Completed: The Watson Bra & Bikini Set

19 Jan

Hey look! I made another bra! And matching undies!!

Watson Bra

I’m loving my Marlborough bras so so much (yes, plural. I actually have two now, but I’ll save #2 for another post – this post is all about Watson), but I was really intrigued by the new Watson Bra pattern from Cloth Habit. Instead of a low movement fabric, this baby is sewn up in a fabric with lots of stretch. The cups are higher and more modest and there is no underwire. What really got my attention was the longline option, as well as the included bikini bottom pattern. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Watson Bra

Since I’m still pretty new to this whole new world of lingerie, I let the pattern hold my hand when choosing a size and following the instructions. I measured to a 30D (to recap, in case there is anyone new here, I usually wear a 28DD), which fits pretty spot-on. Which is good, because other than hold the little cups up to my boobs while I was sewing them – I wasn’t able to actually try the thing on until I was completely finished with it. Talk about a bummer if that hadn’t worked out! Thankfully, the fit is pretty good. One cup has a tiny bit of sideboob action going on – but that breast is also slightly bigger, so I’m at the point now where I’m trying to decide if it’s worth tweaking the fit for a really custom bra. I’m pretty happy with the fit of the band – it’s nice and tight, like I like it, but it’s also very comfortable.

Watson Bra

The pattern has you cut the cups and cradle in a stretch fabric, the band in power mesh, and then the cradle is lined with a non-stretch to stabilize. Lining that section was obviously a little difficult for me – and I ended up getting quite a few folds as a result. Wah. For my next make, I am going to try fusing my stabilizer to see if that helps. It’s not the end of the world with these folds – but of course I’m always looking to improve.

Watson Bra

The bra includes standard bra hardware – hooks and eyes, adjustable straps, and decorative elastic. I do like that about the pattern, because it makes it look a lot less like some kind of soft training bra that a pre-teen would wear, and more like… a cute bra without underwires, I guess.

Watson Bra

Because of the needed stretch fabric, this bra doesn’t require the same sort of fitting that a structured bra would command (such as the Marlborough). It’s very soft and forgiving. The pattern is rated as being pretty easy and a great way to introduce beginners to bra-making. That being said – while I didn’t find the bra necessarily difficult to make, I do think that the Marlborough was easier to sew! Mostly because that lycra was stretching and sliding all over the place, and getting the cups in just so required quite a bit of precision. Still, it only took me a couple of hours to make, so that should count for something.

The instructions are pretty good! I might be biased – because I’ve already made two bras, I have my copy of Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction on stand-by, and I’ve had enough bra-making conversations to know at least a little of what I’m talking about – but I found them very easy to follow along with. One part that was missing was determining strap length, but it’s my understanding that the pattern was updated with directions on how to do this (I personally just cut two 18″ straps. Worked perfectly! They are adjustable, after all). There were a few minor parts of the pattern that I changed based on preference – such as trimming the excess fabric before topstitching the elastic to the wrong side – but what’s included with the pattern is great as-is. There’s a lot of helpful info for choosing fabrics and trims, and tips for stitch settings when choosing your zigzag stitch. Also, there is currently an entire Watson Bra sewalong happening at Cloth Habit right now, so there’s that if you need even MORE hand-holding!

Watson Bra

Here’s an inside shot. As you can see, I did not finish my seams – just left ’em raw. It seems to work fine for my other bras, anyway. In the future, I’d love to learn how to properly finish my seams – or even line the whole thing – but I really want to nail down fit and technique before I start going too far down the deep end.

Watson Bra

Watson Bra

Rather than try to source all the materials and notions myself, I decided to splurge on a Watson kit from Blackbird Fabrics. The kit includes everything you need – 4 way stretch lycra, matching powermesh, elastics and trims, metal strap rings and sliders (stupidly, that was my favorite part haha. THEY LOOK SO GOOD), even the aforementioned cradle stabilizer and cotton knit for the crotch lining (for the undies, obviously). There’s enough in the kit to make both the bra and the matching bikini, and you can choose if you want a kit for the standard band or the longline. Since my boobs run on the small side, I’d reckon I could probably make 2 or even 3 bras with how much fabric I have left over (and maybe even a little bit of trim!). This color set is sapphire blue with black trims – and it’s soo beautiful! I can’t wait to see what other color combos Caroline comes up with.

