Introduction: Bra to Bustier Top

About: I make things. DIY author and blogger at Studs & Pearls: 30 Creative Projects for Customized Fashion available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and!

I've spotted bralets and bustiers - cropped and otherwise - all over Topshop, Urban Outfitters, etc. I never could find one that 1) fit me well and 2) was in a print I liked. So I set out to make my own, using a strapless bra. I almost want to call this a "faux" bustier because it's so easy - it's really just fabric wrapped around a strapless bra, in a sense.

I made this top with high-waisted shorts/pants/skirts in mind, so it hits right above my waist. It's up to you how long or short you'd like your top to be.

If you decide to make this, you MUST make sure that you're able to put on (and take off!!) the bra without disconnecting the straps. There aren't any zippers in this project, although you're more than welcome to add one in if you know how to do so, even with the bra involved. This might be a tight squeeze (and you might look a little funny putting it on) but I did it in the interest of making it as simple as possible, and a way to repurpose a bra that you might not use often. 

(EDIT 6/12: Check the comments for an awesome suggestion by rhelm_2: "To make it easier to get off and on, you could do step seven first and instead of sewing all the way up to the top on this step, only sew until the last inch or two. You could leave a little peep-hole type thing by sewing the edges of the bra to the edges of the fabric so you could clasp it together instead of wrestling it on")

Since this doesn't use a pattern, little things will vary for everyone, so here's a general run thorugh of how I did it.  Let me know if you have any questions! xo

Step 1: Supplies

- Strapless bra (or a bra with removable straps)
- About 1 yard of jersey fabric (I used an ITY jersey knit from I think it'd help to get a fabric that has a little bit of stretch to it)
- Sewing machine
- Coordinating thread
- Craft needles, for hand sewing
- Measuring tape
- Dress form might be useful!

Step 2: Measure Your Fabric

Using a tank top as a guide, I cut out a rectangle that was the same width of the tank top at its widest point. In my case, my tank top was 14 inches laying flat (or 28 inches all around). I added 4 inches extra on each end (so 8 inches total). The total width of my rectangle was 36 inches. I placed an arrow where I ended up cutting my fabric.

Length is up to you. You can make it a crop top or a full length top - or somewhere in between - depending on your preferences. I kept mine at the length that you see above, just because I knew I could always shorten it in the last step. It's better to start off with too much and then trim down later!

Step 3: Start Sewing

I hemmed along the top of the rectangle to give it a clean edge. I lucked out and had the white border on my fabric, so I used that as a guide.

Step 4: Determining Where the Bra Will Go

I laid out the fabric and place the bra along the top, giving it enough room for the fabric to fold completely over the bra (which you'll see in the next step.)

Step 5: Fold and Measure

I folded over the fabric, with the bra in between the two layers, making sure that the edge of the fabric is touching the bottom layer. After removing the bra, I'd recommend measuring the fabric that you folded over (which I did in the second picture above). Keep this measurement in mind for later!

Step 6: More Sewing

After double checking with my tank top, I hemmed up the sides, then sewed them together - right sides facing each other. I essentially ended up with a tube of fabric.

Step 7: Double Check Measurements

I turned it inside out, and folded the top of the fabric over like above. (Remember that measurement from Step 5? Double check that you folded over the right amount of fabric, as this is where the bra will be inserted.) I then pinned along the edge - you'll be sewing along this, which will keep the bra in place.

Step 8: But Here's a Tip...

I flipped everything right side out. Then, using the pins I placed on the other side as a guide - repinned on the right side of the fabric. This way, when I sew along this, it's easier to sew in a straight line. This helps me at least, so hopefully it will be for you as well.

Step 9: Sew

I sewed along this, all around the shirt. Be sure to STOP about 6-8 inches from your finishing point; you'll insert the bra through this gap.

Step 10: Insert the Bra

I took off the straps from the bra, then inserted the bra through the gap, making sure that the the straps of the bra were straight and not twisted.

**REMINDER: Make sure you're able to put on/take off the bra without unhooking it!

Step 11: Handsew the Straps Together

Then, I handsewed the straps/hooks to keep it in place.

Step 12: Adjust Before Sewing

Before sewing anything else, I shimmied the bra around in its "pocket" to get it to the right position. In other words, make sure the front is facing the front and the straps are in the back. It might even help to try it on at this point before you sew up the gap. I also pinned the sides of the bra to the fabric just to keep it in place. 

Step 13: Pin and Sew

I pinned up the gap and sewed it shut.

Step 14: Gather, Pin and Hand Sew

My favorite part - when the top starts to come together! On the front of the shirt, I gathered the fabric around the center of the bra, pinned, and then hand sewed it. This creates the sweetheart neckline.

Step 15: Hand Sew If Needed

I looked for small spots here and there to do a little more hand sewing, just to keep the bra in place. I also noticed I had a few extra folds of fabric along the top - this wasn't that big of a deal because it didn't affect the fit, so I folded/gathered the fabric at two spots along the back, and hand sewed them...almost like darts, right near the bra strap. A dress form would be pretty useful at this point, to figure out where you can do this if you need to.

Step 16: Hem the Bottom

I tried it on and finalized where I wanted the shirt to hit. Again, I opted for a shirt that would work best with high waisted bottoms. Then, I hemmed along the bottom.

Step 17: Done!

It's my new favorite top, and it's totally worth looking a little ridiculous when I put it on.

BurdaStyle Fashion Challenge

Runner Up in the
BurdaStyle Fashion Challenge