Teeny little fix

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Over a year ago, I spent a slightly obscene, K-Line-worthy amount of money on this bra. It’s gorgeous, and when I tried it on, the fit was perfect—on the tightest hook, because it was a 32″ band and really, according to the bra-shop ladies, I should be wearing a 30″ band. Fortunately, they also offered free alteration with the purchase, and it would be quite easy to have it altered (and I hate altering things myself)—so, when I picked it up the next week, the bra was as gorgeous as ever, but the band was, invisibly, mysteriously, just a little shorter. Yay!

Except, when I got it home and put it on, something that I hadn’t noticed at all when trying it on happened—the wires dug in like CRAZY between the breasts. To the point where I couldn’t wear it after a few minutes, never mind all day. What the heck? How had I missed this at trying on? I was dismayed. Not to mention upset at the wasted money—no returns on altered bras, my friends.

But what could have gone wrong? It was really uncomfortable. Sometimes you don’t notice a little fit issue until you’ve worn something awhile, but this didn’t feel like that. This was too big a problem to have missed. So, perhaps it was a problem that hadn’t existed when I tried the bra on the first time. What had changed? Only the band length. How would that affect the wires digging in?

I examined the bra more closely. Sure enough, the bridge between the cups was distinctly stretchy. With the added tension on the band, I surmised that the bridge was stretching, too, throwing off the angle of the cups.

Did I mention I hate alterations? So it then sat in my underwear drawer for a year or so. Finally, in a fit of wardrobe purging this staycation, it had to either get fixed or go. I grabbed the first thing to come to hand, a scrap of silk charmeuse with some selvedge, and stitched a stay across the inside of the bridge. I think the silk will be perfect, strong and soft but not bulky.

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And tried it on and—no pokies!!!!

Not a glamorous or time-consuming bit of sewing, I know, but I wanted to document it just because it seemed like such a strange thing to throw off the fit of a bra. And such an easy fix. Why do we avoid these little chores so long? (Or am I the only one?)

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “Teeny little fix

  1. gilliancrafts

    I have this problem too – every time I buy expensive bras that the bra fitter says fit, the wire poke into my sternum like no body’s business. I have a few bras I can’t wear as a result. I’m not sure if it’s the same cause, but I’m definitely going to check! THanks!

    • Yeah, I have no idea if this is a common thing or something particular to my (slightly odd) rib-cage shape—but I figured it was worth sharing just in case. It is SUCH an annoying issue!

  2. I am the exact same way about personal clothing alterations! It takes me ages to get around to them and then it’s only a few minutes.

    I’ve found that I can’t wear bras with U-shaped underwires without them killing my sternum. Which is sad, because I usually love the look of the cute balconette style bras. As long as the underwire ends at a lower point in the middle of the bra I’m usually okay. I’ve considered trimming off some of the underwire length before but haven’t wanted to spend the money to test if that would work for me.

    Nice that you were able to come up with such a simple fix!

    • I usually prefer a lower underwire for fit, too—my usual problem is the underwires being too narrow—but if the bra fits right, it isn’t a problem. I feel like I have less trouble now that I’m looking for larger cup-sizes in smaller band-sizes, even though “officially” the underwires should be the same… maybe because the tighter band pulls the wires more open?

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who puts off alterations and mending forever! 😉

  3. Great alteration! I never have this issue (of course I have many others!) with the wires poking the sternum. Given the shape of my bust, I find it hard to get a gore that does tack!

  4. Zena

    Nice save!

    I skew the other way in my attitude toward mending. I can’t wear the item as is, so it’s essentially useless, so any fix is an improvement and I’m very unlikely to make it worse. In contrast, I always worry about ruining fabric when sewing from scratch, so that’s what I end up procrastinating about.

    ps. Are you likely to travel this way any time soon? There is an antique store I’d like to introduce you to, and they have lots of patterns…

    • Ha! I suspect you’re more practical than I about mos things. 😉

      I wish I had a clear-cut yes for you—I would love to get down to the farm (which is near) this summer… but I’m not sure. Probably around Thanksgiving, but maybe not before. 😦

      • Zena

        Well, whenever it may be, let me know if you have time to get together.

