Saturday 15 December 2012

What's on BrasiHate's Holiday Wishlist? Something For All Of Us...

Sometimes it really strikes me how far the G+ lingerie industry has come in the past few years. When I first got fitted into a 30GG from a 34DD in 2007, Cleo by Panache and Curvy Kate were not on the map yet. Bravissimo hadn’t started making their own brand bras, and even if they had I didn’t know they existed. The only options available to me then were Freya, Fantasie and Panache. So sometimes when I consider how far we’ve come, I’m just staggered by the massive number of options that are available to me now in a 30H. There are even department store brands (Debenhams) and brands I haven’t even heard of (Gorteks, anyone?) or know next to nothing about (Kris Line) that make bras in my size and are sold on accessible websites at low prices.

But at the same time, there’s something missing for me: the science. Even as the options increase, and as new companies add their offerings, I find the D+ and G+ lingerie scene isn’t really changing that much. It seems like everyone wants to make cute, frilly bras in fashion colors, but I don’t see much innovation in the actual structure of these bras. I have been really glad to see lots of companies starting to regularly add side support panels to their full cup bras, because those panels are necessary for a full-cup bra to give a fully uplifted shape. For instance, Panache’s Emily, Andorra, and Jasmine have side support panels; most of Fantasie’s full coverage bras now have them; Elomi uses them in most bras; and Bravissimo’s new full-cup Melrose and Linear Rose bras have side-support panels too. So I can finally update my bra seam structure graphic to reflect this:

But on the other hand, I also haven’t seen any brand make true advances in the quality or design of their bands or underwire. Instead, everyone is just bringing out fashion color after fashion color, floral print after floral print, without making any real changes. It’s great to have those options, but I’m really hoping for more this year. So I present Bras I Hate’s rather unconventional holiday wish-list—it’s not things I only want for myself, as I have so many bras already, but things I’d like to challenge the lingerie industry to create!

1.      A babydoll that isn’t sheer in the body and is long enough to cover the butt.

 Even if I didn’t mind a sheer babydoll, there’s nothing right now that comes in my size! My closest bets would be the Parfait by Affinitas Honey, which goes up to a G cup but runs small, or something from Figleaves, again in a G. Cleo is going to be coming out with a babydoll version of the Marcie in black, and I expect that to come in my size—but even when that comes out, it will still be sheer and short and that’s not what I want from my nightwear. What I’m really looking for is a nightgown that is attached to a well-fitting bra with proper underwires. Here is my mock-up of what that might look like:

Curvy Kate Tease Me babydoll, featuring the lovely Lizzie
Babydoll with Curvy Kate Elegance, featuring the beautiful Emma
       In the spirit of experimentation, in the new year I’m going to try my hand at making one of these. It shouldn’t really be too hard; all it would require is some fabric sewn to the bottom of a bra band and finished off nicely. I’m planning to use one of the Curvy Kate Showgirl half-cups, which is what I sleep in, or maybe the Curvy Kate Elegance that fascinated me so much last year for a sexier effect. Expect updates as I figure this out!

2.    A bra with an included camisole in “ahh-bra” material, that zips up the front. 

To explain this one, I am essentially looking for something like a very practical, everyday basque with no boning in crazy-stretchy material. I’m of the firm belief that the stretchier a bra band is, the better—cut it really small, but let it stretch a lot! I hate bands that are too big but simultaneously un-stretchy—those lead to back pain AND bulges.

The camisole material would ideally be somewhere between shapewear and the kind of material you get in a seamless camisole. I like the idea of having a super-super-longline cut because there are days when I really would love to be able to spread out the support over my whole torso, rather than just focusing on a small area of my back. Big boobs get heavy sometimes!

Finally, I’d like this comfy everyday contraption to be easy to do up oneself. So I’m going to suggest something that may cause gasps—a front closure. And because it would need to have the proper strength in this closure, I’m going to put my vote forward for a thin zipper that would go all the way up the front.

Here’s a mock-up!

