Red and Black: Bra Edition

In case you were wondering whether or not my bra obsession has subsided, it most definitely has NOT! I have several finished bras to share, and today you get two!

First up, I have another rendition of the Linda bra, a partial band design by Beverly Johnson. I had made this bra twice before with limited success – one was unwearable, and the other was good enough to wear but certainly not perfect. In this third version, I narrowed the bridge a tad, since it was too wide in my brown version, and also gave myself a little more length across the top of the cup.

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This is definitely my best version so far, but after comparing this bra to other finished versions of Beverly’s bras, I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps I’m making it a size too small in the first place. I’ve been sewing a 32A, since that most closely matches my measurements according to this pattern, but I usually make 32B (that’s the size I use for both the Watson and the Marlborough, and my usual RTW size). In fact, I was fitted for a bra recently, and they said I could even go up to a C (I’m highly skeptical). Since all of the other versions of this bra that I’ve seen have more breast coverage than mine, I’m wondering if I should approach the fit from the next size up. It may also be possible that partial bras just aren’t the best design for my chest structure.

The material I used were from a Bra Maker’s Supply kit, with additional lace from Britex. I decided give this bra a little more pizzaz, and even added some lace to the back closure:

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Because I can!

My next bra is another Watson bra, with undies to match. I continue to love this pattern, especially with the addition of foam padding. For this version, I used both foam padding and fold-over elastic for a very sleek, streamlined look. I’m really loving the result, and this has become my go-to “dark colors” bra.

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Adding the fold-over elastic required a few changes to the pattern – shaving off 1/4″ at the neck/underarm elastics and 1/2″ at the bottom band. I also used FOE for the straps, which required a little elastic gymnastics – I may end up trying to do a tutorial on this, if I can get myself organized enough!

For the foam padding, I used the same technique as last time, and this time added a little ribbon to the cross-cup seam for a nicer finish (it also feels smoother!).

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That’s all for now – more bras to come, though! Can’t stop a good addiction…

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Fun with Soft Bras

As promised, here is a post with actual finished projects! Huzzah! Here I have two more soft bras to share with you – another Watson Bra and a new pattern, the Colette Florence from the February edition of Seamwork. Both used fun laces I purchased at Britex, and both were super fun and easy!

First off, the Florence. I think it’s important to note at the outset that this is a lounge bra, not a regular bra, so it’s not really something I would wear out of the house. It’s not designed to provide the support of a normal bra, and is meant to provide comfort with light support rather than a lot of shaping or lift. However, for days when I can prance around my living room in my skivvies, it’s perfect!

I made a straight size XS with basically no fit alterations aside from taking about an inch or so total out at the center back seam. This bra is made with stretch lace and stretch fabrics, so the fit is pretty forgiving. Since this is intended as a quick beginner pattern, it doesn’t take into account varying cup/band sizes, and instead just goes XS, S, M, etc (and not 32A, 32B, etc). Also, it is designed like a typical knit sewing pattern rather than like a bra pattern, meaning that it has 3/8″ seam allowances instead of 1/4″, and uses a different order of construction. I tried to get fancy and use my “special bra making skillz” (such applying the elastic flat, etc), but learned the hard way that you really should just follow the instructions! So, to all you seasoned bra-makers out there, this pattern is sort of a hybrid bra/regular sewing pattern, and not a “true bra.”

Here she is!

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Isn’t she a beauty? I even managed to match up the lace pattern at the center back seam without even trying – I love it when that happens!!

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The one construction change I made was to add clear elastic to stabilize the neck edge of the lace. I also added channeling, but not underwires. The pattern didn’t seem to have enough room at the center front for proper channeling treatment, so be warned. Or maybe I did it wrong – quite possible! I tried adding a mesh lining, but found that it interfered with the lace pattern, and since this isn’t intended to be a supportive bra anyhow, I decided to just leave it out. So, this bra is definitely “skimpier” than I’d normally like, but as I said, for lazy days around the house, it’s quite luxurious!

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And now for a bra I am extremely proud of – my padded Watson bra!! Adding padding completely solved the “show-through” issue I had discussed in my last two bra posts, and also provided a nice amount of shaping. I definitely plan on padding all of my Watsons from here on out!

So, how did I accomplish this seemingly mysterious feat? Well, it turns out it’s actually not that difficult! Amy from Cloth Habit and designer of the Watson Bra had actually done a series of posts about a year ago on adding foam cups to a bra, which I found extremely helpful. I also found an intrepid blogger that had already tried adding foam to the Watson, which I found quite helpful.

Basically, what I did was remove the seam allowances from the foam, except for where the cup meets the cradle, zig-zag the pieces of foam, and then make up the bra as usual. There were a few other minor construction details I had to change, but Amy talks in depth about those in her blog series, so I would highly recommend reading her posts if you’re interested in trying this.

I got the foam from Bra Makers Supply, which is definitely a new favorite resource! The current exchange rate with the Canadian dollar means that shopping there from the US is a really good deal!! Good thing a lot of my favorite pattern companies are Canadian :).

Oh, and here’s what it looks like:

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I really love the texture on this stretch lace – it has an almost 3-D effect:

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And since I’m sure you’re dying to see the guts:

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You can see that I added some fold-over elastic to the edge of the foam – I thought it provided a cleaner finish, and hopefully will also elongate the life of the foam cups.

So there you have it! Two new bras! And just wait – there’s more! But I’ll save those for another day :).

