December 29, 2015

For Men Only

As bra-makers, we put a high value on our skills to make supportive, yet comfortable undergarments. Isn't it time you use those same skills to make supportive, comfortable underwear for the man in your life? Wait, what's that? Supportive Underwear for men?

Yes, we are announcing our newest Pin-up Girls pattern for Men's Underwear. The pattern includes two styles, called Michael and Lillebror, named after our two models and testers.

Michael is the more traditional North American styling with the front panel slightly curved. The back is interesting with its curved seams.  The Lillebror has European styling with a shaped front panel and no seams in the back at all.

What they both offer is what you cannot see from the outside...a nifty support sling system for "the boys" that keeps the parts separated and prevents chafing. Yes, men don't like sweat down there either! However if you (or he) doesn't want the sling, you can cut a double layer for the front panel instead and all will be well.

There are no darts in either view, just some curved seams to provide the shaping. There are no seams or darts in the front panel at all which is also good news. My first prototype had darts in the front, and while they were "Ok" I really worked to get a dart free, seam free front.

The supply list is super half yard or metre of fabric and elastic to fit his waist. The elastic could be 1.25" to 2" wide (32-51 mm wide) how easy is that? We've tried cotton spandex, ocotton jersey, Bamboo and Modal, but you could also use any other stretch knit that you want to work with. Why not make some crazy prints in wild colours? He'll be the envy of the locker room!

All you need is 20 minutes to sew them together! Can you find the time to give your guy quite possibly the best underwear he's ever had?

December 12, 2015

Christmas in the Village

We have a weird little corner in our store  - it's under the stairs leading to the apartments upstairs. That corner is usually the catch-all corner for remnants, left-overs and sale items. Not an attractive corner by any means.

Some time ago, one of our students offered us a deal to take the lot off our hands - it would be useful to her to make up samples and experiment with designs. But for us, it would be great to clear that space! But what should we put in it?

Before I could make any decisions about a display, a magical thing happened overnight! A tiny village appeared in that space under the stairs, complete with houses, buildings, trees and people!

Upon closer inspection, I found a tiny Fabric store! come there isn't a tiny Bra-makers Supply in this village? I must speak to the village council!

And a Quilt Shop (just for you, Denise!)

Look at these tiny kids playing hockey on the village ice rink! (Well, this IS Canada!) Oh wait, there's more kids playing in the snow as well! There's also a group singing carols. You can just see the tiny streetlights in the background, too!

That corner is filled now with the spirit and joy that is Christmas. Many thanks to the elves that made this village happen!

To all of the bra-makers out there (customers or not!) - our staff at Bra-makers Supply wish all of you the merriest of Christmases. And of course we wish you all a SEW Happy New Year!

Order fulfillment: Rebecca, Teresa and Agata
Teacher: Denise
Website and Tech support: Ray and Mary

November 02, 2015

Bikini Time!

Just in time for sewing for the upcoming resort season - announcing the newest pattern in the Pin-up Girls line - the Triangles and Tangas Bikini pattern!

Pin-up Girls is proud to present this collection of triangle tops and tanga bottoms for beachwear, swimwear or posing suits for fitness competitions. All tops are non-wired and use a variety of methods of constructions for the ultimate in sewing choice and freedom.

The tops fit a breast measuring from 6" to 9.5" in the cross cup width. The bottoms fit hips measuring 33-45". But a word of caution - these bottoms are a cheeky tanga style with the cheeks exposed (not as much as a thong...but still with a little exposure!)

Bonus - instructions on how to sew the elastic inside the strap and ties - with no shifting and no hassle!

The MALIBU is a classic all-fabric triangle that ties at the back and has halter straps. Co-ordinating or contrast bindings. The bottoms tie at the hip

The MIAMI has a band running under the cups made with darted fabric over cut-and-sew foam lining for the best in comfort (you can hide those nipples!) and ease of sewing. The bottoms have a band criss-crossing at the centre front.

