I am happy to have the first guest post on my blog written by Jane Ramsey. Jane happily helped me test and experiment with changes for the new bra drafting book. -Jennifer
If you wear an underwired bra you may think the wire is an evil torture device. There are many reasons for this. A wire that pokes you in the armpit, or sternum, that creaks as you breathe, that digs into your ribs, that snaps in two….
All of the above are signs of an incorrectly fitting wire. Too big, too small, too long, too narrow….
Ideally you need to find a bra style that incorporates your best fitting wire. The easiest way is to make your own or have a custom made bra.
There’s a massive range of shapes and sizes of underwire. Short, regular and long. Vertical, flat vertical, regular, demi… this list is not exhaustive.
Then there’s wire size.
The numbering convention is based on the ‘right’ wire for a B cup. So a 40 wire works for a 40B and it’s sister sizes 42A, 38C, 36D, etc. This isn’t an exact science, our bodies don’t conform to these standards. Bra designers don’t always stick to the formula either. This can be a good thing, because we may need different wires even in the same size bra. If you’re making your own bras, or if you are having a custom made bra, finding the perfect wire for you is the best place to start.
For myself and my customers, I have a simple tool, a piece of heavy duty electrical wire, the type used for hard wiring a cooker or shower.
The plastic insulation stripped off, the ends looped round to prevent injury and then the wire bent into the approximate shape of an under wire.
To use, I simply place it in the breast crease, the inter mammary fold, ensuring it follows the trace of the breast root, without sitting on breast tissue. This gauge of copper wire is malleable, soft enough to bend easily with your fingers, firm enough to hold the shape when you take it off the body.
An added bonus is, you can just flip the wire to check you need the same size wire for both breasts. Most of us are slightly asymmetrical, some of us have a greater degree of asymmetry. Rather than just padding out one cup of a pair of matched cups you might want to make different cups for each side… I digress, that’s a whole other blog post.
Once I have my bent wire, I compare it with printed wire charts to find the best match. There is very little difference between the sizes but the wrong size can dramatically affect your comfort and the fit of your bra. When wearing the right wire, you will barely know it’s there, unless you have other conditions affecting your sensitivity.
Wire fitting. 4 easy steps.
1. Bend the wire to the approximate shape of your breast root. (You can trace the wire in your best fitting bra as a starting point).
2. On your naked body, place the wire in your inter mammary fold, or breast crease.
3. Adjust the shape of the wire so it follows the shape of your breast root. Making sure it doesn’t sit on breast tissue.
4. Match it to your printed wire charts.
This wire trace is clearly bigger than the 40.
The 42 looks pretty close, the bend at the end of the wire was where I bent it so it didn’t poke Kathryn in the armpit.
Yes, all my mannequins have names.
The 44 is too big
Finally I checked against the vertical wires. A regular wire is much more suited to Kathryn. Some people have a wide, flat root, they would benefit from the flat vertical wires, as you can see, this chart is labeled with my best fit wire, a 42 vertical.
Just a reminder, weight fluctuations, water retention, dehydration, even our menstrual cycle can affect our breasts enough to make a wire that’s a perfect fit one day too big or too small another.
All of the wires mentioned above can be bought from www.Porcelynne.com.
Supporting you through the ages, Jane is a dressmaker with decades of experience having started sewing clothes by the time she was 10. She has a passion for historical clothing and the foundation garments that provide the right silhouette for each era and has recently expanded that passion to finding a comfortable bra that fits well.
The most recent labor of love comes to you after 4 months of testing, writing and rewriting. The third edition of Bare Essentials: Bras was certainly an undertaking.
Over the past six years, I have evolved as a mother both physically and emotionally. With the physical changes, my knowledge of breast support has also evolved. It is because of those changes that I have been able to better this edition. But that isn’t the only reason, I have listened to all of your input, both good and bad and wrote something I am very proud of. I’m so proud of the changes that I made, that I vow that this will be the final edition ever written of my bra book.
The biggest question I get is “why another edition, were the other ones wrong?” The answer in brief is no, the other books were not wrong. In fact, my general techniques still remain the same from the first book, including my grading, but over the last 7 years since the first edition, I have fine tuned everything.
This latest edition addresses the concern as to why all those bras out there just don’t fit. Most bras are drafted for a set of “average” measurements. But who dictates those measurements? Some technical designer at each company makes that call and it has not reflection on many of us.
Here is a little diagram from the book showing how all 9 of these individuals would be fit into the same bra. Each row has a varying torso shape and each column has varying a chest height. The likely average measurements that all “those” patterns are drafted for are of that individual in the middle.
The new approach to my drafting instructions address how to draft for each of these individuals.
The new drafting method isn’t so different from the original, but the measurements to get there have been modified. I created a special calculation based on the underbust, chest/overbust, full bust, wire measurements and chest height. Here is the calculator.
The math is what took most of my time to develop. I had a range of ladies assisting me which gave me a great reference for testing. I didn’t have this full of a range previously, so I was not brought aware of many issues that some of these individuals had.
I stalked the bra making groups and absorbed all the questions and made it my personal goal to address most of the issues. I believe I came up with some sound math for drafting. My favorite line from a movie was stated by Katherine Johnson in Hidden Figures says, “Math doesn’t lie.”
While drafting isn’t something that is easy to do, I have attempted to make the instructions easy to follow. It is likely you will need to draft and redraft, the more and more you begin to understand your shape and what minor changes can do to fix the shape of your bra.
I also created a fun way to manipulate patterns (if you like pattern making you might agree – but if you don’t, if probably won’t be fun). I have been teaching pattern making for years, but it never really dawned on me to approach bra drafting in the same manner. I had an idea in my head and keep reworking until it finally made sense to me. I hope it makes sense to you too, but again, it is not easy if you are not that experienced.
I hope this explanation helps answer some of your questions. I plan to begin working building my online classes for drafting once I return from vacation. If you want to learn with me but a book is not the best way for you to learn, the online class might be a good option. I have also announced a handful of in-person workshops taught by me. They are a little pricey for some of you, but I’m only going to work with 5 people at a time, so you will have my complete attention for 3 days.
For those of you who have the first or second edition of this book and don’t want to buy another, but would like to benefit from this new knowledge, I am working on a supplement that will contain only the major changes. This will include a chapter on how to modify patterns for your shape, how to do the math and draft with that math and the sloper manipulation chapters. I’m not sure of the price yet, as it depends on how big the book actually is, but it will be less than buying a 3rd edition.
I am offering the full 3rd edition spiral bound in color, as well as the black & white version, pdf, kindle and ereader versions. That way there is something for everyone’s budget. As much as I’d love to sell this book for $100 because I believe the knowledge is that valuable, I would rather share the knowledge with everyone, than the elite few.
While most of you will have success with this book, there will be some of you who just don’t get it. I understand that. Feel free to contact me for assistance or sign up for my online class when that is available.
Over the next 2 weeks, the 3rd edition is being translated into Spanish. Once I complete that, I will begin looking at translations in other languages, so put in your request now.