Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from Intimate Underpinnings

As I fly to Southern California for Thanksgiving, I begin reflecting on what I am thankful for this year. First and foremost, I am thankful for my amazing clients, who have shared their stories and creative bra ideas with me. And, who have in turn, allowed me free range of creativity in designing unique and special lingerie for them. I am so thankful for my business teachers, mentors, networking groups, and fellow small business owners. The support that you have all given me during this first year of business has been tremendous. My suppliers, and there are many, deserve a big thank you from Intimate Underpinnings because without them, we would have a tough time bringing that special component to your undergarments. And most importantly, I am thankful for all of my incredible friends, family, and co-workers who have been behind Intimate Underpinnings from the start, and who continue to support me and the business with each new step that we take in our journey. 

I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving, and their own special reason for being thankful this year. Thanks for sharing in ours.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

New fabrics for fall

I love searching for new fabrics. When I discover something unique, something beautiful, or just something with a great feel, I get very excited. During my short visit to Toronto, I found some great bra fabrics. Here is just a tease of some of the new laces that flew home with me.

And check out these cool power nets. The polka dots are velvet! Power nets make great back bands in your bras.

There are many more fabric choices to view during your consultation and the bra making process. We look forward to creating a bra that fits with your personality.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Shout out to the large breasted ladies

You know who you are. Whether the cups of your bra aren't fitting your breasts correctly, or your straps are doing too much of the heavy lifting and leaving divots in your shoulders. Maybe your back band is digging in around your rib cage and causing "back fat", or perhaps it's not snug enough and causing you back and shoulder discomfort. Have you gone to wearing sports bras because it's the most comfortable thing you can find in your size? Whatever your frustrations with your existing bra may be, I understand your pain. 

As a custom bra maker, it is my goal to help you feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident in your bra, and provide you with the best fitting bra that I can. Unfortunately, the issues I just mentioned don't help you in feeling any of those things, or very few at best. My professional training as a bra maker has equipped me with the knowledge and tools to create a pattern specific to you and your measurements, as well as providing the internal structure that your bra needs to do the job that it is meant to do. And ladies, believe me when I say that I can also make your bra beautiful in addition to functional. Schedule your initial consultation with Intimate Underpinnings to begin the process of creating your custom bra today.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Custom prostheses and breast forms

This week has been spent working on advanced bra making techniques with my teacher in Ontario, specifically those that provide internal structure and support in your bra. Not only did I learn some new tricks for adding pockets to your bra, but we also worked on creating custom breast forms, or prostheses. 

The great thing about custom breast forms is that, well, it is customized to your body. We work with you to get the correct size, shape, and weight, so that your body will feel a sense of balance once again. The breast forms that we create are not silicone based, meaning you can wear them in a hot tub, still look and feel your best, and not have to worry about them leaking or popping. They will never shift and move around in your bra, since they are made specially for you, your body, and your bra. And to take it one step further, we are able to sew them into your custom bra, if that is something you would prefer. 

New pricing and options will be added to the website soon for pocketed bras and breast forms. Check back often to stay up to date.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Breast cancer awareness month

At Intimate Underpinnings, we have been working diligently to be able to "support" breast cancer survivors with custom bras. On October 1st, the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Intimate Underpinnings participated in a training to become a Certified Mastectomy Fitter. This event was hosted by Amoena, a leader in prostheses and breast enhancing products. Such good timing that they were in Portland, OR training mastectomy fitters right before I head up to Toronto to study with Beverly on advanced mastectomy and pocketed bra techniques. 

We learned about all of the different surgeries that can take place when cancer is present and how the body is impacted during the removal of cancerous cells and tissue. We also went through various exercises on fitting the Amoena brand prostheses to different individuals. It was a very eye opening experience, and I feel very confident in fitting our clients with prosthetics post surgery. I was very surprised that only a small percentage of prostheses are covered by insurance. It is unfortunate that insurance does not let us take women from an okay fit to a great fit after all that they have just gone through. Hopefully, this will change in the future because we all deserve to feel beautiful.

