Fitting lingerie without a tape measure

Fitting lingerie can be a tricky especially if you are fitting on yourself, by yourself. The more you fit the more you will know how much to reduce or extend your pattern by. But the tricky part can be when you are fitting the back of your design whilst wearing it, whilst by yourself.

It’s a bit unconventional, but it comes in handy to know the width of your fingers, so by laying your hands over your lingerie , you can work out instantly how much you need to say lower the neckline of your bra. This comes in handy when you haven’t a tape measure to hand or can’t physically see or hold the tape measure against your lingerie.

Obviously the tape measure is more accurate and this doesn’t work if you are having to reduce by less that 1cm (unless you have tiny hands) but this method is great for getting you out of tricky spots or when you are pushed for time, or using both hands each side to pinch out excess fabric.

geometric crop top and high waist briefs

I fitted the crop above, and by simple things such as laying my finger over the top of it to see how it would look lower, I knew instantly that it needed to be lowered by 1.5cm (width of my finger). I also knew by using this measuring method that the back top side needed to be lowered by 1.5cm, this measurement would have totally impossible to get the tape straight and to read it.

measuring a crop top

So by looking at my notes I know that four finger widths up I need to move the bust point of the pattern seam towards the outer seam by one finger width. And also the bottom of the seam towards the back by one finger width (1.5cm) , so when It comes to altering my pattern I shall add 1.5cm at the bottom of the front side panel and take 1.5cm off the bottom of the back panel, blending into the top of the side seam.

I can do a blog showing exactly how I altered the pattern if anyone wants?

Anyway hope this tip helps you and saves you time in the future.

*This set will up in the Vanjo section after the new year.

How to sketch a bra and brief

how to sketch a bra and brief

When I first started designing my drawings failed me, my head to my hand refused to co-operate with what I was envisioning, and a time before I was trained in CAD, I found it really hard going. I wanted to know how to draw lingerie. At the time there was only really fashion templates and how to draw fashion drawings around.

It was only by practising that I found my style of sketch and found that I could translate to a graphic designer or sample machinist what I wanted to be reproduced. If you are wanting help with drawing lingerie; this book has twelve templates for you to use, either to sketch by hand or by computer, and by having all your templates in size proportion, it means you can concentrate on your designs rather than the outlines. Each template shows a hand-drawn sketch example and a CAD example.

Blank template of an underwire bra

Blank template of an underwire bra

Hand drawn sketch using the template

Hand drawn sketch using the template

CAD drawing using the template

CAD drawing using the template

Remember it’s only by practising will you find your own true style of sketching. Keep going and don’t be dismayed if you’re not producing the work you want to at the start.

Van Journal: How to start a lingerie line

After a year of planning Vanjo launched a soft launch in October, which basically meant that not all the pieces were ready were to launch at the date, but a couple of the pieces were , so rather than wait until it was ready, and pushing the launch date back further. Launching with just a couple of pieces meant that I could keep an eye of any problems that may occur and handle them quickly, luckily non did, but it was great to release the pieces even if it wasn’t in the way that I thought it would be.

A year may seem a long while to get everything ready, but if you read “Why Vanjo nearly didn’t get launched” you’ll see all the problems I en-counted along the way.

First up to be released was Ottilie pink Wave bra in which the waves are never far away, a soft pink wave high apex print bra with yellow trims. And the high waisted Ella brief which is a black and white Bretton stripe brief, trimmed with yellow elastic to contrast yet match the pink wave bra.

high apex bra and stripe brief

Now the next set is ready to be launched, is the Harper navy liberty print tana lawn cotton with birds bra, mixed with French lace and dotty mesh. And the matching briefs.

french lace bra and liberty print briefs

There is another set in the wings waiting to be added to the collection, a yellow geometric sized crop top, a high waisted brief and low waisted gap detailed brief. Which hopefully will be added to the lingerie line before Xmas.

32dd yellow geometric crop top

Difference between launch and re-launch

The main difference between the launch this time around and this time around, is that the patterns will be available from the collection so everything is more accessible, also the collections are much smaller, which means that we can constantly be adding to the lines rather than relying on seasons. You can follow how this lingerie label started and where it’s at from following the blogs named ‘Van Journal’ this gives the insight of how I started my lingerie label, and the pitfalls I’ve encountered.

