Certified in Bare Essentials Pattern Drafting
Sewing by Carolyn-Southeastern Minnesota
👋 Hi there!
Let’s Chat! ☕
In case we haven’t met yet… Hi, my name is Kristen Kemp. I am a Professional Sewist, specializing in Clothing Alterations on regular clothing and Formalwear (like wedding gowns & bridesmaid dresses), and Certified Bare Essentials Bra Drafting Instructor.
The nitty gritty:
I grew up in the heart of farm country 🚜 where we aren’t so very far removed from a time that someone in your household sewed or you didn’t have clothing to wear. There are still blankets around the house that Great-Grandparents made from threadbare clothing that was no longer wearable. In that era, when someone got married, the family got together and made all the dresses👗.
When a back injury ended mom’s 👩⚕️ nursing career, she went back to sewing and started Sewing by Carolyn in 1991 (I was 9). I sewed various projects as a kid, and even helped in the business as a teenager.
After a very degrading prom dress shopping experience, I made my dress because our store didn’t carry “plus sized dresses.” Suffice it to say that sewing runs DEEP in my bones.
I was destined to be plus sized from day one, and had a terrible body image for the longest time. I married in my mid 20’s and I can remember having conversations with my (now ex) husband about how hard it was to shop.
Stores carried my size in clothing, but didn’t carry my size in bras. Clothing in “my size” went around my body, but wasn’t shaped like me.
The plus sized stores carried 👙 bras but they were these awful bras that were uncomfortable and unflattering and a total let down (literally, saggiest bras ever!).
Any of this sound familiar? If you’re having trouble shopping and it seems like nothing fits, oh goodness, I totally get you!
My solution to solve the bra problem was the same way I solved the prom dress problem! I figured, “Hey, you know what? I sew, why not just sew them myself?” 🧵
The trouble with sewing patterns:
But then I realized… the sewing was not really the problem with this idea. The problem is many patterns are also created with the same average specs as bras you buy in the store.
By the time you pick:
🧷an average breast volume for a cup size
🧷an average wire to pair with it
🧷the average band size to go with that cup and wire
Now you’re expecting people to fit into 3 “average” proportions, and the resulting shape is not shaped like a human!
The lightbulb 💡 moment changed my perspective forever! My body was not a difficult shape, the clothing was! My boobs weren’t too big, the bras weren’t designed for actual humans.
This is what led me to sewing and to turn it into a career. I wanted to know why clothes were designed terribly, what alterations could fix it, and I wanted to gain enough skill to sew anything I wanted.
I got your back:
I’ve been obsessed with bras patterns, design, construction, etc for more than a decade and have been reading all the textbooks I can get my hands on, and just practicing.
You’ll often find me spending a large amount of my time volunteering in bra-making groups. I joke that I became a certified drafter in Porcelynne’s method (almost) by accident.
The reason I volunteer in the groups and I teach because I don’t want other people to suffer terrible body image that I did. Especially if that image as a result of ill fitting bras and clothing that isn’t shaped like the humans that wear them.