Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras

Have a question or want to show off your project? Post it! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View
Hello hello --

I've been scouring the internet for information about replacing broken
underwires in store bought bras, but I haven't found much aside from
the FAQ about underwires and bra manufacture by Babs Woods that brought
me here. I plan on ordering replacement underwires from Sew Sassy, but
I'm having trouble figuring out how to remove the broken underwires. In
theory, it seems as though it would be simple to just yank them out,
but I can't seem to manage it. I know that the wires aren't sewed down
or glued in because they twist and occasionally shove their way out of
the channelling and into my armpit. Should I cut a small slit in the
channeling? Would it be better to cut this slit by the armpit end of
the underwire or by the end of the underwire at the center of my chest?
And lastly, what exactly should I use to cut the channeling? Scissors
definitely do not work and I almost ruined a bra beyond repair by using
them. An exacto knife? Or something else that I haven't thought of? And
even if I do manage to exacto the channeling open, I'm not sure if I
can yank the entire wire out in the cups where it's broken. Are there
some kind of . . . tiny little pliers that I could buy and use? Should
I just cut multiple slits in the channeling? After I insert the new
underwire, I'll probably just superglue the slits shut, since that's
what I do to the channeling when the underwire ends poke through into
my armpit and it seems to work decently, but is there a better method I
could use to close the slits?

Thanks for any help, especially from people who have tried this before.

~elisa~


Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
On 19 Nov 2006 14:02:37 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Quoted text here. Click to load it

A seam ripper is good for cutting little slits -- that how I usually
open buttonholes.  

When I want to repair a slit, I usually use baseball stitch, also
known as "antique seam".  But I haven't even *seen* a store-bought bra
in years, so I don't know whether that darn would be suitable for your
boning channel.  

Joy Beeson
--
joy beeson at comcast dot net
http://roughsewing.home.comcast.net/ -- needlework
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

If you really think it's worth trying to repair, you could do as you
propose, and sew a small patch of something soft over the ends of the
casing in addition.

If the wire is sticking in the channel, then that usually means that the
dip they put on the ends has gone sticky, and it's time to replace the
whole thing.

I find that bras are not usually worth fixing like this.  By the time
the wire is dead, so too is the rest of the bra.  Charnos (bra
manufacturer here in the UK) told me once that I could expect a maximum
of six month's wear out of a bra, and less if it was machine washed or a
larger than 36DD size (I took a 38F at that time) because of the
stresses of wearing it.  This was especially true if the bra was being
worn two or more days per week...  Mine usually last a bit longer than
that (worn one a week and washed on a very cool delicates program in
non-bio washing powder).  They expected their Bioform bra, which was
designed to be machine washed, to last longer.  Unfortunately they no
longer make it (I think that despite the comfort levels, women found it
to clunky and heavy in use - rather like plate armour!), and the
thickness of the armature was too much for smaller women.  I know I
found mine extraordinarily uncomfortable when I started losing weight.

The usual first point of failure in a wired bra is exactly the point you
are proposing to slit the casing: at the end of the wire.  I frequently
darn a hole that the ends of wires make at this point and get an extra
month or so of wear out of the bra, but I know when it goes here that
the writing is on the wall...

--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras

Kate Dicey wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

I don't doubt you at all, but faced with the choice of having to drop
more than 200USD to replace all my bras at one time (since the
underwires all managed to either snap or start sliding out of the
channels within three months of one another) or spending 25USD on
supplies and a weekend of cursing at myself to patch them all up for a
bit while I gradually buy one new bra every few months, there's really
no contest. I don't have the skill to make my own bras, much less the
supplies or tools here at university.

Thanks for your advice :)
~elisa


Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Quoted text here. Click to load it
I understand exactly!  You buy the buggers all at once, and then they
have the cheek to wear out all together!  When I was a 38F, I'd loved to
have paid as little as $25 a bra!  Mine were between 25 and 38.  Ouch!
  Now I'm down to a 32 DD things are a little easier, in that I can find
them a little more easily and they are usually somewhat cheaper!  Last
time I went bra shopping I found FOUR in Marks & Spencers for various
prices, for a *total* of 38!  :)  :)  :) <Picture three very smug
grins!  ;)>

Now, for the future, when you have a little spare cash and are closer to
a sewing machine (worth picking up a nice pre-loved one for this - the
one I got as a student is still stitching perfectly 30+ years later!
Here it is: http://tinyurl.com/ybmjul ), there's a lady in Australia who
will take a well loved bra that fitted you comfortably and gave good
support when new and make you a pattern from it.  The service isn't
cheap, but if you are stable in size, it's worth it.  There are LOTS of
on-line places you can get good bra making supplies from, and there are
several ladies here who make their own and can walk you through the
process.  If you aren't too unusual a size, there are also several
pattern companies that make bra patterns that are reputed to be quite good.

