When I used to do bra alterations at the lingerie boutique where I worked at back in Edmonton – this was our most popular alteration - tightening up the backs of bras.
When you purchase your bra, you want to be able to wear it on the loosest set of hooks so that you can tighten it up as it loosens over time with wear. So what do you do when you find a bra you love, fits well and it’s just a bit loose? Well, you can tighten it!
This can also work if you need to tighten up the band due to weight loss, or it stretching out over time, or if you’ve bought a bra that is simply just too large in the band.
Pictures are worth a thousand words – so I’ve put together a chart to help you determine which method may work best for you depending on the style of the bra, and the amount that you want to tighten the back.
This is the simplest way to tighten the back, it’s quick and easy – but doesn’t work if you want to take a lot out of the back. I suggest this method if you just want to tighten up the band to be equivalent to the tightest hook.
*Note: On a V Back style bra this method may not be best. The old adage to measure twice and cut once is always appropriate as it may bring the straps in too close in the back like the photo below.
First, you'll want to measure the distance between the columns of hooks, as this is how much we're going to remove from each side of the bra. Then you can unstitch the hook & eye pieces from the back, mark with chalk and cut.
You can now zig zag stitch the hook & eye pieces back on the bra. When you sew the hooks on, you'll need to have the hooks facing upwards to put through the machine. On my Bernina, I can move the needle position all the way to the right so that the zig zag stitches are catching the hook piece. Remember - when you're wearing the bra, the eyes are sewn on the left, and the hooks are sewn on the right.
This method requires a bit more bravery for the novice sewer, because now it's time to take things apart. Once you've determined how much you want to take out of your band, measure, mark with chalk, and then double and triple check it. You'll then want to unstitch the hook & eye pieces from the back of the bra, as well as the strip of elastic that runs along the top edge of the back of the bra, up to the shoulder straps BEFORE cutting anything. You only want to cut the band of the bra, leave the upper piece of elastic as is.
Once you've cut the back to the length that you desire, it's time to lay out all of your pieces o determine how it will all fit back together. You want to make sure that you get the centre back just the right width to sew the hooks & eyes back on, and that the shoulder strap ends up in the right location. You can measure against a good fitting bra, or 'wing' it. You'll then attach the elastic back to the upper part of the wing, leaving a bit for the strap to connect back to.
Note: You may have a bra style with this type of back and the strap adjusts in the front, just continue as normal in positioning the elastic back in place.
Once you have everything lined up, and the top elastic zig zag sewn into place, you can trim the extra bits off, zig zag on the hooks and the eyes and then sew the shoulder straps back on, ensuring they are not twisted.
This method is a lot simpler than method two, and is perhaps a bit of a cheat. If you're nervous to actually take the bra apart, you can try this instead. Essentially all we're doing is just sewing a tiny dart into the back of the fabric so that you can narrow the back to fit the hook and eye pieces back on. On this particular bra, I've only had to unpick the stitches on one part of the shoulder strap in order to fold the fabric to stitch the dart. You can also use this method on the other two bra styles, but it works really well on the style with a square back as there aren't typically thick elastic pieces to worry about.
This method is much like method two where you can unstitch the elastic on the top of the back band, but we will not remove it.
On a bra with a square back, the straps can be sewn on in a variety of ways. It is likely that you will need to unstitch the shoulder straps, just make notes so that you can reattach them the same.
This is the simplest method because you don't need to take anything apart. What you can do for this alteration is fold the excess out of the side. This works well on styles like the V Back where you can't take a lot out of the back or it'll affect the straps and you can't easily take the elastic off the top of the band to rebuild.
If the bra has a side seam, that's the location where you'll want to take the fabric out by just folding and doing a straight stitch. You'll want to fold the fabric to the outside layer to reduce the bulk against the body. If the bra doesn't have a side seam, you'll have to fold the fabric at the side under the arm wherever seems suitable.
I hope you found these photos helpful in your bra alteration adventures!
When I bought my first ‘proper’ bra, an expensive French brand at a high-end boutique, I was stunned to learn that the store recommended me to MACHINE WASH my bra.
At first, I thought it was a ploy to get me to ruin my bra and replace it quicker…but after a few more bra purchases, and working in that very shop, I accepted the truth…YOU CAN MACHINE WASH YOUR BRA*!
*Caveat: You MUST follow these tips in the video below…and this works for most bras – not all!
As well, now that I’m a highly experienced bra-fitter on two continents, and have heard and seen it all. I thought it’d be a good idea to include a number of my tips to make sure that your bra remains comfortable and supportive once it has been fitted and that it lasts you as long as possible!
I hope you enjoyed my very first 'bra tutorial' videos!
Educating women on the benefits of proper fitting bras is important to Kim. Designing lingerie that complements the fuller figure, and is comfortable, on-trend and beautifully constructed is her mission.
We are in charge of our bodies, and we make the decisions that are right for us, with no judgement. Kimtimates supports those who make their own choices about their own bodies. #yourbodyyourchoice #mybodymychoice