With the summer season approaching, and me living a five minute walk from the Baltic Sea in Northern Germany, my friends persuaded me to buy a swimsuit so we could either a) go swimming at the beautiful indoor/outdoor pool near the German/Danish border or b) go to the beach when it finally gets warm.
I don’t currently have a swimsuit in Germany, and I don’t think anything in my stash back in the UK would fit, so it was time to bunker down and see what was out in the market. That sounds a bit strange, but I was looking for something very particular when it comes to my swimsuit - I prefer a bikini.
It doesn’t matter what shape or size you are anymore, you can wear whatever you damn want to. I started wearing bikinis ten years ago when I bought one for a trip to Greece. I was super scared as I had only ever worn one-pieces and tankinis up to that stage. I had lost some weight and this was supposed to be my ‘honeymoon’ and hell - I was going to a different continent, so why not rock out in a bikini?
I love bikinis because being a large busted lady, I can get the fit to be spot on for the top, and buy bottoms that do what I need to do for the lower half. Cover a tummy, not crawl up my bum, and be the size that feels comfy.
Fast forward to today - I now work at a lovely place where I design swimwear for larger busts, and have access to a GIANT warehouse filled with things that work for those with a fuller chest, but finding a bikini was still a struggle! I want a top with normal shoulder straps. These things are much too heavy for anything to be worn without straps or tied around my neck. The other important bit is that it have really nice full, high waisted bottoms. Looking through the website at work, there were 35 potential top options in my size, woo hoo! Looking at the bottoms that I wanted, only two, and they were the same, just in different colours/prints. The bigger downside, the tops to match the bottoms didn’t come in my size.
So, trawling through the internet, like I do every day, I notice a photo of a really, really nice looking bikini - worn by THE Ewa Michalak. I don’t think too much of it until an outing with my friends saying “you have to get a swimsuit!”, and the next morning I’m doing some online shopping…from Ewa Michalak in Poland.
Ewa Michalak - The Narrow Wire & Projection Goddess
Now, I’ve ordered from Ewa once before, although the bra was for study, and not for me to wear. I’m familiar with the Ewa philosophy/phenomenon, whatever you wish to call it. This woman (the company is named after her) has quite the online following in the bra community.
The bras aren’t stocked in many retail locations, only a handful around the world, so you pretty much order online, direct from the company. From what I gather, not a lot of stock is held either, and pieces are made to order. My bikini set was made to order and took weeks to arrive. Thankfully Poland is right next door, and when I missed one small detail on my address, the package was sent back to Poland, and I had to wait for it again.
The Technical Bits
Anyways, Ewa bras are known for a few things - first of all, the size range. This particular item, the S Kostium Saint-Tropez, is available from a DD cup to a K cup, and special order as small as a C cup, up to a M cup. Band sizes range from 65 to 105, which is 30 to 46 when working with inches. That’s an impressive size range!
Secondly, she’s known for a very tailored cup shape - which is due to the use of a very narrow underwire. If you look at an Ewa bra wire, it’s a very different shape. Instead of having a very round, “O” shape, it has a very strong and pronounced “U” shape where it is more straight at the side underneath the arm. This wire shape is good for women with narrow breast roots, as well as women with small band sizes and large cup sizes.
I talked about Ewa wires once before in a blog post, so you can learn a bit more here.
With the wire being such a different shape from most brands, the cups are also different too. They have a lot more projection! In this ’S’ style bikini top, it is a five piece cup. There are 4 lower cup pieces that run vertically, and one cup piece along the top of the breast running horizontally. Having more bottom cup pieces allow us to add more volume into the bottom of the cup, which helps direct the shape forward.
You have to remember that these garments are made from flat patterns and flat pieces of fabric. The more seams you have built into the cup, the better we can manipulate the shape of the breast.
One final interesting thing is that Ewa makes a lot of bras out of foam. In this style, it is not overly stiff, but is lightweight. I’ve not worn it in water yet, so I’m not sure just how much water it may retain when wet. It does have small removable pads that can add more ‘push up effect’ which I definitely don’t need, but a lot of women use the pads to correct for asymmetry, which everybody has.
Now I don’t know enough of the history of Ewa Michalak, but this may be one of the first swimsuits (bikinis) that she’s produced. There are certainly a some criticisms online, but as a designer, and someone who works constantly with small minimums, I can understand the decisions made in the design.
It really does look like a bra.
The biggest noticeable bra-like thing is the fact that it has hooks and eyes (3 x 3) in the back for a closure. There is no clasp. The design has two little ‘flouncy’ bits of fabric that you can tie together over the back to cover the hooks. I’ll survive. As a designer, I know that a clasp in Zamac (a metal alloy that doesn't conduct heat) is a lot more expensive - in this case compared to hooks & eyes, more than 5x the cost, and there are minimums. Seeing how Ewa already uses hooks and eyes for bras, and if she’s not producing many swimwear pieces yet, investing in 500+ clasps may not be realistic. Ewa, if you somehow happen to read this, give me a shout and I'll tell you about my lovely clasp supplier!