The most important and impactful part of fitting prostheses post surgery is of course the fit of the bra. If you don't have a great fitting bra, the prosthesis will not support or look as natural as we want. There are some good pocketed bra option out there from various companies, but the unique thing about the pocketed bras made by Intimate Underpinnings is that, like everything else, we customize the bra to you, your needs, and your style choices. We presently make mastectomy, or pocketed bras. Check back next week when I share some of the new bra options for those with prosthetics or breast enhancers. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fabric dyes

I try my very best to seek out an array of beautiful laces in various colors, but what happens when you want your custom bra in a color that we cannot provide? Well, we can create that color using fabric dyes. I prefer acid dyes and frequently use the Jacquard brand for several reasons. First and foremost, it has very little smell compared to other fabric dyes. Acid dyes have a shorter boil time to reach the desired color, and this becomes especially important when dying elastics. When dying elastics, we do not want to boil them in the dye water for longer than 30 minutes, as this can impact the integrity of your elastic, a crucial component in your bra. I have also found that acid dyes maintain their vibrant colors after several washes, where others may fade. Finally, you can find or create just about any shade of any color.

Are you interested in dying your own fabrics with acid dyes? Here is how I dye my fabrics, elastics, and bra findings. 

*These should only be used for the sole purpose of dying. Do not put your food or drink in them later, regardless of how well you clean them*

favorite color of Jacquard acid dye
1/4 teaspoon
8 quart pot 
tea ball

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of dye in your mug with enough water to make a paste. Let this mixture sit for at least 5 minutes. The crystals of the acid dye need time to dissolve, so the fabrics dye evenly without spots. Fill your pot about half full of water and bring to a low boil. Mix the dye into the boiling water. If dying rings and sliders, make sure they are the nylon coated variety. These are the only ones that will dye. Put your rings and sliders into the tea ball. This will make it easier to check for the desired color. Add your fabric, elastics, underwire casing, and the tea ball containing rings and sliders. Boil until you have reached the desired color (generally no longer than 30 minutes). The rings and sliders will have to boil longer. Continue to check them for the desired color. 

Once you have dyed to the color of your liking, rinse with cold water and distilled white vinegar. This will lock in the color and keep its vibrancy longer. Happy dying!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

We're selling body shapers now!

Intimate Underpinnings has been busy drafting and perfecting various forms of body shapers to match your beautiful bras. The great thing about a custom body shaper is that we can focus on the areas where you want the most shaping to give you that sleek silhouette under your favorite dress or outfit. Doesn't that sound amazing? Whether you are interested in a vintage-inspired girdle, an under bust shaper, a shaper with a custom bra built in, or some body shaping shorts, we are all about making you feel and look your best. And if you are like me, and love to have garter clips holding up your thigh highs, we can add them to any shaper.

Here is a little tease of what we've been working on. More shaper options will be up on the website soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Red hot lace

With Portland experiencing its share of high 90 and 100 degree days, I have been staying cool by sewing. This red hot lace for summer number is a new style that I wanted to try out before making a display size for a local boutique. I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sister sizing

In my post from three weeks ago, I showed a diagram of bra cup and band sizes. This illustration includes "sister sizing," which is where the cup volume remains the same as the band size increases, thus the number increases and the letter decreases. My bra making instructor would cringe when she heard the term sister sizing, and here is why.

Many lingerie stores will try to get you into a sister size if they don't carry your size, or if they have sold out of it. Don't be convinced that this will give you a properly fitting bra. It never will. When I worked retail, we only used sister sizing as a means to determine cup volume, and we would use that information to create a special order if we were out of a certain size. Now, what happens when you are put into a sister size is that the cup will be the best fitting part of your bra. What about the rest of the bra? Your bra band is actually the most supportive element in your bra. I know, it's surprising to think that wearing the correct band size will give you the best support in your bra.

This is not to say that the other elements are not important because they are, but if you wear a "sister size" where the band is too big (this is the case for most women), the band will ride up in the back. If the elastic in your band is not getting worked at all, your band is too big. When the band is too big and rides up in the back, the breasts will actually droop in the front, even with the correct cup size. Then you will find yourself shortening your straps to hold up your breasts, and the back will ride up even more. It's a vicious cycle.

You might think, okay, I'll just go with the sister size that is a band smaller than mine, but you will not be happy here, either. When you wear a sister size where the band size is smaller than you should wear, the band will feel tight. It might actually dig into your skin, creating...dare we say, back fat. And if this weren't enough, when wearing a band that is too snug, it will actually force the underwire that resides closest to the side seam, into your ribs. This is incredibly painful, and for some women, will actually leave bruises.

You deserve a properly fitting bra, and to feel comfortable when wearing one. My hope with this post is that you will think twice when you are being talked into trying a bra in a sister size. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015


I am often asked what inspires me when designing custom bras and lingerie. When I am designing for myself, it can be any number of things. I am inspired by other lingerie designers, vintage inspired clothing, old Hollywood glam, bold colors, beautiful fabrics, and lace. I love lace! If you've had the opportunity to work with Intimate Underpinnings, you know how many samples of lace you get to look at, particularly embroidered lace. I know it sounds cliche, but I often let the fabric (or lace) talk to me.

