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icon freeIn this second part of this bra pattern drafting and making series we will be drafting (drawing) the blocks/patterns for the cups, cradle and wings of a simple under wired “Darted Cup” Bra. Think of this bra as your first test into the world of bra pattern drafting and making. It may not offer the best support for the fuller bust, but it will allow you to check your measurements and fit, particularly cup volume / shape and wing tension.

In this part, I will be screaming, “ACCURACY” ... NO cheating by “pin copying” or pulling your favourite bra apart!


This bra is the simplest bra to make as the cups only have one short dart seam to sew. The bra has underwires and it will be the shape of the underwire that you will use as the start of the cradle/wing pattern. This bra can also be made without any underwires, but the cup shaping and support may suffer in larger sizes. If you wish to make the bra without any wires, you will need to use a “Breast root trace” to give you the right curves to the bra cradle to fit you.

Basic darted cup bra

I know that the debate on underwires in bras is always a hot topic, but the correct sized, properly “sprung” underwires can do a good job of supporting the cup / cradle shape to support the breast weight, and until an alternative to the bra under wire comes along (I am still working on that one) we will try to work with them. (For people who have missed some attempts at alternatives to underwired bras, Charnos had a financial disaster with their “Bio Bra”, and Playtex have a non-underwire bra on sale at the moment that uses some sort of plastic “fingers” for the cup/breast support. Does anyone remember the “Magic Fingers” pattern Playtex sewed on the front panels of their girdles? They were supposed to help hold your tummy in, like the fingers on a pair of hands, or so the advert went).

We will come to “Breast root tracing” and “springing” a bra wire in a moment, but first we must get some drafting/drawing tools together.

If you have read Cathy Hay’s excellent articles on corset pattern drafting you may already have the right drawing equipment for the job, but I will give you the list of tools anyway.


One of the most important tools you will need is a “Flexible Ruler” to measure curved seams. Using a tape measure will not be accurate for bra making.

If you cannot get hold of a flexible ruler you can make one by photocopying a normal ruler (a ruler with black markings on white plastic works best) onto an clear acetate plastic sheet (make sure the acetate plastic sheet is the right type for a photocopier) and then cut out the ruler image.



Flexible rulers Using the ruler to measure a line accurately


“Flexi Curve” for drawing smooth free curves and for taking a “breast root trace”, and a set ofFrench Curves

Taking a breast root trace using a Flexi curve (right)

Flexi curve and French curves Taking a breast root trace using a Flexi curve.


If you have one or have access to one, a Technical Drawing Board, consisting of around an A2 (42 x 59cm or 16.5 x 23.4 in) size board, “T” Square, 45o Set Square and 30o/60o Set Square.

Drawing parallel lines or lines at right angles to each other is so much quicker with a drawing board. But you can do all the drafting/drawing without one.

Drawing board

Pencils and sharpener. I was always told at university to use a mechanical “Clicky” Pencil but you can draw much finer lines with a properly sharpened ordinary pencil.

Spring Bow Compasses, one large and one small. (These are usually sold in a handy box set)

Metric Ruler.

Tracing wheel and Carbon Paper.

A3 size paper (lots of it - that's approx size 30x42cm or 12x17 in)


Spring bow compasses






Drafting a Bra Cup Block


We will start with the bra cup block (remember in industry, a pattern without seam allowances is called a Block). We will draft a Size 4 cup (about a UK size 34”B) and then grade (resize) it to your breast size. Remember, gentlemen who are following the articles, or those not making for a specific person: please use the Size 4 cup / 50cm back measurements, but please do try the cup grading.

TRY TO BE AS ACCURATE AS POSSIBLE. I have quoted the measurements to two decimal places. I know that one millimetre is a very small division on a ruler scale but try to judge the second decimal place number and keep your pencil / compass lead sharp. Use an emery board or nail file to sharpen the “lead” in your compasses.

Step One

On a sheet of A3 paper in landscape, draw a horizontal straight line 12.85cm long near to the bottom edge of the paper.

With your compasses set at 8.72cm, draw an arc from one end of the line and another intersecting arc from the other end of the line.

Join up the points with straight lines, as in the diagram.

This will form the “Dart” of the cup. You can write “Point of Bust” or “PB” next to the intersection of the arcs.

Cup draft: step 1

Step Two

From the left end of the 12.85cm base line, set your compass to 9.4cm and draw an arc.

From the “Point of Bust”, set your compass to 10.26cm and draw an intersecting arc to the first arc.

From the right end of the 12.85cm base line, set your compass to 9.4cm and draw an arc.

From the “Point of Bust”, set your compass to 9.24cm and draw an intersecting arc to the first arc. Join up the points with straight lines, as in the diagram.

Cup draft: step 2

Step Three

Still using your compasses, draw arcs from the 12.85cm base line at 11.5cm and 10.45cm from Point of Bust on left (Underarm) side and 10.8cm and 9.25cm on right (Centre front) side.

Join up with lines from base line and point of bust.

Cup draft: step 3

Step Four

Next, to mark the “Cup Apex” (the point were the bra strap joins to the cup).

From point of bust, arc out a line 11.57cm, an arc 13.6cm (this line will become the “Neck Line Hem” of the bra cup) and an arc 7.13cm (this line will be curved to become the “underarm” hem of the cup) See diagram for start points of the arcs / lines.

Later this cup apex point can be moved to suit individual fit / styles.

Cup draft: step 4

Step Five

In woodwork we measure twice and cut once, so check the cup measurements.

You should now be ready to draw the curved lines (red lines in diagram) of the cup outline using a Flexi Curve or French Curve.

Cup draft: step 5

Try to make the curves smooth and flowing through the points.


Cup draft: step 5a

Step Six

Next, extend the lines that “radiate” from the Point of Bust point to the edge of the cup and beyond, number the lines 1 to 7 clockwise starting at the “cup apex” as in the diagram.

