Article

BLACK LACE WATSON BRA


Black lace Watson bra-8

My bra game is depressing and tired right now. While I basically only wear me-made lingerie (with the exception of a few soft tank bras I bought for being loose and free around the house), almost everything is on its last legs, stretched out and decomposing in one way or another. The sad truth is that even the most carefully constructed handmade garments will fall apart on you if you wear them often enough.

I knew it was time for an update when G. saw my galaxy print number for the 10000th time, scrunched up his face and said “Is that the only bra you wear anymore?” (French honesty is an actual quantifiable thing with its own mass and volume; it should be a periodic element). It’s true that my poor Watson bras have seen better days, and have probably been in rotation a little too frequently. The fabric is not snapping back like it used to, the elastic is worn and beleaguered, and as a result, the support is just not what it once was. Nothing is sadder than sad boobs in a sad, stretched out bra. It was time to get to work.

Black lace Watson bra-2

Black lace Watson bra-9

Black lace Watson bra-6

For this version I modified the pattern and shortened the band slightly, perhaps a half inch; I prefer it to end a little higher on my rib cage since it often ends up there anyway after a full day of wear. I haven’t bought any new bra making supplies in a good long while, so I dug through my lingerie box to see what I could come up with and settled on this 2-way stretch lace. Most stretch laces I’ve encountered are complete garbage and start spitting out elastic threads pretty quickly, but this stuff felt stable and well made.  I also settled on using a coordinating set of purple elastic from my stash, plastic purple sliders I had salvaged from an older bra, and some standard black strap elastic. The back band is the same power mesh I’ve used in almost every bra I’ve ever made. If the palette looks familiar it’s because it’s the direct inverse from this purple mesh and black trim version I made as an informal tester for the pattern. I’ve also made a purple and black bra here. I’m only noticing this trend now and I have no logical explanation; apparently the ladies love purple even if I don’t wear it anywhere else.

Black-lace-Watson-bra-construction-details

Black lace Watson bra-3

This was the first time I experimented with the 3-step zig zag stitch on my machine and I will admit, I am a complete convert. I love how stretchy and stable it is! Otherwise, construction was pretty typical; I lined the cradle with my typical lining and assembled it within a few hours.

The joys of making your own clothes: of course, this bra is MUCH too small. Because the lace only stretches in one direction, it has absolutely no give along the cradle horizontally, which means the first time I put it on I was practically in tears an hour later; the pattern clearly calls for 4-way stretch fabric for a reason. In hindsight, lengthening the band by a few centimeters would have fixed the problem, but i’ve made so many of these I just assumed it would be fine (how many times must I learn to baste fit, I will never know!) I actually LOVE the fit in the cups though – the 2 way stretch gives a lot more support, and despite the too tight band I think this is the most supportive Watson I’ve ever made.

Even though it’s a little too small, I’ve been stubbornly wearing it anyway because I think it’s flattering and sexy without being like, a super plunging push up bra (I kind of can’t believe how often I use to wear those… total natural shape convert over here. Let’s start a hashtag revolution: #thisistherealshapeofmyboobs). Unfortunately, my ribcage has taken its toll; the zig zag stitch I used on my first pass of band elastic has started to break and come undone, although that wonderful triple zig zag stitch is holding strong.

Black lace Watson bra-11

Black lace Watson bra-10

And a confession: if you’re wondering why I don’t make cute matching undies to go with any of my bras it’s because… I hate sewing underwear. Seriously. Probably my least favourite thing to make ever, for a few reasons. One: I cannot have anything resembling elastic on my cheek area or my bountiful bottom will create VPL so intense it will show through solid steel. Two: VPL from hell means I can only do stretch lace elastic finishes around the bum, which is quite possibly the most annoying, fiddly thing I’ve ever tried to sew. Every pair of handmade lace trimmed knickers I’ve ever made has completely fallen apart. It’s incredibly dispiriting. So, I basically just stick to tried and true lady part friendly modal undies from Soma, which never match my handmade bras but are comfy as hell. Hot tip: if you have a big butt, Embraceable undies from Soma are the absolute best. PSA out. 

Underwear aside, I’ve definitely caught the lingerie bug again and have been keeping my eyes peeled for fun new bra fabrics, along with over-populating my Pinterest lingerie board with daily doses of underneath-it-all-goodness. Have you been making bras lately? Anyone else hate sewing underwear? Any advice to get me back on the horse?

