A Silk Watson Bra

You may have noticed that I’m not big into bandwagons, and if I am going to jump on one, I like to wait until it’s safely parked back in the barn and everyone else has left first … I actually bought a copy of this pattern right when it came out and it seemed like everyone in my sewing-internet-world was talking about it, but then in more my typical style, I decided to think about it for quite a while before actually making it.


silk watson bra 1


What was/is really exciting to me about the Watson Bra pattern is that someone else already did all the hard work of figuring out the exact curves of each piece to make a smooth cup shape, make it fit into the band, etc. (thanks Amy!), and that it’s specifically designed to be made without underwires, which is exactly what I wanted.

What I was less excited about is the fact that it called for mainly synthetic stretchy stuff; lots of kinds of elastic and power mesh, etc. As you may also have noticed, I’m so over it with all of that, and I’m trying to use all natural materials whenever it’s even remotely feasible. And one of the things that kept popping into my head whenever I looked at all this cashmere felt I have around* was, “this would really be perfect in a bra!” Since you know, it’s substantial but flexible, and insanely soft on the skin. But could I really make a bra using all natural fabrics? Maybe without even elastic?

It turns out the answer is a resounding yes! Not only can it work, but it did work beautifully on the very first try (some luck involved). Using my measurements of approximately 31 ½” underbust and a 1” difference between full and upper bust, I decided to make a size 34A, erring on the side of a slightly smaller size since my materials weren’t super stretchy and I didn’t want it to come out too loose. I made a couple of alterations to the pattern; adding ½” to center front since I knew that would fit my frame better, and straitening out the bottom line of the band to allow for the possibility of using an existing hem when upcycling garments for fabric (although I didn’t do that this time). I also added to the seam allowance in the center of the outer cup pieces, so I could grade it with the inner seam allowance to avoid a noticeable ridge there.


silk watson bra 2


The grey fabric is from a silk knit top that had worn out around the underarms and cuffs but still had plenty of life in the body. The pink binding is leftover fabric from making these camis (very thin silk knit), cut 1 ½” wide, sewed ¼” from the edges, and turned under. And the inner cups are indeed felted cashmere scraps*—oh yeah! I sewed it all together with a simple zigzag stitch, and sewed the straps on by hand.

According to my notes I made this back in February, which means I can now safely report that it works as well in real life as I’d hoped. The only alterations I’ve made since then are to move the back attachment point of the straps closer to center back (typical for me if the straps are slipping off my shoulders at all), and to tack down the bindings at center front with some tiny hand stitches, since the edges pulled up a bit after a few wears and washings, revealing the cup layers.


silk watson bra 3


I thought this might be a wearable muslin version, but instead it came out near perfection in fit and function. It does everything a want a “real bra” to do: provide a smooth and socially acceptable silhouette under a single other layer of clothing, and add a little bit of support. It’s also so comfortable I forget I’m wearing it, which is key for me. I thought about making another one (I even have another old silk top or two with some features that might be really fun to incorporate) but the truth is I don’t need it right now. This one, plus my more bralette-type past attempts at upper-body lingerie, are covering all my wardrobe needs. So, I’m officially checking “make real bra” off of my bucket list goals, and moving on!

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about what it means to have “enough” as I get closer to actually filling the gaps in my wardrobe. This post by Felicia has only broadened my sense that this is a really important thing for us all to be thinking about. A whole post about it here is likely coming … I’d love to know your thoughts at any time.


Previous makes


*Thanks to all the Fiddleheads hats I’ve made over years now, I have an entire giant plastic bin of small bits of luscious felted cashmere knits, which I could never throw out despite the fact that there’s way more than I’ll use in one lifetime (unless maybe, a giant intricate patchwork cashmere blanket—don’t even think about that, self!). Which is why I’ve started sorting them into groups of pleasing colors and offering them to fellow makers in my Etsy shop. I’ll continue to sort and list more batches as they sell. If you’d like some and you have color requests, just give me holler, here or there!



7 thoughts on “A Silk Watson Bra

  1. I’m impressed at your creativity and ingenuity. I’m sure that cashmere feels wonderful but alas, for those of us who cannot wear ANY wool directly against the skin, this would not work. We need cotton! But I’m sure that you could figure that out, too!

    • Hi Melissa! I actually think any thick soft knitted fabric would probably work for the inner cups, so silk or cotton would be fine too, I would just look for something cushy. 🙂

  2. Wow, I’d never have thought of using felted cashmere for bra cups! It’s brilliant! Like you I much prefer natural fibres for underwear (and everything else), although I do use organic cotton knits with a bit of elastane in, and definitely elastic – possibly easier to do without those things in smaller cup sizes?? Anyway, I’m going to try a bit of old cashmere jumper next time, and I guess organic cotton sweatshirt fleece could be good as well. Thanks for the idea!

    • Hi Nina, yes, I know this is one thing that’s easier for me since I’m not very “well endowed” … but I do also think there are creative solutions to all kinds of things. Some of them I haven’t figured out yet. I do definitely still use elastic for some things, undies for example. But I’m happy to share the things I do figure out!

  3. This is great! I feel the same about bandwagons, and have also been interested in try my hand at sewing undergarments but haven’t made much progress. Maybe I’ll finally take up the banner as this seems to be a fun and practical project. Thanks for sharing all the details too!

    • I’m so glad it resonated with you! I do think that the Watson pattern is a good place to start, especially if you want to experiment with using different materials. Good luck!

  4. Love your version of the Watson bra. I got the pattern so I could use T-shirts and some silk jersey I acquired. Alas the largest cup in my band size is way too small for me (I didn’t read carefully the measurement method before purchase) so will be making something else. I too have been felting cashmere (rare to find at my local Goodwill in the sea of synthetics) and thinking of its bramaking potential. In the process picked up a couple men’s smooth fine gauge silk knit sweaters. So I have loads of nice material. My big challenge is removing the hideously sticky laundry product or “air freshener” perfumes that are often attached to secondhand clothes, I’m very sensitive to these. Next on my list of things to try, Marseille soap. Possibly with vodka.

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