As a student I didn't have the option of making my own (nothing
available 30 years ago in the north of England), so I spent what money I
had for clothes on good bras and shoes (I'm also an awkward fit in the
shoe department), and made everything else I possibly could, from coats
via posh frocks to spray decks for kayaks.

--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
Kate Dicey wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

I'd like to make my own bras, but everything I have found on how expects
wires and elastic and not having huge tracts of land. I'm developing a
latex and rubber allergy, on top of all of my other allergies, so I'm
rather keen to learn to make my own. I have never found a comfortable
wired bra, and tend to go for sports bras- so far lycra is still okay.
If I wear them inside out, I don't usually get elastic on my flesh, and
that helps reduce rashes. I'm about a 38 F. I like my Elizabethan corset
(which I did make myself), but that's not conducive to modern silhouettes.

I'll take any advice offered.

-georg

Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
Anne of needlenook fabric offers latex free elastic and bra kits with
everything you need.  I can't seem to find her web site at the moment, but
her address is snipped-for-privacy@aol.com .  I don't think she has traditional
online ordering, but will mail order.  I just took a bra making class with
her recently.

Joy

Quoted text here. Click to load it



Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
www.beautifulbras.com.au has great information.  I ordered a book, a
videotape, and a cloned pattern from Lee-Anne and am a totally delighted
customer.

www.sewsassy.com also has bra kits and supplies, and I've been delighted
with them as well.

Georg wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
  


Quoted text here. Click to load it

I've no patience at all with instructions that assume that I'm
desperate to produce an exact duplicate of something I could buy at
J.C. Penney!  


Quoted text here. Click to load it

Pity I don't have a example of my grandmother's breast binder.  In
essence, she pinned a piece of sugar sack around herself (a softer and
tougher fabric than up-to-date spinning mills can produce), and added
shoulder straps and darts.  The edges were faced in front to stand up
to the pins.

My bra pattern calls for elastic, but the elastic is wrapped in linen
-- and I presume that one can buy lycra elastic -- so I'll describe
it.

It happened, when I gave up hunting for bras, that I had a pattern for
a T-shirt with a bust dart.

(http://roughsewing.home.comcast.net/BUSTDART.HTM , bottom picture.)  

Noting the resemblance between a sports bra and an abbreviated
T-shirt, I put on the T-shirt and pinched it up to see how much ease I
wanted to take out of the pattern, and stuck safety pins into it to
show how much I wanted to cut off the bottom.  

Because of the dart, I could cut the pattern straight at the bottom.
(Store-bought sports bras, lacking a dart, have a very curved front
hem.)   This straight line simplifies design and construction
considerably.

I added an allowance for a casing, intending to put in two or three
channels of quarter-inch elastic, but when it came time to put it in,
I didn't have any, so I applique'd waistband elastic (the kind used
for boxer shorts) to the bottom and folded it up inside a hem.  (I
mean to revert to multiple channels of free elastic the next time I
make a bra, but since I have nine good bras at the present time, and
there are a lot of projects I actually need, it may be a while before
I report on how my original idea worked out.)

By pure chance, I selected a left-over jersey with exactly the same
stretch as the jersey the shirt was made of to test the pattern, and
got a perfect fit the first time.  

Much encouraged, I made up the pattern in a good cotton interlock --
and got a bra that was *much* too big.  So I took out a great deal of
ease -- pinching the loose bra enabled me to get it right the first
time -- and started enlarging the neck and arm holes.    By the time I
had four good bras, I'd run out of that batch of interlock.    