The straps are wide at 22mm, but in my size, that is needed. They have nylon-coated sliders to adjust in the back, and for me, the straps are lengthened the entire way, I’m only 5’ 3.5” if that’s of any help.
The inside of the cup and cradle has been lined with a rigid stabilizer, and the wings lined in a heavy powernet. The inside of the bottom is also lined with this same heavy powernet.
The pink swimwear fabric has a nice handle to it. It feels medium in its weight and is not shiny, but matte. It is soft and feels strong. I have high hopes that it will hold up to substantial wear - the 'proper' beach is a short journey on the bus for me! I hope to spend a few days there this summer.
The removable pads are incredibly lightweight foam. I’ve just popped one under the water in the sink and it does retain a fair bit of water. Note to self, give the breasts a little squeeze with arms/elbows when getting out of the water, otherwise I’ll drip for days.
There are two small straps included as an accessory. To go with the ‘strappy/bondage’ trend that has been around for a few years now, these small 6mm adjustable straps decorate the neckline. I’m certain it won’t take me long to lose one of them, but the top is perfectly functional without them.
Construction & Quality
The construction of both pieces looks rather solid. A very wide and long 3 step zig zag has been used to turn up the bottom edge of the band on the top and the waist and leg openings on the brief. The black contrast tape, secured with a slightly less-wide 3 step zig zag, hides the seams on the bikini top well. Due to the construction of the bra, there are raw, exposed seams where the foam cup pieces are butted-up to each other, the black taping hides these.
There is one spot on the underarm where the elastic has been stitched down where the stitch isn’t evenly spaced. On a large commercial production run, this would likely be rejected by quality control. Knowing my bikini top was made to order, next door in Poland, it’s not something that I’ll bat an eyelash at.
I do wish that the wire casing was of higher quality. I won't be wearing this top for extended periods of time, nor for every day, but if the regular bra uses this same casing, I'm curious how it holds up to daily wear in the larger cup sizes.
Sizing & Fit
I struggled that Sunday morning to decide just what size I was going to order. I know from reading online that Ewa bras fit snug and small in the cup. I *usually* wear a 34GG but have gained some weight recently, so let’s say I’m probably more of a 36GG right now.
I settled on a 85GG/38GG hoping that it would fit a bit looser and I could take it in on the back if needed. Swimwear usually fits a bit tighter as most pieces are lined. This top fits snug, just comfortably for me, and I prefer my bands firm. If you’re interested in actual measurements, I have listed the measurements for this top on Bratabase. The cup size fits remarkably well. I’m not sure if a 85H would have been too big, I may have needed the pads. The wires do fit quite narrow and feel a bit strange. I have some swooping to bring everything forward, but think that my shape can handle the narrow underwires.
The top has a significant amount of lift and projection. I feel incredibly boobilicious in it. It’s supporting, and I don’t think I’ll have any accidents, but I’m certain that it emphasises the size of my bust.
The bottoms fit really well. They cover my bum and the tummy spots that I’m trying to hide. They are a size 46, and I think a 44 would have been much too tight, and a 48 may still work, but I think the leg/bum area might be too large.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the fit and styling of the set and hope that I can get lots of wear out of it on the beach this summer! Solitude, here I come!
I've put together an ever-evolving glossary for words and terms you may come across in your sewing or pattern cutting of lingerie. Keep in mind, terminology can differ between brands and geographic regions, so if in doubt, clarify with your suppliers or colleagues.
To 'search' the glossary, use your shortcut key of ctrl + F (PC) or cmd + F (Mac) and enter the term you wish to find.
If you can't find what you're looking for, have questions, or can offer more information or suggested edits, please leave a comment.
2-Way Stretch Fabrics
This fabric stretches in one direction, usually from selvedge to selvedge, but can be in other directions depending on the knit.
3-Step Zig Zag Stitch
Used on elastics, this stitch will make a 'dashed' zig zag line. This reduces the chance of the stitches cracking, or breaking, when the elastic is stretched. It will commonly be seen on the underband or underarm elastics, particularly on large cup or band bras that may face a lot of stress.
Four way stretch fabrics, such as those that contain high amounts of elastane, stretch in both directions, crosswise and lengthwise.
In North America, the apex of a bra will refer to the deepest part of the cup, traditionally where the nipple would rest. In the UK, the apex will refer to the highest vertical point of the cup, usually where the shoulder strap attaches.
This is the grading system used on D/DD+ cup sizes where the grading increments will be applied unequally to the cup. The outer section of the cup will have larger grading increments than the inner/centre front section of the cups in order to keep the point of bust balanced. Apply a balance of of 1/3 of the measurements to the centre front and 2/3 to the outer.
A construction method where the seam allowances will be enclosed inside of the garment so that the edge does not require any further finishing. Swimsuit linings and gussets are often bagged out.
The deepest point of your underwire when resting on an X-Y axis. This point will align with the deepest part of your cup when sewn into the cradle/frame.
