Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just a General Update

I have literally been swamped lately. I brought on a new teacher, a new manager, a new part-timer and turned my part-time patternmaker into full time. Between the training of everything, I am exhausted.

As the owner who once did everything, it is really difficult to train as many people as I have simultaneously, but I'm trying to manage. I am glad I'm taking a vacation at the end of this week, even if it is only for 5 days, it is something!

We are well on our way to starting our own factory. Crazy, isn't it? But it is what I want. I want to create jobs and bring manufacturing back home to the USA.

To slingshot us there, we have applied for the Chase Mission Street Grant and need your vote to help us get to the next level. Here is the link. https://www.missionmainstreetgrants.com/business/detail/1697

I would love it if you could send a vote our way. We need 250 votes to get to the next level of review.

Anyway, Emily is getting giant and even though it has been over 110 degrees at the store, we have been preparing for the winter snows up at our house. I will post some pics of our vacation very soon.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Altering the Patterns



I have been working on making a few bras with my patterns and its come to my attention that I need to add a little clarity to the specifics of the pattern. First, the seam between the lower and upper cup falls above the apex. I did this to help with lift for those of us who need it. Second, the pattern may not be suited to be sewn with a woven fabric without alterations. Because I raised the seam, it leaves some of the lower cup shaping out.

My conclusions are that to use the pattern as is, I would recommend using a stretch fabric (preferable 2 layers and crossing the grainlines - meaning one on the straight grain and one on the cross grain). Smaller busted individuals can get away with one layer if the fabric is stable.

To use this pattern successfully with a woven fabric, one can either lower the top seam or one can add a dart. I chose to add a dart and I've chronicled my journey to do so.

First draw a line from the notch through the cup. This line can vary a bit, but only a test cup will tell you if you have an appropriate line through the apex.


Next I cut off the top line of the cup and slashed up from the bottom of the cup to the notch, but not cutting through it.


Now you want to open up the cup to create the dart. This amount varies based on the cup size. If you are an A cup, open it 1/4". B cup 1/2", etc. Increasing the amount by 1/4" for each cup. For my cup, I'm the I cup, so its 9 sizes up, making it 2 1/4".


Next you need to round out the top of the cup to be a smooth curve.


From the notch point on the new outside edge, mark in 1/4" for the seam allowance, then measure down the center of the dart 1/8" for each cup size. I moved it 1 1/8". This marks the bust point.


Draw in the dart from that point to both sides of the original pattern.





Draw in your 1/4" seam allowance.



Cut out the dart and the remaining pattern piece and voila- a darted cup that is appropriate for the bust size.


I may add this cup to the downloadables, but it takes a bit to grade all the patterns.

Friday, August 15, 2014

How to Measure for a Bra

I often wonder why people find it so difficult to measure for your bra size. There is a simple formula, but the downfall is that if you are wearing the wrong size bra initially, the measurements will be wrong. Let me explain.

When we wear the proper bra, our bust sits so the bust point (very nice way to say nipple) at the center of our breast. If you are wearing a cup size too small or a cup that stretches too much, you will have "droopy boobs." When the breasts are droopy, the bust measurement will measure smaller than it should.

This is also the problem is you are wearing the wrong size band. The band will make everything sit lower on the body, hence wrong measurements.

For my sew-a-longs, you can refer to these sizing charts (please note that the bras in my book might be off and I will be working on updating them by the end of the year). These directions work for most American brand bras and will also work for my 3 piece cup bra.

The Band Size

Once you have the correct band size, then you can start trying to figure out the cup size. But first, grab your tape measure and take two measurements. You want to take a snug measurement under your bust at the rib cage. Round to the nearest whole number. Write this down.


The second measurement you need to take is the over bust measurement. Also take this measurement snug. This is above all the breast tissue on the chest. Write this measurement down again rounding to the nearest whole number.


Refer to the following chart and use both the measurements you took to find your band size. If you prefer to just do the math, add the two numbers together and divide by 2. The nearest even number is your band size.

The Cup Size

The next measurement is the bust measurement. This amount will change as you may not be wearing the right size currently, but its a place to start. Try to measure over the bust point around the body.