When I am designing for someone else, THEY inspire me! I have the rare opportunity to take their unique style and personality and blend it with their vision. Inspiration is around us all the time.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Common fit issues

When I tell someone that I am a custom bra maker, nearly everyone tells me a story about the horrible fit of their bra or a bad experience that they had at a lingerie shop. If you are frustrated by the fit of your bra, trust me, you are not alone. Approximately 80% of women do not wear a properly fitting bra. That is a HUGE percentage!

If you are small-busted, you have probably experienced some of these fit issues with your bra...
*The cup is too big
*The underwire is too small and digs into the breast tissue
*Why is there so much padding?
*The band is too tight (and causes the underwire to dig in even more)
*Did they run out of the fun colors when they got to us?
*If you're athletic, your pectoral muscles and breast tissue will widen, making it impossible to find a bra that fits
*If you have a muscular back, straps often irritate

If you are large-busted, you have probably experienced some of these fit issues with your bra...
*The cup is too small
*The double boob dilemma (it should look like 2, not 4!)
*The band is too big and rides up in the back
*What is up with those tiny straps?
*The band makes it look like there's back fat
*Straps make dents in your shoulders
*I think they ran out of all of the fun colors here, too
*To find one that fits, it looks like something my grandma wore

If you are average-busted, generally those lucky ladies that can wear the most commonly sized ready-to-wear bras, you still might have some fit issues in your bra...
*The underwire might be too small
*Maybe the straps slide off your shoulders
*One breast might be larger than the other, and the cups do not fill evenly
*The band might not fit properly
*Not enough coverage

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bra cup and band sizing

Many of you know that I worked in a lingerie boutique before starting my business as a custom bra maker. I would fit women, as well as a few men, and the most misunderstood concept was that of bra cup and band sizing. One of my former co-workers found this great image on reddit.com, showing the difference in cup and band sizes, and I absolutely love it!


Now, if you're like me and don't fit into traditional ready to wear sizing, this illustration might not mean much for you when bra shopping. In which case, custom made bras might be just the right choice for you. But if you find yourself questioning what size to try on when the one you have in the fitting room just isn't working, then I hope this illustration helps you understand bra sizing a little better. Please note that one ready to wear company will not fit the same as another.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

What do Pilates and bra making have in common?

I get asked all of the time to explain why I became a Pilates instructor AND a custom bra maker. The two seem so different. How is it possible to have two careers and passions that don't relate to one another? Actually, they relate more than you think. I love helping people, and I am able to do that through both Pilates and bra making. I am also able to watch people's bodies change and improve through both modalities. It's amazing the self-esteem boost you have when you feel good. Finally, I'm a very detail oriented individual, and I am able to use that greatly to my advantage in both careers.

Now what do you get out of this? Both custom made bras and Pilates build self-confidence, they create a more youthful appearance, they can decrease back pain, as well as reduce shoulder and neck stress. Your posture will improve (ask me about posture back bras), and your clothes will fit better. Don't those all sound like great things to have?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Welcome to Intimate Underpinnings

Welcome lingerie lovers! Thank you for stopping by my blog. Intimate Underpinnings is officially open for business, and I couldn't be happier. I had a dream to go into business creating bras and lingerie nearly 7 years ago. As someone who is naturally small-busted, it was always a challenge finding bras that fit properly. The cups were always too big, and the underwires were digging into my breasts. I couldn't imagine wearing a low cut shirt because the bras in "my size" would create a very revealing image if I bent over. My girlfriends all seemed to have the opposite problem. They were all large busted with smaller frames, so to find something that fit in the cup, it was entirely too big in the band, thus not providing any support for their breasts. How were we all failing when it came to finding a well fitting bra? And did they all have to be SO ugly? Well, not anymore! With several twists and turns in the world of bras, business, sewing, and fitness (yes, I am also a classically trained Pilates instructor, and you would be surprised how many of my clients and fellow Pilates instructors complain about the fit of their bras), I decided to focus my business on custom bra making. Sure, I could have created a ready to wear line of bras, and I thought about it for a long time, but there would still be so many women (and some men) who would not be able to find well-fitting, beautiful, comfortable bras. I want to "support" those who leave lingerie stores with frustration. I want to create that unique experience where I am able to take your vision of the ideal bra and make it a reality. My name is Holly, and creating custom bras is my passion. Check out our website at www.intimateunderpinnings.com, or vist me in Portland, OR to get the lift, boost, comfort, and support that you deserve.