Wedding Alterations

So, you’ve found the perfect dress, but there’s just one tiny problem, it doesn’t have a built-in bra. With a few simple alterations, you can transform your dress into a divine creation that not only fits like a dream but also provides the support you need. 


Determining the Feasibility

Assessing the Dress Design

Before you begin the process of altering a dress to include a built-in bra, it’s important to assess the dress design. Take a close look at the dress to determine if it has enough structure and support to accommodate a built-in bra. Dresses with a structured bodice, such as those with boning or built-in cups, are generally more suitable for this type of alteration. On the other hand, dresses made of lightweight or flowy fabrics may not provide enough support for a built-in bra.

Evaluating the Dress Fabric

The fabric of the dress can also impact the feasibility of adding a built-in bra. Consider the weight, stretch, and texture of the fabric. Some fabrics, like satin or silk, can be more challenging to work with when constructing a built-in bra due to their delicate nature. Fabrics with more structure, such as cotton or polyester blends, may be easier to manipulate and provide better support for the bra. Additionally, fabrics with a bit of stretch, like spandex blends, can offer a more comfortable fit for the wearer.

Considering the Dress Size and Fit

When determining if a dress can be altered to include a built-in bra, it’s essential to consider the overall size and fit of the dress. Ideally, the dress should fit properly in other areas, such as the bust, waist, and hips, to ensure a flattering silhouette. If the dress is too tight or too loose in these areas, it may be necessary to make additional alterations beyond adding a built-in bra. Keep in mind that alterations experts, such as a tailor or seamstress, can help determine if the dress size and fit are suitable for this type of modification.


Choosing the Right Style

Selecting the Bra Type

Once you’ve determined that the dress is suitable for a built-in bra, it’s time to choose the right style. Different dress styles may require different types of bras for optimal support and comfort. For example, strapless dresses typically require strapless bras, while dresses with open backs may benefit from a bra with convertible or low-back straps. Consider the neckline, straps, and back design of your dress when selecting the bra type for your built-in bra alteration.

Evaluating Support and Coverage

When selecting a bra type for your built-in bra, it’s important to consider the level of support and coverage you desire. Some bras offer more support and lift, while others provide a more natural shape. Think about your personal preferences and the style of the dress. If you have a larger bust, you may opt for a bra with more support and coverage. Conversely, if you have a smaller bust, you may prefer a bra that enhances your natural shape without added bulk.

Determining Strap Configuration

The strap configuration of the bra plays a crucial role in both the support and the appearance of the built-in bra. Consider whether you prefer a bra with traditional over-the-shoulder straps, halter straps, or no straps at all. Keep in mind that the strap configuration will impact the overall look of the dress and may need to be adjusted to accommodate the design elements of the dress. A bridal tailor or wedding seamstress can offer guidance on the best strap configuration for your specific dress and preferences.


Preparing the Dress

Cleaning the Dress

Before altering the dress, it’s important to clean it according to the garment’s instructions. This will ensure that the dress is in its best condition and free from any dirt or stains that may affect the alteration process. If the dress is dry-clean only, take it to a professional bridal tailor or wedding seamstress for cleaning.

Ironing or Pressing

Once the dress is clean, carefully iron or press it to remove any wrinkles or creases. Smooth fabric will make it easier to take accurate measurements and work on the dress alterations. Be sure to follow the fabric care instructions to avoid damaging the dress.

Identifying Potential Alteration Areas

Before you start measuring or making any alterations, examine the dress closely to identify potential areas that may need adjustment. Pay attention to the neckline, waist, and bust areas where the built-in bra will be added. Look for any excess fabric or areas where the dress may need to be taken in or let out to achieve the desired fit and silhouette.


Taking Accurate Measurements

Accurate measurements are crucial when altering a dress to include a built-in bra. Here are the key measurements you will need to take:

Bust Measurement

Measure around the fullest part of your bust while wearing the undergarments you plan to wear with the dress. This measurement will help you determine the appropriate size for the built-in bra cups or padding.

Underbust Measurement

Measure around your ribcage just below the bust. This measurement will help you determine the band size of the built-in bra.

Waist Measurement

Measure around the smallest part of your waist. This measurement will help you ensure that the dress fits properly and the built-in bra provides adequate support.

Body Length Measurement

Measure from the top of your shoulder down to the desired length of the dress. This measurement will help you determine where the bra support bands should be placed to provide the best fit and support.