I suspected that if I bought more interlock, I'd have to re-fit the
pattern again, so I went back to the original pattern and cut it on
the bias of linen-cotton shirting.  This was easier to make -- the
front didn't need to be underlined -- it fit well, and it supported
better than the interlock bras, but it was very uncomfortable at the
armholes.   The original bra pattern still had the T-shirt arm and
neck holes, and a linen edge faced with bias tape is much harder than
a cotton-knit edge turned once and zig-zagged.  

So I started paring at the neck and armholes.  

Cutting on the bias is extravagant of fabric, and I felt ready for
pure linen.  It happened that I had a sarong I'd hastily made of a
very good but mis-printed linen I'd bought for a dollar a yard.  The
proportions of the sarong were wrong -- and the event for which I'd
needed a sarong was over -- so I pieced the sarong into bias yardage
by the technique I use for making bias tape.  I quickly learned that I
should first have marked bias lines all over it; as garment after
garment was removed from the yardage, it became progressively harder
to cut with the grain.  (I was developing a woven-fabric briefs
pattern at the same time, just to prove that I could, so I cut into
the bias linen six times, and each time the fabric was folded
differently to avoid putting the seams in awkward places.)

The third linen bra was comfortable at the arm holes and didn't show
at the neck, so I retrofitted the earlier bras by cutting the holes
bigger.

So now I've got a fully-tweaked pattern -- and so many bras that I may
never have an excuse to buy real handkerchief linen.  (There's at
least one more bra to be made from the so-called handkerchief linen I
made the ninth bra from.)

Joy Beeson
--
joy beeson at comcast dot net
http://roughsewing.home.comcast.net/ -- needlework
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
Joy Beeson wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Nothing at JC Penney fits, doesn't itch or poke, or cause a rash. Hence
my serious interest.

Have put that bra book on the kissmoose wish list and if I'm lucky I'll
see it before my birfday.

Thank you.

-georg

Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
On Mon, 20 Nov 2006 07:46:31 +0000, Kate Dicey

Quoted text here. Click to load it

This comment sent me to my pattern stash:  according to the notes on
my bra pattern, my newest bra was made in August 2005.   I recall
wearing my oldest woven-fabric bra in 2004 -- noticed a few days ago
that the edge of the neck is starting to fray, but that's because the
neck hole is too small, so I can cut the edge-finish off and put on a
new bias facing.  And I not only machine-wash my bras, I run them
through with all the other light-colored things without any special
attention.  

I do have nine bras, and I save the newest one for Sunday, but that
started me marinating a post on how home-made bras are more durable
than factory bras, but Thanksgiving intervened.  

Then during the after-thanksgiving shopping trip, my sister happened
to mention that all her bras were several years old.  She gets them
from a store, she's built just like me, but even fatter, and I took a
38F the last time I bought one.  

So I conclude that a bra that lasts only six months is a pretty poor
bra -- and saying that the larger sizes don't hold up as well
constitutes a confession of poor engineering.  

But we already knew that RTW makers give short shrift to large women.

Joy Beeson
--
joy beeson at comcast dot net
http://roughsewing.home.comcast.net/ -- needlework
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
Joy Beeson wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

It's all women rather than only the larger breasted...  But it isn't all
the manufacturers fault.  Most women seem to like their undies 'pretty'
- made of lace and such.  The fabrics are NOT as strong as the plainer
sort, and don't stand up to the washing as well.  I seem to get caught
all ways: small band (32) and larger cup (down to a DD, but that's bad
enough!), and want them PLAIN!  But underwired!  And not to deep at the
centre front, and I'm only 5'3"!

MOST women here in the UK do machine wash their bras, and make them last
longer than the six months recommended, but you do have to take into
account that after that time the fabrics, wire, and elastic are all
suffering from a certain degree of fatigue even where there is no
visible wear.

One day I may have the time to make my own, but at the moment, while I
can still get them (and I too stock up when I find a batch that fit!)
and possibly still changing sizes, it isn't cost effecticve when I
include my time.  It took less than half an hour and the last four added
up to 38.  It would take me longer than the two hours that money
represents in my time for fairly simple sewing.
--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
Last time I was fitted and bought expensive bras the woman actually
warned me not to dry them in the clothes dryer.  Now who would dry
expensive bras in the dryer?  I have gotten lucky in that Costco
warehouse sells a servicable bra that works for me in a 2 pack
for around $20.  I've found the 'stretch' in the bras is what gives
out (sort of like the stretch in me).
Taria

Kate Dicey wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it


Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
Taria wrote:

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Yeah, some of my elasticity has gone too... :)

I've never dried bras in the clothes furnace, just wash them in the
machine.  I occasionally lose an older one to the clothes mangling
monster, but it's worth the risk!

