Tag Archives: 4 way stretch

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!

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Completed: Rose Hip Tights

5 Nov

Hey everyone! Before we get into the fun part of this post, a couple things that bear mentioning but don’t quite warrant their own post:
– Have you signed up to join The Sewing Party yet? The party starts on November 8 (this Saturday!), where over 30 educators will be teaching a plethora of online classes – including sewing a tank top, bra making, intro to sewing knits, and cross stitch (those last two were actually shot here in Nashville, in the same place/same day I filmed my class! Check out Devon’s post if you want some ~insider info~). I’ll be participating with my own class – Apparel Zippers 101! In my segment, I’ll show y’all how to insert both lapped and invisible zippers, how to deal with facing/lining, and what types of zippers are suitable for what garments. The classes are viewable for 90 full days after the day of the actual party, so no worries if you can’t watch them all in one day! Who else is going to The Sewing Party? Have you seen the trailer for my class yet? EEP.
– Speaking of sewing classes – and Jennifer! – I’m excited to announce that I’ll be back at WORKROOM SOCIAL again to teach another round of the Weekend Pants-Making Intensive on March 21-22! YES! I am SO excited about this; the last class I taught there was ridiculously fun and I met so many awesome ladies that weekend (and, you know, crotch-grabbing). Can’t wait to come back and do it again (and hit up the Garment District while I’m at it, because, obviously.). You can see all the details of the class on the website, but the general gist – it’s a 2 day class, which includes snacks & lunch, use of all machines & tools in the studio, plus the tuition itself – where we we will be covering basic pants-fitting, installing the front fly, pockets and waistband, and little sewing tips and tricks for increasing speed and accuracy. It’s going to be INSANELY fun and I’m so excited! The space will fill up fast, so get your registration in before the class sells out! Who else is coming to our PANTS PARTY? 😀
– US Readers – if haven’t already done so, don’t forget to throw your name in the hat for the Love at First Stitch giveaway! Entries close on Friday, so you still have time 🙂

Ok! Now for the make! This might qualify for one of the most random things I’ve ever made for myself (my hairstylist busted out laughing when I told her my plans for these – thank god she hadn’t started cutting my bangs yet! Ha!) – tights!

Not leggings or stirrup pants (I saw somewhere a couple of years ago that those might be making a comeback? Huh? Can someone please tell me if stirrup pants are about to a thing again?) – but, like, actual literal tights. Pantyhose. Whatever you call those things that completely cover your feet like there are socks attached to them. I MADE THOSE THINGS.

Rose Hip Tights

So why make your own tights? Well… why not? Personally, I wanted something with wool so that I could use them to layer and stay warm in the winter (either layered under my pants – like long underwear – or layered under a thinner pair of tights and worn with a skirt. I’m so cold-blooded that I’m practically reptilian, so I’m always looking for new ways to stay warm in the winter.). I love wool tights, but those things are expensive. Plus, you’re limited to the colors and styles that are available in stores – which, depending on where you shop, could mean you get a shitty selection. No thank you!

Rose Hip Tights

So I made my own. Surprisingly, they were REALLY easy and fast to make – the hardest part is choosing fabric, since you want something with a good 4 way stretch and a superb recovery (otherwise you’ll end up with baggy tights – this means no cotton or rayon, unless there’s a loooot of spandex thrown in the mix). For the pattern, I used the Rose Hip Tights from Seamster Patterns. I’ve been eyeballing this pattern ever since it came out – first, with curiosity (“Do I want to make something like that?”), later, with lust (“God, I wish I could just make some fucking wool tights!”), and last month I finally went ahead and bought it. I was apprehensive at first, because I had NO idea how these were going to come together – or if they’d even be wearable – but my experience with Mari’s patterns in the past have been nothing but positive, so I trusted. I trusted hard and Mari did not let me down.

Rose Hip Tights

First of all, the instructions on this pattern are crazy good. There were a few parts where I scratched my head for a couple of minutes before it made sense, but for the most part – everything is very clearly laid out, with great diagrams included. The instructions don’t just cover construction, by the way. They also cover fabric selection and alterations – finally, I could make tights that are actually the right length (can I get a halleluiah up in here?). For fabric selection, you need a knit with a 4 way stretch and good recovery, and your stretch percentage will determine what size you cut. There’s a little chart to help you determine stretch percentage, if you don’t know that for your particular fabric (I didn’t, nor did I know how to calculate it, so that was very helpful!). For this fabric – which is a lightweight wool knit I bought from Paron’s while I was in NYC in August – I had a 75% 4 way stretch, so I cut the size 2XS and shortened the legs. I don’t remember exactly how much I shortened the legs, sorrrrry (it’s been about a month since I made these), but I based the length off a pair of RTW tights that does fit me correctly. I also used maths, calculating my stretch percentage with the length. They ended up perfect. I am so tickled.

