After I learned so much taking the short course at De Montfort on bra pattern drafting in core sizes, I knew that I had to come back to take Plus Size Bra Pattern Cutting, Grading and Sewing. I couldn’t wait for a chance to apply my new knowledge to creating bras for full busts, knowledge that is both crucial and hard to come by.
Unfortunately the regular professor for the course was hospitalized at the last minute and wasn’t able to teach, so we had a series of substitutes and a bit of confusion on the first few days. Obviously, this was not ideal, but I did feel like I got a lot out of it despite some unforeseen organizational issues.
One thing that became clear through taking this class was just how much effort goes into creating a large cup bra. The larger a cup gets, the more the shape becomes exaggerated, which means that any defects get magnified. After constructing the bra, we looked at the alterations we would make to improve the fit and it was astonishing the way a few adjustments so improved the cup shape. When I’ve made cups in a 34B, I never even thought about making the kind of subtle pattern changes that make all the difference in a 34GG. In a 34B, the smaller volume means that a few errors of shaping don’t really show up. I think that I have a much greater understanding of the subtleties and difficulties of creating a bra that will have a flattering cup shape.
One thing we focused a lot on in the class was grading, i.e. how to grow or shrink the bra to fit different sizes. As anyone who has tried full bust bras in different sizes or seen people try full bust bras in many sizes, you know the importance of getting the sizes right across the size range. This is not so simple, especially given the many shapes of breast tissue. Although one of my classmates seemed keen on a simple formula, the teacher, Frieda, kept reminding us that grading is as much an art as a science and that there is no guarantee that two bra patterns will work under the same rules.
If you’re a frequent reader of full bust blogs like I am, you’ll know all the ways that bra fit can fail different people because of the variety of breast shapes. Faced with the task of making my own full bust bra, this truth made me wonder how anyone gets the courage to release a new full bust bra pattern, knowing that there is no way it will work for everyone.
Another educational portion of the class was simply seeing a model in all of her bras and seeing the difference between them. Seeing photos of different bras online really does not tell you a lot about the fit. I know that photo ‘fit checks’ are staples of bra fitting forums like reddit’s r/abrathatfits, but despite the hundreds of photos of bras in boobs that I’ve seen in my lingerie-blogging adventures, nothing tells you as much about bra fit or shape as seeing the example in front of you. I don’t get a chance to see of a lot of 34GG bras on a person, so it really, really helped me to see several examples!
The fit model also tried on one of the bras we made, which was great for us to see how our pattern worked out. Experiencing having a fit model for the first time meant that I could really see how little adjustments in shape work in real time. It also showed me how crucial a fit model is to the development process. A fit model has to be a good example of the consumer– but she will never be the right fit for everyone, especially the more different your size and shape. If you have a rare or unusual body shape, the problem is not only that you are a small part of the population (an economically difficult prospect for the manufacturer) but also difficult to get a proxy of and therefore address your specific fit issues. Measurements will never properly explain how breast tissue functions, so if there isn’t a ‘version’ of you available, you’ll never know. Obviously there are experts on drafting large-cup bras out there, but it was cool getting a little glimpse into that world. I hope I’ll have more of a chance to use my skills soon and draft some more full-bust bra patterns.