Monday, February 26, 2018

The Wild World of Sewing your own Lingerie

I've discovered that sewing your own bras is a fun and extremely gratifying activity. It never occurred to me that it's possible to make a bra yourself until Ladybird, one of the sewing bloggers I read, wrote a few posts about the Watson Bra pattern. This bra meets all my requirements: pretty, but with no padding or underwire.  The Watson Bra pattern can be bought online as a PDF download. Ordinarily, I shy away from PDF patterns because scaling the pieces to print correctly is intimidating to me. Bra pattern pieces, however, are small enough to fit on a single page and the pattern comes with instructions on how to scale, so I had no difficulty.

For my first attempt, I bought a bra making kit from the Tailor Made etsy shop. Bra sewing is tricky in that it involves narrow seam allowances, curved seams, and lots of raw edges to be finished. On the other hand, if your finished bra isn't perfect, you can still wear it because no one can see it. My first and second attempts are far from perfect, but I wear these bras all the time because they're pretty and comfortable. They can also be laundered with no fuss because there are no molded cups or underwire. Below is a little picture essay on the process. Apologies to those of you who follow me on instagram, since this may be a rerun for you.

First, I traced the pattern pieces onto stiff cardstock

I made a practice version out of an old tee-shirt

Tracing the pattern onto the back of the fabric

All the pieces cut out. The fabric is a scuba knit - medium thick with a firm stretch.
The bra cradle is lined with powernet mesh. All of this came in my kit along with all straps and elastic, hooks, and a piece of stretch lace that I used as an overlay for the inner half of each cup.

Finishing the inside edge with tricot elastic

Cups sewn into the cradle - this is the hardest part


Sewing the top of a cup through the loop that holds the strap.

The finished bra - this was view B, with a narrow band.

I couldn't wait to make another bra, but for my second attempt, I ordered a different scuba knit fabric and a "findings" kit, which is a set of lingerie elastic and hooks. This time I made view A, with the longer band. I'm happy with the second bra too. Both of them fit perfectly. (Watson Bra sizes range from 30B to 40D.) These bras are more comfortable than my store-bought bras. Now I'd like to branch out into different types of fabric. Unfortunately, the fine dressmaking shop in Charlottesville went out of business. There's a quilters' shop, but I doubt they have lingerie fabric. Joann's has lots of stretch fabric, but all of it is unspeakably ugly and they don't carry a full range of lingerie elastic, so I guess I'll be shopping online. 

Second attempt at the Watson Bra - the topstitching is tragic, I know, but I hope to get better at it. By the way, I realized this post sounds a bit sponsored, but it's not. I'm not promoting the products I linked to, just sharing in case anyone is interested in attempting this project. I really had a lot of fun sewing these bras.


  1. I miss Les Fabriques. Everytime I have to set foot in Joann's, I hate it just a little bit more - the ugly fabrics, the obnoxiously loud and sometimes offensively awful pop music...just ugh.

    Your lingerie turned out wonderfully!

  2. I'm trying not to hate you for your ability to fit into those cute little bras. I'm not even in the size range for the pattern. Excuse me while I go sulk.

  3. I can't even sew a hem. Damn, you're impressive.