Guest Post by Emma – Instagram: @bean_box_sewing
Whilst I’d like to say I began sewing lingerie for fun, it was more a case of problem solving since store-bought items pinched, rubbed and ultimately lead to more time than I would like ending up braless.
3 rd December is International Person with Disabilities Day and that seems an appropriate day to hearn from a disabled sewist and how a sewing pattern has been useful in meeting particular needs. For me, my relevant health conditions here are Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME, also known as CFS), scoliosis and spina bifida. Amongst the disabled community, I have found I am one of many with sensory issues and difficulties with mobility. Exposed seams (including overlocked edges) can make clothes unwearable, slight pressure can cause pain (even when no mark is left) and seemingly soft fabrics can be too uncomfortable to wear.
When I saw a call for pattern testers for the Jackie Sports Bra, I was excited to join in. Before my chronic illness emerged, I was quite sporty and athletic wear made up a large proportion of my wardrobe, so I was sure I’d know a good sports bra, if I saw one. These days, my exercise is gentler and doesn’t stretch much beyond a need for a light compression sports bra, so I followed the instructions to make a more relaxed fit of the Jackie Sports Bra; leaving compression versions to other testers. It didn’t occur to me that a sports bra pattern would lend itself to be in my regular lingerie rotation – even for the days my chronic illness has me in bed all day and exercise is the last thing on my mind. As my friend said, upon trying on my first version (which I never got back…): “this pattern is GENIUS”. I totally agree.
First, I made a toile with the pullover hack in the instructions to check the fit – the only adjustment needed was to reduce the overall strap length by 2 inches. After that, I made the zipper front version and sat back to admire it.
Here I will outline some of the features of the Jackie Sports Bra and how it helps me with my health issues. Fully enclosed seams Many bras and bralettes have exposed edges somewhere on the fabric, be it the cups, side seams or strap attachment. To my skin, this can feel like the discomfort of sand in my underwear – no one wants that! The more advanced construction of the Jackie hides all of these edges, even protecting skin with the use of the zipper shield or hook and eye tape for front closure options.
Foam straps including adjustable portion
With a 32E bust, it is often suggested that I use wider straps such as 5/8” (approx. 16mm) for comfort, but this has still led to an uncomfortable pressure in my shoulders in even the best fitting bra. The Jackie design has a more complex strap attachment that uses a foam-covered fabric strap against the skin and a length of regular bra strap on top of this for adjustability. The softness of the foam and the distribution of pressure left me so comfortable that I fell asleep – this never happens with bras!
Front zip closure
As part of a bone abnormality, it is common for me to injure my back and have severely affected mobility for several weeks at a time. During these moments, I cannot wear pullover bras, nor reach behind my body to clasp a standard hook and eye. The front closure of the Jackie means it is possible for me to feel put together with a supported chest, even during those difficult times. For me, it is doable to fasten the zip without further support. Some may find this difficult to slightly stretch their bra around their bodies and connect the zipper teeth at the same time – the hook and eye tape that sits behind the zipper resolves this problem. Simply connect the hook and eye tape between the breasts and close the zipper over the top. Since I didn’t require this additional support, I used the optional zipper shield in the pattern.
For my yoga bra, I used a holographic nylon spandex. The instructions stated to go up a cup size if lining with scuba, so I did that and used a 32F instead of the 32E I measured at. Whilst this was suitable for the light impact movement I sometimes manage; I liked the shape so much I wondered if I could be altered to be a daily bra. Inspired by the other testers who have since been displaying their makes on a blog tour, I set about making a cozy and more feminine day (and it turns out, night) bra.
My choice of fabric for this next bra was a Tencel Modal spandex, lined in the same fabric. I realized the stretch percentage was greater, at least twice as much as the nylon spandex, so I would need to alter the size I used or the bra would be too big.
Aiming for a comfort bra with even less compression, I chose to go down a band and up a cup size, making the 30F. In a later version, I swapped the middle panel for lace, which lead to me altering the construction a little to accommodate the scallop edge.
My next steps
The only issue I have had is that I use slightly looser band elastic than suggested as I have flared ribs that are prominent under my bust and, on an unrelated note, sometimes suffer from heartburn, which can make tight-fitting clothes uncomfortable as they exacerbate this issue. Porcelynne have already thought of this. Like how in a regular bra, I have learned that a gothic arch solves this problem for me, there are mix and match options for Porcelynne’s other bras that include options in the Christina and the Laurel that involve designs of a shaped band in the front of the bra that resembles a gothic arch. This could make my lingerie drawer even happier and save me drafting my own. Since the other pattern pieces are also interchangeable with her other designs, it looks like I have great fun ahead of me. For now, the slightly looser band is working very well. Given that I fell asleep in my current rendition of what I call my “comfort” version in the tencel modal, and my friend has managed to commandeer two out of the five Jackies I have made, I’m sure that Porcelynne has made something extra special, I am on to great things with this fabric choice and will be continuing to experiment with these pattern pieces for pretty, comfortable, accessible bras that mean I no longer dread getting dressed.
Emma – Instagram: @bean_box_sewing