Introducing Watson Bra & Bikini

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit

Today I’m thrilled to release my “baby” into the world, my new pattern Watson!

Since the first time I made one of the bras for myself, I was a little bit addicted. How many fabrics could I make this in? At that time I was learning a lot about dyeing so I came up with this grand idea of mixing my own dyes for an entire collection! And so I did.

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit

I’m a huge fan of all things 70s but especially in lingerie. It was a time of subtlety, soft fabrics, not overly stuffed or rigid looks. And then there was the skin. That glowy 70s skin! Just look at old Maidenform or Huit advertisements from the mid-70s; it’s all models in wind-swept hair, draped peignoirs over sheer plunging bras. This kind of woman-body-free feeling was my inspiration for the Watson. I wanted something playful and not too serious.

So let’s talk about the pattern…

the bra

The bra pattern is designed for stretch fabrics and has two styles. View A is a longline bra and View B is a regular length band that runs right under the cups. The cups fit into either so you can mix and match!

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit

I wanted my first bra pattern to be a bit easier to sew and fit than a traditional underwired pattern. The Watson is a great way to dive into bra-making techniques as it uses some of the same construction methods as underwired bras, but it has a very forgiving fit.

Now a few notes about fit: this pattern has cup and band sizes! As I was developing this pattern, I had to make a big decision about sizes and grading. Most of the time soft cup bras without wires run in alpha sizes (small, medium, large, etc.) and meant to fit a broad range within each size. I wanted to offer a bigger and more specific size range.

The pattern has some measuring and fitting tips, but keep in mind that it is not meant to fit like a wired bra. If you like a little bit of lift, try the longline bra! It uses the same cup but longline bras have more of a “cantilever”. Because it wouldn’t be a Cloth Habit pattern without a bit of science in there, too!

And just as a note, since a few readers have asked: this is not an underwired pattern and you can’t use wires in this style. I did not design the cradle around wires and I can explain more of that in a fitting post!

the bikini

This is a really simple and straightforward bikini and totally inspired by 70s bikinis. Something you can cut and make in under an hour.

Watson Lingerie Pattern | Cloth Habit

fabrics

Both the bra and the bikini are designed for stretch knit fabrics. I wouldn’t recommend wovens or non-stretch fabrics. The only area that needs a non-stretch lining is the cradle at the front of the bra. Fear not, these fabrics are easy to find and I promise I’ll go into more details about material choices next week. The pattern also has several tips and tricks for choosing appropriate fabrics.

the name

The Watson is inspired, of course, by Sherlock’s pal, and more specifically Lucy Liu’s take on Elementary. I. love. this. show. And must have rewatched all the episodes three times while on the finish stretch of this pattern. I love almost any detective show (and every version of Sherlock) but Liu’s Watson is such a beautiful counterbalance, and nearly every episode I end up rewinding to look at her groovy outfits.

So that’s it for today. I’d love to hear what you think, or any questions you have!

Watson Bra & Bikini is available at my new shop.

Watson bra pattern in shell pink lace | Cloth Habit

83 comments

  1. Marilla says:

    Wow! This looks incredible and I love the fact that the construction is more basic than the underwired kind. That always puts me off of bra making, so this is very welcome. Good luck with this and I look forward to seeing versions popping up soon! Congratulations! Xxx

  2. Sharon says:

    Can’t wait to try!!! Two questions: (1) can you use underwires, and (2) can you use padding for the cups? Thanks for creating the pattern!

    • Amanda says:

      Amy says in her post “you canโ€™t use wires in this style. I did not design the cradle around wires and I can explain more of that in a fitting post!”

      But, I’m curious to hear what she has to say on the topic of padding. Bra Makers Supply offers padding by the metre as well as push up “cookies.” If you used the padding to line a cup it would certainly reduce the stretch factor of the fabric you’re lining. But, you might be able to make a suitable pocket to insert the cookie into.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Sharon, as this is a very soft, stretch bra, it isn’t made for wires nor is it graded around them. It’s a very simple cradle and not supposed to fit the same way as a wired bra.

      As for padding, there might be a way to insert a cookie at the bottom but it would be difficult to line the entire cup with padding due to the way the strap is sewn. If you want to try a cookie I would try going up a cup size or two. These cups are for stretch fabrics, which means they have a bit of stretch reduction. Padding would require more depth to the cup.