The back portion of the bra, usually made with a strech fabric, such as powernet. Larger cups will require a firmer fabric, or two layers of a light or medium weight stretch fabric.
A type of reinforcing stitch of a very small and tight zig zag stitch used in lingerie to secure seams, such as at the ends of elastics, shoulder straps, but most often at the ends of the wire casing to keep wires securely in place.
A block pattern is a simple pattern that you can modify and manipulate into a variety of new patterns. A block pattern does not have the seam allowances on it for easier modifications.
Cut 45 degrees from the vertical grain in fabric. In woven fabric this gives you a little stretch and also a beautiful, soft flare when you split and spread your pattern pieces.
A sew-free process using adhesive tapes, heat or ultrasounds to bind fabrics together without thread. This produces a flat, chafe-free seam, or offer waterproofing protection to outerwear.
Rigid strips of plastic, metal, spirals used to support garments and contour the body.
See also Flats and Spirals.
Not to be confused with wire casing or wire channeling, bone casing is wider to accommodate wider bones in corsets, basques and bustiers. It can be purchased pre-made a a tube to insert a bone, or made with a strip of bias fabric folded to make a tube-like shape. They are sewn to the garment with two rows of parallel lockstiches.
The breast root, or inframammary fold, is where the breast attaches to the torso. Underwires should follow the shape of the breast root for comfort. See Breast Root Trace for more details.
A rigid closure for a corset typically placed in the centre front.
A woven, unbleached fabric that can be used for toiles and samples. It is not suitable for toiles that will end up in lightweight, woven, silk fabrics, or those with stretch. It is usually economical for sampling and is good for marking and annotating any fit or construction comments.
Centre Front/Gore (see also Cradle/Frame)
The centre front piece of the bra, also sometimes referred to as the gore, is the fabric that connects the cups. It should be made of a non-stretch fabric for stability and support.
A chain stitch is a sewing stitch that forms a series of looped stitches with a chain like appearance. A Chain Stitch can easily be removed by pulling one thread. A Chain Stitch machine with a Nylon looper thread will sew a 'stretch' lockstitch, ideal for attaching bias bindings.
Circular Knitting Machine
A form of knitting in the round to create a seamless tube. This is how such things as socks, hoisery and seamless bodywear is created.
A drawing tool used to draw circles or arcs. This tool is particularly handy for manual pattern drafting to plot points and intersections based on measures.
In lingerie, core sizes traditionally refers to cups A - D/DD and bands 32 - 38.
This machine is perfect for hemming knits as you'll get a stretchy line of stitching using 1, 2 or 3 needles and a nylon bulk looper thread. One needle will produce a chainstitch, and two or three needles will give you the hem like those on t-shirts and leggings. This machine can also be used for elasticating swimwear.
Cradle/Frame (see also Centre Front/Gore)
The cradle, or frame of your bra, is the portion of the bra to which the cups, and wires, will be attached, with the band attached to the sides. A bra with a split cradle, will have a seam underneath the breast, usually near the balance point. It is important that the centre front of a bra be made of a rigid (non-stretch) fabric.
Cup sizes are not created equal and will vary in volume depending on the band size. There will be equal or equivalent cup volumes in cross-graded sizes. Example, a 34B cup volume is equal to a 36A, 32C and 30D. Cross-grading also applies to the sizing of pre-formed cups and underwires, which is typically based on a B cup size. Therefore a '40' cup or wire, could be used to produce a bra in 40B, 38C, 36D, or 42A.
Cut & Sew Foam
A sheet of foam that can be cut and sewn together to produce a cup shape. Cups made of cut & sew foam can usually be folded inside out for packaging and transportation, or machine washed. Never fold foam, you will not have seam allowances on overbust or underarm seams.
Denier/Stabilizer/Tricot/Sheer Cup Lining/15 denier tricot/Sheer Tricot
This fabric has various names and many products are incredibly similar. Be aware of fabrics that are completely rigid, and those that have a mechanical stretch. Denier is normally a strong, transparent, lightweight, synthetic, rigid fabric. It is a warp knit but it has usually be industrially finished so it has no stretch. It is used to prevent garment areas from stretching and an also be found as a tape for covering seams. Denier can be used as a backing to laminate fabrics that stretch, therefore making them rigid.
Die Cast Rings & Sliders
These components have been moulded and typically have rounded, smooth edges.
A digitizer will be used alongside CAD software to convert flat paper patterns into a digital pattern using a specialist board and 'mouse' or 'pen' to transfer the information electronically.
DOGS (Direction of Greatest Stretch)
This term is frequently found in home sewing bra making forums. It refers to the direction of the grain on a stable knit that has the most mechanical give.
A method to create garments by arranging fabric on the body or a dress form or stand.
A helpful tool in the sewing studio to drape fabric, model patterns on the stand, fit samples to, or display finished garments.
Allowance added into pattern pieces so the body can move.
To lockstitch close to a finished seam or edge.
A synthetic fiber known for its incredible elasticity. Elastane and spandex are generic terms for the fiber, with Lycra being a brand name.
