How to Sew a Bra Into a Casual Dress

It looks like I’m all boobs all the time this week.  Next week I want to talk about slipper lobsters.

Before we get to the pictures, my criteria for a sew-in bra:

  • support the breast
  • reduce jiggle
  • cover- I mean not “spilling out” or showing too much.  Sometimes this can be an issue despite my best efforts, so I try to err on the side of prudish.  That doesn’t mean I can’t wear a low (ish) neckline, it just means I need to watch out.  The “modesty line” is different for everyone.

If you can’t find bra cups, try using one or two layers of lightweight to medium woven interfacing on the lining piece.  Believe me, it will definitely help do all those things I listed, even if it’s not “going out in public” material.

Also helpful is a dress pattern with a midriff section.  I have a “hanging sew-in bra” for other styles, it’s a little different.  For this dress, I used the midriff section from Colette’s Parfait because I know I like it.  Then I cut the rest of the dress around that.

This is a basic concept, it’s up to you to figure out how to best place them in your garment.  It’s really not difficult once you get your hands in it, but different dresses may need a slightly different approach.

Here’s another approach to the same problem at The Sewing Divas.

Brisbane crafters: Voodoo Rabbit is a local fabric store which carries hard to find “edgy” prints and sustainable fabrics from all over the world.  They’re opening a new shop in the Gabba tomorrow, I’m planning to check it out with a few friends.  If anyone would like to “meet up,” let me know and I’ll keep an eye out.


17 comments

  1. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I know we’re heading into winter here, but I’m already thinking about spring and summer dresses and experimenting with sew-in bras, so this is fantastic!

    I actually have a vintage one piece swimsuit that has what appears to be a very similar sew-in bra to the vintage one you posted.

    • Funny, because when I tried on the bodice for the first time I thought “Whoa, this looks SOOOO much like a 50′s swimsuit top.” Then I decided I didn’t care. :)

      Yes! Experiment! Sometimes I feel like the fabric and needle equivalent of a mad scientist… ;) I figure we’re all safe as long as my dresses don’t come to life in the night and terrorize the village.

  2. Yesssss! Summer-heat-dress-jiggle be-gone! Love the bra cups at the top of the blog… off to find some of my own.

    • Heheh, I couldn’t resist, I love playing with that banner. The shape of the cups on my worktable was rather pleasant, I was sorely tempted to do some surrealist type photography with them but restrained myself. (Been reading up on 1930′s surrealism lately, it’s creeping into everything…) :)

  3. Ooh, that is really neat! Now to find bra cups in my size, I guess? That’s always the hardest part for me. (No really, I am all boob.)

    • Basically, you *can* “get away with” just adding a few layers of fabric to the lining in the bust area rather than using bra cups. My Blueberry Parfait is made that way, no cups but interfaced well and I don’t feel at all exposed when I wear it without a bra. (Though I still wear one with it when I go out.) I find it simplest to fuse a few layers of woven interfacing to the lining. I go for a lightweight one and fuse on several layers, so the resulting lining piece isn’t iron-clad. I prefer a soft shape. If you like iron-clad, then go for it of course. Use a stiffer interfacing and your bust will be bullet-proof…

      The reason I prefer woven interfacing is because they’re made of actual fabric. I find that pellons and the like tend to bubble and pill and warp over time so I only use them where it doesn’t matter if that happens. Wovens generally last longer. If you can’t find that, then try some Armo-weft. It’s for jackets, but I should think it would work well for bust lining with a little support.

      Barring all of that, you can just cut several bust lining pieces from fabric and baste them together, then treat them as one layer.

      The other option if you can’t find bra cups is to take apart an old well-fitting bra and copy the cups yourself in batting and fabric. The next time I take it into my head to do such a thing, I’ll document it.

      All of those options will help “firm up” that area and cover any nipply bits. Of course, it’s down to your level of comfort…

      I see sewing/designing for myself as a sort of luxury. Chanel used to say something along the lines of “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it’s not luxury.” True that.

      I really hope that clears things up, if not, then let me know. :)

  4. An excellent tutorial, thank you for taking the time to post this!
    I hope you enjoyed your excursion to the “edgy” fabric store; if I wasn’t on the other side of the country I would be joining you in a heartbeat :)

    • Heh heh heh… I picked up some fabrics for my daughter, brought them home and we talked about what they should be. She know’s what’s up and is thrilled with the Pandas in New York anime-pop-cartoon fabric I found for her… ;)

  5. As a suggestion for those with larger/harder to find cup sizes, another option is to buy a bra where the cups fit you really well, or use an old bra (they need to be the slightly sculpted, foam kind) and use the cup pieces from that. I always check out the bra sales at my local department store for this option, because they can be cheaper than the sewing bra cups (especially if you are buying from Spotlight). Depending on the dress and your preferences you can take out the underwires or leave them in.

  6. Yeah, made it – and plan to make many-many-many more. Fantastic, my boobs are on ther place! Thank you very much :-)
    P.S. If my camera is repaired, I’ll make some photos and put them on my site with a link to you – hope you don’t mind.


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