Readers, I spent a lot of time last month being frustrated by the Cloth Habit Watson Bikini Set. Don't get me wrong, it is a really cute pattern. The bra is a soft cup seamed bra without underwires. It depends on stretch for support, much like the 'training' bras I can remember wearing as a teen. If you google Watson you see images of many successful bras made up by many people.
I, who had never made a bra in my life, jumped in the deep end and agreed to make it into a swimsuit for DD. Her idea! She wanted a retro type bikini top to go with the black lycra Jalie pants I had made her earlier, blogged here
I wasn't going to blog about any of this at all. I'd come up with a wonky garment that didn't work and didn't fit and then there's all these perfect-sewing-goddesses Posting Perfect Underwear. With never a failure in sight. Maybe I should just let it languish in the closet never to be spoken of again?
Well, then I read Anne's hilarious "Beware the Valley of the Unbloggged' about a few unloved pieces and also this After 5 years of failure I can't take it anymore.. thread that is running hot on Pattern Review.
So here it is, I present to you the wonky lycra and scuba knit failure swim set.
Poor Watson! A note about fitting. This is a bra that depends on negative ease to work. There are instructions for taking your measurements and figuring out what cup size and band you need. It's a nice pattern with good instructions. However, for DD who fell between two sizes I had to go to the smaller cup size and the larger band size for it to work, so like all garments you have to take body variations like breast position/broad back/ ribcage into account. The only way to do this is a muslin as flat measurements will only tell you so much. The 'give' of the fabric also has to be taken into account. It was exhausting!
The knickers ran big. I cut them out, went 'what the?' then took an inch off the sides. As an experiment I had added 6cm to the top and a 10cm doubled over band as my take on retro swim bottoms to go with the top. On DD they sat at an awkward height. She didn't like the leg line. Oh well.
A note on elastic. There's a great tutorial on Cloth Habit about doing the elastic as you go by the feel of the stretch. This is daunting to say the least but I understood her point about not over stretching the elastic. Over stretching even a small section will give you ripples. I found that if I measured 6 inches of garment to 5 inches of elastic and pinned one or two sections at a time then held onto it as I sewed it gave me a more even outcome.
The tutorial, tips on sewing elastic is part of the Watson sewalong.
In fact it's a good technique to know. The material goes on the feed dog teeth and you hold the elastic and stretch slightly but smoothly with an even amount of give as you go. It works!
She also recommends using a normal type zig zag not three step for a more even finish as the three step is best on harder elastic. Who knew?
My story does have a happy ending. After I figured the fitting issues I made the bra for DD again. I lined the back stand with black and the front bra and stand with scuba knit to prevent cold water nipple strike through. I finished it like a regular bra with clasps and straps, it worked and DD liked it. I don't have photos of the success because I thought it would make a return trip to be organ harvested for parts but it didn't.
The bottom did the return trip and will be cut down into knickers for me. DD likes the leg line of the Jalie better.
I will make a Watson bra for myself sometime in the future but there are other things nudging into the queue first. Like a grey print autumn skirt..
love your failures, they teach you things,