The MAUI features the latest in tanga fashion with a Brazilian scrunch along the centre back of the bottoms. The top is made from pre-formed triangle foam cups (our MT style). These cups will cover beautifually with darts, pleasts or even seamlessly with a stretchy fabric!

Of course, any sewist worth her buttons knows that you could easily mix and match any top with any bottom, for a virtually unlimited bikini wardrobe! 

All three views in seven sizes are included in the pattern envelope. Available in English only

October 30, 2015

In the News!

Great news! We were written up by Paola Lorrigio of the Canadian Press and featured in the Hamilton Spectator, City News and others today! You can see three of our students here - Julia in the back left, Adrienne up front and Jessie with me on the right!

Adrienne Connelly, who has a pitcher's hand and ball tattooed on her forearm, works on a baseball-themed bra for the Blue Jay's post season during a bra-making class with Beverly Johnson of Bra-makers Supply in Hamilton on Wednesday, October 14, 2015. Thanks to Johnson's expertise - she has taught over 30,000 women how to make custom bras - Hamilton has become known as the bra-makers capital of the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power


HAMILTON – Sophie Ndala watched her mother wrestle with ill-fitting lingerie her whole life and painstakingly alter oversize bras that nonetheless dug into her shoulders and provided little support.
With bra shopping a bust in their home country of South Africa, Ndala travelled thousands of kilometres to southern Ontario to learn how to help her mother — and maybe start a business herself.
She enrolled at Bra-Makers Supply in Hamilton, a sewing store and custom lingerie school that has grown into an international attraction for both amateurs and professionals.
For nearly two decades, the store’s owner and self-described “fairy bra mother” Beverly Johnson has shown women — and the occasional man — how to handcraft bras that fit bodies of various shapes and sizes using her own patterns.
Johnson, 62, launched the school — one of the only programs of its kind — after years of leading workshops across Canada and around the world.
Between her in-person lessons and new online courses, Johnson estimates she’s taught more than 30,000 people to make beautiful and supportive bras. Some have gone on to start their own businesses or teach lingerie-making themselves in stores such as The Make Den in west-end Toronto.
A recent weeklong master class on plus-size bras saw Ndala create a pale blue prototype to take home to her mother — who has large breasts but a petite frame — and replicate. If the undergarment fits, Ndala said she plans to start sewing some for others.
“There’s really a need out there for people to make bras for people who can’t have them anywhere,” Ndala said. “You don’t get these at the stores because they never make them like this, they only make for certain sizes for average women.”
Several of her classmates already have their own lingerie lines and turned to Johnson to hone their skills.
“I really want to hit the mastectomy market,” said Holly Myers, a custom bra-maker based in Portland, Ore.
“One of my aunts had breast cancer several years back and I’m also a pilates instructor, that’s kind of my first career, and I have quite a few clients who have mastectomies as well … and they always complain about not being able to find cute bras and cute swimwear.”
After buying Johnson’s first book on bra-making, Myers sought out further instruction, but “nobody really teaches custom anywhere,” she said. Here, she learned how to make her own breast forms for mastectomy bras.
A longtime seamstress, Johnson came to lingerie in the 1990s after making dance and figure-skating costumes and running her own interior design business in New Brunswick.
She wanted something she could do out of her own home after moving to Ontario and felt bra-making was something “women can use,” she said.
But the patterns available at the time weren’t up to snuff, so Johnson set out to design her own, first taking apart dozens of existing models for research.
As Johnson’s teaching took off, a new challenge emerged: finding the proper materials to support her craft.
That remains a “major headache” to this day, she said. “In Canada especially, we’ve lost a lot of our fabric mills, we’ve lost a lot of our places to buy elastics and laces and that sort of thing,” she said.
Bra-Makers was born to fill that need and now commissions all of its elastics and most of its fabrics, she said.
The school, which operates in the back of the shop, offers a range of classes from a $225 two-day introductory course to a $600 five-day “boob camp” and lessons in swimwear and corsetry.
In the beginner class, students adapt patterns to their own body. “We don’t expect their body to fit into my bra pattern,” Johnson said.
The master classes were brought in to replace what once was a nine-week bra-making certification course after new provincial regulations forced Johnson to axe the program or register as a private career college.
With a bit of practice, even novice bra-makers can churn out a new undergarment in a few hours, she said.
Over the years, Johnson has helped women overcome several bra-related difficulties. In one case, students designed a specialty bra that closed with magnets at the front for a blind woman unable to reach behind her back.
The results can be life-changing, she said.
“We’ve done bras in our classes for women with mastectomies who had really given up on wearing nice clothes — they just wanted to wear sweatshirts to hide the fact that they’d had one breast chopped off,” she said.
“And so we’ve given them back, just through the act of having them make a bra, we’ve given them back their femininity, we’ve given them back their life, their love for fashion. We just make people happy… nobody’s going to put you down and nobody’s going to make you feel bad because we all have issues with the bra.”

