Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Repairing *ahem* undergarments

Gentlemen, this one is for the ladies (I guess, well, maybe not, you never know. . .). A delicate subject, to be sure, but one worth mentioning (as it is about unmentionables).

I'm talking about problems that arise when bras begin to wear.  First of all, when I replace my old bras, I hang on to one or two of them (just stuff them to the back of my drawer). You can scavenge parts from old bras. Second, these new bras last longer when I don't allow them to get all tangled up in the wash each week.  One tool to use for this is a lingerie bag.  Being short of a lingerie bag, I use a regular pillow case.  I stuff the bras into whatever pillowcase I'm laundering, and use a rubber band to hold it closed.  I do have to remove the bras towards the end of the dry cycle, and hang them to dry for the remainder.

Onto repairs. For me, I have the most problems with the underwire.  I've had them break. And I've had them tear through the casing and poke me. An underwire can break either from age, from getting tangled in the wash, or if it simply was not machined properly in the first place.  If one breaks, you can remove the broken wire and replace it with one you've scavenged from one of your old bras.  No old bras to scavenge from?  You could also buy a similar sized bra at a thrift store, with the sole purpose of taking out the wire (you wouldn't have to be fussy about fit).

To replace a wire, cut a small slit in the casing that holds the wire, about 1/2-inch from the end on one side (I prefer to put the slit on the underarm end of the casing). Remove the old wire pieces, and replace with the new wire, pulling and stretching the casing fabric as needed to get the wire in place.  Using a very small patch of fabric, cover this small slit, hand sewing closed.

If the problem is the wire has broken through the casing fabric and is poking you, the enamel end coating on the wire has worn off and makes the wire sharp enough to cut through the fabric.  This problem can be repaired repeatedly, following these same steps. You can recoat the tip of the wire with several layers of nail enamel.  Slide the wire several inches out through the hole that the wire has made, and apply nail enamel, allow to dry, apply another coat, allow to dry, and repeat 5 times, or until it looks to be well coated.  Make sure to "wrap" the enamel over the poking tip and around the flat sides of the wire.  After all coats are dry, push the wire back into the casing. Use a tiny patch of soft fabric to hand sew over the hole created by the poking wire.  In a pinch, if you don't have time to enamel coat and patch fabric for a poking wire, you can also use a square of adhesive bandage tape to temporarily cover the hole.  For me, these temporary patches will last until the next laundry.

In addition to wire problems, occasionally the small fold/pleat holding the hook closures on the back band will come unstitched.  This is easily remedied by a few quick stitches by hand.  Should you lose a hook (this happened to one of mine in the wash when the hooks had been loose already), the spare bra for scavenging parts will come in handy.

Hope this tutorial on repairing bras was helpful.

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