We will use these lines to “Shift Grade” the cup to your size.

Lines 3 and 6 are very important. When you tape together a test paper bra cup, lines 3 and 6 should form a straight, horizontal line over the fullest part of your breast (we will not put the lines on the fabric! The lines will only be on the paper block/pattern). When we come to adapting the cup block for other styles we will use lines 3 and 6 to split the cup into panels.


Cup draft: step 6



Step Seven:  Shift Grading

Copy the cup plus radial lines onto another sheet of stiff paper (photocopy or use a tracing wheel and carbon paper) and then cut the copy of the cup out. You will use this second cup to mark around on your original drawing as in the diagrams.

You now need to measure along each radial line (1 to 7) from the centre “Point of Bust” of the Size 4 cup you have drawn the right number of grading “steps” for your cup size, To save you time and your calculator batteries, I have given you the line lengths (1 to 7) you need to mark on your Size 4 cup lines in the table to grade the cup to your size. All measurements are taken from the centre Point of Bust point of the cup.




(All Measurements in cm) grading step = 1.7cm

lower measurement higher measurement LINE 1 LENGTH (STEP 1.07cm) LINE 2 LENGTH (STEP 0.85cm) LINE 3 LENGTH (STEP 0.81) LINE 4/5 LENGTH (STEP 0.76cm) LINE 6 LENGTH (STEP 0.86cm) LINE 7 LENGTH (STEP 0.98cm)
Cup Size1 14.1cm to 14.7cm 14.1 14.7 8.36 6.69 6.81 6.44 7.68 7.51
Cup Size2 15.8cm to 16.4cm 15.8 16.4 9.43 7.54 7.62 7.2 8.54 8.49
Cup Size3 17.5cm to 18.1cm 17.5 18.1 10.5 8.39 8.43 7.96 9.4 9.47
Cup Size4 19.2cm to 19.8cm 19.2 19.8 11.57 9.24 9.24 8.72 10.26 10.45
Cup Size5 20.9cm to 21.5cm 20.9 21.5 12.64 10.09 10.05 9.48 11.12 11.43
Cup Size6 22.6cm to 23.2cm 22.6 23.2 13.71 10.94 10.86 10.24 11.98 12.41
Cup Size7 24.3cm to 24.9cm 24.3 24.9 14.78 11.79 11.67 11 12.84 13.39
Cup Size8 26.0cm to 26.6cm 26 26.6 15.85 12.64 12.48 11.76 13.7 14.37
Cup Size9 27.7cm to 28.3cm 27.7 28.3 16.92 13.49 13.29 12.52 14.56 15.35
Cup Size10 29.4cm to 30.0cm 29.4 30 17.99 14.34 14.1 13.28 15.42 16.33
Cup Size11 31.1cm to 32.8cm 31.1 31.7 19.06 15.19 14.91 14.04 16.28 17.31
Cup Size12 32.8cm to 35.6cm 32.8 33.4 20.13 16.04 15.72 14.8 17.14 18.29
Cup Size13 34.5cm to 38.4cm 34.5 35.1 21.2 16.89 16.53 15.56 18 19.27
Cup Size14 36.2cm to 41.2cm 36.2 36.8 22.27 17.74 17.34 16.32 18.86 20.25
Cup Size15 37.9cm to 44.0cm 37.9 38.5 23.34 18.59 18.15 17.08 19.72 21.23
Cup Size16 39.6cm to 46.8cm 39.6 40.2 24.41 19.44 18.96 17.84 20.58 22.21
Cup Size17 41.3cm to 41.9cm 41.3 41.9 25.48 20.29 19.77 18.6 21.44 23.19
Cup Size18 43cm to 43.6cm 43 43.6 26.55 21.14 20.58 19.36 22.3 24.17
Cup Size19 44.7cm to 45.3cm 44.7 45.3 27.62 21.99 21.39 20.12 23.16 25.15
Cup Size20 46.4cm to 47cm 46.4 47 28.69 22.84 22.2 20.88 24.02 26.13
Cup Size21 48.1cm to 48.7cm 48.1 48.7 29.76 23.69 23.01 21.64 24.88 27.11
Cup Size22 49.8cm to 50.4cm 49.8 50.4 30.83 24.54 23.82 22.4 25.74 28.09
Cup Size23 51.5cm to 52.1cm 51.5 52.1 31.9 25.39 24.63 23.16 26.6 29.07
Cup Size24 53.2cm to 53.8cm 53.2 53.8 32.97 26.24 25.44 23.92 27.46 30.05
Cup Size25 54.9cm to 55.5cm 54.9 55.5 34.04 27.09 26.25 24.68 28.32 31.03
Cup Size26 56.6cm to 57.2cm 56.6 57.2 35.11 27.94 27.06 25.44 29.18 32.01
Cup Size27 58.3cm to 58.9cm 58.3 58.9 36.18 28.79 27.87 26.2 30.04 32.99
Cup Size28 60cm to 60.6cm 60 60.6 37.25 29.64 28.68 26.96 30.9 33.97
Cup Size29 61.7cm to 62.3cm 61.7 62.3 38.32 30.49 29.49 27.72 31.76 34.95


Grading Example: - Size 4 to Size 8 cup

Now use the cut out copy of the size 4 cup as a template to draw each “corner” of the new “your” size cup.

Align the size 4 cup to the lines and grade marks on your original draft and draw in the corner. Do not completely draw around the cup at each step, just draw the corner.

You can see this process in the diagrams below.

Cup grading step 1


Cup grading step 2 Cup grading step 3
Cup grading step 4 Cup grading step 5
Cup grading step 6 Cup grading step 7
Cup grading step 8 Cup grading step 9


Now using your Flexi Curve / French Curve, smoothly join up the “corners” to give you the new cup outline.

