Lingerie 101: Series 2: The Watson Bra - Fabriques

Lingerie 101: Series 2: The Watson Bra

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Hi  Guys, and a big hello from a glorious UK. The Weather has finally broken here and we are in sunshine (or at least most of the time), and so,  I am sitting in my kitchen on a Bank Holiday in a riot of glorious sunshine and writing my next post

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Today will show you one of my most recent buys and is the Watson Bra from Cloth Habit. Over the last few months it has become a satisfing and quick make that allows you to flex your creative muscles without taking up a huge amount of your funds or your time.

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The Watson Bra and Bikini pantie pattern has been around for a long time - I am, as always, a latecomer to this one, if you go over to the glories that is social media and search it in pinterest or in instragram there are amazing and really inspiring versions to wet your appetite.  The pattern is another PDF, which in truth is most of my lingerie patterns and the guidance for which pages to print is easy to follow and really clear. 

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A word of warning here, follow the guidance and measure carefully, this is an American company, so the band size is larger by plus four inches. I do think the waist band has come up quite big so a plus two would have worked well for me, but as with any pattern, the sizing is always trial and error, and each will have slight variations.

Fabrics and Notions: Here I have used the butter soft 'Baby Pink' Viscose Jersey from Fabriques. I bought 0.5m and 1 meter of Dusky Pink Stretch Lace. This lace isn't that wide, (only 5 inches) so has been left in my stash until the perfect make came along. Elastics are Cream Fold Over Elastic (FOE) and Cream Satin 12mm Bra Straping from sewingchest.co.uk, which I have paired with Rose Gold 12mm Rings and Sliders from Etsy shop PSFabricshop.

 

Once you have printed out your pattern pieces, always check the test square, It will tell you exactly how large the square should measure. Once, when I was starting out, I printed, cut out the pattern and the cut out my fabric to discover a PDF file that I had had to electronically unzip (because of its size), had somehow magically been made bigger.....and in bra making 2cms is a huge amount of difference!! So, trust me when I say, take a minute and check the measurements of the test square.

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Once you have cut out the pattern pieces lay them on the fabric, taking into account the DOGS (Direction of Greatest Stretch) and cut out. Use your pattern weights or simply hold down your pieces, but remember to be careful - that rotary cutter will go through your finger in a blink!

I have also tried doubling over the fabric and cutting 2 pieces at a time. The pieces are small but I find as the fabric is often super soft or shiny they do move and slide. It is more important to be super acurate rather than super quick. This isn't the job for impatient people - of which I am definitly not, but I have learnt my lesson on many occasions. 

 


"I love to use my rotary cutter for this - but watch your fingers, you really dont want to end up in A&E"

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For this version I am going to line the cups with cut and sew foam. The only difference is that I will remove the centre seam allowance in order to zigzag stitch them together, the rest literally stays the same. It is also a great way to add a little more support or more coverage depending on your needs and your fabric.
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Next cut out the cup pieces, you will need two inner cups and two outer cups and if you are using any lace, now is the time to overlay, tack and sew in place. Just like we did last week for the Chloe Thong, I always sew on the lace with a small zigzag stitch. Just across where the lace cuts across the body of the fabric, I don't bother with the edges as I have tacked them and they all get included in either the seams or or the elastic anywayway. 
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Sew together the inner and outer fabric cup pieces using a 0.5 cm seam. Once you have sewn don't forget to trim down the seam allowance and grade the layers - it is a trick that Hannah from EvielaLuve taught me, it is a technique they use in high end lingerie to make the seams far less bulky. (There is a picutre and some advise for this back in the Basic Chloe Thong Blog from last week.) Finally press out the seam on the end of your ironing board with a cool iron and always test out on a spare piece of lace - you really don't want to melt your lace!

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Spread your cup piece over the inner foam cup and pin the two centre seams at the top and bottom, then gently ease the fabric over, stretching slightly and pin in place. I alway tack the fabric, and if it is very moveable I also run a very narow zigzag stitch around the whole circumfrance to prevent any movement. It also helps when you come to adding the foldover elastic as the foam is pre-flattened at the edges so is less bulky.

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These are what your finished cups will look like. Next job is to add the Fold Over Elastic to both sides of the cup. 

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For the first pass, lay the Fold Over Elastic (FOE) with the wrong side facing up, and then place the cup with the right side facing you and sew with all the small zigzag stitches sitting firmly within the first half of the FOE. Technically there is no wrong side, it is purely preference, just make sure that both sides are the same. If you look carefully, it is split into half with a different weave. Once you have sewn the first pass, trim out any excss fabric and lining which passes close to that halfway mark, or it won’t fold nicely and will give you a very uneven edge. 

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Now fold over the FOE to completely conceal the original stitches, and using a narrow three step zigzag sew to the edge of the FOE to seal the fold. Repeat this process for each side of both the cup pieces. 

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 Your next job is to start work on the cradle of your bra.


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The Watson Bra has a simple structure, the whole body, or what is known as the cradle, is just three pieces as opposed to the 5 in a noraml bra. There is no separate bridge and side cradles, it is all one piece, and then just the 2 back band pieces. 

