For my February project at Fabricland I took out a double project of lingerie: the plan was for one Watson set and one Marlborough (ulp!) + underwear to be determined set (ended up being another Watson bikini, because why mess with perfection? ;) ).
This was prompted mainly by timing—it’s a season where they don’t really want you to take out projects in last fall’s fabrics, but we didn’t have much in for the spring fabrics yet—so the selection is limited to the “regular”, non-seasonal stock. This lack of options made me finally buckle down and get around to doing something I’ve been procrastinating at for years now. A lingerie project.
My fabrics of choice were from the bridal section, stretch mesh and non-stretch lace, and the main inspiration: some really gorgeous ruched elastic they carry at a ridiculously inflated price, that only comes in these stupid little one-yard packages. Way too annoying to spend my own money on—perfect for a project. Part of the problem with sewing bras based on Fabricland stock is that things are a little hit and miss—the strap elastic doesn’t match the band elastic, there’s underwires but only one style and there’s no actual power mesh. So in many ways these projects feel very ad hoc. However, having done this I’m feeling a bit more comfortable with that—it’s not like I have significant support needs requiring industrial materials.
I started with the familiar; I’ve made the Watson set before, so you’d think it would’ve been a breeze. Well, blame passing time or being still sick, but I managed some pretty good stuff ups, despite the previous experience. The stretch mesh I was using for the back band has a LOT of stretch, so I downsized the band. And the first version of the cradle I cut out, I didn’t realize that apparently a large corner had torn off the pattern piece. So I had to recut all that (in three layers), after I had basted everything together and then realized my cradle didn’t match up with my band piece. D’oh.
Then, when applying the elastic to the panties, I used too much elastic on the first leg, leaving me short for the second leg (remembering my elastic all came in 1 yard packages)—so the elastic for the second leg is significantly tighter. Either looks fine, though I suspect they will feel a bit weird on, but the bikinis look rather weirdly lop-sided. Bleh. The project must hang. ;) one thing that did work out was adding a panel of my lace to the front of the bikini—this turned out super cute. I basically just traced off the front pattern piece, sliced where I wanted my panel to end, and added seam allowances.
Once I recut the cradle, the construction of the bralet wasn’t bad, but a couple of things bit me in the ass. First was my decision to downsize the band. BAD idea. Especially when I had also decided to double the mesh in the band. Too tight. Way too tight.
My biggest problem with my first two Watson bralets is that the wide long-line bands don’t stay in place. My ribcage flares at the bottom, and they just wriggle their way up. So to try to ameliorate that for this one, I added boning channels (with some scraps of my fancy elastic) over the side-seams. This seems a bit overkill for what’s supposed to be a soft bra, but if it works, it works, right? Mind you the jury is still out on it working. Because:
When the great try-on moment came, it became clear that the cup size that fits me in a cotton spandex jersey, does not fit me very well in a non-stretch lace. Lots of cutting in. Pouting, I got Tyo to try it on, since her bra size is about one cup letter smaller than mine these days. Yup, great fit. But, it’s a sweet off-white lacy bralet with rosettes… Not really her style. At all. Syo, on the other hand, seems to like it. Oh, and it fits her, too. So I think it will have a home. Maybe. Both my kids, like me, are foam cup types, so I’m actually not sure anything else will get worn.
And then, with the warmup done, it was time. Marlborough time. A scroll back through Instagram informs me that I muslined this pattern a mere 76 weeks ago! Yikes. At that time I was pretty impressed with the fit, which seemed to need only a minor tweak to the side seam. But in the meantime plenty of sewing anxiety had set in, and I stalled and faffed over not having the right notions and wrang my hands about what colour my first bra should be and generally just avoided the problem. So really, taking this out as a project with a deadline, was pretty much perfect for cutting through all that avoidance.
And now, having done it up, I’m not quite sure what I was so nervous about. Yeah, there are lots of little pieces and I wish there were maybe a few more notches to help keep track of which way the pieces fit together, but I love sewing with 1/4″ seam allowances, and by hopping back and forth between my 1/4″ foot and my edge stitch/stitch in the ditch foot the sewing itself was pretty slick. And the Instagram peeps were there to hold my hand while I panicked over my half-ass channeling, arguably the scariest part of the whole process.
For this set I layered the stretch mesh and non-stretch lace over a thin grey poly spandex knit. I kinda wish the grey showed more, actually, and maybe that I had used mesh over the power bar rather than lace, so it would show more. And maybe stretch more.
Because the biggest problem, again, is that the non-stretch lace is less forgiving than the stable-but-with-some-give earlier version. The power bar—the vertical piece at the side of the bra—actually kinda cuts in at the seam to the other pieces, not a nice look, though also not evident in the pictures, so it probably isn’t as bad as I think it is. And the shape is more pointed in the lace than it was in my scuba first version. Not a bad shape, but a little different.
For my own information, I’m going to add that the underwire I’m using is about two sizes larger than the “right” underwire for this size. This means it’s wide enough not to cut in at the side of my breast, which is one of my biggest complaints with store bought bras. I also had to shorten them significantly on the cleavage side to fit this pattern, which is fine if you have the tools for that but less fine otherwise.
At the end of the day, though, the biggest issue, which has nothing to do with the pattern or fit itself. This is a soft cup bra. I’m a foam padding & push-up girl, if I’m going to actually wear a bra. The last time I wore a soft cup bra was over a decade ago. In particular, the right padded bras mean I don’t need to worry about small bust adjustments in my sewing. So that, more than anything else, might be what keeps me from using this bra much. But I am curious. It wouldn’t be the first time sewing has coaxed me to experiment outside my comfort zone.