Tuesday 11 October 2011

Alterations: Reduce the band width

I absolutly adore my Tease Mes and Thrill Me:s so much I still keep on buying them even though the smallest band size I can get is still way too big on me. I'm almost preaching about the importance of wearing the correct size but for some reason it is sooo hard to follow my own advice. A too big band makes the bra slide up in the back, makes the bra less supportive and just uncomfortable after a while. So, I decided to make one of my bras just a bit more comfortable.

To do this you need a seam ripper, matching thread and a sewing machine. It is possible to do it by hand, but then you really need a whole lot of knowledge about tecniques in hand sewing and well, it's not as easy as it sounds.

1: Look at what you've got
This is how the back part of my bra looks. I need to take away enough to reduce to width one to two sizes, which means 2-4 inches stretched. However when the fabric isn't stretched but just resting it's enough with just a bit more than an inch on each side. When moving each part of the closure even that small amount the band is too high in the new position so the height needs to be altered too. The easiest way is to move the elastic that leads to the strap. Since I don't mind the straps being a bit closer together and I do such a small alteration I can leave the attatchment for the strap where it is.

2: Remove the closure
Rip the seam apart that holds the closure to the fabric. The seam is just as in the picture and is usually just a narrow zigzag. Take a good look so you can replicate the seaming later on.

3: Remove parts of the elastic
Now the closure is gone and it is time to take parts of the seam on the elatistic leading to the strap away. Don't go all the way unless you plan to move the whole strap. Take your time to look carefully at the seam here too.

4: Pin the elastic back
Pin the elastic back in its new position further down than before. make sure that it makes the height of the band just right for the new closure position. You may need to stretch the elastic just a bit to make it fit well.

5:  Check the position again and start sewing
Check once again that the elastic is in a good position and start stitching it back again. I use a 2.5-3.5 mm wide zigzag with a length of 1.5 mm. The seam should follow the inner edge of the elastic.

6: Cut away the excess fabric
Since the elastic now sits lower than before there will be excess fabric there that you can just cut away. Leave about 2-3 mm just so that the stitches won't come loose, but it should be okay. Also, take away some of the lenght in the band. I took away about 2 cm at each side.

7: Pin the closure back again and sew
Pin the closure back with the fabric of the band sandwiched inside the closure. Start of with the longer seam so it stays where it should be when you do the last two (the upper and lower). I use a 2 mm wide 1 mm long zigzag for this. When you stitch the shorter the needle should go down outside the actual fabric on everyother time it goes down.

Once the pins are gone you're finished with it. This is how my ended up.

It is always good to complete one side at a time. Then you can try the bra on properly before you start on side number two. It is hard to tell at the start what amount you need to take away so better to be safe.

If you need to reduce the band width with more than one or two sizes you will need to move the straps. It is certainly possible and I will at some point show how to do it too, but in that situation you need to alter more than just that. I would therefor not recommend anyone doing that if they don't have a lot of previous experience. When it's about smaller amounts it is really not that hard and you really should be able to do it. :)

In my case I discovered as soon as I but the bra back on that there was a new problem there. The shoulder straps have always been positioned a bit too far apart but since the smaller band means that the cups are being stretched even further under my arms this was just too much to make it wearable. This was my next project which I will tell more about later.

Left: Before. The tightest setting is used and it is still a bit too big.
Right: After. The loosest setting is used and it is just fine on me.


  1. Wow, I didn't know you had a blog!

    I did this alteration on a bra of mine recently, although I wasn't good about restructuring it, I just cut off the hooks and sewed them on somewhere else. It worked okay for an old bra that I usually just wear around the house, but I might have to try out your tips :)

  2. This looks super nice and neat. But i end up shortening my band by taking in the gore to suit my close set breasts but this is a good alternative if someone is happy with the center gore.

    1. For bras with a wide center gore where the band is just a touch big I usually take in the gore instead. I know that when I still wore Cleo Lucys I used to to that on the 28 bands but sadly there seems to be a limit of around one band size that can be achieved that way... :/ But, it is definitely a very nice little side effect of making the center gore narrower. :)