This is going to get a little personal. I'm not at all sorry. There will be talk of boobs. And common issues with having larger-than-average ones.
There may also be some ranting.
See, until after Aki was born, I never gave too much thought to my boobs. They were there, they were kind of inconvenient most of the time, and kind of very convenient at other times. But I would go to La Senza, dutifully be measured by the ladies there, and walk out with uncomfortable bras. I didn't realise it didn't have to be like that. My mother had a hate on for bras, so I thought they were just something ladies wore because they counteracted gravity but that they were always uncomfortable.
As I was trying to buy nursing bras with my first baby I became aware that my ribcage is very narrow and my bust is very not. This is a problem when trying to buy a bra. So I wandered into Motherhood Maternity and asked the salesclerk for a bra with "the smallest band and the largest cup". She looked at me, sighed, and told me I wouldn't find anything comfortable in there. She then directed me to a specialty shop in Langley that stocks a lot of sizes. I thanked her and went there right away.
I wish I could send her chocolates because that woman changed my life.
I went to Forever Yours Lingerie and must have looked a bit nervous. A wonderful lady took charge of me and ushered me into a fitting room. I was measured, she declared "30I! Close cleavage, broad shoulders, narrow back, nursing bra... wait right here." She wisked out of the change room, reappeared 5 minutes later with 6 bras for me to try on. They were all brands I've never heard of before, with tags in seven different languages. I tried them all on and couldn't believe how good my boobs looked in them! No bulging! No pinching! Support! The band stayed down! The straps had padding! This was a revolution. I bought 3 bras, with each one more expensive than any bra I've ever bought before.
I wore those three bras during my entire two years of nursing and then tossed them out as the elastic was shot in them. I went to Change to buy bras for my next pregnancy since they were less expensive, but still had the size range I needed. After Itsa was born I went back and bought more nursing bras, this time in a 32H.
This started my obsession with properly fitting bras and a distrust for any bra shop that thinks DD is the largest size. Pro Tip: If the shop only carries 25 sizes, they will be trained to measure you to those sizes. Many of the salesclerks don't even know that they were trained wrong.
Fast forward to 2 years of nursing Itsa and I finally get her weaned. She was resistant, and is a stubborn, stubborn child, so it took a lot of effort on my part. I have three nursing bras, and no baby to nurse anymore. I measure myself to a 33" underbust and 41" full bust. 34I-ish. Well crap, this is going to get expensive. Then I see Tasia of Sewaholic and Anne of Clothing Engineer sewing their own bras. I'm inspired to look at patterns, but they're both more hippy than busty, so maybe it's not such an important garment for them. Then Carolyn of Sewaholic and Heather of Closet Case Files post bras they made. Those are ladies with a bit more bust. The final push was the Sew Obsessed group on Ravelry having a bra-making sew-along last November.
I bought four kits from Bra-makers supply, whining to myself that if I had decided to take up bra sewing in high school I could have taken a class at that shop, and dove into my first attempt. I chose the Pin-up Girls Linda Bra:
Utter failure. I don't know how, but I didn't realise I had sewn the band to the armhole until I was all done. I might have also sewn the lower cups upside down. I don't even know. I'm embarrassed looking at this. I harvested the wires and straps, and put the rest into the pile of failed projects I may harvest fabric from. Lesson learned to not cut out a pattern and leave it for 3 weeks before sewing it.
I was a bit discouraged, and decided to make a couple other things before trying again. Bra sewing isn't difficult, but it's fiddly. So I made a couple dresses, a bunch of underwear, a pair of jeans, and did some of the mending from my hamper of mendables that I am good at ignoring.
I go back to the bra, this time doing up the white kit.
Success! I totally went to town with my water soluble marker and wrote everything on this bra. Upper, Lower, Sew Band Here! I hate that it comes to that, but my brain likes shortcuts too much for me to leave anything to it.
If you can so kindly ignore the chub I have going on we'll all be happier. I'm 30, I have two small children, I eat too much cereal and not enough balanced meals, and I can't find time to go to the gym, even though I can see the front door from my bedroom window. I accept the chub at this point in my life and know that once I address it and have more independent children then those love handles are history.
As you can see, this bra pretty amazing. What you can't see is that the cup is just a touch too small and I have a slight quadboob happening. No matter, I can just slit the cup seams and add fabric in the middle. Not the most elegant solution, but it makes it wearable and that's considered a win for me.
I had hoped to sew another in the next size up this week, but MIL is sick and had to stay in bed all week. No sewing time for me, so it'll have to wait for next week. She's feeling better now and will be able to resume her childcare duties on Monday, so it's all good.