4.07.2015

lovin' cup

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | watson bra

It wasn't until I stripped down to my thong on a Broadway stage that I realized I was not a 32A. 

The show was Lennon, as in John, the tune was "Woman Is The N****r of the World," already eyebrow raising, and the thought was, I'd wail through this number, and then all four ladies of the show would angrily rip our black shapeless scuba-esque suits off, revealing white lacy lingerie of the peep show variety underneath. YEAH! we all said, fists in air. They're not going to know what to do with THAT! It'll kill!

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | watson bra

We were correct, as evidenced by the stunned awkward silence emanating from the full house. We did this for one performance and then scrapped the ending.

But before that, we had a field trip to Bratender's in NY, where we were properly measured for our racy outfits, and I learned with much shock that I was a 36B. This was well before I sewed. I'd blindly stuck with my high school 32A for years. And today, although I measure my Bust-Waist-Hip every third garment or so, like a good sewist, I've blindly stuck with that Bratender's cup measurement

Hey man, they're the professionals of boobage! CUPS DON'T CHANGE! I went on buying 36Bs and wearing them only when absolutely necessary (read: when auditioning for Lawyer Type Parts).

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | watson bra

Accordingly, my first Watson Bra was a bust (HAHAHAHAHAHA YES). When my 36B came up too small, I thought oh great. I'm the one chick in blogland who doesn't fit the Watson Bra right out of the gate. 

Then I tried the ever delicious Amy's tip: measure your full bust with your back parallel to the floor (essentially in standing tabletop position), and suddenly the extra inches I needed to get the right size appeared out of thin air.

Honestly, I didn't think there was much there to hang, if you know what I mean, which is why I measured myself standing up in the first place. But some good old fashioned naked yoga in the bathroom was the ticket. The new numbers revealed that I am truly a 36C. Ooooh 36C! Look how pretty that C is next to that 36!! I've been shorting my cup size for years! MY CUP HAS BEEN HALF EMPTY(Or half full?) 

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | watson bra

If memory serves, I sported half cups, or maybe even no cups, in that peep show outfit. Considering my fury regarding women being forced to cover up while men get a chestful of sun at the beach, probably no cups. The costume designer for that show had to come to my dressing room and plead with me to wear a bra under my regular costume. But darling, she said, everyone is looking at your nipples and not your face.

I was never really afraid to be naked onstage. It's pretty invigorating. I went the full monty once (not in The Full Monty, in a play in Philly), and it made me feel like The Most Powerful Woman On Earth. Suddenly, all these Juilliard graduates who had been giving me a lofty side eye couldn't even look me in the eye as I stomped around the stage with gladiator's shield, plumed helmet, golden booties, and, erm... golden booty...

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | watson bra

As a matter of fact, I tried to sew something for that gig. (This was still pre-sewing.) A lavender ruffled robe, for the chilly time spent dangling 30 feet above the stage waiting for my entrance. I cut out shapes that bore a passing resemblance to a robe, with no regard to grain (what's grain?), and handstitched it during tech with great galumphing inch-long running stitches. It was pretty bad. But I didn't know that.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | watson bra

I also didn't realize the "short nude scene" was not so much "short" as SUPER CRAZY LONG. I descended from the rafters on a swing entwined with flowers, and then yelled my way in Cockney dialect through twelve minutes with a hilarious King George and wincing Court. The box office took a particular interest in seating any guests of the cast in the first row, extreme house right, as they were some of the best seats in the house. These seats had the added bonus of leaving me no safe quarter to give the eyes of my family members a moment of respite by artfully positioning myself behind my golden shield.  

Again, awkward for them, but in all likelihood they'd had a glimpse at that point. It's hard to get me to behave properly. Bras are annoying! So what if I'm nipping out! So what if you see the goods when I lean over more than five inches in my off-the-shoulder top! OR JUST STANDING ERECT! I continually forget that almost everyone is looking at me from a Higher Vantage Point, and can see right down my shirt.

oonaballoona | a sewing blog | watson bra

But these bits of cloth are comfortable as skin, and have quickly become a habit. (See what I did there?) Much to the delight of Ruggy, the goods beneath my clothing are truly becoming for his eyes only! And, let's be real, with the takeover of social media, I don't see myself signing up for a third round of naked stageplay anytime soon. Instagrammed shot of Act 1, scene 2? No thank you.

