Want to know more about organic cotton and natural fiber bras and which styles might work best for you? This second episode of our bra video series, discusses easy-wear, natural fiber “bralettes.” I forgot to mention in the video, but bralettes are generally sized S, M, L instead of 34B, 36C, etc. We do our best to convert the sizes so you have the numbered size equivalent in the product description. We measured Kayla last time as a 34B, which in most bralettes will be a medium.
For years I’ve been meaning to put together a video series on organic and natural fiber bras. Camera shyness, more than procrastination, has delayed it. The series was originally envisioned as showing some bras on hangers and going over the different types of bras, sizing, best fit, fabrics, features, etc. Well, thanks to Dr. Kayla Luhrs of Moon Cycle Medicine, this is finally happening! Kayla offered to act as a model for the series, and since I didn’t have to do it on my own, the camera seemed less intimidating.
We’ve mapped out a series of 10 different videos, which we will launch once per week both here and on our (as yet underutilized) YouTube channel. Each one will highlight one specific bra style and provide tips for things to look for when deciding on an organic or natural fiber bra purchase.
Our first episode covers No Wire Support Bras and our tip shows you how to measuring yourself to determine your approximate bra size. This was our first one, so hopefully they’ll get better over time. 🙂
Using a tape measure, measure directly under your bust around your ribcage (Kayla measured 30.5″)
Add 3″ – 4″ to get to an even number (We added 3.5″)
This number is your BAND size (So, Kayla is a 34″ band)
Now measure across the widest part of your bust (Kayla measured 35″)
Subtract your underbust measurement (30.5″) from your band measurement (35″) to get the difference (Kayla’s difference is 4.5″)
Now lookup that number on the list below to get your approximate CUP size. Since many manufacturers size their cups differently, this is only approximate, but should get you started near the right size. (In our example, Kayla measures a 34B.)
If you had an issue ordering from us in the last month or two, we’ve fixed a bunch of stuff, so please come back and try again. (This line was at the bottom of this post, but I’m told not a lot of people read past the first paragraph and it took me a long time to get to the point. So that’s the point. Now without further ado, I present the Great Ramble…)
I haven’t used an alarm clock to wake up for work in 5 years. (Although, I do have a 4-legged, furry alarm who makes sure I don’t sleep in too late.)
I have the freedom to make my own hours.
I don’t have to worry about mean bosses or annoying co-workers.
On a daily basis I have the freedom to work on whatever strikes my fancy or not to work at all.
Being a small business owner sucks!!
Technology drives more of my business decisions than fashion or ethics.
Even when I’m “off” I’m thinking about business.
It gets lonely working on my own from home all the time.
There is enormous financial stress that comes with working for yourself.
Taking vacations together with my partner is such a challenge that we rarely bother.
By now you may be wondering, what is she talking about?? Good question. (Brevity has never been one of my strong suits.)
In March we had a lot of frustrated customers calling us with odd errors we’d never seen or heard of before. The most common one was not being able to choose a size because the dropdown menu wouldn’t drop down. We had our worst sales month in 8 years… And nothing had changed on the website!
After much pulling of hair, I discovered that our PHP version (the software backbone that the code runs on top of, if you will), had been automatically upgraded by our hosting company. Our “old” code wasn’t completely compatible with our “new” software version.
I’m very happy to say that we now have the main issues fixed. We also have Paypal back up as a payment option. But if you’re still having problems, please let us know including what browser and operating system you’re using so we can trouble shoot.
Of course, what this actually means is:
A bunch of money went into paying developers instead of buying organic clothing.
A bunch of time went into fixing bugs instead of adding features.
A bunch of mental energy went into understanding technology instead of writing coherent, interesting blog posts… And here we are.
Since you made it all the way down here, I’m going to give you two treats.
1. A discount code. We usually only share our discount codes with newsletter subscribers, but this month all of our blog readers get it too. Take 15% off on all Earth Creations clothing. Use code: ECforEarthDay – expires on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, 2018.
2. A “hint.” Every year we have a big Anniversary Sale in July. This is the ONLY time all year that our organic bras go on sale. This year, Glen and I are going on vacation. For REALSIES! In order to go together, we are CLOSING for two weeks from Friday, June 22 – Sunday, July 8, 2018 (no shipments, no e-mail, no phone.) So we’ll be having a big combined Vacation – Anniversary sale from June 22-July 8 as a thank you for being patient with shipping. So mark your calendars! And in the meantime, pick up a new Earth Creation’s top – they’re on sale right now!
