Sometimes ya just gotta jump on the bandwagon, right?
I bought Cloth Habit’s Watson pattern shortly after it came out. Then, of course, realized that my home printer was dead out of ink, so actually making it up had to wait. (Although at one point I was seriously considering tracing the pieces off the computer screen. It’s a small pattern, you could totally do it.)
Once I did get ink, I promptly made up the bikini (panties! Yes, I come from a pantie-saying family.)
My first pair isn’t overly pretty (due entirely to my choice of elastic), but the fit was bang-on; it might be the first pair of home-made undies I haven’t wanted to lower the front on after my first go round*. The only thing I wasn’t over the moon about was the three-piece exterior construction. I know some people love this because it lets you get a really neat finish on the crotch, but I don’t love the look of the front crotch seam. Purely a matter of taste. I would have photos but my kids made fun of me for taking pictures of my underwear so I didn’t take any. Darned kids. As I said, they don’t look terribly pretty anyway, but the fit and feel is great. (Actually, they look fine on, but are kind of scrunchy when not being worn, and I don’t have a chic underwear-modelling-mannequin to demo on.)
Next up was the bra. Bralette. Softie. Whatever you call those things that look like bras but don’t have underwires. I should confess that I’m not a huge fan of this type of bra; OK, I am not a fan of bras in general, really; as a teen I refused to try one on until I could reasonably fit something that didn’t say “A” for the cup size (that was the end of high school), and then after I had kids I got annoyed again and really didn’t wear them until, well, I started sewing and discovered that a nice, padded foam-cup could shift me from needing small-bust adjustments to being bang-on in pattern-bust-sizing. So basically it was sewing that got me wearing bras again. And of course, if I have to wear it, probably sooner or later I’m going to want to try to sew it, although the bras you can easily sew are, of course, not the kind of hard-cup I usually go for. The first bra pattern I bought was the Marlborough, back in the summer, but though my trial was pretty successful, it keeps getting back-burnered. Watson, not having underwires, was a lot less scary for my first “bra” type experiment.
I will pause to voice one small complaint about sizing. Both the Watson and the Orange Lingerie Marlborough suggest that you find your cup size by taking your full-bust measurement and then subtracting your high bust measurement. I gather this works for many people.
It does not work for shit for me. My high-bust is the same or (at most) 1/2″ smaller than my full bust. Blame it on broad shoulders or well-developed pectorals or who-knows-what, but according to this method I am an AA cup. (I did, however, go with Amy’s recommended band-size based on my ribcage measurement. That worked fine.) For the cup size, I went with the one that corresponds to my “cup volume” for pretty much every storebought bra I’ve ever owned—the one that corresponds with 34B/32C/30D. Now, cup size on this bra is pretty forgiving so maybe I would’ve been just fine in a the 32AA cup, but… I’m kinda doubting it. Anyway, /endrant. If you know your cup volume, just go with that.
So I made up almost the entire bra, in the long-line view, then realized what I already knew, which was that trying to fit the long-line onto any bra hook sets that I had on hand was not going to even remotely work; with the elastic finishing I had used, my back was a full 3″ (which is about 3/4″ longer than drafted for—I was using foldover elastic to finish the band top and bottom rather than folding it behind, so I wasn’t getting rid of my seam-allowance. It’s not that I was unaware of this so much as that I liked the wider band, until I actually had to think practically about how I was going to finish it off.) So, I got me to the Bra Maker’s Supply website to order some wider bra hooks (and some other doodads while I was at it). (Also, hooray for in-Canada shipping—it got here regular mail from Ontario in three business days! I couldn’t drive the distance in much less than that.)
Happily, the 4-hook bra-back fit PERFECTLY on my band. I used Tasia’s trick of hand-basting the back bits in place before bar-tacking—genius! Flawless attachment the first time. (Yes, this is my first time attaching any kind of bra back, really.
Since materials are such a big deal when it comes to bra-making, I should probably go over them: I used a standard, fairly heavy and very stretchy cotton-lycra knit, a single layer everywhere except the front band (“cradle.” I’ll figure this bra terminology out one of these days. 😉 ). I had just enough strap elastic left from my Gertie Slip to make the straps, and as mentioned above I used a wide plushy fold-over elastic (1/2″ when finished) to finish the bottom and back of the band. For the top and cups, I used my crappy-but-quick-and-easy method: serge clear elastic on to the inside, fold over, and zig-zag. Not the prettiest, but it works and doesn’t show. For the cradle, I used a double-layer of my cotton knit, and interfaced one side with fusible knit interfacing. I made this side the inside, but in hind-sight I kinda wish I’d made it the outside; since the interfaced side has no vertical stretch, but the un-interfaced side does, the un-interfaced side tends to bubble a little bit. Something to think about next time. 🙂 I didn’t line the cups in any way and I’m a bit torn—I feel like the stretch helps the fit, but on the other hand there isn’t a lot of support or shape. Not that I need much of either, really, so perhaps that’s just me being used to hard-cup bras. But the band feels very solid with the elastic and interfacing and the industrial-grade four-hook back, while the cups feel much softer and lighter. Maybe a double-layer for the cups would’ve been the way to go.
Still, quibbling aside, it was fun to make and is pretty fun to wear. I also made Tyo try it on, and it fit her pretty well on a tighter hook—I’m actually kinda liking the idea of making her bras (especially if I can sell her on simple soft ones like this), since finding storebought ones in her (itty bitty) band-size is either tricky or very expensive.
And now, back to those men’s jeans… >_<
*I like the front low on my underwear—your mileage may vary.