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This band looks quite wide and its because the Watson Bra comes in a longline or a regualr line bra, and this one - a birthday present for my younger sister, is the longline version. Lay the wrong side of the lining facing up and place the main fabric facing up, exactly as if you were going to wear it. You will need to pin and tack (if you wish) all the key areas including down the sides, the central point and where the cup joins the side seam, just to ensure that the fabric doesn't shift. 

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Add the back bandpieces on top, with right sides to right side and pin, then add the lining to the back band underneath. You should end up with the two outer fashion fabrics on top and the two lining fabrics together underneath, pin and sew to a 0.5cm seam. Trim and grade the seam allowance and then turn right sides out and over sew or top stitch the back bands to make the seam lie flat and it look professional. 

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The beauty of bra making is that if you have any lace left over you can alway add it at the this point - I wasn't sure if there would be enough left over for the edges of the back band, so to use the last of the scraps, I was then able to add a small decorative feature on the back straps to literally finish the last of the lace. You will need to tack on and sew the lace to prevent it moving.

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When you have completed both back bands, lay the wide pico elastic along the bottom edge of the bra. The flat edge of the Pico should run along the bottom of the chest band, the plush side should be facing you and the pico or decorative edge should point up towards the shoulder strap. Using a three step zigzag sew close to the pico edge, but not over it,  keeping the elastic with slight tension but not too stretched. Its difficult to describe but you do get the feel for it. 

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Flip over the work to the back of the pieces and trim back any of the excess fabric so when you fold over the pico to do the second pass ,there will be no fabric visable......

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......and  do the second pass of the Pico Elastic, and I always use a three step zigzag here. It keeps the neatness and helps the seams stretch and lay flat under your clothes. You will need to do the same with the narrow Pico Elastic along the top edge. Remember to sew it on the right side first, flip over the bra, trim and repeat the second row of the three step zigzag to finish the decorative edge.

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Next you need your bra fastener. When you lay the fastener on top of the end of the back band, you will see that it isn't exactly the right size for the fastener. (Or if it is, that is unusual) It is purposely made like this to allow you to be able to trim the back band down to whatever size you have. This pattern would be best to accomadate a meduim width fastener or around 28-32mm but as long as it isn’t larger than the fabric you will be able to sort it. 

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Turn the bra over so you are looking at the wrong side and bring the two back bands over to where they would lie if you are wearing it. (It might help you to look at another bra if this is confusing.) Size and trim any excess material. The strap you are about to add doesn't add any width to the fabric so trim the back band as if you were putting the fastener straight onto the bra as it is now. Remember the 'eyes' will face up to you and the hooks will face down! don’t see it on at this point, you are just purely measuring! 

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Take the two pieces of strap elastic. I am quite long in the chest and always add an extra inch (2cms) to what the pattern says. Take the elastic through the sliders central bar and back through the other slide, making sure that the elastic is shiny side out, and sew a run of straight stitches back and forth a few times. Trim off any spare elastic left over. Pass the elastic through the ring section of the ring and slider and then thread it back though the slider, and tah-dah.......there are your straps!

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Now to sew the strap onto your bra. Place the strap right sides up, onto the back bad where the fastener will be eventually. Using a three step zigzag, sew around the strap to where the back curve finishes. Go over the end of the strap a few times to make sure it is secured to the back band - and repeat for the other side.

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Now sew on your fastener. Remember that the eyes face up and the hooks face down. Normally I try to use a narrow zigzag to get the most secure seam but sometimes this may be tricky on the small hook pieces .

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The next  job is to insert the cup pieces and this is where your bra will really take shape. 

Pin each finished cup from the centre point round to the side of the under arm. If you use plenty of pins you shouldn't need to tack in place but it is completely up to you. Once you are happy, sew in place and remove the seams. 

Nearly there now.... simply grade down any excess bulk of fabric from the underside of the cup seam. I like to make sure the back of my bra is as neat at the front, I always cover the seam with plain plush elastic to make sure it doesnt rub, and makes my issues with OCD neatness calm! 

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And the final step in all of this is to fasten a glorious little bow on the centre point - it literally never feels finished until it gets to this point. I always use a 7mm double side satin ribbon for a more substantial bow - but the choice is yours. 

Fabric Review: Heres the good bit about lingerie making. I used much less than half of my Pink Visocse, so I could make at least more bottoms. I am a firm beliver that every bra should have two bottoms - a good sized everyday pair, and a tiny date night pair! (Which is always on my to do list). I used all my stretch lace and bra strap elastic and there is still enough fold over elastic for my next bottoms. 
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For next week we will be remaking the Chloe Thong from Evie La Luve but in the Strappy version pictured above. It is a very sexy version of a very simple pantie - and for me holds a special attraction in its simplicity. It really shows what can be done to take a simple thong pantie and elevate it to the max. 

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Unitl then come along and follow my Instragram page for more inspiration - you might just get some ideas. 

See you all next week  x