Dance Bra: Pattern Made vs. Modding

Winged-Scarab

New member
I have searched the internet on various dance top/bra tutorials and patterns and I still find myself indecisive, which brought upon the thought of pros and cons of both methods. Modding an existing bra can be just as time consuming as making a costume bra from scratch. However, there is more room for creative flexibility in making one as opposed to working with what there is in an existing one. I have made other various costume pieces in the past, but I have yet to tackle a top. So I ask you guys which method do you prefer when making a dance costume? Are there any good sewing patterns you would recommend I try? Are there any good base bras you recommend for modding?
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
For cabaret, I prefer to start with a bra that fits well and has sturdy enough cups to stand up to being decorated. Hate building bras from scratch though there are some good tutorials out there on regular sewing sites.
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Here's a male's perspective. I've been involved with BD long enough that I know more about bras than any guy has any business knowing. Basically what Shanazel said. Unless you're a bra making champ, you do NOT want to try to make one. Getting one that fits right is hard enough without trying to make it from scratch. The #1 dressing room conversation among Belly Dancers are bras that don't fit!

One of my teachers had a discussion with the entire troupe I was in about bras and fitment. She said that some very high percentage of women are NOT wearing the correct size and if you haven't been fitted at Soma or another high end lingerie store within the last 5 years, your bra size is going to be wrong with a 95% probability. The result of this discussion was that the entire troupe (sans me!) went to Soma to be fitted. One gal was OK, the rest (4) were all "off", and of those 2 of them were WAAAY off - including my wife!

And of course, there's the "change brands, change size" conundrum, the "different day of month, different size" fiasco, and the "two sides different" confusion. I've long ago come to the conclusion that you just can't win with the darn things - something my wife agrees with me about! We've all been gathered around the dance sister who is trying on a new costume. She's lovely in it, the color is perfect, it was made for her - but the bra doesn't fit of course. After 30 minutes of "shorten this, lengthen that", "cross the straps, uncross the straps", and many other suggestions the darn thing still doesn't fit because none of the well meaning suggestions work!

The aggravation of having to make my own tops because nobody makes male costumes is offset by not having to deal with bras! :D
 

Winged-Scarab

New member
Ariadne said:
Well the first question would be what style of BD are you costuming for?
Somewhere between Fusion and American Cabaret. I want to make a top to match my satin pants I made a few months back. If I like how my bra turns out, I may make a panel to go with the pants.


Shanazel said:
For cabaret, I prefer to start with a bra that fits well and has sturdy enough cups to stand up to being decorated. Hate building bras from scratch though there are some good tutorials out there on regular sewing sites.
I did try doing one from scratch using salvaged pieces of bras that I had laying around, but I only got as far as getting really sturdy cups made. I'll probably have to go to a department store or something to find a good base bra.

Zorba said:
Here's a male's perspective. I've been involved with BD long enough that I know more about bras than any guy has any business knowing. Basically what Shanazel said. Unless you're a bra making champ, you do NOT want to try to make one. Getting one that fits right is hard enough without trying to make it from scratch. The #1 dressing room conversation among Belly Dancers are bras that don't fit!

One of my teachers had a discussion with the entire troupe I was in about bras and fitment. She said that some very high percentage of women are NOT wearing the correct size and if you haven't been fitted at Soma or another high end lingerie store within the last 5 years, your bra size is going to be wrong with a 95% probability. The result of this discussion was that the entire troupe (sans me!) went to Soma to be fitted. One gal was OK, the rest (4) were all "off", and of those 2 of them were WAAAY off - including my wife!

And of course, there's the "change brands, change size" conundrum, the "different day of month, different size" fiasco, and the "two sides different" confusion. I've long ago come to the conclusion that you just can't win with the darn things - something my wife agrees with me about! We've all been gathered around the dance sister who is trying on a new costume. She's lovely in it, the color is perfect, it was made for her - but the bra doesn't fit of course. After 30 minutes of "shorten this, lengthen that", "cross the straps, uncross the straps", and many other suggestions the darn thing still doesn't fit because none of the well meaning suggestions work!

The aggravation of having to make my own tops because nobody makes male costumes is offset by not having to deal with bras! :D
Oh, yes! The struggle for a fit is real. I don't know of anywhere near me that actually does a serious fitting for bras. I have a fabric measure tape, so I could probably try my hand at measuring for myself? I've perused some patterns and tutorials on making bras from scratch and I agree it is a painstaking process. I am capable of modding, I just wondered if making one from scratch was more rewarding in fit as opposed to modding. I suppose that all depends on how well the one from scratch is made.
 
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Ariadne

Well-known member
Somewhere between Fusion and American Cabaret. I want to make a top to match my satin pants I made a few months back. If I like how my bra turns out, I may make a panel to go with the pants.
Nice pants. If you can make your own and you're comfortable with the results there is no reason not to as long as you aren't planning to bling it out. The more you are planning to put on the bra the more structure you need to support it. When it comes to that kind of weight a sturdy pre-made, formed, bra cup stands up well. (Just avoid anything with air or gel pockets.) If you would still prefer to try making your own and you do want bling you will need either buckram or a another stiff sturdy material for reinforcement. I recall reading a thread on another forum that doesn't exist anymore about someone using a heavyweight denim instead since they couldn't get the buckram. Other then that I'll just stop babbling and leave you with a few links that can help you make up your own mind on what you want to do.

http://www.shushanna.com/costumes.html
http://www.shira.net/costuming/cg/bra-cover.htm
 

Zorba

"The Veiled Male"
Zorba, my dear, I hereby dub you The World's Best Informed Boob Man.
After being in this business for 16 years now, and listening to all the women complaining about the darn things; I guess some of it has rubbed off.
 

Kashmir

New member
I've tried both. Actually my made from scratch bras are better than most I bought from Egypt - but realistically a faster and better result is possible by starting with a firm (not lacy or lingerie type) underwired bra that fits well. If you intend to do lots of beading onto the cup itself then you will need to get a slightly larger cup and continually check fit and shrinkage. I prefer to cut out a covering from something sparkly embellish if need be then stitch that over the cups (taking care not to stuff the stretch).
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Many, many, MANY moons ago when I actually needed professional costumes, I made them myself because 1) it was hard to locate commercial costumes; 2) they were too expensive; and 3) I was capable of making them myself and enjoyed the process thoroughly. Back then, Frederick's of Hollywood kept very fine hard shell evening bras for a reasonable price that lent themselves well to decoration. Just out of curiosity, I checked the online store but couldn't get photos to come up. Hmm. How does a company sell merchandise without a website that features the merchandise?
 

Suzanne Azhaar

New member
Agree with Shanazel. Fit, cost, and creative self expression are important components of costuming. I prefer to buy a well fit, firm bra, with good coverage (try on at least a half dozen) and read all material labels (one hidden gel pack can ruin hours of sewing). Good resources for repurposing bras can be found youtube.

Happy sewing and please post pics when you are done.
 

Shanazel

Super Moderator
Never having worn less than a D cup since I was about eleven, I have never run into a bra with a gel cup but I can see how it would be a problem!
 
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