You can use the following chart to compare the band size to the bust size and determine the cup size.


According to my sizes, I should be wearing a 36J. I cut all the pieces out for the cup in muslin. (You should be using a woven fabric for this pattern.)


All the bra pieces have 1/4" seam allowance, so an easy way to figure out where 1/4" sits on your sewing machine is to measure from the needle out on the foot to see where 1/4" falls. On my machine, the 1/4" is half way through my foot (mine has a big foot).


First you need to sew the top and bottom cup together. The notches should line up, but if they don't, don't stress about making them match perfectly.


Press the seam open. I used my fancy bra ham to iron around the curve. (And yes, I will be making these available as soon as I can figure out an inexpensive alternative to the wood block my husband had to cut out with his fancy tools).


Then sew the side cup to the pieces you already sewed together. Make sure that where you sew (at 1/4") the seams meet up as pictured. Again, press after sewing.


I sewed a sample cup of the 36J in muslin and discovered it was slightly too big. I attribute this to not taking the bust measurement snug enough.


I then sewed the 36I, one size smaller and it fit really well. I also sewed underwire channeling onto the edge of the cup so I could see how it fit with the correct underwire. When I sewed the channeling, I just sewed it at 1/4" from the edge of the muslin.


It fit much better!


Here is a sneak preview of the fabrics I'll be using for the first bra sew along. I'll put together kits of this fabric selection when I release my sew along so if you want the same custom made bra for yourself, you can have one. Happy fitting!




Sunday, August 3, 2014

Updated Tables for Bare Essentials: Bras

I have finally updated my charts for the book. I have on my agenda to update the full book by the end of the year. In the update for the digital books, I will update the existing files so they should be updated for those who already purchased the digital books. I will double check how that works to make sure that is the case.

Here are the updated tables for pages 22 through 25. I also realize that this means that my bra patterns (from the book) must be off by 2 sizes as well. I want to get this updated too, but again, I am just one person, balancing a toddler and a store.

Fixed tables for Bare Essentials: Bras

You will be happy to learn that I now have 2 employees to help with my work load and am in the process of getting someone full time. Yay me! I'm an employer!

For a quick update on my 3 piece bra cup patterns, I am formatting each file, but so far have finalized sizes 28A-J, 30A-J, 32A-L, 34A-L and 36A-L. I hope to finish these up in the next few days. I want to sew a few sizes together first on my side to just double check my work, so it might be another 2 weeks before I do my sew along. I will probably pull together a few kits for those who want to make the same bra as me.

I will be sending my testers the full pattern for their size and will finally do my sew along. If you wanted to test and didn't get to, sorry you missed the chance, but I tested what I needed to test. I might do another pattern test again in the future, so keep checking back in.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Delays, always delays

I'm sorry I haven't been in touch and finished my sew along. I dropped my (brand new) personal computer and haven't been able to work on finalizing my patterns. The one time I don't buy insurance is the time I actually need it. That will teach me!

I have also been completely swamped with work. I have been a bit overwhelmed with work these days. I'm actually looking for a fashion design instructor to take over teaching for me to let me write the actual lesson plans and finish my book. I am also looking for a seamstress to help take my business to the production level I need.

Its always something, right? I'm going to try to work with the Workforce Development Department to see if they can help me get the employees I need. There are some great programs I'm learning about through them, so cross your fingers I find the people I need.

I've only been in my current space for about 4 months, but I'm already looking to expand and get a second space where I can move my development and production business. I'm just trying to be cautious and expand as I see fit. I'm still a little overwhelmed that I have 2 employees and am looking for 2 more. My greatest fear is not being able to make the rent and payroll. I just have to think positively and know I will succeed.

Anyway, I am very busy working on finalizing my patterns for the 3 piece cup. I've also decided that I'll be selling each size separately for $1. It was just getting really complicated for me to compile the files. I am also going to be starting with a smaller range, not including the AAA, AA and on some the K and L. I will add these as I can, but I need to modify my band patterns even more to accommodate the larger and smaller sizes. I will take requests for additional sizes once my full range is published and available for download.