Cup grade step 10


Step Eight

Copy the new “your size” cup onto another sheet of paper (photocopy or use a tracing wheel and carbon paper) and then cut the copy of the cup out. Using sticky tape, stick the cup “Dart” together and check the “look” of the cup. Do not worry that the cup comes to a point, paper will not “flow into shape” like fabric and when you sew the fabric cups you should sew outwards from the point of the dart to remove the “point”. When we come to adapt this cup to two and three panel bra cups we will have smoother over bust seams.

The graded cup, in paper The graded cup, in paper



Drafting the Band


If all looks OK with the cup, we are now almost at the stage to start drafting the Cradle and Wings of the bra, but you need to find the correct curve for the Cradle to Cup seam.

As this Cradle to Cup seam is where the underwires will be sewn and it is the seam that sits up against your Breast Root, these are the two things that we will use to draft the length and curvature of the seam: a Breast Root Trace and an Underwire.

Bra parts diagram


Breast Root Trace

To take a breast root trace, use a Flexi Curve and a sheet of paper.

Put the Flexi Curve around your breast (right breast as we are drafting the right half of the bra or you can trace your left breast and flip the trace over on the paper) and make sure it is up against the point around where your breast tissue joins the chest wall. This is the same point around the breast where the underwire of a correctly fitting bra should sit, not on breast tissue (pain) and not away from the breast (poor fit).

Now mark on the Flexi curve, with chalk or thin tape, the point directly (vertically) below the nipple or fullest part of the breast.

Next, imagine a horizontal line across the fullest part of the breast and put two marks on the Flexi Curve ether side of the breast and about 2cm above the imaginary horizontal line.

You may need the help of a close friend to do this while you hold the Flexi curve against yourself.


How to take a breast root curve using a flexi curve ruler

Now CAREFULLY take the Flexi Curve away from your breast without moving its curve and place it on the sheet of paper. Again carefully draw around the edge of the flexi curve that was up against your breast and transfer the three marks to the curve on the paper.

You now have a curve to help you find the correct underwires for your size and to draft the correct cup to cradle seam. Hurrah!! You just may be on the way to a bra that actually fits you.


A trace of the breast root curve

Now you need to get hold of two underwires for your bra that match your breast root trace. If you are obtaining your wires in person from a shop you can take your breast root trace with you and try their wires against it. If you are planning to get your wires from the internet see if the company has “to size” drawings or pictures of the wires they sell, so you can again match up your trace to the correct wires.

An Internet company I use for corset and bra bits is www.sewingchest.co.uk; they have a downloadable PDF document that shows all the underwire sizes that they sell. You could try to find “MS20” underwires in your size, the MS20 underwire is a good “day bra” shape and it is the wire shape that the largest UK underwear retailer (clue: give us an "M"; give us an "S") have as their standard.

One major point: the wire that is closest to the size and shape of your breast root trace will veer away from the trace curve at the underarm side (right).

This is because when the wires are in the bra and worn, the wires are “pulled open” or “Sprung” to the curve of your breasts by the elastic pull of the wings of the bra.

So do not worry if you cannot find underwires that exactly match the curve of your trace.

The difference between the underwire and the breast root trace


Another tip: choose a “Day wear” underwire. Steer clear of “Plunge” underwires and “Strapless” styles at this stage.

Different styles of underwires for different styles of bras

Here is the shape of a typical Daywear wire for a UK 34”B bra which will work with the Size 4 cup, for readers who do not have “client” to make a bra for. Print the picture off and use it to obtain two underwires.

When you have got your wires, you can continue with the pattern drafting, or you can use your Breast root trace if you want to have a go at making the bra without any underwires.

Shape of a daywear UK 34"B underwire



The Cradle and Wings

We will draft one half of the bra and when we come to mark and cut out the fabric we will turn the pattern parts over to give us both halves.

Step One

Finding the “balance point” of your underwire.

On a sheet of A3 paper in landscape mode, draw a horizontal line across the centre of the paper. Near to the right hand side of the paper draw a line at 90 degrees (vertically) to the first line.

Place one of your underwires on the two lines so that the inner edge of the centre front end of the wire touches the vertical line and the bottom of the wires curve (again inner edge) touches the horizontal line as in the diagram.


Finding the “balance point” of your underwire.

Now where the wire touches the horizontal line, put a mark on the paper. This is called the “Balance Point” of the wire. Next, lightly draw around the inner edge of the wire onto the paper and mark the end points of the wire.

On the paper, measure down 5mm from the centre front end of the wire's curved line and mark the point.

Place the wire back on the paper on its curve and then shift the wire around the curve so that the wire's CF end now aligns with the 5mm point on the paper.

Again, draw around the inner edge of the wire onto the paper and mark the end points of the wire.

This slight “tilting” of the wire helps for a better fit against the curvature of the chest wall.

Finding the “balance point” of your underwire.

Step Two

Now you need to “spring” the wire and redraw its curve. You may need the help of a friend to draw the sprung wire curve whilst you hold the wire open.

On the paper, at the underarm end of the wire curve, place a mark 1.5cm horizontally to the left of the wire curve. Now whilst holding the underwire on the paper so that the CF (centre front) end of the wire stays in position against the first vertical line / curve, pull open the underarm end of the wire to the 1.5cm mark and redraw the wire's curve.



Now you need to “spring” the wire and redraw its curve

Without an Underwire

For those of you who do not want to use underwires, copy your breast root trace onto a sheet of thin card and cut the card along the line of the trace. You can now use your trace as an underwire template. DO NOT try to “spring” your trace, as it is already the correct curve for your bra!

As with the wire drawing, place your trace template against the horizontal and vertical lines and do the 5mm “tilt” using the centre front mark you placed on the trace as the “CF end of the wire” and draw around the curve. Remember to copy the three marks (centre front, under bust and underarm side) on the trace on to the paper. Please remember that with the larger size cups, using the correct size underwires helps the shaping and support of the breasts.