Hamilton Fashion Week

One of our former students came in today and told us she was asked to participate in Hamilton's Fashion Week! Isn't that exciting?

The event will feature fresh, young Canadian designers from the area, including clothing and swimwear designers Hey Hey & Co. We are SO proud to see them in this show!

Fashion Week runs from Thursday November 4th through Saturday November 7th. There are afternoon as well as evening shows and each time will feature different designers and their collections.

All the events will be held at either 252 James Street North (Christ Church Cathedral) or 121 Hughson Street North (the Spice Factory).

Tickets are $20 for each show or get a 4 day pass for only $50. You can find out more information on the event here.

Go out and show our Canadian designers you want to see more of their stuff! Will we see you there?

September 22, 2015

Sidewalks for Sale

Come one, come all to the Annual Ottawa Street Sidewalk Sale! It's happening this Saturday September 26 from 9 am through 5 pm!

All vendors on the street are setting up their tables for the best-ever Sidewalk sale event. Here at Bra-makers Supply, we are not selling sidewalks....BUT, we have dug deep into our stock to offer the best bargains on items specifically for bra-making. That includes fabrics, laces, elastics, hooks and eyes, fabric trios, patterns, underwires and other essentials.

Prices are below wholesale costs and are priced to MOVE. Some examples are gorgeous stretch or rigid laces - $1 for a half metre length (regular $8 metre)
Underwires in selected sizes - 0.10 per pair (regular $2.50 pair)
Hooks and eyes - bag of 10 - $2 (regular $15.00)
Sliders and rings - bag of 100 - $5.00 (regular $30 per bag)

June 06, 2015

Press & Peel a new Bra!

Here at the Saskatchewan Stitches Conference, we were lucky to have a student in our class who found a new way of cloning garments. When we combined that method with some bra-making ingenuity, the results were nothing less than spectacular!

Traditional cloning is done with the bra cup pinned out to a foam core board. This takes time (about one hour) and the accuracy of the result is due largely to the accuracy and skill of the person  doing the pinning. If she pulls too far, or not enough, the results can be less than perfect.

In this new method, it is as easy as can be, thanks to some advances made in the KITCHEN! Yes, we use Press & Seal to make the pattern!

You need to wear the bra to be cloned - this pushes the cup out to the correct shape and size. And the bra must fit the way you want it - no point in making a bra that doesn't fit!

Tear off a strip of the Press & Seal and press it to the bra over one section. it will stick to the fabric very nicely

 Use a permanent marker to trace to the seamline (not the topstitching line)  around that section, taking care to have the cup as smooth as possible.

Then peel off the piece very carefully. Make sure to keep any teensy-weensy wrinkles that formed as part of the shaping process.

Repeat for the other sections of the cup.

Then remove the bra to press and peel the frame. This part is a lot easier to do when it is off the body and laid flat. Here's the front bridge area. 

