I was so pleased to check my email this morning and see this gem of a blog post with fantastic pictures awaiting me. Jillian from our KK+ bras series is back with some astute observations on developing her patterns and prototypes. As the Lingerie Addict pointed out last week, bra making can be an artisan skill, and Jillian’s quest certainly underscores this. I hope you enjoy the post as much as I do!
Hey everyone! It’s Jillian again with an addendum post to the second entry. I apologize for its tardiness- I experienced for the first time a tension headache that lasted almost two full months. I basically curled up in a ball and tried not to move or look at light the entire time. In the last entry, I spoke about the thought process used to develop my pattern drafts. The actual materials used for the practice bras and for the final products were mistakenly left out *hanging head in shame*. This entry would serve to correct that.
Pick up a bra that you’re not wearing and try to count the different parts that make up the whole. Such a tiny garment having such vast importance and so many parts. My current bra design has:
- Rigid/non stretch tricot knit fabrics for the cups, center bridge and side wings,
- ultra thin padding for a strength/shaping layer in the cups,
- heavyweight powernet for the back wings,
- full plushback satin elastic straps,
- Single picot edged plushback elastic in TWO widths for the band,
- O-rings AND slides on the straps,
- vertical steel underwires,
- underwire casing,
- three row hook and eye tape that can be cut to fit as the back closure,
- Polyester thread.
Twelve components in total- pretty trippy considering everything this garment has to do. It isn’t budget friendly to create an entire complete bra just to test out a design. So practice materials are used to mimic the final result as closely as possible.
When creating a practice garment, the best bet is to use a light toned fabric that is similar to the end product fabric. In most cases for clothing, 100% cotton muslin is the go-to fabric used. It is inexpensive, easy to mark changes on, comes in a variety of weights and is easy to rip across the grain to separate lengths from the bolt. However it is flimsy and can’t support the pressure or weight of a heavy breast like mine without wanting to rip or droop. For jeans, twill and/or drill are often used as their weave is very close to denim and is light toned. But even the non stretch twill/drill does have a fair amount of mechanical give (meaning it stretches slightly on its own without the presence of lycra, elastene, etc.) and would have the ability to throw off the pattern’s physics and lines if you wanted a non stretch fabric for the cups. So my choice of these fabrics in the initial stages was wasteful of time/energy/money and very misguided.