March 19, 2014

Altering RTW - Shortening the Band

Sharon, a blog reader writes:

"I wear a size 30DD, and even that is too big in the band for me--I actually measure a 28 band. Obviously, it's almost impossible to find a bra that fits. I'm not quite ready in my sewing skills to make my own bra, but I'm getting closer. In the meantime, I would like to know where is the best place on the band for me to cut it and re-seam it, in order to make the band small enough? I have been doing trial-and-error, but it's mainly been error! Can you help?"

I’ve covered this topic in my book, The Bra-makers Manual, but I didn’t actually mention that this could also be used as an alteration for ready-to-wear (RTW) that is too large. In Sharon’s case, the cups fit fine, but the band is too long around the body to fit her tiny frame. She could “just” go out and buy a 28F bra, but now really, how many of those have you seen in your bra buying treks? I would guess….none.

Altering the band is a fairly simple task for anyone with moderate sewing skills, and as always, there is more than one way to do it. I’ll explain both methods and you can decide which one suits your patience level for alterations and your skill level.

The first method is a quick fix, and literally can be done in 5 minutes. The advantage of speed may be outweighed by the not-so-nice look of the finished product. It involves taking a tuck in the band in the area of the bra that would be not visible if your arms are hanging straight down. You only need to sew a tuck from top to bottom of the band. Depending on the amount you have to take out, you may want to cut off and finish the edges of the alteration, otherwise if it is only a small amount, you may just fold it toward the back and sew it down. The easiest way to determine the amount to remove is to have someone hook the bra in the middle hook and pin out the amount that makes it comfortable. Strive for even amounts on both sides. The amount that is pinned is the depth of the tuck. A 1/2” tuck means you are actually removing 2” from the band.

You can see here, the tuck is best sewn in the space where there is the least amount of slope from the beginning of the tuck to the end. If the angle is quite steep, and sometimes it is, than the tuck will have a drop in it from one side to the other.




The second method is a little more complicated however it produces the best results. Isn’t that always the way it is? You’ll need to pick out the stitching that holds the hook and eye in place, then do the same for the stitching on the strap curve if there is one, so that the straps and be removed from the strap scoop. This will leave the whole back edge without anything on it. You will cut the back the distance you need to remove, off each side, then sew the strap back in place. You’ll probably want to use a zig-zag stitch or the lightning stitch as described in the post entitled, “The Famous Downward Hike ”


Once the straps are back in place, you can sew the hooks and eyes back on, stitching the eyes on the left (“eyes” has four letters - “left” has four letters) and the hooks on the right. You can sew the hooks and eyes on with either a straight stitch or a zig-zag. You might have to change your needle position to get close to the edge on the hooks, but watch out for the metal that hides under the cloth - it can give you a nasty surprise if you hit it with your needle.


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