The correct way to alter a pattern after fits

This image features in the new book (that will be out shortly) "How to spec and grade lingerie". It shows you the importance of after a fit, knowing and understanding your fabrics and patterns.

The briefs were made after an actual fit session with a client who wanted to increase the depth and widen the gusset at the front mid leg. 

correct way to alter a lingerie pattern

The brief on the left was altered by a pattern maker, one look though, you will see it doesn't look right. The one on the right is the pattern altered by myself after stopping the alterations going further, where I would have increase it.

Both briefs technically do the same job, they got increased by the amount the buyer wanted.

However by understanding that the satin on the front didn't stretch horizontally I was able to make the call of adding in the front and the back to allow a nice curve of the front leg.

If after your fits your lingerie is still looking wrong, start again, and add the measurements in differently to create the look and fit you wanted. With time you will be able to do this quickly.

Is UK Manufacturing coming back?

When the opportunity to visit UK Manufacturer Fashion Capital arose. I jumped at the chance. Having started my first job in Lingerie Design in a UK manufacturer, in 2000, as a supplier for the high streets. I've watched over the years the decline of making garments in Britain. So I am in full support of the rise, that UK manufacturing in the past few years has been receiving.

 

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There is a  buzz when you walk through the factory and within the depths of the fabrics are highly skilled pattern cutters and machinists, sewing to meet the demands of independent designers, high street retailers such as Marks and Spencers and online retail giant ASOS.

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With manufacturing skills being lost over the years, ASOS have teamed together with Fashion Capital to produce a 'Stitching Academy'.  Where by you can undertake a 6 week internship and gain a level one qualification in stitching skills. Providing  the skills and opportunities within the British Manufacturing sector.

Although we might never gain back the full potential of UK manufacturing, I think this factory is on it's way to putting back what we once lost. 

For details about the factory services email: thefactory@fashion-enter.com

For details about the Stitching Academy email: stitching.academy@fashion-enter.com

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The two questions which fitters should really ask you...

There are many articles on websites telling you how your perfect bra should fit, and many "professional fitters" attempting to relay that information to the customer. Any fitter will know that you need to fit to the body of the woman not just the shape, and usually with brands today there is no need to add four or five inches (if they use the tape measure to measure you) to the underband measurement. But rarely does the fitter ever ask the two vital questions which would eradicate the countless items of bras you try on.

1. Are you unhappy with the current bra you're wearing, if so what? 

2. What are you looking for in a bra? 

bra fitting

By asking these two simple question - you can glean more information than trying to sell a bra to her just because you think it fits right.  For example I use to work with a girl who wore a 36B, if I had fitted her I would have firmly steered her into a 32D, as I demonstrated on her that I shouldn't be able to grab the back of the bra and pull it out quite as far as I could. But her reply was, she never wanted to feel the bra on, she felt supported enough, she never fiddled with her bra during the day and liked the way her clothes fit with that size. So who was right? Now there may be fitters all over the world gasp at this - but the answer is her.

In answer to the first question, she wasn't unhappy with her current bra, and what she looked for in a bra was the same fit and comfort she gained from the bras she owned. If the answer to the first question was she needed more support, then she would have to move down a band size and up a cup size. 

Bras should be about comfort and support, but most of all when wearing them they shouldn't feel like a torture device. A good fitter can lead you only so far, it they don't ask you those two questions, speak up, especially if you spend the day adjusting your bra, don't buy lingerie that will sit in the bottom of your drawer, because beautiful bras are made to be worn.

 

 

"Anatomy of the Bra" book is now published

The book went live yesterday to buy as an ebook from Amazon. It'll be a couple of weeks yet before it's out of hardback. 

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So if you want an insight to how a bra works technically, or simply want to know your demi cup from a full cup?  Then this book is perfect for you

Aimed at helping understand the technicalities of a bra, the book is written from the perspective within the industry, to help people understand the difference between different shape cups and how your bra size is determined. It also goes into a detailed breakdown of the bra and includes a list of international websites where you can buy lingerie materials and components. 

Having designed for over thirteen years I know how daunting and confusing it can be to understand the technicalities of how a bra works, so I asked established Lingerie Designers the following question.