You've already heard everything there is to hear about this little gem (except maybe the full bust tabletop measuring part? Do that!), so if you're on the fence about jumping on The Watson Bra bandwagon, climb aboard. Naked dance party at my house! (Only the classy version, in soft cup bras.)

Retro Floral Bra: the softest jersey EVER from Elliot Berman (My favorite so far!)
Pink Roses Floral Bra: a waffle-y stretch from Fabrics For Less in NY (Sam is THE BEST)
Blue Sheer Bra: stretch net from FunkiFabrics (this was a gift, I went the bra route when a planned bathing suit went awry. YAY FOR SCRAPS. And damned if I didn't pick the plainest stuff they have)
Notions and such: mainly harvested from old, ill fitting, B cup bras. WIN. 

60 comments:

  1. Ahahahhaha if I measured my bust while leaning over 1. It would be like 65 inches 2. I would give the floor a good dusting. Lets just say I'm often suffocated during inversions at togas

    But I am glad you have finally conquered the bra sizing mystery! And what cute bras they are. I look on in adoration and bemusement, until someone makes a pattern for 38HH (Yep).

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    1. They do have bra patterns in your size! I have one from Pin-Up Girls that would likely work. https://www.bramakerssupply.com

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    2. Jenny, you and I are almost the same size - you are are not alone. I think I was too "built" for a Watson when I was 11 😁...

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    4. Looks like Pin Up Girls ones only go up to H. :(

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    5. I feel your pain. My sister feels your pain, more specifically. I found a European site that goes up to J in some sizes, but not yours.
      I'm going to make her a corset. She insisted. (She wants to wear lovely feminine clothes with full skirts, 1840s or 1950s style, and arrived at the conclusion that a corset would save her a lot of the fitting and wearing pain. Now to figure out how to fit a corset properly...)

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    6. either there's a pattern out there not yet spied or there's a big gaping hole in the pattern industry!

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    7. Jenny and Hana- I was bemoaning the lack of bras/patterns in my size (not sure what that is anymore after sewing a few and making a bunch of alterations, but something like 44 B, no one believes someone with a band that big has boobs that small) when Andie at Sew Pretty in Pink suggested that I read up on bra sister sizes. The volume of your 38 HH cups is the same as a 40 H Cup, which the bra makers supply patterns do include. You would just need to size down the band until it was comfortable. I used the reverse of this to make a 40 D pattern fit my 44 Bs.

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    8. The pin-up girls patterns unfortunately don't work with the sister sizes. But a quick email to them will do the trick; Beverly is always ready to give advice on her patterns and what you can do to make them fit your body. Their sizes are slightly different from RTW so don't think that you are ruled out for a bra pattern based on your RTW size.

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    9. You can also always clone a bra you own. :) I did that.

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    10. Thanks for the good laugh Jenny...65 inches...lol

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  2. My first Watson (while VavaViking-licious in stretch antique gold) did not fit as well as hoped, my second one was much better. I will not be using the silicone banded elastic on the bottom next time though, it can chafe. Third time is the charm?!
    I love, love, love the waffle knit print version! Well done.

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  3. Ha! Oh lady, you are a warrior! Love the bras too :)

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  4. My first was such a flop! I am definitely going to try a new measurement!
    What's disturbing is that the bra shop I prefer measures you bent over... How did I *never* make that leap?
    Also, do you have bridge issues? Mine don't meet in the middle :(

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    1. the key for me was to mark the point where I needed to stop stitching! it took a try or two ;)

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  5. I recently had my first bra 'fitting' and had a similar revelation about size. Also suffered from sticker shock when I paid for those bras.... So thinking I need to get on the hand made bra train. Have a kit from (Blackbird?) and so just need to pick a pattern and get cracking.

    Have my own naked on stage story, having done a dance performance back in the late 80's (dating myself, yup) when I was clothed in nothing more than a thong and a large swath of net. Was strangely liberating, no wardrobe malfunctions to worry about.... The Symphony Space stage is pretty deep, so the family couldn't get too close. Everyone expects dancers to get naked anyway, right?

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    1. for real, i think as a dancer you *have* to get naked at some point. for awhile, you weren't a NY tv actor unless you'd done a law & order. thankfully, not naked.

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    2. Wait, have you done a L&O, which one?

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  6. You're such a brave woman! Being onstage naked is only something that happens in dreams - not the good ones! I had a bit of a problem with the fit on my first Watson as well, but glad to know I'm not the only one. I'll have the try the table top method of measuring.

