January 26, 2015

5 things you need to know

Let's say you buy a bra and when you wear it, you get a rash. Taking the bra back to the store may not be possible or even successful. You want to complain directly to the manufacturer. How do you find out who they are? By reading the garment label, of course!

By law, a label HAS to be sewn to any garment sold in Canada. Not just bras, but any garment sold to the public. That means selling garments at a high-end boutique or selling them at the Saturday market, they must be labelled! 

The one exception -  if you are making custom garments as an order for a customer, you do not need to label that garment. Often custom bra-makers sew a garment care tag on anyway, first as a matter of pride in their work but also as another method of advertising - think of the label as a gentle reminder every time she puts on that bra!

Five things a garment label must tell you

This can be the name of the company (such as WonderBra), but not the name of the factory that actually made it (say in China or Sri Lanka). If you do not want to have your company name on it, then you must use a CA number or their RN number (in the States) 

A CA Number is a five-digit number preceded by the letters CA on the label. Only Canadian manufacturers are allowed to register for a CA Identification Number. You can find out more about the CA number of apply for one at http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca

So even though in the label above, the clothing line is " Style & Co." the CA number is 00234 (hmm, that's a low number - must be a company that's been around for awhile!) so I can find out who that really is.
TORONTO, Ontario 

 If you are in the USA, their equivalent of the CA is the RN number. If you are selling in both countries, you need both numbers as you can see in this fleece jacket below.

I always want to know where my clothes are made.The label tells me that. It must tell you the country where the manufacturing took place. However, there is a little known trick that some manufacturers use to have a label say "Made in Canada" when it really isn't. 

They have everything made and shipped to Canada, where only one portion of the garment is sewn  in Canada along with the tag. If any portion of the garment is finished in Canada, the label can read "Made in Canada". Honest.

This is especially important when you consider allergies and sensitivities, but there is an ethical aspect to this as well. For example, if you refuse to support the fur trade, you will want to know if bunnies died to trim your new sweater. The sweater above, as you can see contains 60% rayon and 40% cotton (no wonder it is lovely and soft - and no bunnies died!)

Along with the fibre content - you also have to put the percentage of each fibre. If there is trimming on the garment, for example crystals, then the label can say 100% polyester Exclusive of Trim. That means the trim (crystals) comprises less than 10% of the total garment. Otherwise the percentages of fibres have to add up to 100%.

Ah, the care symbols! Do you know how to read them? The care instructions for every garment must be included on the label, either in English and French if you are using words....OR as the International garment care symbols.

This is the flip side of the tag in my fuchsia top. On the front side is the English and here is the French. And in case you cannot read either language, here are the symbols. This garment is to be machine washed in cold water, can use a non-chlorine bleach with care, can be put in the dryer, can be ironed (the dot in the iron means caution) and lastly do not dry clean. Whew! All that in 5 little symbols.

Here is another tag. With all the care instructions in both languages, the label can get pretty big!
The symbols here are in colour - yellow means caution and red means - don't do it! So no iron, no bleach and no dry cleaning for this pink fleece!

One more tag, this one has the square (that's the drying symbol) This one means Lay Flat to Dry. 

So can you guess label requirement #5? Here is what it is NOT: It is not the city where the manufacturer's head office is. So  Made in Toronto, Ontario is not legal...you must identify the COUNTRY of origin. Not everyone knows where Toronto is! Nor is it the style number of the garment. That's not a legal requirement, although some put it on as useful information.

The 5th requirement is...

 The size of the garment must be sewn somewhere in the garment, but the manufacturer doesn't have to put it in the label - as long as it is "somewhere", that is still legal. A lot of tags have the little size tag stitched to the main manufacturer label, like this one.

Do you have to have a sewn in label? Yes, unless you have a heat transfer label that is a permanent part of the garment. You see a lot of underwear that uses the heat transfers. Like these below.

Hmmm....This tag must be incorrect, as I am sure I  wear size Medium panties! These must have shrunk in the dryer. Oh wait, the label says Hang to dry.

January 20, 2015

Fabric Magic - Trick 1

Have I got a neat trick to share with you!

PROBLEM: Duoplex, our go-to main bra-making fabric is plain-Jane  fabric, even though the colours are gorgeous when made up. I wanted pattern, colour and prints! Sorry, duoplex...but you weren't getting my mojo going anymore!

SOLUTION: Print my own fabric! 
This was so easy - your kids could do this and they would love it! Here's how I did it. 

