Thursday, 12 April 2012

Do You Want A Sheer Bra Up To A K Cup?

Are you disappointed with the “extra lining” that plagues bras above a G cup? Do you long for a sheer bra that actually comes in your size? Well, it’s possible… but you’ll have to get crafty!

I really like the look of bras that are sheer all over, not just on the top section, because I think it is more flattering when all three sections are the same. In the past, I’d experimented with cutting the extra lining out of a G+ Freya Arabella and had great success because the outer mesh has no stretch whatsoever, so the shape and support weren’t compromised by the removal of the inner opaque layer. But the Arabella isn’t a good shape for me, so I’d sort of given up on making it work. For some reason, I’d never considered cutting the lining out of a different bra—until recently, when I realized that just because a bra has opaque layers in all the cup sizes, doesn’t mean that it couldn’t still become a sheer bra!

The bra I made into a sheer bra was the Panache Confetti, but I think there are many bras that could potentially be made into a sheer bra. They just need to meet several requirements:

-The bra will need to have two layers, an outer layer of see-through mesh or lace (which is often the only layer on the top section) and an inner layer of a non-see-through fabric. These layers need to be separate. Sometimes they get stuck together and you can pull them apart (which is as fun as popping bubble wrap), but in certain bras the layers are fused together and can’t be separated—you can’t perform this alteration on a bra like that. It can sometimes be possible to cut out padding—I know one person who cut out the padding of the Masquerade Anise because it is only attached in a few places to the outer lace. In my experience it is mostly Panache and Cleo bras that are made like this, with two layers--I can't think of any Freya bras other than the Arabella that have two layers. I know a lot of Bravissimo's own-brand bras have two layers, but I'm not sure whether the layers are separate or not.

-The outer mesh or lace (they layer that will remain once you’ve cut out the inner layer) must be non-stretch or have very little stretch. If the outer layer is stretchy (like in many Curvy Kate bras) the bra won’t be able to support you without the inner layer, so avoid trying the alteration on any bras like that. Make sure you test the stretch of the outer layer by tugging it in all directions—up and down and also diagonally. If all it has is some slight diagonal stretch but not too much, it is probably fine. The mesh on the Arabella literally has no stretch at all, so it’s probably the best bra to do this with. The mesh on my Confetti isn’t quite as rigid, but it doesn’t stretch more than very slightly in any direction, so I figured the shape and support wouldn’t change much by removing the inner lining, which is actually a bit more stretchy than the outer mesh.

-Don’t perform this on any bra that you are too attached to, that you paid a lot for, or that you might want to sell later—unless you are okay with the fact that it might fail and not be salvageable. This is just my typical warning that this is an alteration that you perform at your own risk. It worked well for my Confetti and Arabella, but the results are likely to be somewhat unpredictable on other bras or with other sizes/colors of even the same bras I used, so I really wouldn’t recommend trying this except on a bra that you are not too attached to and aren’t planning to sell. Bras that you’ve gotten for a low price and can easily replace are probably the best candidates; or if you have a bra that’s worn out that you want to turn in to a bedroom bra, that could also be a good candidate.

The actual cutting out of the lining is not complicated, but it is tricky. What you want to do is cut along the seams without nicking the outer layer—if you do cut into the outer layer by mistake, it can compromise the structure of the bra and be difficult to repair, so proceed slowly and carefully.

To start with, make sure the outer layer is fully separated from the inner layer. Then pull the inner layer towards you while pulling the outer layer away from the underwire in the other direction, like so:

Now make a tiny cut in the inner layer. Start small! This first cut is tricky because you’re cutting “blind” and can’t see inside, between the two layers, yet. Don’t worry about trying to get too close to the underwire or the seam with this first cut:

Now, carefully put the scissors into this cut and, while making sure that the outer layer is nowhere near the scissors, cut towards the wire or seam. Proceed to cut all the way around. It’s easiest to do so while simultaneously pulling the outer layer away from where you’re cutting. Be extra careful when turning "corners" between the underwires and the seams or between two seams. 

Just make small cuts and keep readjusting so you can be sure you are only cutting the inner layer. Don’t worry about getting TOO close to the underwire and seams—as long as your cuts are smooth, leaving a little extra space will just make the non-sheer seams a little wider in the final appearance. And make sure you don’t cut too far into the seams, too! If you cut over the thread that keeps them together, the whole bra might disintegrate.

 Now, repeat this with the other sections. You will have to do the two bottom sections on each cup separately, of course, because otherwise you would compromise the seams.

Final result:

I think it comes out looking quite nice on the Confetti because of the floral embroidery that really stands out against the sheer mesh. I think I would also be able to do this alteration on my Cleo Brooke, Bonnie, or Lucy, but I don’t think they would end up looking as nice so I will be sticking with just my Confettis for now. 

