Okay, I’ll have to admit that this has gotten harder than I thought it would! Fitting bras seems to be effortless for some people and I know that I can go to a store and buy a fitting bra without any problems. So why it is so hard to sew a fitting bra for myself? Over the last few month I did manage to sew some Boylston Bras. And oh, do they look nice, but the fit is rather peculiar!The underwires feel way to tight. They even leave marks after a couple of hours of wearing. But at the same time the band is so loose in the front that it gapes underneath the wires. But in the back the band sits tight as it should. Maybe even a little too tight. I really cannot explain this behavior! Maybe it is my body rebelling against bras ;D Or it is my body giving me more excuses to buy more bra sewing supplies and to solve this mystery! So, as you might have guesses, that’s what I did: buy more stuff and go on! Hahahaha!
Well, I love myself a good challenge and I refused to simply give up on this! This could not be so hard! I don’t have problems with rtw bras, plus bras are one of those seldom garments that I don’t have to alter because of my height! Or at least that was what I thought and the more I thought about whether I maybe needed to adjust the bras in length somewhere I began to realize that that is the problem with me and bra sewing: I Don’t have any idea about how a bra should fit. While everyone was watching the Bra-Fitting-Craftsy class I was having fun sewing beautiful, dress-matching bras that didn’t fir me. and so I decided to start over. I still didn’t take that class, but I did buy the Watson-Bra pattern by Cloth Habit.
I stumbled across this pattern many times. And everytime I was deterred by the price it cost. I kind of didn’t want to spend so much money on a bra pattern that didn’t include underwires. Somehow I think that a bra is only complete when it includes underwires. This obviously is non-sense and because I didn’t get any further with underwires bra sewing i decided to finally give this pattern a try!
For my first version I used supplies that I had in my stash. If this bra looks familiar to you it is because I already made 2 bras from this lace. One of them I made from a German pattern and it turned out unwearable, the second one was a Marlborough which looked nice and fit me nice at first sight but everything about it was a little too small and so the bra was too uncomfortable to wear. As I also had made about 7 panties from the lace (Yes I bought tons of it!) it seemed convenient to make another matching bra. I reused the closure and the straps that used for those two bras preceding this one!
I didn’t measure myself before picking a size. I once measured myself and came out with a 30D and I’ve sticked to that ever since. But because the Marlborough Bra was sooo tight I decided to try a 32D first and then if necessary decrease the band size.
I also didn’t follow the instructions 100 %. Btw there is also a Sew Along which could be a little more in-depth to my taste. I used the tutorial on how to sew the cups from lace.
I completely lined the bra with powermesh. The instructions says that you don’t need to line the cups, but I thought that it would feel more “secure” to line the cups. Also because of the lining I did manage to sandwich all my seam allowances between the two layers and the bra looks neat from the inside now :)
I also used the scalloped edge at the bottom of the band. I got that idea from Lauren of Lladybird, Doesn’t hear bra look simply gorgeous. In the post she explains how to sew the elastic to the lace and I followed her tips, and it worked out fine!
I found out, this time time while I was sewing the elastic that it is much easier to do a neat zigzag stitch if I use the three way zigzag stitch instead of the normal one.
I only had a closure with two hooks at home and so I altered the band to fit the width of it. After the first try on it was obvious that a wider closure would have worked way better. The wide band should give you some support, but the effect of that was lost as the width of the band decreased so drastically at the back. Also it was obvious that the band was too wide and I had some gapping underneath my arms.
This time I altered my pattern directly after noticing the fit issues. I shortened the band and I adjusted the angle of the band like it is explained in the Sew Along. And I made a second version.
All the supplies for the second trial came from Wien2002. It is really hard to find what you’re looking for in their online shop but it is worth the effort, as the prices are low and the qulity doesn’t disappoint.
I couldn’t find any matching purple powernet and so I decided to use a black one and simply use a black closure and black straps to make this looks less improvised :)
I used a three eyed closure this time and the overall fir is much better. The gaping has completely gone, only the band is still a little too loose. But I feel like I have enough support on this bra!
I think this was the first time I actually altered a bra pattern. All the times before I was too overwhelmed to see what the actual problem is. Because of the simplicity of the pattern and the very understandable and good instruction (much much better than the ones from Orange Lingerie in my mind) I was able to really improve the fit of tis bra!I
So, looking back and having gained a little experience in this field I can only recommend to beginners to start with a simple pattern! Not because the sewing of a bra is hard (it really isn’t) but because the fitting is and a complex pattern makes the whole fitting process a lot harder.
