Creative articles about sewing

Bra-making alterations: The Frame and the Band

Hello my sewing friends!

As promised a have a new bra post for you today. In this post we’ll focus an band and frame adjustments. 

If you’re new to bramaking you might want to check out this post first. 

You might wonder, why I’ll start my series off with band adjustments and the answer is very simple. Because at the moment I was working on a strapless bra and the frame was somehow “off”. Usually I start adjustments in the strap area, move on to the frame and band and focus on the cups last. 

I bought the new Pinupgirls Diamond Bustier a while ago but hesitatet do make it because I knew I would have to alter quite a bit about it. The Pinupgirls Patterns are available on paper only which is a bummer. But I got my copy from the ever trusted BWear (which has amazing bramaking supplies as well).

The Lace and my underwires (range “yellow”, size 115) I got from

Tester 1

I went for the size 36 5 (BCD which stands for bottom cup depth). For this method you measure between the start of your breast tissue to the apex. My measurements fell between the 4.75 and the 5 so I went for a 5. 

For fabrics and notions I went for materials I had abundantly of but still have similar properties as the final lace. 

This is the first tester. And yes I specifically chose a contrasting color of thread so unpicking would be easier. The frame and band do not correspond to my shape. 

When looking at it from the sides you can tell that the wires do not lie flat. This was also my wearing experience. Plus, the bra gave me zero support.

Adjustments to the frame and band

Because I knew what kind of wires I wanted to insert (which were longer than the designer intended anyway) I decided to redraft the frame and band altogether.

I started by drawing the wireline according to my wire. You need to add some wire-play on the top of each wire end. If you omit this, the wires will push too much against the channeling while wearing the bra and you run the risk of the wires eventually poking you. 

You can see by my drawing that I added wire spring to the wireline (only 5mm because my wires are quite sturdy). The reason for it being that the band will pull on the wire while you are wearing the bra. How much the wire opens during this is called wire spring. Now, if you would not accommodate the amount of spring your wire has, you will end up with too much fabric between the band and the wire and will experience fabric pooling in the underarm area.

The length of the bridge corresponds to the length of the original pattern. All that is left to do is deciding on the length of the pattern. Measure under your bust and divide these measurements by four. This will be your frame length (green line in picture). The length of the bridge is longer, however, that my underbust line so I need to draw a perpendicular line to the lower bridge piece and mark in a quarter of my measurements 5cm (2 “) below my underbust line. Those to points are connected and form the new sideseam. 

Perpendicular to the sideseam and you connect the seam with your outer wirepoint. Add in the seamallowances (in brown) and you’re done with the frame.

If this sounds too complicated for you, you might want to check out a tutorial of the same pattern on the Youtube Channel Liz Sews here. Her resulting frame and band look very similar to mine and she used the same method.

For the band you transfer the angle (in my case 95°) and length of the sideseam from the frame to a new sheet of paper. The angle might be very different for you depending on your difference between your underbust line and your underbust line + 5cm (2″) – the bigger the difference the bigger the angle. 

You need to continue the underbust line (green) to the back piece. Because you want to be able to breathe in your bra, the band  is made out of a elasticated material. You will need to account for the amount of stretch your back band has. So you multiply your quarter underbust measurements by (1 – the amount of stretch your fabric has). In my case it was 0.85 (15% of stretch). 

Determine the height of your back band by checking what height hook and closures you want to use. I wanted to go for seven hooks – so I chose my height accordingly. I distributed most of the closure on the top part because I need firm support in this area. This is just a matter of preference. 

My adjustments and the original pieces. 

Tester 2

Tester 2 worked out better. The band was still slightly too loose which I fixed by reducing the length by 1cm (which was 2cm in total). 

The wires I used are longer than the ones the pattern was drafted for and I haven’t (yet) adjusted the cups. One step after the other. 

The cups are definitely too large so I went down a size to a 4.75. Additionally I heightened the back band by an additional 2cm.

Because the seamline of the finished cuppieces is still shorter than my wireline I added the difference to the upper cup piece. This had the added bonus of straightening out the line (which will come in handy when keeping the lace edge in an upper cup). 

This method is not always an easy fix and it will only work properly, when the difference is fairly small. Otherwise you’d need to make proper bra cup adjustments. But that is a topic for a later post.

This is what my pattern pieces looked like in the end.

The Final Bra

As a first step I had to dye the findings. All the findings are made mostly of nylon so they will dye well – or so I thought. Turns out, the back band and the foam were made of polyester which meant that they ended up being a beige-y color. I knew about the foam but the back band was a disappointment. I checked the seller’s site and it said it was nylon. Luckily, I had some firm powernet from BWear that is actually nylon (you know, BWear never dissapoints) and took the color perfectly. 

You sew the cups together as usual.

I wanted a clean finish on the underbust elastic so I only finished about threequarters of the (sandwiched) side seams. Then I opened them up, finished the lace and the lining separately and then sewed the left side of the elastic to the right side of the lining with a zigzag. After you flip it open…

… and tuck it under the lace. I topstitched the lace to the elastic with a zigzag. On the right you’ll see the nice finish on the inside between the elastic and the mesh.

Sew on the underarm elastics.

Insert the cups (previously finished with FOE) and add the channelling both for the boning and the underwires).

Die Diamond Bustier is stabilized with five plastic bones. You can get precut ones from BWear or buy a whole roll on the internet. It’s called plastic boning. 

Now, this is different than rigilene (wich tends to fold and warp like crazy) it will mold to your body but never break. You could use spiral steel boning but you might have difficulties washing your bra after and it will get heavier. 

The boning is inserted, the channels closed and then it’s time to sew on the hook and eye closure. 

This is the finished result. A true fall bra. 

Allthough, if I look at it now it also reminds me of flames…

And the back view.

I ordered some poly dye and will probably remove the closure, dye it properly and sew it back on. This will look so much better.

Still, the fit is perfect and I truly love this lates make. 

Let me know in the comment section if you’ve ever tried sewing a bra. In the meantime you can follow me on Instagram if you like. 

Until then, 

happy Sewing


Difficulty level: Intermediate
Time to Complete: Weekend
Used Material: lace
Used Products:

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