Now that we’ve announced our August theme month, “All Chests Welcome”, I wanted to hop on and explain how this topic reflects the evolution of the sewing community!
Back in 2015, Sewcialists hosted Lingerie Month. I’d just started sewing bras myself, and the theme month focused on making bras, panties, robes, and lingerie. It was all based on the assumptions that a) sewists are women and b) women wear bras. That seems so arcane now, but five years ago I swear it seemed normal.
Amazingly, some of those posts still get heavy traffic today! In particular:
- Bra-making design ideas for a bigger bust by Mrs. Weaver, who makes custom lingerie
- Bra-making favourites: Cut-and-sew foam and fold over elastic, written by Emerald Erin as she launched her now-successful lingerie pattern and supplies business
- A Tutorial on cloning a bra by Andie, aka Sew Pretty in Pink, who now runs the Chronically Sewn account
A year later in 2016, I’d put Sewcialists on hiatus and moved over to be an editor at the Curvy Sewing Collective. One of the first things I did there was co-host a Lingerie Month specifically aimed at plus-size women. CSC did an update on some of the pattern suggestions in 2017, which is worth checking out if you want to sew bras and underwear for larger bodies. Sadly, the pattern choices for plus-size sewists are still very limited.
Looking back, it seems like another era, but it was just a few short years ago! By excluding the voices of trans, non-binary, and male sewists, we carelessly implied that they were not welcome or valid. We blithely assumed that people with boobs want to wear bras, thereby upholding gender norms. This time, we pledge to do better and truly show that “All Chests Are Welcome!”
Gillian is cofounder of the Sewcialists. She loves cats, bright colours, and sewing!
Hi lovlies!! Im busting to start making my own bras.
I wear a minimizer style bra now size 36E and I find it more supportive and “minimizing”than a standard bra …
can anyone recommend bras with this design feature?
Hi! I always found the Pin Up Girls patterns very minimizing – maybe start there? https://www.braandcorsetsupplies.com/product-category/patterns/pin-up-girls-patterns/
Thanks Gillian I will!
So, as well as all the nonbinary content, can people with boobs who still want/need to wear bras hope to get updates from the previous rounds? Much has happened in the last 3 years. Would love something about supplies, where to get beefier kits, some quarantine compromises between sports bras and bralettes.. Thanks!
Oh, also, M-C, you should check out the Great Bra Sewing Bee happening in July! Seems like they will have really in depth resources, for a fee. 🙂 https://www.instagram.com/great_bra_sewing_bee/
As someone who has practically no bust, wearing and fitting my chest has been a source of demoralisation as I have felt less than female at times in my adult life. Being direct to training bras in a store is a real put down for a middle aged woman. I’m on the hunt to make myself feminine bras that fit and look good without a boatload of padding. Trying to embrace who i am, bucking society’s perception of what is beautiful and hopefully boosting my self confidence on the way. I’m not there yet, but I’ve written a bit recently on my blog about where I am. It’s a sensitive subject for me.
There are great bra-making forums on Facebook, with a ton of resources and a wealth of sewing experience from the members. For smaller sizes, check out Orange Lingerie and Merckwaerdigh (a Dutch designer) on Etsy.
I’m getting there. I live some of Orange Lingeries Tyler and recently discovered loads if tutorials on lilypadesigns. I have recently manages to make the Watson bra in my boob of bust size and it fits perfectly. More to come.
I find it even more so now that I’m plus size everywhere but my bust. Rather frustrating being a 42B in RTW. I also don’t wear underwires. Too uncomfortable.
I do find Rad Patterns allow me to use a smaller cup size for their bralettes. I’m sure there might be others.
I’m experiencing dissonance at the moment. Contrary to the Sewcialist mission of this being an inclusive and safe place I’ve been agonising how to ask for more information about how “All Chests Welcome” might change things. It’s a new paradigm I don’t understand at all.
I’ve learnt on social media even saying you don’t understand what is required to demonstrate the new inclusive usually brings outraged hordes saying you must educate yourself (you can’t ask the arbiters of correct behaviour why they designated what it is) and if you’re not educating yourself then you should fuck off because thats offensive too. As an older person I find social media an unfriendly place full of angry people saying they are right.
Just as Gillian has pointed out, even in 5 years things are changing fast.I think seeing a hairy chest wearing a lacy brassiere would make me feel ambivalent and confused. I fear even saying that is going to put me into a world of trouble. Is this an unrealistic idea? I don’t know, I’m just asking for more information.
Is it OK to ask what changes the new inclusivity will mean? For example, a new vocabulary? – going forward, we’ll refer to chests instead of breasts because not all women have breasts and it would be considered a deliberate hurt and offensive to those that don’t? Are we going to normalise discussing how to get a bra to fit an anatomy more like a masculine chest than a physiological female?
I think I’d be OK with that. I fear going along with something I don’t really understand at this point. I hope it doesn’t mean tacitly signing up for things I didn’t realise were unseen parts of the package in the future.
I’m such a neanderthal I actually had to google to find out who were “trans” and “non binary” people and why they had chests rather than breasts. Fortunately I did know what a male sewist was, having taught my son to sew and employed 2 male outworkers in the past.
Pearl, we use the term “chests” because we are talking about all people and their sewing, be it for flat/small/large breasts, binders, bra alternatives, trans or CIS bodies. It is a broad term for a broad theme month topic. As you write your comments, please be aware that they are read by all sorts of folks, and that part of our job in amplifying the voices of unheard minorities is making sure that they can read the comment section without micro-aggressions or feeling othered. I’ll suggest these articles for you to read. 🙂
Hi, I can understand why social media can feel hostile. People from all over the world are more connected now so ideas can spread faster then ever, and that means that culture changes faster now. I think there are two main reasons why people can be angry about these things. One is that much of this information has been around on the internet for years now, which in our quickly changing world is a long time, so people assume you should have run across it at some point or at least have access to it. Two is that often marginalized people are asked the same questions over and over again – it’s a lot of work to keep answering the same questions dozens of times and not get frustrated.
While it’s difficult to not take people responses personally, please remember written words often seem harsher then if we heard them spoken. When people ‘correct’ us they are giving us the gift of learning, and an avenue to examine ourselves and to change. These are things I’m still working on too.
For instance, why would seeing seeing ‘a hairy chest wearing a lacy brassiere’ make you feel ambivalent and confused? Gender roles and what is defined as masculine and feminine are made up by whatever society we are in, as are the very concepts of masculine and feminine, so why can’t we change these things? (Also, there are some cis women with chest hair.) I ask these questions to encourage you to examine some of the things you think and feel, not as an attack, and there is no expectation that you answer them here.
Learning about our rapidly changing culture online has made my life so much better. I learned so much about the experiences of people different from me that I would have never had the opportunity to learn about otherwise. I’ve also learned so much about myself because of the internet – one example is at 34 I found out I’m autistic which meant that my whole life suddenly made sense and I stopped putting pressure on myself to ‘be normal’ because I literally can’t be normal!
Two websites that I found really helpful are https://everydayfeminism.com/ and https://thebodyisnotanapology.com/ they both have articles about a lot of different topics.
Thank you for being #sewinclusive! I admire the goals and the work. As a fifty year old cis het white female who always has stuff to learn, I feel included in the generosity with which you are helping me both expand my definitions and contribute to a space that is welcome to all.
I’m looking forward to seeing the posts for this month’s theme!