Why rings are usually at the back of the bra

When you start to make or design a bra, it’s natural to question the job or function of everything we see, that is usually in the same place of the bra.

*Although please don’t just commit and keep it the same, some awesome designs come out of mixing it up and pushing boundaries on what we usually see.

The ring and sliders have been on lingerie since the 1800s, with the most common shape for the ring being a circle. Standardly cup sizes A & B would have rings at a size 8mm or 10mm, and the bigger bra sizes would usually use 12mm and 15mm.

The rings are usually found on the back of the bra where the back strap meets the wing, the reason why is because it acts as a joint. The circular ring allows the strap to move, so the angle that the strap goes up towards your shoulder, can alter through movement and through different body shapes, ie be able to move towards the inner or outer shoulder.

why are rings at the back of the bra

The strap can be in one continuous or two split pieces of strap, as the front strap can be more decorative and the amount that it stretches is less of a concern, (ie it can have limited stretch if you desire). But the back strap needs to have durability when stretched.

Extra rings can be used at the apex (where the cup meets the strap) or joining two straps together if there are two different straps being used. Unlike the slider where if the strap is 15mm the slider has to be 15mm, rings can be smaller than the strap.

Usually without the ring at the back depending on your body shape you can feel the strap where it leaves from the wing.

Now up "Your comfort zone will kill you" range

The full range was complete a couple of weeks ago, and have been fielding orders via requests, and it’s only recently that I’ve been able to shoot the full versions and get it up on the website.

Taken from the range “your comfort zone will kill you” which was about pushing the boundaries slightly. Appreciating what we have and adding a bit of zing back into our lives if they have turned a bit grey. Living life simply but with meaning.

liberty print lingerie

This range saw brights appear, and there is no colour brighter than yellow (obviously yellow would be in there) , so yellow elastics adorn the bright floral Liberty print. French lace is paired with the liberty print and sizes start at 28C up to 34FF.

All the pieces are handmade and currently there is a 2-3 week waiting time. If you want a closer look head over to the shop page.

Spring Summer 2020 Trend

Spring Summer 2020 brings the colours of the sea, think turquoise blues and hues of mint. Inspired by tranquility and solitude, the vastness of the sea, with it’s constant movement has influenced the season.

Satins mixed delicate lace, the fluidity of the water echoes the freedom in which soft tulle moves and is used in lingerie.


Layers of the tulle can be layered to imitate the shifting of the sea. Laces are delectable in their appearance, or mixed with heavy embroidered laces. Colours mixed with these mints and blues are burnt orange, and tuscan yellow. Overall a nostalgic look to the unrestraint of the past.

(*images from Pinterest - credits can be given)

Van Journal: "Your comfort zone will kill you" - how to move your brand along

It took longer than originally thought. And if I was just designing lingerie for my brand, I would have been able to release all the lingerie together.

Having made the decision to not follow the seasons and to put the designs into collections, it’s made it easier and far more fun to design. Also it took off the pressure of producing lingerie I didn’t want to produce, knowing previously how hard it was designing my second collection last time, this time it’s all come together with each piece strong.

the making of the harper bra

If you’re having trouble moving your brand forward or keep changing your mind about designs, put some restraints on yourself. Otherwise knowing you can design whatever you want you’ll be pulled in every direction.

I’ve said it before but start with 3-5 designs , this collection has seen an exact replica of the Quinn and Harper pattern, and an adjustment of the high waisted brief. Looking at the last season it was clear that the Quinn and Harper lingerie sold the best, and they alone resonated with the brand. Liberty prints, French lace and colour.

Vanjo is about finding lingerie in a bigger size that isn’t out there, in a soft bra, supportive yet not just beige. Beautiful yet edgy.

By having key words for your brand will give you focus on your end designs.

Harper and Quinn brief

So designing the second collection this time round, the same issues occurred. Designing and buying fabrics for the collection, making the old collection when people bought them, balanced out with designing new lingerie, that's where having a few pieces that you know fit and work, saves time and money, and from this you start to build a brand, you gain repeat customers, and people recognise your designs.

