The Construction of Bras
Nobody talks about bras. At least in the patternmaking and sewing world. Tons upon tons of pattern making and sewing books exist for dresses, blouses, jackets, etc, but nothing on bras. And why not? Even though bras are not seen, they’re the loveliest part of an outfit. In my opinion, a great outfit starts with good undergarments.
With that said, I took it upon myself to gather up lots of old bras, rip them apart, and get the low down on these dainty items. I could write a book on all the things I discovered, but here’s what I found…
Wait one second! Before I start my bit, I must say that my investigation does not include sports bras or any type of performance bra. Such bras are a completely different story, fabric, and construction.
1. Bras are sewn just as regular clothing except that the seams holding them together are zigzag stitches, not straight stitches. This is because as we move about our day, we move, twist, and stretch. The bras we wear need to be able to withstand this movement. Straight stitches have no stretch and would pop under such stress. But zigzag stitches have a natural give and stretch to them and, therefore, are the reason the seams are sewn with this stitch.Also, a bras’ seams as well as the top and bottom edges of a bra are clean finished (sewn) with elastic (see sketch). Its purpose is twofold. Its first purpose is the same as the zigzag stitch – to help the fabric stretch as we move. Its second purpose is to help the fabric recover from the stretching it undergoes.
2. The straps. The straps of bras used to confused me. They wrap this way, then wrap that way, then loop through this and then loop through that. Confusing right? But once I broke its path down (as I did in sketch), it was actually quite simple to understand. Piece of cake in my opinion (banana foster cake to be specific).
3. All major stress points are tacked with a zigzag stitch. Again, this has to do with withstanding our movement. It’s simply a reinforcement to prevent the straps of other components of a bra from ripping. Again, I could go on for days and pages with information on bras, but I just gave you the low-down… the scoop…
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