What is a Tester Frame

A few posts back I’d shared a recent draft. I also mentioned using a tester frame for my bra. Let me share a little about tester frames here in this post.

First Impressions

I first read about a tester frame in the Bra Makers Manual Vol. 2. I remember I made one and tried it. I also made a note in the manual. I found it hard to sew the cups into that frame, and I didn’t try it again for quite a long time.

Yes, my manuals are filled with my thoughts in the margins alongside the actual instructions.

My note may say ‘fit’, but I was meaning it’s awkward to sew the cups into the frames. However difficult I found it to sew the cups into the frame after the channeling and wire have been added, it’s still a great way to check and see, first, if your frame is going to fit. And once you have your frame, if the cups fit.

I just had an idea to take the wires out for sewing and it might make it easier to sew in the cups. I’ll have to try it.

Second Exposures

My second exposure to a tester frame was from Merckwaerdigh’s blog. This is her photo.  Margreet took us through the steps of designing a bra, and part of that was testing the cups in a frame. You can read about it here.

My Take on a Tester Frame

   For my second take on a tester frame, I had drafted my cradle, band, and cups and sewn up the bra. I knew the cradle and band would fit and they did. I didn’t expect the cups to fit, and they didn’t. They were too small. Yet I still sewed up the bra.

Let’s talk about those cups for a minute. The cups’ measurements were taken while wearing a RTW bra. That bra cups are made with stretch material. That gave me measurements that were too small because I wasn’t using  stretch material now; I was using duoplex. 

So why would I make a bra when I knew the cups wouldn’t work? Well, I knew the rest of the bra would be fine. I also knew I now had a bra that was more supportive which allowed me get new, better measurements.

Once I took my new measurements with this new bra, there was no use left for it. I could simply cut the hardware out of it, unpick all the elastics, and throw the rest away. I could donate it. Or I could use this frame for a tester frame.

Repurposing that Ill-Fitting Bra

If you have a bra that doesn’t fit the way you want it to fit, and want to make a tester frame, you have to remove the cups.

Here’s what I did.

On the bra, I measured from the seam along the bottom of the cup into the cup by a half-inch, Then I cut along that line.

See the black on the edges? That’s the 1/2-inch mark. That little bit of material sticking out is what is left of those too-small-cups that I’d cut out.

I also cut the seam where the strap joins the cup.

Now what’s left is a tester frame. It has straps, hooks and eyes, elastics, a bridge, the cradle for new cups. It has everything a bra has, except the cups.

What was left of the too-small cups I threw away. There was no use for them now.

Testing the Frame

I sewed up new cups and marked the 1/4-inch seam on those. In the photo above, you can see the bright pink line on the cups – that was going to be my seam line.

I got out some black thread and a needle and started sewing them into the frame by hand. Remember I found it hard to sew them in by machine. If you do try using your sewing machine, take the wires out, and move your needle over to the far right. Those two suggestions should make a difference. Oh, and use lots of pins!

Or sew the new cups in by hand.

I sewed the new cups in as closely as possible to the original seam in the cradle on the tester frame.It wasn’t pretty, but it was completely functional for its purpose – to see if these cups would fit. And they did.

Happy creating!

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2 thoughts on “What is a Tester Frame

  1. I’m learning so much about my own bras from reading your posts. I had never thought of cutting out the cups to try fitting a frame. Actually, I’d never even thought of a bra as having a frame.

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