      Does that help?

      • Brigid says:

        Hello Amy,

        I also LOVE the idea of a non-underwired bra, but, as I wear a lot of t-shirts, am not so comfortable with an unpadded bra. Do you think you could possibly give a tutorial of how to make the bra with an insertable cookie? Thanks ever so much! I hope to be able to try out the pattern SOON!

      • Amy says:

        Hi Brigid, sure I’ll have a think about doing one. I may not be able to do this before the new year as I’d like to experiment and see how that works with this pattern.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Emily, I don’t use sergers at all in making bras! It’s all sewing machine. As long as you have a zig-zag you’re golden!

  3. K-Line says:

    Woohoo! I’m going to see if I can adapt this to my special snowflake shape ๐Ÿ™‚ You know my track record’s not good, but I’ll have to succeed eventually!

    • Amy says:

      I think your track record is amazing! But I know how you like your bras to fit. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Let me know if you have any questions. I can definitely help with fit questions.

  4. I love this bra set! I’m one of the few that asked about it being wired. I’ve never tried anything else, but I’m willing to try because it’s so beautiful. I love the fact that there’s band sizes. I also love that there’s so many bra options out now.

  5. joelle says:

    beautiful!! i like that the panties pattern is included, too ๐Ÿ™‚ i’ve never been into non-wired bras because i want the support a wired bra offers, and i never fit into the alpha sized soft bras. but they are so beautiful and i’ve been jealous of the small busted gals who could get away with them. and then you release this pattern, in an awesome range of sizes! i foresee a lot of beautiful lounging bras in my future!

  6. sallie says:

    Congratulations Amy! The pattern is just so so gorgeous!! Obviously the bra is the star, but is it weird that I’m super excited about the bikini pattern – it looks like the perfect cut! Love all your fabrics here – you always manage to find the prettiest lingerie fabrics, so I’m very eager for your fabric post.

  7. Ginny says:

    I’m dazzled by your pattern Amy! And THANKS SO MUCH for including larger cup sizes, you’ve rocked my bra-making by doing that! I’m printing the pattern at this very moment and intend to spend my weekend wallowing in Watson Bra making-ville :D.

  8. Stirling says:

    I love it! Will you be putting together kits for it? ‘Cause that would be super extra awesome. I would probably buy that SO FAST.

  9. Jana says:

    I really like the look of your pattern, Amy! I donโ€™t need the support of underwires and I really donโ€™t care to learn how to insert them when I donโ€™t usually wear underwired bras anyway. Iโ€™ve been looking for a pretty bra pattern without them, and I love yours!
    Having said that, I donโ€™t seem to fit into your sizing. ):
    Iโ€™ve just measured myself according to your instructions and I seem to be a size 32AA, but your pattern starts at 32A. So, question: Will you post adjustment tutorials for issues like this? Can the pattern be adjusted, reasonably easily, for someone with a smaller bust? Could I just take in the curve of the cups a bit, like I would for a small bust adjustment on a princess-seamed bodice? Or should I rather keep looking for another pattern that might eventually come along that might cater to us small-busted ladies?
    Thanks!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Jana, this pattern works really well for small cups. I would go ahead and try the 32A. Since the cup is made from knit fabrics, it is very forgiving and not as exacting in fit as a non-stretch bra with wires. Also the fit really depends on the fabric you’re using. For myself I used 3 different cup sizes for different fabrics and in some fabrics I did have to take in the cup. If this cup turns out a little too big in the particular knit you choose, then yes you do take in a bit of the curve just like a princess seam. I’ll show some of these adjustments in a tutorial if you need some help!

  10. This is so cool Amy! I hate underwires, and my efforts to draft my own nice-looking, well-fitting soft bra have sometimes been less than successful … so it’s pretty exciting to see a lingerie professional such as yourself come out with a pattern like this! And I agree that the bikini cut looks great too.

  11. Jodie says:

    Beautiful! Did you have any large cup size testers for the pattern? I’m wondering how someone more of a D cup size feels about support. I like a softer support usually and this pattern may be just right! Love the long line and that there are true cup sizes!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Jodie, actually just today Heather Lou of Closet Case Files posted her bra in mesh. http://closetcasefiles.com/me-made-lingerie-the-watson-bra/ I think she made a 34D.