My idea for a bra/camisole--featuring the Freya Deco
       3.   My third wish-list item is simpler. I’d like to see more practical options—more beige, brown, black, and light pink bras that are simple, but still pretty. I’m not looking for a twenty-way convertible, and I’m not looking for anything plunging or molded or seamless—I just wish there were more well-fitting options in colors that blend in under clothing. The brands that make the best unpadded bras continue to focus HEAVILY on fashion colors and prints. I wish there were a better balance. And I think there is also a gap in the market when it comes to CUTE practical options. It seems like the majority of bras in beige-y colors are also a bit boulder-holder-looking, or very plain with no decoration at all. I’d like a few little bows and maybe a lace texture—that wouldn’t effect the practicality of a beige, light pink, brown, or black bra, but it would make it a better ego boost!

      4.      Bras with bands that have a higher stretch content and are positioned lower on the back, to eliminate bulges. 

          I've talked about this before. I wish bands were wider, made of thicker material, and more 'seamless' to prevent awkward bulges. I also feel quite strongly that bra bands should be positioned at a slightly different angle than is common to give the best support and comfort, and to eliminate those bulges. Most British brands have their bands angled like so:

Bra with band angled too high creates bulges even when it fits

Whereas the ideal bra band should be positioned at a slightly lower angle:

Ideal lower angle for a bra band eliminates back bulges

In my few experiences trying Ewa Michalak, I’ve noticed their bands do sit lower, as in the second image. The difference in comfort and appearance is really revolutionary.

5.    Bras with cushioned underwire… seriously, G+ companies, get on this!!! Victoria’s Secret has been making bras with underwires encased entirely in a foam channel for YEARS. If a company that doesn’t even admit G cups EXIST can manage this technical innovation, I’d really expect the more enlightened companies to start working hard on it. Whoever introduces this first is bound to see a BIG bump in business because everyone will flock to them.

Well, there you have it--that's what I'm hoping to see from D+ and G+ lingerie companies in the coming year and beyond. Let me know in the comments if you have any other bright ideas for innovative bra design!

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Pepperberry Button Trim Jersey Top Review

This top is my first item of Pepperberry clothing as their stuff is usually not my style. I've had my eye on this tunic (which also came in grey and navy, and is now available in stripes) for awhile but Pepperberry stuff is SO expensive that I could never justify it. However, I recently found this used one for sale at a much lower price, so I decided to go for it.

This is a size 10C/RC (Curvy/Really Curvy). According to my measurements, I should be wearing a 10SC or possibly an 8SC, so I was worried it wouldn't have enough boob room. However, when I was living in Edinburgh I had briefly popped into Pepperberry to verify my size, and the size that fit me best was actually 8RC. So I decided there was probably a range into which I could comfortably fit, and I'd heard that these tops have a little extra boob space. That turned out to be true.

The top is a perfect fit on me, somewhat to my surprise. It is a little bit low-cut, so I have to wear it with a plunge bra (Bravissimo Thea in 28J with an extender) since everything else shows. The Thea isn't exactly a show-stopped as bras go--it gets kind of saggy throughout the day and I need to occasionally rearrange things to prevent that, but I like that it doesn't show too much cleavage and is unpadded. I would feel pretty exposed wearing my Freya Deco (30GG) with this top.

My favorite aspect of the Button Trim Jersey tunic is that it's actually long enough to wear with leggings! It covers my whole butt. I've always been disappointed that BiuBiu tops are not long enough to pair with leggings, so this is a better option for me.

It's also a higher-quality fabric than I'm used to. I almost always wear a camisole under stretchy clothes to prevent see-through-ness and feel a little more covered up. But this top is thick enough jersey that even colored bras hardly show through it.

I really love this top and I have also managed to scrounge up one of the sold-out gray ones to buy! The size I found for sale in the gray is a 10RC/SC, so it will have more boob space than this pink one. I'm curious to know how that will alter the fit, and will review the gray when it arrives.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Bravissimo Rococo Charm (Ivory/Ice Pink) Review

Recently, I've been on a epic journey to try to find a perfect (or at least passable) skin-toned bra. For my coloring, the best color would be a pale shade of beige-toned pink, but I was also willing to settle for the yellowish beige color that is typically marketed as "nude".