Use any permanent fabric marker. I chose Setasilk from G&S Dyes in Toronto. Don't get hung up on the brand. I went to Wal-mart and Michael's and they both had LOADS of permanent fabric markers in TONS of colours.  Pastels, brights, earth tones - you name it! Who knew? 
Then get a rubber stamp - I got a collection of small stamps at Michael's. I picked this wee bow 
Wet the stamp with the marker......
And stamp the right side of the duoplex (quick - before the marker dries). How easy is that?
Of course, once I stamped the cloth, the background looked kind of sparse. Even though they say "less is more", I decided that MORE is more! I added small dots to the background by using the point of the marker in between the bows.
Once the fabric was completely printed (it took maybe 20 minutes total since the fabric quantity for a bra is not very big!) and dried (about 1 minute), I pressed it on the right side
And again on the wrong side, just for good measure. Now that the print is heat set, it is permanent and can be washed without worry!
And here is the bra Erin made with the finished fabric. isn't it lovely? I was super pleased with the way this print turned out - now I want more, more, more! Hmmm....can you see more rubber stamps in my future? lol
 Already I have a number of ideas of how to make fabric more fun! I plan to share them all with you, so stay tuned! 

If you try any of the techniques, I would love to see what you do!

Happy Bra-making!

January 19, 2015

The Trouble with Elastics

I am sure there are few things worse than sewing up a pattern you love, in a size you know fits you - only to have it NOT FIT at the end! Grrr...very frustrating! 

But when that sewing project is your very own perfectly fitting bra pattern - it's even worse than frustrating! It's like you have been betrayed by your underwear! <wails and weeping here>

What happened? Did you ever think it is the elastic to blame? It might be. Let me explain...

We all know that elastic varies in width among manufacturers, but did you know that it also varies greatly in strength too? Some elastics have a lot of stretch which means if I pull on 10" (25 cm) I can pull it out double its original length to 20" (50 cm). That means it stretches 100% over its original length (20" over 10" x 100% = 200%). Elastic that stretches to 15" over its original 10 has 150% stretch (15/10 x 100%). 

Generally speaking you want elastic with between 140-180% stretch for the bottom band of a bra. There's a huge difference between 140 and 180% stretch. What happens if your original pattern was drafted and sewn using an elastic much stretchier than the one you are using now? In other words your first bra was sewn using elastic that was 180% stretch and the second bra was only 140% stretch. Hmmm - that means the bra band on the second bra will feel tighter than the first. 40% tighter in fact! Guaranteed. Sometimes too tight to wear, even.

At Bra-makers Supply, we have two types of bottom band elastics, which we call the OLD and the NEW elastic (because I am SO creative with names...lol). The OLD elastics EB-37, EB-47 and EB-67 have a stretch that varies between 170-180% which is definitely on the weaker side of bra band elastics. That's the elastic I used to create all the Pin-up Girls patterns with.  You can see that this 10" stretches to 17"

The NEW elastics EB-372, EB-472 and EB-672 are much firmer as we wanted elastics that would stand the test of time during the washing and wearing process. This NEW elastic is much firmer, with about 140-150% stretch, which means it won't ride up and will last for years! It also means that if you use 3/4" elastic now, you will get the same holding power with 1/2" elastic! 

You can see that 10" here stretches only to 15"

Most bra pattern designers use a "standard" elastic stretch percentage of 170%. That means you should always check your elastic against the norm. If it is less than 170% chances are good that you need to increase the length of the back band so it will have the same comfort level on your body.

Here's the important part:
You need to increase the length of the band by the difference in the percentage of the two elastics. In this case, one elastic is 170% and the other is 150%. That is 20% difference. You need to increase your back band pattern piece by 20% in length. Here is how to do that.

Measure the back band pattern piece. Draw a vertical line in the centre of the back band as shown above. Calculate 20% of the length (or whatever the difference is between the two elastics in question). Spread the two pieces apart by that distance. True up the lines at the top and bottom edge of the band.

Your new back band is ready to use. Remember to label the piece as "band for elastic with 150% stretch!"

Wasn't that easy? Now you can buy whatever elastics you like and know they will fit every time!

January 11, 2015

Far, far away - the return to Oz

Here I am back in beautiful Denver, Colorado for a few days. I assumed the weather would be much colder than ours but I was pleasantly surprised. It is mild (for winter weather) and I may not have to wear my big clunky winter snowshoes...er..boots.

When I checked in to the Curtis Doubletree, this was part of the check in process. Hmmm....wonder what it is?

O.M.G. There is a warm cookie inside the bag! Apparently this is a Doubletree stand! I like this place already!
The hotel is decorated in a pop culture theme. My floor is the chick flick floor, so there are movie posters decorating the hall walls. Here is my room...neat picture of legs and boots over my bed
And this try to life picture in the bathroom. This room is mine, for sure!

Here's a neat poster of shoes at the end of the hall
And this gal outside my door...does anyone know who she is? She is one of my role models...I love her attitude!
Ok, it is time to  wind down for the night and be ready for a big day tomorrow. I'll keep you posted!