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Wire shapes

Wire comparison
I’ve completed another bra, which I will share with you when I have my issues with Picasa webalbums solved. There were changes in the interface and now the “insert link” to photos is missing. I’m certainly not computer-illiterate, but this has cost me more than an hour this afternoon and I’ve given up for now.
You won’t see the difference with the above photo though, but I like to organize my photos in specific albums before publishing.
Back to sewing related information: I’ve shared this information in the lingerie sew-along I had in 2009 and thought it might be good to share here, with all the interest in bra sewing now.
What you see is the wire-size page from Beverly Johnson’s book  the bra making manual. These are the most common shapes in wires, not only from her shop. (I’m talking wires for a ‘normal’ bra, not push-up or strapless, they have a different type of wire).
The length I need is the same length as her size 38 wires. But for me this shape is no good at all. I do have a narrow frame and large cup size. When the length is what I need, most wires are too wide, as they will end up too much to my side instead of around my breast. The red line is my wire, the yellow follows the line of the 38 wire on the page. You see there is a considerable difference.
I’m NOT saying that the type of wire I’m using is better in general, it’s better for ME and my shape. If you’re sewing bra’s or interested in starting sewing bra’s the shape of wires is something to consider if you have fitting problems.

ETA: the brand I'm using is Galbline. Online available at Elingeria in Germany. Scroll down to see the information on length/cupsizes. Their price of 1 Euro is great, I pay 1.50 or 1.95 from Dutch stores, (but I don't have to pay for international postage).


  1. Sigrid, thank you for posting this, as this is the issue I have - narrow torso frame, large breasts. In RTW bras that fit in the cup, the UW is all the way back to my underarm area, which is not comfortable, nor offering the correct support.

    I ordered BJ's books yesterday, looking forward to reading them.
    Where do you get your UW in that shape, do you bend a wire to get the needed shape, or are they commercially available?

  2. I second Andrea's question in terms of obtaining the shape that is right for you.

  3. Andrea, Helene, I've updated the post with this information.

  4. Interesting Sigrid. I'm kind of the opposite to you. I need the width of the 38 but not the length. They poke into my underarm. Very painful. I solve this by cutting off probably 3cm from one end then dipping it in some sort of gluggy glue. I am experimenting with different glues to find out which gives the best seal on the end. Any ideas?

  5. Sigrid this is a wonderful post. I totally agree that different shapes work for different people. I order a size 46 extra long from Bra Maker's Supply. It is the say shape and size that is used in my RTW bras. I've discovered so much through trial and error. If you didn't watch my video...the lace arrived and it is absolutely beautiful. I never expect as much either. Your generosity absolutely floors me. Thank your, thank you, thank you!

  6. I have the opposite problem. What I didn't realise for a long time (until I read "patternmaking for underwear design" ) was that the shape of the wire should not match the breast shape exactly...the wires are sprung so that they are pulled wider when you wear the bra (which would exacerbate your problem with wide wires). I didn't know if Beverley's wires were more tightly curved because they had greater tension. When my sister pulled apart her Berlei bras, the wires were much narrower than Beverley's (probably suit you well!). I think one of the reasons I like Oroton bras is because their wires seem wider for cup size.

  7. Sigrid, thank you. A great fitting tip and explanation, it makes perfect sense and is something I can relate to. I also wasn't aware that there are different wires for push-up/strapless bras, so that is helpful to know. Looking forward to seeing your latest bra once Picassa is working again. Your bras are always so inspirational!!

  8. Oh, thank you! I'm not planning on making a bra soon, but this post answered a question that I didn't even know I had! This really explains my (rtw) bra fit issues.

  9. Interesting. I've discovered that I need a medium to wide wire (at least until I get all the migrated tissue back where it goes), even though I'm very narrow across the front and the wires sometimes go too far back. I prefer them going too far back than poking in the side of my boobs though.

  10. Thank you for showing the different widths of the wires, there is so much to learn and I really appreciate your knowledge.

  11. ha! I'm the opposite - I have to bend my wires out at the sides to match my well-fitting RTW example wire! ;)

  12. I have just been examining the issue of wire shapes and sizes last week... I found out that Prym's B wires are shorter and narrower than those I cut from an old A-cup bra and that, indeed shapes vary wildly.
    My local store only sold Prym (at 2,45 euro a pair) and I didn't trust those after having bought those tiny B's. Instead, I bought Zeeman's cheapest bra, at 1,99 euro. That gave me a wire with you prefered shape (which I worried about slightly, but seems to work), and some shoulder strap elastic, sliders and a back closure...

    I was just about to write a post about my recent experience in fitting bras, and I'll definitely link to this one.

  13. I have wires from 6 different sellers--regular sized not strapless or plunge--and they really vary in shape and width. And the splay factor Katherine mentioned affects fit, too, and is something accounted for in RTW drafting. The lighter weight the steel gauge (Galbline are very lightweight) the more they splay and feel wider once on...I find the dynamics of wires so fascinating!

  14. Very interesting. I'd loce to see your cup and cradle alterations compared to the original pattern? Are they big alterations in order to fit the 'new' wire (and you)?


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