You're probably not Omega, just Projected - here's the difference, and how it affects bra patterns

In the online bra making community omega is a popular term, and many people (esp. in larger cup sizes) consider themselves to have an omega breast shape.

Omega is a term that popular instructor Beverly Johnson claims to have coined, and she explains what she means by it in this post. Her definition (and conceptualisation) of omega has been adopted by the community as a whole, however I have always had an issue with it: in my opinion, omega conflates two different breast shapes, leading to confusion amongst bra makers.   
Diagram showing the characteristic round shape of omega breasts vs more cylindrical projected breasts
One of these shapes is omega, but both require an Omega Adjustment?

 1. The Omega Shape

See, the Omega Shape is defined as a breast shape that is like a capital omega (as always on this blog, shape terms refer to supported breasts). These breasts typically have a narrow root (root = the area where your breast attaches to your chest), then they widen, then round off again. There really is no better way of describing it.

In my experience, true omega shaped breasts (orange in the diagram above) are quite rare and typically exist in very large cup sizes, especially appearing on those with firm breast tissue that resists the shaping of a bra. To fit an omega shape, a bra will need to be altered to fit a smaller wire as the bra physically gets smaller at the wireline - more on this later.

So what's the deal? Well posts like Beverly's can make people think that all breasts that need a smaller wire are omega, and this isn't the case.

2. The Projected Shape

Diagaram showing the cylindrical shape of projected breasts vs the broader shape of average breasts
The purple breasts are the "average" shape the pattern maker usually designs for, but projected breasts can look more like the blue.

Coming from the /r/ABraThatFits community, projected is a popular term there and one I am favourable of. 

A projected breast is one that has a smaller root than expected for its volume, in both height and width*. The roots are typically both narrow and short. The narrowness means you need a smaller wire size for your given volume in a bra.

In basic terms, projected breasts look like drinking glasses when supported. An average projection shape would perhaps look like a cereal bowl, and a shallow shape would look more like a dinner plate. While all 3 of these objects have a very different shape, they can have a similar volume. 

The key takeaway is that most bra makers who believe they have an omega shape really have a projected shape, as they need a smaller wire than their volume suggests, but do not have the characteristic visible omega shape. 

Projected shapes are very common in larger cup sizes, especially for those with smaller band sizes. This is because, in my experience, with each given size, the average breast root increases a bit less than the average wire. This leads to people in larger cup sizes needing smaller wires than traditional grading would often suggest.

The confusion with omega lies here: people are finding they need smaller wires than their volume suggests but not seeing the characteristic omega shape in their breasts. This can really trip people up in their bra making ~journeys~.  

*note: you can have roots that narrow but not short, and roots that are short but not narrow. In this post, the information for projected shapes can be considered largely interchangeable with the information for a narrow shape.

Altering a pattern to suit a Projected Shape using the Omega Adjustment

Fitting a projected shape is easier geometrically than fitting an omega one, so I'll do this one first.

Reducing at the wireline to fit a smaller wire
The basic theory behind this adjustment

This alteration is often called The Omega Adjustment (just to make our lives difficult it seems), but is really best suited towards a standard projected shape. True Omega breasts will need further alteration to get their best fit. I propose calling it a projection adjustment, or "reducing the wireline".

This is the same method as Number 3 in this Emerald Erin blog post, and is commonly posted to various bra making groups. I'm sure Lizsews has done a video on it (but I can't find that now so that may have been a hallucination), and Lily Fong demonstrated it in her Omega class for the Great Bra Sewing Bee 2021

At its core, it's a simple adjustment. You take the pattern pieces of the volume your breast needs, and blend to the wireline that fits your wire. You use the cradle and band that match your wire and band size combination. So if you're making a 34G volume on a 34DD frame, you need the 34DD and 34G cup pieces (to make your altered cup pieces), and the 34DD cradle and frame (unaltered). 

Reducing a single cup piece at the wire
A basic implementation of the "omega alteration".

One thing to be careful of is to not round out your cup pieces too much - your bra pieces should fit together in a smooth curve when placed together. If this is not the case and you have dips at the seams, shave off some fullness.

Ensuring the wireline is a smooth curve

Altering a pattern to suit an Omega Shape 

You can see that a true Omega bra gets larger as it extends from the wireline

From a geometric standpoint, it's harder to make a bra truly omega than to make it projected. Lily Fong's Omega class for the Great Bra Sewing Bee 2021 is the best tutorial for this in my opinion however I will briefly go over the methods she described here. As omega shapes are almost always projected as well, you will need to adjust your bra for projection as well using the method outlined above. 

For an omega breast, the increased fullness gives your breasts the room they need so the bra can stay in place comfortably (instead of being pushed downwards). If you just have projected breasts, doing this adjustment is unnecessary hassle and will essentially just result in reduced lift.

Dimensions of a true omega cup
For an omega shaped cup, your goal is to make the pattern larger at the green line than at the red.

Essentially, for a true Omega shape you need to make the bra smaller at the wireline than at a point a bit further out. There are two ways you can do this

1. Using gathers

A cup with a gathered wireline

 Gathering up at the wireline is pretty self-explanatory and is functionally no different to easing in a sleeve in a garment. Michelle's post is a great demonstration of this, and Beverly mentions it too.

The main downside is that your bra cup will have wrinkles in it at the bottom and sides, however you can also distribute the gathers to where you need them most which is useful.


2.  Adding additional darts

Think of this as a more technical method of incorporating these gathers in your pattern. Of course, fabric doesn't like accommodating this much so making additional darts in your cup pieces can help you distribute that extra fullness. See Lily Fong's post on this for a demonstration.
Lily Fong's additional darts to make an Omega shaped cup

You can see that the pattern has the greatest total fullness at the top of the darts. It is then tapered away using the darts to remove width from the individual pattern pieces.

One thing I want to draw your attention to is that she has altered the wireline of her cup pieces to be slightly concave. This allows for additional fullness in the cup as it will naturally angle outwards as you attach it to the wire. When you place the pattern pieces together they should still form a smooth curve, just a concave one rather than a convex one.

If you're really clever about it you can make a bra slightly omega using this method without adding additional darts, so long as your bra has enough seams. 

You can distribute fullness this way too, adding more darts where you need it most.

I hope this cleared up some of the confusion about omega shapes. Let me know if this helped at all, or if there's anything you're still confused about! If you liked this post, be sure to follow me for more content ^_^


  1. Thank you, this is very helpful to me in my fitting.

  2. This is super helpful. I have a projected shape and I find that the shape of the cup is better if I don't touch the upper cup and only alter the bottom cup pieces. Changing the cross cup seam usually results in less lift and a pointier shape in my experience.

  3. Thank you for your typically thorough answers. I am pretty convinced that I have omega shaped breasts. Given I don’t have the ability or time to sew my own bras, could you advise me on what bra brands might help my situation?

    Thank you in advance



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