Vamp up your bra

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A little embellishment can liven up the most boring bra.

bra close-up

Purple with frustration recently at the awfulness of my bras, I decided to embellish them and see if I could improve matters. I have to confess, I am quite pleased with the results.

These bras, I should point out, are modelled on my mannequin, Isabella, and stuffed with old socks…

In deciding which embellishments to choose, I logged onto Figleaves and tried to define what I liked about certain bras. Apart from more embroidery on the top cups (something I’ll try later using appliques), I noticed that pretty bras usually have the following:

* bows at the bottom of the front straps

* sometimes bows up the straps themselves

* a strong central motif between the cups

* embroidery outlining the cups

* pretty straps

* interest on the bra band

* a pretty back

* occasionally,  sequins on the cups

Some of these ideas can’t easily be copied – there is a little you can do, for instance, to prettify a back band because that would affect its elasticity. The same applies to the straps, though I will try, at a future date, to applique a narrow lingerie ribbon on top of the thunderingly wide straps of the Doreen. But I decided to give some of the other ideas a try. 

black braThe bras shown are all Doreens by Triumph. A Doreen bra, though fabulously supportive and shaping, generally has little in the way of adornment other than a small central bow, though the Luxury variety also has prettier lace on the top cups, satin fabric, and picot edging on the cups and straps, which the other types lack. 

On the black Luxury Doreen (right) I added scattered gold sequins in the centres of the flowers, a little gold cross pendant (more Madonna than ‘the Madonna’, I hope) and embroidery round the cups in gold floss. This is very easy to do – you just use a large-eyed crewel needle and push it through the fabric, weaving in and out of the lace, then tie a knot at the back (take care not to pull the thread tight, as you’ll reduce the cup size!). If you keep the sequins to the top half of the cups, you can sew right through the outer layer and inner lining but it won’t irritate your nipples, or you can take more care and keep the stitching to the front layer only. The bra looks pink underneath, btw, because of my pink sports socks!

Red gold braThis red Doreen (left) is the standard model, which has quite rough, opaque lace. I added a red and gold pendant as its central motif, and the same gold floss embroidery as the black bra. The little red bows at the base of the straps (see close-up at top left) came from the old central motif of both this bra and the other red one shown and are held on with a gold bead, while the gold braid around the bra band is – believe it or not – off a posh chocolate box. 

red jade braAnd finally this red bra is my favourite. The upper cups are liberally sprinkled with irridescent sequins, and the central rhinestone motif is taken from a broken bracelet, as are the rhinestone bars at the bottom of the straps. The jade embroidery floss is actually knitting silk. The more embellishments the better, I think and I like this belly-dancer’s-top result: the key is keep it tonal – all these embellishments are in the pink/jade range, which matches well with the red fabric.

Because I sew and make jewellery, I tend to have sequins, thread and findings hanging around the place, but if you want to try this idea yourself, the bits and bobs are readily available – lingerie bows, lingerie roses, applique lace and rhinestones can be had from any haberdashery or craft shop – I even found lingerie bows in a office supply shop.

Keep the embellishments flat and smooth for the best results. Curiously, though, I found that the cheaper and gaudier the ornament, the better it looks – real gold chain and silver don’t work nearly so well.

I’ll post some more pictures later, when I’ve embellished some others. 


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