Also I have more of an idea of who my customer is this time, and what I want to achieve with the label, and I’m happy to continue the label this time, alongside writing and freelancing.

Unlike the first time around where there was an underwire in the collection, these bras will just be non wired. I released a soft bra first time round and had such a good response that it seemed to make sense to concentrate on that side of the market. Sometimes it’s hard to find a large size cup bra in a soft cup so hopefully Vanjo will bridge that gap offering fun pieces. This time around the soft bras have more structure, keeping the same style as the high apex bra from first time round, this time, the underband is built up between the cup and around the sides. This targets those with full volume breasts and also those who struggle say after breastfeeding where they feel that their breasts have changed shaped, some saggier, others with less volume. By having a non stretch underband at the front and sides, this allows the breasts to stay put and forward, and encases the breast rather than flatten them which some soft bras do. I wrote about boobs and breastfeeding on an earlier piece.

How to start a lingerie line

So if you’re at the start of wanting to begin your own lingerie line, and don’t know where to start or what order you need to complete everything, one thing I find helpful is to have a time line. A timeline of the lingerie you want to get completed by a certain date, and work back from there, You could plan it in then use the spaces for your actual dates of what is outstanding that you need to complete. By having something solid to work by, lets you plan ahead or highlights any areas in which you need to learn, know more about or to outsource.

Below is an example of a time line that is available in the design sheet pack, which allows you to track your lingerie from start to finish, so one glance and you know exactly where you are with it all. In the design sheets, is an example, how to fill in the sheet and blank examples for you to use. There is a different sheet if you are planning to outsource the manufacturing.

Example of a timeline (available in the design sheet pack)

Example of a timeline (available in the design sheet pack)

I have always worked with timelines, in my own business and definitely always in other companies, when you’re called into meetings to discuss where production is and what you are waiting for, you don’t want to be wading through notes of everything, having everything on a single piece of paper means you can pass over styles, and know exactly what is left to do.

If you’re got your design ideas ready, what now? Think about fabrics, where you might source them, including trims, also are you going to make them yourself, or manufacturer them. If you’re going to a factory then you will need a technical drawing at the least and maybe a tech pack so they can cost how much it will cost you manufacturer. Even if you don’t end up going with the factory you first thought of, making these contacts is invaluable for the future. Then you have think about patterns, samples, and getting your lingerie to a fit stage in which you are happy with. Don’t worry if it takes longer than first thought, along the way you will be solving problems or things you hadn’t thought of and this will put you in good steed for further down the line.

If you need help with producing a technical drawing then please contact me.

Let's talk grading lingerie

A stumbling block to many, to those who plan to do their own grading, after they have designed and made their lingerie, is how to grade. Where to start, what to grade by, where to put the grade, basically did I mention that most people just need the knowledge of: Where. To. Start?

grading book for grading lingerie

Five years ago, I realised that there wasn’t much about all the technical side of lingerie design I began to write books on, How to write a spec a bra and brief, how to write a bra and brief tech pack and how to grade a bra and brief.

My vision was to use the same lingerie shapes throughout all the books, so you could follow the information through each one and not feel like you were starting from the beginning each time. Although I didn’t expect it to take me five years for all three of them to be released, I can finally say that the third and final book is ready (nearly).

All three technical lingerie books

All three technical lingerie books

I received the hard copy this week, and went through it’s final edit and sent it back for the amendments to be made.

*Below is a look at all three of the technical books looking at the first brief which is a standard basic brief.

All three technical lingerie books

What is in the grading lingerie book?

So each style starts with looking at the amount of grade which needs to be applied, then the next step you will be showed is where to put the grade. Then each step has an image showing you each move of the grade, that includes marking the amount you’re going to move it, then actually shifting the pattern and marking in the new lines; and then you will be shown what the patterns look like with the two sizes sat together.

A look into the lingerie grade book

Each style has been done on the computer to give clear instructions, then later in the book, you are shown an example of using an actual pattern (made smaller) and hand grading it.

grading a darted bra

Then I believe that the only way you learn properly is to do; so you get given the chance to be provided with a pattern and you work out yourself where the grade goes and then you’re walked through each step to grade your own bra. Don’t worry the answers are all included if you get stuck.

The book should be available to buy, both the hard copy and ebook by start/mid December, if you are wanting your copy sent out as soon as they arrive, then you can pre-buy a hard copy with 20% off.