Often confused with lace, embroidery always has a base cloth of a simple net or tulle onto which the embroidery threads are stitched.
The small steel caps will cover the sharp, cut ends of spring steel boning used for corsetry. They are available in different widths to match the widths of spiral steel. See also Spiral Steel Boning.
Flat steel boning is used in corsetry, can also be referred to as Spring Steel Boning. They are made of strips of thin spring steel, with the cut ends blunted and then covered with a rust protective coating. Flat steels are available in a variety of widths, and can also be bought by the meter on a roll. See also Spiral Steel Boning.
A flexible curve or ruler useful for drawing curved shapes, or for completing a breast root trace.
The person that garments are adjusted to for fit. It is important to select someone suitable to your target market, and can consistently maintain their measurements.
A brand of wire casing/channeling from Stretchline, known for its strength, patented as puncture resistant.
Templates made of various curves for hand-drafting patterns.
The formulae for creating different sizes based on a single base or core size, originally invented in Germany in the early 1900s by clothing production engineers. (FAUST, M-E., and CARRIER, S. (eds.), 2014)
On woven fabrics, the grain line is the warp thread, which is the longwise thread stretched on the loom. The 'longwise' direction of the fabric.
Fabric that has not yet been bleached or dyed is referred to as 'Greige'.
Golden Sample/Sealed Sample/White Sample
Sampling terminology will differ from company to company. Typically a golden or sealed sample will be a sample that most closely resembles the final product and may be the last sample and approved for production. A white sample may also be a final sample, only produced in an alternate colour, such as white.
High Point of Lace (HPOL)/Peak
When pattern cutting lace or embroideries with a scallop or galloon edge, it's important to plan for and mark the High Point or Peak in order to make sure that the aesthetic is as desired, and that all trims are captured within seam allowances. This is the 'highest' point in a scallop.
The Hold Point will be marked on a lace or embroidery pattern piece to signify an absolute for where the pattern piece must be placed on the fabric.
Hook & Eye Closure
Hooks and eyes are fairly standard in terms of design, but are available in different widths, number of columns and materials. The most commonly seen hooks and eyes have 1, 2 or 3 rows of hooks and three columns for adjustments. They do come in standard widths, 1 hook being approximately 18/19mm, 2 hooks in either 28-30mm or 38mm, and 3 hooks at 57-58mm.
Hook & Eye Tape
Also available by the meter, hook and eye tape will be required for longer closures like those on the back of basques and bustiers. They can be cut to the desired length and the edges finished with a small zig zag, like a satin stitch.
A specialty component for the shoulder straps of a bra. Available in both a ring and slider form, a small protruding 'J' on the back of one shoulder strap component will hook to a corresponding ring or slider on the other strap. This will result in a racerback style bra.
The fundamental unit of all knitted fabrics is the knitted loop. It is formed when a loop of continuous yarn is drawn through a previously made loop. Lingerie uses many sophisticated and technically functional knitted fabrics.
This type of elastic construction produced elastics with a softer stretch and modulus. They are particularly suitable for use on lightweight briefs where a more gentle finish is required. These are the ones that 'unravel' in wash & wear.
Not to be confused with embroidery, lace is woven together with a network of threads. Various widths and types of lace are available and designs can be made into stretch or rigid lace. I'm no expert on lace, so for further reading, enjoy this article.
Bonding two or more fabrics together with a polymer film using a heated press. Delicate fabrics can be laminated to heavier, more stable linings to make them fit for purpose.
Lay Plan/Marker Making
Your lay plan will specify how the pattern pieces will be cut from the sheet of fabric to make the most out of your usage, therefore reducing waste and cost. Marker making is another name for a CAD lay plan.
A CAD (Computer Assisted Design) program used by fashion and apparel designers. This professional software can be used to develop and grade patterns. It is highly popular for lingerie design in the industry. Competitor brands include Gerber, Assyst and Vetigraph.
Industry term for 'single needle stitching'. The most common mechanical stitch.
Used to make rouleau straps (see Rouleau), this long metal tool with a hook on the end can be used to turn a tube of fabric right side out. Stitch a narrow tube of fabric right sides together. Insert the tool into the tube, using the hook to latch onto the other end. Pull the fabric back through the tube in order to be right side out, using your fingers to manipulate it through.
Low Point of Lace (LPOL)/Valley
Used when pattern cutting pieces using lace or embroidery with a scalloped edge. Notations will be made on the pattern to indicate where the piece should be place. The low point, or valley, will be the lowest part of the scallop in the repeat on the finished edge.
Fabrics that have stretch properties but no not use elasticated yarns. The stretch is usually created in the finishing process. Some cup linings are engineered to have a mechanical stretch.
Method of Make
The step-by-step instructions on how to sew your garment.
Describes the stretch and recovery properties of elastic materials.
MOC - Minimum Order Colour
Industry term for the minimum order of the goods per colour.
MOQ - Minimum Order Quantity
Industry term for the minimum order of the number of goods.
