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.)


Watson bra: closeup with elastic and cup seams.


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.



Emergency mail rescue!

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.)

Why do I keep making stuff in black?

Why do I keep making stuff in black?

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.



Filed under Sewing

19 responses to “Watson!

  1. I never found that method of bra sizing to work either, especially after children when I seem to need a wider wire but have no volume.

    I like this site for bra sizing

    It looks like you are on a winner with this pattern

    • I definitely need a wider wire than is standard for my “volume”—-I bought a couple of different ones on sale a while back to test-fit and the one that actually fits around the base of my breast is allegedly made for cups two sizes larger. Note—when I muslined the Marlborough last summer, I used these larger wires in the cups that matched my volume, and didn’t have any issues except a really great-fitting muslin… now if only it fits so well when it’s actually made! 😉

  2. I don’t get that method for sizing either! It’s really put me off, though I especially like both the Watson and the Marlborough. Maybe it’s a post-kid thing. I have decreased volume, but still need the width of a larger than A wire. Need to explore this more… Anyways, your first go at the Watson looks great!

    • Yeah, as I said to Katherine I am definitely in the need-a-wider-wire camp—I think it was like this even pre-children (not that I can remember that far back 😉 ) I just wasn’t paying as much attention because I often didn’t wear bras. And I refused to try on the A cups so I didn’t notice as much (though the B-cups were often too large… 😉 Because the cups of the Watson are all soft the width wasn’t an issue, though the seam does curve a bit more narrowly than the bottom of my breast does.

      Going with the recommended band-size and then your standard cup/volume for that band size seems to work fine, though.

  3. Wow. I have been flipping back and forth between Watson and Marlborough, and your review is insanely, deeply helpful: you read my mind. As a small cup, broad backed gal, the ‘volume’ thinking is spot on. I kneel in gratitude.

    • Wow, glad you found it so helpful! I must admit the bra patterns make the stupidity of the whole cup-size-changing-with-band-size scheme ever so much more obvious and annoying. The Marlborough pattern is eighty pages long (although you only need to print two pages for any given size, and she has very clear instructions on which one to print, as does Amy with the Watson)—but SO many of them are the exact same piece just with a different label to go with a different band-size.

  4. Bra sizing is crazy. In sewing patterns, in notions and in RTW. I’ve blogged about it a couple of times last year. It took me three tries to find the right underwires. The lesson here: Measure the length of the wire and its diameter on a well-fitting bra you already own (balconets or strapless bras are best for this because those have a full cup, just like most bra patterns. All other RTW bras tend to use plunge wires) and then order your underwires from a place which tells you both of those measurements and has wires which match your needs. The wire size won’t necessarily look familiar. The wires I use are labeled D and I’ve only ever worn a 34B….
    Oh, and I normally use non-stretch net (applied like interlining) to reinforce the cradle of a bra. Stability without bulk.

    Your bra looks pretty good. However, I have to say the names of these new popular bra patterns seem a bit odd to me. They make me think cigarettes and Sherlock Holmes…

    • This is a great idea—the only problem is I’ve never had a bra that actually had wide-enough underwires. And yeah, now I’ve figured out the size I want from one place I’m scared to try anywhere else. 😉

      HA about the names! I don’t know about the Marlborough naming, but I THINK the Watson was named for Lucy Liu’s take on that character in Elementary… 🙂

  5. This is fantastic. I wish they went up to my cup size so I could make one, too.

  6. I will never make a bra. I am all-padding all-the-time. I can totally see this as a bathing suit too though. It’s very flattering on you. Happy New Year!

    • Well, there are foam cups and foam-cup bra patterns out there… I was ogling some the other night… 😉 But yeah, I can definitely see it not being for everyone. I dunno, I’m a sucker for a challenge (or maybe just a bandwagon. 😉 )

  7. Thanks for this post! My youngest is not quite into the RTW super padded push-up underwire crap that’s available for tweens (UGH), and this pattern looks perfect for her. Interesting about the sizing, too. I made a Cambie for her and wrestled with the fit through the bust because she measures a standard B cup, but she ain’t shaped like a B and the dress needed an FBA for some weird reason. Your thoughts on the cup/band sizing are helpful.

  8. I just bought this pattern, and then went on etsy to buy a bunch of stretch lace. Aha, I have no idea if this pattern will hold up my ladies for everyday public use, but I’ve been wanting to find a pattern for house bras – something comfortable and less restricting (but still supportive enough) for lounging at home. I’m hoping this is it. It sure looks comfortable! Thanks for the review (and actually posting an on-body picture – brave woman!).

  9. Sigrid

    Looks awesome in a comfy yet smoldering way. This might be the project that makes me drag my machine out of hibernation.

  10. Heather (Thing I Make, Plus Rocks)

    Ack, sorry to stalk your bra-post, but I’m trying to work out my sizing and I remembered that you’d discussed it. I’m having the opposite problem: I usually wear a 36D and according to my ribcage and full-bust measurements, I should be picking the 36H! That seems…excessive. I don’t have wide shoulders though, and have quite a bit of volume, so I’m thinking of just going with Watson’s sizing for this first version.

    I really like how the front edges of your cups turned out (and boy did I feel skeevy staring at them, trying to see how it turned out with the clear elastic – aha sorry!). I think you got a really good fit on yours, or so it looks anyways. Which means now I’m flopping back to using the D sizing…argh! WHY YOU SO HARD, BRAS?!

    • I would say try her sizing for your first version? Do you have the same issue with high-bust sizing or does it work for you? I suspect if you try out the H verson and it’s too big you could take it in at the princess seam? Hmm, not being a lot of help here.

      The clear-elastic edge isn’t hard to do, though it isn’t very pretty. I serged the elastic on (though zig-zag is probably beter) to the inside, then folded to the inside (so the clear elastic is covered) and zig-zagged again. Take a bit of time to play with the tension on it and you should be fine.

  11. Pingback: Maternity sewing alert! | Tanit-Isis Sews

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