Watson Bra

Watson Bra

Here’s the matching underwear – sorry it looks so unimpressive haha. I cut the XS based on my hip measurement (I was very apprehensive about this, as I normally wear a small), and the fit is pretty good. I think the butt area needs… something. Maybe I didn’t stretch the elastic enough. I feel like it makes my butt look flat, but Landon tells me I’m being ridiculous. Either way, they’re pretty comfy. I wore them all day yesterday and didn’t get a wedgie, which is awesome haha.

Since these posts are somewhat useless to me without a live model wearing the goods (if you want THAT, go holler at Heather Lou), here’s another floating bra photo for your consideration:

Watson Bra

For a non-underwired bra, it’s surprisingly supportive! I also wore this all day yesterday (with the matching bikini, bc, duh), and it’s really really comfortable. Way more comfortable than those Bambi bras I made. And it’s REALLY cute on – I am thinking that with a couple minor tweaks to the strapping and back hook, this would make a fabulous bathing suit pattern. I just need to figure out how to stabilize that cradle – it has to stay rigid, and I think the stuff I’m using isn’t really water-friendly (and definitely wouldn’t hold up in chlorine or salt water). Any suggestions or ideas?

Also, it’s not lost on me that I would consider making a bathing suit from this pattern, but can’t bear to show my skin with the bra in this blog post. Oh well.

Watson Bra

Watson Bra

Bra making is SO MUCH FUN, you guys! Good thing that happens to be a hole in my wardrobe, because I really love making them and I definitely want to do more! I’m really looking forward to the Bra Making Workshop in Philly next weekend – I have sooo much to learn, and I know Maddie is going to be an amazing teacher!

46 Responses to “Completed: The Watson Bra & Bikini Set”

  1. Emerald Erin January 19, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    Love the colour of your Watson! I think it would make a great swim suit too! You could always use channeling or some type of stay-tape to cover the cradle seam and that would finish/stabilize it. I also wanted to mention that I’m doing a Bra-A-Week challenge over on my blog and you’re welcome to send in pictures of your Watson! πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

      I need something to stabilize the entire cradle piece, so it would need be to some sort of fabric. But that’s a good tip and worth experimenting! Also, yay for weekly bras! πŸ˜€

      • Emerald Erin January 24, 2015 at 9:41 am #

        A good fabric to stabilize the whole cradle would be 15 denier or sheer cup lining. They won’t add any bulk, because they are both very sheer low-stretch knits and won’t fray. If you don’t care about bulk you could use something thicker or heavier like duoplex underneath – a heavier weight non- stretch knit πŸ™‚ That’s what I like to use to stabilize all of my bra bands.

  2. Kelly January 19, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    Gah, this is gorgeous! I have been eyeing up this kit on Caroline’s shop, I have a friend going to Canada next week, am wondering if she’d mind if I got it shipped to her…I’m glad you find it supportive – I really love the pattern, but I never normally wear a non-underwired bra. I’m thinking it might make a good, slightly more casual bra, to wear around the house at weekends. And it would make an ACE bikini!

    • Kelly January 19, 2015 at 7:51 am #

      Or maybe I won’t get one shipped to her because they’re all sold out, booo 😦

      • Caroline January 19, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

        Hi Kelly! New kits will be in the shop by Friday (maybe Thursday!) I’m just waiting on some last bits. If you sign up for the newsletter you’ll be the first to know when they are ready to buy! I’d be happy to ship to your friend in Canada, or you directly! I can ship anywhere worldwide.

