Coin Bras

Coin bras are not as easy to place in traditional garb as some other costume pieces. Certainly the life giving feminine power of the breasts is emphasized in lots of traditional costume. From the embroidery on the caftans bodice to the circular mirror work on Rajastini Indian cholis.

Street wear
Well, maybe in San Francisco. Actually this is a prime costuming piece for fantasy dress-up, and is very popular with groups like the Society of Creative Anachronism.

Coin Bra Care
My bras are made to last! To keep your bra in the best shape for years of use- air it out out after sweaty dancing. The bra form is made from buckram, the same material you see used for wedding hats etc. it is stiffened with water based sizing, and can lose strength when damp, Store your bra with the cup shape supported- I twist and nest the cups one inside the other so they get double support, in a box to protect the bra from compression. There are commercial bra storage gizmos on the market that support the cups shape which could be used as well. You can also line the bra as described in the finishing tips below to enhance and protect the shape.

Coin bras cannot be washed or dry cleaned, so to keep them fresh try these two sanitizing techniques from less mechanized times and cultures: airing and smoking. To air your garment, literally hang it inside out in the fresh air and sunshine- yes sunshine actually kills bacteria and freshens garments. ( be sure not to over-do, sunshine can also fade and weaken fibers). To Smoke your garment, first form a smoke enclosure from your bathroom or porch (make sure it is a room you can air out later). Hang the garment inside out, set at least 4 sticks of incense to burning- and leave the space enclosed till all the incense has burned (at least an hour or more). experiment with different scents and herbs. The smoke has a anti bacterial effect. It will help keep your coin bra sweet smelling even after much sweaty dancing.

Bras are notoriously hard to fit. Cup size, frame size, and bust measurements all come into play. I have by-passed most of the confusion by making the back and top ties adjustable and by making the space at the center front adjustable as well. So just order your regular cup size, or order one cup size up and pad it as described below. The only exception to this rule is for gals with a small frame and a larger bust,  for example 30"-34" C-cup, 30-36" D cup, or 32-38"  DD cup. If you have a small frame/ large bust you may want to order one cup size down for a better fit.
If you will be wearing a choli with your coin bra fit is not as much of an issue as your choli will be holding you up and in. Be aware that your own taste comes into fitting a costume bra as well; one dancers pleasingly abundant decolletage is anothers - oh my goodness Im falling out of this thing! If you really really can't decide between 2 sizes there is a long distance try on option: you can order bra forms in both sizes you are considering. Send them back  for a credit towards the coin bra in the size you decide on!

Here is how to measure for cup size:
1) Start by wearing a supportive bra. Measure around your body by placing a tape measure on your back above your bra line Then bring it to the front above the fullest part of your bust.
2) Measure the fullest part of the bust. The tape should go from the back bra line to the front. It should be parallel to the ground and measured loosely.
3) Simply deduct the smaller measurement from the larger measurement. This is your cup size. 1"= A cup, 2" = B cup, 3" = C cup, 4" = D cup

Finishing Tips:
The space between the bra cups can be adjusted by carefully removing the hand stitching holding the center rosette together and re-stitching it to suit your figure. The A and B cup size have two sets of straps that can be tied as a halter or crisscrossed racer style (left back to right shoulder ect. right back to left shoulder) The C and D cups have 3 sets of straps, and can be worn halter style with the two sets of back straps twisted as one or tied separately for firmer support. For maximum support and comfort in the C,D and DD- cup, tie the ties to make a racer back: Crisscross the straps (left back to right shoulder etc. right back to left shoulder), then third strap straight across the back.
If you want to cut down on the bulk in back ( and for speed in getting in and out of costume), measure and cut the straps to fit your figure and sew on sturdy hook and eyes for closure ( I recommend the self locking style often sold for trousers). Some dancers use velcro for the same purpose, but be sure you use enough to ensure a a secure hold.

If you want more substantial lining or padding- you can buy a cheap black bra- with padded or foam cups. Simply cut around the cups to fit the inside of your coin bra and stitch them in place!