Modelling on the Stand
Creating ideas for garments and pattern pieces directly in 3-dimensions on a dress form or stand.
Using a machine with projected barrels to mould a shape into a flat sheet of foam. A variety of shapes and sizes are available, as well as different materials. Pre-formed cups are sized like underwires, based on the B cup size.
When making garments with elasticated fabrics that conform to the body, negative ease must be added for a firm fit. Therefore, the garment will be made smaller than the wearer's actual measurements.
Nylon Covered Rings & Sliders
These components have been covered with a plastic nylon coating. This coating can be dyed.
Nylon Thread/Wooly Nylon/Nylon Bulk
A 'puffy' thread used in seams with stretch. It is traditionally used as a looper thread on an overlocker/serger or coverhem machine. Some varieties can be used as a needle thread.
A sewing machine that can use up to 5 different threads and three sewing needles. There is often a cutter to cut the raw edge of the fabric, while the stitched edge wraps around the cut edges to reduce fraying and give a clean, finished edge.
A specialist ruler used for drafting patterns. Available in metric or imperial measurements, this ruler has a straight edge as well as a curved edge.
Within the lingerie industry, plus sizes typically refers to those that are D/DD+ in cup size, as well as those over a 38 inch band size.
Is a loop of thread designed for function or decoration along an edge of lace, embroidery or elastic. The loops may vary in size according to their function or aesthetic.
Plastic Rings & Slides
Plastic rings and slides are moulded from plastic. They can be produced in a rainbow of colours and some are dyeable.
A printer that will handle oversized paper available on a roll. There are various printer and corresponding paper widths available depending on your needs.
Point of Bust
The deepest and fullest point on the breast, usually the nipple. Seams on bras typically intersect with the point of bust and will be the deepest point of the cup or where multiple pattern pieces intersect. In North America, 'Apex' will refer to the deepest of the breast and bra.
A smooth and durable choice for lingerie. There are many different brands and qualities on the market. Invest in good quality thread that is smooth, free of bumps or slubs, without excess fuzz, and have a tight, smooth, consistent twist. It will keep your machine much cleaner which means fewer problems for you.
This knitted fabric is available in a variety of weights from extremely light and fine to ultra heavy and controlling. Powernet in various weights and modulus is commonly used in bra wings, briefs, swim, suspender belts, bustiers, basques and shapewear.
Punched/Stamped Metal Rings & Sliders
These components have been punched into their shape from a sheet of galvanized metal. They will have flat, blunt edges.
Throughout the production process, a number of quality control checks will be done. Fabrics will be inspected prior to making the lay plan and cutting. There may be quality control checks while machinists sew, with measurements being taken to compare to tolerances. A final quality control check will be done prior to the goods leaving the factory with a variety of points checked. Quality control checks should continue when the goods are received into inventory at their final destination.
Lingerie rings can be used to connect two pieces of fabric or elastic together for either function or decorative purposes and can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and colours. Used primarily as a connector on shoulder straps to allow for the strap to freely adjust and vary strap angle. When using rings for elastics, choose a ring just slightly smaller in diameter than the width of the elastic.
By cutting a very narrow strip of fabric and sewing a 'tube' you can make a small strap, loop or decorative element when turning the loop right side out. A loop turner is a handy tool for the sewing kit.
Sample Size/Base Pattern Size
This will be the size that the garments are drafted and fit to. Lingerie industry sample size is typically 34B and in the UK, bottoms a size 10 or 12.
In lingerie, seams are kept small, usually 5mm for Metric measurements, and 1/4" (approx. 6mm) for Imperial measurements.
Seamless cups are made by using a moulded machine, like the ones used for making foam cups. Knitted garments can also be knitted in the round on a circular knitting machine. This is popular for shapewear and hoisery. Some bonded/fused/ultrasonic welded items are referred to as being seamless as they are not stitched together.
Seam tape is a small strip of nylon denier that is then folded with a binder and usually stitched in place with a twin needle machine to cover the inside seam allowances on garments to add strength and comfort.
Ss a self-finished edge of fabric. The selvages keep the fabric from unraveling or fraying. The selvages are a result of how the fabric is created. The selvage edge runs along the top and bottom edges of the fabric.
Sliders are used to create adjustable straps. They can also be available, like rings, in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and colours. Sliders with wider openings are good for very thick or textured elastics, as well as elastics that have been covered with fabrics, like on swimwear. Choose a slider that is nearest or an exact width to your elastic.
Gathering fabric. It can be done by using an elasticated thread as the bottom thread, wound around the bobbin.
Sling/Side Sling/Side Panel/Powerbar
A cup pattern piece that runs along the underarm edge of the cup to direct the breast forward. It can be a pattern piece built into the cup, or an internal piece hidden for support, or a aesthetic element. For more information about slings enjoy this article.
This lightweight foam can be moulded and has an inner core that is incredibly lightweight and flexible.
Spiral Steel Boning
Looks like a flattened coil, made up of a variety of small wires twisted together. It is a flexible bone used primarily in corests, basques and bustiers.