Pre-order NOW.

Van Journal: Why Vanjo nearly didn't get launched

I don’t usually divulge much personal goings on with this blog, I usually tend to write about aspects of becoming a lingerie designer, or ‘How to’s’ and tips in which I think can help you. But with the relaunch of the lingerie brand Vanjo, I’ve been writing a little bit behind the scenes (all with the header Van Journal if you want to go back and read any), and I was due to relaunch Vanjo in Sept as I’d been stating for the past year, but back in August I took a stark look at my timeline and realised that there was no chance that was going to happen.

And I was pissed. At myself - as this is my job, I help others launch their brand, all on time, all deadlines completed. No problem, but my little brand seemed to be having problems after problems. I had to face that professionally and personally that my work load and time had significantly changed since I announced the relaunch of Vanjo back in Sept 2017.

So my mind spiralled as it does when faced with big decisions, when things aren’t going to plan, and I made a decision that I would relaunch in a year, yup that would be better, I hadn’t built a website yet, not all of the grading was complete, I hadn’t taken any photos of the lingerie, some of the fabric from my supplier hadn’t arrived.

Yup I was relaunch next year when things were a bit more perfect, I could take pictures and get press before hand, complete all my grading, make sure I was ready to go, get the patterns that I wanted to sell to sit alongside the pieces, ahhhh maybe do a press launch? And so it went on. In my mind adding what I could do to make it better and stronger and decided I could sit and plan a new time scale.

I ran over in my mind all the problems I had encountered that had gotten me to this point.

Professionally, I had designed and made a soft bra, which had a detailed gap between the cups, and I had fitted the bra, re-made adjustments, and re-made it until I was happy with it. This had been done at the start of when I was re-launching Vanjo. However when returning to it, to grade it and re-make it a final time, I noticed that another company had launched a pattern pack and lingerie in a similar style, I would be unable to go ahead with mind as it was too alike. Back to the drawing board.

In one of my designs, I wanted fold-over elastic along the underarm and top wing, I ended up trying four different types of fold-over elastic and wasn't happy with any, it didn’t seem strong enough for the bigger cups to give support and to keep the boobs forward. (This style still hasn't been solved) back to the drawing board

I had bought a sample piece of some fabric with swallows on it, having sampled up my designs in it, I went to re-order and made the mistake of not acting before hand, they had run out. , I re-chose a completely different fabric but there was a delay in the delivery time of it. Back to the drawing board.

lingerie that didn't make the collection

I bought a new domain name especially for Vanjo, with the intention of building a new website especially for the lingerie, (currently it links to this one), I spent a further week planning out how I wanted it to look, but was yet to build it. I was having doubts that it would only have four items on it, and didn't know how I would link the pattern aspect to it all.

Back in Sept none of the patterns were graded, not one. I couldn't launch without patterns, yet to currently run with even four designs would mean that over seventy sizes would have to be graded.

At the start of the year I had committed to two new design briefs from clients, whilst finishing up another, and with all client work it comes before mine. There is not always enough time in the day to do everything.

On a personal note: I had just moved from an apartment that didn't need anything doing to it to a cottage in a small village that needed renovating, so as well as trying to work from home I had to put spare time to doing house things, working around floors being ripped up and general disorder.

Where we previously lived I use to get up at 5am a few times a week before anyone else woke, but becoming pregnant again meant energy was zapped and I spent most of the Summer being sick.

Even though we moved a couple hours up north from where we use to live, the husband still works down there and stays down there whilst he’s a work, so it’s now my sole job in the week to keep everyone alive!!

With all this and looking after two children in the day, I began to wonder if I could do it?

I don’t know how other people do it but it felt like I was sinking a bit under work. This is not by the way a blog to say ‘oh look at me and at all the things I have to do’, as there are plenty of people out there juggling harder things and times, it’s just a reflection of what I was thinking and feeling at the time.

It was whilst I was putting the youngest to bed, lying there with her whilst she fell asleep I ran through all that I had to do and all my perceived problems, and realised I didn’t have to launch Vanjo like I did before.

I had a choice.

It was my brand and fundamentally what was I launching for? I was launching a brand to help women find lingerie that fitted them well, and to give them the ability to have access to the pattern and make their own if they wanted. I also remembered the advice I usually give out to people who are wanting to start their lingerie brand.

