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How to Turn Ready-made Bras into Strapless Dress Support

Full-busted women with slender waists sometimes have difficulty finding a ready-to-wear longline bra that fits. You can take in the waist on a longline bra or bustier that fits your bust.

In “Invisible Support”, Party Dresses Winter 2014 special issue, author Ruth Ciemnoczolowski walks you through some easy options for creating built-in bust control. Now, she shares some ideas for turning ready-made bras and longline bustiers into strapless dress support in this web extra.

Take in the Waist

Full-busted women with slender waists sometimes have difficulty finding a ready-to-wear longline bra that fits. You can take in the waist on a longline bra or bustier that fits your bust.

take in the waist web extra party dresses threads

First, mark a vertical line on either side of the back opening to establish the dart placement. Carefully remove the stitching that holds the hemline elastic as far from the center-back opening as needed to add the dart, sew the dart on the right side, and topstitch it into place.

Tuck the Cup

Women who have a large rib cage compared to their bust size often buy a longline bra that fits around their waist but has cups that are too big.

tuck the cup web extra party dresses threads

To fix this, alter the cups: sew a tuck in the cup below the “shadow” of the bust at the midpoint of the breast.

Backless Solutions: Bra to Waist Stay

If the dress has a waist stay or you can add one, you may be able to use your favorite bra for support inside a strapless dress.

bra to waist stay web extra party dresses threads

Simply attach two bra-back extenders to the waist stay, loosen the bra straps as much as necessary, and hook them to the bra-back extenders on the waist stay.

Rigid Construction Goes Undercover

Bras for full-figured women usually have seams across the breast. These seams actually supply lift and shape to a full breast but can show through soft, drapey fabrics.

rigid support web extra party dresses threads

Sew thin, seamless cups over the bra cups to hide the seams. Use a featherstitch to sew around the edges.

Keep the Bra in Line

Sew ribbon belt loops on each side of the dress’s center-back zipper to keep your bra from riding up in the back and showing above the top edge.

sew ribbon belt loops web extra party dresses threads

Put on the bra and the dress; then hold your bra in place while someone unhooks it, passes each end through a loop on the dress, rehooks the bra, and zips up the dress.

Do you plan on trying any of these techniques? How do you create support for your strapless garments?


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  1. Mira18 | | #1

    Under the section on Backless Solution it appears there may be an error in the description.

    The caption suggests this arrangement could also be used in a strapless dress, but with those straps, this is not appropriate for a strapless dress. If you were to remove the straps and anchor the back of the bra to a waist stay, wouldn't gravity be working against keeping that bra up? Also, while experience tells me this is a good solution to a narrow, low-plunging back, it would not be useful for a true backless dress unless the back strap were reconfigured well away from the center back.

  2. gwtw4ever | | #2

    I did alterations for a Bridal Shop for many years- I solved this problem by sewing the long line bra into the dress.
    We recommended a bra t the hips- not the waist as it is more comfortable - it does not jab in the waistline.
    With bra and dress on, the dress is pinned to bra at sides, side back and along upper cup line. Additional taking points may be used wherever there is a seam for support.
    Then bra is sewed into dress as pinned and they are put on in one motion.
    It ends up being very comfortable and there is no way the bra can ever show.

  3. Mira18 | | #3

    I agree with gwtw4ever that the bra or bustier ending at the hip is more comfortable for most women.

    When I make a strapless gown for a client, I always make a built in corselet with spiral steel boning AND I insert a strapless, THINLY padded bra(not a long-line). I have the client put on the bra, with the removable straps in place to make sure we have the position just right. Then I fit the fabric corselet over that, strategically pinning the bra to capture that optimum position. I mark the pinned points with tailor tacks then remove the bra to make final adjustments in the corselet. Boning is then added, and the bra (now with straps removed) is sewn into the corselet as marked. I also sew the bra in along the side seam and then cut off the bra back at the side seam. Since the corselet is a snug fit, removing the bra back does not
    affect the close fit of the bra. I prefer to make a corselet rather than use a long-line bra, because the corselet can be sewn neatly at the top edge of the gown. I also line the corselet so it covers all the "hardware" and it has a very clean and pretty finish on the inside of the gown.

    I like using a very slightly padded bra in the corselet because it gives a pleasing shape to the bust and avoids the sometimes flattened or pudgy look of the bust that can happen when only a bustier and boning is used.

  4. Brettlii | | #4

    its amazing

  5. user-5627909 | | #5

    Did I miss something?

    The title of the article is "How to Turn Ready-made Bras into Strapless Dress Support."

    Then, most of the article talks about making fitting adjustments to bras for a full-figured woman.

    The last sentence is the closest the article gets to fulfilling the topic of its title when it implies that you've inserted strips to hold a bra band in place and suggests a good way to put the dress on.

    The comments tell more about the title topic than the article.

    Of course, the first paragraph says "Now, she shares her techniques for turning ready-made bras and longline bustiers into strapless dress support in this web extra" implying that the true article is located elsewhere. But the hyperlink for "web extra" merely takes you back to the article index...frankly that is the place from which I found this article to begin with.

    This is so unusual for Threads. I'm disappointed as I really did want to read the article referenced in the title.

  6. User avater
    JonaWilloughby | | #6

    It's wonderful

  7. Mariajansen | | #7

    Great way to show this! Thread

  8. User avater
    mayabayer | | #9

    Good look design admin

  9. User avater
    AnrdreRasal | | #10

    very nice information and good luck

  10. AndersonBernard | | #11

    Good one!

  11. User avater
    LauraWilliams | | #12

    Nice idea!

  12. User avater
    ThelmaBuckner | | #13

    Very nice!

  13. User avater
    CynthiaDow | | #14

    Nice One!

  14. User avater
    ArmandLewis | | #15


  15. ElizabethNellson | | #16

    Thank you for sharing! Very useful information for general development. I usually use only cotton underwire bra. I got all my underwear on the site https://www.cottonique.com/pages/latex-free-bras . A big conservative in this regard, and I can only wear it for years without changing anything. An excellent choice, and most importantly, the highest quality and natural material. I share the best with you!

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