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  7. What pretty bras! Now I'm really inspired to find some pretty fabric and get to work.

    And wow, I've got a similar story -- both the bra size part and the (almost) naked on stage part! Heeheehee!

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  8. When I get to the bra making stage of my life, I am damn sure gonna try naked yoga in the bathroom!!! Weee!!!! Thanks for sharing! Hilarious and delightful haha

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  9. Enjoyed your story so much I forgot to look at the bras. Far too amused by the thought of trying to do bathroom yoga whilst measuring my tatas, no mean feat indeed! Lovely bras though

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  10. Oona, without your awesome stories, the internet would be a sad, boring, and lifeless place! I never thought to measure myself that way. Will definitely try it before making my Ohh Lulu Bambi Bralette. Whoop!

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  11. Honey - those bras are beautiful but I have met you and I would be shocked if your under bust measurement warranted a 36 band - RTW, I mean. Have you actually measured it (I have to assume yes in which case I'm flat out wrong. BTW, I am RARELY wrong when it comes to bras.) I'd put your under bust at 33 inches max (with a snug band) and the full bust measurement maybe 4 inches larger. Which, if it makes you feel good, would be more like a 32 or 34 D. Is my spidey sense SO off, in this instance?

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    1. you inspired a posed pst, i must know what you think!!!!

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  12. BTW, would it shock you to know that - in a former life, aka 25 years ago - I was in a musical (let's just say OFF, OFF, OFF King Street) and I stripped down to my undies. BTW, I was totally hot back then and I regret nothing. I played a robot. How I needed to get naked for that role is beyond me.

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    1. it would not shock me, because you are the definition of delightful. the robot part tho, i would love to know how they justified THAT. robots are always naked?

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    2. All I can say is that it wasn't high art :-) And it was written by a guy.

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  13. Those bras are gorgeous. Sadly looking at the sizing for the pattern I think I'm too small. Yep, I'm one of those grown adults who still has to buy bras labelled 'my first bra'.

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    1. you might be wrong, i was! ;)

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    2. Ok, I did the boobs to the floor measury thingy and did get a different result - but I only go up from tween bras to the smallest 'grown up' size. So a very slight improvement.

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    3. Oh, can I relate. Either I get one of the padded bras that just don't look natural, or I get a bra that they sell to teens or pre-teens with the shaped cups that float around inside the pockets, if you know what I mean.

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  14. Wow! You made a bra and a top from that yard? or was it a yard & half of fabric from Elliott Berman's??? I'm impressed!

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    1. I. LOVE. THIS. FABRIC. and yes, on top of the bodysuit! eugenia was generous, in direct proportion to your generosity :)))

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  15. Seriously you're lovable, your blog cracks me up and having that AND gorgeous garments to look at doesn't hurt. Maybe I'll try this bra bandwagon after all, even though I don't trust it will work for me so well!

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  16. Feeling safe when you're naked, nude, or, nekked is the MOST empowering thing! I love the way you describe it. And I love that you have some lovely things to feel empowered in when you're not nekked; tres inspiring!!! Thanks for the measuring tip! xx

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  17. Whew. Brave woman. I'm not a performer, and even if I were, that's just not something I would do. (Maybe that's why I'm not a performer.)
    I did do the other thing. Ended up with 70D if I remember correctly. Now I seem to have gone one D up, at least with the manufacturer who made my latest bra. That's EU sizes, of course. The bra helpfully tells me it's 32DD in the US.
    The good part is, the sewing ethos of "always re-measure yourself" entered my mind early enough that I never really stuck with a size. Part of it is also the early knowledge that no, you can't rely on sizes because everyone does them differently. That's the curse and blessing of living in a cultural crossroads country.
    I don't have 15 dollars to spend on a pattern now (and tend not to in general); but I very much like the simplicity of it. I assume there's always the option of adding boning? Because I think I would need it. And of course, being able to sew it yourself always has the added benefit of choosing fun colours and fabrics and potentially re-using material. :-) I love the purple-and-orange one. It just looks right, somehow.

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  18. I'm totally going on the process of re accessing my bra size. I love soft bras to wear at home and on the weekends as I'm afraid I need the extra security. The floral bra is my favourite.

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  19. Dear Oona, if you are a 36 anything I will strip naked and conga down Cuba St. Measure your under bust. 32 maybe? You are a major force of nature but packed into a fairly diminutive body. Most women notoriously go for too loose a band and too small a cup. I respectively suggest you try 32D in a shop asap. For the fun of it ;-) xo

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    1. HAHAH!!!!! i love this! i wish we could do virtual posts...

