Reviewed: Bare Essentials Bras

Bare Essentials Bras. Construction and Pattern Drafting for Lingerie Design by Jennifer Lynne Matthews-Fairbanks.

First thoughts: Sweet mother of boob-gasm full-size patterns are included for sizes 30A to 40F (yea you have to photocopy them but that’s still a fuckyea! in my book-gloating and hugging the book, baby). The world is my oyster (no I’m not making an Ariel-kini/ clam-a-kini, yes I just made up those terms-but you know what I mean so it’s all cool) and this book is the shucking tool.

On to the actual review: it’s a slim paperback with a regular spine which means you may have some trouble with it staying open while you work (until you get a bit further in that is). I have an upright book stand so this isn’t a concern for me.

The introduction offers clear and concise coverage (haha) of all the tools and techniques required (including stretch fabric related information such as stitch and needle types. It also goes over fit and the boxes that every well fitting bra should tick (no digging in of shoulder straps, no riding up of back strap etc). The text is accompanied by clear (greyscale) vector diagrams.

The next chapter discusses, in clearly illustrated detail the procedure for constructing a basic bra. The next eight chapters, cover the requirements and construction procedures for the following:

  • Bra with multi-seamed cups
  • Bra with floating cups
  • Non-wired soft bra
  • Nursing bra
  • Mastectomy bra
  • Padded bra
  • Front Closure Demi Bra
  • Strapless Bra

The pattern drafting sections cover:

  • General pattern manipulation, drafting and grading
  • Stylizing (it’s a word) a pattern along seam lines or with the slash and spread technique
  • Drafting bra bands and cups
  • Grading bra bands and cups
  • General pattern making directions

The rest of the book is full-sized patterns. Yes. You read right. Proceed to rejoice, now.

Pros: The set of full-sized patterns covering a size range from 30A to 40F alone makes this a must have for any sewing library.

It covers grading.

It covers grading.

It has all the measurement/ sizing charts (and descriptions) in both Imperial and Metric  systems (separately)-sizing charts for requirements like underwires are similarly separated. After the monumental cross-system measurement fiasco (grouched about here) that was PinupBra patterns (which I tossed aside in a fit of unholy annoyance, never to touch again) this is a f*cking breath of fresh air. While this is already enough to boost it to Platinum-class in my book, it also covers, step by step, the entire process of constructing the actual bra and covers in detail all of the relevant construction steps for different types of bras in separate chapters.

And if all that isn’t already giving you a sewing-boner here’s something to push you over the edge: any book (by which I mean this one) that mentions supporting your back fat in a way that prevents it from bulging unattractively, definitely has all your shit covered.

These patterns are small enough (well-relatively speaking-high five to ma man Einstein) to practice computer drafting and grading (which I’ve been messing around with on and off for a while now) without massive paper/ neuronal wastage.

Cons: This book has been giving me recurrent, lucid dreams of owning an awesome lingerie label. To get some idea of what I’m referring to (and for awesome inspiration for when you get this book see this).

Laziness, procrastination and a general sweeping malaise during my one free day this week meant I haven’t actually tried drafting anything from this book. That’s life though, not the book. Hopefully I don’t have anything to add to the cons section once I have gotten on with the actual drafting. Time will tell.

Homework: if you’re in Australia, head to booko to find the best pricing online.

Conclusion: Get it. Now. I’ve already ordered the companion version for undies.

Disclaimer: This book feels like it’ll make you a lingerie-making Goddess. This may change once you actually start trying to draft stuff from it. In which case accept defeat and just copy the requisite provided pattern. Sometimes the journey is not the destination.

Epilogue: I’m so close to flying right now I can feel the bugs in my teeth (no wait that’s just from having my helmet visor open on the ride home).

Addendum: Added September 17th, 2010.

  • If you’re not into tracing, you can just buy downloadable pdfs of the whole pattern set here.
  • There may be a change required to the strap attachment point for the top cup in the patterns provided. The author has detailed the procedure (2 steps, don’t freak out) in this blog post.

Previously on Reviewed: Pattern Making Step by Step, Lucia Mors de Castro.

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