“Start before you’re ready, and start small and strong”.

Previously when I ran Vanjo, I would work from 7am to 11pm most days, currently I don’t have that time, or inclination to work like that everyday. I know from in the past five years since I had my first child that routines change and the amount of time to work does as well.

I decided that putting it off for another year, was an excuse and that I would start from where I was with the resources I had. From making that decision and committing I began to see answers to the problems I thought I had.

That bra that was a similar design, would be shelved and it gave me a new opportunity to design a new one.

The fold-over elastic that wasn't working, worked well in a crop top design, so I would be able to have that design in my collection.

The fabric that was unavailable, probably wasn't as strong in looks as the other fabric and I wouldn't have to commit to buying more and hoping it would sell. I also noted that a company had released some baby leggings in the same fabric.

I didn’t need a separate website, I could put Vanjo on this website, and therefore that solved the amount of designs I had (when i thought I needed more) and all the patterns would be on here too. This meant less time updating two websites, concentrating on one website so would cut out the work that needed to upload garments and to blog about. There is still a separate Instagram handle, (@vanjolingerie) as I know that not everyone will be interested in the pattern and technical side of lingerie and just want beautiful lingerie, plus I often have photos of where I work and that co-insides with working from home with children.

My patterns that needed graded could be easily done on the computer, I just needed to block out some time to just get it done.

lingerie patterns

All the problems that I was facing personally, weren't really a problem, it was what is called life. And I could concentrate on the problems or realise that life ebbs and flows, and sometimes I would fly through work and sometimes I wouldn't’t. I was grateful to be busy.

So if you;’e finding yourself in a similar situation my advice: Start. Start before you’re ready before you’re ready. Start before you know the end result and as long as you’re moving forward you’re moving forward.

Vanjo is set to re-launch end of October.

Interview with freelancer bra expert Kimberly from Kimbralisa

Finding advice about starting your own lingerie line, or simply becoming a lingerie designer can be time consuming and tiring. With conflicting information, or information that isn’t in depth enough. You can loose hours on the internet trawling through to find what you need.

Grading a brief (image from van Jonsson Design).

Grading a brief (image from van Jonsson Design).

That was one of the reasons I began to freelance and support start up brands by writing about the technical side of lingerie, something that can be lost and taken over by just the design side.

It’s always lovely to meet fellow freelancer lingerie designers, there’s not many people out there you can talk about volumes of cups or debating how much the apex of a bra can grade by, but Kim from Kimbralisa (and Bra tutor) can talk about lingerie with such passion and knowledge that it’s encouraging to hear another person speak out about the technical side of lingerie without overwhelming you. (Kim usually does a live talk on Facebook and Instagram at 2pm GMT).

I caught up with her an put forward seven question to learn a bit more about what she does and what she can offer start up designers.

kim from kimbralisa

1. What year did you start on your own?

I started offering freelance services as 'Kimbralisa' in 2017. 

2. What's your most favourite part of working in the industry (technical side, designing, seeing a whole project through etc)?

I really enjoy the technical side of things like the pattern cutting and grading, as it's such an interesting challenge. I like experimenting with things in CAD and testing out the fit on the body to see what works, and what doesn't work. Getting feedback from customers after a product has launched is definitely the most rewarding part of the process. 

3. Did you have any formal lingerie design?

I started my career initially as a bra fitter and sewing bra alterations all the way back in 2002, then progressed to learn how to make bras at home before deciding to enroll on the Contour Fashion course at De Montfort University. Always more keen to know how things are made, I focused my studies on pattern cutting and understanding grading and CAD systems, rather than drawing and designing. 

4. What three things did you find hard when starting out?

Managing my time as a freelancer, securing new clients and finding my confidence. These three things are still challenges I constantly encounter. 

5. What services do you offer people?

With my broad experience, I can offer people anything from quick consulting calls to taking on the entire product development process, from finessing an idea all the way to delivering a finished garment in their hands. My previous retail experience and marketing career also come in very handy for small brands needing help understanding other areas of their businesses. 

6. Where do you see yourself in five years time in the industry?

If I could choose anything, it'd be helping brands develop new and exciting products for the G+ market. I think it's a segment of the market with tremendous growth opportunity as regions become more aware of bra size and fit, and it has the technical challenges that I enjoy. I also want to focus on education and training for young designers and startup brands to ensure they're getting the support they need to build better bras for their markets. 

