Help me tame an instrument of torture
July 30, 2005 6:25 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone successfully managed to repair a sticky out wire coming out from an underwired bra? I've thrown out many (otherwise good) bras because the wire works it's way through and ripping me to shreds even when I try to sew it up 'darned socks style' with thread! Are there any MeFi domestic goddesses that have tamed this instrument of torture?

I've been thinking about sewing some more fabric over the end and wondered if anyone else has tried this or other avenues. I hate throwing out good bras and they're generally not cheap. It's always sod's law that they all go at the same time too. I have large boobs so suggestions of going for the non-wire options aren't going to be viable unfortunately. Thanks in advance.
posted by floanna to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've done similar things with a very cheap bra - if memory serves, stitching extra fabric over the ends worked the best.
posted by kalimac at 7:04 AM on July 30, 2005

For the future: back when I wore those instruments of torture (I've switched to tank tops), I learned to hand-wash bras. If underwire bras are run though a washing machine, their wires will poke out for sure.
posted by Carol Anne at 7:12 AM on July 30, 2005

I usually keep old bras, instead of throwing them out, expressly to repair still usable bras. The cup seams can be cut out and used to sew over the poking underwire part. If the poke out occured where the seam ends, sew across the hole in a 'T' instead of along it. (extra bonus - the cup seam is exactly the right shape if you need to do a total sew over.)

You can find lingerie fabric in stores but if you use different fabric (100% cotton, say) for the repair, it can cause chaffing, might discolor from sweat etc.

I do machine wash my bras (with the hooks closed) as a load on their own, with extra water and on the gentle cycle, but dry them on a rack.

(shameful secret: I used to use a salad spinner for my bras while in college because I didn't have drying space. At $30-$45 a bra, I learned to take care of them).
posted by jaimystery at 7:36 AM on July 30, 2005

The wife recommends fabric tape.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 7:56 AM on July 30, 2005

I hate when that happens! Extra fabric works, but if you want heavy-duty repair, try to find a seamstress who specializes in bra repair. Traditional, functional "Undergarment shops" in your area will probably be able to provide a referral.

Also, washing them in the washer is no big deal if you get a lingerie bag (I've never bothered to get one but my mom swears by them).
posted by necessitas at 8:03 AM on July 30, 2005

I've repaired one or two using bias tape as a "patch." You can get it at any Hancock Fabrics or JoAnn's or whatever. This is a repair that really lasted for me, and I'm flaky enough that I sometimes accidentally toss a bra in the dryer. I just sewed it on securely, and all was well.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:45 AM on July 30, 2005

Response by poster: It looks like I was going down the correct route of using fabric or tape so this non-seamstress will give it a go. Thanks for all your answers and yes I do put my bras in the washing machine!
posted by floanna at 9:00 AM on July 30, 2005

our experience is that "american style" washing machines (top loaders) do a lot more damage to clothes than "european style" (front loaders). these wires still come out eventually, but they last a lot longer if washed in a front loader.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:17 AM on July 30, 2005

Response by poster: ahh - i be in ol' blighty!
posted by floanna at 11:50 AM on July 30, 2005

I have never repaired a bra. Have you thought of taking the bra back to the retailer especially if you have not had it long. Like others have suggested, wash in a lingerie bag, on a delicate cycle.
posted by Chimp at 2:09 PM on July 30, 2005

I've found that washing them in the washing machine is fine, it's the dryer that will kill the underwire.
posted by blackkar at 6:22 PM on July 30, 2005

I concur with blackkar-- you can wash the bras all you want, but hang them up to dry. The heat of the dryer melts the plastic cap on the end of the wire, exposing a sharp end which cuts through the pocket that contains it. I've never been able to repair them when this happens. The wire just seems to keep on poking through. What I did was replace the bras by periodically scouring the clearance racks. I've found good quality bras very cheap that way, although sometimes the colors are a bit odd or not my first choice. Once replaced, keep them out of the dryer.
posted by Shoeburyness at 8:23 PM on July 30, 2005

I just pull out the wire. The bra maintains a lot of shape even without the actual wire. But if your boobage is in poundage, this may not work for you.

You can also replace the wire with thick ropy elastic or pvc filament in the same gage (width) as the original wire. This is much easier to sew up and helps preserve the shape of the garment; the PVC might provide the countertorque you need for support.

posted by tarintowers at 5:22 AM on August 28, 2005

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