When starting my first bra, I felt like I needed make the full bra in order to see how the cups would fit because that would be the only way to have all the support in place. Monica suggested we fit an individual cup and showed how in her Sew Expo workshop. But, when I tried to do that on myself, my girls did *not* want to cooperate. Ugh.
You see, my girls don't sit up and bark. They do the Miranda clap. They aren't a fondant covered birthday cake with pointy candles that want happy birthday sung to them (there's a story there, yes). My girls wander where they will and are great friends with a pretty cool and very consistent guy named Mr. Gravity. When I attempt to fit them unsupported, it's like trying to "nail jello to a tree," a term from my Texan friends, or maybe it's like trying to catch fish with your bare hands. Odd at best.
When I am working through a challenge I research. Heavily. I pour through my bookshelf. I buy books recommended by other sewers who've been working on similar projects. I follow threads and surf waves of knowledge and links as far as they will take me. I know others must have been through this. Sewing is such an old craft. There must be tribal knowledge somewhere.
In search of an answer, I read many blogs Maddie's, Kathy's, Amy's, Novita's and several others. In my experience, no one single person has all the answers I am seeking. Using multiple sources allows me to get a very complete answer.
With a fit, the most helpful thing is for me to draft a pattern based on my own measurements. That way, I'm not trying to alter someone else's block or with a body style or shape that has very different fitting issues from my own. It cuts out a lot of pain and heartache. And saves on fabric too. This and my research brought me to Beverly.
Beverly Johnson, bra pattern designer and owner of Bra-Makers Supply is known as the Fairy Bra Mother. (Help me, oh Fairy Bra Mother!) The Bra-Makers Supply is one of the biggest suppliers in North America with the best and most clearly organized selection.
In searching for reviews of Beverly's patterns, I came across Emerald Erin's blog. She spent a week learning to bras at Boob Camp and sew swimwear with Beverly. I also found a great interview that Stephanie of Starcross Sewing did on Beverly. Stephanie is also challenging herself with a year in indie patterns. She's picked some unusual and fun patterns and introduced me to some new designers. I enjoyed her interviews also.
After reading those posts, I was sold on Beverly's work. I invested in her book, The Bra Makers Manual, Vol. 2 (because it has a section on pattern drafting) and the Shelley pattern. In her book I discovered that for many breast types & shapes, fitting the cup must take place while the breast is supported. Oh wonderful. Now I get it.
Did you know she has a Craftsy class that just launched? Yay!
I also invested in a book by Norma of Orange Lingerie, Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction, months ago. I must not have been ready to read it, because I was caught by the kindle formatting and couldn't see beyond to the content. Thanks to Kathy's post this week, I went back to Norma's book this weekend. Norma has a section called testing and fitting the toile. It's ultimately a muslin version of a bra with some great notes on how to work through fit. And I thought I had to get the underwire and all that jazz in first. Oh how lovely.
Now I am ready to draft a pattern and test the fit for Bra #3!
Do you research before starting a major project? Or do you dive right in?
Are there any other bra resources or people sewing them/blogging about them you recommend? I'd love to know!