Friday, 16 April 2010

Making retro bra cups for a dress

I have been obsessing over curves still because following my last bra making experiment, my cups were decidedly flat.  Something was wrong .. it all looked ok on paper, and the calculations were correct, but instead of this:

I got this ... 

Which as you can see, is not quite my intended outcome!

The answer, I discovered, after several 'lucid dreams' - do you dream about conundrums and find the answers?  I often do.  Anyway, the answer is in dart distribution.  Doh! Why didn't I think of it before?

Dart distribution is the key.  You put bigger darts where there are bigger curves.  Simples.  Standard measurements can be applied - this I knew.  The standard boob radius (ie: from nipple to ribcage) for a standard pattern size 12, is 8cm.  Did you know that?  

And so armed with this knowledge, and my trusty pattern cutting book by Winifred Aldrich, I set to work on cutting a party dress, with a 'bra' top - I need practical applications to work with sometimes, and I also needed a party dress!  Instead of following the instructions in the book to the letter, I increased the width of the dart from bust to waist, and narrowed the side darts - so the reduction to the waist is the same but the distribution is different.  The instructions in the book don't say this, but they do dictate that you should double the shoulder dart.

This I did .. It worked ... but still a bit baggy at the top line.  I increased the shoulder dart by a further 1.5cm.   These darts then need to be closed on paper, thereby forming side darts.  These side darts create the curve when the two parts are sewn together in a straight line.  After testing a further muslim, and then applying my 'design' to final fabric cups, I ended up with this...

Which i'm pretty damned pleased with.  The top of the bra is quilted as you can see, and the bottom part is re-inforced with some sturdy sew-in interfacing.  During all my cup consternations, I'd ordered myself a new book which confirmed that what I had done, was correct - don't you love it when that happens?   I have been glued to this book for other reasons, not only does it have instructions on how to cut all styles of bra, swimwear, corsets (with cups), bustiers, basques and knickers,  it also has a whole host of other tips and tricks which are not included in my other pattern book but which apply to skirts, dresses and trousers.

.. and the whole ensemble - in creation still - looks like this:

Ignore those pink straps - they are the bra I used to pad out Madge to the correct proportions for my figure.  There will be a halter strap added to the dress,  although with the quilting on the 'bra' it could probably stand up to being topless.

I have now got to work out how to bone the dress as the fabric which is a polyester satin, is very 'slippy' - it needs support, but I don't want to add a whole corsolette into it.  Any ideas?  I have made the lining in one piece but I may have to change it.

Unfortunately, the dress wasn't ready for the party, but I have plenty of time to finish it for the next appropriate event which is August.  Check it out, Vintage at Goodwood!

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