7. What words of advice would you give aspiring designers?

My best advice is to learn as much as you can but to keep your focus on a select few areas. You can't master everything, so choose to excel in one to two key areas, and grow from there as you uncover your passions. If you want to be a designer, then understand trends and colour, and how to communicate these through your illustrations. If you want to be a pattern cutter and grader, you need to understand fit and construction and start making garments. These are very generalist statements, but sometimes, just getting started can seem overwhelming, so start with the one area that interests you and let it expand from there. 

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Different ways to manufacturer your lingerie

It’s usually the manufacturing part of getting your lingerie made is the part which most people either stumble on or it’s this part that takes the longest. You have this great idea or this beautiful lingerie that you wish to get out there and yet you find yourself at a stand still because of manufacturing. Depending on the amount you want there are a numerous ways of getting your lingerie made.



This is where as a designer you will do everything, it’s a common practice for designers to design, pattern cut and manufacturer their own lingerie. This is how I started Vanjo, I did everything, and whilst not always time efficient it was a great learning curve and go the brand to be built slow and steady. And don’t think I was a great sewer when I was starting, yes I could sew, but I didn’t understand why stitches skipped, or thread tensions etc, it was only by practising for a year, yup that’s right one whole year busy sewing samples, that I learnt. Yes it was frustrating and slow, and attimes i could have hurled that machine onto the floor, yelling “why won’t you just sew?” but in the end it turned out to be one of the things I loved about designing. I could take an idea from my head and produce it and that in itself is pretty special.

If you go down this route you will be responsible for sourcing all your fabrics and trims.



This is where you as the designer will outsource your sampling, production and even maybe the technical side of lingerie such as technical drawings and tech packs. You’re still working on a small scale and can build up a relationship with the person helping you. That person will be somebody usually working from their home or small studio. They will be able to do small runs of production for you, it may be more expensive then heading to a full blown factory but they will be able to small if not any minimums.

If you go down this route you will be responsible for sourcing all your fabrics and trims. 

sewing lingerie


(Cut, Make and Trim) This is where you outsource your designs to a production unit, where they will take your designs and cut the fabric, make the garments and trim the garment. This can be done within a small manufacturing unit or a big factory. Minimums will vary depending on who you approach.

During the trim section of the garment they will inspect the garment to make sure it’s up to standard.

If you go down this route you will be responsible for sourcing all your fabrics and trims. 



This is where a factory will CMT, offer sampling, graded patterns and many will include the cost to source fabrics and trims for you as well as developing garment labels and swing tickets. This is as stated in the title the full package, if you’re going down this route then it’s simpler to start with one or two designs, don’t go full on with loads of designs, it will be costly, if errors occur then you’ve got to sort them out over many styles. Get good at producing one (or two) designs and get that one through production, it’s going to be a steep learning curve so it’s far better to put all your effort in a small collection and get it looking good rather than a larger collection and not have it to the standard you want. This option will have have the highest minimums sometimes up to 2000 pieces.

If you go down this route it’s very important to have a tech pack that includes the style of swing tickets and labels you want producing. The factory will be responsible for sourcing all your fabrics and trims.


As making lingerie is a specialised skill not all manufacturers are equipped to make it, which can make it frustrating finding one, especially a local one but there can be ways to start if you are wanting to start small but you may have to alter you’re original thoughts.

If you’ve found a person who make a sample for you in the cottage industry, are they willing to do a small run for you? You may be an expensive option but it may be a way for you to start.

Some manufacturers that usually do outerwear don’t touch lingerie especially any that is underwires, but if your designs are a crop top without hook and eyes they may be willing to look at it.

Also if you can’t afford the initial out lay for a manufacturer is there a way you can part manufacturer ? So you’re not making everything. For example when I first Vanjo, another label I knew would send part of her lingerie to be made. Like sending her straps off to be made, and committed to a bigger order as she used the same straps on all her designs. Another time she cut out all her briefs and sent them off to be overlocked, it probably cost her more per procedure than getting the whole garment made but she built up a relationship with the factory and so when it came to placing a small order they were more willing to accept her order.