I've had quite a few failures and bras that didn't quite do, but I was pretty convinced that Bravissimo's Rococo Charm bra in Ivory/Ice Pink was going to be The One. Unfortunately, it wasn't--at all.

I ordered it in a 30H, since that was the size I had tried in the Pistachio version of the Rococo Charm. The green version had fit me well in that size, but the Ivory/Ice Pink runs smaller.

From the front, it looks pretty good:

But from the side, you can see that the cup does not have enough volume.

To begin with, half-cup bras like this (and especially the ones from Bravissimo) do not have much depth in the cups, but that is not usually an issue for me since I have very little volume in the bottom of my breasts. (I should have been more clear in the past that in addition to having a lot of upper fullness, I have much very little lower fullness. So I need bras that are cut open on the top, and shallow on the bottom.) So typically the shape of the Rococo Charm would work for my boobs, but this one is just a size too small. A friend who's tried a lot of Bravissimo half-cups tells me that they have been getting smaller and smaller since the Demi Diva--so the Parisian Plume was slightly smaller, the Rococo Charm slightly smaller again, and the Tanzania Stripe ran very small. I haven't tried all of them right in a row, but unfortunately I don't find this Incredible Shrinking Bra Syndrome hard to believe. It's the same thing that has happened to the Curvy Kate Showgirl Bras over the years. (I fit perfectly in a 30H in the Coral/Black Tease Me from a few years back, but would need a 30J to fit into the current colors.)

A half-cup bra (high center gore and vertical seams going up the cups) will typically give a square shape if it is too small. That's what happened with this bra.

Even when I loosened the straps so much that they fell right off the shoulders, the fit was still slightly too small, and with the straps so loose, it didn't really support me at all.

I might have returned the Rococo Charm in favor of a 30HH, but I was dissatisfied for other reasons too. The overall structure just does not seem as strong as I would expect from Bravissimo bras. In these photos you can see how much the underwire stretches:

This is in spite of the fact that the band is NOT too tight on me (I wear a 30 band but measure 28'' around my underbust). What's more, the Rococo Charm has not one but TWO features that are meant to PREVENT distortion of the underwire: the full band that continues underneath the underwires in front, and the non-stretch panel in between the underwire and the stretchy part of the band. Yet these factors didn't prevent the underwire from distorting hugely. I don't mind wide underwires, but no underwire should distort this much--it changes the fit of the cups when the wire stretches.

My quest for a suitable flesh-toned bra will unfortunately need to continue because the Rococo Charm won't do it for me. I'm going to start listing the bras I want to sell on Bratabase, so when I have that set up, I'll add a link to it here.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Hang In There, I'll Be Back Soon

I just wanted to pop in and say hello to my readers and let you all know that I've been very busy with school, but new posts will start again after Thanksgiving. I should have quite a few things to tell you about at that point, because...

1. I have an Ewa Michalak HM Gold coming to me in the mail in size 32GG. From my experience with my HM Granotowy Motyl in 30GG, that's the size I'm guessing will fit me.

2. I've also ordered a Rococo Charm half-cup from Bravissimo in the ivory/ice pink color with hopes that it will really be a beige/nude color. I have been trying to find a good nude bra for ages... I had a nude Panache Harmony, but I'm sort of over the fit of the Harmony, so I then bought a nude Freya Deco, which I never wore because I hate padded bras and I hate plunge bras. The solution? An unpadded half-cup which will probably show no cleavage whatsoever because the center gores on those things come up basically to my chin!

3. Also on the way to me is one of Pepperberry's Button Trim Jersey Tops in the pale pink. This will be one of the VERY few Pepperberry items I've ever tried, so it should be an experience.

4. I also recently received the "And We're Live" dress from Modcloth, so there will be a review of that shortly. Modcloth's website has REALLY detailed product descriptions and reviews (with pictures!) which make it very easy to pick out the curve-friendly clothes. And a lot of their stuff isn't as expensive as you might expect (though much of it is rather more expensive than you'd expect)--I mostly troll the sale section.