  • So pretty! Maybe you just need a little bra extender… either sew together some hook and eyes, if you have another set around, or harvest from an old RTW bra? It’ll make life more comfortable!
    I’ve been on a bra kick this winter, and I’m enjoying it… though I have to admit, sitting down to 5 hours of bra making is not nearly as fun as whipping together a knit dress! (Oh, speaking of which, I’m obsessed with sewing a million Sallie jumpsuits this year. Guess it takes my brain a year to accept trends, so next year I’ll be wanting flares… 🙂

    • YES TO A MILLION SALLIES! Super stoked to pull those out once it gets warm. SOOOOO over leggings. (They’re all too long to wear when the streets are this disgusting). ALso super jealous of your custom bra pattern!

  • Oh this is gorgeous, but it’s a bummer that it doesn’t fit. And I totally agree about the undies – I’ve tried a few patterns and they just don’t compare to the seamless (and VPL-less) ones I buy. Sometimes I wonder why I bother and I think it’s just because I love a matching set, even if I don’t wear them together.

    • The matching set is so pretty! And makes for such pretty blog photos! Maybe I just need to fi d my TNT pattern…

  • Perhaps I was doing something wrong, but my understanding was that the cradle on Watson wasn’t intended to stretch. I’ve been lining mine with tricot from Blackbird Fabrics with the small amount of stretch vertical (and then a band which can stretch a bit).

    Still, too bad it doesn’t fit. That is one beautiful bra.

    • It doesn’t stretch much but it does have a little give with a 4 way. There is absolutely zero with a 2 way. It’s crazy how much more flexible my 4way cradle is than this one….

  • I used to feel the same about undie sewing but then I started making them without elastic around the legs. I just turn the raw edge and zig zag. With fabric that has good stretch recovery, my big bum fills out the legs without any gaping and I don’t have epic VPL. I use the Jalie 2568 hipster pattern if you’re interested.

    • This is how my favourite mass market undies used to be made before they discontinued them… something to try!

  • JD

    I actually love stretch lace undie finishes because I feel like it hides a lot of my questionable construction (undies were one of the first projects I attempted when I started sewing). I use the Ladyshort pattern and just adore it. I also use the Jalie 2568 hipster pattern for my daughter and finish it with stretch lace instead of whatever it actually calls for. So cute!

    Bras on the other hand…I tried one Watson and it was such a fitting disaster that I haven’t gone back to try again.

    • Sorry to hear about your Watson experience! Maybe try emailing Amy for help?

      As for the Lady Shorts… I’ve sewn many of these as well but I find stretch lace so hard to sew well. All of it comes undone at some point or another, aor there will be weird places where the stitches didn’t hold. SO annoying!

  • Kathryn

    I also hate the vpl created by elastics so you may want to try the Montgomery brief by orange lingerie. It’s a clever patter construction where you just have folded mesh on the back area and elastic on the top band and front legs. I am really happy with the end result as I like having matching knickers. I do still enjoy my bought modal underwear as they are super comfortable.

    • I just checked it out – fascinating construction! Is power mesh the same as power net? I think two layers of power net would be a crazy choice for undies! If it’s mesh I may have something in my stash…. thanks for the tip!

      • Kathryn

        i *think* they are the same thing. I’ve used Spandex World mesh which is very stretchy and lightweight for making the briefs and also for back bra band (I wear a small cup so don’t need the support of a heavier/less stretchy powernet) http://spandexworld.com/c3/catalog/browse/26

  • drPmakes.wordpress.com

    I’ve made fab low leg pants using your bombshell pattern as a starting point…just add gusset. No cheek division, no vpl, no fiddly nonsense

    • Awesome idea! I’ll have to try that…..

  • No, just no. Never ever will I do it. For one buying any kind of needed materials is a PAIN IN THE ASS over here. There are heeps of gorgeous lace but no elastic. We will not even complain how the only hooks available are black and white. Secondly – cheesus are those pieces small! I might sew some underpants if I ever learn to know a person who owns or works with a lazer cutter…
    Not for me. But I do admire people who can commit to it and DO IT!

    • It’s strangely satisfying to cute and sew in such a smalls cale but you’re also talking to someone obsessed with dollhouses and miniature furniture so….

