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I love to sew

I love to sew

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lend me your ear. What do you think?



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.

12 comments:

  1. Wow - that's a terrible story! As a person who has made her own bras (which have not fit perfectly after numerous "self-determined" custom fittings i.e. zillions of muslins) I've decided that the notions on handmade bras are just not up to snuff for large breasts. Ineffective notions - which must act architecturally - can worsen the fit problem, right off the bat. Having said that, a potential 1/8 inch of seam allowance is not going to make that degree of difference. Seems like she did some bad drafting, compounded by terrible client service. I won't be buying anything from her.

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  2. I am so sorry to hear that. I've heard so many good things about Anne and I've talked to her on the phone. Ended up buying the bra kit and her book. I was tired of spending $50 to $60 on a bra that doesn't fit. I was concerned about fit because of my cup size (G). She said when I was ready to sew, she would walk me through it. Now I am beginning to wonder if I wasted my money on a pipe dream. I won't attempt this project until next month when I have some time off.

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  3. "Ann suggested I wear my ill-fitting bra on weekends or donate it to a women's shelter" So apparently having 4 breast instead of 2 is acceptable on weekends? or Maybe its okay for women in a shelter to wear bras that are destined to be ill-fitting as they were CUSTOM MADE for someone else? Stand behind your product people. I'm happy to hear that you stood up for yourself.

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  4. How frustrating! All that time and money down the drain. I hope that you do end up with a pattern drafted that will fit in the end. I'm intimidated to even try sewing my own lingerie. I am amazed by people who do it.

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  5. What a horrible experience! I think the very least Anne can to do is ensure that you are supplied with a custom fit pattern that actually fits you. That is what you have paid for and that is what you are entitled to. It is very disappointing to hear that someone who is part of the sewing community should treat you with such bad manners. Do keep us posted on whether or not you do get supplied with a pattern that fits. In the meantime, have a lovely weekend :)

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  6. Yikes, sounds like a bad experience. I'm sorry it went so poorly, and I agree with all you say.
    Her comments about wearing on the weekend/donating to a shelter border on totally ridiculous.
    I hope you were able to enjoy the expo anyway! I actually think it was held not far from where I live, but I neglected to go..boo. Should have gone.

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  7. Definitely let JanetPray know about this. Tell her exactly what you've posted here. She needs to be award of bad teacher behavior and classes that go badly. As far as I'm concerned, SewingExpo has gone downhill in recent years, and I don't bother to attend anymore. I don't need quilting supplies!

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  8. I completely understand your frustration. That really stinks. I sure hope you end up with a bra pattern that actually fits you.

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  9. I have heard too many stories about sewing classes gone wrong and opt for dvds. I don't know if there is a bra making one, but hope that for $ 175.00 you will be able to salvage a nice fitting bra between the two.

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  10. Sorry to hear of that VERY frustrating experience. It's so sad that she didn't realize that customer satisfaction should be #1.

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  11. I'm so sorry you had such a horrible experience with this course. I was under the impression that the instructors that teach at the Sewing Expo were the BEST of the best. And I was hating I had to miss the Expo that came to Atlanta in March. I'm a beginner sewer so I can do bad all by myself (and not pay a arm and a leg to do so). I'm happy you finally got the perfect fit, but I now think I'll pass on the "Expert training" and keep on reading and you-tubing what I need.

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  12. Wow...well I will definitely pay attention to any classes by this individual. It is too bad your experience was not a good one and would have been easily rectified by being cordial and offering to replace the kit due to the pattern being off. Good customer service always leads to repeat business and one should want to make sure everyone in your class is happy with their results and offer some remedy to keep the customer happy. Sorry that this didn't turn out as you had anticipated.

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