Step Three

After you have drawn the curve of the wire in the “sprung” position, you need to add to each end of the curve 5mm for “Wire play” and 3mm for “Bar tack sinkage”. So that will be 8mm added to each end of the underwire curve. Extend the curve.

After you have drawn the curve of the wire in the “sprung” position, you need to add to each end of the curve 5mm for “Wire play” and 3mm for “Bar tack sinkage”

Step Four

Marking in the centre front line of the bra:

From the CF top point of the wire curve, draw a horizontal line 1.2cm long then draw down a vertical line at the end of this line. This is the CF (centre front) line of the bra.

Marking in the centre front line of the bra

Step Five

As the underwires will be in “wire casing” you need to add 3mm allowance to the inner edge of the wire curve.

This is not “seam allowance” - we will add that at the end.


As the underwires will be in “wire casing” you need to add 3mm allowance to the inner edge of the wire curve
Step Six

Now that we have drafted the curve and length of the “cup to cradle seam” for the cradle, we need to transfer the length of the curve to the cup.

As the “Balance Point” marked on the paper is also the alignment mark for the “cup dart”, we must measure from this point up either edge of the cup and adjust the cup.

Use your “Flexible Ruler” to accurately measure Length “A” and Length “B” and transfer the lengths to the cup.

You may need to shorten or lengthen the cup curves to match the cradle curves and then redraw the Neckline hem and the underarm hem.


Use your “Flexible Ruler” to accurately measure Length “A” and Length “B” and transfer the lengths to the cup.

Step Seven

We will now draft the rest of the cradle and wing. Remember, we are drafting just one half of the bra (right side).

Measure down from the first horizontal line you put on the paper and mark four lines, at 6mm, 18mm, 28mm and 76mm respectively, horizontally across the paper.


We will now draft the rest of the cradle and wing, remember we are drafting just one half of the bra

Step Eight

From the top of the cradle / wire seam at CF, draw a horizontal line across the cradle to the underarm side.

Where this line intersects the underwire curve line, draw a line vertically down to the “28mm” line and mark the crossing point “A”.


From the top of the cradle / wire seam at CF, draw a horizontal line across the cradle to the underarm side.

Step Nine

Now for some Maths. If you have been following Cathy Hay’s Corset drafting article you may already understand how to calculate a measurement using a Percentage.

You will use your “Back Measurement”, taken from side breast root, around your back, horizontally to your other side breast root.

For example:

If I asked you to draw a line 32% of your back measurement the calculation would be:

Back measurement = 50cm,

Divide 50cm by 100 = 0.5,

Then multiply 0.5 by 32 = 16cm

So the length of your line would be 16cm.

Again if I asked you to draw a line 17.1% of your back measurement the calculation would be:

Back measurement = 50cm

Divide 50cm by 100 = 0.5

Then multiply 0.5 by 17.1 = 8.55cm

So the length of your line would be 8.55cm.

We will now draw in the Cradle to Wing side seam.

From point A on the 28mm line, measure alone the line 4.56% of your back measurement (BM) and place a mark.

Example, BM = 50cm, 50 / 100 = 0.5, 0.5 x 4.56 = 2.28cm

Calculations for drafting the band


Follow the diagram to put in the other lines. From the new point on 28mm line, draw a line 17.1% BM (back measurement). From top of wire curve at underarm, 9.3% BM to intersect 17.1% line. This 17.1% line will be the Cradle Side Seam.

Step Ten

From the bottom of the 17.1% cradle seam line draw a line 32% BM long so that it intersects the 76mm horizontal line.

At this intersection point draw a line 2.5cm long at right angles to 32%BM line. This 2.5cm line will be the CB (Centre Back) of the bra and the point to sew on the hook & eye tape. 2.5cm should be wide enough for a two hook & eye wide fastening, although for the larger cup sizes you may need to go for a three hook & eye wide fastening. You can change this measurement when you have obtained your hook & eye tapes.

On the 32% line, put a mark 4.8cm from the 2.5cm hook & eye line then at right angles to the 32% line draw a line 6.6cm up from the line.

Drafting the mark for the hook and eye fastener

Step Eleven

Now that we have the main points of the cradle and wing marked out, we can join up the points with smooth curves.

Using your Flexi Curve or French Curves, draw the “underband hem”. Start on the 6mm line at right angles to the CF line, then take the curve through the 18mm line below the “Balance Point”, continue on through the 28mm line /side seam line intersection, curve up slightly above the 32% line and end at the bottom of the 2.5cm line.

For the “strap platform”, a simple curve from the top of the 2.5cm line to the top of the 6.6cm line. For the  “Underarm hem” start at the top of the 6.6cm line, go through the top of the side seam line and finish at the top of the cradle to cup seam line/curve.

Connecting the drafted lines to form the shape of the bra

Step Twelve

Copy the Cradle (from CF to side seam) onto a new sheet of paper and copy the Wing (from side seam to hook & eye CB) on to a new sheet of paper.

Now add 5mm seam allowance to all three patterns (Cup, Cradle and Wing) plus cutting and sewing marks i.e. pattern name, number of parts to cut out, direction of fabric weave and seam alignment marks. There is NO seam allowance added to the Wing at CB (centre back) as the hook & eye tape wraps around the end of the wing.

The pattern instruction “Cut one pair” means we will cut out a left and a right side. So when we mark out the fabric we will mark out the right side of the bra parts then “flip” the patterns over and mark out the left side bra parts. We will not fold the fabric and try to mark / cut out a pair at one time! That way is “Home sewing": for accuracy in industry nothing is “cut on the fold” and we will not pin the patterns to the fabric.

But more of that next time...


The finished pattern pieces The finished cup piece


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This is awesome Mark! I can't wait to make my first bra. :)
Just what I need for a corset I have in mind :)

The method of drafting bra patterns that is available to me didn't give very good results. It was ill fitting and needed a lot of alternation...it looked like it wasn't made to measure at all but your way looks really promising and I will give it a go as soon as I get my coutil :D

Thank you for a wonderful easy to understand article!

