You Get What You Pay For … or Do You? pt. 2

In the previous blog post, we discussed some issues associated with ready-to-wear vs custom-made garments. In this article, I would like to highlight a few things that a customer needs to look for when they are in the market to purchase a custom bra. Before you purchase anything from a custom bra maker, ask yourself:

  1. Do the style lines look flattering for my body proportions? Is the strap width and band width appropriate for my breast tissue and size?
  2. Is the stitching even and consistent? Are the seams well stitched and reinforced?
  3. Is the inside of the bra completely finished, that is, no loose threads, no raw edges, no exposed elastic?
  4. Does the outside and the inside of the bra feel soft and comfortable next to the skin?

The style lines of the bra cups should be flattering to your figure. Some vertically seamed cups have seams that look like they are straight up and down. This type of style line is not very flattering, no matter what your body proportions are. It is much better for a vertically seamed cup to have the seams slanted enough so that a nicely shaped line is created for your silhouette.

Another part of bra design has to do with strap placement and strap width. Most bras have the front straps far too close to the shoulder. Not only does this compromise the maximum lift possible, but the strap cuts into the tissue near the side of the torso when you move your arms. Similarly, it is far more comfortable to have the back strap attached closer to the centre back. These strap adjustments are best for all figures, whether you have a very small bust or a very large bust. Wide bra straps are more supportive and more comfortable than thinner ones, even for smaller busts; however, the strap width needs to be appropriate for your specific breast size and tissue, as well as the cup style.

The design of the bra needs to also consider torso shape. Not every one has the same proportions when it comes to torso shape, and any inaccuracies in design will feel uncomfortable when the bra is worn.

Two other design issues to look at relate to the bra band: the location of the side seam and its shape. In haute couture, a side seam or shoulder seam is always moved toward the back so that it is not visible from the front. The reason has to do with aesthetics as well as functionality. Any seam adds bulk, so a side seam that is visible from the front only makes a person look larger than they really are. For the bra band shape, a better quality custom bra will always have the band lower at the back than at the front. This results in a more comfortable and supportive bra because the back band is closer to your centre of gravity. A well designed custom bra band will also be wider at the back so that it is more supportive and comfortable.

The most supportive bra cups have multiple seams, and of course this requires that the seams be very accurately sewn and topstitched. On a custom bra, the seamlines should be very smooth, with no puckering or rippling of the fabric. The topstitching should be even and consistent throughout the length of the seam. If a custom bra has wavy stitching or topstitching that is not equidistant from the seam line, then it is definitely an inferior product. Any stitching defect is more noticeable when the custom bra has a contrasting thread colour for the topstitching. Uneven stitching will significantly shorten the life of the bra because washing and wearing will cause the fabric to eventually tear.

Nothing is worse than seeing seams come undone or seeing loose threads inside a garment. A custom bra should have all seam ends well secured so that repeated washing and wearing will not compromise the stitching. When the raw edges of the fabric are completely covered on the inside of the bra, you will get much more life out of the bra and the bra will feel more comfortable next to your skin.

Most custom bras have exposed elastics on the inside of the garment. It is easier to sew a bra like this because it requires less steps; however, the quality is compromised. Sweat and body oils will eventually destroy the elastic, so when the elastic is exposed, this process of deterioration will be accelerated. It is far better to completely cover the elastic on the inside of the bra. That way, you will have a longer life for the garment.

The next time you go to a custom bra maker make sure that you check out all these details. If something is amiss, then you are not getting the quality that you are paying for.