Sweet Sixteen Measuring Guide

Measuring for the Sweet Sixteen bralette pattern is a “new” method of measuring to figure out your particular size. But really the Sweet Sixteen measuring Guide is not that new!  I have been using this method of measuring my own patterns since 1996. It uses the Bottom Cup Depth (BCD) and the Cross Cup (CCW) width measurement of the breast itself. These two measurements indicate the size of the breast (some might call it volume) as an individual part of the body. This method works better than using a cup size based on measurements that include your back (which may be wider or narrower than average).

By taking these two measurements, you can easily find your bralette cup size.  The BCD is the most important. This is the distance from the bra bust point straight down to the bra wire line measured on the true vertical. You must wear a reasonably well-fitting bra in order to take this measurement. 
measuring for BCD and CC

The cross cup measurement is taken from the wire line on the outside to the wire line on the inside. If you aren’t wearing wires, the measurement is taken from the seamline on the outside of the breast (not the side seam of the bra) to the seamline of the cup on the inside. Take the measurement across the bust point and try to keep the tape level with the floor. Then use the Sweet Sixteen Measuring Guide chart on the pattern back, or the one here to find your cup size. 

For example, if your BCD is 4.25 and the CC is 9.5, you would use size H cup as shown below in this chart
bralette size chart

Now  that you have your cup size, let’s find the band size to use with it. Simply measure the rib cage (breathe in, then all the way out).
measure for rib cage

Go to the back band pattern piece that corresponds with your rib cage measurement. You can choose any of the 6 band lengths and they will fit any of the 12 cup sizes. Perhaps you are between band sizes (the bands are sized in even numbers, so if you measure 31″ on the rib cage instead of 32″ for example). In that case, I suggest you choose the longer and shorten it after you try it on, as the band is the easiest thing to change. So as you see, I would trace the H cup, shown in pink for my band.

bralette size

How to Lengthen the Bralette band

If you need a band longer than 38″ (96.5 cms), it is a simple matter to lengthen the band after you trace it out. Here’s how: slice the band pattern piece from top to bottom parallel to the Dirction of Greatest Stretch (DoGS). Now draw an “H” on a separate piece of paper. The lines of the vertical are 1″ apart (if you want to make your band 2″ longer, you need 1″ on the pattern piece). Draw the horizontal line roughly level to the DoGS line on the original pattern.

Pull the pieces apart and put a piece of paper underneath, lining up the horizontal line with the DoGS and the vertical with the edges you cut. Lastly connect the top and bottom edges of the pattern pieces by starting at the side seam and drawing a line to the centre back area as shown.
bralette lengthening the back band

 You may notice that there are two different lines at the hook and eye area. The lower line, marked in blue is for a 2 high (called 2 x 3) set of hooks and eyes. The pink one is for the 3 high hooks and eyes (called 3 x 3)
bralette hook and eye

So now you have your Sweet Sixteen Measuring Guide, you can go ahead with confidence. The hardest part is now deciding which of the 16 variations of the Sweet Sixteen you are going to make!

5 replies
  1. Strangely built
    Strangely built says:

    I have a question about measuring in general. I have a band/frame measurement of 38.5″ and a bust measurement of 48″. This indicates a bra size of 38J/38GG depending on location of purchase or origin of pattern. I am currently trying to find a way to but or make my own bras with no success. Even importing seems impossible. Would it be possible that measuring this way could give me a smaller and more obtainable cup size? Any advice you or input would be greatly appreciated.

    • Beverly Johnson
      Beverly Johnson says:

      The measuring guide in this post is only for the bralette…not for any of my other bra patterns. The bralette uses a unique draft to fit as many sizes as possible. The only true way to know is to sew up a sample, even from scraps of fabric and assess the fit.

  2. MrsJP
    MrsJP says:

    I have a question about this measuring system. What do you do if your BCD and CC are for different cups? For instance, I have a BCD of 2.5 inches, but a CC of 6.5 inches. Which cup size do I make?


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