Sometimes, a bra can look too small when it fits well, because the strip of fabric/elastic under the top of the lace is too tight across the top of the breast. European bras, in particular are nearly infamous for this. If you have firm breast tissue, your breasts will fight against the elastic and shape the bra. Not all of us are that lucky. Soft tissue molds to the shape of the bra, so the elastic pulls down over the top of the breast. If the bra is not a full coverage style, it will not sit against the breastbone, but actually against the breast tissue, causing the breasts to bulge out of the top of the bra and give the appearance of a bra that is too small.
This seam is put in place to pull the top of the cup closer to the chest and prevent the bust from spilling out. That’s probably just fine for someone who is predominantly full on bottom, but someone with a more even or full on top shape will run into this problem pretty consistently in European bras, so I’m going to talk about how to fix that.
Tools You’ll Need:
1 seam ripper & 1 pair of scissors.
Seriously, that’s it.
Difficulty Level: Easy. Seriously, a well behaved toddler could do it.
The bra I will be performing this alteration on is the Samanta Hana (A122 cut) in 70I. Samanta is a Polish brand, and I will refrain from discussing the finer points of the style in detail, as the brand has already been broken down quite well by Miss Underpinnings, but I will say for the purpose of this post that I would refer to this as a mesh balconette.
As you can see above, the bra looks too small on close up. I’m clearly bulging out the top of the cup. If you look closely at the top center, you can even see my bust trying to escape through the gaps in the lace. What may not be obvious in photographs is that there is actually plenty of room in this cup for me, but the top of the cup is being pulled down very tightly across the top of my breast, causing me to quadboob even though the bra actually fits.
This is the problem:
This seam is slightly elastic, and so makes the top of the cup too closed off for me. It fits beautifully everywhere else.
Now, you’re going to work from the inside of the bra. Grab your seam ripper. We need to remove the stitches from inside of the elastic.
You want to work from the elastic side to avoid potentially tearing any mesh or lace with your seam ripper. You can stab a piece of elastic to your hearts content and it doesn’t really matter, but stab a bit of lace and you might poke a hole in your bra.
As you start to remove these stitches, you’ll see the elastic start to come away from the bra, like so:
Keep going. You have to remove all of them. At which point, you’ll have something that looks like this:
Now, up to this point, we’re doing fine. We haven’t cut anything. We are still at a place where this alteration can be reversed by sewing the elastic back down, but we won’t be for long.
This alteration always has the potential to open the cup too much for you (You can correct this by sewing a dart near the wire, but that’s another alteration.), so you definitely want to try the bra on again at this point to make sure the alteration is going to work for you before you move onto the next step, at which point the alteration can not be reversed.
As you can see, this is probably going to work out well for me. There’s a tiny bit of gaping, but that’s mostly due to the position I have to put my arm in to take the photo and the elastic still being connected on both ends.
You’re done with the seam ripper now. Grab the scissors. We need to cut the elastic out on both sides beside the wire.
Cut as close to the wire as possible.
That’s it. The alteration is complete. There is no need to finish the elastic or add no fray. You’re welcome to if you’d like, but if you cut it as close to the wire as you can, the bra won’t give you any issues with fraying or loose threads, and you won’t really even notice that there was ever a seam there in the first place.
This is what you’ve removed – you don’t need them, so unless you have some other use planned for them, just throw them out.
And this is what your bra will look like when it’s done:
The Final Fit Test:
This bra now fits me pretty darn well. It will gape slightly when I move my arms certain ways, but not enough to make me fall out, not enough to cause fit issues, and not enough to show under clothing. This alteration has made this bra the best fit of my current rotation.
If I hadn’t altered it, I would only be able to wear it under loose t-shirts and tunics, and so it would probably spend most of its time in the back of the lingerie drawer.
If this is a problem you find you run into consistently, this is an alteration you definitely want to consider. The entire alteration can be completed in less than 30 minutes, and there is absolutely no sewing required.