This overwire bra was arguably the most difficult garment to reproduce out of all the objects selected by the students. As with the Warner’s Merry Widow, it is difficult to pattern due to the mix of stretch and rigid fabrics, and the fact that the materials are under tension due to the overwire.
Unlike underwires, overwires have largely fallen out of use in contemporary lingerie. Consequently, sourcing one with a similar profile and size to the original bra’s proved impossible. Fortunately, Xiangte Chen was able to find an innovative solution for this problem: working with a metalwork student, a custom made overwire was created to the same specifications as the original garment. Unlike an underwire, the overwire is not a flat piece of wire, but a three dimensional object that wraps around the body, producing even more challenges in recreation and pattern drafting.
Stitching a replica of this garment required a great deal of precision and millimetre level accuracy. The construction details of this bra include a decorative bow overlay on the cups, quilting, faggoted seams and padded overwire channels.
Due to the irregular and three dimensional shape of the overwire itself, inserting it into the bra would have been exceptionally difficult compared to traditional underwires. There is little doubt that the construction challenges of this style may have contributed to its fall out of popularity with underwear manufacturers!