The support is not quite as good as before I cut out the lining, but I am able to get the proper amount of lift by shortening the straps. The black Confetti is a J-cup, but in a 28 band. I'm not sure how removing the lining would work out on larger cups in terms of still getting the right support (remember that a 32J is bigger in the cups than a 28J!) but it seems to work pretty well at least at my fairly high cup size. The less stretch there is in the outer layer, the better this alteration will work.

The shape I get in the bras is still nice. I do find I get a bit of bulging above the seam in the top section of the cup, which is odd because that didn’t happen before, but when changing the structure of a bra this radically, one must be prepared for weird surprises! I’m happy with the results—I wouldn’t wear these newly sheer bras for any really strenuous activities, but so far they have proved functional for a normal, low-key day. I think it will be a big relief to have something so light in the summer when it gets really hot and I have to work in a non-air-conditioned office. 


  1. I love alterations :)

    It looks really nice!

    Just another tip: Use nail scissors to cut the lining. Since most of them have this curvy blades you can cut along the wires really easily :)

    xoxo denocte

  2. Great tutorial! I agree, the end result is definitely worth it.

    We have the same duvet definitely didn't need to know that but it made me giggle :)

  3. I hate the 'extra lining' on bigger bras. It doesn't really seem to serve a purpose on the top section of the cup. Thanks for this! Would you consider doing any Ewa Mickalak review if you own any? I'm a bit hesitant from ordering as I'm not sure what the sizing is like.

  4. I really would love to hear from the person who cut the padding out of her Anise! I love the way those Masquerade half-cups look but I hate the padding. Did she find that the fit and support remained?

    1. Hi! I have just done this on a Masquerade Anise. I bought the bra on ebay for hols and evening wear, but the padded cup linings look ugly on my FF boobs and stood away from the top of my boob on my slightly smaller side and there was a very obvious visible "top of the cup ridge" under many clothes.
      I am pretty pleased with the results. I was worried the cup would be too big, but perversely, it seems to be a snugger fit now. (If the cup were too big, once the pad is removed, it would be easy to make a little tuck alteration in the fabric yourself without compromising the bra as the lace is so fine). I have to say, the upper part of the bra is very low and barely covers the top of my boobs, but it is snug and secure. The bra gives me great uplift and brings my boobs in nicely at the sides to give a neater look. Although the bra hasn't been worn and washed yet, it doesn't seem to have compromised the uplift at all and I am pretty pleased with the overall look of my boobs, which need A LOT of uplift, shaping and support at my age! The straps on this bra are silky and decorative, so it is nice to wear under a toning strappy top or dress for holidays, without the straps looking too utilitarian. I would only wear this bra for fairly frivolous use as my boobs do feel quite a good way iykwim!
      If you cut out the lining, I found it easier to a do a neat and careful job with the first cut, rather than a rough cut, then going back to trim the edges.
      Hope this helps.

    2. Thank you so much for responding! I am tempted to snag one on eBay now, to give it a shot. I love the way it looks but padded is no good for me.

      Thank you again!

  5. this is the first time I have heard anyone doing this, thanks for the tip going to try it. real sheer underwire bras are so hard to find. It's like the companies don't want to make one. They always want to add something to the cups.

  6. Hah, I just treated my Arabella to a cutting and, man, it's the best alteration I've ever done to a bra. For some reason, it seems a wee bit larger on me, only a little, but enough to solve my former problem of too-small cups. Perhaps I've stretched the mesh or something.


  7. Comenting a bit late, as I'm going through your alterations posts. Just wanted to state that I've done this on an Eliza in a 34K with no problem in terms of support. However the Eliza is more supportive than the Confetti in the first place, as it fits more like a full cup than a balconette.

  8. I bought a Freya Lyla with the express purpose of doing this alteration. (I wanted a sexy boudoir bra to surprise my husband.) I was hoping that, since Lyla is Arabella's "sister bra", the construction would be the same. Unfortunately, it appears that there isn't an extra lining layer on the Lyla. It's difficult to discern but the lower cup material is either a thicker mesh or two layers that are bonded together. In any event, it's pretty ugly and gives me a terrible shape under clothing. So I guess I'll be selling this one off. Anybody want a new 34J Lyla??? *sigh*

  9. i know this post is old, but i only came across it today. i have done this several times myself and it actually finally dawned on me recently that... you are cutting out the wrong part of the bra. the inner lining is the stiff mesh, which actually is quite sheer and sexy on its own. it's where all the support comes from, and the outer lining is for decoration only. i would encourage you to give it a try!

  10. New reader here. This blog is AMAZING! Love the tips on alterations - I do a great job shopping the higher end websites and getting bras I love in my size for good prices (36G) but sometimes they just aren't quite right. I love the option to be able to alter them.

  11. I do this a lot with my bras as I love wearing sheer bras. It's hard buying sheer bra being a H cup

  12. Has anyone tried this on a bra with stretch lace on the top of the cup (eg Panache Jasmine/ Cleo Hettie)? I know the post says not to use a bra with stretch, but what about a bra with mostly rigid cups and stretch on the top third...?