If you’re still having trouble committing to your first or second collection, make a mood board. I love these, it keeps you focused and it’s the fun part of designing. Keep referring back to it when in doubt. It doesn’t have to be computer designed, magazine cut outs work perfectly fine.

Now I just need to upload the lingerie onto the website.

your comfort zone will kill you

What i learnt from six weeks of no social media

When the Summer holidays started, I had two lots of patterns to complete for clients, a tech pack and Vanjo lingerie to sew up and ship out. As well as the day -to-day running of van Jonsson Design, sending out books, answering emails , accounts and blogs.

I sat down and made a plan of how I could complete it all whilst looking after a five year old, three year old and 4 month old, with a husband working away part of the week every week.

The answer was - I couldn’t.

With fielding questions all day from the 5 year old such as “are caterpillar insects?” and being yelled at by the three year old in a faux Australian accent “look at me” whilst balancing precariously on one leg and having the five month old deciding only power naps are the way forward, something had to give before my sanity did!

Usually when I’m busy working on work with clients, my work goes to the back burner, but over the Summer I decided to take it the step further and drop all blogs and posting on social media, so no Facebook, twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

It wasn’t just a case of no absent scrolling (which I totally do) it was no posting, no interacting and no promoting. Apart from a couple of commitments I’d agreed to, I was just going to concentrate on getting the work I had to do done.

yellow pantone


So I thought I’d have more time, and in a way I did, but not as much I thought. I wasn’t absently minded reaching for the phone, and just looking at things, although I did google answers for questions that didn’t really matter, a lot more. I had planned to read more books and maybe learn knitting (i really can’t sit still) but after a couple of weeks the urge to ‘do’ something it wasn’t really there.

After a couple weeks I did have to go back on Instagram to check messages from people, but didn’t feel the need to look at peoples accounts the way I did before. Besides there is nothing more grounding when your three year old ask “who’s that?” and you reply “don’t know “ for you to realise that you’re probably wasting your time.

After checking Instagram I did go on it again a few times but I think had it not been for work (or am I telling myself that?) I don’t think I would have bothered.


The biggest factor was that by giving myself permission to have to not come up with content or “be seen” it was actually a relief to be off, I didn’t have the feeling of not enough time in the day. I knew what work was coming in, what had to be completed and when I was sewing up customer’s lingerie it was nice to just complete the project, rather than stop and take photos along the way.


The biggest fear of coming offline was money, I get quite a lot of sales and enquiries through Instagram and a lot of links from Pinterest coming through to the website, so this was one of the things that I wasn’t looking forward to. I thought though it would be good to see how much my income altered and if the time I spent on social media correlated to the money earned or if my time could be spent better else where.

Fact was monies coming in, dropped by 50%, numbers to the website went down, the only thing that went up was the conversion rate. There was a higher number of people actually buying that visited rather than people visiting and not buying.


My creativity went up, the less I was consumed by other designers or by other peoples ideas, I had more time to create rather than worry about if it looked liked someone else, or thought I should be moving quicker. I was able to be more “on brand’ with my company and be a bit more me. I was also able to see what works for me time wise rather than trying to fit everything in. I definitely work better in the morning - but that’s not going to happen with little people, they sense when I am up and seem to navigate towards me within 30 mins demanding requests. And I also work better with timed projects, where by I plan out something I need to complete within a set amount of time rather than plan out things yearly.


I’ve realised by taking a step back, that there is only so much I can do, even though I want to do more, last year I grew my business, increased the number of clients and money. Although the amount of work I need to undertake to push the business forward can be overwhelming. I had chance to reflect to where I began and when my second child was born I would have made more money not working, but by viewing the overall picture of where I want to go, what I want to achieve and how great it is to work with interesting people on their designs, it’s a reminder that there is no rush and I may not tick off my things on my list, but that’s not what it is about.

Currently in the pipe line there is a book being edited, all of the patterns (plus more) are being re-vamped and if it takes longer than I would like. I think I’m okay with that.