A stretch test will determine the amount of stretch in your fabric or elastic and is helpful when calculating negative ease. For more information about doing a stretch test enjoy this article.
A thin film of rubber or plastic that has been strip-cut into lengths of tape. It is cheap to produce and can give a lighter or stronger finish depending on the thickness of the film. The rubber version is often used in swimwear and men's underwear. The see-through plastic (Framalon) can be used in a variety of ways, but most commonly used as a narrow colourless strip sewn to the back of a stretch lace or embroidery to give more support around a neck or leg edge.
Suspender Ends/Suspender Grips/Suspender Tabs
Traditionally a shaped clip with a rubber backer, this component will clip to the top of your stockings to hold them in place. Four is the minimum number required, one for the front and back of each leg.
This method of grading is most suitable for core size. Symmetrical grading will have the pattern piece grow symmetrically to the left and the right, and up and down. So, the amount of growth you add to the left, will be the same as the right, and the increment you add to the top, will also be the same as the bottom.
Technical flats are thumbnails of the garment design and typically include stitch details and back views, along with any complicated internal structures or detailing.
Technical Pack/Product Data Management (PDM)
A production technical pack can vary extensively depending on your product and the requirements of your factory. It can include such things as a method of make, usages, measurement charts and tolerances, cutting instructions, a lay plan, packaging and label requirements.
A garment sample or prototype usually made up of less expensive fabrics to test shapes, construction, fit or design details.
Tolerance is a plus or minus measurement used to evaluate whether the product meets a quality standard. Tolerance can be applied to pattern drafting, especially in CAD programs where seamed edges can be measured. Typically used to measure finished garments to ensure they meet specifications for quality control. For bras, tolerances are particularly small and if a garment is a few mm too big or too small, it will be noticeable in the fit.
A lockstitch sewing machine with two needles and two separate bobbins to create parallel rows of stitching. This machine is used for sewing on wire casing (usually 6 or 8mm spacing between the needles) and seam cover tape (usually 6mm spacing between the needles).
Typically a semi-rigid wire used in bras to support the breasts. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes as well as materials, including plastic. Underwire sizing is usually based on a 'B' cup size and wires can be cross-graded to be used for all of the other required sizes.
When planning your production, you will need to calculate the usage of each fabric and trim in order to purchase and ship enough fabric for producing your goods. This will also help you determine an accurate cost price for the quantity of each material used in the product.
This is the width of the fabric that you can actually use for the garment. Selvages are removed and this width will be required to calculate your usage.
Warp threads run the length of your fabric.
This will be the amount of fabric that is wasted to produce each product, as there will be a small amount of unusable fabric surrounding each pattern piece. Professional and experienced lay planners, along with specialist software can assist in plotting the best way to cut the fabric to minimize waste, which in turn reduces costs.
Weft threads run from side-to-side creating your selvages.
Wire casing is used to insert the underwire into a bra, These are tube-like fabrics that will be stitched in place with two rows of parallel lockstitches. Wire casing typically has a soft or fleecy side which is worn against the skin. There are many varieties available, and some brands include foam layers within their casing for comfort.
Underwires in the casing require a bit of ease for movement and flexibility. Wire play should fall between 10 and 16mm. Too much or too little wire play can result in the wire pushing through the casing, including the outer fabric of the bra.
Wire Spring/Wire Splay
When drafting a bra pattern, a wire will need to be sprung open as it would be on the body when under tension from the band. In core sizes, the wire is typically sprung under the arm upwards of 15 - 20mm. In DD+ cup sizes, the wire may be sprung both at the centre front and the underarm upwards of 5omm.
Weaving is one of the oldest methods of producing cloth. They are formed by the interplay of warp and weft threads.
Weaving is the most flexible way to manufacture narrow elastics, carefully controlled to produce strong and stable elastics. By varying the yarns used and the structure, technical functions can be built into the product.
An X-Y axis can be used to draft and grade pattern pieces both manually and in CAD. The X-axis runs horizontally, and the Y-axis vertically.
This is a metal alloy made primarily of zinc, along with aluminum, magnesium and copper. This alloy composition is crucial for use in metal swimwear accessories, such as clasps, as it doesn't conduct heat as well as other metals, therefore will not get hot in the sun.
A zig zag stitch is a back and forth stitch which is useful for sewing stretch fabrics. In lingerie, elastics are attached with a zig zag stitch.
For now, this is my last post in the Underwires series.
If you have any questions at all, or if there's anything I didn't cover, please let me know and I'll see if I can clarify or find the answer for you!
How can I tell which end is the centre front? Is it the coloured end?
I’ve seen this comment a lot online. Home sewists checking which end is the centre front. Don’t necessarily rely on the coloured tip. Looking through my stash, the majority have it at the centre front, but the odd grouping did have it on the underarm. To check, line your wire up on an X-Y axis. Find the deepest part of the wire and place on X, and one end against Y. The lower end will be your centre front. I’m still yet to see a style of wire with a lower underarm than centre front.
Gauges?! What the heck is that?