      Obviously a soft cup bra isn’t going to be the ultimate in support for above D cup sizes, and may not be everyone’s preference. However, the higher cup height helps with support & lift. The longline is a bit more supportive, too. But yes, do keep in mind that this is not the sort of bra that will encapsulate and spring ’em out, if you know what I mean!

      • Jodie says:

        Thanks Amy! I checked out her post and I’m very excited to start. Bought my copy this afternoon and can’t wait for some elastics to arrive. This is likely to be my favorite bra ever! A special thank you for the table which shows which pages to print! Genius!!!

  12. Lucy Turner says:

    Wow, that is just lovely! Gonna be a loooong time before I make it as I seem to have decided to make loads of Christmas presents at the same time as renovate my house… I am totally rewarding myself with this patern when I’m through ๐Ÿ™‚
    X

  13. ute says:

    Thank you. This is my perfect bra. I am always looking for that style in rtw and I am thrilled that I will now be able to make my own! This will be my first sewing goal for 2015 – I am giving this to myself as a Christmas present. Wishing you lots of success!

  14. Kathy Sews says:

    Just gorgeous! Congratulations!!! Now, would you consider this a bra for everyday wear or more as a lounge around sort of bra? I LOVE the look of these bras!!!! I have some lovely firm stretch laces this would work beautifully with. I am so pleased you’ve included A cups for 38 and 40, those are unicorn sizes in the RTW world. I will have to do some muslining and what not to find my size… oh I am so excited ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Amy says:

      I’m sure you will do an amazing take on this bra, Kathy! I love your makes ;). I actually wear this bra quite a bit, and under lots of clothes. The satin coral lycra one at the top is my favorite because shirts never stick it it and it feels so comfy. Others may just like to lounge about… you know, we all have such different preferences in how we want to feel underneath ;).

      • Amanda says:

        I love the look of this one too. I know you’re planning to go over fabrics, but I’ve already started shopping and I’m having a hard time finding anything with 75% stretch. And lots of stuff I like is only 2 way stretch. In particular I googled for “satin lycra” and I’m only seeing 2 way stretch and numbers like 10%, if it’s given at all. Is there some treasure trove I have yet to discover? Or are the things I’m already finding actually good candidates?

      • Amy says:

        Hi Amanda, I know, most stores don’t list stretch percents at all. Some things you want to look for: 4-way spandex, milliskin (if you’re in the u.s. spandex world and spandex house carry these with matching stretch mesh). Almost anything that qualifies as swimsuit fabric makes for a good lycra. Laces can be all over the place in terms of stretch but I would make sure they have spandex. I’ll give more tips on lace hunting and a few more shop ideas in my post. You can also use jersey but as the pattern suggests you probably need to go down a size because jersey doesn’t recover like nylon/spandex fabrics.

  15. Amy says:

    Congrats! And, I’m excited to see you might be offering kits in the future. Once my days of nursing bras are over, I’ll be excited to try out your pattern. !!!!!

    • Amy says:

      Amy, hmmm, you got me thinking about a new idea! This pattern can be modified into a nursing bra pretty easily. I’d just have to work out a strap mod.

      • Darcy says:

        Yes, please! I have been thinking about buying this pattern specifically to modify into a nursing bra. I’d love some guidance. It would be great to finally have some that I’d actually be excited to wear ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. kath says:

    This pattern is gorgeous, and I’ve just purchased it. I always have trouble getting a good fit with bras (smallish band, large cup). In looking at the pattern pieces, I’m wondering how all the cup sizes fit into the same size cradle? Am I missing something? Or do you just ease the cups in and it’ll work out due to the stretch?

      • Ted Fryia says:

        Thanks Amy. I just whipped up one of these bras. The pattern is very well written, nice clear instructions, and it fits together so nicely. Thank you for providing a great pattern.

  17. susie qew says:

    just a couple of weeks ago sewing a bra was the last thing on my mind, but since discovering your blog and your newsletter, it is the only thing on my mind!

