Tutorial: Back Closure Greenstyle Endurance Bra

The Endurance Bra, by Greenstyle Creations, is a sports bra that zips in front and has soft foam cups that actually provide support and shape rather than just compression like most sports bras. I’ve made the zip front version as a sports bra and find it very comfortable, but what really drew me to this pattern was its potential to use as a wireless everyday bra. The front access also makes it useful as a claspless nursing bra by adding some sort of additional closure to the bottom along the strap (to hold the front pieces together when you unzip to gain nursing access), and you can also use alternate closures like snaps or hooks and eyes, which lie flatter than the zipper and don’t rub against delicate clothing.

Here, I’ll show you how I converted the pattern to a back closure bra to give it more of a traditional look (but still soft foam cups, perfect for breastfeeding)!

I did make two design changes to the original pattern as well:

  1. I altered the shape of my cups to plunge a bit deeper rather than coming up as high as it is written. This makes the bra fit more like my everyday bras. I wouldn’t dip it quite so much for use as a sports bra.
  2. I used a single layer of fabric for the band. For use as a sports bra, I would still use a lining as the pattern recommends.

How to alter the Greenstyle Creations Endurance Bra to have a back closure:

Rationale for the pattern alterations below: The zipper itself adds about 5/8″ to the center front of the bra. However, it is rigid, whereas the fabric you’re likely using for this project has a fair amount of stretch, assuming you’re following the pattern directions. Therefore, I recommend adding 1/2″ along the cups through the bra base instead of the full 5/8″. Traditional bridges use NON-stretch fabric, so if you’re taking that route, you’ll want to add the full 5/8″. If you don’t add this bridge piece (which is part of the bra base), the pattern will basically fit a size or two smaller in front (cups will be cinched closer together). This pattern does not include seam allowance at the center front (because the edges are finished with FOE/binding), so you don’t need to adjust for seam allowance.

Here’s how I altered my pattern at the center front:

  1. Before adding any width to the center front, we’re going to draw two straight lines from the bra base pattern: one that runs perpendicular to the maximum stretch arrow on the pattern, straight down from the corner where the cup base and center front meet, and one that just extends the zipper attachment line.

    Two lines shown in faint black pen
  2. Extend the vertical line (the one opposite the stretch) up to the point where the cups will come together (shown in the photo above, marked with the smaller dot). I altered the shape of my cups to dip deeper, so my straight line is shorter than yours will be if you stick with the original pattern.
  3. Mark 1/4″ toward the center front of that vertical line (to the left of my line in my picture, the slightly bigger dot). This will account for the 1/2″ we’re adding between the cups – 1/4″ on each side of center front. Extend a line down to the bottom, parallel to the original (not shown in a photo, but it is visible in subsequent photos).As a result, the bottom of the base will widen a little bit, but since there is elastic through the band it won’t make a big difference with respect to how the center front falls. If you don’t like this idea, you can sew the center front on an angle relative to the fabric grain by adding a seam down the middle, just add seam allowance.
  4. Now we’re going to work with the slightly diagonal line we drew that extends from the original center front. Add 1/4″ seam allowance to the other side of the line, and use this seam allowance when attaching this bridge piece to the cups. At this point, there will be a corner between the bridge and the rest of the base. We’re going to fix that in the next step.
  5. Now, place the pattern pieces for the cup along the base and diagonal line. My orange marker marks the piece of the cup I took out to get a deeper plunge. Tip: use the pattern pieces for the foam, since they don’t have seam allowance along the edge or the parts of the cup that butt up against each other. You want to line up the bottom along the stitching line.
  6. Curve the lines so they will smoothly attach to the cups. This will involve curving the bottom of the cup itself (removing some fabric) and adding that same amount of fabric to the bridge in a smooth curve (see photo).

    Transfer some fabric from cup piece to bridge
  7. This is how your finished front should look:
  8. Cut this piece on the fold. You’ll attach it to the cups as instructed by the pattern, except you’ll attach it along the center front of the cups in addition to the bottom. You will want to attach the bridge/band combo using Wonder Tape or some other temporary adhesive before sewing. It’s very easy to get shifting here!
  9. Note: You’ll be attaching your FOE/binding straight from one shoulder to the next, over this center bridge piece.

    Binding (or foldover elastic) straight across center front

The center back doesn’t include any seam allowance since the pattern is designed for it to be cut on the fold. At the center back, I simply cut off 1/4″-1/2″ from each side since I was using hook and eye tape, which adds some width even on the smallest setting. If you’re going to use a different closure (swim hooks are a good option and can be made adjustable with a slider piece on one side, too), you may need to add or subtract from the center back differently.

To assemble the pattern, just follow the instructions to put the cups together. When you attach the cups to the base, you’ll be attaching along the entire curve, not just the bottom of the cups, but the instructions won’t change at all. At the point of attaching your foldover elastic (FOE) or binding, you’ll go straight from one shoulder to the other, right over the top of the bridge as your center point. No other instructions will change!

Now that you have this back closure bra, you’re ready to use it for a hands-free pumping and nursing bra, if you desire. Instructions for that project are coming soon!

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