After 8 years of university, Kayla finally completed her M.D. in family medicine and started working at a major hospital in 2012. She was excited to meet and help patients. Unfortunately, the US health-care system is focused more on profit than on care, and within a few years, Kayla was burnt out and discouraged. Often with just 15 minutes scheduled per patient, she was not making the deep connections and serving the community in the way she had hoped to. She finally realized that to provide the type of care she wanted to give, she would need to start her own non-profit clinic. She spent another 2 years getting formally trained in Ayurvedic medicine. Armed with both science-based and holistic health training, she manifested Moon Cycle Medicine, Inc. from a dream into reality in 2017.
Kayla and I met through a women’s networking group, Women Entrepreneurs of Portland (WE PDX) that I cofounded with a realtor friend. She was so excited to find a reliable source for organic cotton intimates! She and her mom have become regular customers, and I have joined the board of her non-profit. Unlike Ann from our last customer spotlight story, Kayla has no known allergies or skin rashes. This led me to ask her at a meeting recently why she wore organic cotton intimates. She responded, “Wearing organic cotton bras and panties is part of my self-care. I get peace of mind knowing there are no chemicals on my intimate areas.”
She also told me she occasionally prescribes organic intimates to her patients. “I had a patient who had a severe rash in her private area. I prescribed her organic cotton underwear along with more conventional creams and antibiotics. When she came back for her follow-up, she had gotten all the conventional items, but still hadn’t purchased the underwear. I had to explain, that the organic underwear was the most important prescription I’d given her and sent her off to go find some.”
Kayla appreciates that FaeriesDance.com gives her a specific place to recommend patients to. “It’s easier for my patients to follow my guidance if I know where to refer them.”
With so much synergy between our respective businesses, Kayla and I will be working on a few joint projects over the spring and summer. She’s going to be offering a free workshop on breast cancer awareness at our warehouse and we’re also collaborating on a series of bra videos that have been on my to do list for several years.
As I mentioned in my last customer spotlight, my personal motivation for starting Faerie’s Dance was wholly environmental. Twelve years into the business, I have to agree with Kayla that wearing organic clothing, and intimates in particular, is part of my self-care. I just hadn’t thought of it in those terms. Wearing lacy soy panties, or a sensuous pine-tree bra feels luxurious to me. It’s become part of my everyday armor.
In 2005 two full tanks of propane oil spilled out into Mary’s basement due to a faulty valve. The entire house became a toxic oil spill. After two months of attempting to clean up the spill while still living in the house, Mary and her husband gave up and abandoned their home. Unfortunately, they had stayed longer than was prudent, and Mary’s slight chemical sensitivities turned acute.
Mary became allergic to almost every finishing agent, dye, pesticide and petroleum-based product in clothing. She would get paralyzing weakness and severe asthma-like reactions to most garments along with skin rashes and shortness of breath. She started a desperate search to find clothing that didn’t make her sick. She found one company that made 100% organic cotton men’s lounge pants with drawstring waistbands and plain organic cotton t-shirts that she didn’t react to and bought dozens of them. She found she could tolerate organically grown wool that had been processed without chemicals. With a deep love of animals, she was cautious to buy only hand sheared wool from pasture-raised sheep in Ireland. And for the next 8 years, she wore only men’s lounge pants, t-shirts and Irish wool sweaters.
In 2013 she lamented to a friend that what she missed the most was wearing a bra. As an older woman, she was uncomfortable going out without one, especially in summer. However, she couldn’t tolerate them at all and hadn’t been able to wear one in years. Her husband stepped in and did some internet searches for her, and he stumbled upon FaeriesDance.com. He bought her the Allergen-Free Side-Tie Bra.
When it arrived, Mary tried it on, and for the first time in many years, she was not only able to tolerate a bra, but also found it downright comfortable. While it wasn’t the most supportive bra she’d ever worn, she was absolutely thrilled to be able to wear a bra when going out in public and felt feminine for the first time in ages.
Excited and empowered, Mary called Faerie’s Dance to find out if we could help her with other clothing (and to buy a bunch more bras). After listening carefully to her list of allergies, we recommend a number of beautiful, feminine fashions. She purchased the first few tops manufactured by Indigenous Designs with both trepidation and hope. Every single piece worked! She called again and together we started working on getting her some skirts, and then cardigans, dresses, jackets and finally pants. She literally had no wardrobe at all, so she made a monthly budget and picked up a few new pieces every month.