  18. Jen says:

    Congrats on the pattern, it looks beautiful! I’ve been waiting for this one because I have always hated (and still hate) underwire bras, it doesn’t matter what I do, get fitted, try different brands, I just hate them. I just got the pattern and can’t wait to try it out on some mesh I’ve been stockpiling! Your color combos are so inspiring also. Way to go!!

  19. Kelly says:

    Ooooooo, so happy to see this beautiful pattern with NO underwires! I don’t do underwires. Realistically I probably won’t get to it before the holidays, but my New Year’s resolution just may be to finally use all that lingerie fabric I have stashed ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Bummer! I was super excited to see that it went up to a G cup in my band size, until I read the size chart and realized that I’d actually need an I cup. ๐Ÿ™ Since I suck at altering bras, I guess I’m left out again. ๐Ÿ™

    • Amy says:

      aww bummer, so sorry to hear that. I would definitely consider going up more cup sizes in a future version. For now I wanted to test the waters up to a certain size. I’d also need to do some fittings and grade a bit differently for a new group, just so that height of the strap extension doesn’t go up to the neck!

  21. Laurel says:

    The pattern is so pretty. I LOVE the long-line and vertical seaming – I bought the pattern despite being outside the Watson cup measurement range. I normally wear 32-34H or I in RTW (or Shelley bra by Bev Johnson), but the Watson chart would put me in a 36J or K. I will try the 34G and see what happens. I simply could not resist, since I am a fellow bra-sewing addict!
    I do hope you will be expanding the cup size range even further in the future, and very much appreciate that you included larger cups to start with. Larger cup women like to sew pretty, softer bras for casual/loungewear, too! Thank you for your lovely pattern and sewing ideas. I, too would love to see some kits on offer.

    • Amy says:

      I’ll be sharing some fitting ideas here so if the 32H ends up being too small a simple modification to the cup may be able to bring it up to your cup size. I use different measurements than Pin-up Girls patterns so I’m not sure how they compare.

  22. Debbie says:

    Since this is designed for stretch knits is there info within the pattern about the percentage of stretch needed? I’m sure you had a certain stretch percentage in mind when you drafted/graded the pattern and took final fit into account.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Debbie, great question. Yes there is info on that, for both the cups and band. I also included a page of tips on working with stretch fabrics and how to substitute different band fabrics.

      • Debbie says:

        Thanks for the info. I work with knits all the time so I’m very aware of how different stretch percentages can affect final fit.

  23. Grace says:

    I am so excited about this pattern! I bought it immediately and I’m going to sew one up this weekend. I too, am on the larger end of the spectrum. I should be a 40E according to your chart so I’m going to test the 40D and go from there. Based on how you have nested the cup pieces it should be pretty easy to grade out further.

  24. LadyLauriston says:

    I have some longline bras without underwires and they are the most comfortable and beautiful bras. They look great on and under clothes and I find myself reaching for them constantly. Admittedly the other bras I currently own are ill-fitting; like many others, I was surprised to find out I had been wearing the wrong size (too small). That doesn’t change the fact that a wireless bra can be beautiful and supportive! They provide plenty of support for 32DD (still can’t quite believe that is my size) – which works out at 32E according to your sizing chart. I’m excited to try your pattern once I have a little more cash-flow. Congrats Amy! I love it!

  25. Amanda says:

    Beautiful! I love the idea of the long line bra without underwire – very interested to try this style and have added it to my wish-list! ^__^

  26. Sally says:

    This is so so lovely! I have been quite adverse to the idea of sewing lingerie until now – I just adore the longline bra version and may have to take the plunge ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to find out all about the cantilever! Lol

  27. Maggie S B says:

    Amy! I have been looking for a soft, supportive, longline bra forever… I love Ohhh Lulu’s patterns but I’m always looking for more. This looks amazing!!

    My question for you is: Should I start with my RTW size or should I use your instructions? I’m a 32/34E in underwired bras (like Waocoal or Chantelle), but I measure as a 36B in the Watson. Help!!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Maggie, I always like to say that bra measuring guides are just a place to start–guidelines not rules ;). However, if you measured around a 32 or 33″ underbust, and you use a firm powernet for the band, I’d use a 36″ band, especially for the longline version. The 36 bands were drafted for a 32″ underbust. Perhaps you could try a 36C (which is the sister size of 32E) and see how that fits.