How to alter a wing pattern back

Last month on my facebook and Instagram page I wrote about the difference between bra backs of the camisole (straps that go into the wing) and leotard (straps that curve along the wing into the hook and eye).

From this I got a request about how to change a camisole back into a leotard back, so I thought I’d show you both ways to alter the backs of the wings. Starting with the easiest first.


  1. Draw around the wing pattern. I am making the new wing pattern with a 30mm hook and eye, so first mark 6mm up (thats the seam allowance) to know where the hook and eye start. Then mark 30mm up from that line, then mark 6mm again. That is the width of your new pattern at the hook and eye point.

altering a wing pattern

2. Next draw a line across from the hook and eye (see red lines) and draw a line joining the top of your hook and eye to the top of the wing.

In-between these lines draw a curved line, it needs to be curved for the elastic not to bag out as it goes around the back of your body.

altering a wing pattern

3. Shade off the areas you don’t need. And you will be left with a new camisole wing pattern.

altering a camisole wing pattern to leotard


  1. Draw around a camisole wing pattern.


2. Mark 5cm from the hook and eye, this is where the strap will end up. At the hook and eye, mark 6mm up to see where the hook and eye will start and mark down from the pattern edge taking off the 6mm seam allowance, then mark a further 3mm down, this will allow for the attachment of the elastic that will go into the hook and eye.


Mark 1.5cm up from the 5cm mark and draw a line from the top of the wing.


Draw a curve from the hook and eye to the point where the 1.5cm is.

Draw a curve from the 1.5cm mark to the top of the wing.


Shade off the areas you don’t need so no to confuse when cutting out, and you will be left with a new wing pattern in the style of leotard back.


Five ways to make your cash flow go further

Without a cash flow, you have no business. Dealing with invoicing companies or chasing them up, for your lingeire can be part of the job in which you hate but is also the thing that is going to keep your business alive.

Some companies want to pay you after 90 days of delivery, some 30 days and others will happily pay you upon delivery, or 50% up front and 50% after delivery.

So what should you ask for?

Well it depends on the company, the bigger the company, the more sway they will have (and it might be non negotiable) on how you get paid. The big boys payment methods usually pay you 30 - 90 days after delivery, and realistically they are the ones that are going to place the bigger orders, so when planning manufacturing and buying the fabrics, can you survive without being paid that long? Especially if you are working to a two-season calendar drop.

Improving everyday cash flow can be tricky, but there are ways to help the cash flow in quicker and out slower.

improving your cash flow in business

Ask customers to pay sooner

If you are following the two-season calendar drop (selling Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter) then technically you’re only getting money in twice a year. Ask customers from the off set to pay a deposit, the bigger companies as stated will probably say no, which you can counter ask them, with paying pro-forma (when the goods are ready to ship) then giving credit and asking for the final amount 30 days after delivery.

Sell Online

No brainer really, by selling your stock online as well, you are able to get a cash flow in all year round.

Negotiate a split delivery

This works well if you are hand making everything. This is a term used when some of the shop wants their Spring/Summer stock early Jan whereby others are happy for mid February. If you are getting everything manufactured then see if the factory is happy with a negotiate split as well, this means that you’d pay for the first drop, then by the time you pay for the second drop you’d have the money in from the first customer.

Ask for extended credit

Develop a relationship with your suppliers and you may be able to ask for extended credit, this may mean setting up an account with them but having a 30 day credit period (or as much as they allow) can make a big difference to your cash flow, if companies are paying you with a 30 day credit.

Get rid of selling into stores

You may view this as a bit extreme, but depending where you want your brand to head and the amount of money you’re making with selling into stores, versus the complications and time that could be spent else where. When I first ran Vanjo, I sold to shops and online, this time I currently sell solely online. As I hand-make all the lingerie, write and freelance I wouldn’t have the time with balancing three little ones to make the quantities that shops want. With all the overheads for wholesale price. It’s not as daft as it sounds, other lingerie brands that wholesaled previously and now just sell online are Ayten Gasson (who also sells in her own shop) and Kiss Me Deadly.