Thankyou so much for this. At last a bra draft that really works: spot on fit from the first couple of toiles. Looking forward to the next instalment.......
Hi Mark, just a question re the drafting. When you spring the wire 1,5cm to the side, I found it lowered the height of the end of the wire, bringing it almost horizontally level with the centre front point on paper. Should I use this new end point to add the 8mm, or should I use the original end point "height" but 1,5cm to the left? In the diagrams, the height doesn't seem to change much in the the "springing". Thanks for any advice. Wendy
I have this problem too? Should I continue with it sloping outwards now, or readjust the slant so that it slants inward again?
Shelley Wilson
Hey I am trying to make a custom corset, got the coutil in and half of the fabric, I would like to add underwire support and I can calculate that into the pattern since it is already sized... Which of your cup sizes would you suggest for a UK 30FF? Oh and the design requires steel cable, but instead of 1/4" I plan on using 3/16" coated so the ribbing shows less and for easy removal so the thing can actually be washed. And do you believe springing would be an issue since it is a corset? I dont plan on buying underwires, just properly directing more cable. Length wont be an issue I have cutters so I will just get a bit more than necessary. Thank you for your time!
Hello, Mark -- just wanted to find out whether the breast root trace should be taken over just skin, or over the subject's bra? if over skin, do you raise arms up overhead?
Hi All
Just a note, take a breast root trace over the skin without a bra so you have a better feeling of were the breast tissue joins the chest wall. Keep your arms down and it helps to lean forward slightly so that the breasts hang away from the chest. If you do not have a flexie curve you can use any stiff wire that can be bent to your curves.
Corset Hugs, Mark

Just wondering why it has to be spring bow compasses? I have bought a set to do this with but wanted to know but of interest.

Hi Mark!

I'm doing something wrong. When I get to the 17.1% measurement, my line is nowhere near the 9.3% measurement. Everything is fine up until that point. My back measurement is 42, giving me a 17.1% measurement of 7.18, which is about 6 cm short of the 9.3% line. Help!

many thanks. . .


Hi all,
A big sorry for not responding sooner to your comments but until recently I have not been able to get my Internet computer to post comments on the website. I would not write the articles then totally ignore you, I am very interested in your feed back as it helps me as a designer / pattern drafter of bras, remember being male “I make purses but have no money to put in them” .

To Melanie,
You do not say what your cup size is but I suspect you are a size 10 cup or above (classic modern English lady, large bust – small back). To do the wing draft, miss out step 9, draw the 32% line, 2.5cm, 4.8cm and the 6.6cm lines then draw a gentle curve (top wing hem line) from the top of the 6.6cm line to the top of wire curve at underarm. Mark along the curve the 9.3% BM, draw a straight line down from the 9.3% mark to the 4.56% mark. This will give you your Cradle to Wing side seam.

I had the same problem - cup size 20, back measurement 45cm. Glad I found this :)
Thanks Mark, a few years later but better late than never, right? Some of my measures have... er.. 'slightly' increased, but your advice still helped all these years later.

Thank you...


rebecca forknall
Hi, I have also had trouble with this as the 17.1 line sat 6.5cm away from the cup.
Also having made a toile, the band is 20cm too small! I have been using my back measurement of 55.5cm from outer breast root to outer breast root. Is this wrong?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

To Wendy,
Have you remembered to do the 5mm “tilt” of the wire before springing it open by 1.5cm? If yes then use the new end point to add the 8mm or it could be that the underwire you are using is a “plunge” bra wire, shorter in length around the curve than a “day wear” underwire.

To Galadriel,
I use spring bow compasses for two reasons, “repeatabl e accuracy” and I studied Technical Drawing at school. The repeatable accuracy thing is if you need to repeat the same size circle or arc you do not have to keep resetting the compasses. So say if you are adding 5mm seam allowance to a block you set the spring bow compasses once then work along the sewing line marking 5mm arcs then join up the arcs to give you your seam allowance.

To Mette
The size 5 cup is about equal to UK / European bra sizes 30”E, 32”D, 34”C, 36”B and 38”A.
A W40 size wire is intended for UK / European bra sizes 28”H, 30”G, 32”F, 34”E, 36”D, 38”C, 40”B and 42”A. That’s two cup sizes difference.
If your over breast measurement is equal to a size 5 cup then you could try a W36 size underwire.
If you are springing a wire to 3cm then the wire is to small, please retake a breast root trace and check all measurements.
As to the corselette, the design is really not intended to have underwires. I suggested using underwires as drafting adds only to get the shape / curve of the cup to cradle seam line, when you have drafted the bra cup cradles copy the cradle to the corselette draft then make up the garment without underwires

To Shelley
The closest cup size I would suggest for a UK 30FF / European 30H is size 8.
One of the reasons to spring open the underwire when drafting a pattern for non stretch fabrics is to prevent distortion and wrinkles in the fabric / finished garment. If you think about it when the garment is worn and under tension the cup to cradle seam curve will try to “open out” (the curve tries to pull to a straight line) so if you pre open out the curve you should prevent any distortion.

