Patternmaking & Sewing Notes
by Don McCunn
A Bust Sling Bra
Created by Cheryl Wang
I had the pleasure of "working" with Cheryl Wang as she created her first Bust Sling Bra. I say I "worked with her." But the truth is she did all the work and I just answered questions when they came up. She has a wonderful sense of design and came up with ideas I had never thought of trying. She gave me permission to share her innovations here for the benefit of others who might wish to try them.
We were working with custom dyed fabric and notions I had acquired years ago when I was developing my instructons for conventional bras. Unfortunately the company that offered these custom dyed bra kits, no longer exists.
One of the challenges Cheryl has in finding a bra that fits is that she has a full figure on a small rib cage. Of course when you create a custom made bra, this is not an issue. But as a result of her shape and size when we were converting the mold of her Bust Sling into a workable pattern, she ended up discovering that she needed to create a four piece princess style pattern.
In addition to the four piece princess style pattern here are some of her other innovations she came up with which worked well with the various custom dyed fabrics and notions.
- She overlayed 6" wide lace on tricot to create a textured fashion fabric. She zigzagged each pattern piece together prior to any additional sewing so it would act as a single layer of fashion fabric.
- She used a tricot that had been stablizied with a fusible interfacing for a lining. Cheryl did not want seam allowances exposed on the inside of the bra. We decided that given the four layers for the bra (lace, tricot, interfacing, tricot lining) that using neckline elastic for the edging would have been too bulky so she sewed it as a self-lined bra. This actually worked well with Cheryl's design concept of being able to wear the bra as either an under or outer garment.
- Cheryl decided to create straps using 1" lace over the 3/4" conventional bra strap to maintain the lace like texture of the bra. Initially she wanted the straps to be convertible as either an "X" back or for the straps to go straight down so that her spider tatoo would be visible. So she used bra strap sliders and G-Hooks from the kit to create variable length straps.
- For the rib cage band she had the clever idea of using strips from the 6" lace over powernet. I think she did a lovely job of determining a width that would be appropriate for using the bra as outerwear. I thought the rib cage band might need to be reinforced with additional elastic, but Cheryl wanted to try it without. She sewed the rib cage band as a channel so that elastic could have been added if needed. But I think one of the key strengths of the Bust Sling Bra concept is that the rib cage band that holds the bra cups in place only has to have enough stretch to accomodate breathing.
- Cheryl was very specific about wanting to minimize as much visible stitching on the face of the fabric as possible. As it turns out by stitching the lace to one edge of the powernet channel of the rib cage band before it was sewn she could leave the other edge of the lace, which is the bottom of the rib cage band, unsewn. This allows any stitching done to the rib cage band to be done just on the powernet by lifting the lace out of the way. As it turns out her concept of using straps straight down the back did not provide adequate support but she could adjust for this with out affecting the face of the fabric.
Nice job Cheryl and thank you for letting me share your journey.
For those of you interested in the instructions for making Bust Sling Bras and garments, they are included in my book How to Make Custom Fit Bras & Lingerie.