DIY Tapering Wide Bra Strap to Reduce Shoulder Gouging

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

I just replaced the bra straps on a bra to make it wide on the top of the shoulders, where thin straps can gouge into the shoulders. The wider straps distributes the bust weight load over a wider surface area to ease the pressure, but tapers to the same points of connection as the thinner original straps so the wearer wouldn’t feel like they’re wearing big suspender straps that aren’t exactly feminine. The straps are double layered and serged for strength, turned inside out, but thin enough still that a regular non-white blouse or thicker top should cover it just as well as a regular strap. The taper is also asymmetric so the edge towards the neck runs further off centre, allowing for a slightly longer edge that may be needed for a rising shoulder to neck.

So here’s my question. Why don’t bra makers do this?

I’m sure some do, but good luck finding these designs easily! I haven’t been able to.

Women have told me reasons like the straps slip off, wouldn’t spread the load evenly, too thick, don’t feel feminine, etc. I’m NOT convinced! Whatever truth there is to those answers, and I believe there may be some in each, I don’t think it’d be enough to stop a lot of women from either doing this to their bras, or buying these designs for wearing some or most of the times in their lives. I definitely think there’d be enough of a market to produce these things, or that women who can do this and have a need for it, will do it.

The average bra cup size these days, from obesity epidemic and aging demographics mostly, is D. Lots of women are carrying around a lot more bust than they used to a few generations ago when that average was B, for which they’re still making most of your sewing patterns for. Trust me when I tell you there are a lot of women who would do this “bra engineering” if they either could, or believed it would work.

This is a prototype so I didn’t change my serger threads to hide the serged seam more. I sewed on the straps, and even adjusted the band to be stronger than the original was in learning how to do these things. I will try this adjusted bra on my model, for whom it was custom fitted, next week. I can’t see anything dissuading me from this being a practical solution to bra strap shoulder gouging. I’m putting this up between now and then cause I want to hear feedback otherwise in the meanwhile.

What do you think?

p.s. The serger construction I used is purely optional. I just like everything I do to be really strong cause I don’t want wardrobe malfunctions on my stuff. I always terribly underestimate the power of a thread to hold things together cause I see garments I’ve had that last which were sewn in such frail ways I wouldn’t even think of trying for fear it’d rip so fast! This can be an even easier process to sew than what I have shown. The tricky part is the fitting, which I have ways to simplify as well.

5 thoughts on “DIY Tapering Wide Bra Strap to Reduce Shoulder Gouging

  1. I have been searching high and low to no avail for something like those!

    Do you have a pattern? Instructions?

    I can see this is five years old and it’s so frustrating that I’m still having such a hard time finding good bra strap alterations with instructions!

    If something like this wear available to buy, I would also love that!

    I have found numerous complaints of bra strap pain but there are so few options that even address the problem, much less fix it.

    It seems to me it’s a bit like the women’s pockets problem.

    • Hi, thanks for your comment and sorry to hear about your challenges. I don’t have patterns, but the basic idea was this. Using a bra strap that was set in the desired length. Measure from front to back, marking also top of shoulder. Add a 5/8 inch to ends to sew on to front and back. For width, set at top of shoulder mark, to width desired. Then based on width you set at front and back ends, connect with a curve and not straight lines that leave a point. The rest is sewing techniques. You may want double layers to sew good sides against each other to turn inside out (many layers at ends, though, and on to a strap may be hard). Maybe cover edge with bias tape. Maybe serge and turn up so it doesn’t rub against your skin (just wear a not so see through top if you don’t want serging seen. This is not meant to be a beauty bra, but rather a practical one for most everyday wear situations. Does that help? Feel free to ask more questions, or if you didn’t want to do it publicly, let me know and I can email you directly via email used to submit comment. Thanks and good luck!

    • Oh, do with a muslin on an old bra first. If you have really sloping shoulders, you might your pattern width may be asymmetric to be ideal, meaning from the centre line, more width at top of shoulder point to neck or shoulder side. If you had a friend to help, get some paper strips approximate length to strap, put it over strap and go on feel how far to neck and should you’d like to deviate from the centre line (your strap). That piece of paper would then give you the same points as the “theory” mentioned before, but better fit. The flexibility of the ends, especially ring at the front, won’t be at 90 degrees (perpendicular) to the strap direction, will help adjust the tilt of the strap for shoulder fit, though there’s no reason you can’t shape the pattern better. This is a hack I came up with for a friend so I don’t have any available to sell. It’s a sew-in hack, not a swap out hack, but bras don’t come with swap out straps to sell them even if I made them. Oh, be sure to use fabric with no or very little stretch. Stretch straps are useless.

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