To All,
To help, here is the article cup sizes compared to the UK / European sizes
European sizes
Size1 = 30A/
Size2 = 30B/ 32A/
Size3 = 30C/ 32B/ 34A/
Size4 = 30D/ 32C/ 34B/ 36A
Size5 = 30E/ 32D/ 34C/ 36B/ 38A
Size6 = 30F/ 32E/ 34D/ 36C/ 38B/ 40A
Size7 = 30G/ 32F/ 34E/ 36D/ 38C/ 40B
Size8 = 30H/ 32G/ 34F/ 36E/ 38D/ 40C
Size9 = 30J/ 32H/ 34G/ 36F/ 38E/ 40D
Size10 =30K/ 32J/ 34H/ 36G/ 38F/ 40E
UK sizes
Size1 = 30A/
Size2 = 30B/ 32A/
Size3 = 30C/ 32B/ 34A/
Size4 = 30D/ 32C/ 34B/ 36A
Size5 = 30DD/ 32D/ 34C/ 36B/ 38A
Size6 = 30E/ 32DD/ 34D/ 36C/ 38B/ 40A
Size7 = 30F/ 32E/ 34DD/ 36D/ 38C/ 40B
Size8 = 30FF/ 32F/ 34E/ 36DD/ 38D/ 40C
Size9 = 30G/ 32FF/ 34F/ 36E/ 38DD/ 40D
Size10 =30H/ 32G/ 34FF/ 36F/ 38E/ 40DD
And finally, if there are any De Montfort University students following the articles, please say Hi to Diljit and Mr Morris from me and pay attention to them in their tutorials (they do know what they are talking about).
Corset Hugs

Susie Palmer
Mark, Thank you for this howto - I will definitely try this at home coz it would be so exciting to make one's own bras in the materal and design I like - so will definitely give this a go. Merci!
Hi Mark

In the original Size 4 draft, Lines 2 & 3 are given as 9.24 but in the table they are 9.42. 4 & 5 are respectively given as 8.72 and 8.75.

Which of these figures are right? Or am I missing something?

Thanks for all your excellent articles, by the way.

Mike H

Hi All,
Oops! Another one slips though the fishnets.
A big thank you to Mike H who left a comment about the darted bra drafting article from many moons ago and the mistake in the table of shift grading numbers at “step Seven”.
Sorry but I just read the comment (I must remember to keep checking the comments left for the bra articles).
There is a corrected table in the forum.
Yes the Cup size 4 line lengths should be; - 2 and 3 = 9.24 and 4 / 5 = 8.72.
What a dizzy designer I am.
Corset Hugs

How can I take 34B to 36B so I think it's just one of the options below, if not please get help
many thanks
1) 32 1.25=33.25*0.5=16.625
17.1 1.25=18.35*0.5=9.175
9.3 1.25=10.55*0.5=5.275
4.56 1.25=5.81*0.5=2.905
2) 32 0.8=32.8*0.5=16.4
17.1 0.8=17.09*0.5=8.95
9.3 1.7=11*0.5=5.5
4.56 1.7=6.25*0.5=3.13
3) 16 0.4=16.4
8.55 0.4=8.95
2.3 0.56=2.86
4.65 0.56=5.21
11.02 0.56=11.58

I have drafted and made a bra using the instructions here. It fits quite well except I cannot get the underwires to stay flat against the middle of my chest. I've made several bras trying to remedy this problem but just cannot seem to fix it no matter what I do. The only solution I can see is to make cups that are shaped like torpedoes and then I'd lose any kind of support. I am a US 36k. Should I give up on underwires and switch to soft bras? I like to wear low necklines and most of the soft bras I've encountered gave me uniboob and would rise too high to stay under clothing.
Any tips? This has almost become an obsession for me lol. I've spent hours trying to figure out what to do.

Hi ceciled,
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, as usual I have 100 and 1 things on the go.
I have been meaning to cover this subject in an article for ages, as it is a fitting issue that the industry is still falling to address.
Yes, the old usual solution to a bra not sitting on the chest at centre front was to go up a cup size BUT women’s breasts are getting bigger and the shape is changing from a conical to a more rounded spheroid form. The industries main problem is that when they increase the cup size / volume the wire size also goes up, so the cup contains the volume of the breast but the underwire do’s not sit in the breast root to give support.
Believe it or not you were thinking along the right lines when you talked about “The only solution I can see is to make cups that are shaped like torpedoes” it’s not a torpedo shape but a spherical shape cup that has a perimeter equal to a correct breast root fitting underwire, but the spheroid must be “asymmetri cally” shape.

To nilanga,
“why wire pull out to 1.5 what reason is”
We pull out (spring) the wires so that the wire will fit against the breast root, the point at which the breast joins the chest. When the bra is worn, the “pull” from the stretch wings should pull open the wire and hold it to the breast root. So we draft the bra pattern with the wire pulled out by 1.5cm, except when we are going to use stretch fabrics for the “cradle” of the bra.
Have a look at the article on bra theory “It’s all done with levers and fulcrums”.

Corset Hugs.

Hey there Mark... I am at the "trace your breast root onto paper" step, and am wondering how I get the curve correct on Coreldraw...
Hi Rachel,
First you need to scan the breast root trace into Corel, in Corel use menu “File” – “Acquire image” – “Acquire”, this will open up your scanner. Scan and a pic of the trace will appear on the cad page.
Now go to the “Freehand tool” (the “pencil” drawing tool) and click on the small black triangle next to the tool in the corner, a set of drawing tools will fly out. Select the “3 point curve tool” and use this tool to draw a curve on the trace pic and the “Shape tool” (node tool) to shape the curve to the trace. See CAD article for reshaping a curve (adjusting the hems of the corset).
You can do the same thing with a scan of a bra underwire.

I will send details to your corset website e-mail address and I will try to put up another article on basic CAD / Paper drafting soon for all.

Corset Hugs

me gustaria entrar en la pagina.
Hello Mark,
Thanks for the great article - it's a really solid base for my new lingerie range. I'm interested in grading and understand the concept overall, however you spoke about making wings smaller but cradle and cups bigger if going up cup size but not band size. How much should the wings decrease in this situation? Also, as cup sizes are similar from 10B to 12A, would 10B wings correspond with 8A wings perhaps? Thanks heaps,

Hi Emilie,
Do you have an e-mail address I could use as the comments section only allows short messages, so there is not enough space to answer your questions.
To answer your question on wings “would 10B wings correspond with 8A wings perhaps?” No, a wing is unique to a particular size; it is only cups that are cross-gradable.
Corset Hugs

Hi Mark,
I did not see mention of fabric grain in the bra making articles.
I also wonder about roll pinning when making a lined corset. I roll pin when I interline, but how to compensate for smaller size of lining, in a two-layer corset.