      If you use a lighter or stretchier band fabric than powernet, then go down a band size and up a cup size. I don’t know about Wacoal but I wear a lot of Chantelle. On most of their bras they use thin lycra which is not as firm as powernet and that’s one of the reasons why people often need lower band sizes in that brand, if that makes sense!

  28. MaciNic says:

    Very cute ๐Ÿ˜‰ I do love that it’s an entire set and 2nd the request for a tutorial/variation to convert it into a nursing/ease of breast-feeding bra – attractive ones are either hard to find or $$$ and the no-wires is important – best of luck with the Watson.

  29. Kelly says:

    I’m pretty sure this is the bra I’ve been dreaming of. I’ve got the pattern ready to go, and some materials, though I’m not confident they’re just right. Thanks so much for a beautiful design, and for providing such specific sizing! I was initially afraid it was a S-M-L thing, but I should have known better with it coming from you ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Lauren DUrr says:

    I just finished my test run in the long line size 40D. I love it! I have a tiny bit of side boob but I adjusted the girls into the bra and it seems better. I even used only what I had (not the exact elastic requirements but I couldn’t wait for mail order to get here) and it fits well. I can’t wait to make more once my “proper” notions get here!

  31. Rita Chee says:

    I was extremely interested in hearing about your bra and bikini patterns. I was interested in the comments oon sizing. I wear a store-bought C cup so was pretty sure I could find an appropriate size. I took a bra class before which didn’t work out for means was excited to try another pattern. Alas there are not large enough band sizes. I have 46C bras that fit pretty well. All T-shirt bras btw. Can I simply extend the band and adjust the straps? Will you be adding band sizes (I hope) to the pattern as well as cup sizes? Thank you for the pattern and look forward to seeing your new patterns and ideas.

  32. Cal says:

    I am constantly on your site drooling over this bra set. I have a question though, I measure at about 34A and after having four children the girls are not as perky as before and one is larger than the other, so my question is about support and fitting. How would this bra work for me? I usually were padded with underwire because of this issue ( I hate underwire).

    • Amy says:

      Thank you Cal. Alas, I canโ€™t really answer that question for you. Every womanโ€™s body is different and fit/look/feeling of bras depend on many things, including choice of materials. When you make your own, you start discovering those little preferences that you may not have noticed before. This is a soft cup bra with stretchy cups so it has a casual fit, and will fit differently than a padded wired bra. Do you have any experience wearing soft cup bras?

      • Cal says:

        I have one soft cup bra that Ive owned since I was 18 years old ( need less so say the condition it is in). I love this bra! It has a “tricot bonded poly filler” type material that is in the cup. If I can do this for all my bras I’ll be in bra galaxy. Is there a way that this “poly filler” can be used in this pattern . there is a sample of this type of fabric in Fabric Depot catalog page 44.

      • Amy says:

        Hi Cal, the “poly filler” from Fabric Depot is basic bra foam. Since the Watsonโ€™s bra cups are designed for 75% stretch, you would need to play around with fit since foam doesnโ€™t stretch (if it does, very little). In other words, the fit will be different than the intended design. You’d also need to experiment with some alternative techniques to reduce bulk at the cradle seam and around the strap area.

        If you are new to bra making I definitely recommend following a pattern’s recommended fabrics and techniques first, just to avoid frustration, and then trying alternative techniques once you understand the basics. I hope that helps!

      • Cal says:

        Thank you very much! I have a bit of homework to do then. I send you an email to show you the finish product .

  33. Jennifer says:

    Any chance you can separate out the unders and offer them as their own pattern? The bra cup sizing doesn’t go big enough to fit, but I’ve heard amazing things about the panties, and those come in my size!

    • Amy says:

      Hi Jennifer, thanks for asking! but unfortunately I donโ€™t have plans for this but itโ€™s something to consider down the line.

      Others have asked me this same thing so Iโ€™ll add that separating pattern components is not as easy as it seems. It requires investing (both time and finances) in creating two separate sets of instruction booklets and the instructions are intertwined in this pattern. Redesigning the pattern that way is simply not feasible for me at the moment.

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