Welcome to something a little different on my blog. As part of our Canada Cups Cross Your Heart Relay blog tour, 2016, I’m interviewing a Professional Bra-Maker.
Did you see my post the other day when I said why I’d become an affiliate with Craftsy… I really do think Craftsy is great.
Today, my post is featuring Mrs. Weaver of Mrs. Weaver’s Finest Unmentionables. I think you’re going to love this personal look into the life of Mrs. Weaver.
Who is Mrs. Weaver?
Mrs. Weaver is actually the married name of Karin Triel, a small Dutch woman married to a tall Canadian man. A bra-maker, teacher, independent designer and corset-maker in Calgary.
When did you start in the bra-making business? And when will you (shudder!) quit?
I’ve been working in Canada ever since the lovely folks at immigration gave me my work permit, which is around 15 months ago. As for quitting, I’ve never thought about that…yet!
That’s good news, Mrs. Weaver! What made you choose Canada?
Lol, I married a big, handsome Canadian who brought me here. He promised me it wouldn’t be too cold…
How did you get involved in bra-making?
When I was 13, I already had an E cup.There was nothing pretty to fit and would end up with ugly beige bras. I would sabotage them until they broke, forcing my parents to buy me another (which inevitably turned out to be equally ugly). It wasn’t quite bra-making, but it was bra-breaking. One thing led to another, and the rest is history!
When did you make your first bra?
I probably had my first go at it in my early 20s – as part of a bikini. It wasn’t terribly successful. I had many years of tinkering and messing about with patterns. Later, I finally got the opportunity to train with Beverly Johnson and that’s when the magic really started to happen.
Mrs. Weaver’s Thermal Valentine. View her original post here.
Do you teach?
I teach classes in-person in Calgary. I am teaching Professional Classes and have just launched an online class for those women who can’t get to Calgary. Everyone from total bra beginners to seasoned sewists, from Saskatoon to Sao Paolo is welcome. It’s so exciting to help start people on their own bra-making adventure! I also make custom bras for women who can’t find comfort, fit and pretty in ready-to-wear – every woman deserves those things from a bra! Making them yourself is the best way to achieve this.
Before I move on… did you catch that? Mrs. Weaver has just launched an online school!
What are your future goals?
There are lots! I want as many women as possible to discover the joy of a well-fitting bra or corset. I hope to teach more, grow the number of professional bra-makers currently working with me, expand my online classes and take LOTS of fabulous women with me on the European Tour in March of 2017. Basically, I want every woman to know they have options, can learn the skills and can have gorgeous lingerie – regardless of their fitting challenges.
There’s another big announcement right there! The European Tour in March. I hope you’re checking Mrs. Weaver’s blog for all these very exciting happenings.
Tell us more about where you see your business going?
I see my business continuing to expand, with the Braphoria Online School offering more classes and learning for those who can’t get to Calgary. In-person classes are definitely the best, but online offers such great opportunity to let more women continue in their bra-making adventures.
What are your businesses plans locally? Nationally? Globally?
Locally: I plan to continue to expand in-person teaching offerings and add more professional bra-makers to the Mrs. Weaver family to provide gorgeous custom unmentionables.
Nationally: I plan to travel more and teach across Canada; I have a lecture scheduled on Great Bra Fit at the Creative Stitches Expo in Calgary (September 23-24, 2016); as well I will be an exhibitor at the Love to Sew Expo in BC in November.
Globally: I plan to take women on my European Lingerie Tour in March of 2017 where as well as workshops with me and Beverly Johnson, I’ve arranged for world-class seminars and workshops at the London College of Fashion, and a specialty class in latex in Amsterdam; I also plan to travel back to Europe and Australia for Custom and Teaching work, and to set up distribution for my kits in other countries – to reduce postal charges for my customers.
All of that sounds amazing! You can read more about the tour here. And I’m sure customers overseas are thrilled to hear there will be purchasing options closer than Canada.
Mrs. Weaver, what do you absolutely love about the business?
I love the look on a woman’s face when she realizes beauty and comfort aren’t just for ‘other people’. The opportunity to make her feel good about herself, to feel beautiful.
