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Tips & Techniques > Commercial bra patterns vs. cloned bra patterns

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Posted by: juliette2

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Member since: 6/18/03
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Posted on: 9/6/06 2:48 AM
Review Rating: Helpful by 5 people   Very Helpful by 15 people   
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I have sewn bras from commercial patterns and from a pattern that I copied from a RTW bra. Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses. On the whole, I think cloning RTW is the best way of sewing a bra that fits well - assuming you have a well-fitting RTW bra.


It's practically impossible to tissue fit or make meaningful muslins for bras, and tiny alterations make a huge difference to a bra. (You can sew the cups and hold them over your breast when you are wearing a bra. That helps a bit with fitting but still doesn't tell the whole story.) You can't really tell how the bra will fit until it is finished, which means the first bra you sew probably won't fit well. Suppose you wear a 36C and sew a bra from a 36C pattern. The bra will fit as well as any randomly chosen RTW 36C -- other words it will probably be wearable and that's about it.

Cloning a well-fitting RTW bra means you start with a pattern that fits. OTOH, there are no instructions on how to make it and no advice about appropriate fabrics. (I once sewed a clone bra with inappropriate fabric and the result was completely unwearable.) I recently bought an expensive, perfectly fitting RTW bra so I could clone it. I am very pleased with the resulting clones.

I recommend using a pattern cloned from a good RTW bra. Then buy a commercial pattern that is similar to the RTW bra and use its instructions to sew the bra.

There are two ways to clone an RTW bra:
* You can take one side of it apart, as described by Lee-Ann Burgess in her book "Making Beautiful Bras". This is probably easiest but destroys the donor bra.
* If you don't want to take it apart, you can use tracing paper on a pinnable surface, then use pins to pin around the edges of sections of the bra. Then "join the dots" with the pinholes to outline the sections of the pattern. This is described by Beverley Johnson in her book "The Bra-Maker's Manual" and in a past issue of Threads.

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wingingit said... (2/14/08 8:54 AM) Reply
Thank you for the information. I have been "toying" with making my own bra's, and my daughters. The ones that we can afford do not fit well at all, I was actually thinking of buying RTW and have it be the pattern for our "Designed" bra's. After going to the web page for Beverly Johnson I have decided to purchase her book and "Dig In". I would really like to read more on this particular subject. I have been sewing since my teens, garments, home dec.,crafts, embroidery, but this looks like a real challenge because of the fitting.
thaiyal said... (4/6/07 10:39 PM) Reply
Great advice, Thanks! Mind if I ask you a question? How do the two books compare? I've been thinking of trying to make some lingerie myself and am wondering which book to buy.
sewmerry said... (9/7/06 1:11 PM) Reply
Very interesting and good advice. thanks!
OP Gal said... (9/7/06 8:08 AM) Reply
Good advice. I might even consider trying my hand at it after reading this. Thanks for the review.
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