The San Diego chapter of the American Sewing Guild (ASG) very recently offered a 2-part workshop opportunity to learn how to fit and construct bras with Anne St. Clair, owner of Needle Nook Fabrics in Wichita, KS. The $165 cost of the workshop included personalized bra fitting and a lecture on Friday night, a hands-on workshop that we could take the next day (Saturday), Sunday, or Monday, a personalized bra pattern (based off of Anne's Elite or Queen Elite bra pattern and adjusted to our own bodies), and a kit that included enough fabric/notions to make three bras.
What did the class cover?
For the Friday night lecture, Anne and her team measured and fitted us to determine our bra size, and then gave a slide show and lecture to discuss common fitting issues (e.g. straps sliding off, cup spillover, etc.) She showed us a quick and easy way to fix the straps sliding off issue on our RTW bras, and gave an in-depth talk about what to look for in a poor vs. well fitting bra.
The hands-on workshop, however, was the reason that most of us took the class, and it did not disappoint. Armed with our custom-sized bra patterns (if we gain or lose weight or otherwise have size changes post-workshop, Anne assured us that she'd help re-fit us in the months and years following the workshop), we were walked through the process of constructing an underwire bra. Anne's style was to demonstrate a step, then to have us do the step ourselves, and then she and her very fun, helpful team would check and make sure that we'd done things correctly before moving onto the next step.
The bra pattern itself produces a very basic bra, but Anne and her daughter Monica gave lots of tips (and included examples) of things that we could do to change the style and pretty up our future bras.
I walked away from this class with the best-fitting, most comfortable bra in my lingerie drawer.
Although the bra construction process involved some techniques that were new to me, I feel like I learned enough in this class that I shouldn't have too much trouble making bras on my own (especially once I've practiced a couple of times). Most of the participants (myself included) walked away from the class with several "fancy" bra kits to make more (pretty) bras on our own.
Here's a couple of before-and-after shots showing the waistline-defining difference between one of my old bras and the bra that I made in Anne's class:
Before (one of my better fitting bras)
After (bra from class where things are lifted and separated properly...)