June 30, 2016

Open House at the Enchanted Castle!

Considering I was an absolute "wreck" the week before, our Open House Saturday June 25th turned out to be the most fun I've had in a looong time! What was making me crazy was the amount of prep time that goes into an event but I've had other things on my plate as well, such as....
  • prepping for a Crafty class in three weeks
  • taking photos to upgrade the website
  • taking care of entries in the photo contest (there were a LOT!)
  • announcing the winners of that same contest
  • getting ready for the open House
  • writing blog posts ahead
  • writing newsletters ahead
  • oh yes, almost forgot...renovations going on at my house!
OK, OK...you get it, right? I was, to say the least, a tad busy last week. But that's ok. It's Sunday and I can breathe deeply and relax (well, maybe not quite yet - I want to finish this blog post!)

Saturday morning I went to get the freshly baked cookies at Beyond the Batter, here in Hamilton. I was thinking they would prepare the cookies ahead (like I would do) but they assured me they would be baked a 6:30 am that same morning. OK, that's overdoing the freshness bit! 

Here are the cookies fresh off the decorating assembly line and in the box ready to go! Pink and polka dots...my favourite!

When I got to the store at 11 am, I was the first to arrive, so I was able to slow down a bit and think about where they should go. When the rest of the staff arrived at 12 we prepared the "buffet table". Arranging the goodies on plates with pink and white polka dot napkins seemed the right thing to do.  (What? Did you expect any less?)

At 5 minutes to 1, there was still no one around...I started to wonder if I might be forced to eat all those cookies myself! Maybe no one reads Facebook or our newsletter...second guessing is second nature to me!

However exactly one minute later...there was banging at the door! In came a swarm of women..they had been waiting up the street for us to open! Open the floodgates and stand back!

After lots of hugs and exclamations of "O.M.G! I haven't seen you since we were in class together!" women were busy making new friends and re-visiting old ones. There were women there I hadn't seen in years, so I was really pleased they came. And they all got a Goody Bag!
Hmmm...wonder what's in it?

Here's a short video I made of some of the people at the event. This was toward the end as the women were starting to leave. We had between 30 and 35 in attendance but it was hard to count women while they were moving around! I did try to do Facebook Live, but I couldn't get it to work . Note to self...try the technology out before the day!

You might be wondering ...WHY  the Open House? Three HUGE reasons
  1. June 2016 marks the start of our 20th year of business at Bra-makers Supply. Yes, someday.... I'll tell you a story about how BMS started while I was in the hospital on morphine!
  2. June 2016 marks the 2 year anniversary of the Facebook Group, Bra-makers - Beginner to Intermediate, called BBI for short. Actually it was Donna from BBI who nudged me to have this Meet Up for the Bra-makers in this area!
  3. i just wanted to have a party with bra cookies and pink lemonade!
Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City...Camille from Sweet Cups Bra Supply was also having a Meet Up at the Doubletree Hotel. She has a short video on the BBI Facebook Page, so if you want to see Camille (and the new baby) and the other bra-makers in SLC, be sure to scroll down to view that video! You just might want to join that Facebook group - you will find lots of good bra-making advice and inspiration there!

So just what was in that Goody Bag? We had short rulers and tape measures made just for our special guests and we put it in the gift bag along with our signature pink pen!

Thanks to everyone who attended our very first Open House. What do you think...should we do this every year? (hint, hint!)

June 29, 2016

Are Your Breasts Getting A Promotion?

Breasts are not purely ornamental. As much as you may want to disagree with me on that, your breasts were given one job to do and that job was to feed a baby. OK…. maybe your breasts are unemployed at this particular time, but if they do get that job notice, it’s important to prepare them for the months ahead. If your breasts are soon due for a promotion, here’s some advice for making that nursing bra.

First of all, let me state that it’s been a long time (!) since I wore any type of maternity or nursing bra, but speaking woman to woman, let me tell you, you will never regret taking care of your breasts at this time. NEVER! Wear a properly fitting maternity and a good nursing bra to give your breasts a fighting chance against post-baby sag.

What’s that? Yes, there are two bras you need - a maternity bra and a nursing bra. Really? Yes, again. Strictly speaking, there is a difference. The maternity bra you wear before you deliver and the nursing bra you wear after the baby is here. The good news is that is easy to make both yourself! Let’s talk about the maternity bra.

Will you need a new bra during pregnancy? Yes, you will. Like the rest of your body, your breasts are changing too, becoming bigger and more sensitive to the touch (ouch!). Blame Mother Nature for hormonal shifts, weight gain, an expanding rib cage, and during the last few weeks, mammary glands that are preparing to make milk for your baby.