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    2. LOL. I just saw your latest post and yup, fit nailed all right! Well done and golly that fabric is exquisite. I wish some smart lingerie company would snap into the idea of an Oona line, maybe Oona Booboona? I'd much rather wear something designed by your fabulous self than that Dita von Teese stuff, erk, so predictable xo

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  20. It's good to know the Watson works on a larger cup size! It's an adorable pattern, and would probably be great for around the house (I am not brave enough to go sans more support and padding to hide my coldbloodedness in public). But it's really looked like the sort of thing for smaller chests, from what I've seen so far. So maybe I will give it a go someday. Like after this baby, when I'm not an embarrassingly large cup size anymore.

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  21. I love everything about this. Except the part where you were uncooperative to your costumer, but I am biased.
    You are the first person that has convinced me I want to sew one of these! I also love flying free, but DD cuppage is tricky to make that work with.

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    1. oo! but i did obey, bad storyteller forgetting to tell the ending! her eyes were so pleading, i had no choice.

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  22. The curious case of the seamstress who prefers to be seamless. Your revelations never disappoint.

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  23. Bummer that the mesh didn't work out for the swimsuit. I was anxious to see what you were doing! What happened?

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    1. ah, it was going to be so cool, a "denim" spandex bombshell. but, the fabric had a super wide white border on all four sides that i didn't account for, and i had to do some wonky cutting which made it a botch. however i have a denim bathing suit on the brain, so i might call a do over from spandex house, they have a very similar denim print!

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    2. oh, and the mesh was going to be the lining ;)

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  24. ...okay, just want to quickly say that I'm relieved you were not professionally fitted by a 'bartender'. I know NYC is trendy, but that would have just been weird.

    I love all of these bras, but the middle one is my favouritest! I love reading about your love of the stage too!

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  25. I love this post Oona! You are so amazing, and inspiring! I totally want to make a Watson now!

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  26. I read this post this morning and you have saved me making a second ill fitting Watson. I stupidly made my first one after measuring myself while wearing a bra (huge mistake) made up a 34D and it was way too small. After reading your post I did the tabletop measurement (I did read that tip in the pattern but It just did not click in my head that I had to be bending over) anyway bending over took me from 38" to 42" which would make me a 34H. What the! Anyway the closest I could get to in the Watson was a 34G. Made that up today and it fits really well! Hurray! Homemade Bra and it only took me two goes!

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    1. ooo i'm so glad!!! yes, i read that tip in the pattern but skipped it on my first go, no idea why. second time is definitely the charm!

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  27. love your bras! all of them.. might try making few for myself.. reading all this i just realized i have absolutely no idea what my cup size is.. i almost never wear bras, but do own few soft bras to wear for those rare occasions i need to wear one (but, those are rare occasions.. i'll admit i rather use a silly trick, if i wear something thin and don't feel like nipping out, i tape little insulation tape 'x'-s and i'm good to go).. but, your bras are lovely, maybe if i can make something equally pretty, i'll convert to bra wearing team

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  28. I think that's probably the most bad ass story I've heard all day. Go you!!! And the bras are lovely.

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  29. Can you talk more or include a link to this parallel-to-the-floor bust measuring thing? Measuring the usual way puts me in a 40D, which is what I've always worn. Attempting the bending-over-&-measuring thing puts me in a 40G! I am just about to try my hand at making my first bra (Elan 645) & was planning to start with 40D. They don't go up to G cups.

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  30. holy crow
    so, so very pretty. Watson wasn't on the radar before, but I am clicking 'buy' right after posting this :)

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  31. HA! This is great Oona! I once played Janet in the Rocky Horror Picture Show in my early 20s ... an amateur theatre show... but still to 400 crowd... and the knickers/bra scene was always my fave... so daring and fun!

    OK, the bend over and measure thing MIGHT be for women before they have babies... I know mine are longer ( in a nice way ) than before but have kinda returned to normal otherwise ... almost. I might have to try this for comfort night time sleeping... xoxoxoxo I'll go look at the Watson's now...

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  32. These are ALL super svelte and gorgeous. I have to say my favourite of all is the mesh with those two colours that shouldn't look so amazing together but do! I'm thinking you would possibly love Maddie's new Sierra bra too...

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!