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A Ripple Effect

It’s not easy to find a pattern that is flattering on so many different body types. The Ripple Bralette by Jessie Mae Martinson has become ‘the sisterhood of the traveling pants’ of the knitting world. I’ve always felt a little left out when patterns like this become popular. Mostly because of my own self imposed limitations. After spending hours praying to grow boobs and repeating the Judy Bloom song “I must, I must, I must increase my bust”, my boobs came in with a vengeance at around the age of thirteen. Unfortunately, so did the feeling that certain outfits were no longer for me. I would look at tops in magazines or on the runway and think “that would be so cute on someone else”. I had to work really hard to get to a place where I accepted my body and even harder to get to a place where I love it. Honestly I thought that was a milestone that I had passed several years ago… until the Ripple Bralette.

It popped up randomly in my search feed. So did the negative inner dialogue that I thought I had put on mute. But the version I saw was so adorable I couldn’t resist looking into it. So I clicked on #ripplebralette. Picture after picture popped up and it was one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve had this year. The people who were posting were all so different and they were all absolutely gorgeous. After a few minutes of double tapping on every post I saw I couldn’t help but wonder why it was so easy for me to see the beauty in others and yet hesitate to want to make the top for myself? So I popped over to Ravelry and I’ve been working on it ever since. So far I don’t regret it and I’m honestly loving the process of making the bra. It’s teaching me a lot about myself. I’m really grateful for the lesson this WIP is giving me. When I finish it and take a picture of myself wearing it I hope that I can look at the person in that picture the same way I look at the women in this post. With love, awe, and admiration.

Below are ten of my favorite versions of the Bralette. We are going to kick things off with the maker who started it all, the incredible Jessie Mae Martinson.
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Jessie Mae Martinson

The inspiration for the pattern came from the same place my inspiration to start designing did. I wanted to knit a bralette for a friend (I'm a 38NN--a bralette is not practical for me) and couldn't find a size inclusive pattern that suited my taste. Since breasts come in so many shapes and sizes, I decided to use ribbing, which is both pretty and has lots of give, but also allowed me to use an extreme amount of negative ease to provide a balance between flexibility and support. I then played around with repeats and numbers until I was able to achieve a symmetry with the design that I liked. My first sample actually had a knit column running up the center of the front. I turned it inside out and realized I liked the wrong side better, which is how I settled on the centered purl column for the front.

This bralette was only my second pattern, and I never expected it to become as popular as it has. I mean, it's my design, so I obviously liked it, but it's been so affirming as a newer designer to have people love and share this pattern so widely. I've had so many people of all sizes reach out to tell me how this pattern has empowered them. We all carry so much shame around how we look, even those of us who are pretty comfortable with ourselves, because capitalism is designed to make and keep us insecure and uncomfortable and always wanting for something more or something different in pursuit of an imagined ideal. I think the process of making something for oneself, especially a sexy undergarment, provides a little push in the way of permission to share and celebrate one's body as it is. Creating something allows us to feel that we've earned a right to share our bodies, even if it makes others feel uncomfortable. I am not saying this to give power to the idea that we need to earn that right; I think we should share our bodies as much or as little as we want. But I do want to acknowledge the psychic barriers that are placed upon us and that we place upon ourselves that make us hesitate to do so.

It is an act of defiance, especially for people who live in marginalized bodies, to be comfortable in our skin, and it makes me so happy to see someone proud of an item they made that works for their body. That's my ultimate goal with my designs, to make people feel more at home and comfortable in the bodies they have now, rather than an imagined ideal pushed on us by the images we're constantly bombarded with. It's a sweet and small little fuck you to capitalism and the structures that tell us we should feel shitty about ourselves.

Yarn: “For this bra, I used Nox Yarn Co. Mars Sock and faded a few colors from the Serendipity mini skein set together. The colors are Sanctum, Eurydice, and either Will-o-the-Wisp or Sweet Solstice. I'm not sure. Project details are here
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 Asha Jazz
  
“I had seen lots of ripple bralettes floating around Instagram, I loved the array of colours and adaptations that I saw, and the wide range of bodies wearing it. I nabbed this yarn and had no real plans for it so thought why not make a ripple bralette. It was quick and fairly easy to make but I also learned some new skills with the I cord straps. The styling of can be so versatile too. I plan to wear it with my wrap around skirt for dress up days and dungarees for those days playing with the kids. It’s a go to bralette for me.”

