Friday, 17 June 2016

The Little Black Bra

I guess I'm very late to the Watson bra party - I saw so many versions last summer, but I was far too busy with other sewing to have time to make a bra. I was also more interested in making a classic underwired bra, and working up to making foam-cup bras. Now, though, constantly changing bra sizes and being fed up with uncomfortable wired bras has made me crave comfy yet cute bras like the Watson.

I've always had trouble finding bras that fit, and although I finally had some in high school, I lost some weight in first year, and I've been slowly gaining it back over the course of the year. After losing all the weight, I bought a couple new bras, only to have them not fit anymore after gaining the weight back! For a while, I wore my old bras from high school, but they're old enough that the bands are super stretched out of shape.

So, some better-fitting, comfortable bras were definitely in order! Enter the Watson bra. 

This one was intended as a wearable muslin, because the fabric was a remnant that I bought on St. Hubert for $2, and I didn't have all the notions that I needed. I had the elastics for the top and bottom, but I couldn't find black strapping, or a 3-row hook and eye. 

Because of this, I modified the pattern to just pull over my head, and I made non-adjustable fabric straps. This worked pretty well, although for my next one, I'm going to try to find the proper notions!

I wasn't sure what size to make (like my last bra), since the directions are for measuring your underbust and full bust to choosing your size. I wear a 28E in my RTW bras, but measuring this way gives me a completely different size. In the end I just went with a 30D, which is the smallest band size the pattern offers, but an equivalent cup size to what I've been wearing. I'd say the fit it pretty much spot on!

To make it pullover, I cut the back pattern piece on the fold about 1" away to compensate for not having a hook and eye there.

For the straps, I made a strip 1 1/2" wide and serged the edges together with a 1/4" seam allowance to give a 1/2" strap. I made it about 30" long, but cut a good 10" off. When I attached it, I attached it to the back first, then pinned them at a good place in the front. They seem pretty solid, so I don't think they'll stretch out too much, but I think for my next one, I'll definitely get some proper strapping. These are a little bulky, especially where they attach to the cups.

Amy suggests using powernet for the band and either lining or interfacing the cradle, but I could only find beige powernet. Instead, I used a double layer of the main fabric and for the cradle, I sandwiched a single layer of powernet in between. I think this gave it the perfect stability, although it's maybe a little bulkier than ideal, and the beige powernet shows a little at the seams. I may have to get out my sharpie...

As for the rest of the construction, I followed the instructions and used a stretch stitch on my machine (a new stitch for me!) for both the seams and the topstitching. I love that there are exact widths and lengths included in the instructions for attaching the elastic, because a "medium width zigzag" means something different to everyone!

Overall, I had this bra put together in an afternoon, from cutting to finishing. It's definitely not my best sewing - you may have noticed the wonky stitching along the bottom elastic where my bobbin thread ran out and I started again. I found that the double layer of ponte folded over, plus elastic, was too bulky to nicely fit under my walking foot so I accidentally started it on a bit of an angle. I didn't really want to rip out a triple-step zigzag (backstitched) in a knit, and this was a wearable muslin anyways, so I left it. If I had known how well this would turn out I might have tried to fix it!

All in all, I LOVE this bra! It's so comfortable, and still really supportive and cute. Unfortunately the elastics that I used weren't the best quality and the edges have already started to stretch out a bit... I also could have probably stretched them more as I sewed them. For next time, though, I've ordered a ridiculous amount of elastic and lingerie elastics from Bra-Makers Supply to stock up. I should be set for another 10 or so bras...

And yes, there will definitely be more! Don't say I didn't warn you...


  1. It's lovely ! I'm glad your Watson turned out well, and I must say this is the first time I've found a sewer with the same size as me !

    1. Thank you! I guess you understand the struggle to find bras that fit, then! I love that I can make one rather than spend $100+ per bra.

  2. This feels almost where I joined you a couple of years ago! with that pretty bra you made way back when.. I have yet to pluck up the courage to make a bra, though it was done this season on Great British sewing bee.

    Good to lingerie is in!

    1. I hadn't even though about it, but it's been almost two years since then. It went by quickly! I'm glad I'm back into bra-making - it's really easier than you'd think, especially the watson since there's no underwire.

  3. Your first version is great, I'm sure you will make some more lovely versions, I've not attempted undies yet, they make me nervous but one day when I'm feeling brave. Really good hack on how to make it different.

    1. Thank you! I've already finished a second one. It's really not that hard to make a bra! It needs a little precision but it's no more difficult than making a blouse. The elastic takes some practice (mine still doesn't look great in places), but that's probably the trickiest part. The rest really is straightforward!

  4. At 30F I'm with you on the cost of RTW. Just got the Watson pattern & it says I need 30D like you. Never worn wire free bra, but encouraged by your success to think it hope it will work for me as a comfortable lounging around in summer bra.