        • Kelly January 19, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

          Thanks Caroline, I’ve already signed up so I’ll keep an eye, and ask her if i can get it to her πŸ™‚ it’s just the inport tax that puts me off getting it shipped directly – just had to pay Β£15 on a sewalong prize I won 😦

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

      I think it’s pretty supportive! Although, you’ve seen me in person, so you know I’m not blessed with a giant rack or anything fabulous like that πŸ™‚

      And, yeah, the kits are sold out now 😦 They went away FAST! I know Caroline is making more, but you might want to see when they’ll be posted and perhaps you could get one shipped while your friend is in the area??

  3. Kit January 19, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    Everyday a new inspiration! Your bra making is the limit! I love that you did the long line option as you don’t see those anymore in the stores. I just love this site. One day I will have time to sew “follow” as you are far to advanced for me to sew-along.

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

      Yeah, the longline is what sold me. I rarely see those in stores, and when I do, they never have my band size. So happy to be able to make my own! πŸ™‚

  4. jne4sl January 19, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    Even from the ghost modelling I can tell you’re getting a much better fit from this than me. I do find the bra surprisingly supportive, but the cradle seam is not flat on my body and this is the problem I have with all bras without underwire. Possibly I need a larger cup and firmer band but that hasn’t worked in the past and there’s no elastic cutting so I think it may be as good as can be. I did enclose all the seams, similar to the way it’s done with the panty gusset, sew, flip, topstitch. I lined the outer half of the bra cups to finish the cup seam and sandwiched the band seam and side seams between layers, too. This wasnt an issue because the bottom band ellastic is applied later and so the bottom is open for turning. It would definitely make a nice bathing suit, with a hook replacing the back closure (couldn’t possibly wriggle in without a closure) and maybe lycra wrapped elastic straps. The coverage is better than most swimsuits.

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 1:57 pm #

      The cradle isn’t flat against my body either (at least, not right between the breasts), but I think that might just be a non-underwire issue… I have the same thing with bathing suits. It’s comfortable, it’s supportive, and it makes my chest look good so that’s good enough for me! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the tip on lining – I considered that, so it’s good to know that it works! And yes, hook back closure and fabric-covered straps for the bathing suit! Just need to figure out the stabilizer part for the cradle, but I’ve gotten some good suggestions already πŸ™‚

      • jne4sl January 20, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

        Power mesh, I’ve had RTW suits that used that for a shelf bra cradle of sorts and it held up as well as anything else in the suit. Yeah, the seam sits well at the sides, just not in the middle, but yep, just what you said. Only other issue is this does make for more of a mono-bossum under some shirts.

  5. Heather (Thing I Make, Plus Rocks) January 19, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    I bought this pattern recently to start making comfortable house bras (instead of my highly restrictive public bras – dammit I want to be comfy at home!), and was just thinking that it might make a decent start to a swimsuit pattern (also something I want to try this year) when I read your comments on that. I’m really hoping that I can get a good fit with it. I’m a little intimidated about trying my hand at bra-making, but it’s reassuring to hear that the instructions walk you through it nicely. Thanks for a nice review!

    Also, I hope Blackbird fabrics restock the kits again soon, because that is a lovely set you’ve made up here! I love the blue and black. πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

      Haha, I love that we are making house and public bras – I totally agree, we need to be comfy at home! I think this pattern is a pretty forgiving fit (I mean, consider the ease of sewing knit leggings vs woven pants), so you should be fine! Bra making is sooo fun!

      Now, let’s just hope the Blackbird kits restock quickly! They sold out really fast last time.

  6. Elle January 19, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    Nice! If you figure out an easy way to seam finish on this, let us know! I was looking at one of my Freya bras this morning and noticed that all the inside seams are bound, which for some reason seems so tricky and fiddly to me! But I bet you could figure out a way πŸ™‚

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

      Oh yeah, I know what seam finish you’re talking about. I asked Norma about that when we were talking about bras in Paris, and she said that’s a seam finish that involves a special machine to do. I’m sure it’s doable at home, but I’m also sure it’s probably not the easiest thing, either! I’ll keep ya posted on what I figure out πŸ™‚

  7. Ysabelita Mohammed January 19, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    Hi!!! you are such an inspiration when it comes to sewing!!! I myself have tried to make a bra, I used the Marlborough pattern…here is a pic of the end product, I don’t know if here in Trinidad I could get any bra kits but I tried made it with some stuff I wasn’t using for the longest while (some up cycle) πŸ˜€ …have a great day!!!

