Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Need tips for adding a bra to a swimsuit

Vicky | Posted in General Discussion on

Hello, I am popping over from the gardening forum, looking for help. I can’t find a swimsuit with the right support. I was hoping for your suggestions on how to add an underwire bra to an off the rack swim suit. I have found a line that has great bras, but the body is too short, so the underwire is 2 to 3 inches too low. My mom is an incredible seamstress, but our efforts at copying the suit were….unsuccessful to say it nicely. She was in tears.

Thanks so much!



  1. Elisabeth | | #1

    Sewing bathing suits is a different world from sewing regular clothes in woven fabrics and it can be frustrating. It doesn't help that some of the patterns in the big books are not cut well and have unsuitable instructions. But it can be done and once you get the hang of it and have a good pattern it is not difficult at all.

    If you mom isn't too traumatized maybe you could get one of the suits with the great bras and she could add a few inches by inserting a band of fabric around the middle somewhere? A strip of net in a matching color?

    I'm sorry my experience with bathing suits and leotards only included adding "shelf bras", but I am sure someone here can give you the right tips.

    1. CutieGirl | | #7

      Add a Shelf Bra?

      Could you tell me how to add a shelf bra to my swuimsuit? I need help pretty urgently, if you can.


      Cutie Girl

  2. carolfresia | | #2


    Too bad about the unfortunate swimsuit experience. I would also suggest either trying to retrofit the purchased suit as suggested by the previous poster, if you can bear it, or consider cutting the bottom off the suit off to make a brief or bikini bottom (whichever you prefer), adding elastic to the waistline, and adding a contrast band to the lower edge of the top to make a tankini. Although now that I reread your original question, I'm not sure this would solve your fit problem exactly--depends on whether the underwires are too low because they're being pulled down by the short torso of the suit.  

    Alternatively, you and your mother could give sewing a swimsuit one more go. Don't panic, Mrs. Vicky's Mom...there is help!

    First, take a look at Kwik Sew patterns (http://www.kwiksew.com). I believe they have some underwire styles, and this line is renowned for good drafting and for excellent instructions. Next, visit http://www.sewsassy.com. You can order your pattern from them, and if you phone, they'll give you very helpful advice on selecting all the materials and notions you need, including underwires, swimsuit fabric and lining, strap findings if you want adjustable lingerie-type straps, and elastics. It's one-stop shopping for this type of sewing (for lingerie sewing as well), plus extremely good customer service.

    One of the benefits of creating your own suit, rather than trying to add a regular bra to a purchased suit, is that you can custom-fit the suit more easily--and since each fabric has slightly different stretch properties, this can make the difference between a suit that looks great and one that looks and feels great on. Further, a regular bra isn't made to withstand pool water, and the elastic is likely to give up before the suit is worn out. Building underwires with appropriate swimsuit lining into a suit will give you the support you're looking for plus a longer life-span for the garment. You might want to look for some inexpensive lycra fabric to make a practice suit, just to test the fit (esp. the torso length and bra placement), and save the good stuff for the real swimsuit.

    There is my lecture on sewing swimsuits. I've made a couple myself and been really pleased to get a fit I like, and it was a whole lot easier than I'd expected.

    Good luck, and check back in with any questions you have.


  3. Imzadi | | #3

    I took an off-the-rack swimsuit that had a useless shelf bra and simply added a store bought, Victoria Secret underwire bra to it.

    Make sure you get a swimsuit that has a high enough back, like a racer back, so that you will still have back bra support once you cut away the back bra strap.

    I put the bra on, then put the bathing suit on. I pinned the bra in place at the swimsuit's side seams and pinned the top of the bra (where it would be sewn either to the shelf bra, or at a discrete location,) but still give lifting support (by the SWIMSUIT'S shoulder straps) once the BRA'S shoulder straps are cut off. Check by loosening the bra's shoulder straps once they are pinned in place.

