Learn more about organic cotton, natural and sustainably produced bras. In this 10-part video series, we discuss bra fit, seaming, styles and features.
Episode 7 takes a quick look at Underwire Bras without padding. Underwire bras overall tend to give you more support than no wire bras, and the underwire gives a distinct shaping. The shape of an underwire bra without padding can be quite different than a similar style with padding. The padding tends to mask your own natural breast shape, while the underwire without the padding will highlight your personal shape. The seam design, whether vertical, horizontal or seamless, has a much bigger impact on your overall look when wearing an underwire bra without padding. So seam style is definitely something you’ll want to test to see what works best for your particular body and shape.
If you’re concerned about any connections between underwires and breast cancer, please check out last weeks post on Padded Underwire Bras. We address that issue both in the description and in more detail in the video.
Want to know more about organic cotton and natural fiber bras? In this video series, we discuss bra sizing and fit, different bra styles and what features to look for in a natural fiber or fully organic cotton bra.
Some of things to consider when picking up a Padded Underwire Bra is the bra shape – demi versus full coverage; the bra seaming – vertical, horizontal or seamless; and padding material – polyester foam versus cotton foam. Many non-organic bras also come with varying padding thickness. However, we have not found that to be the case in organic padded bras. All of the padded bras we carry have light, i.e. fairly thin padding designed for modesty rather than volume enhancement.
Want to know more about organic cotton and natural fiber bras? In this 10-part video series, we discuss bra sizing and fit, different bra styles and what features to look for in a natural fiber or fully organic cotton bra.
Episode 5 looks at No Wire Bras with modesty padding. No Wire Padded Bras are our most requested bra style. They are the hardest bras to find in organic and natural fabrics, but we do have a few gems. There are basically two types of No Wire Padded Bras, those with integrated padding sewn directly into the cups, and those with removable pads that sit inside “pockets” sewn into the bra. The integrated padding kind tend to have better shaping while the removable padded kind are a bit more versatile, allowing you to wear the bra without the pads when they aren’t needed. This is a particularly nice weekday/weekend bra option.
Unfortunately all of the No Wire Padded Bras we carry have either nylon or polyester foam as their inside padding. We’ve actually discussed this back in 2014 in the post, The Elusive No Wire Padded Bra. While we have found more options in the No Wire Padded category, the basic premise of that post, bras can have eco-padding and underwire or conventional padding and no wire, remains true today.
The specific bras mentioned in this video are:
• Yvonne Wireless Padded bra in organic cotton (32A – 38C) Kayla is wearing a 34B
• Body No Wire Padded Bra in pine tree fabric (32A – 36C) Kayla is wearing a 34C
• Adjustable Soft Bra in bamboo (S-L) Kayla is wearing a M
• Laura’s Bra in bamboo, mentioned in the video as a smaller, sleeker option to the Adjustable Soft Bra, still with removable pads
Want to know more about organic cotton and natural fiber bras and which styles might work best for you? Join us for our 10-week long organic bra video series.
This week we’re covering Triangle Bras. Triangle Bras are very lightweight, minimal coverage bras without a lot of support. They are generally sized as S, M, L instead of 34B, 36B and are best fit for cup sizes AA – C. Triangles are definitely not for everyone. These bras work well for women who prefer not to wear a bra, but may require one for modesty. They are so lightweight and comfortable, you may forget you’re wearing a triangle bra at all. But don’t expect a lot of shaping or push up. These cute little “slip of a bra” triangle styles are just for covering your natural shape, not changing or enhancing it any way.
When choosing a triangle bra, find one that looks pretty to you. A touch of lace or detail that speaks to you will enhance your enjoyment of this simple style.
Want to know more about organic cotton and natural fiber bras and which styles might work best for you? Join us for our 10-week long organic bra video series.
Today’s episode focuses on Cami Bras. Cami Bras are a subset of the “Bralette” family. They are always sized as S, M, L instead of 34B, 36B, etc. and they pull-on over the head as opposed to having back closures. It’s a very simple style that tends to be flattering for A-D cups. Because they are easy to make, a lot of clothing companies that don’t specialize in bras make them. So you need to watch out for sizing! Cami Bra Tops, also sometimes referred to as Yoga Bras, tend to come in a wide variety of colors and prints, which definitely adds to the fun of this particular style.
