Lingerie Glossary

I remember when I started bra making, being totally perplexed by all the new terminology, so I've created a glossary as a useful reference for all newbie bra makers.  Here is an (ever growing) list of the terms and techniques used in lingerie sewing:

 

Band: As a general term, this refers to the circumference of the bra that wraps around the chest and creates the breast support.  On patterns, the term 'band' refers the the pattern pieces that extend from the under arm area around to the back closure (hook and eye)  These are cut from a strong, stretchy fabric, most commonly powernet.

Also known as: Wings

Bridge: The connecting point between the two bra cups.  It attaches to the frame (or is cut as one with the frame) and forms part of the area that the cups are sewn onto.  The bridge is stabilised with sheer lining.  During wear the bridge should sit against the chest wall between the breasts.

Also know as: Gore

Elastic, Band: This has one smooth edge and one decorative, picot edge.  The picot edge peaks out from the fabric.  It comes in various widths with 12mm being useful for smaller bras and 19mm for medium or larger bras. This elastic is attached along the complete length of the bottom of the bra using a zig-zag stitch.  One pass is placed close to the edge of the picots and the other pass, when the elastic is turned under on itself, close to the straight edge.  Your pattern will denote the width required, based on the seam allowance used so if your elastic is a different width then you'll need to adjust the seam allowance for this part to accommodate.

Example, Example

Elastic, Band plush: A 38mm wide elastic that is soft and plush on both sides.  It is most commonly used for the waist band of boxer briefs.

Example

Elastic, Clear: A stabilising elastic that remains strong even when stitched through.  It makes a virtually invisible support for the top edge of lace cups.

Example

Elastic, Fold-over: These are flat, elastic trims with a crease along the centre line.  They are used to give a nice clean finish to the edge of garments i.e. the neckline of a bra or the waistband of briefs.  The elastic folds in half along the crease, sandwiching the raw edge of the fabric.  There are a few different methods for attaching, one of the most common being to zig-zag stitch along the edge.  Fold-over elastic comes in quite a number of different widths and colours with both a matte and a shiny side.

Example

Elastic, Lingerie: A general name given to soft, lacy elastic.  It comes in many different widths and patterns and is used for a decorative finish on briefs, bras or other lingerie.  It is placed on the right side of the fabric so all the elastic shows rather than turned under like the picot elastic.

Example

Elastic, Picot: A decorative, stretchy trim that is used on the neckline and underarm areas of bras and also around the leg and waistline of briefs.  One edge of the elastic has regular loops (picot) as decoration.  This elastic is attached with a zig-zag stitch, one pass close to the edge of the picots and the other pass, when the elastic is turned under on itself, close to the straight edge.  It comes in many different colours and a few different widths.  Your pattern will denote the width required, based on the seam allowance used so if your elastic is a different width then you'll need to adjust the seam allowance for this part to accommodate. 

Example

Elastic, Silicone gripper: This features a silicone strip along the centre of the elastic.  This silicone gently grips the skin to keep the garment in place, i.e. used along the top of the cups in a strapless bra.

Example

Elastic, Strap: Strap elastic has a smooth shiny face and a soft, plush back.  It is used in combination with rings and sliders to create adjustable straps.  Common widths include 12mm for small to medium sized bras and 19mm for larger bras.  It comes in many colours to co-ordinate with the other elastics.

Example, Example

Elastic, Swimwear: A rubber elastic that is chlorine and salt resistant.  It has a thin profile and usually a textured surface to enable it to grip to the swimwear fabric.

Example

Frame: This is the part of the bra that the cups are sewn into and the band connects onto.  It can be cut from a variety of fabrics but is most often stabilised with a sheer lining.

Also known as: Cradle

G Hooks: Metal or plastic hooks with a closed loop end and a hook end.  These come in many different sizes for different purposes.  Smaller ones can be used in place of the 'ring' to make detachable bra straps.  They can also be used to make a front fastening bra or to fasten the back of a bikini top.  The closed loop end is secured to one side of the bra while a loop on the other size of the bra itself attaches over the hook part of the G hook.

Example 

Gore: See Bridge

Hook and Eye: Bra closure - sealed around the edges to prevent fraying with one 'open end' that the bra band fits into.  Most common sizes are 2x3 (two rows high, 3 columns wide) for smaller size bras where less support is needed and 3x3 (three rows high, 3 columns wide) for larger sizes where more support is needed or for longline bras. Hook and Eyes are attached to the bra band with a very tight narrow zig-zag stitch or a satin stitch.  

Example

Hook and Eye Tape: Bra closure where the hook and eyes come as a continuous length that can be cut to size.  Used in long line bras or corsets.

Example

Powermesh: See Powernet

Powernet: A strong and stretchy material used for bra bands.  The stretch creates comfort in the band while it's strength and recovery give support to the bra.  The greatest stretch runs with the selvage.  Powernet comes in a wide variety of colours and has a matte finish.  The composition is usually 80% nylon: 20% spandex

Uses: bra bands, can also be used in briefs

Also known as: Powermesh

Powernet, Lightweight: A lighter weight than regular powernet, still has great stretch and recovery.  
Uses: bra bands for smaller cup sizes only, fantastic for use in briefs
Rings and Sliders: Small findings either plastic or metal used to create adjustable bra straps.  The sliders (shaped like a flat 8) have the strap elastic threaded through them so they can slide up the strap to adjust the length.  The rings are what attach the strap to the bra.  Sold as a set (2 rings and 2 sliders) enough for one bra.  They come in different sizes but most commonly 12mm for narrower straps and 19mm for wide straps.
Also known as: Eights and O's, bra adjusters, bra links
Sheer Bra Cup Lining: A light weight yet strong woven fabric offering almost invisible support to the parts of the bra that need stabilising.  100% nylon with very little mechanical stretch.  It comes in many different colours although black, white and beige are the most used.
Uses: lining and stabilising bra cup, bridge and frame. As a lining under stretch fabrics i.e. stretch lace, to reduce their stretch qualities. 
Stretch Mesh: A lightweight, drapey  and see-through stretch fabric. It comes in many different colours or prints and usually has a slightly shiny finish.  A very versatile fabric that can have many uses
Uses: In bra cups either by itself or layered as support under stretch lace.  Double layered it can be used in bra bands for smaller cup sizes.  Perfect for briefs
Swimwear Fastener: A plastic 'clicker' style fastener for swimwear; these are found in many RTW swimwear brands.  Secured to each side of the back band of a bikini or swimsuit the two sides attach by clicking together.
Swimwear Lining: A lightweight, breathable and quick drying fabric.  Usually 100% nylon with stretch in both directions and most commonly available in black, white and beige.
Uses: Used as lining under the outer swimwear fabric and can be used for all swimwear types i.e. one-piece swimsuit, bikini or tankini.  Best practice is to fully line the whole swimsuit.
Wings: See Band