The key to a flattering costume is that it fits you like a glove. That’s why edges of bra’s and belts are often reinforced with metal wire. Without this reinforcement, the edge would gap and fabric would fold or stand away from the body. This technique has been used by many costumers in various styles of costuming but it is infamous for Turkish costumes. Whimsical cut-outs, flourishes around the edges, all of these made possible by a simple piece of wire.
I like to use garden wire, as it is strong, flexible and easy to use. I would not recommend this type of wire for parts of the costume where it can easily be bend out of shape. For example, decorative curls and flourishes that are added underneath the bra or to the shoulder straps should be made with a stronger wire that holds it shape. For bra and belt edges, the garden wire is perfect. You can use it to reinforce a straight edge or follow a shaped edge by bending the wire into shape and sewing it down with a whip stitch. I decided to add wire to this bra because I wanted it to function as a strapless costume bra. When it comes to strapless, I’d like to have all the reinforcement I can get.
Why is the end of the wire bent? To keep the wire from poking out of your bra and into your flesh. It also provides an extra point to secure the wire into place and prevent it from twisting, so take your time and secure it well. I took this picture over five years ago when I was still making angles at the end of the wire to keep it in place. I don’t do that anymore, instead using pliers to create a spiral at the end. It is easier to secure and stays in place really well.
Once you’ve determined the total length of the wire, cut it off slightly longer than you need and add an angle or spiral to the end of the wire. The wire should sit on to of the bra cup without tension or twisting. In this case, I decided to sew the wire straight to the top of the bra. It is also possible to add the wire after you’ve finished your bra base. Make sure to tack it to the inside, a couple of mm from the outer edge.
In this case I covered the edge with bias tape so it would be secure and I’d have a bit of fabric on the edges where I could add edge beading. Take thebias tape and stitch into place. You can do this by hand or machine, depending on the type of bra and your agility with a sewing machine.
I made this bra about five years ago, covered it with black velvet, did some beading and then put it in my to-do pile. Maybe this post will inspire me to get it out and finally finish it. I am wondering though, what was the last time you made a bra or thought about reinforcing edges with wire? Let me know in the comments or on facebook!