Building Bras for your Growing Girl
Almost all women can tell the story of when they first started to wear a bra. For some, it was early in their lives and they felt awkward and conspicuous. For other girls, their breasts developed later and they felt awkward and conspicuous in an entirely different way! The best thing about sewing these garments for your daughter or granddaughter is that you can adapt to your particular girl’s needs, preferences and timing.
Breast development begins when a girl begins to enter puberty, which can be at a wide range of ages, but is typically between ages 8 - 14. It proceeds at a different rate for different girls, so there isn’t a particular pace which characterizes a girl’s development. Some girls are excited about their maturing body, others are concerned. Have frequent conversations with your girl about how very normal it is, and that her path is unique to her. Adult women come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and that variation is completely normal!
The first stage of development is breast budding. This is where the internal structure of the breast begins to mature, and it causes a small raised bump to appear behind the nipple. There may also be changes in the appearance of the nipple, getting larger and/or darker. Nipples may protrude, or occasionally they invert. Even more occasionally a girl can have one of each, and this is all perfectly normal. Bras at this stage are similar to short tank tops, sometimes with a wide strap, sometimes with a narrow strap. Most girls will find our Elastic Ribbon and rings and slides completely adequate and appropriate at this stage. Many girls like a wide lower band elastic to keep their training bra in place when they play or do athletics. We have darling prints a fun colors of Microlycra that are all soft, smooth and completely comfortable.
The next stage of development is when the breast begins to grow. Contours of the breast become more visible, and stretch marks may appear and then fade away. Girls may also experience their first menstrual period at this time. At this stage, you will still want to use nice, stretchy fabrics and adjustable straps, and may want to add some light padding with a foam cup or some Spacer Foam to offer your girl some coverage since girls at this stage are often self-conscious. You can add a hook and eye at the back to facilitate ease of getting the bra on and off. Once again, you can look at our fun and oh-so-soft bamboo knit prints and our dye-to-almost-any color Microlycra. You can also use a cotton lycra print, but the bamboo is much more comfortable.
As your girl continues to grow, she will attain the breast volume and shape that she’ll likely have as an adult, and many girls move into underwired bras. You have a couple of different strategies at this stage – compression, which is offered by many of the typical sports bras, and encapsulation, which is offered by a typical underwired bra. Most girls I know want to express their individuality in their garments, including in their undergarments. Fun prints, saturated colors and modern laces are all things which help make a girl feel confident and beautiful. Lace doesn’t have to be provocative, it can be wholesome and fun! There are lots of fun options to play with in teen bras. Add extra straps, fun longline looks, mock corset looks, and color blocking to add some pizzazz to her garments.