Like I said, the construction part was NOT bad! These came together super quickly, everything matched up, and everything fit. That’s pretty impressive! I used my serger to whip everything together – the only change was that I changed to a 3 thread overlock instead of my usual 4 thread overlock (I figured the 3 thread would be a little less bulky, and I was right!).  I think these were finished in about 20 minutes. Forreal. Even the gussets were easy to sew, which – if you’ve ever sewn a gusset in something woven, you know that’s quite a feat. Fortunately, knits are very forgiving and you can just stretch them into submission if need be. Which is exactly what I did!

Rose Hip Tights

AND JUST LIKE THAT, I MADE TIGHTS.

Rose Hip Tights

There are some interesting design details in this pattern (I’d love to show y’all a photo of them without the skirt, but, um, last I checked, I get a lot of fetishists creeping on my site & Flickr and I don’t want to fuel the fire any more than I apparently already am SORRY GUYS); it’s not just a plain pair of tights. The foot is formed with the seam on top (so it doesn’t irritate your foot to walk on it – genius!) and across the toes, and then it V’s into a back seam that runs all the way to the top. There is a gusset at the crotch for comfort. The pattern includes options for a low rise, a high rise, and thigh-highs, plus the foot gusset means you can colorblock the hell out of these for some mega fun tights. I made the high rise version, and omitted the optional elastic at the waist.

Rose Hip Tights

For my second pair, I used this awesome printed lace from Funki Fabrics. I LOVE the way these turned out, at least appearance-wise. They are soo pretty, and since the lace is printed – they are very opaque and warm!

Rose Hip Tights

The print is too busy to really showcase the seams up the back, but, whatever. They’re still pretty cool!

Rose Hip Tights

Unfortunately, the fit on these is not as good as the fit on my grey pair 😦 This is 100% my fault, as I did not calculate the stretch percentage of the fabric before cutting it – I just assumed it would be the same. This fabric is very stretchy – but it’s not the same 75% stretch as my grey fabric. More like 50%. Because of this, the tights are PRETTY FREAKING SNUG. It’s like wearing shapewear! I would almost be ok with that, except that they’re also a little too short (again, stretch percentage calculation error on my part). I can get them on – but it’s a pretty intense struggle, and they really just aren’t comfortable because the crotch hangs too low 😦 It’s not the end of the world – I can gift them to my smaller/shorter preteen niece, or even turn them into thigh-highs – but, ugh. Learn from my mistakes, y’all. All knits are not created equal!

Rose Hip Tights

Anyway, I had a fun time sewing the second pair – the lace ones (well, I had fun sewing the gray pair too, but more in a ~learning~ sense). I took them with me to the Open Sewing Lab that I run at The Fabric Studio here in Nashville (I like to bring a simple project with me so I can be doing something if no one needs me – I always hated having teachers who breathed down my neck! Give me some space, lady!), and everyone was laughing hysterically at how small they were while they were being constructed. I mean – they do have to stretch a LOT to fit properly, but they still look insanely tiny when not on a body. At least I got them on when they were finished! Barely! haha!

Rose Hip Tights

Rose Hip Tights

Rose Hip Tights

I just love all the little details on these tights – especially how ridiculous the foot looks when there’s not a foot in it 🙂

So yep, that’s it! I’m anxious to try more tights – I’d love to have them in black, brown, and dark grey (the tight colors I wear most), and I’d LOVE to try these with something textured or cabled, or even a full-on sweater knit! Sweater tights! Yesss!! If anyone knows where I can get wool knit with a 4 way stretch of at least 50% (but preferably 75%), holler! Most of the merinos I have are only 2 way stretch 😦 I’m also curious to try some tights in super crazy fabric – such as this awesomeness?! I love celebrating Halloween year-round, ha! What about you? Would you ever make your own tights? Did I just change your mind? 🙂

Oh, and yes, that’s a Mabel skirt I’m wearing. I wanted to show y’all how it looks with a shorter tshirt –  I think the overall balance of my silhouette looks MUCH better, don’t you think? A bunch of y’all were equally mystified with how to style these skirts, and so at least one answer! It’s amazing how much better it looks with the slightly shorter shirt hem, yeah? Also, I didn’t make that tshirt, although I did hem and size it down to fit me better (which is something I do with most of my tshirts, just because the out-of-the-box shape doesn’t tend to be very flattering on me).

Disclaimer: I received the lace knit fabric from Funki Fabrics in exchange for a review.