Yarn: “A 4ply sock yarn, wool and nylon, hand dyed by an amateur dyer who was just testing out a gradient. The colour grabbed me immediately. I love anything bright and bold”
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 Courtney Moddle

 “The Ripple Bralette is such a fun and versatile pattern. I’ve made it three times now because it’s quick and is a great pattern for using up partial and half-skeins from other projects. I’ve knit mine different sizes and different lengths, with criss-cross straps and without. The stretchiness of the ribbing means that you can probably fit in a couple different sizes - I’ve made sizes M, L and XL and they all fit differently but comfortably. I like to layer mine under tops especially other knits including ones that don’t have the best coverage; since this is a bralette I don’t mind showing off. This summer I’ve been wearing it around the house as a crop top with high waisted shorts or skirts on hot days.”
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Hana Florian


"I loved knitting the Ripple Bralette for several reasons. The rhythm of the ribbing was relaxing, and with how quick a knit it is, I actually managed to complete a project within a few days. Not easy to do with my lovely toddler running around!



Wearing the Bralette has been such a joy! I love the way it gives some support while being incredibly comfortable."



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Wendy Jade Wong


“This top is incredibly comfy (the yarn has sparkles in it and you can't even feel them!) and I wore it straight to bed after I finished it off and for many hours after I got up. I haven't worn it out yet because it's seasonally inappropriate in New Zealand. The pattern is very clearly written and has some beautiful details, including a clever technique for knitting i-cord (but shh, I did my i-cord on my knitting machine).

I never would have imagined posting a picture of myself in a crop top, even when I was a teenager in the '90s. But there's something about this bralette - it looks great in every colour, every length, on every body that I've seen. It brings out confident and defiant poses in its models and I think it and Jessie Mae really have managed to create something positive in this very tumultuous time.”

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E. Caroline Walters

 “I really love the Ripple Bralette because it is everything I want from knitting; the perfect balance of repetition and brain puzzles, plus the end result is super cute and fun to style (I love layering it)! I also love that Jessie Mae designs with size inclusivity in mind. It is a joy to find a designer that creates garments that are modeled and knit by such a range of people, including my small fat self.”

Yarn: Kindred Red's Rad Sock yarn in "Oh Snap"
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Caitlin Hirschler

“As soon as I saw Jessie's Ripple Bralette, I knew I seriously had to make it! Like how does a pattern look that good on everyone's body?!?! It was an absolute blast to knit and it's still one of my favorite patterns to see on Instagram. It shows off yarn beautifully and everyone has so much fun with it!”


Yarn: Copper Boom in Woolenboon's Boon Classic
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Aleichia Jones

“I think there are times when you’re a knitter when you forget that it doesn’t have to be color work after brioche after complicated project, etc. The reason I love this pattern is one part user friendliness (I messed up the neckline and you can’t even tell) and three parts the amazing range of people who have knit it. I feel connected with every knitter who has made this pattern, and that kind of unity and solidarity around such a vibrant and vocal designer in our community is really amazing! Bonus, I feel like a BAMF in it!”

Yarn: Madelinetosh BFL Sock in Yoko (Discontinued)
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Alison Beagan

"Jessie has clearly put a lot of care into creating patterns that are versatile and flattering on everyone. The Ripple Bralette is simple in design which makes it so easy to customize to make your own, yet, still has a very sophisticated feel. I’ve made three so far and I have plans to make many more."

Yarn: Mystery yarn stash yarn
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Melissa Alexander-Loomis

"I loved knitting the Ripple Bralette so much and was so excited when I finished it I didn't let my Holter Monitor (heart monitor) get in the way. I debated over posting the picture, but I'm glad I did and I absolutely love my bralette."



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I want to thank everyone who came together to make this post happen. Thanks to all of the makers who took the time to chat with me about the process of making their Ripple Bralettes. Thank you for trusting me with this post. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and I’m sure someone was inspired by you today.


You can leave a note in the comments section on what yarns you used to knit your version of the Bralette. Also, don't forget to follow along on my Instagram account @bobbleclubhouse for your daily dose of all things fiber. Until next week, happy crafting!

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