Friday 9 March 2018

I've begun a new obsession...

It's a slightly frustrating and challenging one.



Boulder holders (humour is good in a situation like this, no?).

I've gotten to an age where faking more than I've got is uncomfortable and really... who am I trying to fool?

So with that I decided: underwires and push-up cups, no more!!

This is not my first rodeo, having created a couple of horrendously fitting and a few mildly successful bras before reaching my hallelujah moment. A bra that fits, straight out of the packet. Otherwise known as a unicorn.

Or Cloth Habit's Watson Bra and Bikini Pattern if we want to get specific. But I will forever know it as The Unicorn. It is described as
...70's-inspired lingerie set perfect for lounging or dressing up! The bra is a very easy-to-wear style with a plunge neckline and is designed for stretch fabrics in the cups. Make it as a longline bra for a little glamour (and more lift!) or try the shorter band for a very simple day bra...
The pattern has been out there forever and is hugely popular among makers (go on, Google it). It seems a lot of us are kicking back at the idea of wearing structured, wired, eminently uncomfortable and ill-fitting bras. Go us!! I've been kicking around the idea of trying this bra for some time, but for some reason... I kept putting it off.

I was recently inspired to try this pattern after seeing the delightful happylat's amazing forays into the Watson, with a similar bust size and having been successful in adding my favourite finish of foam cups. I love a soft cup, foam-lined bra. All the comfort of a non-wired bra, but with a teeny tiny bit of oomph assistance and the all important modesty. I was sold.

I originally toiled the shorter band version in a swim lycra, which is one of the suggested fabrics (never photographed, but I really should have since I squealed stupidly at its almost perfect fit). It was a true toile, never designed for wearing after. In other words, it was ugly.

I was then eager to try it in a stretch lace I had on hand. Oh, who am I kidding? I've been obsessively buying up stretch laces for months! And it was good.

Whilst that blue lace version was a success, it felt a little less than flattering (more a lounge bra) and I really wanted more... foam cups.


An important thing to know is that the Watson pattern is fully support by an online sewalong that Amy of Cloth Habit put together, to hold your hand and get you through. Use it. It's brilliant. From choosing fabrics, to photographs and directions for each step, to fitting alterations and how-tos. That woman is a star. But beware - there are a number of times when the sewalong strays from the pattern instructions. Especially in regards to stitch lengths and widths, which did drive me nuts. I ended up testing various combinations myself and then writing down the ones I wanted to use for reference as I went.

Since I wanted foam cups covered in lace I needed a few variations of patterns pieces. Amy shows you how to alter for scallop-edged lace, and I've done Beverly Johnson's Sewing Bras: Foam, Lace & Beyond course on Craftsy so I knew what to do to create the foam cups. And to keep things clear for cutting out, I transferred all those pieces to cardboard (manilla folder) and carefully marked what they were for.

So how do you create the wonder that is a soft cup, foam lined, lace covered bra?

In short...
  • Remove the seam allowance from, and straighten out, the neckline edge for foam and lace covers. 
  • Remove cross cup seam allowance for foam cups. The edges are simply butted together and sewn with a zigzag stitch
  • All other SA's are left as drafted.
  • I chose to finish the neckline edge of the foam cup by zigzagging along the edge (to flatten it out and reduce bulk) and then applying foldover elastic to stabilise it
  • The lace cover is then applied on top, aligning the LOPO (low point of the lace) with the edge of the foam cup. Stretch the cover over (if needed, mine fit just fine) and then baste together along the bottom cup and armhole edge
  • To stop the lace neckline edge from flipping up or hanging loose I secured it with an invisible bartack about three times down the neckline edge, through lace and foam.
  • Continue to sew the bra as directed, being careful to trim the armhole SA carefully before flipping elastic to inside and sewing your second pass to reduce bulk. You might also like to trim your lower cup seam allowance after sewing to the cradle to reduce bulk.

I chose not to enclose the bottom cup seam, where it joins the cradle, as it doesn't bother me visually (looks relatively neat) or affect my comfort. You can finish that seam by covering it with plush underwire channeling, and I might try this in future. I'm personally unconvinced as the channeling would add even more bulk at that seam.

Ingredients included:
  • Stretch lace for the cup cover and underbust band/cradle
  • White cut-and-sew foam for the cups
  • Powernet for the bands
  • Sheer cup lining for stabilising the cradle
  • White strap elastic
  • 5/8" underbust elastic (too wide, pattern calls for 1/2", so will add at least 1/4" to bottom of pattern piece before next version)
  • 3/8" armhole elastic (whoops, thought I'd bought that but it turned out to be a fairly stretchy, narrow band elastic. I'll swap out next time as it doesn't stretch as well as picot and so the top band fit is tight)
  • White foldover elastic for neckline edge of foam
  • Silver coloured rings and sliders
  • White 2x3 bra closure
I was surprised to find that the foam did not alter the good fit. As it does not really have any stretch, I thought I might need to go up a cup size. I made this version up, and all versions to date, in my RTW size of 34A. The only fit issue I have is a bit of extra fabric in the right hand side upper cup area. Like many women, my bewbs are not perfectly symmetrical. It's not a huge problem, but I might try and tweak the fit over the next few iterations.

This bra makes me feel like swanning around in it, purring in a sultry voice, "What's up, Buttercup?".

Oh, and there will be more. I can see this as pretty much my perfect everyday bra, so I'll need at least... 10 or so. Right?

Oh and I must try the included bikini pattern. Who doesn't love a matching set?

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