I even marked the edge of the bow (which I did not mean to do!)

For the back band, you should stretch the band until the fabric lays flat. If I'd had a foam core board, I would have pinned this band to that, but I am at the Saskatchewan Stitches Conference right now (held at a monastery) and don't have my foam core board with me. it's not likely the monks would have any foam core lying about either!

I had my lovely assistant hold the band to its pulled position.

When you finish tracing, let it go. The band will crinkle up back to its elasticized size, but don't worry - all will be well when we peel it off. It will go back to its original size.

Now comes the fun part! Transfer the traced outline to paper! Stick the plastic to a piece of paper starting at the centre and working out, smoothing the plastic as you go. Don't get rid of those tiny shaping wrinkles but rather curve the paper to fit the plastic.

Once you have the parts on paper, true the seam lines and add seam allowances. Then sew up your lovely new bra!

May 27, 2015

Grabbing life by the Bells

I am back at St. Peter's Abbey for the 13th annual Saskatchewan Sttiches Conference, a wonderful retreat for those whose live to knit, sew and quilt. This is my room again this year...I see they redecorated my room with new textiles!
Our daily routine here is scheduled by the bells in the tower. Bells for the call to early morning masses, bells for lunch and bells in the evening...74 bells in the evening, I might add! After a few days, I scarcely hear the bells anymore, as they have become a part of our daily life.

The jewel in the crown of the colony is St. Peter's Cathedral. Yes, a cathedral right here in the middle of Muenster (population 212) which doubles in size when the Sttitches Confernece is on!!!
Inside are the most incredible paintings on the dome of the altar.

There is St. Benedict standing at the right hand of St. Peter (upon whom the Catholic Church was built)
Benedict founded the order of Benedictine monks, which owns the monastery and all the lands around here.
In this above photo you can see part of Father Demetrius, of the Order of St. Benedict, who is our main contact at the monastery and our tour guide for the cathedral and the Abbey. Father D as we fondly call him, has been our guide for the 13 years of the Stitches Conference!

I teach bra-making here, not in the cathedral of course, but in St. Peter's College which is on the monastic grounds! This year we have had a 3 day bra retreat as well as the regular 8 days of other bra classes. That means the students can work on whatever they want but I am here to help them with it. It's a great opportunity for students to get some of those more challenging bra designs sewn up and fitted.

One student decided to cover foam cups with a stretch silk fabric. I never recommend woven fabrics - (just because it says "stretch" doesn't mean it is a knit) but she was determined! Since woven fabrics won't stretch enough to cover the cup seamlessly, we had to add small gathers to the bottom half.

She did 2 nice neat roll over edges and that was no mean feat using woven fabric! But the plan also incLudes lace over the bottom half to cover the gathered area...something like this. 
This is another bra the same student whipped up! This gal had some amazing bras!

Abby life, Bra-making and Cathdrals - the ABCs of life here at the Stitches Conference. So once again, I am grabbing life by the bells, and a more heavenly place, I can't imagine!

May 21, 2015

Bra Summit Give-away!

As I prepare to go once again to beautiful Stockholm to the 3rd Annual European Bra Summit, I have some news about a Give-away!

If you book your classes before June 6, your name will automatically be entered in the Early Bird Give-away. Prizes are gift certificates worth 500 SEK each!

Here's what's going on in the Bra Summit:

2 days: June 27 & 28 from 9.30 - 4.30

Want to learn to make your own bra?

This is one of the best classes you will ever take. We say "if you can set in a sleeve, you can sew a bra". Our Classic Bra pattern is first fitted to your unique body - then we teach all the professional bra-making techniques. Pattern and kit are included in the class fee.