Since 2013, Mary has not only become a consistent customer, but a friend as well, telling stories of her frog pond, her pets and her life in general. She starts every phone call with what she’s wearing. She picked up the Alba Padded Underwire Bra, and while it does have a touch of spandex in it, she is able to wear it for a few hours at a time for special occasions. She called excited one day to say that when she put on the Alba bra with her Sunny Day Dress, her husband actually did a double take, “checking her out” for the first time in years.
Today Mary says eco-fashion has saved her life. She feels beautiful, comfortable and feminine in her clothes (though she’s too shy to let us post her picture). She’s more comfortable in public and able to dress appropriately for any season. She doesn’t have a single pair of baggy men’s lounge pants left in her closet! When asked after all this time what her very favorite purchase was, she goes back to that original Cottonique bra. She has half a dozen now and wears them every day.
When I started Faerie’s Dance, my focus was on the environmental side of eco-fashion. I quickly learned about the social justice benefits as well. But I was wholly unaware of the many allergy sufferers who were literally getting sick from their clothing. It’s such an honor to help people like Mary find clean, sustainable, fairly traded fashion.
Organic Cotton bras are the most popular selling item on FaeriesDance.com, and for good reason. We carry the largest selection of organic cotton, natural fiber and eco-friendly bras in the USA! We do it by sourcing most of our bras from Europe. Amazing companies like Swegmark of Sweden, Peau-Ethique and Do You Green from France and our newest addition Comazo|Earth (maker of the Yvonne Bra shown left) in Germany are making natural, organic, fair trade bras far superior to anything we can get in the USA. And even our best-selling USA-made brand, Blue Canoe, gets their GOTS-certified organic cotton fabric from overseas. Like our in-house brand, Green Tree Organic, Blue Canoe designs, patterns, cuts and sews in the USA from imported fabric.
What that means, is that your modest organic cotton bra price is affected by global economics. Unfortunately, while the stock market may be skyrocketing, the dollar is not. The dollar just reached a 3-year low against the Euro.
As a rule, we try to price European goods at a 2-year running average so the price of the bras don’t change for our customers every single time we restock. But the cost has just kept going up and up. Since customs fees are paid on the converted price of goods, higher Euro prices also mean higher customs fees.
The bottom line is that many of our bra prices will be going up soon. As a courtesy, we’re going to keep prices steady until Valentine’s Day since most styles and sizes will be restocked before then. That means right now, you can get Blue Canoe bras at 15-20% off their website prices! For example, the Blue Canoe Cami Bra (shown right) currently retails for $47. It will be available for the bargain price of just $40 on FaeriesDance.com until February 14, 2018. Come February 15th, the Cami Bra will be $42 and most other bras will be going up $1-4 per bra. So definitely stock up now if you can.
Thank you for your continued support. Wishing you a Safe, Health and very Happy New Year!
Ocean Blue an Oregon ocean nonprofit, is concerned about the impact of the textile industry on our natural water resources, specifically the clothes we all wear and wash everyday. They contacted Faerie’s Dance to discuss whether eco-fashion represents an improvement over conventional clothing. Adrienne Catone, Faerie’s Dance’s founder and CEO was happy to discuss what makes their threads the best option for the planet’s waterways.
Founder of Ocean Blue Project, Richard Arterbury, is concerned with the presence of chemicals and unnatural clothing fibers in our waterways. He explained how our clothing impacts our waterways, both the manufacturing and the maintenance that happens after we start wearing them.
When two environmentally friendly organization leaders join forces, or even just get together to chat about sustainability and clothing, the conversation can be quite revealing.
Richard: We really like that you offer people sustainable clothing that has the health of workers in mind as well as being environmentally friendly. Can you tell me a little bit about what makes your clothing environmentally friendly?
Adrienne: Well, there are four important pieces that we factor in when determining whether or not a piece of clothing is eco-friendly:
1. We source fabrics with no or minimal pesticide usage and minimal or closed-loop processing. For example, organically grown cotton instead of conventional cotton – which is the highest pesticide/insecticide sprayed crop on the planet.
2. We source clothing that has been at least low-impact dyed. Some items are undyed or clay-dyed, but we avoid items that have been conventionally dyed with harsh chemicals such as azo dyes. You can read about dyes in this post.
3. All of our clothing has no chemical finishing agents. Most conventional clothing is finished with a chemical soup to make them wrinkle less, stand up better to the dryer, resist fire, etc. While these chemicals do have some benefits for the clothing, we don’t believe the benefits are worth the environmental degradation or the potential health risks to both the wearer and the factory workers.
