Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Dress Upgrades

I have a bit of a dress obsession. I wear them regularly and they are one of my favorite things to sew. But for all I've filled my closet with dresses, I've come to realize that my favorite dresses have 2 features: pockets and bra keeps.

Variety of bra keeps in my off-the-rack dresses

Dresses with pockets need no explanation for their awesomeness, but you may be asking 'what the heck are bra keeps'? Well, they are the little ribbon/snap combo that you sometimes find inside the bodice of a dress at the shoulder seam. Bra keeps make sure that your bra straps stay hidden beneath the dress, which is especially useful for sleeveless dresses and those with wide necklines.

Handsewn bra keep in my Colette Peony dress

You're more likely to find bra keeps on high-end dresses, though one of my Gap dresses has them and all of my dresses from my new favorite dress shop, eShakti, have them as well. Once I realized how useful bra keeps are, I decided that my handsewn dresses should have them too. They're particularly needed on my two Colette Peony dresses (one, two), where my straps are either visible or off my shoulders trying to work around the wide boatneck.

Bra keep making supplies

To add bra keeps to my Peony dress, I used the following materials:

  • 3/8-inch wide ribbon
  • Size 2/0 sew-on snaps
  • Needle and thread

I constructed the keeps as follows:

  • Cut two matching pieces of ribbon of 2 to 2.5 inch length.
  • Fold each end down 3/8 inch and sew into place.
  • Sewn one side of a snap onto one end of each ribbon.
  • Sew the snap-less end of the ribbon down on the inside of the dress near the shoulder.
  • Sew the other side of the snap onto the inside of the dress near the neckline, making sure the ribbon lays flat when the snaps connect.
  • To use the bra keep, lay bra strap over ribbon and snap the keep shut. Straps should stay within the keeps all day.

Open bra keep

Doing all of the sewing by hand, it took me between 1-2 hours to assemble and install the keeps in my dress. But it was definitely worth the time and effort because I no longer have to fight my bra straps while wearing this dress. So hurray for bringing more bra keeps into the world!