If you are going down selling the route of selling into shops, ensure you have a terms and conditions form which outlines all payment terms and conditions, including what happens for late payments.

Van Journal: The problems with a second collection

Most new designers, worry about their first collection. It’s such a learning curve that usually takes longer than originally thought, but thats’s okay as you’re still learning, and most probably working in another job, so time may be a problem. What starts off thinking you’ll launch in 6 months, turns into a year (or more) , and suddenly you launch, you’re up and running , you’re taking in sales and you’ve made it.

However if you’re following the seasonal launches of the fashion industry, in another six months you’re gonna have to release your next collection. And this is where it can complicated.

Technically you should be working on your second collections when launching you’re first due to the fact that buyers buy ahead of the season and factories are booked up in advance. If you’re doing different shapes of lingerie than your first collection then there is the time it takes to fit it etc.

How to over come problems

  1. Don’t rely on your first collection sales to predict your second - first collection sales can be at an all time high (or low), you may have landed a contract with a big shop, and be thinking/presuming that they will buy like that off you again.


    You need to take into consideration, how much they were actually able to sell, some companies have budget for new designers and brands, but unless your lingerie significant sold out, they probably won’t place a second order from the second collection, they may wait until your third or fourth or longer to invest in you again.

  2. You don’t have enough data to know what has worked - sadly on your second collection, there isn’t enough time or analyse what did or did not work, or which size sold the best..

  3. You want to produce new patterns and shapes, think about how long it took you to sign off the first collection. For the second collection I would strongly recommend sticking with the same patterns. Vanjo first time around had one bra shape, with and without a cradle, and I launched three collections each season, over the five years it ran - that’s a total of thirty collections with the one pattern.

  4. The flow of money - You probably won’t have been paid for your first collection by the time you need to place an order with your second - bear that in mind.


Overall when designing your first collection, start to think about your second, rather than launch say three or four collections, then only two for the next, try and and keep it consistent. And when I say collections, it could just mean different colour-ways.

Know what you do, what you stand for and your collections will be strong enough to survive getting past the first year. With also planning for the cash flow to take you past the second collection.

If you are not selling into shops directly there is also another option of not doing seasonal drops. So you produce fewer collections but around the year. That is what Vanjo stands for now. Working as a freelancer and writing means I have less time to sew, so I produce smaller collections throughout the year, that also means less waste and I can react on new ideas quicker, and reject ideas that aren’t going to work.

Mid year catch up

About every 3 months I usually have a look and catch up with myself to see how the year is going and if all that I planned for the start of the year is coming into play. I look at what’s working and what isn’t and what I want to produce content wise.

At the start of the year, I plan/draft out what I would like to achieve, set each month where by i’m just working on one project so i can see progress by the end of the month and not flitting from one project to another and then if time is short it doesn’t feel like I’m starting at the start each time.

Then end of March which co-insides with end of tax year, I go through all my figures of each section of book, ie freelance work, book sales, pattern sales etc. Then I break that down even further to see which book sold the most in money value and also a percentage of my business, this lets me see which product is doing the best and which one I need to spend more time on or get rid of. (“how to become a lingerie designer” took 38% of my sales last year) .

So June catch up is really about if I’m on target ( a month and half behind schedule currently), and what to drop. The thing is you can’t do it all, so at this stage you have to locate the most important and know that there may be projects that carry on next year.

May was to see pattern work occur, which I’m still to do, with the release of more, although it may not be as much as I would like.

First one to add to the collection is a crop top, have been working on a sized one, but it hasn’t been fitting like I would like, and when I made it to the measurements I needed, it was hard to get on. So I’m currently shelving it and going back to ones to be worn either over a bra or on their own for either sleepwear or lounge wear around the house, ie comfy but not as supportive as the other bras.

Ideas that I’ve been throwing around.


If you would like help with your lingerie drawing, this page is out of “how to sketch a bra and brief” , where there are templates available.