This post will illustrate how to add an underwire to a wire free bra.
The bra in this example is a nursing bra made by Cake Lingerie. Since I have been breastfeeding my daughter I have looked everywhere for comfortable and attractive nursing bras. I have tried many without success and the Cake bras are by far the best. They are both pretty and comfortable, and the sizes are noticeably different from cup size to cup size and band size to band size which means that they make a bra for almost everyone (and they are having a Mothers Day sale through the 13th). My only critique is that most of them are underwire free which I personally find less comfortable, and with my shape tends to produce a mono-boob effect that is decidedly not pretty. Now on to the tutorial!
The sewing supplies you will need are:
Scissors, preferably sharp, small, and pointed
Thread (here I use a darker color for visibility)
You will also need a good bra, here I use the Coconut Ice by Cake, size 36D. You must use a bra that has a casing under the bust, the triangle style bras will not work (unless you want to add a casing to the bra)!
You also need a bad bra with the same underwire length as the bra you will be altering. You can use a bra with a slightly shorter wire, but not a longer one (unless you want to cut and plastic-dip it). Here I have a bra bought on clearance at the thrift store. It was pretty, but did not fit, and for 25 cents was a good candidate for underwire removal.
Step one is to cut the underwire casing along the underarm of the bad bra, snip carefully and make a small slit. Then you can scrunch the fabric down and if you have cut deeply enough the underwire should poke out the hole you made. Continue scrunching until you can grasp the underwire and slide it out. Be careful not to bend or twist the underwire!
You now have one underwire out, repeat this process on the other side.
You will notice that your underwires are shaped ever so slightly different at the sides. This is so that they fit beneath the breasts evenly. Usually one end of the wire has been marked or is painted a different color, this denotes the inside of the wire, or the side that goes between your breasts. If they are not marked it may be a good idea to mark them yourself so that you put them in correctly.
To insert the underwire we will be doing the reverse to our good bra.
First we snip the underwire casing on the underarm side of the cup. Make sure you cut only into the casing and not into the fabric of the bra. If you are unsure how deeply to cut the casing I recommend practicing with the bad bra, you will have lots of room to cut and experiment on it once the wires are removed.
Next you insert the underwire into the casing with the marked end being inserted first. Push the wire in as far as it will go, or as far as you want it to go. I have used shorter wires and this works too, just make certain that they come to the same point at the front. With Cake bras the underwire casing often overlaps at the center front. if your wires are thin this is not a problem, but if they are wider you can simply stop where the overlap begins, this also gives the bra a more bendable center when it is folded down.
Finally you sew the opening on the casing closed. I use an embroidery satin stitch and a thick, strong thread for this step. I sew the hole closed vertically first then I overstitch it horizontally, this makes for a good strong mend that does not rub uncomfortably. I back-stitch a few times to secure my thread and to avoid having knots along the underwire, you can also sew over to the edge of the casing and make your knots there so it will not rub.
This step is optional, you can leave the holes unsewn if your casings are made of a knit or fray resistant fabric. This is also useful if you machine wash and dry your bras because you can take out the wires before washing. However if you machine wash them with the wires in and the holes unsewn then your wires will be lost!
And you are done!
Here is a comparison of the bra before and after wiring it.