5. Finally, I just ordered the Cleo Lucy in the navy/pink color using a Figleaves offer code. Maybe not so exciting to review, as I've reviewed the Lucy extensively in the past, but this will be my first Lucy in a 30H (my others are 28 bands). I'm attempting to revise my bra collection, gradually improving it over time while editing down the weak links. Part of this is phasing out too-tight bands.

Can you tell I had a bit of a shopping spree? It was my birthday recently, what can I say? Sorry to be such a tease, but I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving, folks. See you after.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

DIY Ruffle T-Shirt: Clothes For Big Boobs, Budget Edition

I was really inspired when I read this tutorial for a ruffled T-shirt on Tea Rose Home. It's a really cute blog written by a woman who does lots of crafty clothes-altering, and if you click around on her list of popular posts, you'll see she has done loads of ruffled T-shirts!

I wanted to try to combine the ruffly element of the project with some of the alterations I regularly do on giant baggy men's clothes to get a custom fit for my bust. If you would like a reminder of the ol' "trace a top that fits onto the giant top and sew along those seams" deal, you can see my posts on that here and here.

This is the finished product that I'm going to show you how to make:

To do this project, you'll need a t-shirt of the length and color you want. In the Tea Rose Home tutorial, she uses two t-shirts, and cuts one of them apart into strips to make into ruffles. If you want to use just one shirt, like I did, you will need a shirt big enough that the fabric you take in off the sides will be enough for the ruffles. Alternatively, you could also use a normal-sized long-sleeved top and cut off the sleeves to use that fabric as your ruffles. I prefer to use large men's t-shirts because they end up the length of tunics on me.

In my post on altering the sweatshirt, I mentioned that once you've taken in the seams, you should test the fit by trying on the item inside out. That way, you can make sure that the fit is not too loose or too tight, and the extra fabric won't bunch up inside and make it hard to tell. I figured I should share a photo of how hilarious it looks when you do this. Here's my light blue, $3.99 CVS Pharmacy men's t-shirt taken in:

Once you've verified the fit, cut off the extra fabric on the sides. Try to cut close the seams and keep it neat, because these scraps are what you will use to make the ruffles. After I cut off the extra fabric, I trimmed off the section that had been part of the sleeve and then cut each strip down the center (what would have been the sides of the shirt). This left me with four strips.

Then I trimmed those strips so that they were relatively even and rectangular. I found, working with cheap cotton jersey, the strips tended to roll up and were pretty annoying to work with. But for some reason, this tendency went away once they had become ruffles, so just work carefully and don't worry too much about the rolling at this point.

Next step: the neckline. If you like the neckline of the t-shirt as it is, you can skip this part and leave it as is. But I find men's t-shirts tend to have necklines that are a bit too high and a bit too rough-looking to go with what I wanted, so away it went. With the t-shirt still inside out, I traced the neckline of another top onto the front:

To line up the back neckline, I cut the back so it was the same as where the front of the neckline had originally been, like so:

With the front cut out, I was left with this:

 And I then simply cut the back so it lined up with the front. That way, it all ended up being fairly symmetrical. But you can cut the neckline however you want. I would just caution to make sure to cut it a tiny bit higher than you think you need, as it will not be hemmed in the back and will therefore stretch slightly with wear.

 The finished neckline:

 Next, it's time to prepare the strips into ruffles. You pretty much need a sewing machine for this, although perhaps if you don't have one you could MacGyver something. To create ruffles on a machine, set the stitch to a straight stitch on a very wide setting--on my machine, I turn the dial past 4, to where the stitch length setting just looks like this - - - - - - - -

Don't sew backwards to seal the seam at the beginning or end--you want to be able to pull the threads to create the ruffle. You basically just sew one straight seam along the top edge of the fabric strip. Once the seam is sewn, grab the top thread and gently pull the fabric into a ruffle. I actually found I didn't need to pull it myself, because the strip got ruffled just by sewing it on that wide setting.

I made three ruffles and lined them up as they would sit on the t-shirt.

At this point I decided I wanted the top ruffle to be thinner, so I cut the fourth strip of fabric in half lengthwise and sewed that into two more thin ruffles. I layered those slightly--you can see they meet and cross in the middle.

