If you have trouble finding a ready-to-wear underwired bra that fits, you might be inclined to join the growing number of women who are choosing NOT to wear wires. They have chosen Wireless Freedom. But do you know WHY you find wires uncomfortable or even painful? The answer may surprise you. You may, in fact, be in the one-quarter of the population that has what is known as a low-contour breast. Here are things every low-contour breast owner should know, so you can make intelligent choices when bra shopping. Better yet, consider making your own with a few modifications to make the fit uniquely yours.

Low-contour breast owners are women, who, if they choose a bra with a wire that fits them, there is always empty space in the front of the cup. Conversely, if they get a cup that fits, then the wire is really too small and sits on the breast tissue. This is uncomfortable at best and could be a serious health concern at its worst. The same principles will apply to women who have had a certain method of breast reduction surgery. And by that, I mean that the breast was “lopped off at the top” so to speak, rather than the more time-consuming method of decreasing the diameter of the breast along with the projection. In both cases, the root of the breast is a larger diameter than the “standard” root size for that bra size. The “standard” breast is the dotted line below.

Low-contour breast owners will benefit from making the bra cup conform to their breast shape. To make your own low-contour bra, adjust the lower cup pattern piece by pinning out the excess on the bra and marking where the amount to be removed. Pay more attention to getting the fit of the lower cup. Once you have that shape, transfer the marks back to the pattern. It should look like the drawing below, more or less. You are shortening the apex area of the lower cup.  This is the same alteration (almost) as “rounding the crown”, although making a low contour cup is more pronounced. On the lower cup at the apex notch, you might remove up to 1/2″ (12 mm) and taper the line back to zero at each end.

Once the lower cup is done, you need to make sure the cross cup seam line on the upper cup is the same length as the lower cup. Measure along the cross cup seam at the sewing line (not the cutting line) and adjust the length of the upper cup by in one of two ways. You can remove the crown of the upper cup by flattening it as shown, then measure it against the lower cup. You would do this if the cross cup seam has a fairly deep curve. The second method you might use if the amount you need to remove is not that much or the cup depth is already fairly flat.



But what if you cannot sew your own bra?  Does ready-to-wear (RTW) offer anything for these women? The answer is yes. The low-contour breast is best in a minimizer bra. Before you argue that the low-contour breast is not projected enough to warrant a minimizer bra, think about what a minimizer bra does. The minimizer bra encourages a projected breast to project less, by reducing the projection and moving the excess breast tissue from the front of the cup to the sides and the lower part of the cup. This re-shaping gives a flatter appearance to the breast, which is great if you can’t keep your shirt front from gapping. But this shaping also perfectly mimics the shape of the low-contour breast. The minimizer bra will actually fit better than a “regular” bra.

10 replies
  1. Kristi
    Kristi says:

    Thanks so much for talking about this! The struggle is real with reduced projection! But, this is why we sew!! I’m still working on fitting patterns to my wide root/base reduced projection, but every muslin gets me closer now that I know what the issue is!

    I measure into 34D-DDD (depending on pattern) and JUST found my ideal wire is a 42. That made ALL the difference in comfort!!!

  2. Carolyn Zintel
    Carolyn Zintel says:

    So glad you are talking about this! Yes, I am a low-contour breast owner and RTW bras are so uncomfortable. After exploring this, I found I’m a DDD on the circumference and my real wire size is a short #44, but an A cup on projection! Here’s a tip: I took my RTW bras and removed the wires and replaced them with #44’s that were shortened. Now I am comfortable!

  3. moniquedoiron
    moniquedoiron says:

    can I change the cups of Shelley because it’s too “pointy” for me?
    I am beginner in bra-maker and I try the shelley bra. My problem with wires is low contour.
    I am very happy you understand why the RTW bra is a torture for me. ahhhh!
    Thank you for your good teaching.
    I am a french teacher retired now and I can mesure that you have a VERY GOOD teacher.

    • Beverly Johnson
      Beverly Johnson says:

      Yes you can! You can round the crown on the Shelley like you do on the Classic. Just put the two parts of the lower cup together as if they were one piece. Round the crown, then make the length of the upper cup match in length.

  4. Anne
    Anne says:

    Thank you… I’ve never seen this subject addressed. I have been struggling with this for a long time. Usually the reverse situation is addressed. Love your products and patterns!

  5. Iva
    Iva says:

    Thank you for the post! In making the Sweet Sixteen bralette I discovered that I am A in the upper cup and G width at the root -is there a minimizer bra on the market made for such a disparity?


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