An introduction, of sorts.
I’m fairly certain I was only eight or nine years old when my mother took me to Sears for my first bra. It was a traumatizing experience for both of us, as I don’t think either of us was ready to admit I needed a proper B or C cup.
Fast forward ten years through the awkward teen years of finding poorly fitting bras from a box in the back of Superstore, Zellers and all the Post-it’s in the Sears catalogue of 40DD’s, there was a ‘hallelujah’ moment when I was 18, moved to ‘The City’ and finally found a specialized lingerie boutique carrying a much wider range of bra sizes that I was used to.
Once I realized that I couldn’t really afford PrimaDonna bras as an 18 year old college student, I applied for a job in that very boutique. It was there that I found my passion for bras, and in particular, obtaining a good fit.
As a young teenager in the late 1990’s, I was certainly interested in fashion. Ripping up my Vogue magazines and blue-tacking the pages to my bedroom wall, I was surrounded by high fashion. When I was only 14 years old, we had sewing classes at school and I quite enjoyed them. At age 16, I splashed out on the best sewing machine I could get my hands on. Bernina, oh, how I love thee and miss you dearly. I began to learn how to manipulate patterns and sew basic garments. It was from that stage I was hooked. Expensive trips to Fabricland were then part of my social outings.
I did particularly well in my sewing classes in High School, but it never really felt like a career, only a hobby. Although, these basic sewing skills I had attained were what helped me get that position in the boutique, as the owner needed a seamstress. A bra seamstress, who knew?!
I worked mostly that first summer as the seamstress at the store. I was constantly ripping the back hooks off of basques for brides to make the garments tight throughout the body, lowering the cups for their beautiful dresses and chopping up wires where needed. It was demanding and time-sensitive work, and I really enjoyed being able to help these women look their best on their special day.
I was only half-way through my 2-year Business Administration - Marketing diploma at the time, so I worked alongside my studies that second year, and when I returned full-time to the shop after graduating, I stayed for a number of years as the right-hand woman taking care of marketing tasks, tradeshows, bra fittings and overseeing the seamstresses and support staff for the boutique. When it was time to move on, I still couldn’t leave bras behind.
Shortly after I left, I discovered the Fairy Bra Mother – Beverly Johnson. Beverly has a shop in Hamilton, Ontario where she retails a plethora of bra making supplies (www.bramakerssupply.com) as well as teaching classes. I certainly couldn’t travel from Edmonton to Hamilton to learn how to make bras, so when I learned that she travelled to Muenster, Saskatchewan to teach bra making, I knew that I had to attend.
I never really had the chance to attend ‘sleep away’ camp as a kid, but The Saskatchewan Stitches Conference is just that – for crafty adults. Hidden away in an Abbey, filled with Benedictine Monks, hundreds of women, and the odd man, would come for a retreat where they could learn new crafty skills such as knitting, quilting and sewing for just a day, or the whole ten days of the conference. Over three summers, I spent a week there each time, making the best of friends. It was an incredible experience – to wake up each morning and know that you got to sew all day and chat with friends while all the cooking and cleaning was taken care of for you!
Furthermore, upon discovering another bra making student from Edmonton, upon her suggestion, I began taking outerwear pattern drafting and constructing classes with Trudy Jansen, where I was able to further develop my skills.
The biggest opportunity and challenge that I faced was when I discovered the Contour Fashion program (a Degree in making underwear!) at De Montfort University in Leicester, United Kingdom. UNITED KINGDOM. That’s a pretty far off place for a Canadian girl from a small town that straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. Again, I knew that if I truly wanted to make bras, I would have to investigate.
It took me a year and a half to be able to attempt to scrape together the funds (aka, a loan from the bank where I worked) I’d need to come to Leicester and take a short course. It seemed like the impossible dream that a 29-year-old woman would cash in life as she knew it (great job, family, friends, marriage, and a home) and move abroad to study. After being in Leicester for just a few days, and again, meeting new friends that were supportive of my bra sewing dreams, I realized that I couldn’t wait to make this happen. I was going to apply for the three-year program and move to the UK.
I tried to believe that everything happens for a reason, and that I was meant to come here. I have had some of the most amazing opportunities to build my skills and along with that, some of the biggest tests of my strength of character to see it through. It was ten weeks from the end of my shortcourse to the day that I arrived back in the UK for my studies. Hands down, it is the craziest and best thing that I’ve ever done for myself. Don’t be afraid to follow your dream. Do what you love. All these clichés are true.
The biggest challenge for me still exists. Finding meaningful employment where I can best use my skills in bra fitting, pattern cutting and sewing. As a Canadian in the UK, there are real barriers to overcome. I have to remain positive that it will happen. I have surpassed so many obstacles to get to this point that I have to just believe that again, this is meant to be.
So, that’s the shortest version of how I got to this stage of bra-making, and I hope that you’ll continue to follow me on this journey, as it’s sure to be exciting! I plan to share what I get up to with you, as well as take requests on the ins and outs of making bras, in particular, big ones!
Cheers and love,
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