And I have a new draft!

I made a few more changes and I’m very happy with my new draft, but give it some time and I’ll hate it again. I made some modifications to the one I posted before, so I deleted that post. I will do my best to list most of the steps so people can try them out. I just don’t want to write the book on the blog.

I am going to make a 3 piece cup, now that the cups fit me well I shall see if I get a little more support with the third piece.

Then I have to test grading the pattern. Oh what fun!

First you need to know what band size, underwire/size you wear and what the diameter of your bust is. To get your band size, measure your under bust measurement. Then take your chest measurement (above bust). Take the average number of the two and round to the nearest even number. That is your band.

Then you need the bust measurement. If you want to do accurate, you need to measure each breast. Measure from your center front where the breast starts, measure across to the other side where the breast ends. I have discovered that it does not matter if you sag or don’t, this amount will not change. On a sagging breast, measure from the front (looking in the mirror) from where you start to see the breast definition (even if sagging), then measure straight across to the other side where you see the end of the breast definition.

Even with accurate measuring your bust size could vary as some women aren’t symmetrical. Try a sample in the side you choose and the size above what you are calculating. The charts below can get you some info.

You need to get your wire diameter too.

Band Draft

On paper, using a ruler and a compass, draw a circle the diameter of the wire. Draw a box around it. To the right, draw a parallel line 3/8″-3/4″. I used 3/8″.

At the right side center, mark up a line 3/4″ up on the line. If you use 3/4″, go to the right 1/8″ (as pictured- although I erased it in a step later because I used 3/8″), if you use smaller, keep the line where it is.

On the left, mark up 1″ from the center and over to the left by 1/4″. See Pic below.

I decided to split the ratio up on the band, so take your chest and under bust measurements and find 60% for the front and 40% for the back. (before I had just split it 50/50). Then take 1/2 of each measurement.

On the top line on your grid, mark from the far right out the front measurement in a straight line. On the bottom line, measure out the under bust front measurement. I had some complicated calculation in the book to figure this out and felt that could go away. Connect the two lines with a straight line.

Reduce your back measurements by multiplying the back amounts by .75. Square a line out from the top and bottom lines these amounts.

Then you just need to shape the neckline and waistline. At the side seam measure about 1/4″ up. Under the circle, measure down 3/8″ – 3/4″ (depends on the elastic you use). I used 1/2″. At the CF waistline, measure up 1/4″.

To find the top of the side seam, duplicate the height of the center front bridge as the side seam. Half way between the CB and the side seam crease and find the strap placement. Use your curves to make your band shape. The Cb depends on the hook and eye tape.

New cup draft

Take your ruler and compass and draw a circle the diameter of the bust. Divide the circle in 4 equal parts and cut the top from the bottom.

On the bottom piece, cut down the center line but keep it attached at the circle. Open the top of the circle 1 1/2″ and tape both sides down.

On the right side of the split lower it 10% of your bust diameter. Take your wire diameter, multiply it by Pi and divide by 4. Take that measurement and measure up the sides from the center slip with you flexible ruler.

On the left side, extend the line 10% of the diameter. On the lower right side, measure up 2.5% at the center point, on the left side, measure down 5% in the center and blend a curve from each point.

Before going further, measure from right tip to left tip to make sure it measrues the bust diameter. If it doesn’t adjust it.

On the top right line, mark up 2.5% at the half way point. On the left side, measure up 5%. Blend and curve.

Now for the top cup. Start the top cup just like you did on the lower cup. Split and open 1 1/2″. Leave the curve attached at the top. (The top and bottom have the same curve) Make sure to measure from point to  point to make sure it  matches the bust diameter.

Walk the lower cup into the band, then walk the top cup and mark where the cup hits the band.

Find the half way point from the far left side to the left side of the slit. Follow the half way point up from the curve 20% of the bust diameter and square across 1/2″ to 1″ depending on your strap size.

Blend and create your armhole and neckline shapes.


Test and try!

Sanity vs. Insanity

I sometimes think I am nuts by the level of perfection I can require of myself. When I wrote the bra book, it took me 4 months of trying different drafts until I could find one that worked with a variety of different sizes. I worked with a former student so we were creating and testing samples on two completely different sizes.

I am very happy with the patterns I created for the book, but now that I have different needs than before, I want to make the pattern better. When the book was being written, both me and my assistant had nicely shaped breasts that were not a victim of gravity.

