Go Braless, Be Modest, Get Comfy
Or How I Invented
By Jody Pritchard
One day while I was volunteering for my daughter’s art class, I noticed that I
not only dressed the same as I did 30 years ago, but my nipples kind of still
showed. It seemed like it was time to get a bra! I went to a well-known
department store and actually got fitted. But I thought the woman with that tape
measure around her neck must be kidding, because the bra was so tight. It didn't
even cover very well, and I still had to wear layers or a coat. That’s when I
remembered why I always hated bras in the first place.
A while later I
decided I would go on a search for a real solution and came up with my
brainstorm for the braless t-shirts I now call Ttime Flatwear; a line of
attractive tank tops with soft-quilted, micro-thin panels sewn into the fabric
to accommodate women with small breasts who don’t want to wear bras.
all that didn’t happen at once. There was nothing out there but nipple tape,
which is a great idea but easy to forget to take off. Finally I bought some
t-shirts and started experimenting. I tried fixing appliques right onto the
shirts to cover up those pesky nipples. I even made tea cups out of felt, but
they looked stupid.
Then the idea hit me. I took my new bra and made a
pattern from it with some quilting fabric, which I then sewed right into the
t-shirt. You could see the fabric where I sewed it on, but that didn't matter if
you used the garment as an undershirt. This was a good beginning.
Meantime I found the perfect t-shirt/camisole for my concept at American Apparel
and just kept experimenting. I took one of my reinvented tank tops to a friend
named Michael in the garment industry, but he said it looked stupid and sloppy,
and no one would want to buy it. Well, nothing’s perfect, I thought.
next I brought some of my shirts to an expert dyer and costume maker and asked
her if she could color them so the pattern of the pads couldn’t be seen. She
said, "Why not just use elastic in the center. Then you won't need to sew them
on the front of the shirt?”
Holy cow! She was brilliant. I kept working
on the pads and finally figured out where to sew them into the shirts to fit
various sizes. Later, I was talking to this seamstress, who also owned a store
where I was looking for elastic. I told her about my shirts and how I was having
a hard time attaching the shirts on the side seam without them looking bulky. So
she described how to stretch the material as I sewed; that way the side seams
weren’t so noticeable.
I showed some sample tank tops to my friends
Charlotte and Michael, the same Michael who’d told me they were unsellable, and
he said they actually looked great. The worm turns! I also took them to a
90-year-old seamstress, and she said the same thing. So I was thinking this is
as good as it gets.
Next I needed a name for my new product. As always
with me, it wasn’t simple. I decided on “Ttime T-shirts” in honor of an old
ritual between me and my partner Mary Jane at the Frank and Dunya gift shop we
ran for years in the Fremont section of Seattle. Every afternoon at work, we
would sit down and have tea together at two o’clock. Very civil!
husband Ken came up with flatwear, which was supposed to be a play on words
related to flatware, china, and table settings. Ken thought he was so funny
because it would be a reverse spin on everyone in America buying goods from
But I wasn’t ready to market my t-shirts to China or anywhere
else yet, because I needed a logo and a website. So I visited my friend Mindy,
who did the graphic designs for Frank and Dunya, and asked her to make a logo
for me. Mindy came up with “Go braless, be modest!” Perfecto!
friend Buck gave me the name of a really good web guy named Kevin Kim Murphy.
With Mindy's art work and Kevin’s web design, they created a terrific website:
The marketing language on my website was
another group effort, proving once again that there are no longer any great
individuals. Only great committees.
“Ladies,” my website explained, “finally
a comfy 100% cotton tank top for those who don't need support just
ultimate comfort. Wear as underwear or outerwear. The soft-quilted micro-thin
panels keep nipples undercover.”
With this blow struck for undercover
nipples everywhere, my website was ready.
I was still working at Pacific
Research Laboratories, Inc., a leading producer of artificial bone, which of
course we all called the Bone Factory. I showed my friend Andrew, who was the
computer guru there. He was so excited for me that he put my Ttime Flatwear
homepage on the company website used by all the employees to record the number
of bone parts they were working on. The owners must have been away!
have made sure, as much as possible, that everything in my shirts are
manufactured in the U.S. Some of the thread comes from Germany or Spain, and I'm
not really sure where the cotton is grown, but the quilting is made in the U.S.
It’s been a great ride,
and just to prove it, here are a few comments from my happy customers:
“I’ll never wear a bra again!”
“Thanks, Jody, I love it!! I'm enclosing a check.”
“Many thanks for the wonderful camisole. It’s
absolutely perfect for teaching and dancing in. What a great business idea!”
“Thank you for the lovely, useful, little shirts. May your business live
long and prosper.”
Thank you so much, you got the size exactly right.
Small it is. Thank you also for the wonderful idea and sharing it with all
of us in the itty bitty titty club.”
“Not just comfy, it works!”
“I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how much
I love your t-shirts. I'm hooked. I'm glad I bought five because I wear them
every day. They are the perfect thing to wear around the house, too. So
comfy and fit just right. I even work out in them. No more bras! YEAH!”
“Thanks so much for sending the shirts. They are
great for people with pants. I will share my experience with my support
group friends; all of whom have pants.”
“The tank is wonderful! It fits just right, too. I
wear it every day and love it. Thank you for designing this new idea.”
“I just wanted to say thank you for your innovative, creative work. I really
like my plum t shirt.”