Editor’s Note: Can big-busted women wear wireless bras? Of course! It depends on what level of support and shaping you want. Some regular bra patterns, like the Pin Up Girls Classic Bra, can be made without the wires – though in my experience with that pattern, the shape and lift is quite different when there aren’t wires to keep the bridge flat to the body. Bralettes can be made with the same sturdy fabrics as wired bras, so they certainly can offer good support. Today though, guest-poster Mariah is taking us through two popular soft bra options, designed for comfortable, light support. — Gillian
I have always been an underwire bra kind of girl- up until I was about four months pregnant and suddenly that underwire just felt too restrictive. Then, I discovered the wonderful world of soft cup bras. While I’ve gone back to wearing underwires most of the time, sometimes a soft-cup bra is so nice to put on when I’m home for the day, or after the gym, or really whenever a proper bra feels like too much. Soft cup bras are kind of the sweatpants of bra-land, but they don’t have to be dumpy at all! In this post, I will be comparing two excellent soft-cup bra patterns. These are a great intro to lingerie sewing, and they may become a staple of your loungewear wardrobe!
First off, the very popular Watson Bra by Cloth Habit. This pattern has a regular and long-line version. I highly recommend purchasing a kit for this bra, available from Blackbird Fabrics or Grey’s Fabrics. This bra has quite a few components and a kit is a great way to know that you’ve got everything you need.
Amy has a great Sew Along with information about fit and alterations. Definitely follow Amy’s size guide rather than your RTW size. Also, just like with a good RTW bra, make sure the band fits snugly enough–most women don’t wear a snug enough band, which causes the back of the bra to ride up and affects the fit of the whole bra. It’s difficult to make a muslin for a bra, but it is worth at least attempting it so that you can get a sense of how it will fit.
While this is a soft-cup bra, the cradle is lined with tricot that has very little stretch, and the band is made of power mesh, which is also quite firm. This makes for a pretty supportive cradle, almost mimicking an underwire. The bra is finished with lingerie elastic, and ends up looking very pretty. Amy has some great videos explaining how to install lingerie elastic. Her website is a treasure trove of resources on lingerie sewing!
Second we have the Jalie Patterns Lined Bra (Pattern 3131). This pattern comes with instructions for turning it into a nursing bra, and also has a camisole variation. This bra is easier to make than the Watson, and has some really nice construction details. However, it is definitely not as supportive. The cradle is made of the same material as the cups (though you could change this), so it’s stretchy everywhere. The cups are one piece (each) and you just gather the bottom to fit it into the cradle. This makes it easy to fit and to sew, but it doesn’t create quite as nice of a shape as the Watson.
My personal experience with this bra was that the stretchiness of the cradle made it so my boobs didn’t stay within the cups-they kind of filled out the whole bra. But everyone has a different shape, so it could have been my very own unique problem. The answer to this would probably be to go down a band size and maybe try a less stretchy material for the band.
This bra is finished with fold-over elastic, which is easy to sew and makes for clean finish. What I love about this bra is that it is completely lined, so there are no raw edges anywhere on it. The bra has a sportier, more casual vibe than the Watson. Of course, since it is a Jalie Pattern, the instructions are straightforward, but don’t go into a ton of detail. They have helpful illustrations, but there is definitely not as much information as you get with the Watson Bra.
I hope you find this review helpful! You can read more about my bras (and so much more) on my blog:www.blackberryjamble.com. Happy sewing, everyone!
Editor’s notes: The Watson Bra pattern covers sizes 30B-30I, 32A-32H, 34AA-34G, 36AA-36F, 38A-38E, and 40A-40D. If you fall above that range, I’d suggest this tutorial on grading up a bra. Countless bloggers have made this pattern, but personally, I’m inspired by the beautiful coral sets made by Nicole from Pudge and Nico and Sian from Rebel Angel.
Jalie 3131 isn’t designed around cup sizes, so if you are larger or smaller than the 5-7″ differential it suggests between full bust and under bust, you might need to gather the cup pieces more or less. It goes up to a 50″ full bust with a 43.5″ underbust. If you’d like to see more about this pattern, Anne from the Clothing Engineer has very detailed posts on making this bra for her mom. Novita from a Very Purple Person posted her experience with these same two patterns just last week!