With everything in place, I pinned the ruffles in place and then sewed them with a regular, thin stitch (not the same wide stitch you'd use to make the ruffles). When you pin the ruffles, make sure that they are close-set enough that the ruffle above will cover the seam of the next ruffle down. The seam at the top will show, but if you use a matching thread color, this shouldn't look very messy.

The final step is to go over the shirt and trim all the loose threads that are left--there will be a lot! Trimming all the loose threads is essential when you're doing DIY projects that you intend to wear because a single loose thread will make it obvious that you made the top yourself, which in my opinion sort of takes away the mystique of the whole thing.

You can also shorten or hem the sleeves if you'd like, but I just folded mine up to a shorter length. And here's my finished budget ruffled top for big boobs:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I have been enjoying doing sewing projects and alterations recently and I have more posts like this to come.

Wednesday 31 October 2012

The Flirtelle "Lucy": A Cinderella Story

At the same time that I was ordering the Curvy Kate Smoothie from Brastop, I noticed that they had some new Flirtelle bras. One of them was the “Lucy” in a couple of new colors, including this Silver shade:

Now, like a lot of Flirtelle’s new releases, this bra only starts at a 32 band. I also knew it was the same design as the Flirtelle Sublime, reviewed here, which had stiff fabric that I hated. What’s more, Flirtelle and Curvy Kate unpadded balconettes just don’t give the best shape on me, especially after a few hours, so I’ve mostly given up on them. (Apparently this is called an "upside down 7" look. I'm not sure who coined this phrase but I love it! I just got it from this Bratabase question and answer.)

Those are three good reasons why I could have overlooked the Flirtelle Lucy. (I really wish ever brand ever didn’t have a bra called Lucy, but I digress…) BUT—I have been seeking an unpadded gray bra for literally years. Options were slim, including Freya’s Lucy bra, which I never found:

Kalyani’s Natural Charm bra, which I was convinced would give a bad shape:

And the Fantasie Belle in Silver, a bra which I really dislike:

And that was just about all. So I knew I couldn’t let the Flirtelle Lucy get away as long as there was any slim chance that I would be able to alter it into submission. I ordered a 32H, sister size of my normal 30HH for Curvy Kate and Flirtelle.

When the Lucy arrived, I was unsurprised to find that the shape it gave on me was not great:

It’s not horrid, but it did make my boobs have a lot more projection than I prefer, and consequently there were wrinkles along the diagonal seam across the cup. You can see some of the empty space here:

Because of this, I knew I would be able to take in the center seam to make the shape more round, as I described in the tutorialin this post, “Making a Pointy Bra Round”:

I decided to try doing the alteration on my sewing machine this time. I was a little nervous that sewing such thick fabric would be impossible, but it worked just fine.

It was also EONS faster than the agonizing, painstaking process of hand-sewing something so thick (think thimbles and tweezers—I would probably have made faster progress with an awl).

Because I was machine-sewing, I also decided to pin the seam rather than taping it this time around. I just taped the very ends of the alteration to make sure that part was smooth.

Here’s the difference in shape, Before:

And after: 

Because the band was a 32 band, and the cups were angled in a very V-neck shape, going high up towards the straps, I decided to take in the center gore as well. This serves three functions—it takes some length out of the band; it “turns” the cups so the shape is less plunge-y and more half-cup-y; and it provides a little extra openness in the top of the cups, which I needed after taking in so much fabric from the cup.

I decided to do the alteration on the center gore on my sewing machine as well, which was a mistake as I almost broke my needle by hitting the underwire accidentally. I also did it rather off-center and sloppily as it is very hard to fit the center gore of a bra under the foot of a sewing machine. I’ll probably fix that later.

The one issue I expected would be really problematic, the bulk of the altered diagonal seam, wasn't as big of a problem as I expected. It does show through tops, especially a thin t-shirt like the one I'm wearing in the photos. 

But in my day-to-day life, I always wear a tight cami underneath my tops. With the cami-top combination, the seam blends in more, and although it still shows, it doesn't look bizarre.