Bras highlighted in this video:
• Soy Lace Cami Bra (XS – 2XL) This one runs small, Kayla is wearing an L.
• Grace Bra Top (S – L) This one runs large, Kayla is wearing a S.
• Cami Bra Top (S-L) This one runs true-to-size, Kayla is wearing a M.
• Eve Panty – the panties that match the Grace Bra Top.
• Sri Yantra Yoga Bra (only L left), orange bra shown on hanger.
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.)
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.
So you’ve picked up a beautiful new eco-bra and you want to make sure it looks good for some time. Most of the harsh chemicals put on clothing today do have a purpose. Some help clothing stand up to machine washing better, while others keep clothing from wrinkling or losing their shape. While your organic bra doesn’t have all that gunk, it does have some special needs. Here are a few quick tips to help keep your bras lasting as long as possible.
Tip 1: Remove any removable pads or cups before washing. If the bra comes with removable pads, remove them before washing the bra so they don’t lose their shape. Ideally you should wash the pads by hand separately, but if you must wash them in the machine, be sure to follow Tip 2.
Tip 2: Wash ALL bras in a lingerie bag. The most important tip is to wash all bras (and also any panties that have lace on them) in cold water inside a lingerie bag. Even bras that claim to be machine washable can easily have their straps stretched and lace torn in a conventional machine. Snags from zippers or buttons of other clothing are also common. A simple lingerie bag will provide a layer of protection to avoid those common issues.
Tip 3: Don’t put your
new bra in the dryer. The dryer is a
fairly harsh environment and even if it doesn’t do any immediate damage to your
bra, they will likely fray and wear faster if they are machine dried. So laying them flat to dry will add life to
Tip 4: Always buy
your bra so it fits on the loosest hook. Most bras will stretch out over time, so buy them so they fit on the loosest hook initially. As they lose shape and become looser, you can
gradually wear them on tighter and tighter hooks to keep them fitting
Tip 5: Use the dryer after your old bra has stretched. If you have an older bra that has stretched
to the point where you can’t wear it again and you have been diligent about laying
it flat to dry, you may be able to use the dryer to extend the life of the
bra. Most natural materials will shrink a tad in
the dryer. If you haven’t dried your
bra before, drying it for the first time after it has stretched too far can
sometimes shrink it just enough to extend the wear a little longer.
Tip 6: Don’t invert padded bras. Many women will store their padded bras by
inverting one cup into the other. This can lead to lumps and dimples in the padding,
especially with bras made out of natural cotton padding instead of molded
polyester. If you don’t have the room to
lay them flat in your drawer, twist the center as shown so that both cups fit into each
other without inverting one of them. It
will help keep their shape longer.
Follow these few tips to get the longest wear out of your
natural fiber bras and lingerie.
Ok, I admit that the Bras, Bras, Bras series is taking painfully longer than I ever expected. I had Episode 3 partially written and it was long. I mean loong. I mean, who-wants-to-read-a-book-for-a-blog-post long. And the realization finally came to me that I had to move into the 21st century and do what other bloggers do – make a video. I can get all of the information across more quickly with better visuals in a 3 – 5 minute video. So now I have a video camera and a tripod and all I really need is a little bit of confidence. (Wow, I had no idea I was that pale!) So please bare with me as I cringe a bit and get this video thing working.
In the meantime, I’m taking a real vacation! I’ll be on a Mediterranean cruise for the next couple of weeks. Of course, FaeriesDance.com will be well serviced with packages going out daily as always. But e-mail and phone responses will be slower than usual and we expected a 2-day turn around for returns and exchanges as opposed to our usual 1. Please bare with us. I hope to come back refreshed and ready to provide excellent service to all our fantastic supporters.
Lastly, our fall Love Nature order (over 1000 pieces) just came in. There was a mad rush to try to count and sort it all before leaving, but alas it was just too much. We’ve updated the stock on the Alba Padded Underwire Bra so they’re available now. Everything else will get listed over the weekend of November 5-6.
So… once I return, Love Nature products and videos will be on the top of the priority list. Thank you all for your continued interest in sustainable fashions and our small business!