Kristina lemay
I can't seem to get my 3 arcs to line up on step 4 ....there us always a triangle shaped space in the center....what am I doing wrong
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Hi stefni,
I have posted on the forum pages an Excel spreadsheet and a word document of the cup size shift grading measurements. You should be able to open the files and use the ZOOM settings under VIEW to see the numbers. Hope this helps
Corset Hugs

When grading the cups size how is one to know what size they are if they are numbered rather the traditional method. Is cup size 1 an 'A' cup? I would like to draft a 32 A bra so which measurements should I use?
Hi Gradus,
A 32A cup is approximately equal to the size 2 cup, but it is best if you can take an overbreast measurement to get the cup size right. To do the cradle / wing draft you will also need the back measurement from breast root at one side, around the back to the breast root on the other side. I use a numbered cup system because we have many international readers and retail bra sizing is different in different countries.
Hope this helps.
Corset Hugs

Hi Mark,

I have come across many a bra pattern drafting formula in my time but this one is the best by far. I love the way you explain things in a clear way and how to draw around a sprung wire: none of the other books I have explain that at all, they just took it as red that the reader knew what this means. Thank you. I shall attack bra making with fresh insight.

Hi Mark, you did a wonderful job! Thank you!
I have a question for you. I am a pattern maker and when I was at school I met a lingerie teacher who gave me some instruction on how to make a bra even though I was attending a different course. I remember she told me that the cup should be eased in the craddle in order to give the finished cup a more rounded line and a less pointed dart ( the ease was created by reducing the dart). In your instructions you say the to adjust the measurement of the in order to mach with the measurement of the craddle. What do you think about it?
many thanks

Hi Ivan.
The idea of cup being eased in the cradle in order to give the finished cup a more rounded line and a less pointed dart in the same way you would ease the head of an sleeve into the armhole of a jacket comes from soft lingerie such as bra topped petticoats and cami-knickers, were the cups are more of a covering than a support.
A “styling trick” along similar lines you could try is to first make inner lining cups as per the articles then cut out the outer cups with on darting. Measure the width of the pattern dart(s) and divide the measurement by say 5 or 6. Mark the steps around the bottom edge of the cups to give you the position of small “pin tucks” or “pleats” radiating from the point of bust. Think “sun ray” pleated circle skirt or fan and you are on to a fashion winner. It makes such a pretty and interesting bra in that really expensive printed silk but the small pin tucks are the devils own work to get even.
corset hugs

Teresa Ayerra Ballesteros
I want to be subscripted to read your fabulous blog. Thanks a lot
Moon Nguyen
Hi Mark,
It is so great of your drafing bra pattern. However, would you please explain me a bit about the measurement you have from step 1 to step 5. Where did you got those measurement and what were they stand for?
As my understanding, at step 1 you put 12.85cm which mean for dart opening. So what is 8.72cm will be stand for? and how I can get this number on the body?
In step 2, step 3,4... other measuments that I also could not understand where did you got them.
In case I have a spec that provide below measurment points, Can I create a pattern according to your instruction?
Cup height
Neck line
underwire casing length.

I hope I will received your advice soon. Very much appreciated your teaching with many thanks.
Moon nguyen

Hi Moon nguyen,
The measurements for drafting the basic darted cup came from a cup I drafted many years ago and are based on the UK industry standard core size 34”B bra cup. The core size UK 34”B cup has a sizing / shape of 100mm from breast root at the side to point of bust, 90mm from breast root at centre front to point of bust and 85mm from breast root underbust to point of bust. So the cup shape is drafted to incorporate this sizing / breast volume and to give “fashionab le” shaping to the breasts.


Hi Mark,

First of all thank you for the wonderful article. I like to know, when you were drafting size 34B, how did you calculate the bust dart measurement which is 12.85? You chart is very helpful to draft any other sizes. Is there a method to calculate the dart opening for other sizes?

Please help me to sort this out.

Can you please advise any valuable books I can purchase.

Thank you so much

Hi tania,
Sorry for the delay in replying, as usual to many projects on the go.
The size of the dart in the single dart bra cup is not set by a measurement but by an angle. In the case of my bra cup block this is 95 degrees. Although research published in the book mentioned below on cup drafting shapes suggests an angle of 91 degrees.
“Innovatio n and technology of women’s intimate apparel”
Edited by W. Yu Due
Woodhead Publishing ISBN-978-1-84569-046-5
This book is very very expensive (£130) but it takes bra pattern drafting ideas from several other books.
Interestingly as we are basically dealing with a “lopsided” cone with the single dart bra cup the maximum volume of the cone derived from any starting circle is obtained when the cut out pie wedge / dart is 66 degrees and the maths that shows this is very complex! But having a bra cup with a 66 degrees dart will tend to give you a non-fashion shaped bra.
Corset Hugs

Hi Mark,

Thank you so much for the reply!!!! I am very grateful for you.

