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How to Make Custom-Fit Bras & Lingerie
by Don McCunn

Bra Issues

I have run forums and taught bra making since 2006. During this time I have listened to the issues women have with the design of conventional bras. The result is the concept for a different type of bra based on a suspension structure rather than the cantilever structure of conventional bras. I call this alternate type of bra a Bust Sling Bra. I was pleased by the response of one of my early testers, Becky Hess. One of her first experiments was to wear it for 9 holes of golf. An exercise that requires a lot of upper body movement.

"I made one of the test bra slings. I am happy to report that it is the most comfortable bra I wear. I wear it every chance I get. My girls are on the large side and the bra sling gives me great support, and lift."

The design of this bra address issues such as:

  1. The need for underwires, read more.
  2. Absence of separation between the breasts, read more.
  3. A front opening even with a separating zipper, read more.
  4. Bra strap width, read more.
  5. Options for support of the breasts from the back, read more.
  6. Control of East/West drift at the rib cage and the full bust level, read more.
  7. Options for preventing elastic from rolling under the bust, read more.
  8. Lack of tension, resulting in a longer life for the bra, read more.
  9. Containment of soft tissue, "fluff," around the rib cage, read more.
  10. Inclusion of a bra cup or prosthetic device, read more.
  11. Attractive designs for large breasts, read more.


The conventional bra uses an underwire to hold the bra cup close to the body, particularly at the breast bone. Bra underwires can be problematic because:

  • Incorrect lengths poke the underarm area.
  • The left and right breasts can be different sizes.
  • Some women need an underwire that is flat on the bottom and no commercial underwire is shaped like this.
  • Underwires ultimately poke through the channeling with time.

The Bust Sling Bra eliminates the need for an underwire by using a suspension structure that follows the natural contours of the body.

Separation between Breasts

Some women have no separation between the breasts at the full bust level. This means that the underwires of a conventional bra cannot go high enough to provide adequate control of the breast tissue. The Bust Sling bra only requires the thickness of the fabric to fit between the breasts to provide appropriate support. Moreover, fabric between the breasts absorbs perspiration.

Front Opening

The largest front closure clasp for a conventional bra is 1-3/8", which is inadequate for preventing East/West drift. The Bust Sling Bra removes the tension around the rib cage, allowing for a variety of front closure devices including separating zippers. This is especially convenient for women who find it difficult to manipulate a bra's back closure.

Bra Strap Width

The largest readily available width for bra straps for conventional bras is 3/4". A narrow bra strap can pinch nerves and result in other serious health issues. The width of the strap for Bust Sling Bras can be up to the full width of the shoulder-even wider than that found on back packs. For women whose breasts are smaller or self supporting, the straps on a Bust Sling can be as narrow as 1/8".

The width of the strap for Bust Sling Bras can be up to the full width of the shoulder--even wider than that found on back packs. For women whose breasts are smaller or self supporting, the straps on a Bust Sling can be as small as 1/8".

Support from the Back

Given that the Bust Sling relies on suspension, the support from the back up to the shoulders is important. Like the width of the strap, this will vary with the needs of the individual. For this reason, I show variations for the back that include a halter style around the neck, an "X" back, a racer back, and a hybrid that uses the same kind of band around the rib cage as a conventional bra.

East/West Drift

Large breasts tend to spread to the sides. The Bust Sling uses two means for controlling this East/West drift. The position of the Bust Slings can be adjusted at the rib cage. But additional support can be added to the full bust level using a bridge between the two Bust Slings. This bridge can incorporate a zipper. If desired, the bridge can even be carried above the full bust level.

Rib Cage Elastic

With conventional bras, the elastic band under the bust can roll up and become uncomfortable. For the Bust Sling Bra, you can use elastic of any width, including the wide non-roll elastic used in waistbands. I have even made a dress for my model that uses no elastic at all around the rib cage. This can be an important consideration for women who have scar tissue from surgery

Life Expectancy of the Bra

Many women find a bra only lasts three or four months before the elastic looses it's tension and is unusable. The structure of the Bust Sling is such that it does not depend on tension. As mentioned above, it may even be possible to make a Bust Sling garment with no elastic. This means a Bust Sling Bra should have long life expectancy.

Support for Fluff

Soft tissue around the rib cage is know as "fluff." This is uncomfortable when pinched by a tight band around the rib cage. With the Bust Sling Bra, the support comes over the shoulders, minimizing the tension around the rib cage. In addition, by offering different styles for the back such as the racer back and the hybrid there is an inherent ability to support this fluff in a comfortable way.

Profile Enhancement

The Bust Sling can include a pocket for either one side or both allowing the inclusion of a bra cup for profile enhancement or a prosthetic device.

Styling Concerns

Conventional bras for large breasts are often ugly and institutional looking. Bust Sling Bras can be made with any type of fabric and any type of elastic. The lines can be changed to create different designs as long as the underlying structure is maintained. Furthermore the structure of the Bust Sling can be used to create Empire style tops, dresses, and gowns that do not require an additional undergarment.


Copyright © 2014 by Donald H. McCunn