  • I’m with you 100% that I hate sewing undies! Nope, never doing it. I’ve tried a bunch of patterns and I just really prefer the modal seamless ones I can buy! It’s the one thing I hit the mall for. As for other patterns, I’m sure you’ve seen them, but I like all the bra patterns and the romper/nightie ones too from Ohhh Lulu. Super adorbs!!!

    • Yeah, she has super cute patterns! I may have to try a soft bra from her at some point and give Watson a break…..

      • Francesca Amodeo

        Don’t. The sizing on her bra patterns is all over the place.

  • Anya Tsinko

    It’s absolutely gorgeous! I love the purple trim 🙂 It sucks that it turned out too tight! I hate when it happens. I also do wear them anyways hoping that it will stretch or I will magically fit into it one day. I am still trying to decide if I lie sewing underwear… I don’t think I mind it, but I do mind the endless elastic I need to put on it! Boring.

  • sallieforrer

    Yeah, I think I hate sewing undies AND bras. Time to get real with myself here. I keep saying I’m going to get my act together and start sewing lingerie but… naaaahhhh. There’s too many pretty clothes to make that I can actually wear out in public and get fawned over (total show pony over here) that underwear will ALWAYS take a back seat! But I love living vicariously through all you bra making masters, so keep it up!! This is so SO pretty! Sad about the band being a bit restrictive, but I somewhat sense that this misstep might lead you to making the best fitting Watson bra for you. Like, wouldn’t it make sense to make your next watson out of 2 way stretch but lengthen the band to accommodate? Then you get the cup support you love, but without the ribcage squeezing you don’t!

    • I’ve totally caught the lingerie bug again… but ONLY bras, haha. It’s very satisfying sewing if you’re super detail oriented and it’s so fun to make these exquisite little beauties that only you and a special someone get to see. But yeah, I get just wanting to make clothes too… I still remember your pink bra kit bra. I can see why that fabric wasn’t appealing enough to get you back on the horse 😉

  • Catherine

    I am in the same situation, most of my me made underwear are more than a year old and getting frumpy. So I started thinking about 2 weeks ago that I should make some more! I think I might try a the Boylston pattern by Orange Lingerie and probably making a few Watson because I just wear my Watsons all the time.

    On an other note I just got around to taking some (not so good) picture of my Clare coat I finished last December! https://goo.gl/photos/4QyTGUr3kwu5QAK78

    • Fabulous! Love the grey – so chic. I hope you get a TON of wear out of her!

      Gah. nothing worse than frumpy underwear. We gotta fix it!

  • The state of my undies situ is exactly the same, and i can’t even bring myself to sew bras never mind pants – I find it so boring and fiddly! I’ve got all the stuff, just no motivation to get started…

    • Sewing pants = me, asleep. Hilarious that we can wear the most beautiful handmade outfits with the most boring underwear imaginable underneath!

  • I thing I find most frustrating and unmotivating is how hard it is to find decent quality lingerie sewing supplies in Australia. I recently bought a couple of bra kits from Sydney based measure twice cut once which are brilliant – excellent quality but it’s the only place I’ve found locally (if you call Sydney local to Perth!). Now to choose a pattern…

    • Must be so frustrating! I always have a hard time finding sources for more obscure notions in Oz. There is a great business opportunity there for the right person!

    • Hi Natalie; there are actually plenty of good lingerie supplies in Perth; I’ve found great bra haberdashery at Homecraft Textiles, and Fab Fabrics and Spotlight have the fabrics and some good elastics too. If you want to make an underwired bra with foam lining it’s best to get those two things online, I use makeBra, but you won’t need either of those for the Watson 🙂

      • Thanks Carolyn! I went to Homecraft last year and found a few stretch laces but the colours weren’t very nice. I’ve never had much luck at Spotlight – found some black tricot once – but haven’t checked Fabulous Fabrics so will have another look there. I might even brave Homecraft again before the sale finishes! 😉 Def happy with the kits I bought from Susan though.

  • Staci Carpenter

    Beautiful job! Simply sexy and not too understated 🙂 I’ve purchased some really great bra kits from Erin at The Emerald Studio on Etsy. Beautiful lace kits as well as several stretch and non-stretch colors. She also includes a set of underwires free with the kit. She sells individual materials as well. And she’s located in Canada 🙂

    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheEmeraldStudio?ref=l2-shopheader-name

    Erin also makes custom lingerie. Check out her blog at http://emeralderin.blogspot.com/

    • I just found her blog! Love her. She mad ea sheet black tulle bra that is one of the hands down sexiest things I’ve EVER seen!