I can no longer say that. I need a million times the support I needed just 2 years ago. Thats what happens post baby. After working with a client last week I realized my patterns didn’t completely address this issue for the F+ bust. I decided to make myself crazy by making an even better draft.

I have made about 10 samples since Monday and I’m about to pull my hair out. Each time I think I have it and decide not to do half-assed samples, so I have been making beautiful sample after beautiful sample. This also makes me insane a bit. Why not make crappy samples? Because if its not sewn correctly with the proper materials I might pass up a good fit because of sewing. It kills me to throw them away when they don’t work perfectly, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

I try to salvage many of the parts, but I’m not about to rip out a 3 step zigzag stitch or a micro straight stitch (because I forgot to change the stitch length after the 3 step). I know I am a perfectionist at the worst.

I have made numerous changes to my draft, but I always go back to my original and modify those steps. I think I have simplified the draft a little, but I’m going to do a few more beautiful samples before I post them up. The cup draft that I posted I am happy with, but I made a couple modifications since then.

Once I am happy with my results, I will try to duplicate it to make sure I didn’t goof on some math calculation (like I had been doing). I will also post up a few charts in reference to the new drafts. I just wanted to keep you updated and know that the draft I published and the information in the book I still stand by, so for the select few that are freaking out that “the pattern isn’t perfect,” it will be alright I assure you.

I may even include different drafts in the book based on purpose (push up, holding or supportive as hell). The existing one covers the push up and holding, but the new draft will cover the “supportive as hell”. Have a fabulous rest of your week!

Experimenting with new directions

I can’t tell you how many samples I made of the bras as I was developing the book. I had them coming out of my ears and had nightmares about them. And I’m still making them.

I wrote the book before having children and the directions worked and supposedly supported. Now nearly two years later I am realizing my directions and patterns aren’t great for the saggy boob. I am developing a set of slightly altered directions which should give a little more support for the ladies who need it.

I’ll beta test the directions here next week after I do a few samples for myself. I would love to get feedback on the changes. If they work a little better, I’ll work on updating the book for a second edition as well as updated patterns. Grading some 100 patterns take time, so don’t expect them to be done overnight.

I would also like to open up the conversation if there are any other changes I need to make to the book or sections to add.

I have a quick measurement comment about finding your correct bra size for sagging breasts. When measuring the bust diameter, it should actually be done au natural, sagging and all. Stand in front of the mirror, measure from the center where you start seeing the bust sag and measure straight across the chest until you reach the point on the other side where the breast starts to sag. That measurement on me matches the bra size I wear currently. I thought it was going to be difficult to figure out measurements for women post baby, but this worked on me. Does it work for you?

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Three Piece Bra Cup

It really is amazing how much I can accomplish when I actually have a list and print it out. Keeping my list on my computer causes me to check Facebook way too often. And that sucks up a day.

I finished the bra sample, but before I get to that. I made an oops. I forgot to add the seam allowance to a small section of the side cup.


After the fix:

I also moved my notch. I must have been half asleep or distracted by my kiddo. The seams walked almost perfectly. I think there was about 1/16″ to 1/8″ difference, so I didn’t bother to fix it. I figure it worked itself out in my cutting and sewing.

Here is the finished bra. Yes, it looks like it could transport 2 large boulders, but then again, it does.

The apex of the cup seems a little pointy. It could be my sewing, but I’ll double check my pattern and maybe remove about 1/8″ off the apex point. I also wanted to try a different seam stitching over the cup seams. Instead of doing 2 straight stitches to stitch down the seam, I used a zigzag stitch instead.

I also discovered that one of my basic machines does a beautiful 3 step zigzag. I am now in love with this machine. I feel bad, because its not my grandmother’s Kenmore. It was probably someone else’s grandmother’s Kenmore. I love vintage machines. They will probably outlive me and I am much happier sewing on a 30+ year old machine.

Bra Pattern Making Modifications Part 2

I actually found a little time today to do some drafting. I really get things done when I follow my to-do list. I do have to admit that the first thing on today’s list was cleaning the store and the stock room and it took me a good 2+ hours to do. 1 1/2 hours into cleaning, I moved one of the fabric poles and smashed a light in the stock room. That led to the extensive cleaning session.

Anyway, on to the drafting. I decided to take tons of pictures, so this might get a little annoying. I documented all the steps from start to finish. I sewed half the bra today. I’ll finish up tomorrow with a picture of the finished product. This is a little tutorial of turning the 2 piece cup into a 3 piece cup with a little styling.