Other than that, on a personal note, Emily just moved into a big girl bed and is taking stairs completely on her own. Potty training is up next. Oh what fun that will be.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Chart Changes to Bare Essentials: Bras

I'm so glad I have been using testers to help me determine the fit of my 3 piece cup. After collecting everyone's data, I realized every person's size was off by 2 cup sizes. I used the wire and cup size chart from my book and low and behold, I find a mistake.

I don't think it would affect the drafting in the book, but I did discover that my numbers for the bust diameter is off by 1 full number. For example a diameter of 11.5 would actually be 12.5 on my chart. That could be causing people to be using the wrong wires or making the wrong size.

I just can't believe it has taken me nearly 3 years to find this mistake. I don't know how big of a difference that will make since many people had a hard time taking accurate measurements of that amount.

I will definitely be updating the book by the end of the year.

For all my testers, I'll be sending you the updated patterns by the end of the weekend. I'm almost finished with the full pattern. I just have the back band to complete.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Animals on my Feet

Now that my shop is finally in a groove and I can let go of some responsibilities by having employees, I've been working on some personal crafty and fix-it projects. Today I repaired my giraffe slippers.

These are my giraffes. I have worn holes in the bottoms and the darn necks don't stay up.

photo 1 (3)

The bottoms are pretty bad as shown.

photo 2 (4)

First thing I did was remove the bottoms of the slippers with my handy new electric seam ripper.

photo 3 (3)

I used some left over foam from recovering my dining room chairs for the new bottoms. The bottom insides I used some fuzzy faux fur type stuff. I used some upholstery fabric for the absolute bottoms. I'm actually using the underside for the bottoms since it has more texture to grip the ground.

photo 5

Before I started sewing, I added more stuffing to the neck of the giraffe so it would stand up. I first sewed the fuzzy part on the bottom using my awesome industrial sewing machine. I doubt a regular machine would work on this. Then I placed the foam on the bottoms and then the upholstery bottoms. I would have used the little bands around the foam, but one side was torn up pretty bad. I pinned it all together around the edges and sewed it again.

photo 1 (2)

Voila! Fixed slippers in under an hour. I guess I can now pull out the other slippers sitting in the back of my closet that need repair.

photo 2 (2)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Still doing prep work

Thank you everyone for sending me your measurements. I have been swamped with work this week. I got my first production account and am operating without any employees currently. I really need to hire someone again. LIKE YESTERDAY!

I finished the grading of my 3 piece cup, so this weekend I will send each of you that sent me messages 2-3 cup patterns to test. I know some of those measurements are strange, but I'm experimenting with measurements. I know they aren't measurements you would normally take, hence the experimentation.

I'm thinking that with the new book and directions I'll have illustrations of what you might look like in your bra, which can tell me if you are wearing the wrong band, cup size or both. Like I said, its all an experiment.

I have also been hesitant to write too much on this blog, because I'm trying to add a blog within my website with wordpress. My site is built with ZenCart, which is awesome for all the inventory stuff, but the wordpress integration is just time consuming (meaning I can't get my husband to take time to help me implement it). He has made a bunch of changes to ZenCart to customize it for me, so just copying and pasting the code won't work.

Ahh. Anyway, there are a few more days to send me measurements. Remember, if you don't understand them all, do what you can and I'll decipher it.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Measuring for our patterns

I have been working diligently on creating about 150 sizes of my 3 piece bra cup to cover sizes 28A through 50J (Sizes AA and AAA are also being created for many band sizes). Because it takes several hours to grade each pattern piece, I'm going to start my sew along with a little testing of directions for measuring. 

Each person who wishes to participate in my sew along with my pattern pieces, I am asking them to give me their results from different measurements. This will be helpful when I write the update to my bra book and also help me send you the right pattern to test. 

After I select a size for you test, I will send you 2-3 sizes based on your measurements and ask you to sew together one cup in muslin to test for the best fit and size. This won't be a perfect fit because I'm not designing the bra to be sewn in a woven, but in a power mesh with a stretch lace. 

