Bra Mending Basics

By February 7, 2020 No Comments
tracing outline of bra band

Despite our best care and intentions, sometimes our clothes need mending. As Valentine’s Day approaches, why not show your lingerie some loving?

If your bra is less than a year old, the elastics are still in good condition, and it still fits you decently, a little mending or simple alteration might prolong its life. As a professional bra maker, I’d like to offer you a few simple alteration and mending tips to make your bras last longer. 

Adjusting Strap Length

If you’ve pulled the adjustable part of your strap as far as it will tighten and the strap is still too loose, you need to remove some strap/elastic. There are two ways to adjust the length of your straps, and one is simpler that the other. 

The simple way: 

  1. Pick out the seam that attaches the strap of the bra to the adjustable part of the bra. On most bras, the strap attaches to a ring on the back of the bra. 
  2. Cut a small section (no more than 2 inches unless the straps are REALLY long) from the strap. 
  3. Make sure the strap isn’t twisted. Sew it back into the ring. 

See? Told you that was simple! 

The more complicated way: 

scissors cutting a bra strap

  1. Scavenge a slider that fits the width of your strap elastic from another bra (or buy some.) 
  2. Extend the adjustable portion of the strap as far as it will extend. 
  3. Measure 1″ above where the strap meets the back band and (gulp) cut the elastic. 
  4. Loop the end attached to the band through one side of the slider and sew it back down to the band. 
  5. Measure the amount you want to remove from the elastic and cut it off. Make sure you leave room to adjust the length of the strap still. 
  6. Attach the cut end of the elastic to the other side of the slider. 

There are even more complicated ways, but unless you’re also altering the band, I’d go with one of these two methods! 

Make the band tighter

As you wear a bra, the elastics in the band and the elasticity of the fabric relaxes. Over time, you may find yourself hooking your bra on a tighter and tigher setting (which is why you should buy it so it fits you on the widest setting.) If your band has gotten so loose even the tightest setting won’t do, you can remove a bit of the length. 

  1. back band of a braRemove the hook and eye closure from the bra. Be careful not to rip holes in it with your seam ripper (ask me how I know.) 
  2. If your strap elastic comes down into the hook and eye closure, you’ll need to carefully unstitch it, too. tracing outline of bra band
  3. Take a piece of paper and trace around the edge of the back band, along where the hook and eye goes, and up to the top of the band. Cut it out.
  4. Decide how much you are going to remove. I’d not go higher than 1″. Remember, whatever you remove from one side, you need to remove on the other. So if you remove 1″ on one side, you’ll need to remove it on the other, making it 2″ taken out total. That’s a lot! altering the back band of the bra
  5. Place your piece of paper on top of the band and trace out the shape of the back band. Repeat on each side. 
  6. Cut off the extra material, mimicking the height and shape your bra had at the beginning. 
  7. Re-attach your strap elastic with a zig zag stitch. 
  8. re-attach your hook and eye closure. Remember, the eyes face out from your body and the hooks face in! 

Replacing a wire/mending a wire that’s fallen out

Oh, underwires. Why can’t you just stay inside the channelling and do what you’re supposed to do? Why must you break and snap and poke out at the most inconvenient times possible?? 

If you’re replacing a wire, choose one that sits exactly where your breast meets your chest wall and follows the curve of your breast. It should be the same length or slightly shorter than the wire that was in your bra to start with. 

  1. Assess the situation. (does this feel like first aid? It does to me. Bra first aid. But I digress.) If the wire isn’t poking out, look at the ends of the channelling. Are the ends exposed, or are they underneath the elastic? 
  2. Carefully unpick the end of the channelling and pull out the wire. 
  3. Insert the new wire, making sure that the end with the coloured dot ends up sitting between your breasts (or in whatever orientation is correct for the wires you purchased.)
  4. Reseal the channelling with a bar tack stitch. 

If the wire has poked out from the very end of the channelling, the simplest fix is to shove it back in and bar tack the end of the channelling closed again. 

If the wire has poked through the channelling at another location, it’s going to be trickier to repair. The wire has weakened the actual channelling material, and it’s that you need to repair. 

If you’re an experienced bra maker, you can remove the entire piece of channelling and replace it. 

If you’re reading this and that is a terrifying thought, then let’s just make a patch. 

Your patch needs to be made from a sturdy material that won’t stretch, and that you can stitch down by hand to the bra. Trying to stitch on a patch with the underwire in there is a recipe for broken needles and near heart attacks. 

What makes a good patch? Well, I recommend channelling material! Channeling material is a tube. If you have a worn out bra that has good channelling in it, cut out a section, or save your bra making leftovers for patches. You can even slice it on one side and lay it flat. You want to make the patch larger than the area that has weakened. 

Grab a sturdy needle and 100% polyester thread. Reposition the wire inside the original channelling and lay your patch over it. Hand stitch the edges of the patch down securely. Then, feel around and locate the wire. Hand stitch securely through the patch and the original channelling (this is why you need a sturdy needle) as close to the wire as you can get on both sides and along the top. 

Do you have your own bra mending tips? Share them with us on social media!

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