Einstein and Bra Fitting

Einstein and Bra Fitting

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."  -Albert Einstein

And so it is in the world of bra making.  Fitting is by far the most difficult aspect of the bra making journey.  This is partly because in our effort to make it simple, we have made it a bit too simple.  We expect to be able to take 2 or 3 measurements, plug them into a formula, and come up with a size.  However, most of the time we are disappointed when we make or purchase a bra in the calculated size and it doesn't work.

The Myth of Measurements

*warning, this section involves math!

I'm a total, self-confessed nerd.  I love math.  So let's look at this measurement thing through the geek lens.  

To calculate a bra size there are a few different formulas, but they basically all do the same thing.  You take 2 or 3 circumference measurements of your cylinder-ish shape, otherwise known as your torso and boobs.  These are linear, one-dimensional measurements.  From these, you calculate a band size, either with the actual measurement or by adding some inches.  This makes sense, because a band length is also a linear, one-dimensional amount.  

But then there is the cup size.  This is a volume, a three-dimensional measurement.  Somehow, you take the difference between two linear measurements (the circumferences at fullest bust and either above or below the bust) and "calculate" a "volume" that is labeled with a letter - cup size is not even numerical!!!  Mathematically, it is impossible to calculate a volume using the difference between two linear measurements.  Impossible.

Additionally, those circumference measurements don't tell you anything about distribution.  You can't tell by looking at the number 39 if those 39" are mostly from a broad back or huge boobs or not even accurate because you measured wearing a sports bra!

Don't Make It Simpler

Take your measurements.  Calculate your size.  But please don't stop there.  That is just too simple in the world of fitting a bra.  Look at your body.  Really look at it.  Where did those inches come from? (and no, last night's lasagna is not the answer we are looking for!)

The video below gives you a bit of guidance of what to look for as you gaze at your bosom in the mirror.  The four areas of fit are what I analyze every time I make a bra for someone.  Now, take a deep breathe and trust me that a great fitting bra is totally worth the effort!  I'm sure Einstein would agree!

  • Nova says...

    Love your products. Have made some bras that you convinced me at sew expo the underwrites would be comfortable. On my second bra a made next size larger cup thinking this might eliminate the right side cup under wire digs into my underarm Do you have any ideas how to remedy this problem . Thanks for your great website and sharing of information.

    On Apr 19, 2017

  • Fern Wilcox says...

    Hello Monica,
    I am making one of your swim suits #2. There are very clear instructions for making adjustments to the front of the suit, but no mention of the alterations for the bandeau with cups or without cups. Is there a need to do adjustments if you are a d cup or better?
    Thanks

    On Mar 26, 2017

  • Ann Florie says...

    Thank you so much Monica, all the info I have found both on your site and in your dvd has been a great help to me, There is much to learn,and you have been a Great source for me ,Thanks Again Ann

    On Nov 15, 2016

  • Tracy Revalee says...

    Thanks for sharing your self-described nerdy skills to this field. I’m looking forward to a nice bra wardrobe 13 years after a bilateral mastectomy for cancer! I wish I’d found Brava Bella earlier because it looks like my sewing skills could have made the transition from the Rockies to the Appalachians much easier. I got the same breast volume from the implant but the shape is completely different

    Just watched all your Youtube vids…very enlightening. I had made one lounge-type bra from the Collette pattern “Florence” and then invested in the Beverly Johnson Craftsy class and her bra-making supplies along with “Shelley” bra pattern. Until I finish those projects I won’t be able to afford your products :( but I’ll be back.

    I think your teaching will help ensure a better outcome on my next Florence I’ll pay attention to using a smaller frame and cup size within the diameter of the pattern.

    Thanks again.

    On Nov 09, 2016

  • Erlyne E says...

    My question has to do with front closures. Arthritis has made it difficult for me to put on a back closing bra, even fastening it in front and rotating to the back is painful. I’m an A cup, according to the measurements I learned from the webinar, 36" band length, 5 3/8 " breast root measurement. Nor do they come anywhere near each other! I’m thinking there is an adaption that places the front closure between my breasts but am not sure how to go about it. Am I just wishful thinking or is it possible?

    On Jun 21, 2016

  • Sumiyyah A. Rasheed says...

    Very helpful video. Confirmed my assumptions about cups. Thx.

    On Nov 14, 2015

  • Kelley says...

    Thanks for this! It triggered a big “a-ha!” moment for me – I’m a very novice bra-maker (as in … two bras), and my most recent make felt like the cups were too small. I couldn’t really figure out why it felt wrong, because my boobs weren’t spilling out anywhere. But this video helped me realize that I need a narrower frame and larger cup to actually fit properly!

    On Oct 16, 2015

  • Marie says...

    Monica, you are the QUEEN of fitting! The fitting video on your website is clear and understandable for a beginner, and enjoyable and worthwhile for a veteran bra-sewer like me (about 15 years). I recently sewed the Bravo and got an excellent cup fit on the 1st try – just have to lower the strap attachment on my next sew. I have used many other patterns from Europe and Canada. The Canadian patterns have a less than perfect fit after 7 versions. The Bravo is both comfortable AND supportive on the first try, without having straps located too far toward the shoulders, where they slip and cause pain. I look forward to making more. I have written to Craftsy and asked them to add you to their classes – I do hope they listen!

    On May 06, 2015

  • Marie says...

    Monica, you are the QUEEN of fitting! The fitting video on your website is clear and understandable for a beginner, and enjoyable and worthwhile for a veteran bra-sewer like me (about 15 years). I recently sewed the Bravo and got an excellent cup fit on the 1st try – just have to lower the strap attachment on my next sew. I have used many other patterns from Europe and Canada. The Canadian patterns have a less than perfect fit after 7 versions. The Bravo is both comfortable AND supportive on the first try, without having straps located too far toward the shoulders, where they slip and cause pain. I look forward to making more. I have written to Craftsy and asked them to add you to their classes – I do hope they listen!

    On May 06, 2015

  • Carrie says...

    I attended your class at the sewing expo in Puyallup, WA. I would love to attend one of your sewing classes; however, living in the state of Washington makes that a little difficult. I have an idea…what about offering a webinar? Most small- to medium-sized organizations use an external service that specializes in running webinars, such as WebEx, GoToWebinar and AnyMeeting. Or offer a class on www.craftsy.com. I’m sure your class on Craftsy will be very popular.

    On Apr 20, 2015

  • Ann Montague-Smith says...

    Very helpful, thank you. I’m about to go on a bra making weekend here in UK as, following a double Goldilocks mastectomy, bras just don’t fit! I’ve gone from a 40HH to a 42A, and I think the teacher will have fun fitting me. She’s promised it’s possible.

    On Apr 11, 2015

  • vabookworm says...

    I liked the explanations of frame diameter — it might explain why some RTW bras fit me differently than others. If you have a chance to add some drawings to the video, that might be helpful.

    On Apr 10, 2015

  • Vonnie Anderson says...

    Very helpful video!

    On Apr 10, 2015

  • Ani says...

    <3

    On Apr 10, 2015

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