Warning: I'm going to talk about boobies here. Hope everyone is cool with that.
I'm a weird size and bra shopping has always been a nightmare. I'm a 30 band size and not quite an A, but not quite a AA either. A cups are hard enough to find these days (and when I do find them they're either made for 10 year olds or padded enough to feel like I'm wearing a couch cushion!) and forget about trying to find a 30 band size. 32 is the smallest most companies even make.
Online shopping has been my friend in this matter for years, but I still have issues. The cups are too narrow, the wires dig into my boobs at the sides, I can't raise my arm without the band riding up, and the cups gape at the center. And that describes my best fitting bra! I only have 2 bras that "fit" me.
So, naturally, as soon as I learned that I could actually make my own bras I went Googling around for more info. I found that the American Sewing Guild just happened to be offering a class on bra making in Jacksonville - only 1 hour away! I signed up a few months ago and finally got to attend this past week.
The class was taught by Ann St. Claire, who has been doing this for about 30 years and has developed her own patterns. The first night was a lecture and fitting session, then she drafted a custom pattern for each of us to make the next day. This is really what makes the class absolutely worth every penny. I could spend forever tweaking a bra pattern to fit me just right, waste a ton of material, and probably just give up in the process if I did it myself. I like that she's already taken the fitting part out of the equation so we can just focus on learning construction.
The second day was all-day sewing. We started at 8:30am and I didn't finish until after 7 that night. It was intense! But now that I know how everything is put together I should be able to make my next bra in much less time (and hopefully not all in one day!).
The fit is perfect on me. I'm so happy with it! I did mine a bit differently because I wanted a thin layer of padding to add shape and, you know, protect me from embarrassment in cold rooms. Ha! The pattern she uses is very basic and a bit old fashioned looking, but the neckline can be altered to look however you'd like. I do love the elastic along the neckline. It may not look great on a hanger, but it allows the bra to conform your body so that there is no gaping or puckering up top. Then once it's on you really can't even tell it's there.
I have to say, aside from my sports bra, this is the most comfortable bra I've ever owned. I wore it to work the other day and loved it. It stayed in place all day, no moving around, no riding up, no having to tug at it constantly like my others.
You can see some small places where I messed up, but I'm just amazed that I actually made this thing. I want to make more! My mind is going wild with ideas for pretty bras. And swimsuit tops!
Here are a couple of in-progress shots from the workshop:
I bought a marking pen there (that would explain the purple lines you see) that fades or washes away but you can actually iron over it without the marking becoming permanent. She had a lot of handy tools for sale along with bra kits. I bought these two:
If you get a chance to attend one of Ann's workshops I'd highly recommend it. Her sizing is different from RTW in that there is less difference between cup sizes so it allows for a better fit. But this also means that if you normally wear a D cup you could end up wearing a J cup in her sizing. So the letters definitely took some ladies by surprise but it works.
Have any of you tackled bra making before? Is it something you'd like to try?
Labels: bras, finished projects