In my bra-making classes, I always have women who do not want to use wires in their bras. Yet they want to wear wires because they believe that only a wired bra can give support to their breasts. Can a wire-free bra be as supportive as a wired bra? Can a wire-free bra be uplifting?

Women cite a number of reasons for not wanting to wear underwires:

  • they are allergic to the metal of the wires
  • they have a sensitivity to the pressure of wires against their rib cage
  • the wires dig in against breast tissue on the side
  • the wires press against a protruding rib at the base of the breast
  • the wires rub on a surgical scar
  • they’ve been told not to wear wires as “they cause cancer”
  • they take too much time to sew in
  • they always pop out of the casing, so why bother?

While I can give some healthy debate on all of the above reasons, wearing wires is always a personal choice. It is not for me, or anyone to tell you to wear, or not wear, wires. Thankfully, there is not wire police!

But can you make a wire-free bra uplifting? In other words, can you make a wire-free bra with the support that traditionally has been reserved exclusively for wired bras? The truth may shock you. YES, it is possible. As sewists, we CAN make a wire-free bra with support. Let me show you some examples.

Here is a model wearing her favourite bra, a red Shelley. She feels good in this bra and uplifted.

I have marked lines at the arm crease so we have a reference for all the photos that follow. The lower line is the height of the apex.

Then she made a Ruby, and true to her nature, she used wires in it. You can see that the Ruby has a different shape (lower in the front, too) but still uplifted.

Then she tried a bralette – by definition, a bralette has no wires. Without wires, the look is not exactly the same as you get with a wired bra. The wires actually hold the breast tissue into a circular shape, and that containment has the appearance of supporting the breast and lifting it up. You can see that the breast has not as much projection as in the wired bra and the breast is pushed out more to the sides. This is quite common with a bralette. there is not as much uplift in the bralette, even though it is lined with sheer cup lining.

I have been working on the Sweet Sixteen bralette to improve its look and lift. Here is version 2 of the bralette. This one is sheer cup lining with stretch lace over top. definitely uplift and more projection!

Finally, we tried the Ingrid, a non-wired bra. The Ingrid provided the containment of the wires (thanks to the power bar built-in on the sides, and the front panel). With the support panels on the sides and front and the duoplex and wide elastic on the bottom, the breast is surrounded by supportive fabrics.

Can a wire-free bra be uplifting? Yes, it certainly can! But there are secrets to making it work. Supportive fabrics are one of the secrets to a supportive bra  (no kidding!) The other really important elements to a supportive non-wired bra, I’ll save for my post next week, when I show you how to convert a wired bra to a non-wired one *HINT – it’s not just removing the wire!

10 replies
  1. Christine
    Christine says:

    I love the sweet 16 V2.
    My question is with the edge of the cup/frame on this pattern. In the photos above it looks like where the wireline sits on the wired bras is where the seam on the bralette frame/cup should sit?

  2. Laura yates
    Laura yates says:

    I’m looking for someone to make me a bra. I have paid fortunes over the years and also had many years of discomfort. Can anybody help please. Laura

    • Beverly Johnson
      Beverly Johnson says:

      If you go on the Facebook page “Find a custom bra-maker” there are lots of bra-makers who could help in your own area. Just post where you are and what you are looking for and someone will message you.

  3. Phyllis Shipman
    Phyllis Shipman says:

    Loved this article. So inspired that I signed up for the five day bra class in July. Loved the idea of a cotton bra cup. I will have to purchase the Ingrid bra pattern and give it a try. Very humid and hot in central Virginia.

  4. Roni
    Roni says:

    Hi Beverly,

    Can you please explain what changes were made between bralette version 1 and 2? I recently bought the bralette pattern (version 1, before knowing there was a version 2) and I’d like to get the “lift” effect in the second set of images. What modifications need to be made in order to get that lift?


  5. LinB
    LinB says:

    I’ve made the cups of my Ingrids with plain old cotton broadcloth. They are my most-supportive and most uplifting undergarments of all … I doubled their power by lining them with self-fabric. Still use power net on the back bands, because you just have to, to be able to breathe. I like having novelty-prints for the cups, too. Your very clear instructions about how the Direction of Grain for each piece means that I can rely on that bra to hold me high and tight all day long, with very little need to re-adjust my bosom within the cups.

    This is the closest I have been able to come to the bras of my youth (1960s-early 70s), which were all-woven cotton in the front … so cool and comfortable in the miasmic climate of central North Carolina, USA.


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