4. Finally, we are meticulous in our verification that no sweatshop or child labor is ever used in any of the items we carry. Most of them are Fair Trade Certified, though we do carry some brands that work with smaller factories that cannot afford the certifications. In those cases, the manufacturers physically go to the factories on a regular basis and verify the working conditions personally. While we buy most of our clothing from manufacturers that wholesale, we do also manufacture our own line of underwear. All of our underwear are designed, cut and sewn in Oregon from Global Organic Textile Certified (GOTS) fabric imported from a family-owned shop in India.
Richard: It sounds like you have really done your research which makes me glad that you have dedicated your work to sharing this knowledge with the world. Which fabrics do you think leave the lightest footprint on our waterways?
Adrienne: Anything grown without pesticides that also has minimal processing waste would end up being the best option all around. We’ve done an assessment of eco-friendly fabrics, and essentially, the higher on the list you purchase, the better it will be for our waterways.
Richard: Pesticides wash into waterways that make their way to the ocean and that’s not good for wildlife or people that get our drinking water from those waterways. It is good to know how fabrics are being processed so we can make better choices for people and wildlife.
A solution from our perspective is most of our waterways have been impeded so greatly that native plants and native trees are no longer protecting our rivers. Today the world is making better choices, but pollutants are now present in sediments that got put there from many years ago. I would like to know more about other ways clothing is processed. How does closed-loop processing help the world’s ocean?
Adrienne: Most fabric production does have some waste products. A closed-loop processing system captures the production waste and recycles it for reuse in the next round of fabric production. Companies like Lenzing, who make both Tencel® and Modal® have achieved near 100% waste recycling. So there’s no waste or runoff at all into waterways or oceans. Closed-loop production is really the future of fashion.
Richard: Those are the kind of solutions we like to hear about. Clothing dyes also impact waterways and the ocean. So, can you tell me more about what you have found about those impacts?
Adrienne: As I mentioned before, conventional dyes can have really harsh, and in some cases, carcinogenic chemicals. Unfortunately, the dyeing process creates a lot of waste. The single biggest improvement of low-impact dyes over conventional dyes is the enormous reduction in waste output.
Richard: It is deeply concerning that fibers from plastic based clothing come off in the wash and end up making their way through water treatment plants, eventually flowing into waterways to the world’s ocean. These plastic fibers are also found in our drinking water. Would you say it’s better to have plastics go to a landfill than to be made into products that will end up in the ocean?
Adrienne: Actually, a huge portion of non-recycled plastic do end up in our oceans. So RePET fibers keep a lot of plastic out of the ocean rather than just out of landfill. So I guess the question would be is it better to have a lot of plastic in the ocean (a lot being defined as an entire garments worth) or a little plastic in our waterways (a little being defined as the small amount of the garment that leeches away during the wash)?
Richard: What’s worse? Is it a large piece that gets churned over time, or the piece that’s microscopic that we can’t see? The answers to these questions may be filled in over time by researchers, but until then we can keep cleaning it up and your company can keep making our footprint as light as possible like you have been doing. One thing that I really love about Faeries Dance is that you are offering solutions for a One World Ocean.
To learn more about the Ocean Blue Project, checkout their Mission Page.
Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard of wrapping your gifts with newspaper. But who wants all that ink on your fingers while you unwrap, and really, who still gets newspapers anyway? Save the newspapers to make paper bows. Eco-gift wrapping can be much more fun and creative than that.
Have some old road maps in the car? Use those to wrap gifts for the traveler in the family.
Wrap smaller gifts with magazine pages. They’re glossy, full-color and you can be creative about what images you show.
Is your fridge overrun with toddler art? Wrap grandparents gifts in art projects from the kid’s school. The wrapping itself will give them a little extra joy.
Wrap gifts with gifts. Are you giving someone tea towels or pillow cases? Use towels to wrap up other gifts, so both the wrapping and the wrapped item are gifts to themselves.
Giving someone a t-shirt with a print? Wrap another gift with the t-shirt print showing outward. Again, you’ve got a double-gift.
Instead of buying gift bags, pick up festive reusable shopping bags at the grocery or department store. Most stores have bright colored ones, and they can be used year-round saving plastic bags every time your recipient goes shopping.
Make your own gift basket by cutting up old magazines or even the colorful grocery fliers that come in the mail and using them as liner in the bottom of a basket, watering can, flower pot or large coffee mug. Put your gifts on top and add a festive bow. Just remember to skip the cellophane.
All of these organic bras have wide, adjustable comfort straps and 3-position hook-and-eye back closures for the perfect fit. They are well-constructed with wide underbust bands for great support and coverage. Sizes range from 34B – 46DDD. Not all bras come in all sizes, but the winner will have the option of choosing any of our in-stock options. We have Swegmark bras in white, nude, pink, blue, grey and black.
