I spent the last two days in hands-on classes at the American Sewing Expo. The first was a Designer Jeans class with Angela Wolf while the second was a bra-making class with Anne St Clair. This post is about the bra-making class. The class cost $98 and the supply kit was $75. I was required to send in my ribcage measurement, full and upper bust measurements as well as requiring an in-person fitting the day before complete with bras to try on in the size she chose. Sewing machines were provided. There were about 40 students w/varying degrees of sewing experience and three instructors. I think each student was given a bra pattern based on the shape of their breast. We were each given a "custom-fitted" bra pattern. The emphasis is on "custom-fitted."
Initially we were guided through the beginning stages of bra construction from layout, cutting, and width of seam allowances to actual sewing. We were expected to wait for the go ahead to the next step. At times there was quite a bit of waiting and later I abandoned "getting the okay" and followed the pattern instructions. When I finally tried my bra on to adjust the straps, they don't have "hardware" because it's "custom-fitted," to my dismay, it didn't fit. It was too small! The bra cups were about one size too small! WTF??? My $200 "custom-fit" bra was too small. I didn't measure myself, or "custom-fit" my own bra. Anne did. Her response was that it fit better than the one I had worn in and that my seams were not 1/4" but 3/8" instead. Oh I see, it's my fault the bra doesn't fit! I've been sewing for about 44 years and I know the difference between 1/4 and 3/8. If each seam has to be an exact 1/4 with no variation, none of the bras should fit anyone sewing them! The center front of mine was about two fingers away from my body. "Custom-fit" my ass. In her defense, she did offer to redraft my pattern. I think it's the least she could do.
It was my intention to make another bra as soon as I got home while the construction was still fresh in my mind. Couldn't do that. I had a bra that made me look like I had two pairs of breasts and wouldn't be wearing under any circumstances. Janet Grimsbey her assistant said she too thought I needed a larger cut size. Ann suggested I wear my ill-fitting bra on weekends or donate it to a women's shelter! Other than being steaming mad at Anne's accusing the poor fit to my seam allowances, I was also out of the supplies for one bra. She just didn't get it. I didn't think what I was asking for was unreasonable. I spent my entire day working on a "custom-fitted" bra that didn't fit and I'd used part of my supplies in doing so. After a rather heated exchange Anne begrudgely gave me another bra kit but while trying to find one she stomped and threw things around in a very child-like manner. I was disappointed to say the least. The situation should have been handled totally differently with her taking the blame for the faulty pattern drafting and offering replacement supplies.
I still don't have my redrafted pattern but a neighbor that was in the class offered to pick it up and deliver it to me later today. I hope it works this time. I did learn how to construct a bra so the class was not a total failure but it might be if the replacement pattern doesn't fit either. My advice to anyone that take a bra making class from Anne, or anyone else for that matter, make sure that you sew your bra to the "try-on" stage before leaving the class. Otherwise, you make be stuck with a bra that doesn't fit and that you don't know how to adjust.