      • Staci Carpenter

        That’s the exact bra that inspired me to order her fabric! It’s devine!!!

  • Wow, this is really beautiful! I’ve been dying to learn how to do lingerie and I think after I make these ginger jeans- it’ll be onto this! I’m not an under wire girl so I’ve been wanting to make a bra without an underwire that fits me perfectly for ages. Really pretty lady 🙂

    • Thanks Michelle! I highly suggest this pattern for a first bra…

  • So pretty! I recently made a soft bra as well and grudgingly wore it a few times, even though it would be dangerous to wear under just one layer.

  • I definitely want to try my hand at making my own underwear. I have made the Pneuma sports bra by Papercut Patterns (lined and padded) which is so incredibly comfortable I wear it all the time. These look lovely, I’ll have to try the Watson out 🙂

    • It’s a GREAT first bra pattern since there is no channelling to worry about….

  • Francesca Amodeo

    This is gorgeous! Such a bummer that it doesn’t fit right. I’m the opposite to you – I have invested in loads of bra supplies, muslinned a bunch of different patterns, and never gone all the way (ahem)…. Knickers, now – well, every time I cut out anything from a fine jersey or a fine cotton – lawn batiste whatever – or silk – I cut out knickers at the same time. Then when i have a few ready I get out my bag of elastics and whip them all up. I love wearing Tana lawn panties in summer – and the bikini pattern that has become my TNT is from Katherine Sheer’s book – secrets of sewing lingerie – she also gives it as a free download on her site. I have a couple of TNTs for knit fabrics – I use ohlulu’s Ava for vintage high waists, her panelled one for mixing fabrics and laces, and a highlegged highwaisted pattern from Jan Bones also, depending on the fabric and how much there is:). Oh, and a recent love is the DL21 pattern from Make Bra, it has only got two seams – in front – and is so comfy. I’ve used fine linen knit and silk jersey tees to make knickers too – besides upcycling old cute cotton tees. The silk fabric and knit ones are brilliant under clingy clothes in summer to avoid the cling effect. I love opening my drawer and choosing between pretty floral – cute cartooney – bright printed silks – lace embellished:)….

  • Becky

    Ordered some Soma undies! I’ve seen my whole life but never made a bra. Would you recommend getting a kit for the Watson? All the little fiddly parts mystify me. I’m a very confident sewist so I’m a little embarrassed to admit that! ?

    • Enjoy! They’re my favourite – I always stock up when they have sales. And kits are great – takes all the guesswork out! I’d try Emerald Erin or Blackbird Fabrics@

  • DIY Wardrobe

    When people post about sewing underwear my reaction is always the same. ‘That’s gorgeous. What an exciting idea. How clever! But I don’t want to try it myself…’ I guess I got into sewing because I couldn’t find clothes I liked that fit – and that’s not a problem I’ve ever really had with underwear (good old M&S here in the UK). Pyjamas, jeans and coats however – count me in!

  • Well, it’s beautiful!! too beautiful not to wear… have you thought of getting (or making) a bra extender? it’s a short strip of elastic with hook and eye tape on each end, which join onto your bra hook and eye, and would give you a bit more breathing space.
    I really enjoy making lingerie; I agree the undies are a bit boring to make but they whip up pretty quick and I LOVE having matching sets more than I loathe making them 🙂

  • I’m thinking this might be the year that I finally try bra making. Yours look awesome!!

  • Margo Bergman

    Very nice! I like that you shortened the band. Great idea. I would likely do the same if I ever get around to sewing bras…one of these days!

  • This looks really pretty, too bad it’s too tight! I love the 3-step zig zag too. I wish there were more things I could use it on!

  • I’ve switched to the shorter band too on watsons too…did you try clear elastic on panties in lieu of lingerie elastic? And the Geneva panties (Seamwork) actually sit so the elastic is under the curve of my rear. Try?

  • Kathryn

    I have a question about how this looks under shirts/tops. I wanted to know if it shows any lines or bumps where the seam is on shirts/tops when waring the bra underneath? I have been wanting to make a bra, but am somewhat apprehensive about it because of this reason. BTW all the bras you make are awesome looking! Hence why I want to start making my own. Thanks for taking the time to read this!