Recently I attended a Marlborough Bra Making Class with Orange Lingerie, and this post describes a review of the two-day workshop and underwire bra making process.
Several Watson Bra makes later, and I was sewing strong and feeling confident. There was one impediment left for me to conquer, though- underwire. Yep, I had never been brave enough to sew a bra with underwire before. Remember the bra-sewing class friends from my first post? One of them had already fallen into the black hole of lingerie-making-lunacy. In fact, the last two words she said to me were “Orange Lingerie.” I went home that night and checked out the Orange Lingerie website and immediately loved the look of the Marlborough Bra. As luck would have it there just happened to be an upcoming class so off I went to Marlborough Bra Making Class with Orange Lingerie. Yay, another class to attend and more friends to meet!
A Gathering of Stitches, located in Portland, Maine, was the host for this Marlborough Bra Making Class and you couldn’t ask for a better place to fine-tune your sewing skills! Samantha Lindgren is the owner and the most organized host you are going to find. Every aspect of this experience was top notch, starting with her website which is easy to navigate and very informative. Samantha contacted me several times before the workshop to make sure I was all set with directions and supplies and made it easy for me to reserve and use one their house sewing machines for the weekend. The machine sewed beautifully and after a quick tutorial from Samantha I was off and sewing without any problems. The fully stocked workroom had all the tools and supplies we needed and Samantha even went out of her way to make name tags and gift bags for each of us! While traveling to Maine to attend a two-day sewing workshop might not be an option for all, it was the perfect one for me. I would highly recommend participating in one of their many workshops, and I wouldn’t hesitate to travel there again.
Now onto the class. Norma Loehr is the woman behind Orange Lingerie, and getting the opportunity to learn bra making directly from her was amazing. Not only is she skilled in lingerie making, but also organized, responsive, and encouraging- all essential attributes for a successful teacher! Norma reached out to all of us after we registered for the workshop and collected a few key measurements to allow her to guide us into the appropriate size range for fitting. She also asked each of us what we wanted to get out of the workshop experience. I loved this part! Attending any class takes resources and time, and having a teacher that respects that process is a bonus.
The class started right away with brief introductions, a pattern cutting demo, and then on to the fitting process. I was more than a little nervous about this part, but was quickly relieved to see that Norma had this down! Each participant went with Norma privately to get fitted, and the process was simple. She brings with her a big box that includes one Marlborough bra of each pattern size possible. These were all color coded so she knew right away which size/colors we should try. For me, this consisted of about 5 minutes where I tried on three different bras and Norma helped me settled on the appropriate band and cup size. I’m sure this “trying on” part in a class setting sounds a bit weird; however, once we got started I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the process was. And I was especially encouraged to hear Norma’s positive body speak about fitting- when I got fixated on the final size, she reminded me that these are just numbers & letters. This conversation meant so much to me and has helped me gain a much better perspective and confidence about my body and sewing for myself.
After the fitting, Norma gave each student their particular pre-cut pattern and supply kiit and then walked us through the first few steps of the Marlborough bra- the cup construction. From there we moved on to getting the frame together and attaching the cups to it. Lunch seemed like a good idea after this, so we all stopped and walked a block or so for good food and great conversation. Afterward, we picked right back up with getting the underwire casing added, and then the elastics. I struggled with the underwire casing a few times but once I embraced the “cup-to-frame” seam as my guide I was all set. I especially appreciated the expertise Norma shared with the elastics application. My newfound lingerie enthusiasm had me pulling way too much!
Next came the underwire and power tools! Yes, you use some heavy duty tools to make a bra. Well not really, but you do have to cut the underwire to fit your bra, and this can require some oomph. Norma demonstrated the wire cutter and also the heat shrink apparatus for sealing the underwire. It turns out if you don’t seal the end of the underwire after you cut it, it can migrate out of the casing and be annoyingly painful- don’t ask me how I know this! And then it was finally time to add the closure. While this step wasn’t too hard, it does take some skill, so it was nice to have Norma demonstrate this part for us. And with that, day 1 was complete. I had one beautiful white bra done. Wow, I made a bra with underwire, AND it fit me perfectly……that is my version of empowerment!
The second day of class started out quickly since we were either done or almost done with the first bra. We each had a few minutes with Norma to check the fit of this first one and make any tweaks before starting on #2. For me, this took only 2-3 minutes where we decided to move the straps in by about an inch. Norma quickly showed me how to redraw the scoop portion of the band pattern piece and from there I was off and sewing. I decided not to take an official lunch break on the second day since I needed to leave early to catch my flight. I had plenty of time to completely finish my second bra and have Norma check the fit again. While I loved the interactive part of the first day, the second day was a great way to solidify those bra making skills. Having the time to work independently, while still having the instructor present for questions & help was perfect for me. After each step, it was easy to connect with Norma and the other students to share/learn about the process.
Most everyone in our workshop class made two bras over the 2-days. Norma also gave us the option to buy another bra kit when the class finished. I found this to be an excellent way to start bra making since some of the supplies and notions were new to me. I bought a beige kit and was easily able to go home and make another Marlborough bra without any trouble. Since participating in this workshop, I have made several more and plan to keep going!