Bramaking Part Four – Copying something that works

From January 2010

It seems fairly obvious that Elan #511 isn’t going to work for me right out of the envelope. Adjustments will have to be made, but what exactly is wrong?

Sounds kinda lame, eh? Not knowing where to modify a pattern (that’s obviously too small) to make it fit. I like to think my brain is as good as anybody’s, but the answer had me stumped for awhile.The only solution seemed to be to take my RTW bra apart and compare it to the pattern. Not wanting to destroy a perfectly good (and well fitting, if a bit worn) bra, I did what I thought was a clever thing using my ironing board and a bunch of pins.
First, I made a small slit in the channeling at the side of one cup to remove the underwire. Surprise! The shape of the RTW wire and the new wire is quite a bit different (RTW wire above) –
I have no idea if the RTW wire was perfectly round when I bought it and the wire has changed shape to fit my body or if it started out that way. Time will tell because I can’t get the new wire to bend into the same shape – those little buggers are tough!
Once the wire was removed I laid a piece of pattern tracing paper on the ironing board and got to work with the pins –


I applied pins until the piece laid flat (lower cup shown here) and then traced as best I could. I didn’t worry about making perfectly smooth lines – a French curve evened things out after the main shapes were done.

I traced each part of the bra in this way and ended up with the following pieces (new pattern in green, Elan #511 in white, 1/4″ seam allowances added on all around) –

Quite a difference on the band (upper left.) It seems made to the shape of The Famous Downward Hike.

The lower cup is larger on my RTW bra (upper middle) and the upper cup is shaped totally differently than the pattern (lower middle.) Upon close inspection the RTW model has an extra piece (far right) that goes here –

which totally changes the angle of the strap.
All in all a very interesting comparison exercise. Update to follow when the new model is complete!

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