    Ysabelita Mohammed-Primchan πŸ˜‰ Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2015 13:23:03 +0000 To:

    • Anonymous January 19, 2015 at 10:21 am #

      You really inspire me, even though I am no longer interested in making bras. Made two swimsuits (two piece and halter types) in my youth from non stretch fabric (it was the the seventies) and that was enough fitting work for me. Glad I proved to myself that I could do it. Glad that others are continuing with this type intricate sewing and fitting.

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

      Aw, I can’t see your photo! 😦 I think you’ll either have to email it to me, or host it somewhere like Flickr and paste the html in the comment. I love the Marlborough pattern – bet yours looks great!

  8. ekabby111 January 19, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    What privilege shall I call upon you to check today? No underwire privilege? Size XS privilege? More technical skills than me privilege?

    So many privileges. So little time.

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

      Bra kit accessibility privilege, perhaps? πŸ˜‰

      • ekabby111 January 19, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

        Your privilege makes me feel so sad.

  9. Ms. McCall January 19, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Gorgeous set! I wish this style would work for me, I would sew 20 of them!

    Reading your post, I’ve just realized what that piece of cotton is in my Merckwaerdigh kit is – the crotch lining! Duh! I get so caught up in examining the fabric for bra making, I keep forgetting to make a complete set. You’ve inspired me to go and make some knickers πŸ™‚

    I have never tried it, but I wonder if you couldn’t just use some woven fabric for the cradle stabilizer in a bikini? Cotton would likely get too heavy when it’s wet, but some kind of non-stretch nylon tricot? According to Claire Shaeffer, power net is fine with clorine, so that’s good.

    • Ms. McCall January 19, 2015 at 10:29 am #

      Oh, and meant to say, all the Merckwaerdigh patterns I’ve seen instruct you to serge the cup seams, so I tend to follow Amy of Cloth Habits lead and use wooly nylon in the looper. Unfinished topstitched seams don’t really bother me, but the serged finish does look nice.

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      Haha! I know what you mean – I was confused at first when I saw the cotton, then I realized it was for the panties. Go make you some matching knickers! Those Merckwaerdigh kits are SO gorgeous, I can’t wait until I feel good enough in my bra making to start using them!

      Great tip on serging the cup seams; I was afraid they would be itchy, but the wooly nylon would likely help (and ooh, now I have an excuse to buy more wooly nylon colors haha). I’m ok with lining some of my bras to finish, but for sheer stuff like lace, I’d love to try something different.

      As far as stabilizer – that’s what I was thinking of using (some kind of non-stretch nylon fabric), since I know fusing interfacing won’t work. Maybe I could even use nylon… I dunno, tulle (that’s what the stabilizer I was given in my kit feels like, at any rate), and then just sandwich it between the lycra and swimsuit lining, so it’s not against the skin? Something to consider. That’s REALLY good to know about power net being ok with chlorine; I did wonder that, as I’d like to line the back band with power net (but cover it with the lycra, because I think power net would look too bra-y). I wonder if I could double up power net at the cradle, with the stretch running different directions… that might stabilize it enough? Decisions, decisions.

      Thanks for your input!

  10. maddiemadalynne January 19, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    I’m already prepping for your arrival Lauren! We are going to have so much fun!

    As for stabilizing the cradle, I use albatross or 505 spray adhesive to attached the lining to the self fabric so that they don’t shift during construction. To finish the seams, I use a 3 thread overlock (I actually sew the side seams/cups with it), but if you want a cleaner look, there is tricot tape that you can center over the seam allowances. I’ll show you all of this next week.

