The end of part one left you all with the bra cups removed and seamlessly covered with your fabric of choice, yes? Yes. Ok. We now need to cover the side straps of the bra. Now, This can be done with a sewing machine, but, I know quite a few people who are new to burlesque that are terrified of said machine. so, I'm going to do this by hand. Yep. Good ol' needle and thread.
As you can see in the images below, start by using your strap as a guide to cut out a piece of fabric that is about 1"- 2" larger than your strap on the three open sides. The edge that will sit against the underwire, needs to match it pretty closely. No overlap required.
Then using the same technique as when you pinned the cup, you are going to fold the fabric excess over the edge of the strap to the underside and pin into place.
I then hand stitched all four sides of the strap using the same stitch I illustrated on the cup tutorial. Stitching from front, over the edge to the underside and back up. You MUST use this stitch because if you don't, the strap will not stretch when you go to put it on. Stitching this way is the equivalent of using a zig zag stitch or stretch stitch on your sewing machine. Do NOT use a straight stitch EXCEPT for the curved edge next to the underwire, this does not need to stretch obviously. Don't worry how perfect your curved edge is, it's all going to get covered up with trims anyway.
Once you trim the excess fabric off the back of the strap, you now you have a plain fabric covered bra with the cups removed. You can already start to see the potential at this point:
There is no doubt that the next steps are the most labour intensive. No two ways about it. Usually adding trims is the fun easy part, but you are going to have to hand sew through a LOT of layers which I will illustrate shortly. AND, I have yet to find a way to use a sewing machine to do this, I see no other way other than needle, thread, steel thimble, and even a small pair of pliers to assist.
Pick whatever trim you want, in this case I happened to have some fringe kicking around. and stitch it over top and THROUGH the underwire casing.I'm leaving these images large to you can hopefully see how I'm sewing through the wire casing you were so careful not to damage in step one.
I'm not going to lie, this is incredibly hard on the finger tips unless you use a steel thimble to push the needle through from the front side, and then use a small pair of pliers to pull it through from the back side. If you are using a good quality bra, the wire casing fabric should be relatively difficult to stitch through.
I decided to add fringe swags on each of the side straps as well, so that when it's being worn, the sides will mirror the swoopy boob shape you see here. Remember to be sure to allow for stretch when figuring out how much swag you need on the side fringe pieces.
You could, I suppose leave the trim level at that. Just some fringe, but I feel like it doesn't look polished. So I'm going to torture myself by adding another layer of trim. Torture, because this is going to make sewing the snaps a labour of hate when the time comes. Hey, I gotta be honest.
This looks much more complete to me, so I stitched this layer of silver braid trim over top and through both the fringe layer and the bra casing layer using a thimble as a necessity.
Now, the crux of the matter. Reattaching those cups. Now, I hate sewing fasteners into place at the best of times, but sewing the six little snaps, which sounds like such a minor no big deal, is my least favourite sewing task of all time. You are going to start by sewing a snap at each 'corner' of the underside of your bra cups. You are also going to use the male side of the snap on the cup, with the female side on the bra base. Please tell me I don't need to explain what I mean by that.
You are only going to sew the corner snaps at this point. Now, you are going to set your cup over the base and determine where it needs to sit in order for the snaps to line up where you need them.
Once I see where on the base it needs to snap in order to sit smoothely, I use a pin to mark where I will be sewing the two corresponding base snaps.
again, do NOT sew the other snaps, just the corners.
Ok, do you SEE how many layers you have to sew through? You MUST use a thimble to push the needle through, and then a small pair of pliers to pull it the rest of the way. Unless you have bionic fingers, this is a miserable task.
Once your two corner snaps are attached, snap the cup into place. Then, select the spot where your third ( and optional 4th) snaps are going to sit on the base so that it doesn't gap or bulge. Use a pin to mark the spot on both the cup and base, and sew those into place as well.
You now have a bra with removeable cups. But I'm still not done... I add another layer of trim to the top edge of the cups, and apply three different sizes and colours of rhinestones.
Voila. Cupless or removeable cup bra. Now if you've used a good quality strapless bra, you won't need any support straps. BUT if upon rehearsing the thing starts to slide down? Add straps! either halter style or standard shoulder straps using silver or clear elastic. And that's it! Apart from sewing those f$cking snaps, the whole process really is easy. Fire me amy questions if needed for clarification.
PS!!! I forgot to show you how I fasten this closed!!! For that, go back to this very first blog post I ever wrote, here I show you how to avoid those pesky bra hooks!