1. The first thing I did was make manila patterns of my base size in the 2 piece cup. I always use the 2 piece cup. That way it is easy to alter the cup to whatever design you wish.

2. Trace off the cup pieces on pattern paper using the grid of the paper to line up the cup grain lines.

3. Alter the strap placement before doing anything.

4. I altered the apex point to position the bust more front and center. I am making the 36H. If you are making a cup up to an F cup, you might not want to do this. This move is for the plus sized bust so it will position the bust more in the center of the body as opposed to closer to the armpit. I have a bra that does it closer to the armpit and my ladies get in the way when I reach up in the cabinet for things.

5. The next few steps I played around with adding the side panel. Its kind of hard to explain what I did, so here is the series of photos I took. In this first pic. I thought I knew where I wanted the line. What I did was draw in the seam allowance of 1/4″ and overlapped the seam line at both points. This removed some of the curve, but thats a good thing since you want more support here.

6. I changed my mind of where I wanted the seam line after I lined them up. I drew in the new line, but what happened was that the seam to the right no longer lined up on the seam line.

7. So I fixed it and moved the piece ever so slightly so the seam lines met.

8. I cut off the rest of the top cup and taped it back on the piece it originally came from. I separated the full side panel.

9. I reshaped the outer curve on the left side of the side cup. I made my markings in red. I also indicated where I would need to add seam allowance.

10. I decided to make a diagonal seam that goes through the apex. I cut off the piece on the top cup.

11. I basically need to merge these two pieces. I have one method in my book, but after reviewing it. It just is way too confusing.

12. So I flipped the piece over and basically added it to the bottom cup. I lined up the cut line to the seam line on the bottom cup and they match almost perfectly. Because I lined it up this way, the seam allowance is included on the top of this cut piece. If you are confused. Stop, think about it and wait for it to make sense. I had to do this, twice.

13. I then reshape the curve on the bottom cup and cut off a piece to add to the top cut. Don’t forget where the apex notch was. You should keep this.

14. I did the same thing on the top piece by flipping the pattern piece and taping it together. Basically this works because you need to incorporate the same volume you remove. Subtract from one piece, add to another.

15. Add seam allowance to the vertical seam only. I also added back my notches and added a notch to the side cup to line up the other two pieces. Voila- patterns for cup are finished. Now the true test whether I did good will be to make my sample.

Stay tuned to see the finished sample. Plus I’ll grade this pattern once I check that it fits right. I also want to do a little tutorial at some point about grading the cup when the seam does not go through the apex.

I also didn’t address walking the seams, because these all lined up fine.

Inspiration after none

I know my next post was supposed to be the bra modification for making a 3 piece cup, but I still haven’t taken those photos. I’ll take those tomorrow when I go down to the shop. Today I want to comment on how a lack of being challenged can really disrupt inspiration.

I have been teaching at FIDM for the past 7 years and I can honestly say I loved the first 5 years, but parts of me dreaded going to work the last 2. I wasn’t sure why my love of teaching fell to the side. I thought maybe it had to do with getting married, buying a house and having a baby.

Ok. Maybe those did have an effect on my motivation. Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to work with an individual creating her own lingerie business. We spent 5 days covering business and testing patterns.

I have to say that I learned a lot and I was the one doing the teaching. It had been a while since I had a dedicated student challenge me and try things they didn’t know. I learned that being challenged was inspirational for me. I also learned that its hard for me to keep my focus when things don’t go as planned.

A little history: Just a few weeks after I published Bare Essentials: Bras, I got pregnant. I lost my drive, maybe due to the 9 months of morning sickness, but I never got a chance to practice what I preached after finishing the book. I gained a fair amount of weight and made myself a half dozen bras, but by the time I finished each one I had outgrown it.

Besides the pregnancy, my students stopped caring, or maybe thats just how I saw them. None of them challenged me and after teaching the same class for probably the 100th time, I stopped feeling inspired.

I opened my store and studio so I could teach both new and old things, but most importantly, I wanted to feel inspired again. This last week I got my dose of inspiration. It was great to see someone getting ready to start their business. Because I’ve had my own businesses for years I occasionally feel burnt out and need “new blood” to get me back on track.

I just want to say, thank you Carla. I know you learned a lot, but you inspired me to follow the things I love doing again.

Bra Pattern Making Modifications – Part 1

I have been working all week with a designer developing a lingerie collection. We made several samples of bras to see what size she actually wears. We have yet to find out which size. She came to me as a 34DDD or a 34F. We have tested sizes 34G, 34H, 34I and when those weren’t working, I took her measurements again and went straight to the 34L. Still none were working well.

