Understanding the Parts of a Bra

Bra making in the sew-at-home DIY crowd has reached an all-time peak. As indie pattern designers offer more patterns and supply shops sell more incredible laces and notions direct to consumers, sewing your own bra has become easier than ever. As accessible as it has become, there are still a lot of elements, details, and pieces to bras, which can feel incredibly intimidating.

Understanding Parts of a Bra

The best place to start is by understanding the parts of a bra you’ll need to construct.

I’ve broken down all the key parts to a bra so you can learn your bridge from your band, hopefully making the notion and fabric gathering a little less confusing.

It is important to note that, just like with any garment, there are hundreds of styles of bras, so not all bras will look just like the one I have drawn for this article. But it’s a good starting point for understanding the lingo involved with bra making. And if you really start to feel overwhelmed, remember that Craftsy has some quality classes on bra making if you feel you would benefit from watching each step done first hand by an expert!

The parts of a bra

1. Hooks

The hooks link into the eyes (16) to close up the bra at the center back. These are most often found in one, two and three rows tall. There’s usually a closed end on one side and an open end on the other, allowing it to slide around the fabric at back of the bra to then be sewn in place.

2. Strap adjustment rings and sliders

Typically placed at the back, though sometimes moved to the front, these join the strap front (14) to the strap back (15) and allow the wearer to adjust the straps to fit their body comfortably.

3. Wing/Band

The wing/band wraps around the torso and provides a snug fit between the cups (6, 7, & 10) and the hooks and eyes (1 & 16). It’s critical that the wing/band be sized correctly and have the right amount of stretch for a proper fit.

4. Frame

The frame is the front of the bra where the cups (6, 7, & 10) are sewn into the bra. Some bras do not have a frame, and it is simply the bridge (8) that connects the cups to the wing/band (3).

5. Apex

The apex is the point where the cups (6, 7, & 10) join the strap front (14). Some bras connect by being sewn together directly, where others are joined with a decorative ring.

6. Upper Cup

The upper cup, the lower cup (7), and the power bar/sling (10) together make up the complete cup. The seams in bra cups can vary a lot, depending on function and style preferences. Some bras have seams in the cup (like I’ve drawn), some have darts and some are molded and seamless. Those with seams have an upper cup. Sometimes this is finished at the neckline (9) with elastic, and other times this portion of the bra is a place to use some decorative detailing like scalloped edge lace. It’s a focal point of the entire bra.

7. Lower Cup

The lower cup is sewn into the upper cup (6) and to the power bar/sling (10) to form the complete cup. This area provides support for the bust and sometimes contains foam for a push-up effect. When the bra has no frame (4), the lower cup and underwire (11) become the lowest portion of the bra.

8. Bridge

The bridge is the center point of the bra between the cups (6, 7, & 10). This part of the bra is often adjusted to be narrower or wider based on the placement of your own bust. It’s key that the span between the cups sit flat on your body and fit between the cups correctly. Often the top of the bridge is adorned by a decorative bow.

9. Neckline

This is the area that is along the front of the bra down your chest. Often it’s finished with elastic, unless the upper cup (6) has a decorative edge, in which case the fabric’s edge would be along the top edge of the upper cup (6) along the neckline.

10. Power Bar/Sling

The power bar/sling is a portion of the cup, along with the upper cup (6) and the lower cup (7). The power bar/sling is a vertical piece on the cup, with the job of providing lift and support to the bust, as it spans the important area between the apex (5) and the underwire (11).

11. Underwire

The underwire is a metal semi-circle positioned at the base of the cups (6, 7, & 10) to provide support and structure for the bra. Fabric sewn at the base of the cup forms a channel that the underwire is fed into. Not all bras have an underwire, but those offering structure most always do.

12. Under Band

The under band is the lowest-most portion of the bra, along the bottom edge of the wing/band (3) and frame (4). This edge, much like the neckline (9), is either finished with elastic or decorative lace.

13. Underarm

This span of the bra, most often finished with elastic, spans the distance between the apex (5) and the strap back (15) and fits snug under the arm on your body.

14. Strap Front

The strap front is the portion of the strap that spans the distance from the apex (5) to the adjustment rings and sliders (2).

15. Strap Back

The strap back is the portion of the strap between the strap adjustment rings and sliders (2), connecting the strap front (14) and the wings/bands (3).

16. Eyes

The eyes link into the hooks (1) to close up the bra at the center back. Just like the hooks, the eyes are commonly available in one, two and three rows tall, and are sewn in the same method.

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