I’m so excited to do a little Q&A with Lily from LilypaDesigns today! LilypaDesigns offers fabulous bra patterns, and boasts one of the most inclusive size charts, as far as cup sizes go: Her Lanai bra pattern goes up to a KK cup!
Let’s see what Lily has to say about bra making!
Q: What is your name?
A: Lily Fong
Q: What is your company’s name and how did you come up with it?
A: Lilypad was something they used to call me in primary. This is my way of owning it.
Q: How long has your company existed?
A: We are in our third year!
Q: When and how did you decide to start LilypaDesigns?
A: I started LilypaDesigns in January of 2018 with the ultimate goal of teaching how to make bras (I’m also a credentialed teacher). The world of bra making seemed elusive and secretive to the uninitiated. After spending several months immersed in the bra making groups and sewing my own, I noticed there weren’t many pattern options for larger cups. Even my 32FF at the time (not very large in the grand scheme of things) needed sister sizing.
Around this time, I had drafted the precursor to the Lotus Wireless bra and the response to that make was very positive with several inquires about a finished pattern. It just clicked. I need to create bra patterns so I can teach people how to sew bras! This amalgamation allows me to use my experience and interests in teaching, designing, drafting, sewing and owning a business.
Q: Are you #teamrotarycutter or #teamshears?
A: Rotary cutter all the way! Faster and more accurate.
Q: When is your favorite thing to sew for yourself?
A: Bras, of course but lately I’ve been making pants.
Q: Tell me about the history of your patterns. Where did you start, and how have your designs changed over time?
A: LilypaDesigns was created with the large bust, small band in mind. It’s a category that was underserved and still is. I spent the first few years focusing on basic bra patterns to highlight fit and refine my pattern making process. Now I can expand the size range and make patterns that are, uh, more frivolous.
Q: What is your number one piece of advice for someone who wants to start making their own bras?
A: Use your measurements and make a muslin!
Q: What does body diversity mean to you?
A: Every body is unique and deserves to be comfortable. A supportive, well-fitting and, dare I say, stylish bra shouldn’t be confined to smaller cup sizes. This is the reason why we featured a regular person as our model for our first and only (thus far) photoshoot.
Q: How did you decide what size chart to offer for your patterns?
A: From what I understand, most lingerie based businesses have the size chart defined before the actual designs. This makes sense perfect sense to me as it relates back to the target market. Since I created the company to create designs for those with large bust, small band, I began with the typical “Plus” size range and added a few more on the high end to reach a larger audience.
Q: What challenges did you face, if any, when making your size chart so inclusive, especially for the Lanai?
A: The Lanai was a labor of love. It was created partially to challenge the common narrative that wireless bras could not create breast separation, could not tack against the sternum and/or could not be as supportive as a wired bra – in larger cup sizes. It is distinctly different from the modern bralette and what I consider a “true” wireless bra where the support remains the same as its wired counterpart – but without the hardware.
My professor, (a 50+ year veteran in the lingerie business) has stated that “we have lost much of the knowledge of fitting, pattern cutting and grading” wireless bras. I began drafting with this in mind and made my testers aware of what I was trying to achieve.
There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have been able to achieve my goal in such a short time span without the help and insights of my pattern testers. Having achieved my initial goal for the DD-GG size set, I applied that knowledge to the A-DD size set than set my sights on the behemoth, the GG-KK size set. To be perfectly honest, I was f*king scared. There was no data on how to draft for this size set. No course to take, no book to reference, no pattern to point me in the right direction.
This doesn’t even include all important the ROI question – is there enough interest in a GG-KK size set to support the pattern development? F*ck it. It’s a massively overlooked category, let’s do it. My first draft was a total shot in the dark (with a few basic assumptions) that I informed my wonderful pattern testers to limit their expectations. They did that but also took the time to discuss the unique anatomical challenges that many in this size set experience.
This new understanding also highlighted the fact that I don’t have enough data to draft a bra to the proper proportions. Hence, a survey was produced to collect 3 measurements. While there weren’t enough responses for a statistically significant result, it was enough to get an average. Armed with both qualitative and quantitative data, I was able to produce a pattern that I am proud to put my name on. In short, each of the size sets of the Lanai Wireless was drafted for a specific shape that fits the majority of each size set. While the design was mine, much of fit was in no small part due to some very astute pattern testers to whom I will always be grateful. One can say that I work directly with my clientele in the development process.
Q: Do you have any plans to extend your size chart further in the future?
A: I will revisit extending the sizing more next year. This will give me some time to analyse the data for the different size sets as I released the GG-KK version of the Lanai earlier this year.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Do dreams count? I dream of a bra-revolution similar to what occurred in Poland in regards to RTW lingerie. Where the consumers began a grassroots movement to educate the public about bra fit and demand better options from designers. This spurred has a number of entrepreneurs to start independent lingerie companies that catered to this demographic. The most well known designer to come out of the bra-revolution was, perhaps, Ewa Michalak.
I also dream about producing my own lingerie line, with semi-customizable bra elements and an entirely new bra sizing system. Similar to how a body shape can be approximated by the figures 36-24-36, a bra would be approximated using similar measurements. Modern bras are not designed around a dress sloper as in the past but around actual breast measurements.