am trying to have a more clear understanding so I start off on a good foot!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Andrea, it sounds like this might be your first bra? If so, I do recommend following the material requirements as best you can by looking for fabrics with the names I use in the material list.

      The cups should not stretch and the band should–but if the cup material stretches (like lace), you should line at least the lower cup. View C shows how to line and appropriate lining materials are listed in the material requirements.

      I don’t recommend wovens because they behave very differently than knits and can create fit problems. All of the fabrics suggested for this bra are technically types of knits. There do exist types of knits that are stable–i.e., have a firm non-stretch direction–and are ideal for bras and other types of lingerie. There is a section in the back of the pattern that describes these along with types of stretch. This may help you understand a bit better.

      In the meantime, I’m working on a post to help you understand materials which will be posted in the next couple of weeks!

  19. andrea says:

    Thank you, Amy. It’s not my first bra but I am hoping it will be my first *sucessful* bra! I have sewn nearly all my life but I guess I have something to learn about the properties of stable or rigid stretch compared to woven. I look very forward to your post on materials. Thank you so much!

  20. Marilyn says:

    Hi Ladies: I have been sewing for many years but I have never been brave enough to try making a bra. Mainly because there has not been a pattern for G cups. From what I can see, the Harriet pattern looks great and I think I will give it a try. Any advice from more experienced sewers who have made bras before will be welcome. Thank you.

  21. Hilde says:

    This looks wonderful! I haven’t made a bra yet, I’ve just bought your Watson and gathered materials. After that I’d love to try this. Will there be a sew a long?

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