Go Braless, Be Modest, Get Comfy
Or How I Invented Ttime Flatwear
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.

But 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.

So 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!

My 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 China.

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!

Then my 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: ttimeflatwear.com.

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!

I 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.”



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