Saturday, November 3, 2018

Watson Bras: Sewing Frosting and Bra Sizing Questions

Hi Friends! Long time, no see. If you've been following along on Instagram you will have seen that I've been sewing, knitting and baking aplenty.

Recently, I've sewn some Watson Bras. I guess I've finally decided that my post-Taco bra size has stabilized and is here to stay. So, I'm willing to sew for it.

And what better time of year to sew some fabulous sleepwear than autumn, when the temperature is turning chilly and cuddling is in the forecast?

Sorry, but this is a bare a bra photo as I am willing to go...

I love sewing my own sleepwear. It's so comfy. I started wearing soft bras for sleep on the advice of my midwives after Taco's birth. My bust was heavy with milk and extra tissue, and having a little support at night was welcome. I still find it more comfortable to wear a soft bra to bed. And Watson is a perfect option - it is a wire-free bra that is meant to be made from stretch fabric.

I had already started working on these bras when Heather and Kelli announced their #SewFrosting challenge.  Back in 2013, when everyone decided they needed to sew more basics - "cake" - it really bummed me out, and so I declared it my own year of the Frosting Diet and set out some basic tenets for my projects. It transformed my sewing - made it more fun and purposeful. So, this challenge is a really good prompt for me to look back and take stock of where I am now.  I'm planning a bit of a retrospective, but we'll see if I get to it or not.

OK, back to my Watsons, which are definitely frosting. This was a really interesting sew for a number of reasons. Here we go...

First. I want to talk a bit about figuring out bra sizing for this pattern. I think it's important to start with the pattern's instructions since, as we all know, pattern sizing is different from RTW, and bra sizing is specific from brand to brand.

When I measured my full and high bust and calculated the difference, as the pattern instructed, it suggested a C cup. I was skeptical. Not only is my RTW size a DD (or E) (again, not a good way to determine sewing pattern size), but the pattern pieces also just looked too small for me. After some tissue fitting and a muslin, I ended up sewing a size F - one size larger than my RTW size. This actually is nearly the size I would get to if I had used my underbust measurement vs full bust.


In fact, whenever I've been directed to go by high bust vs full bust, it has not worked. Not at all. Even when I've been fit for bras by professionals, they always end up tsking when they measure my high vs full bust, then measuring my full bust vs underbust instead, saying something like "that's what I thought" and bringing me bras that basically fit. So my sense is that this is a way that my body may be unique, even though I don't seem to have a problem finding bras that fit. 

But I am curious to know: how do you generally measure for bra size? RTW or sewn or both? Does the high vs full method work for you? I am so skeptical based on my own size and shape.

As for the actual bra-making, it requires lots of pieces and parts, but in small quantities. It took more time to assemble fabrics, elastics, and findings than actually sewing, even taking into consideration that both of the stretch lace trims that I used were already in my stash.

For both of my versions, I used the tutorial for using scalloped lace trim for the bra cups on the Cloth Habit blog (here).

My first Watson, a black and hot pink lace version was infused with as much fail as I could pack into a project. I was sewing with a headache and did just about everything wrong. I sewed things in the wrong order, used all the elastics in the wrong places, and - for the bra band - I accidentally used an elastic that was too wide. Oy.

See that elastic? Yeah. Once it was turned to the inside, it was wider than the band. Gah.

However, it is a testament to this pattern and my experience with a seam ripper - a dubious trait to be sure - that I ended up with a very sweet bra nonetheless.

Not sure why this looks blue when it is black. 

Look at these nice details! 
The sew along on the blog really has some great info. I highly recommend it if you are new to bra making. (Here) If you have sewn swimwear before, it is very similar technique-wise.

My second effort went much more smoothly! This time I used a gold and black wide stretch lace trim.

Look at how fabulous!!!

For this version I used the long line cradle pattern pieces and - due to fabric limitations - made this bra somewhere in between the regular and long line styles.

I lined the cradle with denier tricot, which you can find at B&J fabrics in the NY Garment District for about $6yd.

This lace is very soft and comfortable. I will be sleeping fabulously in it.

And I have a few scraps left over that may ultimately become matching panties the next time I am in between projects and need a quick and fun sew.

I think this is a really a great and fun pattern as long as you keep two things in mind. First, this would not ever provide enough support for me for daily wear. I think if you are busty, plan on this being loungewear. Second, plan to sew a muslin or two. It will help you sort out sizing and also play with the techniques used for sewing the elastics and using the findings.

At the moment these two sleep bras are enough, but I am definitely feeling bitten by the bra sewing bug, so there may be more bras in my future. Because bras use such a small amount of fabric - even for a sizeable cup - they are a great place to splurge on really beautiful fabrics.

So,  tonight daylight savings ends in the US, and I will be enjoying that extra hour of sleep in my gold Watson and dreaming frosting covered dreams.  How about you? Are you in or out for the #sewingfrosting challenge?