Basics - Part One
To get started making anything, you'll need a pattern. There are many companies that make bra patterns both here in the US and abroad. Each pattern company uses sizes that are relevant to the country of origin. If you're using a Sewy pattern from Germany, then most likely you will be using metric sizing. If you're using an EZI-Sew pattern from New Zealand, then your pattern will have the type of sizing used in Australia and NZ. If you're from the US and have never used foreign patterns before this can be a bit confusing, especially for something that you've never sewn before. Since I am gearing this blog mainly towards the North American readers, I will recommend patterns with US sizing.
What patterns are avaible in US sizing?
There are three companies that I am aware of with US sizing: Kwik-Sew, Elan and Pin-Up Girls. Kwik-Sew and Elan are fairly easy to get - do a Google search for those, and they'll show up. You might even have a fabric store in your area that sells Kwik-Sew. To see styles (and purchase, too!) of both Elan and Kwik-Sew, you can either go to Sew Sassy or to Fabric Depot. The Pin-Up Girls patterns can be ordered from Bra Maker's Supply in Canada.
What kind of pattern should I buy?
Well, most importantly, it depends on your size and need for support. Most patterns are drafted for A through D cups, with or without wires and with a full band or partial band under the cups. Patterns in size ranges for DD cups and beyond usually have a full band only under the cups and wires. One major difference is the types of fabrics the pattern is drafted for. The larger the size, the more support is need from the cups and band. In these cases, the fabrics need to have no stretch or minimal stretch. For smaller sizes and styles, fabrics with more stretch is used and the patterns are drafted to allow for stretch in the cups. Beyond considerations for support - which is why you're wearing a bra in the first place - then the choice is yours for the look of the final product that you'd like. Don't forget that you can change the look of a basic pattern by placement of lace and other trims.
Now, I have a question for you. I *might* have an opportunity to make available a certain pattern line. I was thinking it would be nice to offer a bundled kit for those beginners who would like to give this whole idea a try. I would like to offer a beginner's kit with a pattern, a white kit (fabric/notions/wires) for use in making a muslin/trial bra, and then a colored kit (fabric/notions/wires) for making another pretty bra. You'd have everything you'd need except for the sewing machine and thread. In the end, you'll end up with at least one wearable bra, and maybe two if the white one works out! What do you think? Let me know in the comments!