The center gore doesn't lay perfectly flat, but overall I’m really pleased with the results of my alterations. I expected to feel as though I was fighting a losing battle or would never wear the bra. But it’s an unpadded gray bra! I’ve worn it repeatedly and I’m pleased to report that so far, the shape stays pretty good throughout the day. I even wore it to do yoga and nothing went horribly wrong.

Owning a gray bra is all that I hoped and more. I know some people consider it a plain or neutral color, but I’m a little obsessed. I think it’s an amazingly flattering color on brunettes and redheads especially. Wearing a gray bra with matching gray undies I got from Forever21, I feel a little extra boost of cheerfulness all day. I still maintain hope that Cleo’s Lucy bra will eventually come out in a gray color, but this Flirtelle Lucy will sustain me happily until that time. 

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Curvy Kate "Smoothie" Review

After all the hoopla surrounding the release of the first J-cup (in two band sizes) molded bra, I knew I had to try it so I could review it for this blog. I don’t really wear padded or molded bras much, so it wasn’t a must-have for me, but the review does seem necessary.

I ordered the Smoothie from Brastop in size 28J. I would have preferred a 30HH rather than a 28J, as I don’t like super-tight bands, but Brastop was already sold out of that size. They have it on US Figleaves now at just $44, so I would recommend buying it from there if you're in the US to save a few bucks on shipping. Last I checked, they still have all the sizes in stock there. As to the cup size, I wanted to try either the 30HH, 28J, or 32H—those sister sizes are the same as the cup size that fits me in Curvy Kate’s unpadded balconette bras. By trying the same size that fits me in other Curvy Kate bras, I can accurately compare the differences in fit.

My first impression of the Smoothie is that it’s very different from the Freya Deco! The molding is thinner and a bit stiffer than the molding in the Deco. It is therefore less bulky, but also less soft. The center gore is also higher—the Smoothie has occasionally been listed as a plunge bra, but I wouldn’t really consider it a plunge. The center gore is neither very high nor very low.

The 28J was a perfect fit on me in the cups. The cup shape is very nice—round, but more natural than the almost-square look a lot of us get in super-round bras like the Masquerade Rhea, Cleo Juna, and Curvy Kate Tease Me/Thrill Me. I think this is a perfect shape to suit all preferences.

The cup shape is also very even. It fit my full-on-top boobs without cutting in, but it isn’t so open as to gape on boobs with less upper fullness, as the Freya Deco often does. I did have a little empty space in the bottom of the cup, as you can see here:

Likewise, those with full-on-the-bottom boobs might find they have a little extra space at the top of the cup. This is the classic issue with molded bras—they don’t have as much ability to take on the shape of the breast as non-padded bras. But I think the Smoothie has basically surmounted this issue by providing a shape that is in the middle and thus appropriate for most different shapes. Of course, this is just my guess; we will be able to see if it’s true as more and more people of different shapes try the Smoothie, but here’s Cheryl’s review at Invest in Your Chest. She has a very different shape from me and the Smoothie looks great on her. Brood at Brood’s Big Bras reviewed the Smoothie too and said that it seemed to be running big on everyone--apparently that is a consistent issue with the Australian shipments of the Smoothie, so if you're buying from an Australian retailer, you'll want to take that into account. For others, although lot of people are used to sizing up to  fit the Thrill Me and Tease Me, the Smoothie definitely is more forgiving in its shape, and has more space, than those bras. I would recommend going with your Curvy Kate unpadded size rather than your Showgirl size when trying the Smoothie.

The band felt like an average 28 band—not as loose as the Showgirl bras, nor as tight as the Angel, but about the same as the other Curvy Kate unpadded balconettes.

The print on the Smoothie is very subtle. It shows up a lot in flash photos, but when you are just looking at the bra in normal light, it’s less noticeable. That could be good or bad depending on what you’re looking for.

Although I don’t like molded bras myself, I’m really impressed by the Smoothie. It’s a big step forward for the full-bust market and I really hope that Curvy Kate brings it out in a wider range of cup sizes in the larger band sizes so it can serve the market more fully. I would whole-heartedly recommend the Smoothie for people who seek molded bras.