Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bra Alteration: Tightening a Stretchy Bra Band

Today finally I got around (with the help of my mom and her sewing machine!) to modifying the band of the black 30GG Deco bra that I bought a few weeks ago. It's really the first bra alteration I've done besides taking in a center gore, so I'm by no means an expert, but I found this really pretty simple. Here's a quick rundown of what I did.

The unstretched band measurement of the bra is about 26 inches.
The stretched band measurement (before alteration) was almost 32 inches (stretchy even for a 30 band)
My underbust measurement is about 27 inches and I wear a 28-band bra, so I wanted get the stretched band measurement down to around 27-28 inches.

The method I used was Venusian Glow's easy tutorial on Tightening a Bra Band. I used a ribbon for backing as suggested at the bottom of the post (and basically did the same thing as in her Bra Band Tightening Using Elastic post), as just simple stitching wasn't going to give the tightness I wanted. Thankfully, since the unstretched measurement itself (26 inches) was a little less than what I wanted, I didn't have to worry about taking off any actual length of the band: I just needed to provide a non-stretchable backing to the bra so it wouldn't stretch to the full 32 inches.

We stitched ribbon onto the elastic of the bra on both sides of the band, top and bottom (I left the panel right next to the cups alone, as I didn't want the bra to end up too tight).

I didn't have black ribbon, but I think the blue looks kinda snazzy... plus, it's on the inside of the bra, so you can't tell from the outside!

The end result is that the bra now stretches to just 28 inches. Much better! No cutting necessary, and I didn't find that the cups got distorted.

However, this fairly quick fix doesn't always make for a perfect bra. Before, the bra was much too loose on the tightest (3rd) hook. Now, the bra is quite tight enough on the middle (2nd) hook. This bra is now wearable for me (whereas before the band was so big that it wasn't), but the issue of the center gore not sitting flush with my sternum was not corrected by tightening the band, even when I wear the bra on this now-tight middle setting. The center gore should always sit against the sternum in a well-fitting bra, but I'm not quite sure how to correct this; it may just be a shape issue?
In any case, the gore not sitting quite flush means that there is a little gaping in the top of the cups that is corrected when I hold the center gore against my sternum. Again, since I'm not sure this is correctable for this bra, I may just have to live with it!

Of course, the best thing to do is to buy a new bra that fits you perfectly. However, many of us aren't able to do this as easily as others, or our particular shapes make it necessary to do "quick fixes" on even some bras that are the correct size, but have slight style issues.
Have you ever done alterations on a bra? What were your reasons?

Also, do you wear below a 32-band size? We'd love to have you participate in The Bra Band Project!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Confessions of a Bra Blogger

This is going to be a "reveal all" post. Yup, I'm going to show you all of the regular bras I own (besides my Enell Sports bra). There is a point to all this at the end, don't worry!

I will remind you that my underbust measures about 27 inches. I'm veering towards a 28H rather than my old 28GG, methinks, and I sometimes find 28 bands too big for me.

Bra #1:
 Just Peachy brand bra in a 30G. (no, it's not even hooked on. I'm being silly.)
Band measures: 30 inches stretched.
Fit: The wires are stiff, so they rub and give me rashes, and I can't wear it for very long. The band is too big, cups are too small. The band runs a bit small for a 30 in general, though.
Story: Bought gently used around a year ago.

Bra #2
Panache Tango II Plunge in a 30G
Band measures: 31 inches stretched.
Fit: Much too big in the band. Too small in the cup. Gives me back and shoulder pain.
Story: Bought new last month out of desperation. *shame*

Bra #3:
Freya Zara in a 28GG. This is definitely the way to model bras.
Band measures: 30.5 inches stretched
Fit: The band is too big, and the cups are too small. Gives me shoulder pain.
Story: Bought gently used around a year ago.

Bra #4
Cleo Poppy Bra in a 28GG.<3
Band Measures: 28 inches stretched
Fit: The band fits well; I do get some quadboob with the cups,  but because of the style of the bra it doesn't look as bad, and the band is supportive enough so the bra doesn't give me pain.
Story: Bought new (from Bravissimo!) about 6 months ago.

And finally, Bra #5
Freya Deco in a 30GG

Band Measures: 31 inches stretched
Fit: Band much too big, cups seem to fit about right (perhaps very slightly roomy)
Story: Bought new (at Nordstrom) a few days ago with the intention of altering the band down to a 28.

So, why did I decide to show you all of my bras? To illustrate a few things.

First, just because I blog about bras doesn't mean that I have piles and piles of lingerie. Some bra bloggers do, some don't.

Second, the utter lack of bras in my size in stores makes it difficult for me to buy anything (especially quickly), so even I, as an advocate for correct size, sometimes feel forced to buy something "close enough" in the hopes that it will work or that I can somehow alter it. I've known that I'm a 28 band for years and yet I've still bought/owned bras in a 30. Is this a good thing? No. But I've still done it.

Third, some people lose weight and go up in bra size - I tend to do this. Not everyone will lose breast tissue when they lose weight. It depends on the person.

Fourth, if anyone, fitter or otherwise, tries to tell me that I should wear a 30 or larger band, that person is wrong. Sorry.

Out of the five bras I own, three do not fit well and I need to get rid of them as soon as I get something to replace them. Of the other two, one fits well enough so that it doesn't give me pain. One I hope will fit when I do some alterations on it. The three bras that give me pain are "close" to my size. Yet they do not work for me. They cause me back, neck, and shoulder pain (and sometimes marks and rashes). Please, please note this and do not fall victim to thinking that you can just get by with a size that's "close enough". Any fitters reading this, please do not try to get small-banded girls to buy 32 or 30 bands just because that's all you carry. It will not work for girls who need a smaller band.

In the past month, I have spent a total of $120 on two bras that I know didn't fit me. Why? Because I wanted to get a bra quickly, without having to order online. I bought the first because I felt bullied into it by a fitter, and I was desperate for any bra that was close to fitting (this majorly backfired). I bought the second because I love the Deco bra and it doesn't come in my size, and I want to see if I can alter it to fit me.

I know I need to order bras online if I want to get my actual size. I'd love to get rid of the three bras that give me pain and never wear them again, but that would leave me almost bra-less, with a wait time of around a month before I'd get anything else that worked. I've actually ordered around 8 bras within the past several months online. But none of them fit, so I had to return them. Since my size has slightly changed, I'm going to need to order a fairly large quantity of bras to figure it out, then send most of them back. So yes, buying bras online can be hard, annoying, expensive, even depressing.

But you know what's even more annoying, expensive, and depressing? Buying a bra that doesn't fit and trying to wear it. That's more painful than having to order a bunch of bras online.

Do I want my size sold in stores? Heck yes! And if you want to do something to help make people more aware of all bra sizes and get more sizes sold in stores, you can do things like contact bra stores, participate in awareness projects like The Bra Band Project, and more.

But for now, I need to do and wear what's right for me, and not be bullied, pressured, or discouraged from wearing the bra size I need to wear. I need a 28-26 band. I need about an H cup. And I don't deserve to be in pain just so someone can make a sale. And neither do you.