The reason I want the sample cup in the woven is because it is not forgiving and will tell me which size you are meant to fit into. Providing the initial fit samples don't have major problems, I will then send you the remainder of the pattern to fit the appropriate cup size we selected for you. This gives me time to finish grading the band patterns.

While all this is going on, I will be putting together a sewing kit with fabrics, laces, trims and anything else you will need to sew a bra together. Once we have your size, I can include the most appropriate underwire for you to use. 

Ok. So now that you know the conditions, here are the first set of directions for you. Lets take your measurements!

Feel free to fill out this info and email me at jennifer at porcelynne (.) com. If I have a moment to breathe this week, I'll try to do an illustration of the measurements. If you don't fully understand, just indicate it in the comments and I'll try to clarify it as much as possible.

1. Your current bra size. If it varies for brands, give me 2-3 examples of sizes from different manufacturers.

2. Your under bust measurement. Snug measurement.

3. Your bust measurement. Not snug, your breast tissue is soft so it will crease easily.

4. Your chest (over bust) measurement. Snug measurement.

5. Wearing your bra, measure from the side of your bust at the center front of your body across the apex and over to the far side of the bust. This is the full amount to where the breast tissue ends. For large cups, it may measure close to being under your arm. You can also use your existing bras as a gauge and measure to where the underwire ends. If you are getting a couple different measurements, just explain the measurements and give the amounts.

6. Not wearing a bra, with your breast sitting high or hanging low, it doesn't matter. Measure from the point where the breast leaves the body, either the beginning of the mountain or where gravity makes the breast form a pull downwards. Measure straight across the body to the other side of the breast tissue.

These numbers will help me determine how accurate measurements are and how they relate to the bra itself.

Happy measuring.

BTW- I'm in the process of moving my blog over to my main website, so I'll include an update on this blog when I transition it over. If you follow it here, you will have to change to following it over there. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Quick Post - Bra Sew Along Coming Soon

I wanted to announce that I will be doing a bra sew along to test out my 3 piece bra cup. I will be giving my test pattern for free for all who want to sew along with me. I will post up next week about checking your size so you can request a pattern to sew with me. I promise to write an update soon. Its been one hell of a year so far!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking back on 2013

I have to say that 2013 was an amazing yet challenging year for me. Looking back, I would probably do some things differently in respects to my business. I learned that starting a new business with a newborn is really really stupid. There, I said it.

On one hand, I learned that life changes with a baby and I can no longer do everything on my own. I learned my limitations. On the other hand, I learned how to be a mother and how to balance both business and family.

Even though I say I would do things differently, I don't think I would be where I am had I not done things as they played out.

The Good of 2013

1. I got to know the little girl who will one day be a great woman (my daughter, of course).
2. I made some amazing friends in both my community and through my business.
3. I created new business partnerships - finding amazing teachers and volunteers to work with.
4. I learned about my small town communities, both in Redlands and Forest Falls.
5. I made some great financial investments in inventory and fixtures.

The Bad of 2013

Along with starting a new business comes the sacrifices.
1. I sacrificed spending time with my family.
2. I sacrificed working on the books I planned to write.
3. I sacrificed financial freedom.
4. I sacrificed completing our home renovation.

The Plan for 2014

I have been making preparations for several months in order to take some time away from my business to spend with my parents. I moved out at 18 and haven't spent much time around them in 20 years. Now that my daughter is becoming aware, I want her to get to know her grandparents and I want to get to know my parents again.

I've been weighing the pros and cons of my business. Luckily, the pros outweigh the cons, so I've stepped past the point where I was considering closing up shop. I have way too much time and money invested in the business to just walk away. I feel like the business is on the verge of doing something great and I can't give up on it yet.

I signed a new lease for a new location and we will be moving at the end of February. It scares the crap out of me to sign a 2 year lease, but it is reassuring that my rent will be the same as what we are paying now.

Over the next year, I plan to bring on a few business partners so I can spend more time with my family and write those darn books!

Other than that, I plan to have more adventures with my family.

I hope you all have a wonder 2014. I have confidence that this year will be a prosperous year for those of us who work hard.