Wires, and the metals used in them, come in different strengths, and widths, which make up their gauge. A light gauge wire is suitable for smaller cups. It’ll be more flexible and adapt to a variety of breast shapes easier. When it’s used in larger cups, some women may find that the wire feels like it’s warping or twisting. In my experience, cheaper bras use a more flexible wire in larger sizes and we hypothesise that it’s due to the brand wanting to accommodate more people with a limited size range. A heavy gauge wire will be much firmer, harder to spring open, and will keep its shape better and not twist or warp as much when sprung open. This makes it ideal for large and heavy busts.
Do I want flat wires, nylon-coated oval wires, wires with a groove in them, plastic wires…so many options?!
This is going to come down to personal preference and what is available to you if you’re buying small quantities. I’ve personally been a fan of the nylon-covered Galbline wire (has a groove in it) that I discovered in luxury brand PrimaDonna years ago. They’re firm, yet flexible, and have been good to me for a long time. I’ve seen the plastic tips on the flat steel wires chip off after time and poke through. I don’t know enough to help you select which is best, so it’ll come down to personal preference. If there’s anyone out there that has a better explanation - please do enlighten us!
Alright folks. I think I’ve dumped everything I know about wires out of my brain into these four posts. If you have any questions about underwires, give me a shout and I’ll see what I can dig up for us!
If you're as obsessed as I am about all things lingerie & technical - do check out these other great posts all about underwires from Lyzzy Beswick (who studied Contour Fashion at DMU and graduated the year before I started) who also shows a good breast root trace, and from Erin (who also trained with Beverly Johnson). It's a small lingerie-making world out there folks!
I chose the DiaryDoll knicker because it seemed to be the only European/UK based brand. For quick shipping and no chances of duties or customs charges being applied to my order, I selected their knicker, panty, brief, bottom...whatever you wish to call it. Now, from looking at their website, they only have one style, in four sizes, and in four colours, black being my obvious choice. It’s a relatively limited size range, with me requiring the largest - the UK 18/20, which they call Size 4, which seems appropriate for fit, my most recent purchases of jeans were a UK18 from Next and a size 16 in Canada from Marks Work Warehouse.
I wasn’t able to get the knickers direct from DiaryDoll as they were out of stock in my size in black. Searching online, I also found them on Debenhams (which aren't on there anymore!), but wasn’t able to complete the purchase online using PayPal or my Canadian credit card. I then discovered them at Boots! Since I live in Germany, and I didn’t want to ship them here and pay any extra postage, I had them shipped to my UK address and my partner brought them to me on his most recent visit. They were quickly delivered and I was excited to see them to give them a try!
They came in a cute little blue box and were folded nicely inside. I opened it up, took them out…AND LAUGHED HYSTERICALLY. And then I just got angry, and concerned.
The knickers are not quite what I anticipated. As a lingerie designer, specialising in grading, I know a thing or two about how knickers should look. The gusset on these was incredibly wide! Nearly double the width of knickers that I usually wear on any given day. I was so shocked I messaged some blog-lady friends on Facebook who are cross-posting some leak-proof panty reviews, and they confirmed that theirs were not nearly as wide.
The comparison! My size 4 (18-20) DiaryDoll knicker has a gusset width just shy of 11cm. My Bravissimo knickers in a size XL (UK16) are about half that at 5.5cm, which admittedly are a bit narrow, but I've honestly no complaints about these knickers (besides the fact they are a bit high at the waist in the back for me.)
I reached out to DiaryDoll on Facebook, and they assured me that the width of the gusset was intentional to be able to fit a nighttime-style pad and still help prevent leaks. Oh-kaaay…
First Wear: The knickers fit well around the waist and hip and leg openings. I put these knickers through their paces first wear with a road trip. After walking about 7.5km and sitting on a combination of busses and trains for 5+ hours here are some of my fit, feel and function thoughts.
Based on the price, these knickers are about 3x the cost of my normal, everyday cotton knickers that I buy in a 3-pack. Since they’re “special” I really don’t think the cost is that much of an issue. The knickers are made in China, which is a tad disappointing, as I kinda wish I would have spent 2x as much as I did, and rather have got the Dear Kates, which come in way more styles and colours, have lace details, were one of the first doing this (if not the first) AND they are made in New York City, so more likely to be ethically made.
Second & Third Wear: Ok, I’ll admit. I like the idea of these, so I’ve been hand washing them at night and laying them on the radiator to dry. I’ve only got one pair…and they’re for a certain few days in my calendar each month. The bunching is less noticeable, but I know I don’t need these knickers so wide in the gusset. I won’t pick up a second pair, as I’d prefer to give another brand a shot.
Overall opinion: They’ll do, but I will seek out other leak-proof panties for alternative and interesting designs, as these aren’t any more interesting than the black cotton Jockey bikinis I wear most days. As a lingerie designer, the incredibly wide gusset on these knickers still bothers me. I wonder how wide it is in the smaller sizes? Has anyone tried them, or other leak proof knickers?