Creating the Bra Framework

Transferring Measurements to the Dress

Using the measurements you took earlier, transfer the necessary markings and lines onto the dress fabric. Use a fabric marker or pins to indicate the placement of the built-in bra. Pay attention to the bust, underbust, and waist measurements, as these will guide the construction of the bra framework.

Marking the Bra Placement

Mark the desired placement of the built-in bra cups or padding on the inside of the dress. This will help you identify where to sew the cups securely during the alteration process. Use your previously determined measurements to ensure accuracy and the best fit.

Sewing the Bra Support Bands

Using the markings you made on the dress, sew the bra support bands in place. These bands will provide additional support and help keep the built-in bra securely in place while you wear the dress. Be sure to use a thread that matches the dress fabric for a seamless look.


Inserting the Bra Cups or Padding

Choosing the Right Size

Select bra cups or padding that align with your bust measurements. The cups should fit comfortably within the dress and provide the desired level of support and shape. If necessary, you can trim the edges of the cups to fit better within the dress and create a smoother finish.

Positioning the Cups

Place the bra cups or padding inside the dress at the marked locations. Adjust them to sit comfortably around your bust and provide the desired shape and support. Pin the cups in place temporarily to ensure they stay in position while you continue the alteration process.

Attaching the Cups Securely

Using a needle and thread or a sewing machine, stitch the bra cups securely to the dress. Take care to sew close to the edge of the cups to create a seamless and neat finish. Ensure that the cups are well-attached and won’t shift or move while wearing the dress.


Sewing the Bra Support

Reinforcing the Bra Bands

To provide extra support, reinforce the bra support bands by stitching along the edges. This will help ensure that the bands stay in place and provide the necessary support throughout the garment. Use a strong and durable thread to withstand the stress and movement that may occur while wearing the dress.

Stitching the Support Bands to the Cups

After reinforcing the bra bands, stitch them securely to the bra cups. This step helps to further anchor the cups in place and maintain a consistent level of support. Sew a few stitches around the circumference of each cup, making sure to maintain an even and secure attachment.

Adding Optional Interfacing for Extra Support

If you feel the need for additional support, you can consider adding interfacing to the bra support bands or cups. Interfacing can provide extra stability and structure to the built-in bra, especially for dresses with heavier fabrics or larger bust sizes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the interfacing and ensure it is securely attached to the fabric.


Adjusting the Dress Fit

Fitting the Dress on the Body

Once the built-in bra alteration is complete, try the dress on to assess the overall fit. Pay close attention to how the dress sits on your body and the level of comfort it provides. Make note of any areas that may need further adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.

Pinching or Taking in Excess Fabric

If there are areas of the dress that appear loose or baggy, you may need to pinch or take in the excess fabric. Use pins to temporarily hold the fabric in place and create a more tailored fit. This step will help ensure that the dress flatters your figure and maintains a smooth and streamlined silhouette.

Sewing the Altered Seams

Once you’ve made any necessary adjustments to the dress fit, remove the pins and carefully sew along the altered seams. Use a sewing machine or hand-stitching, depending on your skill level and preference. Take your time to sew evenly and securely, ensuring that the dress maintains its intended shape and structure.


Final Fitting and Evaluation

Trying on the Altered Dress

After completing all of the alterations, try the dress on again to evaluate the final result. Take note of how the dress feels and fits, paying close attention to the built-in bra’s comfort and support. Spend some time moving around in the dress to ensure it stays in place and provides the desired level of support throughout the day or evening.

Assessing the Bra Comfort and Support

Evaluate the comfort and support provided by the built-in bra. Ensure that the bra cups or padding is secure, the support bands are holding everything in place, and the overall fit feels comfortable and supportive. If needed, make any final adjustments to the bra or dress to improve comfort or fit.

Making Final Adjustments

If there are any remaining areas of concern or improvements that can be made, take the time to make the necessary final adjustments. This may involve additional stitching, trimming excess fabric, or making minor alterations to ensure the dress looks and feels perfect. Remember, a tailor or seamstress with expertise in dress alterations can provide valuable guidance and assistance during this final step.

By following these comprehensive steps, you can successfully alter a dress to include a built-in bra. Whether it’s for a special occasion or for everyday wear, a dress with a built-in bra offers both support and convenience. With the right tools, materials, and attention to detail, you can transform your favorite dress into a garment that both looks and feels amazing. So go ahead, take on the challenge and create the perfect dress with a built-in bra that fits you like a dream.