How to make a pattern from your favourite Bra - Clone/Cloning

 
Materials

Bra to be copied (this needs to be a seamed cup – moulded bras are pretty much impossible for the home sewer)

Seam ripper.

Suitably sized paper  - A3 is usually large enough (computer print out paper, or dot & cross, or wall lining paper!)

Paper scissors

Pencil & note paper

Tracing wheel, and carbon paper

Spray glue (like the stuff they stick pictures on the wall with) or Double sided tape

Bra-copying Tips

Only disassemble one half of the bra; keep the other side intact to examine if you get stuck.

Write detailed notes as you dismantel your bra and make lots of sketches, also start at the bottom of the page and work upwards so that your finished notes are in the correct order for ‘making the bra’ . Remember to write the reverse of what you're doing when taking apart the bra (i.e., when detaching the straps, write instructions for how to attach the straps).

Examine the bra carefully to determine the steps in which it was assembled. You can tell which seam was sewn first by paying attention to where one seam crosses another.  Use a marker pen drawing arrows on the bra for direction of stretch, numbering the cup pieces, and marking seams.

For each step, note the stitch type (straight, zigzag) and approximate length used. As you cut the threads holding the bra together, leave the thread ends in the fabric; this makes it easier to see the seam allowances used.


 

Dismantling the Bra  

There are variations in order of assembly among different bra manufacturers and styles. To illustrate how to copy a bra, we'll demonstrate the process on an underwire bra with a back-hook closure. While the steps you take to dismantle your bra may be in a different order, you'll get an idea of how it works.

Disassembly steps

Things to note

What to write

 Remove the underwire,

Carefully use the seam ripper to cut the stitches to open the end of the underwire channelling and remove the underwire,

Insert underwires and stitch channelling closed, using narrow satin stitches. Also note which wire end goes into the channelling first.

Remove the underwire channelling

Note the seam allowance width and the channelling width and length.

Stitch channelling to cup from upper edge at centre front around to armhole edge, using short straight stitch.

Remove the back hook closure

Note how the closure is attached:  Note: If your bra is a front-hook style, the hook assembly will be removed after the channelling is removed.

Attach back hook using narrow zigzag stitches. The hooks go on the bra band right half (as worn) with the hooks facing toward the body, and the eyes go on the left side facing away from the body.

 

 

 

Remove the strap.

Detach the strap from the top of the cup 

Attach strap to top of cup

On the sample bra, since the strap elastic was used to finish the curve to the centre back, this was removed next

Zigzag strap to top of upper cup. Pin strap elastic at centre back, curving up to top of bra band. Zigzag (medium width) close to inner edge

Remove the upper edge elastic

 

 

Note the elastic width, the length used and the method of attachment. Note: If the bra is worn out, the elastic may have become stretched out; compensate for this by cutting a shorter piece when cutting the new elastic.

Cut 12" piece of 38"-wide plush elastic. Pin elastic to upper edge of bra right side with plush (fuzzy) side facing up and picot edge pointing inward. Stitch with narrow zigzag along picot edge. Turn elastic to inside and use a three-step zigzag along the elastic straight edge. If the elastic piece is shorter than the bra upper edge, make a note to quarter-mark both the elastic and bra edge and match the marks before pinning and stitching.

Detach the bra band from the cup.

 Carefully note how the bra band is attached to the cup, including the seam allowances and seam finishes, if any.

Attach cups to bra band

Remove the bra band lower edge elastic.

note the elastic length, width and method of attachment.
 

attach bra band lower edge elastic

Remove the centre front piece from the cup

Note the seam allowances and finishes used here.

sew cups to centre front

take apart the cup (8).

If a lace trim was used on the cup with the fabric trimmed away behind it, leave the lace attached; add lace to your creation when sewing the new bra, and then trim away the fabric behind.

sew cups together

 If you're working on a full-band bra (where the band continues under the cups), after removing the channelling or band/cup seam finish, detach the cup, and then the elastic at the lower edge of the band. You only need to undo the elastic to just past the centre front. Note how long it is (remember this will be doubled for the full-band). Between the cups, the centre band or centre front piece can be traced while still attached to the other half of the bra.
 
 

Making a Pattern

After dismantling the bra, carefully press all the pieces flat using a warm iron; don't iron back and forth or you'll distort the pieces. Be careful not to scorch or melt the fabric.  Spray glue on the reverse of the bra pieces and stick on to the paper.  Place another sheet of paper on to a sound work surface or board, then a piece of carbon paper on top face town.  Now place the paper with the bra pieces over the top.  Using the tracing wheel trace around each piece, alternatively you could use a sharp pencil.

For a full-band style, draw a straight line up the exact centre of the front bra band.

Mark any notches the manufacturer may have used for guidelines (they may be subtle), or put in your own if you need "landmarks" to help match pieces together. If the strap ended at the upper edge of the back bra band, mark the strap placement.

Remove the top sheet with the fabric pieces and, connect all the dots, smoothing out any irregularities. If the seam allowance was more or less than 1/4", add or subtract what you need to make it an even 1/4".  show all the stitch lines on your pattern and write information on your pattern to remind you of the making up process.


Label everything! Note the direction of greatest stretch (if any) of the original and mark it on the pattern, as well as how many pieces to cut and what the part is (Upper Cup, Bra Band, etc.). It also helps to note the upper edges, armholes and centre fronts/backs on the various parts. For the best chance of success, try to duplicate the original materials as closely as possible, both in weight and degree of stretch. Read the care/content label for a clue about the fabric.  Remember to double the elastic lengths when you figure yardage needed, and note the width of the elastics, the straps and the hook and eye closure (measured top to bottom). Lay out the pieces on a gridded cutting mat to make it easy to figure the fabric yardage needed. Plan on getting two to five bras from a yard of 60"-wide fabric, depending on the size and style. Lace cups often have a sheer lining for stability and comfort, so note on the pattern that you need to cut two pieces of the lace fabric and two of the sheer (mark "Cut 2 fabric and 2 lining."). Check the lining for stretch. If it "gives," it's probably sheer (15 denier) nylon tricot. If it has no give at all, then it's likely a sheer stabilized nylon such as our rigid liner. Copy the pattern  so you'll always have a master that you can trace off on pattern paper, in case the "working" pattern starts to get worn or torn. You can also make fit adjustments and style changes on the working pattern and transfer them to the master pattern. Use the pattern to cut out a new bra and assemble following the directions you wrote while taking apart the bra.

Definition of Terms

Plush Elastic - this is the fuzzy elastic which is used for bra bands etc for comfort.  The fuzzy soft side sits next to the skin.  It may have a picot edge or fancy edge. Picots are the tiny decorative loops along the edge of lingerie elastic.

Bra casing - channelling.  This is a ready made bias casing into which underwires are inserted. The back is usually brushed for comfort.



This article was published on Thursday 28 January, 2016.
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