A Wire That Fits
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, with your arm raised, 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.
Announcement of Classes
I taught at a bra making conference this past weekend, and while it was a little overwhelming due to class size, I have decided to start teaching again. I have set up five 3-day workshops to teach pattern drafting and manipulation of bras. The best part is that I am limiting class size to 5 individuals for each class.
I was planning to write this post later this week, but just by announcing it on Instagram and Facebook about an hour ago, I have already started booking classes and I know some of you want to know as soon as they are available.
The class days are all Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That way if you are taking off to come to Florida, you only need to take off 2 days, then enjoy an extra day in the Florida sunshine over the weekend after your class ends on Saturday.
The times are scheduled for 9am to 4pm with lunches and snacks included. We have a cute little neighborhood restaurant called Stone Soup that we like to frequent for lunch. If weather permits, we can walk, but we can easily drive over there in my hubbie’s Highlander.
If you are traveling here, I encourage you to stay at the beach to take in the relaxing atmosphere after classes, but we have hotels and AirB&B nearby too. Take an Uber to my studio and I’ll drive you back at the end of the day. I can also try to coordinate with everyone on their arrival times so one of us could come get you from the airport if you don’t want to deal with a rental. We can work out the details once you start scheduling your travel, but please check with me first before depending on us for airport pickup. I will not drive to the airport after 11pm, as I will be asleep, 10pm is probably pushing it.
Here is the link for the classes:
Feel free to ask me any questions you may have.
Introduction to My New Wires
I finally found a little segment of time to film my introduction to the new vertical flat wires I am carrying. Pardon my appearance. I wasn’t planning of doing the video yesterday, but I saw 15 minutes that were available to me.
This video gives a little detail on the differences of the most standard wires used – regular underwires and vertical underwires. After explaining the differences, I explain why I created the vertical flat. I’m still nailing down which size is most appropriate for me.
In traditional sizing, I am recommended to wear a 54 wire. In my testing, the 52 vertical flat fit well and barely moved on me, but once I was driving, I did feel it moving down a bit. I did not alter the bra pattern. I just switched out the wires, so its probably a combination of the pattern and possibly I need to try the 50 vertical flat.
I named these wires myself because I was the one that created them. I’m still hashing out the recommended bra sizes to wear these, so if you test them out, let me know what size worked for you (as well as what size is recommended for you in traditional charts).
Grading a Bra with PolyPattern
I had intended to hold on to these videos for later publication, but I encountered an issue when I went to do a tutorial on how to digitize with PolyPattern, so I decided to just go ahead and release the videos. They would be a little out of order for anyone who is unfamiliar with the software.
The series I just released I filmed a few months ago when I was grading my California Dreaming Bra. These videos show you how I graded it, then imported it into Illustrator to make them pretty for downloads.
I was planning on doing the digitizing tutorial, then a truing tutorial, a basic drafting a sloper, a bra drafting sloper all within PolyPattern prior to releasing this set. I changed my mind. I wanted to show how easy the software is to use for the grading and converting to download.
If you are interested in this software, you can download the demo version under the Books & Downloads tab. Play around with it and let me know what you think. Once you test it, I can give you access to the pricing info. Its actually not bad compared to other CAD software, I just can’t publish the prices to the world. You need to be a secret agent to get that info. It is in lines with the pricing of Wild Ginger’s Cameo Pattern Design and Grading modules.
I will be doing the videos of everything mentioned above, but I am heading off for the holidays in a few days for a couple weeks, so videos will pick back up in January. Although I did just create a legging pattern from kids aged 18 months through size large in kids. If I can get my butt together and do that video today, that will be the last one before the end of the year. If I don’t get to that today, then I wish you all a Happy Holiday! If I do, I’ll post about it before.
The complexity of altering a bra sloper
I created this draft of a stylized bra design from my completed draft. It a bit complex if you have never done pattern drafting before, but know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. When manipulating a pattern you need to remember this important rule – what you take away from one piece in volume you need to make it up on another pattern piece.
This isn’t going to result in a perfect fit after each pattern alteration, so it is important to test the fit prior to moving on to good fabric. I wish you all luck in this journey. The more designs you experiment with, they more knowledgeable you will become.
Here is my challenge. Draw a bra design and submit it to me for a drafting tutorial. I am open to as many as possibly. Let me know what your starting bra is and we can work from there. Not all designs must be created from your initial draft, so if you are daring, maybe submit the new design and scan and send in your starting pattern as well. The more challenges I receive, the more education I can pass on. You can email them to me at jennifer at porcelynne. For me to post, I will need to know which pattern you are starting from (if its another design out there) with the link to the product so I can share it will everyone.
Here are your videos for today.
Splitting the Lower cup from the Bra Draft
I have done a few new videos and this is the latest. This takes the drafted bra sloper we created and splits the lower cup for fit. This will help you get a better idea of the fit. Splitting the lower cup is really just for practice as you may not want a cup with a straight seam across the cup with the split lower cup. This is a good first step to understanding the manipulations involved with changing a bra draft.
Altering your Bra Pattern for a Different Size Wire
I worked on this little video after I had a few questions regarding using a different wire size with my bra pattern. This one is specifically for changing the wire size, but not the wire type. I will work on a different video for changing the wire type.
Drafting Videos 5..6..7..8..
I finally was able to finish the drafting for the bra sloper. Its in 4 parts. It gets pretty mathematical, so be forewarned.
Enjoy. Coming soon will be pattern alterations.
To Error is Human
I never claim to be perfect, so please never quote me as so. I actually skipped a step when drafting the back of the band, but this video shows you how to compensate for missing the step.
Drafting has Commenced
To put a smile on everyone’s face, I have finally filmed my first set of drafting videos for creating your own bra sloper. I’ll keep this short, as I know everyone wants to begin drafting yesterday, so here it goes. Happy watching!