Can I let you in on a little secret? Up until about 2 months ago, I was not really sure what size bra best fit my breasts. I mean, I do own a small pile of bras and they fit around my body. They range in size from 34B, 36B, and 34C. I have 1 sports bra that I loathe, bralettes, soft cups with foam, and a couple "push-up" bras, both padded and straight fabric. Depending on where I am at in my menstrual cycle, they all sort of fit me with varying amounts of discomfort. A few, I rarely wear because the band rides up or the cups are too small. Some, I wear a lot because they are loose and comfy, but they don't really provide much shape or support. Two bras that I own make my breasts look really nice and perky, but I always spill over the top of my right cup. And my favorite bra gets worn a lot, and it is likely going to be worn out soon, but the underwire is not quite comfortable.
So, 8 bras that all kind of suck, and 1 that I loathe. I just figured that was it for me, I have impossibly shape breasts that will never comfortably fit in a bra.
And then I found the bra calculator from the subreddit r/abrathatfits. I measured myself the first chance I had a few moments alone, punched my numbers into the calculator, and hello, what's this? My bras are all too small? What? I know the girls have gotten a little heavier and droopier since nursing babies, but how did I grow 2 cup sizes? I thought there must be a mistake, so I measured and calculated again. Same numbers. Well, I took this information and mulled it over.
I heard a podcast from love to sew about bras, and they were interviewing Emerald Erin from Emerald Erin sews and she talked about fitting, and sewing, and choosing the right sized underwire for your breast shape. This felt fortuitous, as I had just discovered my updated bra size and wanted to do something about it. Erin had also mentioned that if you have different sized breasts, you can sew in two different sized cups so they are both supported, or measure and sew for the larger breast and then pad out the cup for the smaller breast. She also mentioned, that hey, if you always have one bra strap that slips down, sew it further in in the back so it can't slip as easily. Basically, your breasts are unique to your body structure, and you can choose to enhance or diminish your breasts any way you want to when creating support garments for yourself.
Might I add, at the time of writing this, it is Braugust, and the Sewcialists theme this month is #allchestswelcome and they are focusing on breasts this month, too? I'll include a link to their series if you are curious about all the different topics they have touched on in regards to breasts (including binders for nonbinary folx and trans sewists)
Okay, so I am not trying to bind or flatten my chest, in fact, I kind of like the opposite. Especially now with the working assumption I could be wearing a 32DD. I went to Emerald Erin's amazing, awesome shop, had trouble picking less than 4 bra sewing kits, plus (this is so cool) an assortment of underwires so I can find the underwire that fits my chest wall the best.
I decided to buy two of the Jordy Bralette kits, and two of the Black Beauty Bra kits. I figured I would make the Jordys first to get used to the steps used to make a bra, check to see how my machine handles all the stretch material (note to self, those Organ stretch needles suck ass, buy some Schmetz for next time).
I enjoyed the bra making process a lot. You can get away with making a project in a day if you are slow like me, they don't use a lot of fabric, and if they turn out functional but ugly, no one will ever see them if you don't want them to. I decided (stupidly?) to modify the pattern before I even made it once. I wanted to add a larger cup for my larger breasts, so the left side got a 32D and my right side got a 32DD. The finished object fits, but I've got a weird little gap on the outside edge of my right cup, and both of my bras do this. So I think I should probably order some extra bra findings, grab some scrap stretchy knit fabric, and try making a bra that has 2 cups sizes that are the same and see how that works? Part of it may just be that the majority of my breast tissue sets below the nipple line (these girls are starting to sag a little).
My favorite store bought bra is a balconette bra that lifts my breasts up. Triangle shaped bralettes don't offer much structure or support =, and it's not a shape I normally wear. I could totally see making a pile of these out of some cute stretchy cotton material for my kids when they get older and need/want bras.
The pattern is extremely well written. I think if you are comfortable working with tiny seams, top stitching, and working with stretchy fabrics, this will probably be a project you can easily manage. Oh, did I mention the fact that her patterns cover a very wide range of sizes (26D -38E), and the PDFs are layered so you don't have to print out a billion pages, just print the size you need. Emerald also has an extensive blog with pattern help, tutorials, pattern inspiration, and hacks.
I am really looking forward to tackling some more Jordys and then making an attempt at the Black Beauty. When I do, you'll hear about it here.
P.S. In case you are wondering, a "D" cup does not automatically mean you have huge breasts. I had a moment of shock when I saw that measurement pop out of the calculator. It little just means that at their widest point, your breasts are 4" bigger around than your rib cage. I have a 32" ribcage, and 36" breast circumference.