Overall make it easy for the factory to deal with you, some factories will want a graded pattern, a sample to follow and a tech page or tech pack, arriving with these shows you’re serious about your lingerie. If you have no sample providing a tech page or pack for the factory to cost out is essential, having these from the go puts you one step ahead of another person who has just contacted them, and it’s easier for the factory to deal with you than that other person.

And above all, if you find a factory or person to manufacturer, pay on time, something so simple holds you in good steed for the next time.

Finding your right bra size

Ever since I started fitting bras, I've been perplexed by the old measuring system of adding four or five inches onto the under-band to get your size and the more women I fitted, and the more bras I designed I began to question and research why we used a system that was obviously not working for so many women.

With Vanjo set to be re-leased this coming month, there will of course be a section on sizing, on how to find your correct size. As we know a 32D in one brand fits differently to another 32D, with there being no set standardisation in sizing. Team this with different brands using different measuring charts, you can see why us ladies are filled with frustration of the simply task of buying lingerie.

Whilst Vanjo might have a different measuring system to some companies (one company I worked for used a 1950s size chart much to my confusion). Slowly I have seen other companies rid of the old sizing system to a newer sizing way.

So whilst I'm not advocating that my system is the best, I'm hoping that by explaining my measuring system and why getting fitted for a bra it can be confusing I'm hoping that the information you take from this can help you with your own bra no matter where you buy your bras from.

There use to be a couple things that riled me about lingerie design, one being I couldn't often find my correct size (hence why I started Vanjo), and two being that ‘fitters’ measure me and tried to put me in my wrong size.

When I first started working as a designer for high street stores (ah hum eighteen years ago!) I questioned why, when we measured a lady we added four or even five inches to her rib cage to get her size, we don’t do this when we want a pair of jeans – why do we for bras? With no answer apart from, oh that’s how everyone does it, I began to look for the reason why.

When bras first started out, you needed to add around a women’s ribcage as the fabric had no stretch and it was a comfort issue. We’ve moved on with fabric considerably to the point where you can a laser-cut seam bra, yet we haven’t all moved on the system of measuring. 

getting fitted for a bra

It's a vicious circle really - with so many companies still sticking with the old way of measuring, women aren't being offered their correct band size (a woman measuring 28 inch will be offered a 32 inch bra) so as they are not being offered their correct size, they can't buy their correct size therefore there is no demand for those sizes, and if there is no demand then retailers won't bother to stock those sizes and only sell what they currently selling. And the circle begins.

Currently we are in a system where some retailers/brands measure (and fit) to what you measure and some still stand by the old system of adding four or five (if you measure an odd number) inches onto your size. No wonder you can come away with the wrong size. If you're going into store make sure that the fitter is fitting you not just measuring you. If you tried a pair of trousers on and they were too big you'd try a size down wouldn't you?  Your best size bra is the one that fits you. So if you tried a 34C on and the band rode up the back you'd try a 32D on (a 32C would be a whole cup size smaller). The key is to try and arm yourself with as much information as possible about what's a good fit.

Now like all things where there is a system, it may not work for everyone, so far with my personal experience when fitting a bra if the lady measured above a 36FF, the sizing sometimes didn't always ring true. But it was a great starting point to then look at what size they needed. Also below a B cup I found it more personal preference of how a woman wanted to wear her bra, as the less breast size and volume (so weight) you have, the less you have to support, so you may not want your bra to hold your ribcage snugly. 

Speaking from having been an array of sizes, (I was a 32DD/30E pre children, hit 32FF at the biggest of my pregnancy, went to a 30D afterwards then settled into a 30DD) and whilst being a 30D (measuring 30 inches around rib cage and 34 inches around fullest part of my boobs) I found that in some brands I could easily wear 32C.


SO what bra size am I?

If you want to start to work out your size in Vanjo lingerie measure around your ribcage – this will indicate your band size, so if you measure a 32, you will wear a 32 inch back.

Then measure around your fullest part of your breast either in a soft bra or crop top, and then subtract the band size measurement from the bust measurement and determine your cup size as follows: (for example if you measure a 32 band and measure 37 inches around the fullest part of your breast. Then the difference is 5 inches so that would give you a DD cup, a 32DD would be your size.


