Since I just wrote my review of the AMAZING Porcelynne Eve bra pattern, I thought it only appropriate that we have a chat with Jennifer, the lovely designer behind Porcelynne and the Bare Essentials Drafting method!
Q: What is your name?
A: Jennifer Fairbanks
Q: What is your company’s name and how did you come up with it?
A: My company is called Porcelynne. It has had a long history of evolution. The name came about one day at work when I was living in NYC. I had this pale pink shirt on and apparently I looked the same color of my shirt that day and someone said I looked “porcelain.” The idea of the word porcelain stuck with me for a few years and when I moved back to Florida to start my own business, I stopped using my last name and went by my first and middle name Jennifer Lynne. Porcelynne is a hybrid of my work nickname and the spelling of my middle name.
Q: How long has your company existed?
A: I unofficially started my business in 2000, meaning I was experimenting with what I wanted to do, but when I moved to San Francisco in 2002, I considered that the official start of my business.
Q: When and how did you decide to start Porcelynne?
A: My business started as a design business. I used to design and manufacture lingerie. I did this for about 8 years and really loved it. About 6 years into it, I opened up my own store in San Francisco’s Mission District. I loved that experience, but it was grueling. I immersed myself into every aspect of design. I eventually burned myself out and closed the store 2 years later.
I moved into a live/work loft and continued to design for another year. It was at that time I wrote my first book about running a fashion business. The economy crashed shortly after I finished my book, so I put in for a transfer for my day job at FIDM and closed my design business. I sold out of all my lingerie supplies in record time and realized that was something I could do, sell supplies. Who doesn’t love shopping for things you can’t keep? The supply business sustained, I wrote a few more books, opened another store, closed that store and moved to Florida in 2017. The business has continued to change and evolve and I am growing with it.
Q: Are you #teamrotarycutter or #teamshears?
A: Team shears all the way. After I nearly severed my cat’s tail, I won’t touch a rotary cutter unless I have to (and there are no cats or kids around).
Q: When is your favorite thing to sew for yourself?
A: Boyshorts. I live in them. I just made 2 pairs of my new Ashley Boyshort and I am eyeing a big pile of fabrics to cut them out until there is no fabric left to cut.
Q: Tell me about the history of the Bare Essentials Method and the Eve pattern – which came first?
A: The drafting method came first. I didn’t redesign my drafting techniques until after the second edition. I was determined to find a better way to draft since my body was drastically changing from when I wrote the first edition. The initial ways I drafted worked when I was perky and childless. That changed during pregnancy and even more after.
I knew what worked for me prior to the child and I had to adapt it to work for me now. So I broke down the math and the body into little segments and into the most basic parts. My husband loves math as much as I do, so we had fun working on it together.
I saw so many people struggling to draft, so I came up with Eve. That pattern took me months of work and now helps people get into a custom draft without the custom draft.
Q: What is your number one piece of advice for someone who wants to start making their own bras?
A: Experiment and expect failure. We all learn from mistakes. Don’t feel like you can’t do it just because you haven’t done it before. I had to start somewhere. Just think of how many failed experiments I had with writing my books. The more I figured out what didn’t work, the more I learned what did work. I know it can get frustrating, so experiment and don’t be afraid to slap a unicorn patch over a bad sewing job. We have all done it.
Q: If someone isn’t sure whether to start with the Eve pattern or start with the BE drafting method, what’s your advice?
A: It depends on what type of patience you have and how you learn. The Eve takes a lot of the initial drafting work out of the equation, but there will still need to be edits. If you are the type of person who likes to know why, why, why, then draft, or at least experiment with drafting. You can always go back to the Eve.
Q: What does body diversity mean to you?
A: Every person is unique, including their body shapes, sizes and proportions. Some may be genetic and some may be environmental. The point is, we are all different. This is amazing, but can also be very frustrating. Pattern makers usually design around a specific proportion, which might not be you. For my own business, I know that curves are important shapes to draft for, so I use myself as my base size.
Q: How did you decide what size chart to offer for your patterns?
I created my charts based on me and my proportions. I know my proportion isn’t really reasonable over a certain size, so I keep my size chart within what I know I can fit people into.
Q: What challenges did you face, if any, when making your size chart so inclusive?
For boobs, it was just time dedication. As for the sports bras, I had originally drafted for up to a J, then one of my testers got a little bigger, so I increased those cups up to an N to accommodate her. For everything else, I used to be my Medium back in the day and now I am my XL. My size chart has stayed the same since I had my business, but I have expanded up to a 3X for my loungewear.
Q: Do you have any plans to extend your size chart further in the future?
A: For clothing, not likely, unless I had testers who were willing to test my larger sizes so I can adjust my grading for different proportions. The biggest problem with testing larger sizes is that I mess up a lot and it could be a huge drain on fabric consumption. I have recently expanded into Youth sizes, so I can make clothes for my daughter.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Right now, my biggest challenge is understanding youth sizes. My daughter is developing early, so you will be seeing training bras and bralettes in my future.
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