While it may be tempting to make do with the bras you have (think of the money you’ll save!), really… this is the time you need a new bra or two. Your growing breasts are heavier – the developing glandular tissues can add on a few ounces, or more to each breast – and deserve some comfy support.

Every woman is different, every pregnancy is different, and your breasts will change in a way that's unique to you. You may find that your cup size continues to increase throughout your pregnancy, or your breasts might grow during your first trimester and then not increase in size again until the last few months. Depending on how you grow, you may need to make more than one bra during your pregnancy.

Think of a maternity bra as a souped-up version of a regular bra – and you can easily retro fit your own bra pattern to comfortably support your growing breasts during pregnancy. Depending on how much your breasts are expanding, consider a more stretchy fabric for the cups. Don’t opt for really stretchy fabrics as this will allow the breasts to droop and sag, and you won’t want that!

The Classic Bra is a versatile pattern that can be easily converted to a maternity bra by making the cups with cotton spandex, or organic cotton jersey, or even foam with stretch fabric over top. By putting a layer of foam in the straps as well, you will have the perfect bra to carry you through the months ahead.

Depending on your size, you might want to try out the new Bralette pattern. This non-wired and unstructured bra would be perfect made from organic cotton jersey or foam-lined stretch fabrics or lace.

Ready-to-wear maternity bras often have six rows of hooks and eyes (normally we use three), which allows room for the diaphragm to expand. We can copy this feature by adding extra hooks and eyes to the back band to give those growing ribs a little more room.

It's easy to do. Use the eye section only and sew the folded edge over the fuzzy edge of the eyes that sew to the bra as shown above. Once your ribs go back to normal (assuming they do) you can remove the extra set of eyes.

If you find that the straps are now too far apart, you can use a home made strap keeper-together (darn...what are they called?) This simple keeper can be made from fabric sewn into a tube or from strap elastic, with a bit of Velcro at each end or a single hook and eye. Simply loop it around the straps and fasten it together as shown here.

Maternity bras and nursing bras differ in one basic way: Nursing bras have clasps or panels that allow easy access to the nipples for breastfeeding. Is that it? Yes, you can use the same features you added on your maternity bra for your nursing bra and voila, now you have a nursing bra!

Generally, a mother's cup size will go up one or two letters when her milk first comes in, but she will usually not stay this larger size. Sometime between week two and week six of nursing the cup size will settle, and generally speaking, you will settle back down to the size you were in your last month of pregnancy. There are always exceptions, some mothers go up a few cup sizes and stay there for six months or more, some mothers do not increase in cup size at all. The size of your bra cup does not determine how much milk you will make - every size and shape of breast can make milk. 

Making nursing bras in your last month of pregnancy means you will have some bras for baby's arrival. You may not have time to sew after the baby arrives!

I advise against wearing a traditional underwire during pregnancy and the early days of breastfeeding, because rigid underwires (especially incorrectly fitted wires) can place pressure on the milk ducts, potentially blocking milk flow and leading to plugged milk ducts. This may lead to nasty infections requiring antibiotic intervention. Yikes!  However after a couple of months, if you haven’t had problems with blocked milk ducts, then a well-fitted underwire bra is possible, but only if the wire correctly fits the base of your breast!

Make a  bra cup with  concealed seams or seams designed to avoid the nipple area and therefore the risk of chafing. Use soft 100% cotton lining for the ultimate in comfort and support and breathability.

In my next post, I’ll be having a special guest who will share with us all of the nursing bras and what she liked about them, as well as advice on what to avoid when making them. Stay tuned!

June 26, 2016

Bra-making Contest - and the winner is...

Hello fellow bra-makers!

I have moved all my blog posts over to our new website and blogsite at


All of the blog posts are there, some with new pictures and with easier navigation. For those of you who follow me through Bloglovin',  we already changed our site address in Bloglovin', so you don't have to do anything!

For those of you who follow me here, please go to the new home of The Fairy Bra Mother!

Your Fairy Bra Mother

...and now, on to the post....

