Black Beauty Bra View B Sew-Along // Part One: Pattern & Sizing

January 4, 2021

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Hello beautiful bra-sewers! Welcome to the first installment of this Black Beauty Bra View B Sew-Along. My name is Joy Mao—I’m a friend of Ying of Tailor Made Shop, fellow designer, and bra-making beginner. 

In this twelve-part series, I’ll be sharing an in-depth breakdown of how I made a Black Beauty Bra by Emerald Erin, in View B—from how I chose my pattern size to how I sewed each part of the bra. 

The Black Beauty Bra is a classic, medium-coverage balconette underwired bra. The pattern’s range of sizes (UK sizing; Band Sizes 28-40, Cup Sizes B-DD) and approachable construction make it especially accessible to beginners, while its flexibility and customizability offer myriad options for advanced sewers too.

In this Sew-Along, I’ve gathered some helpful resources and pro-tips from Ying along the way, and will be sharing those with each step:

If you’re looking for bra kits that work well with this pattern, check out these Embroidered Tulle Bra Kits from Tailor Made Shop. There’s some more information about the Black Beauty Bra pattern and about me (Joy!) at the end of this post. For now, let’s get to it!

Measure and Determine Your Bra Size:

Before you even download the Black Beauty Bra pattern, you’ll need to determine your bra size. Your ready-to-wear bra size can be totally different than your pattern bra size, and different pattern-makers may also have different approaches to sizing.

Thus, it’s useful to check if the creator of the bra pattern has a sizing guide of their own. Thankfully, there’s a helpful bra-sizing guide from Emerald Erin, which I used to determine my size for her Black Beauty Bra pattern. You can follow Erin’s guide here, or follow along with my example below:

In order to determine your bra size, you’ll need to know your Band Size and Cup Size. 

Using Erin’s guide and my trusty tape measure, I measured around my underbust and determined that my Band Size is 30 inches. (If your underbust measurement is an odd number, round up to the nearest even number). To determine my Cup Size, I measured around the fullest part of my bust, which yielded 34 inches, and subtracted 30” from 34” to get a 4” difference. According to this handy chart from Erin, the 4” difference puts me at a D cup.

From Emerald Erin’s Sizing Guide.

Your Bra Size is simply the combination of your Band Size + Cup Size, so based on my measurements, my Bra Size is 30D.

My first and second iterations of the Black Beauty Bra. The top version is in 30D and the bottom is in 32C.

Important Note on Sizing:

The size you choose for your first sew is a great starting point, but more often than not, you’ll need to make a few adjustments before you arrive at a perfect fit. 

In my case, it actually took 3 tries to get to a well-fitting Black Beauty Bra! My first sew was in size 30D, which fit pretty well in the cups, but felt a bit tight in the band. For my second sew, I decided to try size 32C, which had identical cups but slightly more room in the band and frame.

My third and final sew was actually a combination of pieces from 30D and 32C, with a few additional adjustments to the pattern. This Sew-Along documents my 3rd attempt at the Black Beauty Bra, where I’m using my adjusted version of the 30D + 32C pattern pieces. I’ll be going into more detail about fit and pattern adjustments that I made to the pattern in Part 12 of this series.

Determine Your Underwire Size:

In addition to determining your bra size, you’ll need to know your underwire size. Erin’s guide provides a handy chart for standard underwire sizes based on bra size, but it’s very common for a person’s underwire size to deviate from the standard. 

For example, if you measure 34B, the wire chart may recommend that you use a size 34 wire. If your breast root is narrower, you may need a smaller wire like a 32 or if your breast root is wider, you may need a size 36 wire or even a size 38 wire. The wire chart is just a recommended starting point. 

From Emerald Erin’s Underwire Guide.

In my case, even though the standard underwire size for 30D is 34, I knew from trying a few underwire sizes (by placing them under my breast) that I’d probably need a size 36: 

Later in the series, I’ll cover how I made a small adjustment to my pattern in order to accommodate the slightly larger underwire.

For more on fitting underwires, check out Erin’s underwire guide.

Download the Right Pattern:

The Black Beauty Bra pattern is offered in two sets of size ranges. After you determine your bra size, choose the correct pattern to purchase and download:

Print the Right Pattern Pieces, at the Right Scale:

Your downloaded pattern will include a file with the pattern pieces, and a file with the construction instructions. Within the pattern piece file, locate the View (A or B) that you’d like to make, and the pages that include the pieces for your Bra Size.

Before you print, double check that you’re printing at 100% scale (some printers may default to 102%, or whatever best fits the paper).

After printing, check to make sure you have all six pattern pieces:

  1. Power Bar
  2. Upper Cup
  3. Lower cup
  4. Frame
  5. Outer Cradle
  6. Back Band

You technically only need one of each pattern piece because the pieces are mirrored on left and right sides, but you can certainly print and cut out two of each piece (with the exception of the Outer Cradle) to make things easier during the fabric cutting phase

You can also double check that the pattern printed at the correct size by measuring the scale box on each pattern page with a ruler. If the 1.5” (or 5 cm) square on the pattern matches the 1.5” (or 5 cm) measurement on your ruler, you’re good to go!

See you soon in Part 2: Tools & Materials!

* * * * * *. * * * * * *

About the Black Beauty Bra:

The Black Beauty Bra is a bra pattern created by Emerald Erin (@emeralderensews on Instagram). The pattern’s range of sizes (UK sizing; Band Sizes 28-40, Cup Sizes B-DD) and approachable construction make it especially accessible to beginners, while its flexibility and customizability offer myriad options for advanced sewers too.

The style of the bra is a classic, medium-coverage balconette underwired bra. It includes a basic two-piece horizontal seam cup with an external powerbar/strap designed for extra support and shape. The pattern includes two view options: View A (all-fabric with fold-over elastic finishing and double front strap detail design) and View B (lace version with classic picot elastic finishings). Both views have additional pattern pieces and instructions for an optional foam lining.

The Black Beauty Bra pattern can be purchased for download from the links below, and easily printed on home or office printers.

About Joy:

joy mao is a slow fashion studio creating small batches of thoughtfully-made clothing, accessories, and artwork. The brand centers materials, skill, process, and pleasure in its pursuit of a more sustainable and joyful way of being.

Chinese-American designer Joy Mao holds a BA Fundamentals from the University of Chicago and AAS Fashion Design from the Parsons School of Design. Originally from Shanghai, China, she now lives in New York with her beloved husband, struggling house plants, and Silver Reed SK280 knitting machine named Grace Hopper.

You can visit Joy on joymao.com, or @byjoymao on Instagram.

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