Pirating or knocking-off...those are both very strong words for the act of copying someone else's lingerie designs. In fact, some would consider it stealing. Mostly, I agree with that, especially when it comes to patent infringement (well, some of you know why I feel that way!)
But when I see a design that inspires me, I like to figure out what makes it tick and bring it home to my students so they can use it in their own personal bra-making adventures. So here is a design that "inspired" me. I bought it in 2007 when I went to China for the first time. I went to an underwear market and I bought quite a few things. This was one of them.
It is a foam cup with a seamed section of lace and a neat little sunburst on the bottom. The original has a little semi-circle (which I don't like) but other that that, I knew I was just waiting for the right student to come along and want this on her own bra. Last week, at Boob Camp, such a student appeared. So I will share the steps that Sonia took to cover this cup.
Choose a foam cup that has a strap tab, such as the MH style of cup. This one is a larger size, #44 in fact, which typically fits 38D and 42C (whereas the Chinese cup is a 32A or something)
What fabric to use? It must be stretchy, and the thinner, the better. If you can get really flimsy fabric, the sunburst will be tinier than if you use thicker fabric. We used Venice, which is really thin, and we could have used thinner still.
Sonia wanted pink lace and pink fabric. However the cups are only available in beige (more colours coming in summer!) so we cheated a bit and used pink fabric under the lace too, to give the illusion that the cup is pink.
Pin a scrap of fabric with the same amount of stretch as the chosen fabric (or use the same fabric) to drape the fabric on the inner cup. Stretch it a little bit so it lies smoothly, then pin it out and trace the style line, the notches and the edges.
Once you take it off the cup, it should look something like this. Add a seam allowance of 1/4" (6 mm) to what will be the seamed edge. This is your pattern. By the way, LoPoL stands for Low Point Of Lace, so that is where the edge of the lace will go. Yes, I know it is a curved edge.
This is what the lace inner cup looks like all cut out and ready to stitch.
Do the same draping, pinning and marking for the outer cup. You can't see it well but the left side of the fabric is pinned along the style line. A this time, you can also pin out the pleats along the bottom edge. Pull enough on the fabric so the pleats radiate from a centre point.
Mark the edges with the wash-out marker. I also marked where each pleat folded, and marked the starting and stopping point of the pleats on the foam cup as well.
This is what the fabric looks like when it is taken off the cup. You can see where the pleats are marked.
Trim the fabric from the seamline that will attach between the lace and the fabric. Remember to leave 1/4" (6 mm) seam allowance along that edge
Sew the lace and fabric unit to the fabric unit, matching all notches or match points. Press the seam to the fabric side and top-stitch with two rows of stitching. The pink lace should have been cut to the same size as the pink fabric...but sometimes, mistakes happen. We had enough lace to cover what we needed so we let it go.
Now it goes back on the cup for the final time. The pleats are pinned out again, and the whole perimeter of the cup is smoothed out and pinned. It is surprising how easily the fabric will smooth out. Once you are happy with the fabric cover, you can zig-zag all around the cup except for the lace top edge. That edge gets tacked in several places along the edge. And yes, you can manipulate the lace so that it travels around that little curve.
Once the cup is covered, you can make up the band and finish the bra!