Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Bra-magedon

 Raise your hand if you are slap-tired of this pandemic! I certainly am. During the middle of the isolation and fear and vaccines, I got the brilliant idea that I could make a perfect bra. Usually if something is tailored to your body it fits better. Wouldn't that be a treat?


The more I thought about how great The Perfect Bra would be the more excited I got about the project. Soon I collected hooks, elastic of various widths, pre-made straps, several kinds of elastic, thread to match. I got really excited over some dusky pink stretchy fabric and thought wouldn't it be great if I bought enough to make mine and an extra for my sister. Oh boy. This was going to be a great project.

But then I realized that bra patterns weren't readily available. Hmm. Well, I could make patterns from almost perfect bras or I could use clearance swimsuit tops and reshape them into bras. So I tried a few swimsuit bras. And a pattern I didn't like began to emerge.


You see, once you adjust the strap length, the cup size, the band size, or the degree of stitching, something else always changes. I took a closer look at my purchased bras and realized that the stretch was different between the cups than in the cups. And the sides stretched different than the cups.

Okay, so I realized this project was slightly trickier than I originally thought it would be. To make matters more complicated, I had a back injury long ago at T-12 vertebrae which is exactly where the bra band hits. I also can't take the compression of sports bras. I also have bone spurs in my neck so halter tops are out, and due to both of those spine issues, bras whose straps cross in the back won't work for me.


So what would the perfect bra look like? It would have a wider band, but it wouldn't fit tight. I thought it might open in the center but that was annoying on several levels.  It would definitely have wide straps, preferably cushioned on the shoulders. No underwires, as I can't tolerate those either. It would fit comfortably without squeezing the life out of me and yet still support the girls. If it were made of wicking fabric, so much the better. 

All of you bra-wearers out there probably know that the less structure the bra has, the less support there is. However, I discovered a real-life hack that helped. Wearing a stretchy camisole atop a less supportive bra added support that was comfy all day long. That helped for 3 seasons out of the year but was miserable for summer.


I'm not saying I gained a lot of weight during covid. Instead, my bras shrunk over time ((grin)). Getting bra extenders helped with most of the band shortness issue I had. And again, the camisole on top covered a myriad of sins.

But I kept looking at the fabric. So I cut pieces out based on a current bra, but no matter how I turned the fabric, I couldn't get the stretch right. A closer look at the store-bought one revealed that the fabric in different parts of the bra were different thicknesses, different stretches, and different breathability even though it was all the exact same color.  Looked again at the local fabric store and those extra choices weren't available. Well, dang. that was discouraging.


By this time, stores were putting clothes on clearance again, including bras, so I bought some larger bras from online vendors and then customized them to fit, either by adding support stitches across the top of the cups and trimming the middle section between the cups. That yielded a few bras that had moderate support, especially when overlaid with a stretchy camisole. And the store-bought one pictured above met every criteria I wanted except for the one I didn't think to include - it has scratchy fabric. Grrrr.

A lightbulb finally went on. I should be sewing bras into camisoles. Not shelf bras that give you a uni-boob look, but real cups and a little bit more snugging down to simulate a band. Lo and Behold, several manufacturers must've been channeling the same idea, because this very concept hit the market. They came with a big price tag so I looked and wanted and waited. About six months later, those camisoles with real bras shaped right in the stretchy fabric started going on sale. I got one and I like it, but because its new and I'm stuck at home mostly right now, I am saving it for later when I'm out and about in the world.


Meanwhile, I found a few of the new bras I purchased worked well, like the pink bra in the First Solution Thoughts image. It washes well, still has the same elasticity after dozens of wearings, and it's comfy all day with good support. I bought a couple more of those and like my happy-color bras.

Now I have a leftover drawer of bra supplies, some stretchy fabric that won't be made into bras, and a bit of frustration that making the perfect bra was so darn hard. I started with those swimsuit-bras, patterned a Maggie-bra after a real one, modified a larger bra, and came up with the camisole plus bra life-hack. In every case, as soon as I adjusted one part that stretched, such as the band, the armpits became uncomfortable. Cutting the armpits down changed the stretch in the cups, causing gaping or too-tight straps. Inserting a padded section onto the shoulder section of a strap changed the stretch and sometimes made the strap too short and once it even pulled the band up. Not good. Too many variables in this stretchy equation.

In the lessons learned category, I have a newfound respect and admiration for bra companies. How the heck they come up with anything that works is beyond me. I'm not saying the average person can't make a bra; it's more that the average person is likely to give up before he or she figures it out. I know I'm throwing in the towel on this idea of The Perfect Bra.


And while I have your attention, my Doggone It is on sale right now for $0.99, down from $4.99. This paranormal cozy mystery of the murder than happens when a film company comes to town is a fun read for October, plus there's a ghost dog! Though this is book 3 of my 7-book Dreamwalker Mystery series, it can be read as a standalone. Get you copy now at:    KINDLE   NOOK   KOBO   IBOOKS

That's it for now, Happy Reading to All!

Maggie Toussaint

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