If you don’t get your perfect size on the first go, you can even send it back and we’ll do an exchange for you. Once you’ve tried this brand of comfort, stylish, sustainable bras, we don’t think you’ll ever choose anything else. So go ahead and enter below. The winner will be announced Monday, November 27.
Why don’t USA manufacturers make organic cotton bras? We get this question a lot. There are actually a number of great companies, like Blue Canoe, that make soft bras, bralettes, and yoga bras in the USA. However, you won’t find padded, molded cup or underwire bras made in the USA. When we started making our own line of organic panties in Oregon, we thought we might try our hand at making some bras as well. What we found is that bra making takes expensive specialty equipment. Most sewing manufacturers can’t afford to buy this equipment unless they are using it regularly. It’s certainly possible that somewhere in the USA there is a small manufacturing company that can make these types of “constructed” bras, but if there is, we weren’t able to find them. So let’s break down types of bras and how they are sewn.
“Soft Bras” or Bralettes
This is the category of bras made without molding, internal padding or underwire. The bralette is very popular these days, and it’s the easiest bra to sew. There are bralettes that pull-on over the head, those that have the addition of a hook-and-eye back closure, and even a few that are sewn with internal pockets for use with removable padded cups. The removable cups offer the option of a padded bralette such as the Adjustable Soft Bra, shown left, without the expensive equipment needed for internal padding. The hook-and-eye back closure takes more sewing than a pull-on style and tends to make the bras a little more expensive, but they don’t require any specialty equipment. The entire hook-and-eye piece is often manufactured separately and bra companies just need to buy the pieces and sew them in using a standard sewing machine. The Avignon Triangle Bra shown below is an example of the hook-and-eye closure bralette.
Bralettes can be sewn in almost any sewing shop or factory and can even be made at home. A standard sewing machine pulls most of the weight for these bras, though a cover-stitch machine can also be beneficial.
Molded Cup Bras
All of the bralettes described above will have some sort of seaming, pleating or ruching in the cups to provide shape. Molded cup bras provide shaping without any seams. Since this type of bra looks particularly good under t-shirts or tight knit tops, they are often referred to as t-shirt bras. The molded cups require an intricate piece of equipment that stretches the fabric to the exact shape of the cup. Since you need a separate “mold” for each cup size, the equipment cost can get expensive. I had the opportunity to snap a few photos of a molding machine at Swegmark’s offices in Sweden along with the resulting molds. As you can see in the image right, this machine creates only two sizes, so additional machines or larger machines are required based on how many bra sizes you want to create. Swegmark has been making molded bras out of polyester fabric for years, but when I visited this summer they were working on their first fair trade, organic cotton molded bra. We look forward to having those available for sale in early 2018.
A molding machine can also be used to create molded padding for bras that have internal padding rather than removable padded cups.
The Alba No Wire Bra (shown left) from Love Nature is an example of a no-wire bra with molded, seamless cups. This one has molded cups without padding. We had sent a number of request to Love Nature to add an a A-cup bra to their size range before they went out of business. At the time they told us they didn’t have any molds for an A-cup and this is what they meant. It wasn’t just re-working the sizing to fit an A-cup, they would have had to buy more physical equipment. In their case, they didn’t think the sales would make up for the large upfront investment.
The addition of underwires to bras allows them to shape and support the breasts much better than a no wire bra. Additionally, it is possible to use the wire to support cotton internal padding rather than the more common polyester/nylon padding. There were rumors stared by a book in the 90s that led some people to believe that underwire bras caused breast cancer. However, that myth has been well debunked. You can read about it here or here or here.
We still sell a lot of underwire bras, particularly padded, underwire bras and it turns out that adding in the wire requires yet another piece of expensive machinery. While I’ve never seen one in person, I have been able to find them online. An underwire bra machine such as the one shown below runs about $8,000-$10,000.
Finding the perfect bra for you always takes a little effort. While we would ideally love to offer a wider variety of bras that are made in the USA, the downturn in American textile manufacturing has left us with few, if in fact any, companies that can make seamless cup or underwire bras. In fact, the equipment is so costly that many of the manufacturers we work with are actually bra designers and still outsource most of the construction and sewing to larger facilities that have all of the needed equipment. Despite that, we are still thrilled with the variety and quality of organic and natural fabric bras that we are able offer, and hope you can appreciate all of the work that goes into making them. For our little company, though, we will not likely get into bra manufacturing any time soon.