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

      I’m so excited! Probably won’t be able to sleep much between now and then πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the stabilizing and seam finishing tips! Yes, I definitely want to see these in action when I’m there next week. Ahhh! Did I mention how EXCITED I am!? :DDD

    • Caroline January 19, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

      Maddie I love your tip on spray adhesive! How did I not think of that? I find the only way I can get my cradle and lining to not shift is if I hand baste them together. Machine basting makes the knit stretch out and it warps. I can’t wait to try spray adhesive next time.

    • Amanda January 20, 2015 at 11:23 am #

      I was thinking of trying my fabric glue stick. I was worried that the spray adhesive would make other things in my sewing area sticky with overspray.

  11. Kelly January 19, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    I know I just need to dive in – I’ve got most of the notions needed, and can fudge a bit on those I am missing, and I’ve made three Jasmine bralettes already – but I can’t get myself to do this. So intimidated. Caroline’s kits seemed too pricey for me… but maybe I should just do it. Yours looks wonderful, and I’m glad to hear the fit is pretty good on a non-AB cup size!

    • LLADYBIRD January 19, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

      Oh, if you’ve made a Jasmine, you can totally make a Watson! They have the same principles – the decorative elastic, the hook and eye, the straps. Just different pieces πŸ™‚ You’ll be FINE!

      Also, I thought the kits seemed a little high at first – but honestly, I’d rather pay someone else to source all that crap for me haha. Especially since I live in an area where I have to buy this stuff online – and thus pay for shipping (and risk it being the wrong color or bad quality). You do get tons of fabric, which is helpful if you’re small enough – you can make more bras with it πŸ™‚ And then there’s that whole thing about supporting small businesses, which just makes me happy. Eventually, I want to make non-kit bras, but I’m enjoying using the kits because it’s really helped me understand what kinds of elastics and fabrics to be on the lookout for.

  12. Alice January 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    This set looks sooo fab!

  13. helen January 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    I’ve just made my first knickers just cotton ones, nothing fancy but I loved making them and very pleased with myself today at work thinking “I actually made the pants I’m wearing..” Your set looks great, the blue and the black trim are a great colour combination.

  14. Melody A. January 19, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    Such a lovely creation and I bet they look amazing on! Beautiful color! and your workmanship looks very nice. Congratulations!

  15. trumbelinasews January 19, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    I’ve got a bathing suit from victoria secret that uses a 3″ wide elastic wrapped covered in swimsuit fabric and attached to the cups. Perhaps that might work–altering the length of the cage to the width of the elastic? Beautiful job on the set btw.

  16. Trice January 20, 2015 at 2:29 am #

    Your set came out really nice. You should definitely make a bathing suit from this pattern. Now I want to finish working on my bra.

    I think you will have a great time at the workshop and in my hometown.

  17. navybluethreads January 20, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    Have loved following your latest underwear shenanigans! Not something I’ll be contemplating for a long while yet, but great inspiration, as always thank you πŸ™‚

  18. Birgit January 20, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    I like your colour combo! Damn it, I need to make myself a Watson…

  19. thenerdyseamstress January 21, 2015 at 12:08 am #

    This looks gorgeous! I love the color of your bra! I tried this and was afraid to try a wireless bra, but surprisingly, it’s quite supportive for a wireless bra. I have a weakness for longline bras. How exciting is it to learn from Madalynne? I can’t wait to hear more about it! πŸ™‚

  20. Amy January 22, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    I love this! I think I have been sewing spandex-y fabrics for so long that I forget that they can wiggle around a lot! I haven’t used spray adhesive but to keep them from shifting I do a coupla things. Raising the presser foot (if you can do that on your machine), sewing with the lining on top so that the feed dogs can move the lycra. (If the lycra is on top it wants to stretch/move with the foot.) And I also use my left hand to gently guide the layers as I am basting with long stitches.

    • LLADYBIRD January 22, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

      Thanks for the tips! I usually sew with my bigger layer against the feed dogs, specifically for the easing, so I don’t know why I didn’t think of that for the lyrca πŸ™‚


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