Here’s a glimpse into Mrs. Weaver’s Parlour where her clients begin to experience that feeling of being beautiful. You can read more here.
What do you despise?
Nothing really, although it’s always very sad when women come in apologizing for their bodies with statements like ‘this is probably the worst you’ve seen’ , or ‘I hate my boobs’. Negative body image is desperately sad especially when all women and all bodies are intrinsically beautiful.
Well said, Mrs. Weaver! Do you see any lack?
I think there is a lack of understanding among women that options like sewing your own lingerie, or custom-made lingerie are available to them. Most women believe ugly, uncomfortable or ill-fitting lingerie is simply their lot in life and it’s not true. We wouldn’t wear a pair of shoes that hurt our feet or caused blisters, yet we’ll accept a bra that pokes us, straps that fall off our shoulders, or bands that roll up – that’s just crazy.
What trends have you seen?
Bralettes are big right now, that’s definitely a trend. I’m also seeing women wanting more luxurious materials and less moulded cup bras.
Speaking of more luxurious materials, here’s one of the kits available from Mrs. Weaver’s new store.
What is the difference between RTW and custom-made?
The biggest difference is custom-made is made just for you and your unique curves. We’re not putting a square peg into a round hole, instead we are designing the garment to work with your body. Most women find comfort is the biggest factor, with many stating it almost feels as though they aren’t wearing anything!
What about the difference between custom-made and self-made using a pattern?
Self-made using a pattern is a big step up from ready-to-wear and is a great starting point. However, if your own breast shape is different from the shape used for the pattern (or you don’t like the style) you’ll be faced with alterations which can be tricky to master. You’ll also not have the skills required to create a whole range of bras. Every time you make a different pattern, you’ll have the same learning curve as before – with alterations being almost inevitable.
With a custom bra, a professional bra-maker assesses fit and makes all the alterations before designing a style to address all your wishes. If you have very specific fitting challenges such as a significant size difference between your left and right breast, or mastectomy/lumpectomy a custom bra can be a faster way to a great fit. Some professional bra-makers like myself provide a custom drafting service for home sewists to help you resolve your fitting challenges more quickly.
Here’s another example of stunning luxurious material.
What is the difference between the ever-growing number of patterns out there?
There are some great patterns out there! The thing to remember is every pattern is based on one person’s body and that body is unlikely to be the same as yours. Some patterns are better for a smaller bust, others for a fuller bust; some work better for women who are still self-supporting while others will better support a bust that’s no longer very firm. Do your research before you buy – find reviews, establish what type of bust the patterns are best for.
Why did you decide to do online classes instead of another pattern?
With every new pattern you’re potentially back to square one. With my online class, you learn how to change your existing pattern into something new. As long as your existing pattern fits well, you can transform it into so much more!
That concept makes so much sense to me. Thank you! Where can we buy your kits and classes?
You can find them at www.braphoria.com or via www.mrsweaversfinest.com .
Can you tell us why you think bra-making has become so popular now?
I think it’s because in a time when the media is trying to tell us we all need to be the same, the subversive, rebellious, stubbornly individual hearts of women have decided that ‘I don’t need to be the same, I just need to be me’.
How long do you see this trend of making our own bra/panties/lingerie continuing?
I think it will only continue to grow – as long as women have access to patterns, classes and supplies, there will be interest.
I know I’m so happy with this trend of making our own lingerie and hope it stays around for a very, very long time.
How do you reach your target market?
I use Facebook, my blog, newsletters, and personal interaction.
Do you use technology?
I’m rarely too far from my laptop. However, for my drafting, the only technology I use is a pencil, a ruler, and a set of compasses. My grandfather was a draftsman, he once said you could ‘feel’ what you were drawing with a pencil much better than with a computer.
How do you get the word out?
Word of mouth mostly, although social media, my website and newsletters are really good. Being featured in Vogue earlier this year was fabulous and there’s going to be another piece in the media about Mrs. Weaver and Braphoria soon.
How exciting that Mrs. Weaver is getting all this press attention. Congratulations!
I would like to thank Mrs. Weaver for taking the time to allow me to interview her.
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Thursday, September 15
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