Watson Take Two: Fancy Pants Edition

Oof, I hinted at a second Watson post over two weeks ago – where has the time gone?? Sorry about that, y’all. I’ve been suffering from loss of blogging mojo and a little dip in sewjo. Excuses, I know :P. I have been working on a bit of secret sewing though, as well as a birthday dress, so there will be fun things to look forward to in the future! For now, though, the rest of my Watson bras (and another bikini!).

First off, I wanted to briefly mention fit. I think I said in my last post that I made a 32A for the bras, but for my latest one (the black and red from the previous post), I actually went a size up to 32B. I need to experiment further, but I think I like the bigger size a bit better. This could just be because I tend to have a rather heavy hand when stretching my elastics, though – time and experience will tell! Also, on the subject of fit, I have now actually worn the panties a few times and am happy to report that they are some of the most comfortable undies I’ve ever worn. Win!

So, now for the rest of my makes. First off, I have another set of bra/undies to show off, this time in purple bamboo! I really love working with bamboo, especially for lingerie. It’s just so buttery and soft, yet keeps it’s shape quite nicely. (And a note on the materials for my previous bras – they were all made with man-made fibers, either polyester or nylon/Lycra. Just FYI) This is probably my favorite pair so far!

I chose to line the cups on this one, which I’m liking more and more. I managed to enclose the cup seam by sandwiching it between the mesh lining and the bamboo fabric. I learned the technique from Maddie in the lingerie video she did for The Sewing Party, but now that the event is over I’m not sure how to reference that method. But it’s a great one! Here are some pics of the innards, though it’s almost impossible to see anything from these pics (apologies!).

And of course, I’ve saved the best for last – my longline lace bra! I’m really quite proud of this one, and feel very fancy wearing it.

 

Isn’t she a beauty?? I used Amy’s tutorial on cutting scalloped lace, and it worked beautiful. The only thing I’m a bit unhappy with is that I pulled the clear elastic too right across the top of the cup, as you can see in the photos, so the lace buckles a bit. Oh well, next time maybe I’ll get it right! Still proud of it, though.

So, those are my bras! I’m taking a pause from bra making while I figure out how to deal with the whole wearing-unpadded-bras-to-work thing. I got some thoughtful responses on my last post about that, saying that in certain work environments it’s really not acceptable. I’m wondering about simply adding some light foam padding – one blogger tried that here. Hmmmm…

Hooray for me-made undies!!

Valentine’s Surprise!

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! I hope you are able to spend some quality time with the folks you love today :). I’ve got some awesome cooking plans for me and my man, so I’m pretty pumped! Oh, and in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d show y’all my underwear ;).

That’s right, it’s happened, my friends. I have finally fallen down the lingerie-making rabbit hole. With what seems to be the entire sewing blogger community stitching up their own intimates, I decided it was high time I joined the fray!

I still remember the first time I thought about sewing bras. A little less than a year ago, Tasia at Sewaholic posted about her experience taking a bra making class, and showed off her lovely first makes. I remember thinking, “oh, that’s cool, but I’ll totally never do that.” But then she kept posting her gorgeous makes. Then I discovered that Madalynne was doing it too. Then pretty much the whole sewing community jumped in when the Cloth Habit Watson Bra pattern came out, and I was that one awkward kid standing alone at the edge of the pool while everyone else was already having fun. MY TURN.

So now here I am, five bras older and wiser. So far I’ve just been working with the Watson Bra pattern, but have plans to branch out soon. I had wanted to start out with one of the fun kits by Grey’s Fabric or Blackbird Fabrics, but they were both sadly sold out at the time I got the pattern, so I decided to be adventurous and get my own supplies. It turns out Britex has a lot of bra making materials, so I was able to get everything I needed there. I’m actually kind of glad I had to figure it out on my own – I already feel like I have a better handle on the whole bra making process after spending the time figuring out materials.

My store-bought bra size has always been a 32B, but when I measured myself according to Amy’s instructions, I was more like a 32A, so I went ahead with the smaller size. The nice thing about bras is that they’re fast and don’t require a ton of fabric, so you can always make another one! I made my first attempt out of a random scrap of knit fabric and some swimsuit lining (I quickly discovered that I had gotten the wrong kind of lining on my first trip to Britex – oops!), and was actually quite pleased with the result.

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The only fitting issue I noticed was that the band was a tad tight, so I added 1/4″ to the back band piece. However, the band relaxed a bit the more I wore it, so now in retrospect that probably wasn’t even necessary. One thing I wasn’t so fond of in that first bra (and is an issue I’m still trying to figure out – any input is appreciated!), and please excuse my bluntness here, was that it didn’t really disguise when things got a bit chilly, if y’all catch my drift. Now, I’m not sure if this is really a problem or not – it’s just not something I’m used to, having worn super padded bras most of my life. What are your opinions on this – is it considered unprofessional to show up to work in a soft bra like that, or is it no problem? My husband thought it was fine, but, well…

So for bra #2 I tried adding lining to the cup as well as the cradle. This didn’t entirely fix the issue, but I did like the feeling of being slightly more “covered.”

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…and I made matching undies!

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I’ve literally never cared about owning matching lingerie sets before in my life, and now all of a sudden, I want to make ALL THE MATCHING SETS. In fact, I never really cared about my lingerie in any respect before now, and the only time I willingly entered Victoria’s Secret was to shop for appropriate wedding undergarments :P.

Anyhow, more details:

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So, of course, after two bras, I was just getting started. Ha. To avoid overwhelming you with too much more info in one post, I’ll save most of the rest for later. But since it’s Valentine’s Day and all that, I thought it’d be fun to show off my lingerie for the occasion :).

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Rawr!