“What aspect of designing a bra do you find most technically challenging?”

You may just be surprised by their answers.



The 21st century bra fastener

Although materials and manufacturing have changed dramatically in the last 100 years, the actual construction of the bra hasn’t changed much at all. That’s why I began to research and look at where the future of the bra was heading.

The most basic bra has over 26 components and requires more than 30 stitching operations. Currently in the lingerie industry, consumers accept how bras are constructed, we accept the way we get measured, and we accept the components used in bras.

But maybe we should start to ask if there is another way.

One man to question the conventions of bra design is Nigel Coole, inventor of Slip-It, a new alternative to hook-and-eye closures. Although it’s been used for ages, the hook-and-eye snags on clothes in the washer, can become bent and come undone at inappropriate moments. Coole wants to bring the hook-and-eye into the 21st Century. 

It’s exciting to see how the Slip-It works, like two hands linking together. One simple motion is all that’s required to do and undo; yet it locks in place when worn due the tension placed upon it. It’s fully adjustable, moves with your body and can be used on lingerie or swimwear.

I asked Coole to modify one of my bras with his innovation so I could try it first-hand. Indeed, it is easier to do up and take off — no more doing the bra up in front and swiveling it around (a convenience that would be very helpful for elderly women).

What struck me about the Slip-It was that instantly you know whether you are wearing the right bra size. It has been widely reported that 85% of women wear the wrong size bra, which is usually too big in the back.

With the Slip-It fastener is used, when a bra is worn too tight won’t lie flat; and if it’s too loose, the tension won’t be there to hold the bra in place. Could this be a way for women to master a correctly fitted band?

t’ll be interesting to see which designers, high streets or manufactures embrace and lead the way with the changes going on the industry. Coole has been trying to interest manufacturers in Slip-It for a couple of years now, and when I spoke to him he seemed to be in a Catch-22: one company said they’d take if the other one did too; but so far no-one has made the jump.

For me, I simply couldn’t wait to try this innovative concept. I wait in hope that the industry is prepared to continually update the bra to protect our natural assets.

For further information about the Slip-It please visit www.coolesolutions.co.uk.

Article written for Lingerie Talk

Inspiration or Imitation? My first filmed photo shoot.

Whilst talking to another lingerie designer the other day, we got talking about whether any designs (in and out of lingerie) are ever really original. My take on design, is that nothing is ever original - the idea has to come from somewhere, however that's all it should stem from is an idea not a direct copy. 

For example when I was running my own lingerie label, I saw a video shoot from 'Ophelia Fancy',  (top film) and  when I did mine (bottom film) I took from it that I wanted  a similar retro vibe, so fuzzy images and movement on the camera.

Considering at the time I had no budget so filmed and edited it myself it was probably a wise move to want movement on the camera! Amateur as the film turned out, it did the job. And as there were hardly any independent lingerie brands back in 2008 then, doing filmed lingerie shoots got it noticed.

The key thing is to take your inspiration and use it as that - inspiration - and move it on to incorporate your final image of what you want your designs/vision to look like.

More information about Copy Right, and Inspiration can be found in "How to become a Lingerie Designer".

Vanity or Insanity Sizing?

 Size 14 in 1950s

Size 14 in 1950s

Vanity sizing is the trend of ready-to-wear clothing, with the same size becoming larger over time. Has it finally hit the lingerie department? 

It’s common practice for companies not to follow standard size charts, when working as a designer for UK high street stores for example, the pattern used for the Next customer, differed from the pattern used for the Topshop customer. Each company had their own size chart in which they thought portrayed their customer. But is this size becoming bigger over the years? Is this just a move with the times or is it because the standards of female beauty are considerably higher and more inflexible with smaller clothes sizes becoming an obsession, an irrational addiction to becoming tiny?

 Size 14 in 2010s

Size 14 in 2010s

Maybe the industry is doing us a favour, by independently changing the sizing charts. Research tells us that out of 6000 women only 8% had a hourglass figure like the of Sophia Loren (when the standard size charts first appeared). With no standardization in the industry technically sizes then don’t exist, and retailers can put any size they think relevant on the labels of their lingerie. The problem is that size does exist – in our minds. The question is where will the size charts lead us in another 20-30 years?