By August 16, 2013 Read More →

Unusual home working jobs – the custom bra maker

Home working jobs with a difference!

Unusual home working jobs - Linda Crawford, Uplift Custom BrasWhen I came across Linda Crawford online recently I just couldn’t resist getting in touch with her to ask if she would take part in the Unusual Home Working Jobs series!

Hi Linda, yours is certainly one of the most unusual home working jobs I’ve come across! Can you start by telling us about your business, and how you got into it?
It was always a dream of mine to be a fashion designer, but as young person entering college, I thought I was too fat. I promised myself that I would take fashion design courses sometime. Sometime came when I was downsized from my corporate job!

Once I had the skills, I continued to take additional weekend workshops, looking for “it”. What would be my passion, my niche? I took a bra-making weekend workshop, and there ”it“ was!

It tied in beautifully with the volunteer work I do with the Look Good Feel Better program – a workshop for women going through cancer treatments.
The core of my business is helping women with any bra fitting issues, my passion is helping women who have had breast cancer.

Tell us about the experience of having a custom bra made. Presumably it all starts with many measurements?
I have tried to make the experience for the client as easy as possible. I have bras made up in about 60 sizes. I take their rib cage measurement to start. My sizing is done using the measurement from the base of the breast to the highest point. Someone could be a 5.50 indicating that that measurement is 5 ½”.

I further narrow it down by their underwire size, which I measure on them. Within the 60 sizes I will usually have something that matches up closely, and I can do any alterations from there. An initial fitting usually takes about 15 minutes.

I have approximately 40 colour choices, and matching laces. Choosing the colour and lace takes the most time!

What are the reasons your customers come to you?

A very common reason is that a woman has breasts of 2 different sizes. Most women do have a variance between right and left, but it is a small difference, and doesn’t make a difference to the bra size.

Others may have a 2 cup or larger difference between their breasts. After years of filling their bras with push up pads or other items, they decide to get a bra custom made to fit them. Some women want the bra to fit each side. Some want the bra made to make them look equal.

The interesting thing is, that most people won’t notice a one or two cup difference unless they are paying close attention, but as women, we notice a ¼” difference!

I do a lot of work with women who have had lumpectomies and mastectomies. This is a more difficult fitting as it can be very emotional, and there can also be residual swelling and tenderness from the surgery. I like working with these clients in particular, and solving their fitting issues, because I find them to be very courageous and inspiring. If I can make them feel normal, and pretty in their lingerie, it is a great day for me.

Two other very common themes – I see very young slightly built women with large breasts. It is not uncommon for me to make a bra that fits tightly around my thigh, and has G or H cups – so a 25 or 26 inch band with G cups!

I also see women in the Baby Boomer age group who have increased in their girth, but their cup size has not changed, so they need a longer band with a smaller cup size than they can buy in that band size.

A bra is a very complicated piece of engineering! What is the process of making one?
Unusual home working jobs - Uplift custom braYou are so right! Engineering is the key! The pattern drafting requires the mathematical skills and a lot of intuitive thinking. A great pattern drafter who understands the mathematics of lift and pull is essential to making the bra do its job. I work closely with an excellent drafter, and together we have designs that work.

I mentioned my tester bras earlier, they are made up from the patterns, and I make alterations as required. This is a finicky process, because even a small change can make a big difference in how the bra fits.

The sewing of the bra is really the least complicated part of the process! You need intermediate sewing skills to get started, because working with stretch fabrics, ¼” seams and elastics, is very intricate work. Making it look professional takes a lot of practice. A good seamstress will get there.

Where do you source your materials?

I try to source my materials locally whenever possible. Luckily, I am able to do that through a wholesaler. When I dream big, I see my business growing and I see myself sourcing laces from Italy, France, Switzerland, but that is down the road a bit! Of course, I have to be there to choose them myself!

What is your home working routine?
I am trying out a new routine this month. I am answering emails and doing computer work etc in the morning, and then heading to my sewing studio to work. (I was doing this in the evening before).

I usually have at least 3 days per week scheduled in as studio days when I see clients and work on client projects. Depending on demand I use the other 2 days to do home visits for those who can not come to my studio.

I keep 2 days per month to go out to meet potential clients or sources of clients. I also teach a beginner bra-making course every 3 months, usually on a weekend. I attend 2 evening networking events monthly, and a third one every other month.

Sometime in there, I do the laundry – it usually gets thrown in before I start sewing.

This is my busy time of year, and it is hard to keep up in 5 days. In January, I can work 3 or 4 days, and actually start late or quit earlier. My paperwork is up to date so I can try out new ideas, we draft the patterns and see if they work on real people.

The routine changes with the season. March, April, May, is bridal season, and it is all about the sewing and fitting and meeting deadlines.

Linda’s business is based in Burlington, Ontario, Canada.You can see more of her custom made bras at upliftcustombras.com

Enjoyed this? Check out more unusual home working jobs.

6 Comments on "Unusual home working jobs – the custom bra maker"

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  1. What an interesting piece about such a worthwhile and interesting profession. But it is so sad to hear that Linda felt couldn’t do fashion design because she was overweight. That is a whole new topic. I wish her a very successful career….xxxx thank you Judy for your piece about her.

  2. I find it totally fascinating. I watched the film Waitress recently, and one of the waitresses in the diner was always going on about being lower one side than the other. She thought it was practically a deformity, but nobody else noticed. Now I know why!

  3. There I was getting all excited, and she’s in Canada 🙁 I am bereft!

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