How to Increase a Bra Band

How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie BlogWith the release of the new size range for the Marlborough bra sewing pattern, I thought it would be a good time to review some bra sewing pattern adjustments. Since I have had requests for larger band sizes, I am going to start with a tutorial on how increase a bra band.

For some background, I draft my bands based on the ideal bra fit that I describe in this post. To provide the best support, my general rule is that you should not be able to get more than two fingers under the band.

Sister Sizing

The good news is that adjusting a bra band is really simple. Let’s start by taking a look at the size range of the DDD to J cup pattern shown below. The recommended wire size is in the far left hand column followed by sister sizes as you read across the table. The sizes in black text are included in the pattern and the grayed out sizes are some of the sister sizes.

“Sister size” is a bra term that means that the cup volume is the same, only the band is different. For example, the 34J, 36I, 38H, 40G and 42DDD all use the size 50 wire, they are sister sizes and all have the same cup volume. The difference between those sizes is in the band.New Marlborough Bra Sewing Pattern Size Range by Orange Lingerie

So let’s talk about how to get those grayed out sizes!

Amount to Add to the Bra Band

To make it super easy for you, the table below tells you what you need to add to the band of the Marlborough DDD to J cup size pattern depending on how many band sizes you want to add.
How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie Blog

Now for the step-by-step pattern changes!

How to Add to the Bra Band

I wanted to make it super easy to add to the bra band for this size range so all you need to do is increase the span of the band. My favorite way to make this adjustment is to find the flattest area of the band, use a slash and spread technique to make the increase then smooth the lines to get your new enlarged band pattern piece. The slash and spread technique means you don’t have to mess with truing up the side seam.

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

  1. Find the flattest point of the band pattern piece and at that point draw a line parallel to the side seam.How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie blog
  2. Cut along the line you drew in Step 2 and spread the band apart by the amount needed.How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie blog
  3. Smooth out the lines of the band (I left I the original lines so you can how this looks).How to Increase a Bra Band on the Orange Lingerie blog

As with all pattern adjustments, I highly recommend making a toile (a.k.a. a muslin) before making your final garment. Remember, it is easier to take away from a band that is too large versus trying to add to a band that is too small!

I have more pattern adjustment posts on the way! If there is anything in particular that you are interested in learning about, let me know in the comments!

9 replies
  1. LisaB
    LisaB says:

    Hi, Norma. In step 1 I think you meant to write that the line should be parallel to the side seam (or perpendicular to the DOGS). The drawing is very clear, but the words don’t match it.

    Congrats on the release of your expanded pattern!

  2. Robin
    Robin says:

    My concern with increasing band size is the cup size is affected. A wider back usually mean a wider front as well.

  3. Carol
    Carol says:

    I have only recently started to be interested in sewing my own bras….but around here, there are no kits available. I do not know what I need to make a bra, and I have no idea what all the stuff looks like. So….can you do an article with a list of “ingredients” with photos of each item, so I can recognise what I am looking at in the shops? That would be very helpful indeed. Thanks for your consideration! ♥♥♥

  4. Jane
    Jane says:

    Hi Norma, I would love to know what adjustments you might make to a bra to help stop straps falling off narrow, sloping shoulders. I have tried using a straight back band and joining the straps very close to the centre, which works to a certain extent, but the scoop back on the Marlborough sits better (um, doesn’t make lumps of back fat to be precise!). If I wanted to adjust where the strap joins the cup, too, I imagine this will probably affect the support/seaming/way it all pulls upwards. My ‘holy grail’ of bras would be one that doesn’t fall off my shoulders but also sits wide enough to allow most normal clothing necklines (not crossover or racerback). I would love it if you could offer any advice for us constant strap-hitchers!

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