        As for practical – re mending, perhaps. But my pile of UFOs says otherwise!

  5. I’m a mender more than a sewist, though I do leave the simpler things til last (oh, that needs a button? Still needs a button six months later?). Thanks for for showing us the mend; It looks pretty sharp (pun intended) and nicely thought through.

    • When I finally get around to it, I always find the mending quick and satisfying… it’s just psyching myself up, somehow…

      I’m very curious if this fix helps anyone else. It was such a strange issue to crop up…

  6. Don’t beat yourself up over waiting long to fix things. Right now, I have three summer dresses on my ironing board waiting for alteration/fixing. One with a broken zipper and two with poly boning which is poking through the lining. And then there are still some alterations I promised to relatives…

    About the bra: I’m surprised that such an expensive bra, which looks heavily constructed, would have stretch in the bridge. I learned in my (very short, but I also read up on the subject) bra making course that the front of a bra, certainly the bridge should not stretch. Accordingly, when I make a bra, I always layer non-stretch net behind the fabric at the front, for the whole body section between those little bits of boning at the sides.
    I hope your fix will work and you can enjoy this bra now.

    • Alterations for relatives are the worst! I pinned up a bunch of my mother-in-law’s jeans for hemming, oh, two years ago? And never did it. I’m assuming she gave up and took the pines out so she could wear her jeans eventually…

  7. What a gorgeous bra, totally worth rescuing from your drawer. Well done on such a simple fix to a fatal flaw.
    I detest mending and always have a guilt provoking backlog. Plus, although I do my best to discourage them, sometimes family members sneak one in there as well. Always with “this will only take a minute…” or similar. Thinking:”Hmmmm, more like half needle/buy notions etc…..”
    To date bra-making has sat on the back burner as I have too many things in my current queue and fitting ambitions, but when I read of others’ successes and imagine the holy grail of achieving fit AND attractiveness, it is very tempting.

    • Someday I will make bras. 🙂 Although I confess it’s one of the few things I’m seriously considering taking a course in, if I can ever find the time/cash (the two in conjunction being very scarce around here.)

  8. It isn’t unusual for me to have to pinch out and sew a little 1/2″ dart at the center front, even if the center front gore/bridge isn’t made out of stretchy fabric. I usually have to alter for this when I make my own bras too.

  9. LinB

    I find I don’t have problems with wire pokies early in the day. I learned recently that it is expected — and just fine — to readjust one’s breasts inside the bra, throughout the day. So, I trot to the ladies’ room, lean forward, reach up under my blouse and re-adust the girls into their cups. I also give the wires a shove back into position — they tend to wander up and back towards my armpit, for some reason. (Heck, men adjust their soft bits inside their underpants all day long, and none of them feels one bit guilty for wearing underpants that need readjusting.)

    When you make your own bras, you can bend the wires to fit you better, if you are more U-shaped than O-shaped. You’ll have to adjust the cup pattern pieces, to flatten the fit. I will buy thrifted underwear to scavenge underwires for fitting trials. That is the only reason I buy thrifted underwear. Those danged wires are expensive! but they have to be. They are amazing feats of modern engineering, they are.

    • Yes, the bra-store ladies gave a full course in “How to smoosh the breasts into the bra”… >_< I confess, at least at my stage of life (no longer teenager-rock-hard but not exactly free-flowing, either, I still wish I could find a bra to fit my breast rather than having to smoosh my breasts into a particular cup shape. Though the lift & scoop did make a significantly larger number of the bras "fit."

  10. Oh my gosh. I have a bra that I delegated to my sewing model for the same problem… it fits beautifully, but digs like crazy. I think I might try this!

    • Let me know if it works! I have no idea if this is a general fix or just some quirk of my figure (my ribcage has a peculiar flaring-toward-the-bottom shape)—but I’m very curious! And, if it doesn’t work, I’m sure it won’t make your dress form any more uncomfortable! 😉

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