You know my great fashion passion item is lingerie - well, it's also cashmere, but that's more of my passion textile. If only it were practical to wear cashmere bras.
Since I started sewing I've tried to make many different sorts of garments: pants, tops, skirts, dresses. But one thing I never thought I'd have the chance to explore is bra-making. You want to talk about a lost art...
Commercial bra construction has evolved tremendously over the past 50 years - even as home sewing has dropped off. The fabrics available, shaping, line - the size of breasts - all of these things have changed and evolved but who's making the handmade version now?
I know a woman (in design school, admittedly) who is doing her major in corsetry. She's made some bras. When I spoke with her about this for the first time, not 2 months ago, I told her flat-out that it wasn't something I would ever dream of tackling. Then, I discovered (miraculously) Heather's blog, wherein I saw in photos that someone - a real person not in design school - actually is making these things. And you don't need tiny fashion boobs.
The world of sewing blogs is challenging to navigate - but once you get hooked up, you can find the most remarkable, talented sewists! Heather kindly shared her experience with me and also introduced me to a special, private lingerie construction blog (like freemasons but with undies!) I applied for access to this invitation-only community and, happily, it was granted. Now I can benefit from the talent of about 50 women who have made bras - in some instances, many bras. What a tremendous gift!
In the last couple of weeks I have learned the many fascinating channels for obtaining bra-making fabrics, accouterments, patterns and instruction manuals. Imagine my surprise at finding that, perhaps the most fabulous of all the bra-making supply (and instruction locales) is in Hamilton, an otherwise unremarkable steel-town about an hour away from where I live.
Bra patterns are not easy to come by in any size, much less the larger cup-sizes. But they are out there, along with the right sized wires and powernet and delicate fashion fabrics that barely stretch (but have give). And I am beyond excited to know more.
I bought the newbie kit from Bra-Maker's Supply - which comes with all the stuff to make 2 bras (except the wires, which aren't expensive), a pattern and a manual. In truth, with careful cutting, I think it probably makes 3 bras.
I've also checked out the few European sites that cater to this niche hobby. I think I may prefer the shape of those bras; it remains to be seen.
I'm in the process of constructing my very first piece right now - what a trip! Apparently, one's first attempt must be viewed entirely as a grand experiment, from fit perspective anyway. I'll keep you posted, of course. I have an intuition there will be many fun outcomes here.
PS: Just in case you're freaking out, imagining I might actually model underwear on my blog, ain't gonna happen. Dad: I'm sure you're very relieved.