This is my first attempt at a product review, and wow, is it going to be a personal one!
I’m not overly interested in doing bra reviews (at this time) because to be honest, I have a fairly large stash of bras that it’s not all that often that I’m buying new ones. There’s also another issue of putting my body out there on the internet, that I’m not totally thrilled about, and I don’t often have anyone available to photograph me.
With that said - I’ve been wanting to get myself a pair of leak-proof panties for nearly five years now, and I finally decided to order a pair on the internet and I just had to tell you all about it.
I did a little research project in university that looked at some of the leak-proof panty products on the market, because I do feel that the current sanitary protection items available to women are seriously lacking and need a revamp. I looked at some of the alternatives on the market, and attempted my own design. It didn’t go anywhere, but one day, I’m sure I’ll resurrect it. Meanwhile, there are a number of brands that offer leak-proof panties, that provide a solution to a variety of issues like bladder leakage, or sanitary protection back up.
The first brand I had ever heard of was Dear Kate - back when it was Sexy Period. Aren’t we all glad that name changed? While I was conducting my research, I found many others like Knix, Knockout and Stride (which no longer seems to have a website). Since that time Thinx and DiaryDoll have hit the market. All of these brands are for women who experience light bladder leakage or want extra protection while they’re menstruating.
I finally committed to purchase a pair after what I decided was going to be the LAST failure of my current sanitary product choice. It went exactly like this…in a Milton Keynes shopping mall, two days before Christmas, with a broken iPhone I needed to full-out replace, gum stuck to the back of my trouser leg, so I decide to buy new jeans, but I need a larger size than last time AND MY SANITARY PAD FAILS? DEFCON 1 is all I could explain to the BF about my state of mind and behaviour. Maximum readiness, prepare for my meltdown.
So, why does someone WANT a pair of leak-proof knickers?!
For me personally, I’m so tired of these embarrassing fails and the way they make me feel! As a woman, it feels like there is no worse horror than being in public or at work and your sanitary protection has failed, and there is a stain on your bottom. The constant checking in the bathroom, or the mirror, making sure you have a long enough shirt or cardigan, or are wearing really dark, or black jeans or trousers to camouflage any leaks is exhausting and nerve-wracking! What makes it worse is that I feel like I’m doing everything I can to prevent the leaks from happening. And I’m sure I’m not the only one!
I also don’t want my period to limit my options for clothing either! I can remember getting out a calendar and plotting out the months before choosing my wedding date based on this annoying bodily function. (Personal aside: no longer married, and this womb is NOT for rent!)
This past year, I also chose a stunning little yellow dress from Pepperberry for my university graduation. I wasn’t paying attention to the calendar and my handy little period tracker app (which I love, btw!) and all of a sudden this dress was no longer going to be an option. Argh, so frustrated! I just wasn’t going to chance it. I can’t trust Always. I’m always skeptical.
I apologize to any of my friends, family and coworkers who may read my blog and don’t want to know…but apparently 2015 was the year of the period and it’s time we stopped the hiding and shame we feel about this completely natural process our body goes through, in order to create life!
Here we go!
I purchase both LONG pantyliners and sanitary pads. On the days I menstruate, I double up. No, not with a tampon and a liner or pad - but BOTH my liner and pad. A liner more towards the front, and a pad more towards the back. I don’t know if I’m menstruating wrong (bad joke, sorry) or if I’m just too large in size for these already ‘long’ pads (like what do women that are size 20+ do?!) or what the issue is…but they’re just way too short!! I seem to experience a lot of failures if I just have the pad. If the pad is too far back, or my knickers move in the day, then there’s issues at the front. I move the pad more forward the next time…and then there’s issues at the back. BEYOND ANNOYING.
So, with the two, I find that I have a lot more surface area covered and the risk is reduced, but argh, screaming from the rooftops, why can’t it be eradicated?!
As it is, I feel like I’m wearing a stupid diaper. One that chafes, rubs and bunches, absorbs all other moisture that that skin down there feels dry and sensitive, sticky stuff attacking your hair and freaking plastic crunchy sounds when you’re walking. It’s bad enough I feel crampy, or have a backache or tender breasts, and then this?! WHY CAN’T THERE BE ANOTHER WAY!
Ok, ok. I’ve seen the menstrual cups — I did research alternatives as part of my university project. If it took me nearly 5 years to buy a special pair of period knickers, imagine how long it might take me to try one of these cup things…
I guess it was time to try out these period panties.
Stay tuned for ‘next week’ when I share with you which ones I chose and how they feel, fit and function!
Do you struggle with your sanitary products? Have you tried these 'period panties'? Would love to know your thoughts...like how many pairs should I really invest in?!
Educating women on the benefits of proper fitting bras is important to Kim. Designing lingerie that complements the fuller figure, and is comfortable, on-trend and beautifully constructed is her mission.
We are in charge of our bodies, and we make the decisions that are right for us, with no judgement. Kimtimates supports those who make their own choices about their own bodies. #yourbodyyourchoice #mybodymychoice