The bra really is comfortable. Now I feel kind of stupid to not have tried this pattern before. Why didn’t I start with this one? I really don’t need underwires, the support the Watson Bra gives it totally sufficient. I can also wear the bra underneath everything, because of the stable lining I don’t have to fear to reveal too much, when wearing the bra underneath a tight top. Also I started liking the more natural shape the bra provides. But, what choice do I have? I’ve already bought like 5 different laces that want to be transformed into Watsons ;)
Oh, I also made the Watson Briefs! They’re included in the pattern. I liked the way the crotch lining is installed! It allows you to hide all seam allowances on the inside. I didn’t have much lace left, so I used everything I had left over and sewed the rests to the top of the briefs. I sewed size M what referred to my hip measurements. The panties are a little too loose, so S likely would have fit me better!
That’s all I have to say to my Watson underwear, but I have something off-topic: I’ve noticed that some of you with English-sounding names followed the German version of my blog on bloglovin. I just wanted to let you know that there is an English version of the blog on bloglovin, too, you can find it here. You may find following that version instead of the German version more convenient. or not! I just wanted to let you know :)
I read the book on bramaking by Orange Lingerie before I started my first bra, and I found it really helpful in terms of ways to modify bras to fit, and not getting too frustrated about the process. Also, Clothing Engineer (https://clothingengineer.com/) has done so much intense research on bra fit and I really recommend spending a week reading her old posts on breast shape and bra shape! It’s really enlightening! But anyway I think your success on the Watson is fabulous!
Sonia, thank ypu so much! I think one reason why I got frustrated was, that I thought I was the only one having such issues with bra fitting! It’s great to hear that there are other people having the same problems and solutions to it! I will definitely read those posts! Thanks!
This is so very very lovely and exquisit!!!!!
About the tightness that you feel due to the underwires, Have you tried taking the underwires from one of the RTW bras that fits you well and putting it in the bra you made where you feel they are tight??
Everyone talks about how perfect the support of the Watson is. I would really love to give it a try as a night nursing bra… We’ll see if I have the time to get there. It’s also really cool to know that you are giving pattern alterations a try. They can be really fun! ;)
In terms of fitting and alterations, I think Beverly’s class would be really useful. Do you have her Craftsy class? In the first class (in a section close to the end) she goes through issues and alterations. It might be useful for you. They are always on sale, so you should not be paying more than $20-to $25 USD for it.
Thanks Mon! :) For the comment and for the tip! I have avoided that class, I don’t know, something about online classes doesn’t exactly scream “fun” at me, but if you recommend I might be giving it a try! I haven’t tried putting rtw underwires into the bras, I will try that!
I wouldn’t say the support is perfect, but it is stunningly good for a bra without underwires, I totally think you should try it, if you find the time :)
Yay! Congrats on a wearable bra. I am looking forward to giving the Watson bra another try soon. And love your colorful laces!
Your bra-making journey is interesting to read about because some of us have thought bras are so fundamental, there could not be much to individual fitting…. and are so wrong! A few years ago I met with a professional bra fitter at one of our department stores, and was amazed and what all went into measuring and fitting for a bra! And all those years I just thought grab a size and go. Someday I’d like to add bra-making to the list, but for now am enjoying learning about the process. Yours are beautiful! and sounds like they are as comfortable, and functional as they are pretty. :)
I’m still in that phase were I cannot believe that this should be so much work :D I still think deep inside that bra fitting should be easy! So thanks for sharing your story and convincing me a little more, that bra fitting is hard! :)
Such pretty coloured fabrics! You are getting really good at lingerie making now!
These look absolutely beautiful, though I agree with you, of course looks should come after a good fit! I think maybe if your underwires are digging into you, then they are the wrong size, too small, and maybe not the bra itself. However, the watson is a good little pattern, I like it too, and have made some nice and comfy bras from it. I do find they tend to ride up if there’s no elastic along the bottom edge, so that’s a good thing to add, even if your elastic seems to have a lot of elasticity all by itself, it doesn’t hurt to have that bit extra :)
This looks so great. I keep coming across this pattern but haven’t taken the plunge. I can never find a good fit in bought bras and maybe it’s because I have a long body and I also don’t tolerate some fabrics tightly against my skin so I definitely need to try this pattern. I generally prefer no underwire but the fit has to be right to make it supportive.
then you should totally try it. I think bra making can be frustrating, but I think part of that comes from my knowledge that I can actually buy fitting bras without problems. I am much more motivated to sew other things that I really cannot buy. So you have the motivation and I think that’s all you need!