|I am not modelling, too embarrassing! It is awfully tricky to photograph a bra without a person inside...|
Not that long ago I looked at my underwear drawer. It is in a pitiful state. Two of my favourite bras have more or less fallen to pieces through constant wearing. I usually get my bras from M&S, I wear plain models. I know, not very exiting. I haven't been fitted in years but the last time I did make an effort the result was disappointing. The bras I felt compelled to buy were uncomfortable and ill fitting and - dare I say - the fitter a bit patronising, to the point that I had to fight the urge to punch her.
Anyway, it crossed my mind that bras are sewn by someone, somewhere, and that I should also be able to acquire the skills it they could. An initial Google search quickly turned into an obsessive evening occupation. I found a pattern that got consistently good reviews. It is the Pin-up Girls classic full band bra pattern. It is a no nonsense bra (no lace), good for learning I thought. I bought the pattern here. The pattern designer is Beverly Johnson, based in Canada. The patterns are bilingual French and English and comes in 90 sizes. Yes, 90! Different size ranges come in different pattern packs and it is quite important to have at least a vague idea of the bra size you might need.
The pattern and kit arrived and after reading through the instructions, I felt flummoxed and set it aside for bit. One Saturday afternoon I decided to measure myself and cut the fabric. The size is calculated by measuring your high bust and the full bust, just as you would in tailoring. Cup size is determined by subtracting the high bust measurement from the full bust measurement. In my case this was 3 inches, which translates into a C cup. I have been wearing DD for years. Anyway, I decided to go with the C, as measured. I didn't expect this whole project to be a success, but an introduction to bra sewing and if the C was wrong, so be it. I often get stressed about sizing, particularly because the shop bought clothes sizes are wildly different and seem to bear no relation to actual size definitions.
Alas, I didn't get very far. I just couldn't figure out how to sew the two cup pieces together, no matter how much I turned them around, trying out different options.... stuck at the first step. I was looking for a tutorial online when I came across this class by Beverly Johnson, using the bra pattern I had. Jo at Three Stories High suggested this class to me a few days after I bought it. She is my sewing goddess and I trust her judgment, so I was really pleased that I had chosen the right class. It was not cheap but I know how much time it takes to make any kind of recorded and filmed tutorial from personal experience and I felt the price was justified. It was an excellent investment and I hope to recoup the costs within a short time. The class is a treasure trove full of excellent guidance and explanations, including fabric choices and fitting issues. Finally I could make sense of the different parts in the bra kit. Every single step is explained in great detail, and shown, too, down to the stitch type and length for each step. Beverly suggests not to use pins, which made me a bit nervous but it turned out not to be problem. There are couple bits where you are 'allowed' to use them.
I opted for the underwire free version because I didn't have any and because these tend to come out and ruin the washing machine. The pattern is for both types of bra, and it explains what type and size of wire to choose. I had no idea that bra underwires come in different sizes! You never know, this knowledge might come in handy at a pub quiz one day...
Now for the fit. It is difficult to try a bra until it has the hook bit attached, which was the last step. I was delighted that the bra fits and looks good, as good a plain full bust bra will ever look on a seriously overweight woman. The bra makes my bust stick out a bit more than my worn out old ones but I guess this is something I can get used to. I mentioned earlier I made a C cup because this is what I measured. I think for the next bra I am making a D cup as I have a some underarm fat that also needs to be tidied away. It isn't breast I don't think but I am sure I can shoogle into the cup. First I am going to view the fitting videos of my online bra course, just in case this has information for the overweight bra maker.
I have already bought two further kits, one fuchsia pink, the other dark cherry. I will make the pink one first because I don't think I have cherry coloured thread. I decided that buying a kit is easier than buying the individual bits and pieces. Each kit cost me £17, which I think is good value for a bra, not taking into consideration my hourly rate. With a bit of practice I can whip one up quite quickly.
What do you think? Will you give it a go? Or do you have a tried and tested shop bra that fits you well?
Any plans for the weekend? I have none, other than doing very little and remain sane. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend. x