    I did not sew the bottom of the cups to the bathing suit as this allowed some movement of the bathing suit material around the torso, separate from the bra. Also, the swimsuit style had a clean straight front that really didn't allow for tacking the bra down without noticing it. As the sides of the bra were sewn into the side seams sturdily and there was enough back support, it really didn't need to be tacked to the suit under the cups. You may tack yours if you want, or to the shelf bra.

    Carefully take the bra & suit off TOGETHER. Just be prepared to see the swimsuit material shrink up and look like it doesn't fit around the bra and match up anymore. This is actually correct. Remember, the suit stretched when being put on, (which is also why I didn't tack mine under the cups,) but a good support bra isn't made out of stretchy material - except in the strap & back areas - those are going to be cut off.

    I tried the suit & bra on a couple more times to make sure the bra really was in the right place once the suit was stretched back on again. I sewed the bra in place with a zigzag stitch & NON-stretchy thread. It needs the support of regular thread to keep it in place, not a thread that's going to give. Cut off the back & straps. Done!

    Also, you might want to check out  http://www.newport-news.com. Their clothing catalogs have swimsuits in taller sizes, designed with an added extra inch or two in the torso. :)

    Edited 6/23/2004 1:38 am ET by Imzadi

    1. FitnessNut | | #4

      Sounds like you used some imagination and ingenuity to get the results you desired. What I would like to know is: how is the fabric and elastic of the purchased bra holding up in chlorinated water? Since they are not designed to be used that way, this would be my main concern. I'd think that the bra would fall apart long before the bathing suit showed signs of deterioration, though I could certainly be wrong.

      I did this with a friend of mine several years ago (she has since moved away, so I haven't seen the suit recently)....she was extremely well-endowed and was willing to chance having to replace the bra several times just to be able to wear the swimsuit comfortably.

      1. Imzadi | | #5

        I haven't worn the suit too many times to have had any problems yet. However, the bra I used was a Victoria Secret Miracle bra.

        (I just went & checked on the suit. :) ) The section that is sewn into the side seam only has an inch of elastic fabric, The rest is all polyester & underwire. So it is conceivable to replace that 1" area on mine, with swimsuit lycra material. However, like your friend said, it would be simpler for me to just buy a few more of the same bras so that replacements (if necessary) are more or less easy, as I wouldn't have to worry able cutting and measuring a new style bra. The old bra could be used as a pattern (if used in the same suit.)

        1. Vicky | | #6

          Thank you for your ideas. I hope to shrink out of the suit faster than the pool water can damage the suit, so I am not worried about that issue. I don't want to alter the suit I have as it looks better than the others I have tried on, even evem with my saggy b's. And the suit sure holds everything else where I want it. Now if only chin to ankle suits would come into style.

          1. brantill | | #8

            I think to use a short and attractive swimdress are good for you during swiming . i have also a pair od swimsuits which are use by me regularly during swiming .Swimingis my hobby also .But i  have faced the same problem .I am also wanted to buy a new swim suite for my self .Some one tell me about it from were i can buy these swim suits .

  4. SurjeetSingh | | #9

    1 Go to your local fabric/craft store and buy foam bra cups that will fit your bust size. They come in normal bra cup sizes and they usually come in white or skin tone. You want to find a seamless, lightweight and water resistant pair that will blend in with your swimsuit. You should also look for a pair that are molded for comfort.

    2 Place the cups in the breast area of the swimsuit. Make sure they fit perfectly into the area and they aren't showing out threw the sides. This could make for an unattractive swimsuit. You want to make sure that your swimsuit is covering the entire cup.

    3 Put on your swimsuit and place the cups inside of it. Position them so they are perfectly fit and completely covered by the swimsuit.

    4 Use pins to secure the cups in place and then carefully take the swimsuit off.

    5 Sew the cups into place by starting at the bottom of the cup edge and going around the edges. If you don't have a sewing machine, you can do this by hand.

    1. Pattiann42 | | #10

      Foam Bra Cups

      This is the last thing you want in a swimsuit that is actually going to be worn for swimming.  The foam would retain so much water the top would fall down, or at least sag and no one wants to be wearing anything that results in either scenario.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All