Did you know that the thing that washing machine engineers sort out most
is bra wires in the pump, closely followed by coins and Lego...  At
least I can clear the pump myself!  ;)

--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
I didn't know that.  I just got the new Bosch set of laundry machines
and I can barely figure out how to run the things.  There is a big
different between top loading mechanical machines and front loading
electronic ones. I hope we can learn to get along!

When we moved I found the large buckets of Legos.  DS is graduating
from the police academy in a bit over a month.  Seems a lifetime
since Legos were being stepped on and in the machine around here.
Maybe gradkids some day or I should really borrow the grand nephews!
Taria


Kate Dicey wrote:

Quoted text here. Click to load it


Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
On Tue, 28 Nov 2006 08:27:55 +0000, Kate Dicey

Quoted text here. Click to load it

A prime example of "milage varies" -- it's including my time that
forces me to make bras.  Going to a department store costs me one
entire day, and I had to go to many, many stores before finding the
correct size.   And then they never had more than one or two, so I
couldn't stock up.

Joy Beeson
--
joy beeson at comcast dot net
http://roughsewing.home.comcast.net/ -- needlework
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
Joy Beeson wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

After going to a store and trying on every variety without a wire in my
size, I have serious need of chocolate medication or anyone coming near
will suffer my temper.

For comfort alone, it's worth my time. Rashes aren't fun. I'll figure
out a way to swing that book, as that looks to be comprehensive enough
for what I need. I don't care about "pretty"- particularly since most
lace itches.  Maybe I can do decorative stitching if I can make
something I like. I may resort to making panties too if I can't find the
line I like that has fabric covering the elastic bands, and I'm wearing
out the current collection.

Thank you all for your help.

-georg

Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras

Quoted text here. Click to load it

It's best to cut the channeling at the center front.  It's less likely to
poke it's way out again.  Every RTW bra is different, but look at the top
edge of the channeling at the center front.  You might see stitches that
close up the end.  The channeling is just a tube with an opening at the
center front and at the arm pit.  Unpick the stitches with a seam ripper and
push the underwire out the opening.  It might take some wiggling, but you
should be able to get both halves out this way.  Slide in the new underwires
and hand stitch the end closed.  If you don't see the stitching it might be
under the elastic.  You can either unstitch the elastic for a bit at the
center front and restitch it after the underwires are in or just cut a slit
in the channel as close to the elastic as possible.  Use a seam ripper to
make the cut.  Be sure to only cut the top layer of the channel.  Put a
small non-raveling fabric over the slit and stitch around by hand to close
up the opening.

Look closely at the fit of your bras.  The underwire should sit flat against
your rib cage all the way around including at the center front.  If they
don't, the gap might be causing undue bending and that's why they break.
There used to be a very good site for large cup bras that described how a
bra should fit, but unfortunatly it's gone.  I'm sure there is another one
on a retail site somewhere.  Definitly make sure your bras fit well, they
will last much longer if the underwires and any boning is bending and
elastic isn't overly stretched.

Joy




Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras

Quoted text here. Click to load it

I just read in the Lee-Ann Burgess book on making bras that if an under wire
breaks at the center, it is too narrow and it is flexing at that point each
time you wear it since the band elastic is pulling it to fit your breast,
which eventually leads to breaking at that point.  If your underwires are
breaking at the center front you might want to consider a wider underwire.
That's side to side across your body.

Joy



Re: Quick question about replacing underwires in RTW bras
I have nothing to add to the original discussion, but thought I'd point
out that Anne St. Clair, who teaches a lot of bra making classes, has
a new book, and is hosting this week on TheCreativeMachine at
Quiltropolis.  If you want to join in, go to
http://lyris.quiltropolis.com/scripts/lyris.pl?enter=thecreativemachine
to register.

Might be a good chance to get some specific bra making questions
answered.

NAYY to both Anne and Quiltropolis, except I've bought nice fabrics from
Anne and have been on Quiltropolis groups for a lot of years.

Kay


Site Timeline