2.5 days: June 29 and 30 from 9.30 - 4.30 July 1 from 9.30-12.30 

Learn to make swimwear and have the pattern professionally fitted to your body. In this class you learn how to make a free floating bra inside with swim cup foam (you must bring your own fitted bra pattern). It is not difficult to make a swimsuit once you know the few tricks that we can teach you. The pattern and class notes are included in the price of the class. You will choose one suit from the following/a one-piece tank suite/a one-piece princess line suite or a princess line tankini. Bring your own swimsuit fabric and lining to this class. One pattern included.

1.5 days: July 1 from 1.30 - 4.30 and July 2 from 9.30-4.30

Everyone loves a cut-and-sew foam bra . They cushion the bustline and provide a nipple-free look under clothes. Using cut-and-sew foam allows you to use virtually any fabric, including stretchy fabrics you can’t use for a regular bra cup.  We have tricks that allow the home sewer to cover her own cups and sew beautiful bras that rival ready-to-wear. You will also learn to cover a cup with lace, and use lining if you want. This year you can choose from over a dozen different foam colours! This is 1,5 day are jam packed with foam, fun and friends! You must already know how to sew a bra - no beginner bra-makers!

STYLE CHANGES1 day: July 3 2015 from 9.30 - 4.30 

In this class, you will learn how to change your basic pattern into every style you want. Vertical seams, diagonal seams, multiple piece cups – what style lines do YOU want in your bra? After completion of the class, you should be able to look at a ready-to-wear bra and know exactly how to duplicate the style. In the morning you will learn to change the style, then in the afternoon, you will check the fit of the cup you designed in the morning. You must bring your bra pattern to the class.
1.5 days: July 4 from 9.30 - 4.30 and July 5 from 9.30 -12.30

Shelley is a designer original bra with built-in power bars and a split lower cup. You won’t believe what effect these small details have on support! We always say “if you like your Classic Bra – you will love Shelley!” We will draft the pattern in the morning and sew it up during the rest of the class. You must bring your bra pattern to class.
0.5 day: July 5 from 1.30 - 4.30

The fabric you choose for a bra, panties or body shapers can make or break the garment. Why waste money and time on a garment that won’t support or won’t flatter your figure? Learn what fabrics will make a great bra, or panties, and how to use your fingers to tell you if a fabric will be good to use. You will be given lots of fabric samples that you can take home and use as reference. You will also learn to modify your pattern to use with different fabrics.

For more information, please contact the organizer:
Bodil Friman
by phone +46727153061 or by email at

May 09, 2015

Swim Week and Master Swim - Digital Fashion Show

We just finished up Swim Week and Master Swim here in Hamilton and what a great bunch of swimsuit makers we had this time!

In Swim Week, they started with the basics, a tank or princess seamed suit with a set of bra cups inside attached to the lining. This  one is a fun print with binding sewn to the upper edges.

Next we had some polka dots!

And yes, they learned to make adjustments for a full bust!

Some added ruching on the centre panels of the princess line suit

And what a fun print this one was!

Then some of the students made swim dresses!

And this one with binding made on an industrial cover stitch machine. There is also a metal V-separator in the front neckline of this suit. There are a few tricks to its insertion, but what a dramatic touch!

Now the fun really began when the students made their retro suits...bombshell style!

Here's the pattern piece for that ruched panel! Isn't it odd looking? But it worked!

And this one was too shy to pose for the camera! There still needs to be elastic on the top edge of the underarm here.

One student did some advanced colour blocking. I love this combination of fabric and piping!

Here's the back of the same suit!

A couple of the students were inspired to work on their own projects in their "spare time". Here is the corset dress finished up from Corsetiere's

And here is a dress made from a really drapey knit from the fabric store across the street. The ruched panel is a really nice touch - and since the industrial cover stitch and binder attachment was all set up at the school - why not use it for this dress too? Doesn't she look happy?

By the way, the lightweight stretchy knit was lined with swimwear lining instead of the usual woven dress lining. This makes perfect sense since the swim lining can move with the knit. No slip is required for this summer dress!

That's all for this past couple of classes. I hope you are inspired to make some swimwear!