  • . less than 1 inch = AA cup

  • . 1 inch = A cup

  • . 2 inches = B cup

  • . 3 inches = C cup

  • . 4 inches = D cup

  • . 5 inches = DD cup

  • . 6 inches = E cup (US DDD)

  • . 7 inches = F cup (US DDDD)

  • . 8 inches = FF cup

So how are the cup sizes worked out? (the technical bit)

Well when a bra get graded from one size to the next 5cm is added in total around the body, so the projection of the cup increases by 2.5cm (approx 1 inch, this is why this method starts to wavier above a FF cup as 2.5cm is not exactly 1 inch). So a 32DD pair of boobs are projecting out further (by approx 1 inch) than a 32D pair of boobs. So your cup size is related to how it is graded. 



When a bra get designed and made, a designer will measure the sample against a spec sheet, on that spec sheet is an under-band stretch, and it has to past a certain stretch, therefore measuring 32 around your under-band , a 32 bra depending on the brand/make will fit, yes it may feel tight, but like your trusty pair of jeans that stretch with wear, so will your bra.

If the old style of measuring is working for you, and you're happy with the fit of your bra by all means keep following that way. But if you're not happy with the fit of your bra, you're always adjusting it, or want to throw it off the moment you get home; then try the method of what you measure under-band is what bra size you wear. For whatever reason we are prepared to accept that in some shops we could be say a size 10 or a size 12 but few people are wanting to budge on their bra size.

To show how ludicrous the old system of measuring can be. I put my measurements into bra calculators for them to tell me my size. I measure (approx) under-band 31 inches, over bust 35 inches, I usually aim to wear, depending on the brand a 30DD/30E because i like the band to be tight,  or would wear a 32D/32DD if the band is too tight aka can’t breathe level!

So on: -  It’s states I’m a 36AA - It states I’m a 36D

Which is a bit mind blowing really. Now there are some bra sites which get my bra size right, and some which mainly give me a 36D, but I've only shown a couple of sites which are not linked to being able to purchase lingerie from. The idea is not show brands that may or may not get it right, it's not about calling anyone out, this is about being more aware of your own body and bra size and what works for you. Don't worry if your cup size seems to go up, a well fitting bra will alter your silhouette and make you look slimmer, feel more comfortable and make clothes fit better.

It shocks me that on websites such as the above they tell you that wearing the right size bra is important, and sadly some shops don't get it much better either. So whether you are online shopping or store shopping, try on your new size and just check out how it feels. If you don't like how it feels, you've lost nothing in trying something new. But if it changes your world. Your welcome!

Vanjo lingerie will be out in late September.

Van Journal: Navigate your way home - the first collection

The first collection of the re-launch is nearly finalised, fabrics have been picked, fits are all but two are signed off and now i'm in the process of sewing them up. There still seems a lot to get done but I think I'm going to make it.

The first collection is called "Navigate your way home" taken from inspiration from the first time I launched Vanjo where the idea came from when I sat on a plane (2003)  and fed up of un-hooking my bra for comfort on long haul flights, I wanted a soft bra that was cup sized and I wanted one that comfortable. Rolling in at a size 30E back then, there was nothing in the market for my size, soft bras back then were bralettes in small sizes or generic sizes. 

Having also travelled and probably used my entire carbon footprint in the sky, I wanted the fabrics and trims I used to reclaimed fabrics, which basically is end of roll fabrics or trims that would have ended up in the landfill sites, fabrics that larger companies didn't want. So I vowed not to produce new fabrics or trims and just use stock fabrics and trims, and if I couldn't source that then use organic fabrics. A practise which I think is important today, however with more awareness about this now, ironically it's harder to source this ethos as there are many companies now doing the same.

vanjo lingerie collection - navigate your way home

Navigate your way home - is also not just about physical travel, it's also about navigating to the true you, it's a reminder that it's okay to be yourself. To ignore the comments that may crop up about you or your designs. Having been told when I first started that I shouldn't do 28 inch backs, previously 28FF became my best seller.

Having what feels like I've come full circle (Vanjo was the first business I launched when I came back to the UK) it feels like I'm coming home, there was always part of me that missed having my own brand and producing great fitting comfortable lingerie that's not just black or white. 

By closing Vanjo down the first time, it allowed me to work for companies I wanted to work for, allowed me to get sponsorship to work in Melbourne Australia, and allowed me to write books about lingerie design. And more importantly it allowed me to follow my dreams at every stage of my career only to come back to it 10 years later.

Vanjo will be releasing in mid September