In  Lingerie

Bra making – how to DIY your pattern part 2

By Susan | Comments: 8 | October 14, 2014

diy_bra_header2After scanning my pressed pieces, I am going to set about tracing them using Adobe Illustrator. Now as I said in part 1 you don’t need to make a digital pattern. I’m doing it because it’s going to make visuals easier for me to show on the blog and because I have a cat who likes to nest in lots of pretty patterns. Invariably I lose pattern pieces. This way I am ensuring that none get lost and I don’t have to unpick another bra and start the whole process over again.

Start by tracing any pieces that are asymmetrical in shape. If you are using Illustrator the pen tool is your best option for this. Double check to make sure your scans are at actual size. Do not resize them from the original size or you will run into sizing problems when you make your actual bra.

tracing your bra pattern

If you are creating a traditional manual pattern use pattern weights to hold the pieces in place while you trace around. If your pieces are too small for that, try taping them in place using some magic tape or washi tape (basically any tape that is easy to remove. Now is not the time to be using super sticky tape that may damage your pattern). Use a sharp pencil, ruler and french curve to help you get the most accurate tracing possible. Be sure to mark seam allowances, grainlines, stretch direction and if needed add notes. The shapes are odd and very small so it can be easy to mix them up. A well placed this side up, this seam joins to that seam marking or note can make your life a whole lot easier. This pattern is for YOU so make all the notes and markings you need to.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 2.34.28 pm

Once you have all the asymmetrical pieces traced now it’s time to work on the symmetrical pieces. Mark the centre point of each of the pattern pieces. Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half. Placing the fold line under the original fabric piece. Lining it up on the centre line you just marked. Once it is correctly aligned then you can trace out one side of your shape. Creating them on the fold is more accurate. Do this for all symmetrical shapes. If using illustrator, trace half and then copy the piece and flip it. Re join it to create one pattern piece.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 2.40.56 pm

As you go through tracing your pieces be critical in the assessment of them. Is there an odd bump going upwards on what seems to be a straight line? Does one corner pull down in an almost arrow like way? Pattern lines should be smooth. If it’s a curve, a straight line or an angle. The line is to be smooth and free from bumps or ridges. When you are tracing from a garment that has been worn you will find more bumps and ridges as the fabric has distorted. You can see in the above photo that the fabric piece has been distorted. See how warped the gingham checks are. I’ve drawn the piece to help compensate for those factors. So take your time now to be aware of this and adjust if needed?

It all comes down to the accuracy of your pattern. Take your time, trace carefully but also measure. Ensure that pieces that are to be joined are the same length, mark your notches, grainlines. Use your notes and photos to give yourself as much information as you need to get a really good pattern created.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 5.13.58 pm

Next time I’ll be talking fabrics, trims and notions. Until then if you need anything clarified or just have more questions, ask away in the comments.



  • Nekane
    October 15, 2014

    It`s wonderful! Do you think that it works in a large size (french D cup)?

    • Susan Goodwin
      October 17, 2014

      Hi, I think the method of pulling apart a bra to create a pattern will work at any size. With a D cup I’d be making very special care to note the construction and fabric types as I unpicked. Some of the support fabrics might be more vital than at a smaller size?

  • Amanda
    October 15, 2014

    Love. This. Series. Hard.
    Thanks, Susan!!! πŸ˜€

    • Susan Goodwin
      October 17, 2014

      Thank you! I’m just so happy that it is helping people.

  • Laurel
    October 21, 2014

    Thanks so much for sharing your notes and excellent illustrations of your process. I started bra sewing many years ago when I could find no RTW to fit (I weighed a great deal more then) and used a paper surgical tape mold of the breast to create a pattern. There were few resources out there then, although I was very happy then to find Lee-Ann Burgess’ “Making Beautiful Bras” book and video. I am currently in a 32 or 34H and found a few excellent patterns – Shelley bra from in Canada and Bravo Bra #2 from – but I still enjoy copying some high end RTW bras.

    • Susan Goodwin
      October 23, 2014

      How wonderful that you have been making your own bras to get the fit you wanted. It feels so liberating to be able to create your own.

      I’ve seen so many beautiful patterns but none of them have been the style I buy in RTW so that’s why I decided to take this route and create my own.

  • sarah
    February 9, 2015

    I might have missed this elsewhere, but how do you determine grain if you don’t have the original bra anymore? I’ve been putting the frame and bridge so that the least stretch goes width-wise and the back band so that the greatest stretch goes width-wise, but the cups I’ve had all over the place. Any suggestions?

    • Susan Goodwin
      February 9, 2015

      Did you happen to take any photos of it?
      If not I’d probably ensure that the direction of stretch is correct and use it as a guide for the panels.
      Does that help at all?

Comments are closed.




Hi, I'm Susan. A designer living in Sydney, Australia.

Here I share tales of my sewing, my pattern collection and insights into what it's like to work as a professional fashion designer.

Other recurring themes include cat photos and an ever changing hair style.



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