The 34L was to big, but then again, the 2 piece cup isn’t meant to fit a lady that large. She has been wearing a 34F, so out of frustration, we took the 34G and made it into 3 pieces. But before we did that, we moved the apex point about 1/2″ – 5/8″ towards the center of the body.

This is a modification I’ve been thinking about for quite a while. I don’t think the smaller cups need this change, but the larger cups need a little repositioning. And please feel free to tell me if it doesn’t work for you.

For reference, we are using the basic pattern I have on my website. And I can’t reiterate this enough – This pattern is not meant to be used unmodified. It is a basic shape to manipulate into a cup of your own design. I can’t tell you how many people contact me to ask me why I don’t have a picture of the style on my website. I have to email them to tell them it is an ugly style that is meant to be altered. Maybe I shouldn’t phrase it that way, I lose the sale. But honestly I don’t want people just making a fashion bra straight from this pattern. It is UGLY.

I traced off the 34G. Repositioned the strap placement (which was the first correction I listed last year and you can find it on this blog). Then found the new point for the apex. Moving this over I was able to remove part of the curve on the side of the cup and add a little volume to the center front of the cup. I marked the new cup shape in red. You could potentially do a little more, but unfortunately, you will need to do a sample to test the fit.

I then converted it to a 3 piece cup. I’ll show those steps in the next entry. I neglected to take pictures because I have been racking my brain on another way to demonstrate it.

I can definitely tell you that removing all curve from the third piece on the side panel really helped the shape a lot. I will photograph steps today and get them posted tomorrow and we will even be grading the 3 piece cup, so I’ll take some pics of those too.

Until then, I have to drink some coffee, which I have none of, so I’ll be stopping at the Circle K at the bottom of the mountain again.

On another unrelated lingerie note, Emily, who is now 9 months old is going through bouts of sleep regression. I honestly think she wants and craves more solid food as her digestion has sped up with the milk and she wakes up hungry at night again. The issue with that is, I’m the only one who gives her solid food. David is slightly rejecting it and he’s had her all week while I’ve been training.

And yet again another note- I’m quite affordable these days for lingerie or any type of training. $30 an hour or a full day for $250.

Well, chat later tomorrow.

I can’t believe its September

Howdy friends. Its been a while since I’ve blogged. I’m hoping to pick it back up again more regularly. I have been working with a client all week teaching her lingerie design and entrepreneurship. She suggested I try to keep this up to help promote what I love doing, which is educating. But that’s not just educating in lingerie design or fashion design, but educating in sustainable and healthy living.

I liked that idea. Now to just find the time to blog regularly. The issue is trying to find any time in the day to do something else.

Emily is getting big and tall. 9 months now. She’s babbling all day and all night. She is wearing 24 month clothing and eating food off my plate.

The store has been a big challenge and struggle, I have to admit. I had expected to book at least one class a month and that hasn’t even happened. The whole point of having the store was to teach the classes. So I’ve come to a crossroad. Do I stay or do I go?

I am weighing this heavily based on 2 factors that are facing me. 1. The online store is doing fabulous, but the brick and mortar isn’t carrying its weight. 2. My father has been sick and I want to go east to spend some time with him and to let him get to know my Emily.

I’ve come up with 2 possible solutions. 1. Turning the shop co-op and making the incredible work space private for co-op members to create their own work. or 2. Closing up the shop in January, putting everything in storage and hiring someone to pack and ship my online orders.

I am leaning towards the first option. I used to be the connector up north, but now I have no connections down here. Who could I possibly get to join as partners?

Here is what I have come up with and feel free to pass the word around. I am looking for 8 people to be partners. Each person will be responsible for working the store front 3-4 days a month and each person would have certain responsibilities, whether it be marketing, web design, or just inventory management. Each person would have work space available, sewing machines and cutting tables to use. Each person would pay a little under $300 a month to be a part of this. The fee covers the rent, bills, advertising and equipment rental. At the end of the month, whatever isn’t used, is redistributed to the owners as well as an equal share in store profits. Not to mention being able to buy anything in the store at only 10% above cost. That alone should attract people right?

The idea is that the more mouths that are talking about the shop, the more people will come in and make purchases in the store. I would even consider transforming part of the store to showcase the work of the co-op residents. What do you think? Would that be something you’d be interested in?