Making a zero waste bra

Last week I shared my bra-making exploits which led to trying to make a zero waste bra pattern.

The prototype got worn this week. The fit was fine and the pattern works – Yay!

Making a zero waste bra

There were some problems to report though: I used an elastic that was too rough next to the skin and I made the underbust/midriff elastic too tight. I think I should have use the type of elastic called plush (or soft touch?).

These things can be fixed (if I spend another week waiting for an online elastic order to arrive) but instead we went on a road trip to the bra shop and bought some RTW. My daughter has been a very good sport with this project and I don’t feel like I can keep pushing it!

So I’m putting the zw bra project aside because I feel like I’ve gone as far with it as I need. It was a success in many ways and I learnt lots of nifty things about bra making from generous sewing friends.

Meanwhile, here’s the pattern, which may be useful to someone reading this. As it’s the prototype, it’s only in one size however, it has the potential to be made bigger. To be honest, it’s not a pattern I see myself developing beyond bras for personal use, mainly because I’m not keen on test-fitting lingerie, or photographing it.

Download the pattern here:

The pattern looks like this:

Zero waste bra pattern, image of

There’s a single page of instructions below. I’m no expert on bra making, so just take this as a guide; you might find a better way. If you’ve made bras before you’re waaay ahead of me!

Instructions for making a zero waste bra
If you’re a slightly bigger size than this pattern, it might still fit; the size partly depends on how stretchy your fabric is and how long you cut the lower edge elastic.

I sewed mine using a stretch needle and mini zig zag stitch on my regular machine (sorry, the instructions show straight stitch – that’s just the illustration style). I didn’t put any elastic along the top edge because it didn’t seem to need it.

Making a bra All the pieces
Here are the pieces cut out and arranged how they’ll be sewn. It’s half a bra; the centre front is at the left of the photo and the centre back is at the right.
Making a bra with a gap in the side seam
The bra is self-lined. There’s a gap in the lining side seam to insert cups.
Making a bra with moulded cups
I harvested these cups from an old bra.
Making a bra finished bra with cups
Here it is with the cups in.
Making a bra back view
The bra does up with an ordinary hook and eye bank. The pattern is made to fit a 3-hook bank but this was all I could get here. Pity they didn’t have red! (It was white or latte.)
This photo shows the centre front horizontal dart in the lining.


UPDATE: I revisited this pattern 18 months later.

UPDATE: here are some ways you can adjust the fit of the bra:


  1. Laurinda on June 29, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    This is very exciting to me, even if I don’t enjoy making a lot of test fits. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    • lizhaywood on June 30, 2021 at 9:39 am

      You’re welcome; I hope you can take the idea further.

  2. Bricolente on June 30, 2021 at 7:18 am

    thank you so much for sharing !

    • lizhaywood on June 30, 2021 at 9:38 am

      You’re welcome 🙂

      • gingernut on September 6, 2022 at 4:11 pm

        Hi Liz, thanks for the pattern. I have just cut the pieces, might stitch the cups to the inside lining as I hate things moving around. I have no experience with bra making yet, but if you need to extend elastic, just unpick one side of closure and add some elastic, much more comfortable than bra extenders, it gets just a bit off to the side- the closure

      • lizhaywood on September 6, 2022 at 4:15 pm

        Great tip, thank you. I hope yours goes well 🙂

  3. Lyndall Cave on July 2, 2021 at 1:14 am

    Oooh! This would make a lovely bodice for a summer dress too. . .

    • lizhaywood on July 2, 2021 at 9:29 am

      Yes, easily 🙂

  4. Sonja Walker on July 2, 2021 at 6:58 am

    Awesome thank you! I am really interested in making my own bras! This looks great.

    • lizhaywood on July 2, 2021 at 9:29 am

      Cheers Sonja!

    • Laurinda on July 2, 2021 at 10:16 am

      What a great idea!

  5. Sarah Liz on July 5, 2021 at 9:57 am

    I’m going to try this out – looks good. Sarah Liz

    • lizhaywood on July 5, 2021 at 10:31 am

      Thanks – I hope it works out for you 🙂

  6. Esther Stuedli-Miller on July 28, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Neat pattern. I am excited to see if I can modify it for my size to create a fitted supportive camisole. I had a fit question to ask you regarding the pattern to help me upsize it: does the apex fall on the seam or to one side of it? Thanks!

    • lizhaywood on July 28, 2021 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Esther, I think the seams go right over the apex.
      Best wishes!

      • Esther Stuedli-Miller on August 9, 2021 at 4:56 am


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