LilypaDesigns

Bespoke Bras, Lingerie and Supplies

A Bra That Fits

Sewing Bras - Designing a New Style Based on a Well Fitting Pattern (aka Block)

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Now that the Costume Season (aka Halloween) is over, lingerie sewing has resumed its full course. Yay!

In my pursuit to further my (bra) education, I've decided to try out a new style with different materials.  As I am not quite ready to completely draft my own patterns from scratch, using a well fitting pattern (aka Block) seemed like a step in the right direction.

I really liked this style of bra: integrated powerbar/lower cups with strap tab with small section of lace upper. Add a few minor tweaks to suite my particular preferences (lower center gore and foam lower cups) and its perfect!

[Cleo Lucy, Gorsenia Marlene, and Freya Arabella]

As I already had a great fitting foam bra pattern [my fabulous Comexim copy - details HERE], I used it as my block.  Following the directions from the Bra-Makers Manual (Vol 2) by Beverly Johnson, I ended up with this:

Basically taking the curves off, draw new lines then add curves back on. [You can see a bit of this in action on Erin's Blog HERE] A quick muslin (just one cup) then basted into my test band, and we were ready to for final adjustments.

Here's the final!  I'm super spiffed.

THE PROCESS

I cut out the lower cup pieces in cut-and-sew foam and identical pieces in my fashion fabric.  The satin-y material is wonderful under fitted clothing. For the upper pieces, I used a stretch lace from

Trim Expo

during my last foray into the Fashion District (Nice selection, great prices!). Then cut the same pieces in bra tulle for the lining.  Since I wasn't using a pattern with accompanying instructions, I assembled the pieces together in the order that made the most sense to me. Zig zag foam pieces together then sew lower cup fabric pieces together. Baste tulle and lace together, add tiny elastic for neckline, sew combined upper cup piece to combined lower cup pieces.  Sew just the strap tab portion of the fabric to the foam (right sides of fabric to wrong side of foam) then flip open. With wrong side of fabric facing up (and right side of foam), overlap the fabric and foam a few mm and sew INSIDE the seam allowance.  Flip over and top stitch on the cross seam.  Pin down lower edges of fabric to foam and baste.  Finish as usual.

A few minor tweaks to the band - added a gothic arch and doubled up on the power mesh in the back.  Also some adjustments to accommodate the lace on the back band.

THE FIT

I am pleased to report it fits! [with caveats].  Cups fit wonderfully - a little too good as this is definitely a push up bra w/ lots of cleavage.  Since I used the Comexim pattern, the girls are lifted and centered without the help of any additional padding or internal slings!  The gravity defying shape was created by relatively FLAT cups (the cups gain shape when they conform to the underwire) - contrary to everything I've read about bra making thus far.  Immediate projection at the wire is non-existent - this would normally cause major fitting issues for me but not in this time! The bust point of Comexim bra cups tend to be above my bust point (I believe this is by design) and was also perfect for this particular re-design.

THE PROBLEMS

My myopic focus on the cups had caused some oversight on the band.  1.) I had raised the height of the wide wings (for that super sleek silhouette I crave) but had forgotten to raise the back band as well.  Thus the band only has 3 hooks in the back, caused some lumps and bumps. 2.) I had also doubled the powermesh for the back band AND added stretch lace resulting in significantly less stretch.  Thank goodness I had one of those bra extenders handy! 3.) The shorter back band also made the back straps too far apart. Sigh.

Overall I'm very pleased.

Personal Touch Lingerie and What to Expect at Asian Lingerie Stores

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For all this talk about Asian bras and where to get them, I thought I should cover one local source for those in the Los Angeles area.  For those whom are not fluent in the language, stepping foot in an ethnic lingerie store can be intimidating.  Hopefully I can provide some insight to better prepare you.

PERSONAL TOUCH STORES

Today, we will specifically talk about the Personal Touch Lingerie stores.  Partially because I have personally purchased Satami bras there but also because they are the ONLY retailer licensed to sell Satami Lingerie in the United States due to an exclusive contract.

I've been to a few of their locations and they all seem to have the same look - characteristic of a chain store.  Well lit, clean with nice displays, the store is welcoming yet cozy like a boutique.  Typical of many lingerie stores, the sales people will offer to help you find what you're looking for - which is often followed by a "can I measure you?".  Those of you who know your ABTF size and tried to shop for that size know that sales people will 1.) try to convince you that you are wrong or 2.) sister size you into a bra size that they actually carry.

MY EXPERIENCE

Today was no exception.  A woman with flawless skin and good English assists me.  She measures me and tells me I'm a 36E.  I practically laughed.  I told her that I already own a 32 and the band still fits - tight but fits.  Still not convinced, she hands me a 34E to start with and will "go from there".  At least the 34E is a sister size to my usual 32F (UK).  I try it on and the band fits but cups were too small.  She then has me try on a 34G.  It fits almost perfectly.

She then brings out a few different styles in the same size.  We go through a few iterations of trying things on, assessing fit and preferred style.  While she always asked to come back in, there were many times were I was expected to change with her still in the room.  More than once, she helped pull the girls forward while trying on a bra.

Typical of my experiences at Personal Touch (and other lingerie stores), she brings bras in my preferred style (underwire) but also other styles (wireless, sports bra).  You are not required to try anything on but it may take SEVERAL polite "no, thank you's" to get the message across.  Repeat for shapewear, underwear, etc.

In short, lingerie shopping at an Asian boutique (or perhaps all boutique lingerie stores for that matter) is not for the faint of heart.  The sales people are very hands on, talk non-stop and do not hold back (such point out that the low rise bikini you're wearing might be better suited for someone younger and might I consider a light shaping brief?).

RECOMMENDATIONS

1.) Know your UK size (Satami is based in Hong Kong, which uses the UK standard)

2.) Be firm and become a broken record (temporarily)

3.) Be thick skinned.  Know there is no ill will - whether implied or stated.  They are there to assist you (and make a sale) by being straight forward.

Optional

4.) Call ahead to find the name of a sales person who speaks fluent English and make an appointment with them.  I cannot tell you the number of times I walked into a Personal Touch store and they only spoke in Mandarin Chinese.  The Arcadia location was the only one I've been to where the sales lady was fluent.

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My experience is in no way representative of ALL Asian run lingerie stores and only serves as a glimpse of what may occur.  If having a bit of insight prevents someone from freaking out at the store because they have an idea of what to expect, then all the better.