Wow! I can't believe all the great entries to our first ever Bra-making Contest!. The judges had a really hard time deciding the winners but here they are! Here are the four categories:
  • best Modified pattern
  • best original Pattern
  • best Use of trimmings
  • best Use of Cut & Sew Foam
Each of the winners will receive a gift certificate from Bra-makers Supply
First place - $200 or a 5 day class of their choice 
Second Place - $100 or three days of classes of their choice
Third Place - $50 or a one day class of their choice
Honourable Mention - $20 gift certificate from BMS

The Modified pattern category had a lot of entries - and it was for those who used an existing pattern (a lot of you used the Classic or the Shelley) and modified it. Third place goes to Michaela who started with a Classic and changed the cup pieces to a vertical, then drew in the upper cup for what I call the "Freya style" She used all lace trim and mirrored the front bridge perfectly! Well done, Michaela!
Second place in the Modified pattern category goes to Caroline! She used a Classic Bra in 32F, converted it to a partial band bra, then made the bridge into a keyhole bridge.She then changed the straps to a short strap extension. What a great fit and beautiful design! Kudos to you, Caroline!
And 1st place in the Modified category goes to....Leah! Leah created this beauty from the Classic Bra with black duoplex under the white stretch lace. She cut the lace in two pieces so she could mirror it as the CF seam, then applied the channeling on the outside of the bra cup! The black trim travelling from the CF to the strap is fold-over binding with small hearts on it. Congratulations, Leah!
Let's move on to the Trimmings category! Honourable Mention goes to Carla for her Polka Dot retro, made from the hem of a polka dot dress she shortened for a client. She did the pee-a-boo seams from a technique she learned in college.The lace was from a vintage formal dress. We're showing a close up of the bra cup so you can see the detail of the seam.
Third prize goes to Ciara, who used the the Shelley pattern in this Vintage Valentine. The fabric on the frame is actually two layers of lace and the floral fabric is cotton Swiss dot. The cups are lined with 15 denier, then the polka dot ribbon was woven through the eyelet trim. Ciara says she is not really a huge fan of polka dots, florals or red for that matter, but who would know that from this entry - it just won her a $50 gift certificate!

Second place in trimmings is awarded to Maria, and this is well deserved! At first glance, the trim looks like simple trim sewn to the upper cup, but upon closer inspection, this is trim made by pleating the fabric and inserting ribbon under the folds!
First place in trimmings goes to Carla! Carla started with a Shelley pattern but the fabric is really unusual - it's an orange Shantung Polyester and hand stamped it then added a bit of lace on the side (like a power bar). Lastly she added ribbon, metal eyelets, and gears to complete the Steampunk look! Look at the detail in this bra!
Aren't these entries incredible? There's more to come! Here in the Original category we had a number of really good entries, so many that we felt we needed to award two Honourable Mentions! This is Jillian and she copied a RTW bra. She changed the cup to a 7 piece cup for extra shaping. This is an incredible job (and she got lift!) I love her polka dot ribbon trim!
 Another Honourable Mention to Laurence who drafted her own pattern and dyed her own fabric to a sand dune colour. Her original draft had a horizontal seam so she changed that to a diagonal with a power bar. The fit is fabulous and the workmanship is exquisite.
Third prize goes to Rosalie, with her longline lace bralette with convertible straps. She drafted her own pattern and hopes to make this into a ready-to-wear garment! Very comfortable and still beautifully feminine! Well done!
Second Prize in the Original category is awarded to Carla who wowed the judges with her Blue Wave bra created from the Shelley, and manipulated the paper draft into this wave pattern! What an incredible job you did on this Carla! Amazing design concept!
First prize goes to Sonia who drafted this vertical seam bra  and mirrored the lace perfectly from side to side and on the centre front too! Look at the beautiful job sewing on the fold over binding and using the negative space formed at the strap attachment area!
The last category is Cut & Sew foam. Honourable mention is awarded to Donna for her grape charmeuse and white lace bra made using the Classic Bra and cut & sew foam.
Jeanette won Third Prize with Shelley's Rose garden which is cut & sew foam covered with a beautiful and summery floral print. Notice that Gothic Arch in the centre of the bridge!
Laurence made this lovely bra and used this beautiful goldenrod coloured lace all over. Look at the  perfect mirroring job in the front! it earned her the Second Prize!
First prize (and the final prize) goes to Andrea  with this spectacular entry Lavender Dreams. Andrea converted the Classic Bra pattern and proves that lace doesn't have to be "just a piece of lace" and can be used as part of the overall design element. She says the quilted fabric was less than forgiving than the duoplex, requiring a lot of draping to get the cup to lay perfectly on her body.
Congratulations to all the winners of our first ever Bra-making Contest. If you would like to see do this again next year, please let us know! Which bras are YOUR favourites? Comments are always welcome!

Digital Fashion Show - Bra-making Contest Entries!

We have chosen the winners of our first ever digital bra-making contest! And you've certainly outdone yourselves. We've received some amazing photos of some beautiful bras. First I would like to thank everyone who sent photos of the bras you made - I know the timeline was short but you stepped up to the plate! So here is a selection of the entries.