Best rgds,

Which parts, if any, would you modify, if you wanted to draft a band pattern using a plunge wire
Hi thatgirl,
Have you had a chance to look at the bra article titled “the cowboy bra”?
I go through making a plunge wire bra, although the style of bra is called “on cup underwired” it can be simply adapted for a cradle / bridge style.
Let me know if this is the sort of thing you had in mind.
Corset Hugs

Hi thatgirl again,
sorry its been renamed "Push Up and Sling Bras"
Corset Hugs again

Used to do landscape drawings am so glad I kept all my rulers Flexi curve and French curves. Should have kept my drafting table. This all looks so wonderful maybe I'll finally find the right fit. Thank you.
I like it. Its so simple and understandable.
This looks like a good tutorial. But as I am one of those who doesn't want underwire, is there a way to do this without it? Could it all be cut and sewn identically, just without putting in the wire?
I am a little confused about the sizing. The first measurement is the bust measurement, while the next two are above and below, right? In that case, the numbers don't seem to make sense. My bust measurement is about 80.4 cm, which is not listed here. And the math for grading confuses me. What do I do?
Please disregard my previous comment. I just figured out what was wrong; I was misunderstandin g what the measurements were for, and not paying attention. Silly me. :p Great tutorial, I look forward to making myself a bra that fits.
SO interesting to see the pattern come to life from the measurements. Thank you for teaching me the specifics of making my own custom bra!
Rita K. Hanson
Hi Mark,

I have enjoyed reading your well explained pages on bra construction and hope to start making my own bras very soon. One problem I have run into when buying a new bra is lack of variation in the bridge width, which also affects placement of the cradle/cup, and wing. Until now, I had no idea what made different styles of bras fit well, or not at all!

I came across this web page


which explains the variations in breast placement on a womans body and realized this is why I had such dificulty finding a well fitting bra.

As you can see from the pictoral guides, all womens breasts are not equidistant from the sternum! Since I have wide set, splayed breasts, most bras were ill-fitting.

What is the best way to measure this and transfer it to a drawing when drafting a bra pattern and constructing a bra?

Rita H.

posting for Mark:
Hi Guest,
Yes we are all thankfully different but in my unreal world of the intimate apparel industry we love to standardise, why make a hundred bra sizes that will fit everyone when we can make only ten bra sizes that fit most people. So for the bra drafting articles I have used the standard measurements of 2.4cm bridge width for standard fit bras and 3.6cm width for “Plus” size bras. Changing the bridge width for your particular size will not affect the bra pattern draft. As you know from the article underwires in a bra must sit in the breast roots so if you take two underwires of your size and hold them in the correct position against yourself then you can measure the distance between the ends of the underwires at centre front and use this measurement for your bra bridge width, half the measurement for the pattern draft. Try to use full depth underwires, the type that is in a strapless bra.

Corset Hugs

Hi Guest,
Yes we are all thankfully different but in my unreal world of the intimate apparel industry we love to standardise, why make a hundred bra sizes that will fit everyone when we can make only ten bra sizes that fit most people. So for the bra drafting articles I have used the standard measurements of 2.4cm bridge width for standard fit bras and 3.6cm width for “Plus” size bras. Changing the bridge width for your particular size will not affect the bra pattern draft. As you know from the article underwires in a bra must sit in the breast roots so if you take two underwires of your size and hold them in the correct position against yourself then you can measure the distance between the ends of the underwires at centre front and use this measurement for your bra bridge width, half the measurement for the pattern draft. Try to use full depth underwires, the type that is in a strapless bra.

Corset Hugs

Hello, Thank you for this tutorial. I am trying to use it to draft my band and I'm stumped. The 17.1% and 9.3% do not cross ! I have double checked all my measurements and I can't figure out why. Could it be because I have large cups and a comparatively thin ribcage ? Or maybe the wires I am using are almost symmetrical so my curve is much less tilted than yours.
I love the way you took the time to explain how to draft a bra pattern,keep up the good work.How will I draft a bra from someone's measurement I took:bust-36,nipple to nipple-8.3 sidebust arc-12,underbust arc-15.I took the measurements in inches,thanks.
Hi! Thanks for such a great tutorial! I'm a little confused in step 7. Where exactly is the overbust measurement taken? If it's around the torso at the fullest part of the bust, I'm way off the chart at 110.49cm. I have a feeling that's not what you mean. Can you clarify where to take that measurement.
So, the tester bra I made using your method was the very best ever, so thank you!!

That said, I am wondering about the original numbers for cup size 4. Where does the 12.85cm long spread come from? Why the 8.72cm bottom cup depth? What if one needs a bigger spread and a shorter BCD for the same cross-cup measurement? How does that alter the cup? I can drape it and get an accurate cup, but I am very curious about the underlying math since consistency has been an issue for me.

Thank you!


Thank you, but, help! I've drafted a fantastic band and finally have the right cup volume. But, the issue I'm having is that my wires are riding down. My back measurement is 46cm and my cup size is an 11. I've been using a 44 vertical wire and the 42 Omega--vertical and longer than a regular vertical wire actually fits the wire line much better--I really need the height to get proper lift. I have a set of fitting wires--bigger wires haven't helped. Is it that the weight of the breast is pushing the wires down? And would that be addressed by using a stronger band fabric (I've been using power net). Also, I've been using a transparent silk for the cups so I can see better who the breast is sitting in them--so would a sturdier cup fabric help?

Thank you!


It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of info. I’m happy that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

hi, thanks fotr this interessant tutorial..... I have a problem with step 5, to draw the curved lines....... how do you kno which curve you have to follow ? If you have only a 2 or 3 points... their are many curves who can fit ? How you draw this ? Can anyone help me with this ?
Thanks for this interesting tutorial. I m looking forward to make my own bra but I don't understand step 5 to draw the curved lines.... How do you know how convex the lines should be ? Can anyone help me wit this ???

Stephen McWilliams
How can I obtain material to make a shaping bra?
Hello! Where can l find the pattern for printing?please. PDF or I must buy something?
Foundations Revealed
Hello Lis,

There is not pattern for the bra as the article series contains all the instructions to draft one yourself.

Thank you so much for making this very detailed tutorial, I've been searching for something like this for a long time. Thank you once again.
Thank you very much for this detailed explanation. I have a question which is a bit off topic! I am looking to make a bra as I am super sensitive to polyester and other man made fibres and have issues also with elastic and it is almost impossible to find anything made of cotton in my size (30F). I was wondering if you have any ideas on whether it is possible to avoid elastic and still get support using a bra or whether one would have to go more in a corset direction? Many thanks for any advice!
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