In December I spent 5 days at De Montfort University in Leicester taking the short course called “Bra Pattern Cutting, Sewing and Grading.” The decision to do this was sudden in some ways and a long time coming in others– it was really all started by my post “Do I Want to Try to Be a Lingerie Designer?”
All in all, the week was exhausting and exhilarating. I really had a completely wonderful time and Leiceister was nicer than I thought it would be. I learned so much in those 5 days, I need to make sure to apply it as soo as possible and not let it slip from my mind. I feel so much more empowered to draft my own patterns and sew my own bras, as well as evaluating construction and fit.
So what did we actually do in the class? From the title, you can tell that we covered three basic areas: bra pattern cutting, sewing and grading. (For those of us in America, “pattern cutting” means “pattern drafting,” so it wasn’t just a class on using scissors properly). This class was for core sizes (usually 32A-38D) and there is a separate one that deals only with the challenges of drafting plus sizes (DD+). The primary focus throughout the week was on the drafting portion, so we ended up with about 7 different patterns that we drafted ourselves (with some more variations thrown in there). My plan is to make up a sample in each of the types of pattern so I can see what the differences are and adjust my patterns where there are issues.
On day 4 we actually constructed on of the bras we had made the pattern for and discussed fit and how to tell whether there were pattern or construction issues. My construction was mediocre at best and plain dreadful at worst (the elastic was my downfall), but I will excuse it by saying I was extremely exhausted by the time I got to the elastic bits. The tutor said I did things she had never seen before when it came to the zigzag stitching (and not in the good way). A little practice could definitely go a long way.
On the final day we did grading, which was both harder and easier than I expected. Overall, it’s not that difficult to do (for an unwired bra– a wired bra is a whole other story of hardship), but it is very fiddly and can trip you up if you’re not careful. Of all the pieces we did, this is probably the area I would have the hardest time repeating on my own.
The tutors were understanding and knowledgable, giving time to even the most seemingly random of questions (even though they often ended up being very useful!) I felt like a dunce at times not able to measure anything correctly or draw a curve that didn’t look like a sea creature’s tentacles, but I gradually improved. I also started to figure out how to use a french curve properly, which helped.
It was heavenly to be in a room with people who were happy to talk about bras all day long and actually be learning so many things. They also gave us biscuits, which helped. And now I have a whole folder full of patterns I drafted and my priceless lingerie knowledge that I’m just bursting to put to use. Stay tuned to see what happens next!
Would any of you think of taking a lingerie short course at DMU?