Pink Fuzzy Wuzzy by Diane M. This is her very first bra made from fuzzy pink fabric. Notice the different fabric on the back band. Well done, you!
Tammy used aqua lace from a too small t-shirt to add to her Classic Bra. This is only the second bra she's made. I love the lace over the black!
Erin made this "Black Mamba inblack duoplex and used fold-over binding on the neckline edges and underarm. Great job, Erin!

Autumn used the Linda pattern to challenge herself, so she added a power bar and a split lower cup, making it very Shell-esque in appearance.
Autumn also entered another category and modified her Classic Bra to include a Y-back in lace ad the butterfly front. She even trimmed the fabric from behind the lace in the front. Can you believe this is her fourth bra?

Sue's goal was to make a feminine bra with a slightly retro look that feels awesome. (Spoiler alert - goal achieved!) She fit each breast separately and used her favourite cotton fabric instead of lace for the Shelley.
Nadia modified the Shelley and shortened the fabric straps to incorporate elastic straps instead
Kay's third bra (ever) was made using the Linda pattern which she had used once before. But she added power bars, short strap extensions and found some flower rosettes to applique in place.
Here's the detail on the strap

Sue, is a custom bra-maker who used Linda to make her modified pattern and a fabric with 35% stretch with a soft lace overlay. the lace is not attached to the under fabric but was sewn together as one.

Lydia's Queen of hearts is bound to steal your heart - she used lined Swiss heart tulle for the lower cup and the heart lace from Bra-makers, using techniques learned in the Craftsy class, Sewing Bras: Foam, lace & Beyond.
 Sharon was very clever with her bits of leftover lace. She fussy-cut those bits to use on the lower cup of this fuchsia Shelley bra!
Wendy is a newbie who turned the Classic into a Shelley and then modified it to a partial band. added g-hooks so the straps could change from time to time.  She says she needs to narrow the bridge a little but she will wait to do that when the leaves fall off!
Carla used this gorgeous lace to make this Shelley and small modifications for fit after her class with bra teacher Iris Moore in BC. She says "this is my prettiest and best fit bra so far!" (and check out that fabric stash behind the mannequin!)
Here's a bra cloned from ready-to-wear. From Eileen, who used hand cut seam tape over the seams. So pretty! What a great fit!
Donna's entry Peppy Le Phew(!) was made with bits of black and white duoplex and the Shelley pattern. The bra got its name from the fact that it was finally finished (Phew!)

Lydia's back in the game with another superb bra she calls the Bold and the Beautiful. It's a Linda partial band, lace lined with 15 denier on the upper cup and a lovely floral stretch net for the lower cup.
Sometimes we think of white as boring, but Liz's bra for her daughter is nothing but! She modified the Shelley to round out the cups and raise the apex to make the breasts sit really high. Liz says "my daughter hasn't been this happy with a bra...EVER!" hard to believe this is only Liz's 3rd bra!
I cannot believe the level of skill with these newbie bra-makers. Here's Kay's bra and she used Linda and made it into a front closing bra with a Y-back, techniques she learned in the Craftsy class Sewing Bras: Designer Techniques. Look at the well sewn fold-over binding!
Eleanor's sewing was spot on in her All Fire, No Ice bra, made from the Classic bra but changed to a partial band. She dyed all the fabrics herself with Jacquard Acid Dyes in Bright orange and Fire Red.
There were a lot of turquoise entries, this one is Jocelyn's Classic changed to a Shelley but with a C-shaped power bar instead of the S-shaped that I normally use.
Michelle used a modified Shelley and then used contrast fabric in the power bar and on the bridge. She did some serious fitting as she is a "pronounced Omega shape" and used a 32G cup in a 34E cradle and a 34 band.
Terry made a cut & sew foam bra using the Classic Bra and jazzed it up with a lace band and contrast bows. The roll-over edge is a smooth clean finish along the neckline. I love the lace band!
Jeanette drafted her own bra from her body measurements and did a butterfly lace treatment on the front. No matter how many times I see the butterfly, I never get tired of it!
Lydia created "Cielito Lindo" from the Linda bra using stretch lace lined with 15 denier and on the lower cup, stretch tulle lined with 15 denier. Lydia was certainly busy in her sewing room - she made three bras for this contest!
Rachel used burgundy and brown duoplex in a very creative way to mix the colours to create a shape on the cup.She started with the Classic  and added a power bar (with two colours) and increased the cup volume. What a great way to use colour!
Someone put their embroidery machine to good use! Jutta calls her creation Americana Watching You, and she embroidered eagle eyes to her Shelley bra then embellished it with beads and crystals!
There's more, including all the winners but there was no way I could put all the photos in one post, so stay tuned for the next post right after this one with all the winning entries!